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Dow Sinks 725 Points As Delta Variant Fears Hit Wall Street; Capitol Rioter Who Breached Senate Gets Eight Months In Prison In First Felony Sentencing From January 6 Attack; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R- CA) Names Five Republicans To January 6 Committee; At Least 150 Killed In U.S. Weekend Shootings; Jeff Bezos Talks To CNN Just Hours Before Historic Launch. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 19, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Kristin Fisher, thank you so much, good to see you.

In this programming note, Anderson Cooper will lead the live coverage from Texas tomorrow morning starting at 8:00 A.M. right here on CNN. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn.

Our coverage continues right now. Jim Acosta is in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, as COVID cases and deaths rise across the U.S., the stock market plunges with the Dow tumbling more than 700 points.

Anxiety over the dangerous delta variant is also prompting a new warning for school children to mask up. We're tracking a widening COVID outbreak ahead of the Summer Olympics. Four U.S. athletes now testing positive just four days before the games begin. CNN is live in Tokyo.

And the first Capitol rioter convicted of a felony is sentenced to eight months in prison, less than prosecutors wanted. What message will that send to other insurrectionist?

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta and you are in The Situation Room.

We begin this hour with the delta variant hitting this country harder every day. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, COVID trends are moving in the wrong direction all across the U.S. And tonight, the markets are feeling the pain as well with the Dow's biggest nose dive this year.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Jim, the fears of the delta variant seem to be making their way into the market, sending the Dow down 700 points at closing today. And it started going down at the opening. It never bounced back from that, making it the worst day not only of 2021 but since October amid these concerns about potential of another slowdown and the impact that the delta variant is going to have on the U.S.


COLLINS (voice over): With the delta variant spreading throughout the U.S., President Biden is delivering an urgent warning to the millions who remain unvaccinated tonight.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you are unvaccinated, you are not protected.

COLLINS: The U.S. is now averaging over 32,000 new cases per day, up 66 percent over the last week. Deaths have also increased by 17 percent with an average of 266 new deaths per day, nearly all unvaccinated. The delta variant is driving the rise in cases and widening the gulf between those who have gotten the shot and those who haven't.

BIDEN: Just four states account for nearly 40 percent, four states, 40 percent of all cases last week.

COLLINS: Dr. Anthony Fauci says those who are fully vaccinated are well protected, while offering a bleak outlook for those who aren't.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: For the unvaccinated, that means not only getting infected, that means some portion of the people who are infected will get seriously ill, requiring hospitalizations and in some cases, unfortunately, death.

COLLINS: As many school districts are preparing for their first day back, the American academy of pediatrics released new guidance recommending that everyone over the age of two mask up.

FAUCI: If they feel that that's the way to go, I think that's a reasonable thing to do.

COLLINS: Tonight, the White House is also attempting to soften Biden scathing criticism of social media companies after he said those that allow misinformation to spread are, quote, killing people.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We are in a battle with the virus.

COLLINS: Biden telling reporters his comments weren't supposed to be taken literally.

You said last week that companies and platforms like Facebook are killing people.

BIDEN: Facebook isn't killing people. These 12 people that are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It is killing people.

COLLINS: The president is calling on Facebook to be more aggressive in combating vaccine lies.

BIDEN: My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation.

COLLINS: He declined to say if he would push for regulations if tech companies don't do more to limit the spread of misinformation.

BIDEN: I'm trying to hold people -- make people look at themselves, look in the mirror.

COLLINS: Facebook officials are firing back on the White House's pressure campaign, telling the administration to stop the finger pointing while accusing them for looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.

The country still has not met Biden's July 4th deadline for getting 70 percent of Americans partially vaccinated. Biden is rebuffing Facebook's assertion that it's about missing goals.

BIDEN: Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love.


COLLINS (on camera): Now, Jim, when it comes to travel today the state department raised its travel advisory for the United Kingdom to a level four, do not travel. That is in accordance with a revision from the CDC earlier in the day. Before that, it had been at a level three.

