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The Situation Room
Interview with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); Trump Impeachment Trial Set to Start February 8; President Biden Announces Stimulus Proposal; Biden Acts to Ease Deepening Economic Crisis, Signs Orders on Stimulus Checks, Food Stamps, Minimum Wage; Sources: Concerns of Unrest During Upcoming Impeachment Trial Part of Reason Some National Guard Staying with D.C. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 22, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He says, the more time his administration has to get up and running and respond to the crisis in America, the better.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi is now set to deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate, the article of impeachment against former President Trump, on Monday.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's working all of this for us.
Kaitlan, today President Biden turned his focus to the U.S. economy as another casualty of this pandemic.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.
And he said that we need to act like we're living in a national emergency, because, in his opinion, the crisis is only getting worse. And you're right. Today, he was trying to address the economic fallout from the pandemic and trying to take measures that he can through the power of the presidency by trying to stop the bleeding that you're seeing happening so much across the United States when it comes to the economic pain that people are feeling.
But, Wolf, as all of this is going in, his predecessor is still looming large in the background, the questions about when that impeachment trial for Donald Trump are going to happen. And while the White House was insistent that he was leaving those timing decisions, which, of course, could affect his agenda, up to the Senate, Biden actually told us he does have an opinion when it happens.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden signing another round of executive orders today, as he attempts to use the power of his office to blunt the economic fallout from the pandemic.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to act. We have to act now. COLLINS: By expanding food stamps and speeding up stimulus checks for
eligible Americans who haven't received them yet. Biden is hoping to deliver desperately needed relief.
BIDEN: We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves. They cannot watch people lose their jobs.
COLLINS: Today, Biden's top economic aide, Brian Deese, spoke bluntly about the challenge that is facing them.
BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Our economy is at a very precarious moment. If we don't act now, we will be in a much worse place and we will find ourselves needing to do much more to dig out of a much deeper hole.
COLLINS: Deese adding that Biden's executive orders should not be seen as a replacement for the $1.9 trillion relief package he's called on Congress to pass.
DEESE: The single most important thing economically right now is to take decisive action.
COLLINS: This impeachment announcement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has some White House officials worried that Biden's early agenda could be left in limbo.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi, who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday.
COLLINS: That means President Trump's trial could start as soon as next week. But, today, Biden seemed to side with Mitch McConnell's proposal they wait until next month.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you support Mitch McConnell's timeline for a February impeachment trial?
BIDEN: The more time we have to get up and running and to meet these crises, the better.
COLLINS: Privately, White House officials have voiced concern about whether an impeachment trial would affect passing a relief package or confirming Biden's Cabinet nominees, given only two have been confirmed so far.
Today, the White House press secretary declined to say if President Biden ultimately believes his predecessor should be barred from holding office.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, he's no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it's up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former president accountable.
COLLINS: One Biden official was more candid, telling CNN: "We need to move past this. The only way for that to happen is for the trial to begin."
Coronavirus remains the top challenge facing the Biden administration. And, tonight, there are new questions about this campaign trail promise:
BIDEN: At least 100 million COVID vaccines shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days, 100 million shots in the first 100 days.
COLLINS: Data from the CDC says the U.S. has already reached that goal of vaccinating one million people per day, leading some experts to say Biden's plan is too modest.
BIDEN: God willing, not only do 100 million, we're going to do more than that.
COLLINS: And, Wolf, we should also note that Biden has his first calls with foreign leaders since taking office today. That's with Canada and Mexico.
Of course, with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that's a relationship that was left fractured by the last administration. Remember, it ended with President Trump calling Trudeau dishonest and weak.
And there could be tension in today's call, because Trudeau has already criticized Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone pipeline that runs from Alberta to Nebraska. It could affect the Canadian oil industry in a significant way. So, we are still waiting for a readout from the White House on how that call went, and we will let you know when we get it.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kaitlan Collins over at the White House. Important news.
Let's go to Capitol Hill right now for the latest on the start of the Trump impeachment trial in the Senate.
Our congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is joining us right now.
I understand, Ryan, you have some major breaking news.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.
Any second now, the Senate Majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is set to take to the Senate floor. And our Manu Raju is reporting that Schumer will announce a timeline for the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. And that timeline is expected to start on February 8.
