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CNN Live Event/Special

President Trump Delivers Farewell Address; President-Elect Biden en Route to Reflecting Pool. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 19, 2021 - 16:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so the flags on the Mall are quite moving. It is a sad thing.

The coronavirus already had scaled back the inaugural. The insurrection and the heightened security scales it back even more. But to see those flags where we would normally see crowds, look at it. It just stops you in your track.

Wolf, I go through these numbers every day on my program, and I studied them every night, and it is numbing, and it is sad. And so to have a president who wants to acknowledge the pain, acknowledge the loss of 400,000 of our citizens, but also the pain of their families and those who they had left behind, a pain that he understands, a pain that he understands, so, I think it's a critical first step, and just one of the many dramatic turning of the page, if you will.

So much is going to change overnight in this town. And Joe Biden thought it was important he paid tribute first right there to the pandemic raging in this country.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, and he has to inherit the worst of it right now, because it's clearly getting worse, at least over the next few weeks and months, as opposed to getting better.

Coming up: As the nation is about to pay tribute to more than the 400,000 Americans we have lost in the coronavirus pandemic, Jake is going to talk live with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the pandemic and the enormous challenges facing the new president.

We will be right back.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with our live coverage of the national COVID-19 memorial here in Washington.

You're looking at live images right now of Capitol Hill.

President-elect Biden is going to make a point of honoring the more than 400,000 victims of the pandemic as he prepares to be sworn in tomorrow. He will be going to right near the Reflecting Pool. He will be going to memorialize those who have been lost.

We just reached the grim milestone of 400,000.

But, right now, let's turn to the man who still is in the White House for a few more hours with our White House correspondents Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta.

Kaitlan, let me go to you first.

So, President Trump put out another one of these videos. He's calling this, I suppose, his farewell address?


Typically, you would see a president deliver this from the Oval Office, maybe in prime time, all the networks carrying it live. But, instead, President Trump chose to record this yesterday, Jake. It's about 20 minutes. He did so, it looks like, in the Rose Garden.

And he talks about in this video what he sees as his accomplishments in his time in office, of course, what he wants to be remembered by. He does not know the controversies.

But, Jake, one other thing he doesn't do is mention Joe Biden by name or acknowledge his victory, except to say that there will be a new administration tomorrow.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous.

We extend our best wishes. And we also want them to have luck, a very important word.


COLLINS: Jake, one other thing that stuck out from this video is, the president thinks his top staffers, the chief of staff, his children, but also the vice president and his family as well.

And, of course, that is notable. We had heard that people were trying to get the president to say something nice publicly about Mike Pence before they left office, given, of course, their relationship has entirely fractured over his desire to try to overturn the results, and when he last uttered that vulgarity to Mike Pence before he actually went to Capitol Hill ahead of that riot.

So, that is noteworthy that he does mention the vice president by name in this video.

TAPPER: Yes, and, of course, that rabid crowd was calling "Hang" -- they were calling for the assassination of his own vice president.


TAPPER: "Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence."

Jim, let me go to you.

Obviously, President Trump still not acknowledging the reality that Biden beat him, although I suppose it's good news that he's acknowledging that he's not going to be president anymore. Is there any -- does he address at all the horror that happened two weeks ago tomorrow, the MAGA terrorist attack on the Capitol?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, in this 20-minute video, he does make a brief reference about what happened on January 6. He does not take any responsibility for inciting that crowd of supporters who stormed the Capitol.

And he doesn't really accept any blame for what happened at the Capitol. But this is what he had to say. We can show you a clip of that, talk about it on the other side.


TRUMP: All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.


ACOSTA: So, the president there in that very brief clip sounds almost detached from his involvement in stoking that crowd and inciting the violence that unfolded on January 6.

The other thing we should point out, Jake, because it's one of the -- I think one of the sad chapters of this presidency that will be long remembered, the president does talk about the coronavirus at one point during this video. And he refers to COVID-19 once again as the -- quote -- "China virus," when, in so many ways, it's become the Trump virus because of the way he mishandled this pandemic, which, of course, has resulted now in the deaths of 400,000 Americans as of today, according to Johns Hopkins University.


