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The Situation Room
CDC: 100K Plus New COVID Cases Recorded Wednesday; Signing Ceremony For Act Awarding Congressional Gold Medal To Police Officers Who Defended The U.S. Capitol On January 6; Biden and Harris Honor Police Who Defended Capitol; House Select Committee Investigation; Coronavirus Pandemic; January 6; NY State Cuomo Impeachment Probe Nears Completion. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 05, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House suggesting the snub was because of an ongoing battle over a worker's union.
I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper. You can follow me on twitter @pamelabrowncnn or tweet the show @theleadcnn.
Coming up, CNN's Wolf Blitzer will talk to CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Our coverage starts now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, COVID confusion grips the nation as the U.S. records more than 100,000 new cases in a single day. Deaths are up as well. More than 600 Americans lost their lives on Tuesday alone.
Officials say it's still unclear whether the Delta variant poses a greater threat to fully vaccinated Americans than previous strains of the virus.
Also tonight, we're learning new information about a U.S. Justice Department official who aided former President Trump's attempted coup. Could they face criminal charges?
And CNN has learned that the impeachment probe into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is nearing completion. How much longer can he hold on?
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.
Let's get straight to the White House where there's growing concern right now about this latest COVID surge. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is working this part of the story for us.
Phil, how's the White House reacting to this very alarming sharp acceleration with the COVID virus now topping 100,000 cases a day here in the U.S.?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a jarring number. The White House officials say they are laser focused on one thing, getting shots in arms and they are seeing some results particularly in some of the lowest vaccinated states. However, it is one state in particular in that group of low vaccinated states where it's not just public health issues they're having. It's also political problems.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, the White House ramping up its vaccination push as the U.S. passes 100,000 cases in a single day
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: In seven states alone Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, states with some of the lowest vaccination rates account for about half of new cases and hospitalizations in the past week. Despite making up less than a quarter of the U.S. population.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): A level that at one point seemed would never be reached again. Yet with a Delta variant surge gripping nearly the entire nation, a reality that's driven a return to a near singular daily focus ramping up vaccinations.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Today, I want to emphasize one fact that remains true. And that is that the vaccines are working against the Delta variants.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Numbers that continue to tick up work with more than 864,000 vaccinations on Wednesday, more than 560,000 first time shots, the highest daily total in more than a month.
ZIENTS: Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected. And they're responded by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But officials now acknowledging just how much remains unknown about the variant driving more than 90 percent of U.S. cases.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: So those data were data that were from analyses in several states from January through June and didn't reflect the data that we have now from the Delta variant.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Revealing the actual data regarding hospitalizations and deaths for the vaccinated since Delta surge hasn't been confirmed.
WALENSKY: We are actively working to update those in the context of the Delta variant.
I do want to reiterate though, that based on the data we're seeing, we don't have fully updated numbers universally. As we look at our hospitalizations and as we look at our deaths, they are overwhelmingly unvaccinated people.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But with more than 90 million eligible Americans still unvaccinated, a renewed focus on other mitigation efforts, especially masking and vaccine mandates, has devolved once again into a pitched political battle.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What is his big solution? What is he so upset about Florida? His solution is he wants to have the government force kindergarteners to wear masks in school. I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The days long back and forth between the White House and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis --
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor of Florida.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): -- still in full effect
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Twenty-five percent of hospitalizations in the country are in Florida
MATTINGLY (voice-over): White House pointing to Delta surge in the state making clear it has no plans to back down.
PSAKI: We're here to state the facts. Frankly our view is that this is too serious, deadly serious to be doing partisan name calling. That's what we're not doing here.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MATTINGLY: And Wolf, despite the political back and forth, White House officials made clear they are currently offering federal assistance in ray of assistance to 16 different states as it pertains to the Delta surge. They are also in conversations with the state of Florida, also the state of Texas to possibly provide federal resources to them as well, trying to make the point. They don't believe this is partisan. What they think they're calling out is just what they view as bad health policy. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Phil, thank you very much. Phil Mattingly at the White House.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is joining us now with a closer look at the dire situation developing in Florida, as well as the growing tensions between President Biden and the Governor Ron DeSantis.