And this comes as we saw Canada announce today that starting on August 9th, they are going to start letting fully vaccinated Americans back into Canada.


And when the White House was asked if they were going to reciprocate or if we should expect the U.S. to lift some of its travel restrictions that have remain in place, they said they're still reviewing it, Jim, but they don't have any updates.

ACOSTA: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

And President Biden will face questions about the big issues facing the nation during a CNN town hall event live from Cincinnati, Ohio. It airs Wednesday at 8:00 P.M. Eastern only on CNN.

Now, to the pandemic's toll on the Olympics as at least two more athletes have tested positive for COVID-19.

CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Tokyo for us right now. Sanjay, how much of a problem is COVID posing for the summer games, which, as we all know, begin on Friday? It's coming soon.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning from Tokyo, Jim. First of all, I'll tell you, the mood is very different, Jim. You and I have both traveled to these types of events and the planes are empty coming over here, we had to all be tested, there is lots of procedural things.

And we are seeing that manifest in the Olympic Village as well. There has been about 60, 61 now infections, people who have tested positive, I should say, about half from Japanese locals, about half from overseas visitors. And, basically, it's causing an issue where people then have to be isolated, as you know, and then contacts have to be traced and people have to be quarantine quarantined.

And then for those people who have had contact with someone who test positive, they're life change as well. They are in separate vehicles. They have to dine separately. They have to go into quarantine, as I mentioned. So, you know, we are going to see this over and over again.

We are not seeing people get really sick as you heard in that piece there. I mean, the people who are vaccinated, they are very well protected against that illness. But, Jim, I should point out as well that vaccines are not mandatory for the Olympics. You got people coming from 200-plus countries, states and territories around the world. Not all those countries have vaccines. So the vaccines are not mandatory, so that maybe an issue as well, Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, sounds like it could get complicated, Sanjay. Are organizers taking enough safety precautions, do you think?

GUPTA: Well. I mean, Jim, it is one of these things -- I mean, looking back you know 15, 20 years and we say so we're trying to do an Olympics, a worldwide sporting event bringing in people from all these places in the middle of a pandemic into a country that has only 12 percent of its own citizens vaccinated and the numbers are increasing. Those are the facts, so, I mean, doing as much as you can under those circumstances.

I think, you know, they're doing a good job with the testing, and I think people are being very, very diligent about the protocols but you are dealing with a very contagious virus. As we all know, this delta variant far more contagious.

As we've said so many times, and in things like putting up plexiglass that might be good based on what we initially thought about the virus in terms of respiratory droplets. But once you start to think about the virus more like smoke, someone who is infected just pushing smoke out into the environment, it is just very hard to protect people from that sort of thing.

So as good as possible, Jim, perhaps, but we know what we're dealing with here.

ACOSTA: And Sanjay, what's the risk that the Olympics turn out to be a super-spreader event? Do they have to worry about the delta variant there?

GUPTA: I think so, you know. I mean, first off, you just take Japan in terms of what was happening before the Olympics, we can see sort of how the delta variant was tracking. I mean, like we have seen in other the countries around the world, I think that more than half the countries around the world now have delta variant present, if not, dominant. The same thing has happened in Japan.

So this is -- when we say this is more contagious, one thing that I think is worth pointing out, it's people who have this infection, they tend to have a thousand times the viral load than they would have had with the original strain. So a thousand times the viral load means you maybe -- even if you don't have much in the way of symptoms, you are likely to be expressing, pushing that virus out into the air.

I don't want to suggest that there is going to be a lot of people getting very sick or requiring hospitalizations because, again, the vaccines are effective and most people are vaccinated, but we're going to see more cases. We're going to hear more, 61 today. I think without a question, those numbers will go up over the next couple of weeks.

ACOSTA: Yes. It is sure to be a disruption for the games. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

Now, let's get more of the growing danger posed by the delta variant, especially among the unvaccinated. We are joined now by the former Acting Director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser. Dr. Besser, thank you so much for being with us.