Now, that is a little bit earlier than what we were expecting earlier, when we were initially told about the plans for the impeachment trial earlier today. Of course, Schumer announced this morning that Speaker Pelosi intends
to hand those articles of impeachment over to the Senate on Monday morning, which initially could have meant that the trial could begin as soon as Tuesday.
It now looks as though Schumer has cut a deal to push the start of the trial back into February. Now, we're not exactly sure exactly what that means for all these other negotiations that are happening here on Capitol Hill in terms of the confirmation of Biden and Cabinet members and whether or not this is an attempt by Democrats to try and woo over some Republicans, in an attempt to get them to vote to convict President Trump.
But a significant development about to be announced on the Senate floor here in mere moments. Senator Chuck Schumer said -- is going to say that the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will take place on February 8.
BLITZER: Will the article of impeachment, Ryan, as far as we know, still be submitted from the House to the Senate on Monday, even though it's now not going to start until the week of, what, February 8?
NOBLES: Good question, Wolf.
We have no reason to believe that that timeline has changed. And what this shows, really, is that the Senate really does control how this process plays out. And once the speaker hands over those articles of impeachment, it's really up to Schumer and his team to decide how the whole process will play out.
So, at this point, it looks as though they're going to wait a little bit before they actually begin in earnest with the trial itself. As opposed to beginning on Monday, it's now going to take some time for it to get into the process. And they will begin that process in early February.
You have to wonder exactly what went on in these negotiations that led to this point. Perhaps Senator Schumer enlightens us a little bit when he makes his way to the Senate floor here in the next few minutes.
BLITZER: Well, it was clear, Ryan, that President Biden earlier in the day indicated he wants a delay. He wants the Senate to focus in on confirmation of his Cabinet nominees, other senior positions that require Senate confirmation. He wants them to deal with substantive legislative issues to help the COVID pandemic relief bill.
Biden said specifically -- and I'm quoting him now, Ryan -- "The more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better."
So, clearly, it sounds to me like that Schumer and other Democrats in the Senate were impacted, were influenced by the president.
NOBLES: That certainly seems to be the case here, Wolf, because there is no doubt that there was a disconnect between leadership in the Senate vs. what the White House was asking for. President Biden has never really been all that keen on this
impeachment proceeding. Now, his office, Jen Psaki, his press secretary, said earlier today that they were going to be hands-off, that they weren't going to be involved in the deliberations over the legislative process, that the president understands how the Senate works, having spent so much time here, and he was going to leave those decisions up to them.
But he's also made it very clear that his priority is not to deal with holding President Trump accountable for what happened on January 6. He thinks he should be held accountable. But his main priority is getting his administration and his agenda...
BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment.
Chuck Schumer is now speaking. We will listen.
SCHUMER: Now, Mr. President, we have made good progress in our efforts to determine the timing and structure of the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump.
For the information of all senators, the House managers will come to read the article the impeachment at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 25. Members will then be sworn in the next day, Tuesday, January 26.
After that, both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials. During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill, which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic.
Then, once the briefs are drafted, presentation by the parties will commence the week of February the 8th.
The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol incited by Donald J. Trump was a day none of us will ever forget. We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation's history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability.
And that is what this trial will provide.
Now, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that, upon the conclusion of morning business on Monday, January 25, the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, executive calendar number two, the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the secretary of the Treasury.
Further, that the time until 5:30 be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees, and that, at 5:30, the Senate vote, without intervening action or debate, on the nomination, that, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection, so ordered.
SCHUMER: Now, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that, when the Senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 3:00 p.m. Monday, January 25, further, that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning our be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for the use later in the day, and morning business be closed.
Further, that upon the conclusion of morning business, the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the Yellen nomination, as provided under the previous order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection, so ordered.
SCHUMER: If there's no further business to come before the Senate, I ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order.
BLITZER: All right, so there you have it, major news from Chuck Schumer, the new majority leader in the U.S. Senate, that, as we reported earlier, the Trump impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate will not formally take place until the week of February 8, although there will be some preliminary activities going on January 25, January 26.