Leyla, what's the latest there?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I spoke to one doctor who says this has gone from a health problem to a political problem.
Jackson Health System where I am right now just announced that they will have a vaccine mandate for its employees. The mayor of Miami Dade just announced that she will require testing of county employees. And this all comes as Governor Ron DeSantis is doubling down saying that Florida is not a state of lockdowns or mandates.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Tonight, Florida, the latest epicenter in the COVID-19 surge, hospitals are filling up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On July 1. Jackson was treating 66 COVID positive impatience in our hospitals. As of noon today, that number is 320. A 385 percent increase in just over a month.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Cases are on the rise.
MAYOR JERRY DEMINGS (D), ORANGE COUNTY FLORIDA: Within the metro Orlando area, we're seeing a significant surge and new cases. Nearly 1000 new cases are being reported daily.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): High transmission in nearly every county. The state leading the nation and the number of adults and children admitted to the hospital. When in five U.S. cases now found in Florida as the highly contagious Delta variant fuels a record breaking spike in hospitalizations. And the governor, well, he says --
DESANTIS: Why don't you do your job? Why don't you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): A political jab aimed at President Joe Biden after --
BIDEN: If you're not going to help, at least get out of the way. The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): The governor is standing by his executive order, threatening to cut funding to school districts that mandate masks, a popular decision among his base.
DEMINGS: The governor in this case has placed his political future over the life, health and wellbeing of the residents here within the state of Florida. And I say that because this is the same governor that just last year did put mandates in place that restricted businesses and he did a number of things in that regard. The only thing that has changed now is his polling amongst his base.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Some Florida school districts are now grappling with ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the upcoming school year, just days away for some.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're weighing out the financial impact. And we're not dismissing that because we cannot operate without state funds. But at the same time, we really need to provide a safe working and learning environment for our students.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): In Alachua County public schools, students must wear masks for the first two weeks unless they have a doctor's note. In Broward County, schools are mandating masks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any student not wearing a mask pursuant to this policy must through his or her or their parent or guardian complete the opt out procedures provided by his, her, their assigned school.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): In Duval County, parents will have to opt out if they don't want their child wearing a mask requiring more time and paperwork.
In a letter to the governor, the Leon County Superintendent pleads "to not allow pride or politics to cloud our better judgment" in protecting Florida's youngest students.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Why does it feel to you like governor -- the Governor Ron DeSantis in your state doesn't want kids wearing masks?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it does. It feels like he -- it feels like they're not taking the precautions to keep students who can't get vaccinated can still get sick, safe.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: All right, Leyla Santiago reporting from Miami.
I want to go to the White House right now. The Vice President, there she is, Kamala Harris, speaking right now. They are going to be involved. The President will sign an act to award Congressional Gold medals to police officers who responded for the January 6 insurrection.
Let's listen in.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we are here today in the Rose Garden at the White House to recognize that courage. The officers of the United States Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police risked their own lives to save the lives of others, both on January 6 and on April 2.
They sacrificed so much to defend our nation. And in securing our Capitol, they secured our democracy. These officers are heroes. And these officers are patriots. And they deserve today and every day this honor. Our nation is grateful for your service.
And now there are some officers who of course, continue to suffer from the injuries seen and unseen. Now, I want to make it clear that you know that you are not alone and that we all stand with you.
And of course, there are other officers who tragically lost their lives. There is nothing that we can do to bring these officers back or to take away the pain their families feel now. But it is my prayer that their sacrifice will serve as a constant reminder of the work we must all do together, of the vigilance we must have in order to protect our democracy.