Let me just piggyback on what Sanjay was talking about a few moments ago. Dr. Scott Gottlieb said, most people who are still susceptible to the coronavirus will get the delta variant and it will be the most serious virus they get in their lifetime. That's a pretty stark warning. Do you agree?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, PRESIDENT & CEO, ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: Well, I agree that anyone who is not vaccinated against COVID is likely to get this, given how contagious it is, and as well given that you are seeing concentrations of people who were not vaccinated living together.


And so that creates real opportunity for spread.

In terms of it being the most serious virus that people get, I would not agree with that. You know, I would have agreed with that if we were in the pre-vaccine period. One of the things that is encouraging in the United States is the high levels of vaccine coverage among the elderly.

And so when we saw spikes last summer, we saw spikes in the winter before there was vaccine coverage, we saw a dramatic impact in terms of hospitalizations and deaths. And, thankfully, there has been a tremendous effort to vaccinate the elderly, those at greatest risk.

So while there will be an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, unfortunately, and that those will be increasingly among young people because of the widespread, we aren't going to be seeing the numbers that we saw last year. ACOSTA: And this is an interesting question that has just come up today. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending universal masking in schools for everyone older than age two. You're a pediatrician. Will this guidance be enough for parents who are trying to figure out what to do about in person education this fall? A lot of parents, I'm sure, are asking questions based on this reporting today.

BESSER: Yes. You know, Jim, this is one of those challenging issues. As a pediatrician and a parent, I know that the best place for kids to be in terms of their emotional health, in terms of their development is in school. And I think what we have learned over the past year is that this can be done safely. It can be done safely for children.

You know, those who are 12 and older, we have to increase the pressure and the accessibility for those kids to be vaccinated, encouraging them to do that so that middle school and high school could be more like a normal experience. You know, when I see states around the country and some governors saying they're not going to promote vaccines for these kids, that I find extremely discouraging because there is the opportunity to protect those children and those people who have contact with those children if we get on the same page and do what public health is recommending.

ACOSTA: We definitely have to get on the same page, no question about it. Dr. Richard Besser, thank you so much for that. We appreciate it.

And just ahead, the first Capitol rioter convicted of a felony for his role on the January 6th insurrection has just received a prison sentence from a federal judge, far less, though, than what prosecutors were asking for. What message does that send to the other insurrectionists?



ACOSTA: Tonight, a federal judge has just handed down an eight-month prison sentence to the first U.S. Capitol rioter convicted of a felony. It is a closely watched case, which could influence sentencing for hundreds of other defendants charged in the January 6th insurrection.

Our CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has more. Paula, how serious was this sentence? It was not as much as prosecutors wanted.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. The Justice Department wanted a year and a half. Here, the defendant, Paul Hodgkins, he's admitted to breaching the Senate chamber and helping to delay the counting of electoral votes. While prosecutors said this was an act of domestic terrorism, they wanted a longer sentence to send a message to anyone else contemplating acts of political violence.

Now, here, the judge did note the threat to democracy, saying, quote, when a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol to prevent elected officials from both parties from performing their constitutional and statutory duty, democracy is in trouble. But he opted to grant some of the leniency, saying that look, this is a guy who pleaded orally. He wasn't involved in violence and he has issued a sincere apology.

Now, it is also interesting during the insurrection, Mr. Hodgkins, he was wearing a Trump T-shirt, brandishing a Trump flag. The judge said, this was a guy who declared his loyalty to an individual over the nations. And notable that even in this significant sentencing, a judge, once again, pointing the finger for the insurrection at the former president.

ACOSTA: And what do we think, Paula? Does this sentence affect the other cases moving forward? I suppose it's going to be a grab bag of sentencing, depending on the severity of the case.

REID: Certainly. As you noted, many lawyers are watching this, particularly for their clients who may be similarly situated. They're going to argue for something like this or something less. But, look, the judge specifically said some sentences will be far higher, some will be far lower.

But this reasoning will certainly set a benchmark for those future cases. Over 500 people have been charged. 230 of them have been charged with this same exact crime. So it sets the tone, but there will likely be some variation depending on the individual facts of those cases.

