Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

CDC Chief Says Delta Variant Now To Blame For 83 Percent Of New COVID Cases, A Dramatic Increase Since Early July; Trump Ally Arrested, Charged With Acting As A Foreign Agent; Amazon's Bezos Completes Historic Flight To Edge Of Space; Tokyo 2020 CEO Won't Rule Out Last-Minute Cancellation Of The Olympic Games Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A quick reminder tonight on CNN billionaire Jeff Bezos will join CNN's Anderson Cooper for an interview after his space launch and landing, that's at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

Our coverage continues right now with Jim Acosta right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, the U.S. extends a public health emergency as COVID cases driven by the dangerous delta variant increase dramatically.

The feds arrest Trump ally Tom Barrack charging him with acting as a foreign agent and illegally trying to influence the former president's policy.

And Billionaire Jeff Bezos successfully completes his historic launch to the edge of space. Now he's talking to CNN about what comes next.

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

We begin this hour with America's COVID-19 emergency. CNN National Correspondent Erica Hill is following all the new developments. Erica, the aggressive delta variant is now more dominant than ever and rapidly infecting people who are unvaccinated. What can you tell us?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. The numbers here don't lie, Jim. In fact, some 22 percent, nearly 73 million people in this country, 22 percent of the population live in a county that's considered to have high transmission.

And what we know is the lower the vaccination rate in many areas, the more we are going to see some of these surges fueled by the delta variant. That is prompting new cause for concern, new calls for new Americans to get vaccinated and also more concern that maybe some Americans may never get the shot.


HILL (voice over): Dreams of a COVID free summer turning to a nightmare.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase up from 50 percent the week of July 3rd. In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates.

HILL: Efforts to get more shots in arms have hit a wall with just under half of the population now fully vaccinated, as a new poll finds the majority of those who haven't yet had shots are unlikely to get one, yet into the unvaccinated fuelling new surges in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are trending in the wrong direction again.

HILL: In the past two weeks, hospitalizations are up 50 percent. HHS renewing the nation's public health emergency this morning.

CHAD NIELSEN, DIRECTOR OF ACCREDITATION & INFECTION PREVENTION, UF HEALTH JACKSONVILLE: My greatest fear is that patients continue to pour in and we're unable to give them the care they need because we don't have staff or resources.

HILL: Nearly half of California residents are now under mask mandates or recommendations. In L.A. County alone, cases are up 700 percent in the last month.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We've got kids at home or you are immune-compromised and you're thinking, should I be more cautious and put my mask on when I'm going to indoor spaces, I would strongly to consider that. This is not the time to let down our guard.

HILL: While at least nine states enacted legislation that prohibits local districts from requiring masks in schools, others have added mask requirements. As for the vaccines at least nine states banning public schools and universities from requiring proof of vaccination, some because it doesn't have full FDA approval.

Asked about whether it should be required in schools like so many other vaccines, Dr. Fauci said --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not be surprised that in the future this is something that would be seriously considered.

HILL: A federal judge just ruled Indiana University can't require the vaccine for those returning to campus, opponents about to appeal the decision.

FAUCI: We have the tools to end this epidemic. It is up to us to utilize those tools to their maximum.


HILL (on camera): A lot of parents, of course, want to use that tool, the vaccine, with their children who are under 12 years old. Asked again about when that data could be available today, Dr. Fauci said the data is likely to be available for younger children sometime in the late fall or early winter that. Keep in mind though that is just the data, then, of course, it will have to be submitted to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

We can tell you that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jim, 23,000 new cases of children were reported in the last week. That's nearly the double reported at the end of June for kids.

ACOSTA: All right, Erica Hill, thanks so much for that.

As the delta variant spreads, it is posing an urgent threat, President Biden fight against COVID-19 as he marks six months in office.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly has more on that. Phil, the president met just a short time ago with his cabinet, and the pandemic was one of the main topics, wasn't it?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, Jim. Look, when the president came into office six months ago, there was one issue at the top of every list that he had in terms of what he wanted to, work on what he wanted to achieve and what he wanted to put an end to, and that was the pandemic.


And there is no question there has been significant progress made. More than 160 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. But as you noted, with the emergence of the delta variant, the president making very clear there is still a long road ahead, today, urging Americans to be vigilant and also making clear vaccinations need to tick up. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The safest thing to do is to get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. And that's why we're focusing on our next phase on getting the unvaccinated, vaccinated. I know it seems like a constant uphill climb and we're gradually making progress. But we have a way to go yet.