But, Ryan Nobles, a good two-week delay in this presumably to give the senator an opportunity to confirm Cabinet nominations put forward by the new Biden administration.
NOBLES: You're right about that, Wolf.
And there's really two layers to this timeline. As you asked before whether or not the impeachment articles were going to be sent over to the Senate next week, that's still going to happen. So, they will be in the Senate on Monday. They will be read on Monday.
And then, on Tuesday, there will be the swearing-in of the senators and the issuance of the summons. From there, there's going to essentially be a two-week break while both sides are able to get their ducks in a row and file their legal briefs.
Now, within that timeline, this really serves two purposes for the majority leader, Chuck Schumer. First, it gives the Republicans who are concerned about this process an opportunity for them to get their arguments together. Now, there were some Republicans that were complaining today that they thought that this was going to be somewhat of a rush job and that President Trump was not going to get the full due process that should be afforded him under these circumstances.
This now gives him a period of time to get his legal briefs in order, to come up with a team that will defend him. We know that he's hired a main lawyer, but also to get his arguments in -- over and perhaps even offer up any witnesses that would be on his behalf.
Now, on the other end of it, it also frees up the calendar for what you mentioned, giving the Senate the opportunity to push through these confirmations of Biden Cabinet secretaries, a process that has been long delayed that, under normal circumstances and normal administrations, many of these Cabinet secretaries would have already been long confirmed.
But because of President Trump's unwillingness to accept the results of the election, that really delayed that process. So, now this gives the Senate the time to really focus on those confirmations, iron out any issues that there may be with some of these nominees, get them confirmed and off and running on the agenda, and then come back and begin the process of beginning this trial on the week of February 8 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we heard Schumer say they want Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary nominee, to be confirmed on Monday. They want to move quickly on Tony Blinken, the designated secretary of state, as well as -- and there are several other Cabinet positions they want to get quickly confirmed.
Ryan, stand by.
I want to bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip, and our special correspondent Jamie Gangel.
So, Dana, give us your reaction to the breaking news, a significant development, a more-than-two-week delay in the real start of the Senate impeachment trial against Trump.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the writing has been on the wall really all afternoon that this was where it was heading, given the fact that we knew that this was where Mitch McConnell wanted it to be, but also, when the president said that he hadn't seen the details, but he thought that that was a good idea, because it gives the Senate time to put his Cabinet in place, so he can get on with the things that he so desperately wants to do for the American people, obviously, COVID and the economy, it was pretty clear that's where it was headed.
And just like Ryan laid out, process-wise, it's a win-win, because this does allow McConnell to give the former president and his lawyers some time but also, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, the majority leader, some kind of running room with the Republicans, who have been making arguments, well, we can't just rush this, and we need to give some time for this process to play out.
So, that is definitely the reason why we have seen this happen. But I think the more important reason is because of the White House and of President Biden, and that he really wants to get his people in place before this starts.
BLITZER: Yes, he certainly does that.
And, Abby, yesterday, Senator Chris Coons, a very close friend and ally of President Biden, both from Delaware, made it clear that he thought there was a formal quid pro quo, if, in fact, they delayed the start of the trial, that Mitch McConnell and Republicans would agree to move quickly on Cabinet confirmations and potentially other legislation, COVID relief legislation, that was required.
It sounds like they worked out a backroom deal, at least to me, Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does.
And I definitely think that Chris Coons saying that to you yesterday was not an accident. I mean, it was a clear signal from someone who is very close to the vice -- to President Biden that this is something that they were willing to consider, and for all the reasons that Dana laid out and that Ryan laid out. It also puts the impeachment proceedings in the vicinity of past proceedings.
And if you know anything about Mitch McConnell, he is a steward of the Senate history and looks very closely at, how much time did other presidents get in their impeachment proceedings? There have not been that many other examples.
But, again, this is something that I think weighs very heavily in terms of process. It takes the process argument off the table.
But one other thing, I think, is really crucial, Wolf, day by day, as we go by, as more people who are involved in this insurrection attempt are arrested and charged and court filings are put forward, there is more and more evidence being put into the public record about what exactly happened on January 6.
That is something that, actually, for the Democrats, could become very, very important as they build their case against President Trump.
BLITZER: Jamie, you have been doing some excellent reporting on all of this.