So, I returned to the Senate at around 8:00 p.m., the night of January 6. And we gathered in the Senate chamber, in the same chamber where the new deal was struck and the great society was forged. In the same chamber where the interstate highway system was started and voting rights were won. And in that chamber, just before 1:00 a.m., as officers stood guard, the final vote was tallied.
Democrats, Independents and Republicans came together and upheld the vote and the voice of the American people. As those officers continued, even at that late hour to secure our Capitol, they secured our democracy. So let us never forget that. And let us always remember their courage.
And now, it is my great honor to introduce a true champion for all those who serve in uniform, President Joe Biden.
BIDEN: Good afternoon. Thank you, Vice President Harris.
Folks, not even during the Civil War did insurrectionists breach the Capitol of the United States of America, the citadel of our democracy, not even then. But on January the 6th, 2021, they did. They did.
A mob of extremists and terrorists launched a violent and deadly assault on the People's House and the sacred ritual to certify a free and fair election.
It wasn't dissent. It wasn't debate. It wasn't democracy.
It was insurrection. It was riot and mayhem. It was radical and chaotic. And it was unconstitutional. And maybe most important, it was fundamentally un-American, an existential threat and a test of whether our democracy could survive, whether it could overcome lies and overcome the fury of a few who were seeking to thwart the will of the many.
But while the attack on our values and our votes shocked and saddened the nation, our democracy did survive. It did. Truth defeated lies. We did overcome.
And that's because of the women and men of the U.S. Capitol Police, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and other law enforcement officials who we honor today.
Speaker Pelosi, who led the effort in the House, Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, the co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate; and to all my colleagues, Pat Leahy and House members as well that are here: Thank you. Thank you.
Today, I'm signing into law the bill you sent me that awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Capitol Police, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and other law enforcement for their service in defense of our democracy on January the 6th.
To all of them, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you, thank you, thank you for protecting our Capitol. Maybe even more importantly, for protecting our Constitution and saving the lives of duly elected members of the Senate and the House and their staffs.
In these moments when we're still debating, these were tragic hours back then, you stood in the breach. You did your duty, a duty to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The events that transpired were surprising but not your character or your courage, Chief, and all your men and women.
I didn't grow up with any of you, but I know you. You're just like all the women and men I grew up with, particularly, at that time, it was men, in Scranton and Claymont, places where, the neighborhood I lived in, you became a cop, a firefighter, or a priest. I wasn't qualified for any of them, so here I am.
But, look, all kidding aside, I got to know you. You're the same ones, after a ballgame in a visiting field, that come walking out of the gym if you won, and you may get jumped by the other team or their supporters. You may be all by yourself, the only one standing there when you watch six people jump one of our teammates. What the hell would you do? You'd jump in. You'd jump in, knowing you're going to get the hell beat of you too.
Police officers are not what you do; it's who you are.
I got to know you after 36 years in the Senate, 8 years as Vice President. You're always there.
It's not a joke. It's not some hyperbole to suggest duty, honor, service. That's who you are. That's who your dad was. It's who your dad was.
And America owes you a debt we can never fully repay.
But I know receiving this award is bittersweet. On that day, more than 140 law enforcement officers suffered physical injuries, an untold number suffering emotional toll. Fifteen of you were hospitalized and others were lost forever. May their souls rest in peace and rise in glory.
I know each time you put on that shield in the morning or whenever you show for work, your families wonder whether they're going to get a call that day, a call they don't want to receive, hoping you come home safely.
And it breaks my heart. It breaks the heart of the nation to remember that you were assaulted by thousands of violent insurrectionists at the Capitol of the United States of America.
Jill and I would never have thought we'd have to join you in the Capitol Rotunda not once, but twice. Once to hiron (ph), to honor Officer Brian Sicknick, who lost his life. And a second time to honor Officer Billy Evans, who lost his defending the Capitol as well. Both gave the full measure of their devotion to the country at the United States Capitol.