MATTINGLY: Rather clear-eyed assessment from the president as the White House continues to looks for ways to get millions of more Americans vaccinated, including those who have no desire to or remain hesitant to pursue a vaccination.

And it is worth noting that the delta variant, as it spreads nationwide particularly unvaccinated areas, it is leading to break- through cases including here in Washington. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a senior staffer that came down with a breakthrough case, and also here at the White House, a White House official tested positive.

Both of those individuals fully vaccinated, according to officials. Both of those individuals only having mild symptoms up to this point, something White House officials point to as evidence of the efficacy of the vaccine. But still this is a very real issue, a very urgent issue and one that is now very much so at the front door of the White House and Capitol Hill, Jim.

ACOSTA: And I'm sure worrying officials inside the White House as well. All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much for that.

President Biden will face questions about the pandemic and much more during an exclusive live presidential town hall here on CNN. It airs tomorrow at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.

Now, let's bring in Andy Slavitt, he's the former Senior Adviser to the Biden White House COVID Response Team and the author of Preventable, The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doom the U.S. Coronavirus Response. Also with us is CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an Emergency Room Physician and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

Andy, let me start with you first. The delta variant is so worrisome right now, it now accounts for more than 80 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. That's staggering. Are you surprised at how quickly this variant has drastically changed the country's progress in the fight against this pandemic? It feels like we are going backwards.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE TEAM: Well, it does in some senses and in other senses it is very different year in 2021 and 2020. The big difference, of course, is we now have a tool. And for anybody who chooses to use the tool, for people over 12 that is, it offers a remarkable layer of protection.

And as we see in the data in Israel and England, while cases are rising now again from delta, hospitalizations and deaths really are not. And that link is very important if it is indeed different here in the U.S.

So for people who are unvaccinated, this is a very serious event, a very serious year. And if you live around a lot of unvaccinated people, that's reason for real caution. But we have to continue to have the dialogue with people. And I'm pleased that President Biden hasn't taken his eye off the ball and continuing to have the conversation with people.

The majority of people, two-thirds of people who are not vaccinated believe a myth or a falsehood about the vaccine, so more conversations about why to get vaccinated and about the true information is going to continue to be important.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And, Dr. Wen, we're just getting some new information. We're learning that the delta variant has been detected on Capitol Hill, prompting a recommendation to mask up. You say the Biden administration needs to change its approach to this pandemic now that the delta variant has taken hold. What specific changes do you want to see? Are we going to see more masking in at least federal buildings around Washington, do you think? WEN: I really hope so because, Jim, we are at a very different point in the pandemic than we were a month ago. We now have about three times the number of new infections compared to a month ago. We have the delta variant, which, in people who are infected with it, they have about a thousand times the amount of virus than they would if they got infected with the original wild-type variant.

And we don't actually know for those individuals, even if they are fully vaccinated, are they able to transmit the delta variant to others? And so as a result, we need to use an abundance of caution approach. And so I hope that the Biden administration hits the reset button and says, we acknowledge we are at a very different point and, therefore, we should follow the example of L.A. County and say then if there are places where vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing, then indoor mask mandates should still apply.

There are exceptions, two exceptions, in fact. One is if there is proof of vaccination and everybody is fully vaccinated, and then you can take off your mask. Or if there is a very high level of community vaccination rates, then indoor mask mandates don't need to be there. But I really think it is time for us to reinstate some of these masking mandates while in the meantime ideally aiming for proof of vaccinations so that we can really boost our vaccination numbers.


ACOSTA: Yes, it is frustrating to hear that. And, Andy, I want to turn to a tense moment that we saw up on Capitol Hill earlier today with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's pushing back on claims made by Senator Rand Paul, Republican Senator Rand Paul. Let's listen.


FAUCI: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement.

And, Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about.

Those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS-Cov-2.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): No one saying they are. No one is saying those viruses caused the pandemic.

FAUCI: You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual. I totally resent that.

PAUL: It could have. It could have been.

FAUCI: And if anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.


ACOSTA: Andy, you have worked closely with Dr. Fauci. I rarely ever see him or hear him get that animated or upset. What do you think about this performance that he was showing during that exchange and these claims from Rand Paul that Dr. Fauci somehow has been lying to the American people?