ACOSTA: So many people are watching these sentences come down and a lot of people out there want the books thrown at those insurrectionists. All right, Paula Reid, thank you so much.

I want to bring in CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey and CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams for more.

Elliot, this sentence is shorter than what the Justice Department asked for. How did that happen? Do you think this is too lenient or was this fair in this case?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. It could have been much higher. Look, let's talk, Jim, about the sentencing guidelines. There is a little bit of art and a little bit of science as to how people are sentenced. Every crime has a range whether -- and it is based on the severity of the crime, the person's criminal history, was there a gun involved, was there -- were there children nearby, and so on, and they get a formula.

The judge could have -- and the range that they landed on for this defendant was 15 to 21 months. So, presumably, they could have sentenced this defendant to nearly twice what he got and still been within the federal sentencing guidelines.


Now, what the judge credited, which is perfectly reasonable, is did he accept responsibility, did he say he was sorry, did he do it in concert with other people, was he tied to other white supremacy organizations or whatever else, like some of the other people, and, you know, we can talk about that a little bit later. So, yes, it is pretty low. It still could have been higher. Still would have been defensible under the law. So I'm a little bit surprised that it was only eight months, Jim.

ACOSTA: Interesting. And, Chief Ramsey, prosecutors argued a longer sentence would have served as a warning to anyone considering more violence. Do you fear that this leniency could embolden future extremists?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I do. I mean, it is a possibility. I think it was a lenient sentence. I think it should have been far higher than the eight months. I mean, remember, he won't even do eight full months in jail, more than likely get out after about six months or so.

I think under the circumstances, he should have been given a longer sentence, period. You know, sure, he expressed remorse. He was sorry. Everybody is sorry when they get caught. I mean, I would have given him the maximum, personally. It would have been 21 months. It wouldn't have been a year and a half. And I think that was too light under the circumstances.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, Elliot, hundreds of other cases are still making their way through the courts. I asked Paula about this. Do these developments tell us anything about how these other cases are going to be handled or are these going to be -- is this going to be sort of a grab bag of different sentences that will be handed down?

WILLIAMS: So, look, the sentencing laws strive to get uniformity across sentences. So, you want them to track each other. That's how you know that people are not getting sentences in line (ph) now. This was an individual who was relatively -- his contact is relatively benign in terms of what other people were charged with, right? Like I said, other people who have tied to extremist groups, other people who engage in acts of violence. We can hope that this is just the floor.

But let's be clear. Even though this guy -- this is exactly what the chief was saying, even though this guy said he was sorry, he showed one a backpack with latex gloves, goggles and rope in it. Now, either you're going spelunking or you're going to commit a terrorist attack, right? Like this is not somebody out for just a peaceful protest, let's be clear.

ACOSTA: No, he was not a tourist, Chief Ramsey. And next week, the select committee investigating the January 6 siege will hear testimony from police officers who responded that day. How important is it, do you think, to hear what they went through in their own words? To me, I think this is just going to -- it's going to speak volumes.

RAMSEY: Well, it's incredibly important. And I hope that CNN and other news organizations continue to show the footage so people remember exactly what took place. This was not a bunch of tourists that just wanted to get into the Capitol and look around. I mean, they were intent on disrupting the entire democratic process that we have in this country. I mean, you know, they built a gallows and shouting, you know, hang Mike Pence and looking for Nancy Pelosi. And, I mean, this is very serious stuff.

And that's why I think that the most severe sentence that they can impose ought to be imposed. We don't need to relive this again. Not ever again. And I think lenient sentence sends the wrong message, in my opinion. But, you know, again, I'm just glad that the officers and their stories will be heard because that's incredibly important. And I'm very proud of them in how they handled themselves. But I'm terribly sorry that they had to go through it because that's trauma that they will never quite get over.

ACOSTA: Yes. I'm sure these police officers did not want to see these insurrectionists get a slap on the wrist. All right, Charles Ramsey, Elliot Williams, thank you so much for joining us.