Where does Mitch McConnell fit into this entire package?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question, as Abby and Dana said, Joe Biden was behind this.
But there's also no question that the hand of Mitch McConnell was right in all of this, and we're going to continue to see this, because Donald Trump may be gone, Joe Biden may want to turn a new page, but the Democrats barely have the Senate. And Mitch McConnell is going to continue to flex his muscle.
I just want to underscore one other point. We have had reporting today that one of my sources said that Mitch McConnell had told this member of Congress that he wanted Trump gone. He's also gotten a lot of pushback from members of the Senate.
And, as Manu reported earlier today, they don't think they have the votes. This gives a chance, not saying it's a big chance, to at least get more votes. It is a very high bar to get to 17 Republicans. But it takes away the excuse, you rushed through this.
BLITZER: And, Dana, let's talk a little bit about that, because, as you know, the president's allies in the Senate, they are -- as Manu reported earlier in the day, and Jamie just reported, they are increasingly confident that the Democrats don't have the 17 Republican votes they will need to convict.
BASH: That's right. President Trump's allies certainly have that. And it's not by accident.
I mean, there's a lobbying campaign going on, the lobbying campaign that Jamie's excellent reporting showed us about the people who want to convict Donald Trump in the Republican Party. But then there's an equally pretty aggressive lobbying campaign for those who don't and think that it will split the party even more, and it will make President Trump more of a martyr, and so on and so forth.
It is a real divide. That divide continues. But the other factor here that I'm hearing more is that the people who are kind of in the let's move on and not convict him camp are finding that they're having most success with the Republicans on the fence in saying, this is so unprecedented, the notion of convicting a president who's no longer in office of impeachment, which is supposed to remove him from office, that why would we do this?
We don't know how much that argument is going to kind of rule the day, but it seems to be making some inroads, according to my reporting, with some as Republicans on the fence.
BLITZER: I think you're right.
Abby, if the former president is acquitted now for a second time -- he's the only president in American history to be impeached twice. If he's acquitted now a second time, what's going to be the impact of them?
PHILLIP: I think it's going to have a pretty significant impact in terms of not just emboldening President Trump, like the last acquittal did, but emboldening the people who support him and have been basically delivering a message to Republicans on Capitol Hill that there will be retribution for people who cross Trump.
And I don't think we can see too far into the future about what Trump's actual political future is. But there's no question he will be holding that possibility over the heads of the Republican Party for a long time.
And that pressure will be so much more significant if he is acquitted a second time. There's already a sense of kind of aggrievement that the president is a -- that Trump is a victim of a system that is out to get him. And I think that only will double down on that perception as well.
BLITZER: As you know, Jamie, if he's acquitted a second time, he will call it a witch-hunt, it was phony, and all of that.
But how do you see this unfolding, assuming the Democrats don't have enough Republican support to go ahead and convict?
GANGEL: And, to Abby's point, he can run again, or at least he can tease that he's going to run again and hold the party hostage.
Dana said something very interesting about this constitutional argument that he's already been removed from office, so they don't convict him. There are arguments in the legal community on both sides, conservative Republicans.
I think what we're seeing here is, if you want an excuse, if you want a desk to hide under, Republicans are going to find one. They will say it's constitutional. They will say it's rushed. The real question here is about the future of the Republican Party, the reckoning about whether they are going to be held hostage to Donald Trump and his base or whether they're ready to break.
BASH: Well said.
BLITZER: Excellent analysis, as usual. Thanks to all of you.
Very important notes to our viewers right now, especially Dana and Abby.
I want to congratulate both of you on your brand-new roles as anchors of two of CNN's flagship political programs.
Be sure, first of all, to watch Dana, along with Jake Tapper, on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." It airs Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. Big show coming up with Dana this weekend. They have a terrific lead- in, I must say. Abby Phillip will anchor "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY." That airs at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, among her guests, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Abby at 8:00, Dana and Jake at 9:00. It's going to be amazing, Sunday morning, live television.
We're grateful to all of you. We will be watching. I will be watching, as I do every Sunday morning, of course, as well.
BASH: You're the best, Wolf Blitzer.
PHILLIP: Thank you so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Guys, congratulations, the both of you. We love you very, very much. Excellent news.