SLAVITT: Well, let's look at the contrast. In the last -- over the last 20 years, beginning with SARS, Anthony Fauci and his team has been working on creating the mRNA platform, which, for two decades, has been researched, investigated and was available and has saved millions and millions of lives.

On January 11th, when the sequence of the virus was downloaded, he brought it over to Moderna and they began working on a sequence that day. A contrast that with Rand Paul, who is unvaccinated, not more certified, although he talks about being a physician, and he is. And he spouts things that just cast doubt and doesn't speak in facts. He speaks in implications. And he plays to his audience. And I'm sure that raises him funds.

But this isn't a typical political season. And I think what Dr. Fauci is trying to forcefully say is, look, play politics in political seasons. This is a public health crisis, and you are crossing my turf. And my turf is the health of the American public, the safety of the vaccines and I'm glad he put his foot down.

ACOSTA: All right, Andy Slavitt and Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much for those comments. We appreciate it, as always.

And just ahead, we'll break down new charges against Trump ally Tom Barrack. Prosecutors say he acted as a foreign agent and may now try to flee the country. You're in The Situation Room.



ACOSTA: Former Chairman of the Trump Inaugural Committee Tom Barrack has just been arrested on federal charges, accused of illegally acting as a foreign agent on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Our CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has a look at the latest person in or near former President Trump inner circle to be charged with federal crimes.


THOMAS BARRACK, CHAIRMAN, DONALD TRUMP INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: I'm here because Donald Trump is one of my closest friends for 40 years.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, one of former President Trump's closest allies and biggest fundraisers, billionaire Tom Barrack, is facing federal charges relating to alleged attempts to influence the 2016 Trump campaign and administration on behalf of a foreign country, the United Arab Emirates, and lying to cover it up.

Barrack was arrested by the FBI earlier today in California. One of his employees, Matthew Grimes, was also arrested and charged. Prosecutors alleged that during a 2016 campaign, when Barrack was a campaign adviser, he and Grimes acted as agents of the UAE, tasked with influencing public opinion, the foreign policy positions of the campaign and the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government, as well as developing a backchannel line of communication. Prosecutors say that influence could be seen in this line of a speech that Trump gave in May 2016.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We'll work with our gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship.

REID: And prosecutors say that Barrack failed to register as an agent of a foreign government, as the law requires. Barrack was allegedly acting on behalf of the UAE during media appearances. After Trump's victory, Barrack became the chairman of Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee. It was during this time, prosecutors say, he repeatedly took steps to assist the UAE in connection with the transition to the incoming administration, communicating with unnamed Emirati officials.

The assistants allegedly continued into the Trump administration, between January 2017 and October 2017, when prosecutors say Barrack acted to aid the UAE in its dealing with the executive branch. That allegedly included agreeing to advocate for the appointment of individuals favored by the UAE in the new U.S. government administration. When the FBI interviewed him in 2019 about his activities with the UAE, prosecutors alleged Barrack knowingly made numerous materially false statements.


REID (on camera): A spokesman for Barrack said in a statement, Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators for the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty. Jim, Barrack is expected to appear in federal court later today.

ACOSTA: All right, Paula, thanks so much.

Let's get more reaction from two of our Senior Legal Analysts Preet Bharara and Laura Coates.

Preet, let me go to you first. This indictment spells out how Barrack took talking points directly from Emirati officials and fed them to Trump. How serious are these charges, do you think?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they're fairly serious. You have seven counts of federal felony charges, each which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison. So anytime you have the federal indictment of this nature, I think it is a serious thing.


I think also what's notable here is that the oversight of this investigation and the times where this conduct took place was not under the Biden administration but was when Donald Trump himself was president and his appointees were in place in U.S. attorneys' offices and at the Department of Justice's attorney general. So that will be important as people argue inevitably about whether this is political or not political.

And then third, it's a 46-page indictment, which we call speaking indictment. It doesn't have to be as detailed as it was and it says a lot of things. And if the allegations can be proven, shows that again and again and again Tom Barrack did things at the behest of the UAE, including, as we saw in the report, inserting language into a speech being delivered by Donald Trump as he campaigned.

And then, finally, you have these charges with respect to obstruction of justice and making materially false statements to the FBI. And often people say the cover-up is worse than the crime. The way I think it is the cover-up is the thing that proves the underlying crime. It shows that he understood and had a belief that what he was doing was wrong.