And coming up, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has just named five Republicans to the committee investigating January 6th insurrection. Stay tuned. We'll have new details on that.



ACOSTA: And breaking news just in to CNN. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has just named five Republicans to the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. CNN's Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is on the story for us. Ryan, what can you tell us about these names?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. This is information that we have been waiting for some time when the house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced that she would be naming the committee.

These names are just about what we expected. Kevin McCarthy going with a group of members of Congress who are very loyal to him and by extension to the former President Donald Trump. Let's just take a look at the names right now.

He's asked Representative Jim Banks to serve as the ranking member. He, of course, the leader of the very conservative Republican study committee.

Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is, of course, one of President Trump's most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill, he's been asked to serve on this committee.

Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois who is the Chair of the Overnight Committee, and Davis interestingly did vote for that independent January 6th commission. He was among the 35 Republicans that voted for the commission. So interesting that he's been selected to serve on this committee.

Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and then freshman Congressman Troy Nehls who actually once served as a county sheriff, so he has a law enforcement background. So each one of these individual members of Congress bringing something (INAUDIBLE) as it comes to this January 6th select committee. But, of course, the name that stands out, for sure, is Jim Jordan. He has consistently been one of President Trump's biggest defenders. He is somebody that has supported Trump's inaccurate description of the election results, has, in many ways, supported and defended President Trump as he has talked about the big lie.

So this is going to be perhaps the most controversial and questionable pick by Kevin McCarthy.


But it is, of course, not a surprise that McCarthy would find individuals in his caucus who will come to this committee with the express purpose of looking to support and defend the former president.

And we should also keep in mind here, Jim, as we take a look at these selections that they are still tentative at this point. You know, the legislation that was passed on the House that allowed for this committee to be formed was only done so with the caveat that the house speaker, Nancy Pelosi does have the right to approve each one of these five picks. So, theoretically, she could veto any of these names.

Now, her office tells me that she has just received these names. She got them basically at the same time that the media did, so she is reviewing them. At this point, though, she has not officially signed off on this list. She won't have very long to think about it because, of course, their first hearing is scheduled for next week.

And the Chair of Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has said that they're going to call a collection of law enforcement officers, frontline police officers who dealt with all the violence and chaos on that day to speak in front of the committee, and that committee hearing will take place next week, Jim.

ACOSTA: And I'm sure the speaker's office, Ryan, looking at these names, they're instantly going to zero in on Jim Jordan because, as you and I both know, if Republicans are looking for somebody to turned this process into a food fight, look no further than Jim Jordan.

But we know that the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, just last week went to Bedminster to visit with the former president. How does that fold into this? I remember last week the reporting was, well, they didn't talk about this or they wouldn't say that they were talking about this, but, clearly, some very Trumpy names in the mix.

NOBLES: Yes, and I think you're right, Jim. And, you know, McCarthy's office, the minority leader himself, has been insistent that the purpose of that conversation, at the former president's golf resort in New Jersey, was not about the select committee.

They -- he claims that they didn't even talk about the election, that it was only about the upcoming midterms, the amount of money that Republicans have been raising in their hopes to take back the House majority and that they didn't talk about any of these things that seemed to be constantly on the mind of the former president.

If you are among the group of reporters like I know both you and I are, Jim, that get all of the statements that come from the former president, they are almost exclusively about his claims about the election, his false claims that he actually won the election when, in fact, he did not. So the idea that he would have someone as powerful as Kevin McCarthy in front of him and that topic not come up when it seems to be one of the most important topics of the former president does seem to be suspicious.

But we have to take the minority leader at his word. He said that the former president would have no influence on him at all when he made these choices. But the fact that you do see some of his closest supporters added to this panel at least raises the question, Jim.

ACOSTA: Certainly. It is inconceivable that it did not come up. But, Ryan Nobles, I suppose that's the story they're giving us. Thank you very much for that breaking news.