And so, until the very end, this is the take-no-responsibility presidency, whether it's COVID-19 or it's the siege of the Capitol, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

And, Abby, when the president says that every American was horrified by what they saw, I mean, according to Republican Senator Ben Sasse, he heard from senior White House officials that Donald Trump was watching the images that day and was -- quote -- "delighted."

And that afternoon, Ivanka Trump put out a tweet in which she was trying to tell people to stop rioting, stop staging a terrorist attack, and she referred to them as American patriots, although she did delete the tweet.

I mean, it's not accurate to say that everybody was horrified by it. Members of the Trump family were the exact opposite in some ways.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's complete revisionist history, and not just for those two reasons you laid out, but also because the president during the attack basically said, this is what happens when you steal the election.

TAPPER: Right. Exactly.

PHILLIP: He doubled down on the lie. And he doubled down on trying to explain away a rationale for the violence that we saw.

So, look, this 11th-hour effort to kind of paint over or whitewash his record, not just in the last two weeks, but of the last four years, is really extraordinary.

In this farewell address, he talks about how he governed, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as a united country. That is completely, completely false. The president is one of the rare presidents really who regularly talks about blue states, talking about COVID deaths, as if we should exclude the ones from blue states, because perhaps they were mismanaged by Democratic governors or Democratic leaders.

It's that kind of rhetoric that has gotten us to this point where we are now at 400,000 COVID deaths on this day. It takes me back to this past summer talking to White House officials about the potential of reaching 100,000 COVID deaths.


PHILLIP: Never in a million years did we -- did many of us think that we would get to 400,000. At that time, it was an unthinkable number. And now President Trump just lets it go with sort of a blink of an eye.


And this president has barely said anything, maybe actually nothing, about COVID, about the deaths, about the fact that it is spiraling out of control, and it is still on his watch, hasn't said anything really of substance about it in months.

The line in here that is, frankly, most offensive to me, and probably will be to a lot of Americans, is -- this is part of the excerpts that the White House released: "I'm especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars."

Here we are, not too far from the White House. Here he is in the White House sitting in what is effectively, what looks like -- thank God it's not -- but what looks like a war zone because of the number of men and women in uniform who have had to come here to fortify the nation's capital, thanks to the violence that he has stoked from within. So, yes, maybe he didn't start any new wars abroad, but he completely

incited battle after battle and even, I would say, war domestically, and the height of that and the climax of that -- let's hope it was the climax -- was two weeks ago tomorrow -- yesterday -- two weeks ago tomorrow.


Outgoing President Trump and outgoing Vice President Pence like to talk about how this is the first president in a long time that hasn't gotten the United States involved in any foreign wars.

Well, OK. They sure have gotten us involved in what is a very ugly war inside our own borders.

We're standing by for president-elect Biden to arrive in Washington, D.C., at the Lincoln Memorial, as the nation pauses to honor the more than 400,000 souls lost to COVID-19 here in the U.S.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're getting closer to what is going to be a very emotional tribute over at the Lincoln Memorial. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are heading there to pay tribute to the loss of life due to COVID-19.

Welcome back to our special coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer, on this inauguration eve, the incoming president of the United States and vice president are emphasizing their goal of ending the pandemic as the U.S. death toll just hit another gut wrenching number crossing 400,000 -- 400,000 Americans have died in not even a year from COVID.

We expect to hear very stirring words and see striking images. In the next hour, the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial will shine with 400 lights, an unprecedented display. There will be similar ceremonies across the United States, including at New York's empire state building.

When the sun sets, the international airport in Atlanta will light up as well. So will parts of Miami.

In the coming hour, we're going to show you more of the communities joining in this show of unity and resilience.


And, John King, it is a show of unity and resilience right now, a dramatic moment about to unfold, to get going as we await the swearing-in ceremony at noon tomorrow.

KING: At noon tomorrow, and that will be Joe Biden's message at this very divided time. Try to get the country to come together. In the building behind us, that will be hard. Mitch McConnell, very

important words today. He said the people who attacked that building were told lies, they were provoked by the president of the United States. So, there's some evidence of even the people who are loyal to the president, President Trump for four years, trying to turn the page.

Joe Biden's challenge is to bring enough of the country together and the fact that he wants to make COVID priority one, A, with a new team and with this tribute tonight both symbolically and then an action by bringing the new team. That will be the first test of accountability, can he keep his promise to speed up the vaccine rollout? Can he get financial aid to state and local governments who have been hammered? Can he get -- he has promised additional stimulus money, additional help for small business right out of the box.