He lied about whether or not he was being directed by UAE officials. He lied about whether or not he had a dedicated phone with an encrypted app on it to message those UAE folks and he lied about whether or not he facilitated contact with the White House. So I think it's quite strong and quite bad for him.

ACOSTA: And, Laura, prosecutors say Barrack is a substantial flight risk. But considering the other allegations involving Trump world, should the former president be worried about Barrack flipping and cooperating with authorities, do you think?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, only if it relates something that he personally knew. Remember, this is a lot of people in the same orbit. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort had their fair share of these allegations surrounding FARA, the lure to register or misstatements or lies on their application and documentation. And so you have got this orbit. And you have got this sort of circling around the former President Trump but yet no connection directly as far as we yet know about this issue.

But I want to underscore, what Preet's talking about here and go back to the underlying reason we have this law in the first place. The entire premise, although it has not been admittedly enforced in terms of criminal prosecutions very often over the course of, say, 50 years, it still is a lot to try to insulate institutions from having corrupt or otherwise foreign influence, having transparency here.

And so this is something that even in recent times we know has been prosecuted, and so the willfulness aspect of it, that it may not be prosecuted quite as often is no excuse for not following and abiding by this particular law. And so if there were statements made and a failure to register, remember, it is not a very onerous proceeding to actually -- it is a couple hundred dollars for filing on this very issue.

So why would you want to conceal it if that's the allegation here? Why not have the transparency? That's why you have other additional allegations included here about covering up what you may have known willfully to be a violation of the law and the underlying premise of this law. ACOSTA: Very, very true. It sounds like a very serious case and that prosecutors have been very busy in Trump world over the last several years. All right, Laura Coates, Preet Bharara, thank you so much for those insights.

BHARARA: Thank you.

ACOSTA: And coming up billionaire Jeff Bezos is speaking to CNN fresh off his historic flight to the outer edge of space. Stay with us. You are in The Situation Room.



ACOSTA: Tonight, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is officially an astronaut, after the billionaire Blue Origins spacecraft carried him and a crew of civilians to the edge of outer space and back.

CNN's Rachel Crane is joining us from the Blue Origins launch site in Texas with more. Rachel, it was an exciting day and another historic day for space flight. What can you tell us?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION & SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Jim. You know, while the New Shepard suborbital space craft had conducted 15 consecutive test flights, they had never flown humans onboard. So the passengers today, they were essentially guinea pigs. Luckily for them, the mission went as intended and may receive their astronaut wings. And this was a historic first for Blue Origins, but they hope not the last. Take a listen.


CRANE (voice over): Blast off. A Blue Origins New Shepard on its first human flight, carrying the richest man in the world, billionaire Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, into space.

JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: Best day ever. And I couldn't pick a best part.

CRANE: Also on board, Bezos' brother, Mark, Pilot Wally Funk, at 82, the oldest person ever to go into space, and the youngest, 18-year-old paying passengers Oliver Daemen. The four experiencing the weightlessness of space for the first time and taking in the breathtaking views.

BENZOS: We see this giant atmosphere that we live in. We think it's big when we were here on the ground. You get up there, it's so tiny. It is a small little thing. And it is fragile.

CRANE: Touchdown in Texas after a little more than a ten-minute flight.

And the booster landing upright here on the landing pad, Blue Origin saying reusable components like this are critical to driving down the cost and accessibility of space travel. CRANE: And it all comes nine days after Richard Branson blasted off in his Virgin Galactic spaceship too, advancing the era of billionaire funded human space flight. Branson reached 53 miles above the effort. Bezos soaring higher, past the 62 miles Karman Line often referred to as the altitude at which space begins.


Today is the first human step for Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, which foresees a world where in which millions of people are living and working in space.

BEZOS: What we need to do is build a road to space so that future generations can take all heavy industry and polluting industry on Earth and move it up into space so that we can keep this gem of a planet as it is instead of ruining it.

CRANE: Passenger tickets for future Blue Origin flights are on sale for the select few. The price tag not yet revealed. But Bezos says he will be flying again.

BEZOS: Hell, yes. How fast can you refuel that thing? Let's go.


CRANE (on camera): But, Jim, Bezos won't be the only one flying on New Shepard. The company is saying that they have two more of these flights planned for 2021 with paying passengers on board. Jim?

ACOSTA: Something tells me they will going to sell a lot of tickets. All right, Rachel Crane, thank you so much for that.

