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The Situation Room
President Biden Pushes Jobs Plan; Interview With Former CDC Director Thomas Frieden; Giuliani Signals His Legal Team is Prepared to Fight; India Sees Highest-Ever 24-Hour Surge in Cases and Record- High Daily Death Toll; Secret Service Chief: Putting Agency in Charge of Security on January 6 Would Have Been Better Protected Capitol from Rioters; U.S. Military: Not Considering Shooting Down Chinese Rocket. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 06, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, who he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: hopeful signs for a nation eager to get past the pandemic, COVID-19 infections dropping to a seven-month low here in the United States, as states are accelerating their reopening. Further declines in new cases and deaths are now forecast in the months ahead.
Also, tonight, we're told Representative Liz Cheney's ouster from the GOP leadership is on track for this coming Wednesday. But Trump allies are looking for another way to punish her for defying the former president. They're actively seeking a viable candidate to challenge Cheney in next year's Republican primary in her home state of Wyoming.
Meantime, the Trump loyalist expected to replace Cheney as the number three House Republican is speaking out in a new interview. Representative Elise Stefanik is making it clear she is all in on embracing Trump and doubling down on his false claims of election fraud.
Let's start our coverage this hour with CNN national correspondent Nick Watt. He's got our pandemic report.
Nick, after more than a year, we appear to be -- and let's hope it's true -- we appear to be turning a corner.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We sure do, Wolf.
Listen, here in California early January, there were more than 20,000 people in the hospital fighting this virus, today, fewer than 2,000. And as the governor just tweeted, turns out the vaccines work. Turns out the science works.
WATT (voice-over): Broadway tickets back on sale today, cruises almost back, trial voyages with volunteer vaccinated passengers. And kids from Jersey can soon play basketball out of state again.
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Things are only going to get better over the summer. I feel extremely optimistic about where we're headed.
WATT: The COVID-19 daily infection rate across this country lowest it's been in seven months, and?
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The models projected a sharp decline in cases by July 2021 and an even faster decline if more people get vaccinated sooner.
WATT: Vaccinations the only number going the wrong way right now, average daily doses in arms down 20 percent in a week. The president's goal? At least one dose in 70 percent of adults by Fourth of July.
Some states already there, a few getting close, some, a long way to go. Republicans are most hesitant. But look at this new poll. The percentage of Republicans who say never is falling.
DR. SCOTT HARRIS, ALABAMA STATE HEALTH OFFICE: We have encouraged particularly primary care doctors, but all physicians in the state, to personally reach out to people that they have a relationship with and try to make the case for getting vaccinated.
WATT: Kim Simmons of Illinois was hesitant, now fully vaccinated.
KIM SIMMONS, VACCINATED: I don't think it would be good to try to force people to get the vaccine, but I think they should think about their family, their community, and herd immunity.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I'd say immunize at least another 80 million to 100 million people, and then, when next winter comes, it will just be a bump, instead of a surge. We can do that.
WATT: July 4, we can probably gather to celebrate independence from the pesky Brits, but not quite independence from this virus.
WATT: And the new frontier is going to be vaccinating younger teenagers. Today, Moderna said early results show that their vaccine is 96 percent effective in teens, and no signs of serious health safety issues.
And, of course, we are also waiting for the FDA to potentially green- light the Pfizer vaccine for use in 12-to-15-year-olds -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's expected very, very soon.
All right, Nick Watt in L.A. for us, thanks very much. Let's discuss this and more with Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director
of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Frieden, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
So, as you know, coronavirus infections in the U.S. now at a seven- month low, but daily vaccinations are also trending down. Will the good news be short-lived if, if the pace of vaccinations continues to slow down?
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I'm optimistic that we're going to increasingly reach people who may not have been eager to get vaccinated but are now making up their minds to get vaccinated, what we sometimes call, Wolf, the movable middle. They're moving. They're getting vaccinated.
We need to change our approach, make sure we get vaccines into doctor's offices, community sites, pop-up locations, make it easy to get vaccinated, because, when there is reluctance, it's overcome by convenience. The more we vaccinate, the sooner we will get to the new normal.
I'm optimistic that, by summer, things will be much better, and by fall, we will be at the new normal.
BLITZER: Well, that would be so, so great.