Coming up -- in fact, right now, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chair.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I know you're going to be watching Sunday mornings here on CNN as well. This is going to be very exciting for all of us.
But let's get to the breaking news we're following.
I want your immediate reaction, Congressman.
The Senate majority leader, you just heard him on the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer. He's now in line with Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, who first proposed delaying the start of the impeachment trial for a couple of weeks.
What's your reaction?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, the fact that there's an agreement is a good thing, because justice delayed at the end of the day is justice denied.
And there are some who would like this all to be buried and for the president not to be tried and held accountable for inciting a violent attack on the Capitol where lives were lost. There were individuals there to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, hang Mike Pence, and hunt down violently members of Congress.
The fact that there will be two weeks of preparation, which also includes the submission of trial briefs, I think, will take away this phony and fake argument that some Senate Republicans are looking for, which is, the process is rigged against the twice-impeached president.
They will always look for an excuse, it appears, Wolf, to continue their sycophantic behavior. And, in Washington, as you know, if you can't argue substance, argue process. And this will take away that process argument that they were attempting to weaponize against those of us and the American and people who are seeking justice in this case.
BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, before Chuck Schumer came out in favor of this two-week delay, several top Senate Republicans were saying the chances of convicting former President Trump, in their word, was nil.
Could this delay change, do you believe, the GOP calculation? What's going to be the impact of waiting until the week of February 8 to actually begin the process?
JEFFRIES: The impeachment was bipartisan in nature, because the facts were so clear in the public domain, as it results to the president's culpability for the violent attack on the Capitol.
It all began with him telling a big lie, that Donald Trump actually won the election and that the presidency was stolen from him and artificially handed to Joe Biden, one of the biggest lies ever told in the history of the republic, and it had deadly consequences.
No delay can take that lie away. Some of my Republican colleagues in the Senate supported that lie as well. That's unfortunate. I assume that they're already biased jurors. But the overwhelming majority of senators, I believe, will follow the
facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution, and hopefully come to a fair and just decision, based on the evidence that is presented by nine great impeachment managers during the trial.
BLITZER: Have you thought, Congressman, about the message, the potential message, that will go out if the former president, former President Trump, is now acquitted, acquitted a second time?
JEFFRIES: That's not my concern, in part because this was the most bipartisan impeachment in American history.
And I expect that there will be Democrats, and, of course, some Senate Republicans who will vote to convict Donald Trump for inciting a violent insurrection. The question is, can we get to 17 or not? That remains to be seen.
I think most reasonable and respectful senators on the Republican side are going to wait to hear the information before already lobbying and making process arguments to again find an excuse for Donald Trump's behavior.
We saw this during the last impeachment trial to some degree, Wolf. Well, let the American people decide, is what they said. He will learn his lesson.
The only lesson he learned is that he can shoot holes in the Constitution of Pennsylvania Avenue and get away with it. Now it's had deadly consequences. Hopefully, he won't get away with it a second time.
BLITZER: There are 50 Democrats in the Senate, 50 Republicans in the Senate, and all 100 senators are supposed to be jurors in a trial along this nature.
We will see if 17 Republicans -- I assume all 50 Democrats will vote to convict. We will see if there are 17 Republicans to do the same thing.
At the same time, Congressman, the Senate still hasn't reached what's called a power-sharing agreement. The speaker, Nancy Pelosi, wants to pass Biden's COVID relief bill with a process requiring less Republican support.
Is a new era -- do you think a new era of bipartisanship -- and we know President Biden keeps talking about this -- but do you believe, realistically, it's wishful thinking?
JEFFRIES: I don't think it's wishful thinking.
Under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic majority in the last two years, we worked with President Trump whenever and wherever we could. We worked with him, for instance, to pass the historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that protected good-paying American jobs. We worked with him prior to that on criminal justice reform. We worked
with him on the initial COVID-19 relief packages. And so, we're prepared to continue to work with Republicans to deal with this once- in-a-century pandemic, which requires a once-in-a-century congressional response.
