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The Situation Room
Biden May Move Troops Soon As Ukraine Invasion Imminent; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Announces She's Running For Re-Election; Trump Lawyer Ordered To Turn Over Emails Subpoenaed By 1/6 Committee; Authorities Investigating Anti-Semitic Flyers Found In Multiple Cities Pushing COVID Conspiracy Theory; Second NYPD Officer Shot Responding To Domestic Incident Dies. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 25, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden reveals the United States may move some troops soon as the White House says a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. We're learning that Ukrainian officials have a different take on the urgency of the threat.
Also tonight, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announces she is running for re-election to Congress. We're going to break down what it means for her political future and for her party.
And the Trump lawyer behind a six-step plan to overturn the presidential election is ordered to hand over emails subpoenaed by the January 6th select committee. We're now learning the extent of John Eastman's work on behalf of the former president in the days leading up to the insurrection.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with the threat of an imminent war in Ukraine. President Biden is sharing new information about U.S. moves to deter a Russian invasion as 8,500 American troops are now on a state of heightened alert. Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins spoke with the president today. Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward has an exclusive interview with Ukraine's foreign minister.
Kaitlan, let me go to you first. What is the White House saying tonight about predicting Putin's next move?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden spent the morning meeting with his national security team. And afterward, he told us just how difficult he believes it is to predict what President Putin is ultimately going to do. Something that President Biden says he doesn't even believe the Russian leader's top aides fully understand what he is thinking on this. Still, President Biden did warn that if president Putin does move to invade Ukraine, of course, as we know, U.S. intelligence has assessed is something that is possibly imminent, President Biden is warning there could be personal consequences for Putin if he does act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Would you ever see yourself personally sanctioning him if he did invade Ukraine?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
COLLINS: You would?
BIDEN: I will see that. There will be enormous consequences if he were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country, or a lot less than that as well for Russia, not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences, but enormous consequences worldwide. This would be the largest, if he were to move in with all those forces, it would be the largest invasion since World War II. It would change the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, when it comes to moving, President Biden said that those 8,500 troops that were put on high alert by him yesterday could be moved in the near term, talking about guessing the likelihood of what the Russians exactly are going to do. But President Biden did say none of those troops are going to be going to Ukraine. None of the NATO forces are going to be going into Ukraine either. Of course, they are not part of that military alliance.
And when I asked President Biden if he still thinks this stable but predictable relationship that he has talked about having with Russia, something he talked about the last time he met with Putin in person, he said it remains to be seen, Wolf, and said, essentially, and I'm quoting him, stay tuned on that.
BLITZER: We are all staying tuned indeed. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you very much.
Also tonight, CNN has learned that Ukrainian officials disagree with the White House assessment that a Russian invasion is imminent, characterizing the threat as dangerous instead.
Let's go live to Ukraine right now. Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us. Clarissa, tell us about the situation on the ground where you are as well as your exclusive interview with the Ukrainian foreign minister.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's no secret that there has been some daylight between the U.S. leadership and the Ukrainian leadership on the best way to deal with and also to talk about this crisis, particularly in the last week. The Ukrainian foreign minister was not pulling any punches. He said he was annoyed that the U.S. made the decision to withdraw family members of U.S. embassy personnel. He felt that that was overly cautious and premature. And he also said that he made clear that Ukraine will not be -- even as the diplomatic process continues, Ukraine will not be pushed into making any concessions it doesn't want to. Take a look.
WARD (voice over): The latest tranche of U.S. weapons arrives in Ukraine. On board, 79 tons of lethal aid, including nearly 300 tank armor-piercing Javelin missiles as the U.S. doubles down on its support of Ukraine. As many as 8,500 U.S. troops are now on high alert to be deployed to Eastern Europe to join NATO forces, a decision Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he welcomes.
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think it's a message to Putin that, listen, whatever you're trying to achieve, you get the opposite. If you want us to withdraw from Central Europe, to withdraw NATO structure from central Europe, our response to your escalation is reinforcing the eastern flank of NATO.
WARD: Some have suggested though that this shift might actually anger Putin and escalate the crisis further. Are you concerned about that?
KULEBA: Well, if we learned anything since 2014 is that it's a flawed logic to handle President Putin from the perspective that let's do nothing in order not to make him angry. No, this is not how it works. Strength, resolve, deterrence, these are the three elements that work with Putin.
WARD: On the other side of the border, yet another show of force from Russia's military, with Iskander missile systems on display. The Russia defense ministry says, the exercises are to, quote, to check the troop's battle readiness. Few here have any doubt that Russia is ready to go to war. But the question remains whether that is its intention.
So do you believe there will be a military escalation here in Ukraine?
KULEBA: This depends. I cannot read President Putin's mind.
WARD: Can anyone?
KULEBA: Frankly, no. I don't think anyone can do that. We are literally in a situation where anything can happen.
WARD: How does Putin at this stage de-escalate without losing face?
KULEBA: We shouldn't really care how President Putin will save his face, for one simple reason, because he himself, he put himself in this situation. If Russia is willing to act in good faith, there is a possibility to walk out from the negotiating room and say, we made a deal.