As more states announce plans to end coronavirus restrictions, Dr. Frieden, some experts say the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated people is still too cautious. How should fully vaccinated people navigate what is seen as this gray area? What activities can they start doing once again at a very low risk?
FRIEDEN: It's important to remember that your vaccination protection also depends on the people around you getting vaccinated. Your vaccine works better when people around you are vaccinated as well.
And so, if you're in a community with a fair amount of COVID spreading -- and we still have high rates in much of the country -- then there is some risk. And we know that people who are older, people with immune problems may not have full protection from the vaccine.
The vaccines are astonishingly effective and very safe, but they're not perfect. So, we need to all be in it together to get the vaccine numbers up, so that we will be able to do more things more safely. The more of us vaccinated the sooner, the sooner we can get to the new normal.
But I do think vaccinated people can do more. It's a question of what your personal risk is. If you have underlying health conditions or are quite elderly, you may be at higher risk of vaccine failure. And what your community is doing. If there's a lot of vaccination or if there's a lot of COVID, that's going to adjust your level of risk and benefit. But a vaccine is the way to get through this pandemic. It's already
saving tens of thousands of lives, and it will end the pandemic in the U.S. Unfortunately, there isn't yet the kind of vaccine access globally that will end the global pandemic. And that's going to mean problems with travel and trade, problems with economic and social stability around the world, and the risk of more dangerous variants emerging and spreading.
So, get vaccinated. Get your friends and family and neighbors vaccinated, because the more of us who are vaccinated, the more we can all do freely.
BLITZER: Very solid advice, indeed.
Dr. Frieden, thanks so much for joining us.
FRIEDEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're also seeing signs that the U.S. economy is now recovering from the pandemic.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials hit yet another all-time record high for the second straight day, the index gaining more than 300 points at the closing bell today. Investors are anticipating a very, very upbeat jobs report coming out from the federal government tomorrow.
And this comes as President Biden is back on the road today selling his jobs plan, this time in Louisiana.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly.
Phil, the president laid down a new marker for possible compromise. He spoke openly about possible compromise with the Republicans on several key issues.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf.
Look, President Biden has obviously laid out extensive plans at the scale of more than $4 trillion. But when it comes to physical infrastructure, the president has been clear. He wants Republicans at the table. He has seen their initial offer. And he wants negotiations to continue in earnest.
And as part of those negotiations, the president is making clear that the corporate tax rate that he's planning to use to pay for some of his infrastructure proposal, which he proposed at 28 percent, he is willing to talk about that dropping in his proposal to 25 percent, saying today he was looking at a range from 25 to 28 percent.
Now, that doesn't mean it's going to clear any of the very significant hurdles towards a bipartisan agreement. Republicans have made clear they don't want to touch the changes made in their 2017 tax law at all. However, those conversations are expected to kick up in a major way next week. And the president had this to say:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm willing to hear ideas from both sides. I'm meeting with my Republican friends up in the Congress to see, number one, how much they're willing to go for, what they think are the priorities, and what compromises meant.
I'm ready to compromise. What I'm not ready to do, I'm not ready to do nothing. I'm not ready to have another period where America has another infrastructure month, and it doesn't change a damn thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, that last point is key.
Obviously, the White House is looking for bipartisan negotiations, trying to figure out if there's a pathway forward. Currently, I'm told by sources involved there are staff level negotiations, staff level discussions between White House staff and the staff of Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican, who is really leading a group of Republicans on this issue in the talks with the White House.
They haven't necessarily moved towards any type of possible conclusion, but they are going on in good faith. That, I'm told.
However, the president has made clear, if he doesn't believe there is a pathway towards a deal with Republicans after sitting down with them over the course of the next couple of weeks, his one red line is an action. He is willing to move unilaterally with Democrats only, if that's possible, if, if Democrats are willing to stick together in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.
But, first, he's made very clear he is willing to compromise. He wants Republicans at the table. And that will start next week, not only a meeting with Senator Capito and several of her colleagues, but also the entire congressional leadership, two Republicans, two Democrats, trying to figure out if there's any path forward on at least one piece of his sweeping plans -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, they will be meeting with the president of the United States. That will be significant.
Phil Mattingly over at the White House, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead: Liz Cheney's expected ouster from the House Republican leadership apparently isn't enough for Trump allies. We're going to have details on that and her likely replacement's newest, newest cozying up to the former president.