Their families are here today. I know from similar, yes, we should clap for the families. I know, like others may know, from personal experience, getting that phone call. It's nice to be honored and have those who you lost remembered, but it's tough to be here because it brings back everything like it happened 10 minutes ago. [17:20:21]
So, I offer you not only our condolences, but recognize your courage, the courage of your children. And you have our most profound gratitude.
You know, the fallen, in my view, are casualties of a struggle, literally, for the soul of America, a struggle that they didn't start, a struggle we didn't seek, and a struggle that, by the grace of God, we'll win.
As I said, I know this is a bittersweet moment. As proud of Brian and Billy as you are, it still brings back pain, the moment it happened.
And also, we also offer our prayers to the families of the Capitol Police Officer, Howard Liebengood. Those who have been around a while, we knew his dad. We knew his dad well. He was Secretary of the United States, Sergeant of Arms of the United States Senate.
We also pray for the families of the Metro Police Officer, Jeffrey Smith.
For anyone out there facing trauma, for anyone still struggling, please know there is help available.
My fellow Americans, the tragedy of that day deserves the truth above all else. We cannot allow history to be rewritten. We cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten.
We have to understand what happened, the honest and unvarnished truth. We have to face it. That's what great nations do, and we are a great nation.
In the past weeks and months, we've heard the officers themselves, some of whom are here today, describe what happened, the threats, the violence, the savageness.
When asked what he was fighting for, Officer Hodges, who is here today, stated it eloquently, one word, democracy.
My fellow Americans, let's remember what this was all about. It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people; to seek power at all costs; to replace the ballot with brute force, to destroy, not to build.
Without democracy, nothing is possible. With it, everything is.
So, my fellow Americans, we must all do our part to perfect and to preserve our democracy. It requires people of goodwill and courage to stand up to the hate, the lies, the extremism that led to this vicious attack.
It requires all of us working together, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, on behalf of the common good to restore decency, honor, and respect for our system of government. And above all, it requires all of us to remember who we are at our best as a nation, as we see in the law enforcement officers who are here today, the best of our nation.
The Congressional Gold Medal awards today will be housed in four locations. Two medals will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol Police Department and the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department so that every morning, as you officers walk by, seeing those medals, they'll remember the heroism of their colleagues and the importance of their work.
The third medal will be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum with a plaque honoring all law enforcement that protected the Capitol on January 6th, so all visitors can understand what happened that day.
And the fourth one will be displayed at the Capitol itself, to remind us all who served and currently serve there and all who visit the honor and the service of those who protect and preserve all of us.
I will now ask Speaker Pelosi, if she's able, not able, willing,, and Senator Klobuchar and Senator Blunt, Chief Contee and Chief Manger, and the other officers here today to join me as I sign this bill into law.
May God bless you all. And may God protect our troops and all those who serve watch over our democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We probably want Leahy.
BIDEN: Yes, come on, sure. Patrick, come on.
Thank you so much.
HARRIS: Let's see Amy over here.
HARRIS: Right behind you.
BIDEN: Now, you're going to help me out. Would you give a pen for the other group back there and then I'll get (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.
BIDEN: Oh, thank you very much. You have to be brave. Thank you so much.
Thank you all so very much.
(INAUDIBLE) BIDEN: Come on, family members.
BLITZER: Very emotional a few moments in the Rose Garden over at the White House, the President United States honoring U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police here in the Washington DC area, other police officers for their heroic work saving, saving the U.S. democracy on January 6.
In this resolution, this bill that the President just signed into law H.R. 3325 two key lines. One quote, on January 6, 2021, a mob of insurrectionists forced its way into the U.S. Capitol building and Congressional office buildings and engaged in acts of vandalism, looting and violently attacked Capitol Police officers.
The resolution, the bill, now the law goes on to say, the desecration of the U.S. Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy and the violence targeting Congress are horrors that will forever stain our nation's history.