Now, back to another major story, dreams of Olympic gold are being sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic as multiple athletes have now tested positive for COVID-19 just four days before the games begin.

And joining me now is the veteran sportscaster, Bob Costas, known for his coverage of the Olympics. He's a CNN Contributor now.

Bob, this is getting very interesting and a little hairy, really, as we get closer to the beginning of the Olympics. Olympic organizers estimate that more than 80 percent of Olympic Village residents will be vaccinated. But based on what you have seen, is the IOC doing enough to keep these games safe? What do you think?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the thing they could have done and they have the reasons for saying they couldn't do it because it would have been unfair for the athletes where the vaccine might not have been equally available in their country.

The thing they could have done was say, look, if you are not vaccinated, we're sorry if that extenuating circumstance kept you from being vaccinated, but no one who is not vaccinated gets into the Olympic Village. No one who is not vaccinated gets to compete. They did not do that.

And so inevitably now, there will be cases. I said this a year ago. If you wanted to create a Petri dish for this, more than 200 nations and their delegations coming from all parts of the globe with varying levels of health care, obviously varying levels of vaccination, we have our fingers crossed that it will not be tragic.

But it would be naive even off these early reports, with athletes and officials just filtering in, you have already got more than 60 cases, most of them are not athletes, but some of them are athletes and more to come.

And what almost inevitably, Jim, will occur, even if we're not talking about serious illness in the case of someone who tests positive but they're asymptomatic. And that could include people who are already vaccinated. And we have seen that already.

But there are going to be athletes who miss their competition either because they have tested positive in a window that is too close with a required quarantining, too close to the time of their competition to allow them to be set free, in effect, to take part.

So there are going to be people who show up here, having trained forever, and they're not going to be able to take part.


It's almost a statistical impossibility that that will not occur.

ACOSTA: Right. As you know, there are strict COVID protocols related to meals, transportation, training. What kind of impact might that have on the athletes who already under this intense pressure to perform at the highest level? I suppose this is yet another distraction.

COSTAS: Yes. You know, athletes, especially Olympic athletes who are primed for competitions that often take only moments or short periods of time, and they train for it for four years, in this case now five years, so anything that throws their regimen off, anything that gets them even slightly out of whack and from their finely tuned almost obsessive routines can be a competitive disadvantage, even if it's only psychological. So they will all have to figure out how they deal with it. Some people will deal with it more effectively than others.

ACOSTA: All right. Bob Costas, can't wait to get your perspective as these games get started, thanks so much, as always. We appreciate it.

COSTAS: The strangest games ever in many respects, Jim.

ACOSTA: In many ways. You're right about that.

And just ahead, the U.S. publicly calls out China for widespread cyber crimes. Does the Biden administration have a plan to punish Beijing and prevent future attacks.

Plus a terrifying shooting outside a Washington Nationals baseball game puts the spotlight on the growing epidemic of gun violence here in the United States.



ACOSTA: The Biden administration is joining with global allies to publically accuse China of widespread state sponsored cyberattack, including a massive hack of Microsoft's email system.

Our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto is tracking that story for us. Jim, what more are we learning about these attacks and a potential U.S. response? It doesn't sound like the response is much anything to write home about it at this point. JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, not immediately. I mean first thing to say, clearly, China has been doing this for decades with enormous success, stealing U.S. state in private sector secrets with enormous benefit to China.

I mean, there is a reason why Chinese bombers and jet fighters look like American bombers and jet fighters. They have stolen national security secrets, they stolen trade secrets. There is even talk that the China vaccine for COVID has some stolen, you know, proprietary data there. I mean, it happens across the board. They have been doing it for years.

What's new here is that instead of state-sponsored attackers, directly working with the government, it appears to China, according to the Biden administration, is using, like Russia does, hacking groups, you know, these kind of groups that operate in the dark web and so on, hiring them, you know, hackers for hire in effect to do ransomware attacks, which is a new kind of attack to hold companies for ransom. And that's what they're calling out here.