[18:15:01] BLITZER: House Republicans are now on track for a party-defining vote six days from now. That's when they're expected to boot Trump critic Liz Cheney from the leadership and replace her with Trump loyalist Elise Stefanik.
We're also told Trump allies are now working to actually oust, get rid of Cheney from Congress as well. They clearly don't like her.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles, right now.
Ryan, what more are you learning?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no doubt about that, that the Trump allies appear to be emboldened by Liz Cheney and the fact that she has lost the confidence of House Republicans.
It's not just enough for those loyal to President Trump for Cheney to be removed from her position in House leadership. There are already a number of candidates eying a potential challenge to her in a primary in the 2020 midterms.
NOBLES (voice-over): Tonight, House Republicans making it clear.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes, I think that for sure the votes are there, and I think it will happen most likely next Wednesday.
NOBLES: Liz Cheney is out, and New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has the votes to replace her as their conference chair, Stefanik endorsed by former President Donald Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise.
The reason Cheney's being forced out? Refusing to stay quiet over Trump's big lie about the 2020 election results, while Stefanik continues to spout Trump's falsehoods.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): When you talk to any voter across this country, certainly at any Republican event, they are focused on election security and election integrity.
NOBLES: On Thursday, Stefanik trying to shore up her credentials with wary conservatives who worry about her moderate past, giving her first interview to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and falling in line with FOX News talking points.
STEFANIK: I fully support the audit in Arizona. We want transparency and answers for the American people.
NOBLES: Stefanik saying she supports an ongoing audit of Joe Biden's 2020 win in Arizona, which Republican election officials in the state have panned.
Stefanik also doubling down on Trump's lies that he won, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary from GOP election officials in many of the states where Trump and his supporters are complaining about the results.
But her ascendancy to GOP leadership is not without complications. The conservative advocacy group Club For Growth called her a liberal and warned -- quote -- "House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House majority."
The House Freedom Caucus, which is no fan of Cheney's, held a conference called Wednesday night, where many members expressed concern about Stefanik's past support for Republicans like former Speaker Paul Ryan and expressed hope they could meet with her to make sure she is conservative enough.
Meanwhile, very few Republicans are rushing to support Cheney, this after she wrote a scathing op-ed in "The Washington Post," again hammering Trump over his election lies and insisting this is a fight for the survival of democracy itself.
On the ground in her home state, Wyoming Republicans are already gearing up for the 2020 (sic) election, with several candidates eying a primary challenge.
Former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina arguing Cheney's ouster will have long-term repercussions.
CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Liz Cheney is correct. This is terrible for the party in the medium and the long run, and it's terrible for the country in the short run.
NOBLES: And while it is inevitable that Elise Stefanik will likely become the next Republican House Conference chair, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of angst in conservative circles about her quick rise to this post.
I'm told that conference call with House Freedom Caucus members, there were many of these Republican members that expressed serious concerns about her lack of a conservative voting record. But, Wolf, as much as they are worried about Stefanik maybe potentially getting them into another situation where her message doesn't align with those in the party, they have also resigned themselves to the fact that she has the votes, and she will likely become the third-ranking House Republican in the very near future -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, and maybe as early as next Wednesday.
Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.
Let's bring in our special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and CNN political commentator Mia Love, a former Republican member of Congress.
Jamie, I know you're working your sources. What are you hearing from conservative Republicans, conservatives, about Congresswoman Stefanik's clearly very mixed record over these past few years?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It's fascinating, Wolf. They don't like her.
They say that Liz Cheney is a true conservative, but they also say it doesn't matter, because she has the one endorsement that counts. And that is Donald Trump's. So, they are -- they may not be happy about it, but they're willing to look beyond it.
I spoke to one conservative today who said something that I thought was fascinating about where the Republican Party is now. He said: "We're not a party anymore. We are a coalition."
And as long as Elise satisfies the Donald Trump litmus test, that's what matters, because the party, the coalition is now really made up of a lot of people, a lot of MAGA people who are -- quote -- "not true Republicans," Wolf.
BLITZER: It's interesting, Gloria.
Do any of those concerns from these conservatives really matter, when Congresswoman Stefanik has embraced the lies of former President Trump and has his outright blessing?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: They don't matter at all.