Kaitlan Collins, our Chief White House correspondent. Kaitlan, you've been watching all of this. We heard the vice president the president, obviously a very sensitive time indeed, at one point the president simply said not even during the Civil War, did insurrectionists breach the U.S. Capitol?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, just commenting on why he is signing this into law, why lawmakers fought to get this passed. Because what is being done with these medals. This is the highest legislative honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. And that is what these officers are receiving today for their work in defending the Capitol.
And it wasn't a really easy path to get here. This is some legislation that was passed unanimously by the Senate this week. But remember, earlier this summer, it was passed by the House, but there were 21 Republicans in the House who had voted against it. That was because they didn't like the language in the text referring to what happened on January 6, as an insurrection and of course, many saw that it was a dig at these officers who have come forward since and spoken about efforts to whitewash what happened that day saying that it was an insult to what they lived through being beaten up and having been tased.
And all of the effects that they've had to deal with, not just physical effects from that day, but also the mental health aspect of it which a lot of them have spoken incredibly candidly about.
And so that is how it made its way through the path of Congress legislatively. President Biden, of course, they're signing it, while paying tribute to them, several of the lawmakers who helped shepherd that legislation through Congress. We're standing behind him there. And you can see him greeting some of the families of those lawmakers. And another person who stood out, Wolf was, of course, the new Capitol Police Chief. He was there standing behind the vice president. And that has been a big aspect of this as well as the leadership within Capitol Police the absence that some officers felt there was previously.
And so that is just an added dynamic to this rose garden event today here at the White House.
BLITZER: Yes, it was indeed very, very moving. And there was another important line, Kaitlan that we heard, we cannot allow history to be rewritten. The President clearly angry, the vice president angry that there are some, some of his political opponents who are trying to project what happened on January 6, as simply some sort of protest.
COLLINS: And one of those people is the person who used to occupied the office that Biden occupies now. And that's former President Trump who has been recorded saying it certain closed door events that he believed that it was not a riot that day, it was not an insurrection. They were peaceful protesters who were being shepherded in by officers.
And of course, those officers who were standing there in uniform can attest to the fact that that is not what happened on January 6. We'd covered it as well, of course, Wolf, and watching them, beat them with poles, tried to steal their weapons, tase them everything they did lot, a barrage of insults that they directed their way, you know, just a miniscule accounting of what actually these officers witnessed that day was not what the former president and some of his Republican allies in Congress have been trying to describe it as.
And I think it is important when there are events like this, Wolf, to remind people about what exactly did transpire that day, because there is a concerted effort to try to change the narrative and to try to make it sound like it wasn't as bad as it was. And you often hear that from some of the President's supporters even starting to mimic and to echo those sentiments.
And of course, an event like today just does really bring you back to what a grave event that was that day, why these officers are getting this medal, why they deserve it and how they lived through something that, as the President was saying there is such an unwarranted and unprecedented attack on the Capitol, something that hadn't been attacked in hundreds of years.
And so I think that really also plays into the White House ceremony here, why they felt it was so important to put such emphasis on the president signing this legislation. It was never in doubt, of course, whether or not he was going to sign it. But they wanted to really mark the moment to honor these officers.
BLITZER: And it was well done very, very significant. Indeed, we have to honor these police officers to work heroic in dealing with this insurrection on January 6, and so many of them have suffered quietly over these past seven months. Tomorrow will mark seven months since that riot, that deadly riot developed up on Capitol Hill like. Kaitlan, thank you very, very much. We're going to continue our coverage of all the day's important news right after this.
BLITZER: This just coming into CNN. The new House Select Committee is not taking the lead on investigating the January 6 Capital insurrection consolidating the entire probe. Our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is working the story for us. Evan, I know you're also getting new information from your sources.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what this is a big deal for the way the congressional committees are going to be able to handle all of these witnesses that they want to talk to. In recent days, we know that the Oversight Committee has interviewed at least one former official from the Justice Department. We've seen some very important documents that describe some of the events that happen as President Trump, former President Trump was trying to essentially overturn the election using the Justice Department to do that.