I want to bring in CNN Richard Quest and Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel into space. She's the author of Flying Where the Wind Goes, Moments from My Life.

Dr. Jemison, let me start with you first. What a day for space travel. This was fascinating to watch. What went through your mind today watching this historic flight, which really included some firsts, Wally Funk who is denied the opportunity to reach space earlier in her career?

DR. MAE JEMISON, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: So I was very excited. It was a remarkable launch. It was some remarkable engineering that's been built on a lot of work that has gone in the past. Having Wally Funk fly was sort of a homage and a nod to the women who were ready to fly, ready to be trained as astronauts back in the 1960s when I was a little girl. And so that is really an important step.

And when I think about it, what I want to do is to put this all in context, which we can talk about a little later, but the context of space exploration, because it is something that has been happening for a long time. We think of space right now when we have people going up in vehicles. But space exploration has been a part of human history. And I always like to connect it back to who we are. ACOSTA: And, Richard, what does today's flight mean for the future of private space exploration? I assume, Richard, you are already plotting out your path into the stars at this point.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Oh, absolutely. Waiting for the corporate annex to be used on that one and see what the boss has to say. Look, I think the reality is, I think, Bezos has summed it up as being a roadway to space. And in their various ways, these billionaires are being patrons, if you like, of exploration, pretty much as we saw in the 15th, 16th and 17th century. So you have got Elon Musk pushing forward with the way he's spending, you've got Bezos with his spending and you've got Branson with his.

And, collectively, you can't see it as an individual bit. You have to put it collectively, that what they are doing is laying the ground work for future involvement of space across a range of issues. Now, the fact they choose to use their egos and go up themselves is a different matter. The reality is they are the patrons of the exploration into space in the 21st century.

ACOSTA: And, Dr. Jemison, beyond space tourism, what do you see as the potential for innovation here? Yes. Is this a rocket boost or an ego boost? I think where the --

JEMISON: So I'm going to have to disagree with Richard a little bit. The patrons of space exploration have been the taxpayers and the government that laid the foundation for the road that's already being built. So I see this as a continuation of the road. When you looked at this mission, didn't it feel very NASA-esque to you, right? Because so much of the style, so much of the logistics, even the engineers have come from that pedigree.

And so, I think it's really important for us to understand that space exploration is for all of us. When I look to the future, I look to one where we have true democratization, which isn't just that whether you can buy a ticket, but whether your talent and capabilities and your skills are put to best use, whether it is as a passenger, whether it is applied to life down here on Earth.

ACOSTA: What do you think about that, Richard?

QUEST: I think she -- the good doctor I would never disagree with up to a point. But what I'm saying is, as we go into the 21st century, these are the men and women with very large and deep pockets who are picking up where the taxpayer has left off to an extent, leaving -- I agree, Doctor, leaving the taxpayers --

ACOSTA: Some would say non-taxpayer, Richard.

QUEST: Well, that's a different discussion for another day -- leaving the taxpayer to pay for the really big expensive stuff, Mars and all of those optics (ph).


And, anyway, listen, we can agree on one thing. I think probably all three of us have got an Amazon Prime account of some shape or form, the three of us paid for today.

ACOSTA: I think that's right, yes. We'll have to leave it there. Mae Jemison and Richard Quest with the Amazon Prime plug from Richard Quest, not that they need the plug. All right, thanks so much to both of you.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper has a brand-new interview with Jeff Bezos about his space flight and what comes next. Anderson joins us later this hour with details. And be sure to watch the full interview on A.C. 360 at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.

Just ahead, a horrifying scene from January 6th, a former Special Forces soldiers attacking two police officers. We're going through the video that was just released. Stay with us.


ACOSTA: We're getting a new and very disturbing look at the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, The Justice Department releasing video of a former Special Forces soldier assaulting police.


Our Brian Todd has details. Brian, tell us more about this disturbing videos.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jim. Just a short time ago, we got these four new video clips from the Justice Department, unsettling partly because a female police officer is seen being viciously attacked. We have to warn viewers some may find the images in this story disturbing.


TODD (voice over): Just a few seconds into this video, after one rioter swings an American flag pole violently at a police officer and another rioter throws a flag at police, a female officer is assaulted hand to hand. Her grimaces of pain clearly audible.