And I think they understand that. They can raise all the concerns they want. And, actually, as we all know, it's kind of ludicrous, because Liz Cheney is so much more conservative than Stefanik. But we all know that Donald Trump really wasn't a conservative.
So, the only thing that really matters is the endorsement of the man who is setting the agenda for House Republicans. That's Donald Trump. And they're willing to say, you know what, that's fine with us right now, because, in a way, the House Republican Conference, which is supposed to set the agenda, won't really set the agenda anyway.
That will be up to the former president.
BLITZER: Mia, the Republicans clearly want to replace the number three House Republican, Liz Cheney, with another woman. It wouldn't look good just to have a bunch of white guys leading the Republican House Caucus.
Carly Fiorina, a former Republican presidential candidate, sums up their view -- and I'm quoting her now. She says: "We want a woman, but we don't want the woman to have an opinion of her own."
Do you agree?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that that's actually pretty fair to say.
As a matter of fact, I have spoken to a lot -- first of all, I have spoken to a lot of my colleagues in the past couple of hours. And they have said that this is not just about a pro-Trump vs. an anti-Trump, that they have lost confidence, and that she doesn't create this unified message.
However, they're not disagreeing with Liz Cheney on policy. And Republicans are going to have to ask themselves whether the conservative litmus test is going to be about whether they support the former President Donald Trump or whether it's actually about the Constitution and preserving the Constitution.
And that is my fear, because this is sending a clear message, I think, to suburban women. It's sending a message to me. Liz Cheney allows Republicans to say, I may disagree with the president, but I can still be a Republican.
And we're losing that -- they're losing that battle.
BLITZER: Yes, that's really significant.
Gloria, the congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, isn't boosting Trump's big lie in a vacuum. Republicans are using that lie to make it harder and harder for people to vote across the country. Florida, by the way, just passed new voting restrictions.
Texas is on track to do the same thing. What does this say right now about the GOP?
BORGER: Well, it's under the control of Donald Trump.
Look, you can draw a direct line between the rigged election narrative, the big lie, whatever you want to call it, and the move by Republicans in mostly red states to change election law because too many people voted.
And it's not the election officials who are doing it. They are almost all uniformly opposed to lots of these proposals. But it is because Donald Trump has been saying there was major election fraud in this country. So far, 60 courts have said, including the Supreme Court, we don't see it.
But, so long as Donald Trump says it, they're going to do it.
BLITZER: And he keeps on saying it.
Jamie, I understand you also spoke to a source who said the Republican Party is -- quote -- "probably not much interested in democracy any longer."
Hard to believe, but that's a quote you got. It's a frightening prospect, isn't it?
GANGEL: This is exactly why Liz Cheney is speaking up. She believes democracy is in danger.
And just one point on what Mia said about her former Republican colleagues saying that Liz Cheney doesn't have a unified message. She doesn't have a unified message on one thing, and that's Donald Trump and the big lie. On policy, she's the most conservative. BLITZER: Yes, it's amazing. And that article she wrote in "The
Washington Post" yesterday was so, so powerful, raising the prospect that, if the Republicans continue to listen to Trump, democracy here in the United States potentially could be in deep, deep trouble.
Hard to believe, but that's her major point. And she's a very conservative Republican from Wyoming.
All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up: new details emerging right now of Rudy Giuliani's financial woes, amid his growing legal problems, and the help his allies are now seeking for him, and they're seeking a lot of help for him, from former President Trump.
BLITZER: There are serious new questions emerging tonight about Rudy Giuliani's financial status, as his allies are now calling on former President Trump to help pay Giuliani's mounting legal bills.
And Giuliani's son says the former Trump lawyer has not been paid for legal services he provided to the president in recent years.
Our senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, has been doing excellent reporting on all of this for us.
Paula, so will Giuliani get any of the money -- and he wants a ton of money -- will he get any of the money he wants from Trump?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it doesn't look good.
Now, Giuliani's son Andrew also told CNN -- and he worked in the Trump White House -- he believes that, once the former president is made aware of this situation, that he will -- quote -- "indemnify" his father.
But, Wolf, we've learned former President Trump is aware of the situation. We've learned that a Giuliani associate brought this issue of these debts to the former president. We know that Giuliani's personal attorney, Robert Costello, also addressed the issue of Giuliani being paid with the Trump legal team. And I asked Costello, were they receptive, does it look they're going to give him money? He would only say, no comment.