But to this point, as you reference, just calling out once again, not saying, here is going to be our direct response. The president answered the question about this earlier today. Here is how he explained it. Have a listen.


BIDEN: My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves but are protecting those who are doing it, and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it. That may be the difference.


SCIUTTO: And, listen, that is almost the same thing as with Russia, right? Because nothing happens or very little happens in Russia or China that those authoritarian governments don't know is happening. With Putin, the view has been, he lets these groups do it because it serves his interests.

It looks like Biden is saying there, we kind of think China is doing the same thing but he's allowing a little bit of breathing room here to say, we're going to call them out. Let's see where that goes before we impose heavy new sanctions on China.

ACOSTA: All right. It is a step by step process.

SCIUTTO: We'll see. I mean, what follows is the question, right? Because with neither Russia or China has the U.S. through multiple administrations figured out how to penalize them to the point where they stop doing this.

ACOSTA: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

And for more I'm joined by a key Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Chris Coons. Senator, let's get to China in just a moment. But, first, I have to ask you about we learned the five Republicans House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has chosen to join the select committee investigating the January 6 attack. Three of them voted not to certify the election results. That is alarming.

And one of them, of course, is Jim Jordan, who we know was a lightning rod during the impeachment process. Do you expect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put her foot down here and veto some of these choices? What do you think?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Jim, I think the American people, the folks who serve here in the Capitol Police deserve better than these choices to be a part of the January 6th commission. We need to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and why and to come together in a bipartisan way to make sure it doesn't happen again.

This had a dramatic impact on our standing in the world and continues to haunt the men and women who serve here in the Capitol as recently as last week, some of the staff who worked with us here were sharing with me that they still don't feel safe here coming to work at the Capitol because we in the Congress haven't acted decisively enough to strengthen security in the Capitol. These choices, in terms of who to put on this commission by the ranking member in the House, are truly disappointing.

ACOSTA: And on the issue of cyberattacks we just talked about this with Jim Sciutto, the White House is publically naming China. But how far does that go without any sanctions or punishment that go along with it? Does this go far enough?

COONS: Well, Jim, what I think was important about President Biden's actions today, calling out Xi Jinping and the People's Republic of China for supporting or providing comfort and aid to those carrying out ransomware attacks on thousands, tens of thousands of businesses worldwide is that he was joined in that by the European Union and by NATO, bringing some of our core allies along to this fight with China about what the rules of the road will be in cyber space.

As you pointed out, China has been stealing our secrets for years.


And presidents of both parties have tried to impose enough costs on China that they will stop doing so.

Opening this next chapter in our confrontation with China over cybersecurity I think was an important step, and important in no small part because they brought along several of our key an important step, and important in no small part because they brought along several of our key allies to this conversation.

ACOSTA: And let's turn to infrastructure. Your colleague, Senator Jon Tester, is now walking back an earlier comment that Wednesday's procedural vote on the bipartisan deal would have to be delayed.

You're involved in these negotiations. Are you getting any indication that there will be a vote on Wednesday? What's your sense of it right now?

COONS: Well, the staff and members who are a part of the bipartisan working group dedicated a huge amount of time over the weekend. The core group met for hours last night to try and resolve some still critical last questions about pay-fors, and that work is continuing tonight.

I have been a part of groups of senators in the past, Jim, who wanted a deal to fall apart who really didn't have their heart in it, and I've been a part of a group of senators absolutely determined to get it done.

This group is the latter. It's a dedicated, disciplined group of bipartisan senators trying to get this deal done, and I think we should give the core folks who are negotiating the final details, the time this week to get it done. I'm hopeful some path forward will be announced tonight that will make that possible.

ACOSTA: Some path forward will be announced tonight. Does that mean a Wednesday vote or potentially delaying things just a touch?

COONS: Well, I think that's up to the majority leader. He sets the floor schedule, and I respect the fact we have a very short amount of time left in this July work period for the Senate to move some important pieces of legislation forward. But I also understand the hesitation on the part of some of my colleagues who in the absence of seeing final texts are hesitating to vote for cloture.