Four new video clips of the assault on the Capitol on January 6th released today by the Justice Department. The man that officials say is assaulting police in all of them, Jeffrey McKellop, a retired U.S. Special Forces officer. He's wearing a helmet, gas mask, a Kevlar vest with a patch that looks like the country of Georgia. Here, prosecutor say, McKellop launches at an officer, he's pepper sprayed and meld into the crowd.

In this video, the female officer, who officials say McKellop attacked, is seen grabbing her face in pain, being helped by other officers. In this clip, watch the officer in white. Officials say this is McKellop hitting a D.C. police captain in the head with a flag pole, then throwing the pole at him. Prosecutors say the captain was cut near his left eye.

These battles took place in the inauguration staging area outside the Capitol, the scene of some of the most violent combat that day and where the police line eventually collapsed. McKellop, the man who officials say attacked the officers so viciously served in the army for 23 year, spending time in the Special Forces and was deployed twice to Afghanistan, twice to Iraq, according to the Pentagon.


TODD (on camera): Federal judges have ordered Jeffrey McKellop to stay in jail while his court case progresses. He is charged with 12 federal crimes, including felonies for attacking police. McKellop has pleaded not guilty. Jim?

ACOSTA: Very disturbing video. All right, Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report.

Now, let's turn to the partisan wrangling over a select committee to investigate January 6th. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's considering whether to accept or veto Republicans tap to serve on the panel including Trump defenders in denial about the election result.

Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles has the latest. Ryan, we're hearing for the first time from some of the GOP picks for the select committee. You spoke to couple of them just now. What are they saying?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jim, we've focused a lot on how the Democrats are going to approach this select committee, but we're starting to get an indication as how Republicans will conduct themselves on this committee and specifically how they may try and draw the decisions made by the house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on that day into this conversation. Listen to what Jim Jordan told me earlier today.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Look, we know what this is about. This is about the Democrats attacking the president again, President Trump again, like they have done for, what now, five years. So we know what it is about.

There is one fundamental question that I hope the Democrats will actually answer and address and that is why wasn't there a proper security presence that day? And, frankly, only the speaker can answer that question. So let's see if the Democrats bring that up and focus on it.


NOBLES: So it will be interesting to see if Republicans bring this up. Jordan is not exactly 100 percent accurate when he says the speaker's decision. That really comes at the behest of the Capitol Police board, which the speaker is not a part of, but it shows you, Jim, the thinking that Republican have is they already are starting the partisan bickering in this committee before they even have their first meeting.

ACOSTA: And, Ryan, meanwhile at the White House today, there was humor about people who are questioning President Biden's election victory when quarterback Tom Brady and his team were visiting President Biden. Here's what Brady said.


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BACCANEERS QUARTERBACK: Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. And, in fact, I think 40 percent of the people still don't think we won.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I understand that.

BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President.

BIDEN: I understand that.



ACOSTA: Sounds like they can relate. Ryan, that's clearly a reference to the people who are trying to cast doubt on the election.

NOBLES: Yes. And Tom Brady not known for his comedic timing really pulled one off there. But, you know, this is going to hurt the former president right. Tom Brady, one of his favorite athlete, he was once pictured in front of a locker with a make America great again hat, he really stayed out of the 2020 election.

So that he's poking fun at the big lie, laughing about it, knowing it is not serious, despite the fact that Trump itself continues to carry on as if it is actually something that's going to change the outcome of the election, which we know is not going to happen. Jim?

ACOSTA: Yes. That has to sting up at Bedminster. All right, Ryan Nobles thank you so much.

Coming up, just three days before the Olympic, an official in Tokyo isn't ruling out canceling the games as COVID-19 spreads. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us live from Japan.



ACOSTA: Tonight, there is great uncertainty hanging over the Summer Olympics as COVID-19 cases spread among athletes and across the host city.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live from Tokyo where the Olympics are set to begin Friday.

Sanjay, the CEO of Tokyo 2020 is not ruling out a last-minute cancellation of the games. That is just unbelievable to hear.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Stunning, but to public health officials, Jim, maybe not that surprising. I mean, look, we'll look back historically at some point, Jim. But you have an Olympics Games bringing in people from all over the world in the middle of a pandemic into a country where only 12 percent of the country is vaccinated and the numbers have been rising as you know.


So there has been a lot of concern, Jim. You know, not surprisingly, 80 percent of people who were polled here in Japan said that they would prefer that the Olympics not happen here at this time for those reasons. We'll see.