Now, we've also learned that another Giuliani associate, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, he also approached the RNC several months ago asking for Giuliani to get paid, and he still hasn't gotten any money. So, at this point, it just does not appear to be a guarantee that he is going to get any kind of these financial assistance, but the bills are adding up. We've learned that he has added four additional attorneys to his legal team. They appear to be preparing for a fight, but these kinds of fights cost a lot of money.
BLITZER: It could wind up costing millions of dollars. What does this tell you, Paula, about the financial peril that Giuliani may be in right now?
REID: Wolf, I spoke with a close associate of the former mayor, and he tells me that right now he's doing okay in the wake of these raids, but Giuliani is very frustrated and is concerned about his legal bills not just for the ongoing criminal investigation in New York, but he's also facing several lawsuits. This associate confirms that it will likely cost him several million dollars to defend himself in that criminal investigation in New York.
At this point, of course, he has not been charged with any crimes, but we know he's under investigation for possible foreign lobbying violations. And we know that when people can't afford to defend themselves in a trial, often they have to enter plea deals.
BLITZER: And we know his home and office in New York City were raided by the FBI in recent days as well. Paula Reid, thank you very, very much.
Let's discuss this and more with our Senior Legal Analyst, the former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara. Preet, thanks so much for joining us.
If Trump does not pay Giuliani, Giuliani doesn't get all that money for legal bills for what he did for Trump in recent years, could that potentially increase the likelihood that Giuliani, if he's eventually charged with any crime, might flip and cooperate with investigators?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, he certainly could. I mean, people have flipped over less and some people have not flipped even when there was more reason to flip, a sign of disrespect or financial distress that Rudy Giuliani is in.
I'll say it as an initial matter, it's kind of perplexing to hear that Rudy Giuliani is in such financial trouble. Yes, the legal bills will be substantial, but just as a reminder to folks, he's been in the private sector, I believe, since 2001. And someone who is a former mayor, former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and private practice consulting and legal work, so people understand, the market is such that that's millions of dollars a year would be the typical remuneration for someone like that over 20 years.
And so there are other interesting questions if I'm an investigator as to why it is the case that after 20 years in private practice, there's a problem with money in the bank account? As to whether or not Donald Trump will suddenly after decades and decades of having a reputation for being stingy and not paying bills that he's obligated to pay, I don't know why there's any expectation he'll be generous with his former lawyer at this point.
BLITZER: Giuliani has signaled, Preet, that his legal team is prepared to fight. But just how strong do you think the Southern District' of New York's case against Giuliani potentially could be? We should note, you once were the attorney for the Southern District of New York, so you understand what's going on.
BHARARA: I do, generally, but I don't know any of the evidence that the office has. I don't know if there will ultimately be a case. I have suggested that given the aggressiveness of the search warrants and given the status of Rudy Giuliani that they probably have decent evidence and certainly very strong evidence of probable cause to be able to undertake those searches. Whether or not there's a charge later, I don't know.
What I do know is, my expectation would be if and when you see a federal criminal charge out of the Southern District against Rudy Giuliani, they will believe it's a strong case. I don't think you take an action like this and bring a charge given all the circumstances, collateral and central to the case, unless you believe you have a strong one. That, I think, is probably right.
BLITZER: Like you, Giuliani was also once the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. So he fully appreciates, he fully understands what is going on right now, right?
BHARARA: Yes, I mean, better than almost anyone who's ever been through the process. I mean, there was actually a famous case, at least for folks who are alums of the Southern District of New York, there was a case of somebody who was in the office and was committing crimes. He was taking evidence from the evidence room.
And Rudy Giuliani was the U.S. attorney at the time. And he came down on that person like a ton of bricks. It's a piece of lore out of the Southern District of New York.
There are not many other folks, certainly nobody who ran the office, who had been investigated in this way like Rudy Giuliani has been. So he knows better than almost anyone in the country what all this means for him.
BLITZER: Yes. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York during 9/11, he was America's mayor. Time Magazine noted he was the man of the year. And look what has happened now. He's 76 years old. Look what he's going through. Preet Bharara, thanks so much for joining us.
BHARARA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, almost 4,000 deaths in more than 400,000 new cases in just 24 hours. We're going live to India where the coronavirus pandemic is setting chilling, awful new records.