What we're learning -- we're learning now is that some of the witnesses that were scheduled to go before the Oversight Committee are now going to be sent to this new House committee that was set up to look into January 6. So, some of these Justice Department officials who the Justice Department says are no longer bound by executive privilege. They're free to talk about their interactions with President Trump, that is now going to be part of what this committee is doing.
And it's important because what we're hearing is that this is the only way we're going to know what happened here. The Justice Department has already turned over these documents, which signals that they're not doing a criminal investigation. They have an inspector general doing some of this. And this congressional committee. This is the way the American people will get to know what happened in those key weeks between the election and January 6.
BLITZER: And they're also going to have subpoena power --
PEREZ: And they have subpoena power.
BLITZER: -- to invite a whole bunch of people and I suspect they will be doing that --
BLITZER: -- in the coming weeks and months. This investigation could go on for quite a while. Let's bring in the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams, into this conversation. What do you think? Is this the right call?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's absolutely the right call. Look, Wolf, I used to work up in Congress and committees are notorious for turf battles and scrapping amongst themselves when they consolidate it in one Select Committee, you know, where the answers are going to go, where the testimony is going to come from, and so on.
And remember, the Inspector General within the Justice Department also has separate authority and can investigate current employees of the Justice Department. Remember, there are career folks who might have played some role in assisting some of this misconduct or wrongdoing, and the Inspector General can help route that out.
BLITZER: Does the Select Committee, Elliot, have the bandwidth to handle this probe? It's going to be huge.
WILLIAMS: Right. They were created for the purpose of handling this probe. So I would say absolutely, yes. And moreover, Wolf, it is a priority for them, and for Congress and for the speaker, and for to be blunt, the American people so sure, certainly, they'll find it.
BLITZER: The Justice Department, what's going to be the Justice Department's role in this Select Committee investigation? Because they're basically stepping aside for now.
PEREZ: Yes, I mean, what this tells us is that there, at least for now, they're going to be turning over documents. What's going to be interesting is what this committee is able to do as far as getting documents from the former Trump White House, will the White House, the current White House waive privilege to provide things that come closer to the president.
Right now they've already cleared for former justice officials to talk about their interactions with the former president. This now comes closer Mark Meadows, people in the White House Counsel's Office. There's a lot of people, Wolf, who served as guardrails., people the American people have never heard of, who served as guardrails against what Trump was trying to pull off in those key days.
And look, again, the public needs to know and I think this is the way that we're going to find out.
BLITZER: Because, you know, Elliott, there are a lot of people out there legal experts who don't just want an investigation from the Congress to proceed. They want criminal charges. They believe this was, for all practical purposes, an attempted coup, and some people should wind up facing criminal charges.
WILLIAMS: Right. But yes, people should know that not all outrageous or egregious or offensive conduct is going to be criminal. Now, certainly the Justice Department can look into that. But you're going to be hard pressed to find where there can be criminal charges. But again, there can be employment charges for people that work there, serious career consequences, bar licenses and the shame of being a member of the bar. You're seeking work down the road client, potential clients will know that you're an individual that helped fomented insurrection, and no longer --
PEREZ: Part of that, yes. WILLIAMS: Yes.
PEREZ: Some of these people are already having trouble --
PEREZ: -- getting work because of this, Wolf. Because some of these documents have shown what they were trying to do to help the former president.
And look, there's a lot of people who -- these committees have not even called for, for testimony from and they're sitting there. They have stories to tell. We were talking to some of them. And it is fascinating to hear things that have not yet come out in public.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to stay on top of the story obviously very, very significant guys. Thank you very, very much.
There's more news we're following today in the Situation Room. Starting September 1st, employees and dozens, dozens of Maryland State facilities will be required to show COVID-19 vaccination proof or will be regularly tested for COVID-19.