BLITZER: Yeah, there's no doubt, Jake, that once President-elect Biden becomes president, he is inheriting an awful situation when it comes to this COVID pandemic.

TAPPER: A horrible pandemic, made worse by the Trump administration's mismanagement of it in so many ways. The U.S. has just passed the horrific milestone of 400,000 Americans dead because of this pandemic.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is also staying on in the Biden administration.

Dr. Fauci, good to see you.

We know you got your second shot today of the vaccine. So, congratulations on that.

How soon do you think before the rest of us are going to be able to get it? When do you think that will be able to happen? Do you think Biden will, for example, be able to do the 100 million vaccinations into the first 100 days?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, Jake, I'm fairly certain that that plan of the president-elect is going to be doable. As you know, that's the top priority in the meetings we've had with Zoom calls with him. He has made it very clear to the COVID-19 team that this is a very important goal. And he's going to do whatever it takes to get there. And I feel pretty confident that we're going to be able to do that.

TAPPER: One of President-elect Biden's first acts in Washington -- he just touched down at Joint Base Andrews a few minutes ago -- he's going to a memorial for the 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic.

It's a rare moment. We haven't seen from the outgoing president, an acknowledgement of the devastating loss.

What's your reaction? I would ask you if you ever thought we would be at this point but you actually projected 400,000 dead a few months ago.

FAUCI: Yes, I know I did, Jake. I'm sorry that that projection came about. But I think the important thing that you mentioned just a moment ago is that there is a lot of empathy that the president-elect is feeling for the extraordinary loss, which we felt in this country. That's unprecedented and historic in the worst possible way to already have lost 400,000 people.

And there will be more deaths, because, as you know, the delay in which you see -- when you see new cases followed by hospitalizations, followed by deaths that things are going to continue to get worse before we can turn it around and get better.

So, this is a situation where we have to have all hands on deck and the president-elect has made it very clear that this is his top priority.

TAPPER: Does anything give you hope about the ability of the Biden administration, the incoming administration to get a handle on this, to get Americans vaccinated, to curb the spread of the pandemic?

FAUCI: You know, a lot of things give me hope, Jake. One of the things was the last time we met with the president, we briefed him and he briefed us about the kinds of things he wants. And he not only spoke to us about it, he spoke to the American public, that this is really -- he's just going to manage the heck out of this.

We're going to put all the resources that we possibly can in to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and expeditiously as possible. I mean, things like community vaccine centers, getting out into the pharmacies, doing whatever we can, invoking the Defense Production act for the kinds of tools we'll need, trying to expand the people -- the categories of the people to be vaccinated and do whatever we can to expand the doses we would have available.

So, all of those things are very much upfront on the president-elect's mind, and he has tasked the team to get this done.

TAPPER: How many -- how many vaccines are in the stockpile, do you think?


FAUCI: Well, I don't know what you mean, Jake, when you say stockpile. Things come right off out of the factories are just going to be going right out to the people.

So the idea about stockpile, as I mentioned I believe under a previous interview that I had a conversation a couple of days ago, twice, with General Perna, talking about what was sort of the misunderstanding about a stockpile.

In the beginning, when we wanted to make sure that everyone who got one dose would get a second dose because of the uncertainty in the smoothness of the rollout of the doses that would be available, half of the doses would be held back so that people would be guaranteed to get their second dose. Now that there's much more confidence that the rollout of doses would be consistent enough that when doses became available, you could give them to people. When the next shipment would come out, the people who had got the first dose, who were waiting for the second dose would get the first priority.

So you want to make sure that you would not have a situation where people got the first dose but could not get the second dose. And then anything after that would go to the next level of people who would be there for the first dose. So, what it is, in simple language, is a steady flow out from the reserve right out into -- from the factory into people's arms.


FAUCI: So the idea about a stockpile is just --

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

I get it. Okay. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much, Dr. Fauci. We'll continue to talk to you as the country battles this virus.

Just ahead, the solemn ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial begins soon. President-elect Biden leading the nation in remembering the victims of COVID-19 just hours before he takes office.

Stay with us.