BLITZER: A truly terrible new milestone in India's coronavirus crisis. Tonight, the country is reporting its highest-ever one-day surge in cases, more than 400,000 and a new record high daily death toll, almost 4,000 people. CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is on the scene for us. He reports some grieving families right now who are lashing out at doctors.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Frantic, knocking on the door to an intensive care unit for COVID patients. There's confusion among relatives and police. When they push inside, what they find is horrific. The ICU has been abandoned except for its patients. And they're all six dead before the doctors left.
A voice says, everyone ran away, there are no medicos here, there's no one here, no doctor, no guard. How can doctors run away leaving patients? A crime has been committed here. How can you leave them, he yells at a police officer?
There's been no crime, there has been a tragedy. Medical staff were ordered out of the ICU and to hide when the oxygen ran out.
It's little hospitals like this that really form the backbone of the public health structures right across India. They're very much on the forefront of the COVID pandemic dealing with patients, but also dealing with the emotional fallout.
It's that fallout that caused them to briefly flee. Here's why. Four days earlier, bereaved relatives of another deceased COVID patient attacked staff, forcing calls to the police from doctors. When the oxygen ran out in the ICU a couple of days later, another attack on the doctors began.
DR. SWATI RATHORE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, KRITI HOSPITAL: 15 people attacked us, we were sitting. And then I asked, I requested my doctors and staff, you please run away and hide on the third floor until I manage the situation because I don't want them to get hit at any cost.
KILEY: COVID cases have soared past 20 million in India with the official death toll climbing towards 4,000 a day. Many people have died through lack of oxygen. There is growing anger at state and national governments, but it's often medics who bear the brunt.
RATHORE: Please help us, understand us, love us, respect us, because everyone can be on the ICU bed any hour of the day. You need doctors to supply the oxygen to the patient. If you will hit them, then who will take of your patients?
KILEY: Her staff are back at work in the ICU again filled with patients. There is ample oxygen here, at least for now. But as scientists are warning of a third Indian pandemic wave before the second has even peaked, anger and fear will continue to grow.
KILEY (on camera): Now, Wolf, there's been additional criticism now for Narendra Modi, the prime minister's decision to press ahead with a $1.8 billion equivalent renovation and new building project right in the center here of New Delhi, of the administrative district to build a new home for the prime minister and a new parliament building. These are intended to generate nearly 50,000 jobs, but that's not washing at the moment given the scale of public suffering. Wolf?
BLITZER: And those numbers of the cases and the deaths probably low, because of so many unreported, awful, awful situation. Our hearts go out to all the people in India. Sam Kiley on the scene for us, thank you.
Coming up, Florida now becomes the latest Republican-led state to enact a restrictive new voting law. But the state's governor took it a step further with the unusual way he signed it.
BLITZER: Tonight, we're getting more insight into the deadly security failures during the January 6th insurrection here in Washington up on Capitol Hill.
The director of the U.S. Secret Service now publicly acknowledging his agency wasn't prepared for civil unrest.
Brian Todd is working the story.
Brian, tell us more about this new testimony today.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the first time we've heard from the Secret Service director since the January 6 insurrection. He has given bracing perspective on what could have been prevented that day.
TODD: Tonight, the director of the Secret Service in his first public remarks since the January 6th attack telling Congress if his agency had been put in charge of security planning ahead of the electoral vote count, the Capitol could have been better protected.
JAMES MURRAY, DIRECTOR, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: You would have seen more people, you have seen more perimeter fencing, you would have seen more resources.
TODD: But James Murray said that would have involved designating January 6th as a so-called national special security event beforehand, something like a State of the Union Address, which would have allowed more time to coordinate protection for the Capitol between local, state and federal security agencies.
Former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer says with or without the intelligence failures leading up to that day --
TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: There was not an indication it needed to be a national security event. We hadn't progressed that far to think the counting of the votes required it to be a national security event.
TODD: The Secret Service did play a pivotal role that day, whisking then Vice President Mike Pence to safety as rioters came within 100 feet of Pence.
Secret Service Director Murray also admitted some of the civil disturbances over the past year have brought to light some critical needs in his agency.
MURRAY: We found we did not have enough of our folks trained in civil disturbance. We didn't have enough equipment in that regard.