It should be comprehensive, compassionate, and continuing. We have to crush the virus, which means testing, tracing, treatment, and vaccinations for every single American. We have to provide direct relief to those Americans who are hurting, increase the checks the $2,000 per person, deal with homelessness, deal with evictions, deal with food insecurity, and unemployment, of course, and ultimately lay the foundation to supercharge the economy.
And I'm so excited that we have a unifying leader in Joe Biden who has experience throughout his track record in the Senate and as vice president of bringing people together. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It's an American problem.
We're going to get that kind of leadership from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. And we're prepared, as House Democrats, to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to get this done.
BLITZER: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thanks so much for joining us.
He's the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Good luck. We will stay in close touch with you. Appreciate it very much.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead: There's some progress on the vaccine front emerging right now, as the sluggish pace of getting shots into arms appears to be -- this is good news -- picking up.
We're going to talk about the significance with Dr. Sanjay Gupta when we come back.
BLITZER: Tonight, there's new evidence that the drive to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 is actually accelerating as the U.S. death toll rises above 413,000, total cases in the United States approached 25 million. The CDC is now reporting that about 1.6 million vaccines were given in 24 hours. That's the biggest one-day increase so far. That's good news.
But tonight, less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated amid confusion about how and where to get shots and changing guidance on the vaccination process. Let's bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's also the author of the brand new bestselling book, it's really amazing, it's called Keep Sharp, How to Build a Better Brain. There you see it. How to Build a Better Brain at Any Age, I should say, as well. That's the full subtitle of Keep Sharp.
Sanjay, congratulations on this book. It's amazing. It's really great. You'll learn so much. But let's talk about the news, first of all. 1.6 million vaccines given out in 24 hours, that's an encouraging news. But we need to see many more daily vaccinations in order to make meaningful progress in containing this deadly pandemic, right?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORREPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. I mean you can do the math on this and sort of figure out how many people need to be vaccinated on a regular basis in order to get to this concept of herd immunity, you know, 70 to 75 percent of the country vaccinated. So, you know 1.6 million is terrific. Obviously, you've heard, everyone has heard about the 100 million doses in a 100 days sort of plan that the Biden Administration has laid out.
This obviously bodes well for that. There can always be hiccups, there can be problems but, you know, Wolf, I think it's going to get better. I spent a lot of time talking on people within the national pharmacy, retail space, people who were going to be involved with these community vacation centers. Once you start really getting that sort of organization on the ground, I think it's going to help a lot.
More than half the country is still right now, people who are watching, don't know specifically when they can get a vaccine and they don't know where they can get a vaccine. If that changes, and it is organized, I think the numbers can go up significantly higher.
BLITZER: Yes. And let's hope that happens. We're also, Sanjay, getting some new guidance from the CDC about the timing between vaccine doses, whether you can mix and match, which coronavirus vaccine you receive. Walk us through this because it gets pretty confusing.
GUPTA: Yes. This is a common question, I think, that a lot of people have been asking. There're these two authorized vaccines, one from Pfizer, one from Moderna. They are both what are called mRNA vaccines, very similar vaccines. So, the question has been, are they interchangeable? Can you sort of mix and match? And, basically, what the CDC is saying in specific situations, you know, this shouldn't be the norm by any means. But in certain situations, you may be able to do that.
For example, if you, you get a card when you get your first dose. I saw that but let's say you forgot what dose you got, which company gave you your first dose, could you get the other one? Yes, they say, again, not recommended but probably not a problem either. If there is a problem, Wolf, I think this is sort of stemming from this idea that maybe there's not enough vaccine in some places, could you take a Moderna as a second dose if you had Pfizer the first time, yes. Or if you're accidentally given a second dose by a different manufacturer, would it be a problem? Probably not. That's what they're saying.
But, Wolf, it is important to keep in mind that the data was really on two doses from the same manufacturer to get to that 90 percent-plus effectiveness. CDC has also said, in rare situations, instead of waiting three or four weeks, could you wait up to six weeks? And, again, the answer is yes. This is not recommended. I want to be clear on that. But if for some reason you couldn't get second dose on time, up to six weeks later, you could still get it and it should still provide you that level of protection.