So, this will be I hope a place where we make progress tonight, but watch this space for further announcements.

ACOSTA: All right. We'll be watching that space. Senator Coons with the tease there for us -- thank you so much.

And coming up, we'll have more on an awful weekend of gun violence here in the United States, including a terrifying shooting that sends fans scrambling at a Washington Nationals baseball game.



ACOSTA: At least 150 Americans are dead and more than 380 wounded after an outburst of gun violence over the weekend.

CNN's Brian Todd has more on the rash of shootings including a terrifying gun battle right outside the Washington National's baseball stadium here in the nation's capital.

Brian, give us the latest.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jim, this is one of the gates where officials led fans out of the stadium on Saturday night after gunshots rang out nearby. We're also tonight there's an increased police presence. That shooting here in Washington part of an eruption of gun violence over the weekend that has mayors and police officers across the U.S. scrambling for officers.


TODD (voice-over): Horrifying moments in the middle of the sixth inning at National's Stadium in Washington. Just after the announcer speaks, thumping noises that sound like gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Padres put three more on the board, 8-4.


TODD: Fans appear to think it's a mass shooting inside the stadium. Many scramble for cover. Some running towards the team's dugouts as the announcer pleads for calm.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please, the action is outside of the stadium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside the stadium.

ANNOUNCER: At this time, we ask you to remain in the stadium.

TODD: This armature video shows San Diego Padres players opening a gate for fans leading them into the Padres dugout. Three people including a fan were shot and wounded just outside the stadium on Saturday night. Police say it was a dispute between people in two vehicles.

CHRIS GELDART, DEPUTY MAYOR FOR POUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.: We want to make sure fans and our residents know that it is safe to come down here to the game. This was an isolated incident.

TODD: But D.C. and many other cities don't feel safe tonight after spasms of gun violence. On Friday night in Washington, a 6-year-old girl on a scooter was killed and five adults were injured in a drive- by shooting. According to the Gun Violence Archive, at least 150 people were killed and over 380 injured in shootings across America during a 72-hour period from Friday afternoon to this afternoon.

In Philadelphia, a 1-year-old boy was among those shot and wounded over the weekend. That city reached the 300th homicide of the year in July for the first time in over three decades.

In Chicago between Friday and Sunday nights, at least 56 people were shot in 44 separate incidents. Chicago's police superintendent announcing a new investigation team to crack down on gun trafficking in his city, targeting illegal sellers and straw purchasers among others.

SUPERINTENDENT DAVID BROWN, CHICAGO POLICE: These third parties need to hear me loud and clear. We're coming for you and we're going to try to charge you with the highest charge we can.

TODD: A number of factors may be contributing to the recent uptick in gun violence. Gun sales started to surge back in 2020 and COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted across the nation. One criminologist says some experts believe many police units have pulled back and aren't being as proactive as they were.

RICHARD ROSENFELD, CRIMINOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, ST. LOUIS: The idea here is police have become, or many officers become demoralized as a result of the criticism the police received around the issue of police violence and as the police draw back, crime goes up.


TODD (on camera): Professor Richard Rosenfeld says this spike in gun violence is actually a continuation of a spike we started experiencing last summer.


He says he does expect this level of gun violence to decline but he says if we have another police incident that goes viral like the murder of George Floyd and protests as a result, all bets are off -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Brian Todd, thank you.

Just ahead, CNN talked with billionaire Jeff Bezos hours before his historic space launch.


ACOSTA: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is just hours away from becoming the latest billionaire to launch into space. The first crewed flight by a space company Blue Origin is scheduled for lift off tomorrow morning. Bezos spoke to CNN today about the safety of the mission.


JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, BLUE ORIGIN: We really believe this flight is safe. We wouldn't -- you know, people say -- I had friends say to me, how about the second flight or the third flight? Why do you have to go on the first flight? The point is, we know the vehicle is safe. If the vehicle is not safe for me, then it's not safe for anyone.


ACOSTA: And we'll be watching.

I'm Jim Acosta.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.