TODD: The Secret Service director's testimony comes as D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone who was brutally attacked on January by rioters lashes out at Congress. In an open letter to elected officials, Fanone says he struggles with psychological trauma, emotional anxiety, and, quote, with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those that would ignore them all together with their lack of acknowledgement, the indifference shown to my colleague and I is disgraceful.
Fanone didn't say who he was referring to, but complained to CNN's Don Lemon about these remarks from former President Donald Trump about the rioters.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Some of them went in there and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards, that they had great relationships.
OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, WASHINGTON, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE: I think it's dangerous. It's very much not the experience that I had on the 6th. You know, I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me.
TODD (on camera): And in the meantime, a man from Tennessee who was one of several charged with assaulting Officer Fanone has dropped his effort to be released from jail and will stay behind bars pending his trial. This man named Albuquerque Head allegedly grabbed the officer by the neck and dragged him into the mob where he was beaten mercilessly. Albuquerque Head has pleaded not guilty to ten different charges, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Officer Fanone, as we know, he's been very, very outspoken. We're learning more about what actually happened to him, right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. You know, he recently told Don Lemon, this was hand-to-hand combat he was engaged in, the worst hand to hand combat of his entire life, his career spanning more than 20 years. He said he was beat within fists, with metal objects that they stole his badge and his ammunition, that he was tased multiple times. He's clearly, clearly still suffering post-traumatic stress. He's
talked about that openly. And it's kind of microcosm of what some of the officers who were involved that day had to deal with that day. There were dozens and dozens of both U.S. Capitol police and Metropolitan Police officers who were injured that day.
And again, not enough being as we're talking about this about the response from the metropolitan D.C. police. They were real heroes that day. They don't get enough mention as far as their quick response and the numbers with which they responded to that riot. They're not mentioned enough in this whole thing.
BLITZER: Yeah, you're absolutely, positively 100 percent right. And, by the way, more than 400 of those rioters have now been formally charged and more charges on the way.
Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you very, very much.
We'll have more news right after this.
BLITZER: This is a very worrisome development that's unfolding right now. A school bus-size section of a Chinese rocket launched last week is now on track to fall back to Earth sometime this weekend, and it's so big it's smoldering chunks that don't burn up on reentry and could smash into the ground or ocean. Nobody, nobody right now knows where.
CNN's Oren Liebermann is in Pentagon for us. He's watching this very closely.
Oren, first of all, what are you hearing from our military experts?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, everyone is watching where this goes, especially, of course, U.S. Space Command.
It is, of course, a 22-ton piece of Chinese space chunk. A piece of a rocket that fell off when they launched part of the Chinese space station into orbit just a couple of weeks ago. It is an incredibly important issue, as they watch where this goes. The question is as you just pointed out, nobody know where is this will go.
The range for when it will crash back down to Earth is beginning to narrow, but it's still quite wide, sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. And that's what makes this difficult to predict. It's swinging around the Earth into orbit at 18,000 miles an hour, which means a small difference or a small error in figuring out when it drops out of orbit and heads towards the earth means a difference of hundreds, if not thousands of miles.
And that's why we're not seeing any predictions on exactly where this will hit. A key question, should you be losing sleep? Should you be worried about this? Not at the moment. And that's simply because of the Earth itself, 70
percent is covered in water. Even the 30 percent that's covered in land isn't inhabited in a great percentage here. So the odds are still very much in favor of this crashing into the ocean or crashing into some uninhabited territory.
This isn't that unprecedented. Last year, there was a 17 or 18 or 19- ton piece of Chinese space chunk, again, part of a rocket that hurdled towards the earth. It passed over L.A. and New York before crashing down into the Atlantic. So, this has happened before. But something that's heavier than 20,000 tons hurdling back to Earth is something, of course, the U.S. military is tracking.
To put this in perspective, there are more than 20,000 pieces of manmade objects in space, some of those are satellites, some of those are pieces of debris from other launches that the U.S. tracks. And this is but one of them. It is the most pressing one of them that they're tracking -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And they're not considering trying to shoot it down, is that right?
LIEBERMANN: There's no plan to shoot it down. Because the orbit is uncontrolled, it's very difficult. Part of it is, you might break up a piece of 20-ton piece of space junk into two ten-ton pieces of space chunk, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. So, there's it's a worrisome development indeed. We'll see what happens over the weekend.
Oren Lieberman, at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thank you very much for watching. You can follow me on Twitter, and Instagram, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.