BLITZER: Yes, all right. Well, that's really important information. A lot of us want to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Sanjay, let me show the book cover one more time because I really highly recommend this book. "Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age." This information if you're in the 20s, 30s, 70s, 80s, this is really important information for anyone. So, go ahead and get this book, Keep Sharp by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Thanks very much for writing the book. Thanks for everything you're doing always, Sanjay, we are all grateful to you.
GUPTA: I really appreciate that. Thank you Wolf, that means a lot. I really appreciate it.
BLITZER: Well, it's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I totally believe it. I have the book, as you know. Thanks very much, you actually signed it for me, I'm grateful to you for that as well.
Just ahead, the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is standing by live. We'll get to discuss efforts to get her city vaccinated and the roadblocks she's facing.
Plus, we're learning about security concerns prompting thousands of National Guard troops to stay right here in Washington a bit longer.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories. President Biden today signed executive orders to ease some of the economic suffering cause by the coronavirus crisis, this comes a day after his executive orders aimed at speeding up coronavirus vaccinations.
Let's discuss this and more with the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for joining us.
As you know, the president signed these executive orders among other things, addressing the hunger crisis, making sure low-income Americans can access their stimulus checks. He's urging Congress the pass this huge $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. How great is the need right now from what you're seeing, especially in Atlanta?
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: It's a tremendous need, Wolf. And I can tell you. I've been on a couple of Zoom conference calls with mayors across the nation and we are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Finally, there is a leadership in the White House that we can look to, to help give the support to our communities that we have so desperately needed, especially over the past year.
BLITZER: I want to get to some of the issues involving the pandemic in your state of Georgia, what, just 5 percent or so of the people who have received their first dose of the vaccine. What are the biggest roadblocks that you're seeing right now with vaccine distribution in your city of Atlanta?
BOTTOMS: I'm just not seeing an abundance of the vaccine, Wolf. We have begun in the city of Atlanta as an entity, giving vaccines to our public safety personnel, where they're going move on to our sanitation workers, et cetera. But as it relates to our communities, there are so many people desperately looking for the vaccine, people who are 75 and older, looking for that vaccine and I'm getting calls on a daily basis from people saying that they just can't find it.
My mother was amongst the first to be vaccinated at Morehouse School of Medicine. She's now due for her second vaccine. And I can tell you, I'm concerned. I am hopeful and prayerful that the second dose will be available when she goes back on February 1st but it is certainly a concern in Georgia.
BLITZER: Yes, so many people around the country. They get an appointment, they get a shot, they show up, and they say, we don't have any more leftover.
It is so, so sad to hear that, especially if you're older and potentially very, very vulnerable.
Georgia just did update, I understand, vaccination guidelines, saying, and I'm quoting now, vaccine providers in Georgia should not be vaccinating people from other states, with some limited exceptions.
Is this issue of what they call vaccine tourism on your radar? Is it a problem?
BOTTOMS: Well, you know, I'm less concerned about that because I don't think that people in the state or out of state can readily get access to the vaccine. Something that did concern me is that the metropolitan area didn't get as much of the vaccine at the beginning of the distribution as I had hoped that we would receive. A lot of it went to other places throughout the state.
But even in some of the smaller communities, I've seen reports of complaints that certain health systems didn't get vaccines.
And so, it really has been a patch work and it hasn't been a very successful patch work thus far. I am very hopeful that with the leadership from the White House that we now have, that there will be more coordination, and the vaccine will be widely distributed in the communities that need it most. BLITZER: Before I let you go, quickly, sadly today, the Hall of Famer
Hank Aaron passed away. He played for the Atlanta Braves, broke Babe Ruth's record in your city. How is Atlanta remembering this giant?
BOTTOMS: Oh, our hearts are broken, Wolf, because Hank Aaron, for as big he was a on the world stage, this was our hometown hero. And you won't -- in fact, I saw Hank Aaron at the vaccine -- when my mother received her vaccine. I saw him that same day, along with his beautiful wife Billye Aaron.
So they are out and about in our community. Huge philanthropic presence in our community and just salt of the earth people. So, our hearts are absolutely broken by this.
BLITZER: Yeah, I'm going to have more on Hank Aaron. I met him on some occasions, and it was a great thrill for me, one of my -- one of my great heroes.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank so much for joining us.
BOTTOMS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, prosecutors have now charged more than 125 people for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Stand by. We have new information on the investigation.