Competition actually begins Wednesday morning, your time later on tonight here. The opening ceremonies at the end of the week. We'll see what happens. We haven't been told any specific criteria that would sort of force the decision one way or the other. But as you well know, over 70 people have now tested positive, people who were somehow associated with these games.

ACOSTA: And, Sanjay, many of the COVID cases are reporting no symptoms. What does that tell you?

GUPTA: I think this is going to be a really interesting point and something that we may all learn from as a world, these so-called breakthrough infections. You keep in mind that we know in the United States, for example, if you're vaccinated, people really aren't getting tested.

So, it's been a little bit of a black box in terms of how many of these people have breakthrough infections. The good news has been and remains they're really not getting that sick, certainly not sick enough they would require hospitalization.

But the breakthrough infection rate may be much higher than we previously realized. We're hearing within the states about some of those cases. So, what does this really tell us is that testing is going to be key. Testing is going to be very important because some of these people even if they're vaccinated and it's not required that they're vaccinated in the Olympic Village.

But even if they're vaccinated and have a breakthrough infection with this delta variant, they could be carrying a much higher viral load up to 1,000 times higher so they could potentially then spread it to unvaccinated populations.

So, that's the concern. That's what they're trying to avoid.

ACOSTA: And, Sanjay, what is stopping this from becoming a super spreader event? I hate to even think that could happen.

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, I do, too, Jim. I mean, you know, typically, when you think of super-spreader events, you think of clustered indoor gatherings where people are unvaccinated, not wearing masks, roughly this time last year. But I think there is a possibility that this becomes something that spreads beyond the borders of the village but they are doing a lot of testing, Jim. I think that makes a difference. There are masks, you know, that are being employed, mostly. The bubble

is not perfect but it is keeping people sort of somewhat separated from the general population.

ACOSTA: All right. We're going to have to hope for the best. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks as always.

Just ahead, fresh insight into the billionaires' space race. Anderson Cooper will join us next to discuss his new interview with Jeff Bezos after his historic flight.



ACOSTA: Tonight, Jeff Bezos is looking beyond the first historic flight to the edge of space. He told our Anderson Cooper he sees commercial space travel as a vehicle to help save the planet.


JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, BLUE ORIGIN: We set robotic probes to every planet in this solar system. This is the good one, Anderson. There aren't any other good ones.

So, we should protect this one and the way you do that is by pushing all of our heavy industry out of space and we can do that if we can operate space vehicles the same way we operate commercial airliners today. So that's what Blue Origin is about. That's what the New Shepard tourism mission is about.

This suborbital tourism mission lets us practice over and over and over so we get good at it and the program is an orbit vehicle that use those learnings to help take that those next steps and build that road to space.


ACOSTA: Now, let's bring in CNN's Anderson Cooper at the launch site in Texas.

Anderson, you had an in-depth conversation with Jeff Bezos after his flight that will air tonight on "AC360." What was that conversation like? Did he seem different at all after going up into space?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, you know, what you just saw was really very shortly after he had landed with his brother and the others. We talked to him several hours later actually inside the training capsule which is identical to the capsule that they actually were in their suborbital launch.

And he -- you know, he was a little bit more reflective and also, we wanted to go a little bit more in-depth on what that road to space exploration looks like because infrastructure that he keeps talking that he is hoping to build and be a part of the building of SpaceX is obviously doing similar things. He believes there needs to be a lot more companies for, you know,

generations to come that are going to be innovating new ideas for space but without the infrastructure, the same kind of infrastructure he was able to use, the Postal Service, FedEx, PayPal, things like that, to build Amazon on. He wants for future generations to build an infrastructure that they can use to innovate into space.

ACOSTA: And, Anderson, you were there to witness this firsthand. What was it like? I guess it was really loud?


COOPER: Yeah, well you're right about that. We're like three miles away. The actual launch pad is about three miles away, but once this thing, the rocket takes off, I mean, the power of it is just so immense, you really feel like it's right over your shoulder and I mean, it's surreal to, you know, we're always watching things on monitors when we're covering these events. You just turn around and see the rocket going up, you know, getting up to more than 2,000 miles per hour.

So it's extraordinary to witness it and then, you know, obviously, for them just the technology of landing the rocket booster back vertically was a huge accomplishment.

ACOSTA: It was fascinating to watch.

All right. Anderson Cooper, we'll see you later on tonight an "AC360".

And be sure to watch Anderson's new interview with Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark about their space flight that airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.