Joining us now the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. Governor Hogan, thanks so much for joining us. You just announced these new vaccine protocols for some state employees. Who do these new rules apply to it? Why did you select these specific groups?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: Well, we're very concerned about this Delta variant which is, you know, two to four times more contagious and potentially causes more severe disease. And we're doing great in our state with because we're one of the most vaccinated states, but we're concerned about congregate facilities.
So people that work in our health department, public facilities and work in the Department of Juvenile Services and our Department of Corrections and in our veterans homes, and in our Department of Veterans Affairs. So places where we have vulnerable populations that are exposed and we have some workers, most of our state workers have done the right thing and gotten vaccinated.
But in some of those places, we want to make sure that those folks that are on the front lines, who are have the ability to impact and in fact, folks that they make sure to go ahead and get back tonight.
BLITZER: I know you're calling a governor on Marylanders to wear masks, but you've declined to put a statewide mask mandate into effect, why not enforce mask wearing while this Delta variant which is so awful, is spreading so rapidly?
HOGAN: Well, Wolf, from the beginning of this crisis, we have followed the science and listened to our terrific team of public health doctors and epidemiologists, and they aren't recommending it at this time. Look, we're -- we've got 77 percent, nearly 78 percent of our entire population is vaccinated and 94 percent almost percent of our seniors are vaccinated. As a result, we have some of the lowest infection rates, the lowest positivity rate, lowest hospitalizations of any state in America, and people who are vaccinated.
While it is still possible to get a slight version of the disease, very few cases of that happening in our state. And 100 percent of our hospitalizations and deaths at this time in Maryland are people who are unvaccinated. So today, we again, are pulling out all the stops to get those remaining 22 percent of our folks vaccinated.
BLITZER: Yes, that's so, so critically important. You're absolutely right, Governor. What's your message, though, to some of your fellow Republican governors who are actually fueling misinformation about mask, including the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has gone so far as to threatened to pull state funding from schools that institute mask mandates?
HOGAN: Look, I can't speak for the governor of Florida. But I can tell you we've taken a completely different approach in our state, which is, you know, while we're concerned about the Delta variant, you know, we had about, you know, 500 cases on Friday. I think they had 21,800 cases. We've got about 300 COVID patients and all of our hospitals and they have 10,000.
You know, we're at some of our lowest points in the pandemic, and they're at the highest point in the entire 18 months, both on cases and hospitalization. So I would say, you know, we're going to stick with the approach we've been taking.
BLITZER: As you correctly point out, Maryland is doing well with vaccinations, one of just 20 states to have fully vaccinated more than half of its residents. Have you considered though instituting some policies to further encourage vaccinations, perhaps like New York City were vaccines will soon be required for so many indoor activities like restaurants and gyms, and various concerts, other indoor events?
HOGAN: Well, we're far more vaccinated than New York City. And we've got, as I mentioned, 76 percent of our population 18 and over, so we're also well past 60 some percent with our 12 to 17 year olds, which have only been able to get the vaccine for a while.
So, you know, we -- all of our metrics are great. We'll take steps as we see fit. But right now, we don't see any requirement for having those kinds of issues. Again, we're at some of our lowest points in the entire pandemic. And, you know, while we're concerned about the unvaccinated, we don't want to see anybody else hospitalized. We don't want to lose any more Marylanders. Most people are doing what it takes to stay safe.
BLITZER: I know there's still a lot of interest, a lot of questions. Parents are really worried schools about to reopen throughout the state of Maryland, what's going to be the requirement for in class learning as far as masks are concern?
[17:50:04] HOGAN: So in Maryland, our duly elected local school boards have that authority. And they're all, first of all, the great news is that every single one of our 24 jurisdictions is going to get all of our kids back in the classroom this year, which is, you know, they've suffered greatly by not being in school. About half of our systems were open the entire year. And we had little to know incidents with our kids.