BLITZER: We have more breaking news we're following.
We're getting details about why thousands of National Guard troops are set to remain here many the nation's capital a bit longer. Sources tell CNN part of the reason is that there are concerns right now about more unrest during former President Trump's upcoming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
CNN's Brian Todd is getting new information on the investigation into the capitol insurrection.
Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we have new information on the manhunt which still has not brought in some very dangerous suspects. Still, some people charged with some of the more vicious attacks did face judges today.
TODD (voice-over): It was one of the most brutal attacks on day full of them. A man seen in this video outside the capitol on January 6th prosecutors say beating a police officer with a flagpole bearing the stars and stripes.
At one point, the man who prosecutors identified as Peter Stager spoke to "The Telegraph" outside the capitol.
PETER STAGER, ACCUSED OF BEATING POLICE OFFICER WITH FLAG POLE: The entire building is filled with treasonous traitors. Death is the only remedy for what's in that building.
TODD: Today, Peter Stager faced the judge for a detention hearing, facing a charge of civil disorder. Stager called an FBI tipster he thought he was attacking a member of the violent left wing group Antifa, even though the officer could be identified. Neither Stager nor his lawyer has commented.
Also in court today, Emmanuel Jackson accused of attacking police officers with a metal baseball bat. He's been denied bail. Jackson's defense, says his lawyer, he was incited to do it by President Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
TODD: Prosecutors have now charged more than 125 people since the January 6th assault. Experts say the numbers should go way up.
JOSHUA SKULE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, ALLIED UNIVERSAL: As individuals are arrested for charges and what will happen is those individuals will start talking about who they were in contact with, who their ring leaders were.
TODD: Also facing judges today, Eric Munchel, photographed wearing black paramilitary gear and carrying plastic restraints inside the Capitol.
And gold medal winning former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller videotaped inside the Capitol wearing a USA swimming jacket.
Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case of pipe bombs that the FBI says were left in cars near the capitol that day. Investigators have sifted through hours of surveillance video and cell phone data. The FBI and ATF increasing the reward to $75,000 for information on the case.
SKULE: There are people out there who know who that is. There are people who were undoubtedly connected with that person or persons that were at the attack on the capitol.
And so, I believe this is matter of time.
TODD: Meantime, tensions remain at a spike on Capitol Hill. Republican Congressman Andy Harris was stopped by a metal detector from bringing a concealed gun on the House floor, a Capitol official tells CNN. Harris's office did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Some Republicans have balked at the new security measures but other lawmakers say they are spooked by their own colleagues.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We still don't feel safe around other members of congress. One just tried to bring a gun on the floor of the house. You are endangering the lives of members of Congress. It's absolutely outrageous that we even have to have this conversation.
TODD: Adding to tension, some members of the national guard who were keeping the capitol safe through the inauguration were ordered to take breaks in a cold parking garage rather than the capitol visitor center. It's not clear who gave the order. They have since been allowed back into the capitol complex but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were upset.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I don't think a single senator feels that was acceptable. I'm glad the situation was resolved, and I hope we learn what happened.
TODD (on camera): Meanwhile, tonight, with all the arrests and new charges being leveled in the I investigation, still no arrest in death of Capitol Hill Police Officer Bryan Sicknick, who died as a result of injury suffered in the attack. Today, we pressed the FBI and the Capitol Hill police for any information, updates on the manhunt. They didn't get back to us -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.
Still ahead, we remember a legend, baseball great Hank Aaron.
BLITZER: Finally, tonight, we remember a great American. The baseball icon and civil rights activist Hank Aaron. Nicknamed Hammerin' Hank, the Atlanta Braves' hall of famer broke Babe Ruth's all-time mark for career home runs back in 1974.
On the way to breaking that celebrated record, he faced down death threats, racist taunting and hate mail. Yet, he preserved through it all, and always remained a champion for the sport he loved. His close friend, the civil rights leader Andrew Young says Hank Aaron had a spirit of determination and never let racism deter him.
Former President Barack Obama calls him one of the best baseball players we have ever seen and one of the strongest people I've ever met.
Hank Aaron was 86 years old. Our deepest condolences to his family and his friends. May he rest in piece and may his memory be a blessing.
Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.