The good news is kids have not been as impacted by the virus. But many of our school systems are making the decision to require mask in the classrooms. And that's their right to make those decisions. And we support them for following the science in their own jurisdictions.
BLITZER: And you're not going to withhold state funding from those school districts who do that, which is obviously so, so smart. You want to make a final thought, is that what you want to do?
HOGAN: Now, I just want to say, you know, we're just -- we're concerned about making sure we get the rest of those people vaccinated because we don't want to have to take you know, reinstitute you know, mask mandates everywhere. We don't want to have to shut businesses and we want to be out to get our kids back in school.
And the way to do that is to get vaccinated and, you know, I just -- I want to plead with those folks that are out there that are listening to you know, crazy misinformation that they need to get vaccinate is the only way to stay safe and, and keep our economy rolling.
BLITZER: Well said. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, thanks so very much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing.
HOGAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tonight, New York state lawmakers say their impeachment investigation of the embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo is almost complete. Let's go to our senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is in New York. She got new developments for us. Paula, calls for Governor Cuomo resigned over sexual harassment allegations they seem to be growing louder and louder by the hour.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They are indeed. And Wolf, the governor remains defiant even as a majority of New York State Assembly members tell CNN they would vote yes to impeach if Articles of Impeachment are introduced. Now the governor's team is also attacking the New York Attorney General's Office that found that he sexually harassed 11 women and created a hostile work environment.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
REID (voice-over): Tonight New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will cooperate with state lawmakers who are drafting his Articles of Impeachment. Their investigation almost complete. In a letter Thursday, they gave him a deadline of August 13 to provide additional evidence.
For the past five months, the New York Assembly has been investigating whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach Cuomo following allegations of sexual harassment misleading the public about COVID-19, leading to deaths at nursing homes and using state resources for his multimillion dollar book deal.
The lawyers leading the investigation told Cuomo's team today, the committee's investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client.
Cuomo's lawyer responded saying that the governor will provide evidence but at the same time criticize the New York Attorney General's Office for acting as prosecutor judge and jury and also claimed her office's report omitted materials favorable to the governor.
All this as the Washington Post reports that four current and former advisors say they expect Cuomo to be removed eventually, but that he intends to fight impeachment in the state assembly. He's not the kind of guy who will just resign, says one. It's over, but he won't admit that yet.
But even his closest allies are calling for him to step down.
JAY JACOBS, CHAIR, NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE: That's right. The best course of action right now would be to just step aside, and let's get us moving forward.
REID: New York Democratic Committee chair Jay Jacobs, who spoke to the governor Wednesday says Cuomo wants his day in the court of public opinion.
JACOBS: He wants his moment to tell the public, his side of the story, to have his lawyers review the evidence from their perspective and they -- he feels that that will be a more favorable -- present a more favorable picture of the matter.
REID: But that is unlikely to sway lawmakers like Phil Steck, a member of the New York State Judiciary Committee.
PHIL STECK (D) NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: It would be hard to imagine the governor having enough support in the New York State Senate to stay in office. And once he sees that, it would certainly make sense to resign.
REID: Meanwhile, Cuomo signed legislation mandating sexual harassment training, but according to the Attorney General, only recalled taking the training once in 2019. And investigators say then he didn't sign the certificate himself.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
If they proceed with impeachment, lawmakers could impeach Cuomo with a simple majority vote, then a trial would be held in the state Senate where Democrats have the majority and if convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office and possibly barred from seeking future political statewide office, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Paula, thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story as well.
Coming up, I'll be joined live by the CDC director with Dr. Rochelle Walensky. There she is, as the Delta variant is gripping the nation, lots of questions coming up.
BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the Situation Room.
We're following the deepening COVID prices here in the United States as the CDC announces more than 100,000 new COVID cases in a single day. All of this is top health officials inside the Biden administration are scrambling for data on the Delta variant.