WARD: But Kuleba warns that Ukraine will not be pushed into making concessions.
KULEBA: We will not be in a position of a country that picks up the form, here is the instruction of the big power and follows it. No. We paid a lot, including 15,000 lives of our citizens to secure the right to decide our own future, our own destiny. And we will not allow anyone to impose any concessions on us.
WARD: With all sides dug in, the prospects for a diplomatic solution are dim. But Ukraine's leadership says the cost of failure would extend far beyond these front lines.
KULEBA: And if the United States leadership fails here, it will be a clear message to the contesters of the United States that America is a different country now and they can push. And in the end, if they push, I'm afraid that it will be the people of America who will feel the repercussions of that push.
WARD (on camera): The minister went on the say that if anyone did come to Kyiv and demand that Ukraine make concessions, he would simply, in his own words, call the protocol officer and have them accompanied back to the airport. So, really not pulling any punches here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Clarissa, we're also reporting, as you well know, that some Ukrainian officials obviously strongly disagree with the White House assessment that a Russian invasion is imminent. So, explain what you're hearing over there. Why aren't they on the same page with Washington?
WARD: So, Wolf, just to be clear, this is not the foreign minister. This is coming from another source close to the Ukrainian government who says that, essentially, this assertion from the White House that the threat is imminent, they described it as being, quote, dangerous but not imminent. He said that the Ukrainian leadership is poring over satellite imagery coming in from U.S. intelligence sources and other allies every hour.
And from what they're seeing on the ground, quote, Russia is not yet getting into combat mode or positioning themselves to attack. He also went on to say that even when Russia does give the order, when President Putin does give the order, it would likely take a week or two before they would be able to launch any kind of invasion.
And what you're seeing here really is the Ukrainians increasingly, albeit privately, getting a little frustrated with the U.S. messaging on this topic. They still do not believe that Russia would be able to launch a full-scale invasion, and they're also mindful of not panicking their own citizens. So, they're trying to keep the language from escalating even as tensions continue to soar.
BLITZER: You know, Clarissa, I'm hearing from sources here in Washington that what really worries the Biden administration is that if they do launch major, major sanctions against Russia in the face of an imminent invasion or an invasion, Russia would a retaliate with huge cyberattacks against where you are in Ukraine, but also against the U.S. itself.
The Department of Homeland Security this week issued a statement here in Washington saying Russia maintains a range of offensive cyber tools that it could employee against U.S. networks from low-level denials of service to destructive attacks targeting critical infrastructure. How worried are officials in Ukraine right now about a major cyberattack by the Russians short of a full-scale invasion? And what are you hearing about cyberattacks against the U.S.?
WARD: So, they're definitely very worried about the possibility of a cyberattack. They understand that Putin's strength lies in his ability to deploy asymmetrical warfare, meaning that he gets sanctions and maybe he retaliates with a cyberattack.
Ukraine has been on the receiving end of multiple cyberattacks, one just recently last week. They know how crippling it can be, not just in terms of destabilizing the whole system here, the infrastructure, but also in terms of morale, with people on the ground, and in terms of investment.
One of the major reasons that you hear Ukraine voice these frustrations with the messaging coming from the U.S. is that this country has a lot of economic problems and they don't want to project an image of instability. So, that is one thing that they really fear, cyberattacks that could further impact the economy. Wolf?
BLITZER: And the U.S. is vulnerable to these kinds of Russian cyberattacks. Clarissa Ward in Ukraine for us, thanks for excellent work.
Just ahead, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announces she will run for re-election to her seat in Congress. So, will she also run for another term leading her party? Stand by.
BLITZER: The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has just announced she will run for re-election for her seat, hoping to extend her more than 30- year career in the house. Here is part of her announcement just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Our democracy is at risk because of assault on the truth, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, and the state by state assault on voting rights. This election is crucial. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy. But as we say, we don't agonize, we organize. And that is why I am running for re-election to Congress and respectfully seek your support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss with our Chief Political Correspondent, the co-Anchor of the State of The Union, Dana Bash and our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.
So, Dana, what do you make of this announcement?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if she wants to keep her options open, then she has no choice but to be in Congress. And that means she has to formally run for re-election for her seat representing the San Francisco area in California. It does not mean it is a sure thing in any way, shape, or form that she will run for speaker if they retain the House, they meaning, the Democrats, or minority leader if they lose.
But she is about as shrewd as they come when it comes to strategy and positioning herself, somebody who is not a lame duck. So, keeping her options open is the name of the game for Nancy Pelosi. So, that's why in that sense, it's not a surprise. It would be much more surprising if she made an announcement and said I'm not running for re-election.
BLITZER: And then she would be potentially a lame duck. So, Phil, what does -- what Pelosi doesn't say, as Dana pointed out in this announcement, is what this means for the speakership, whether she'll serve a full term. How notable do you sense that is?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's an intentional omission or ambiguity. And I think to Dana's point here, the speaker is leaving options open. Look, it is a very tight knit group of people and I think you probably count them on one hand of people who have actually spoken to the speaker about how she wants to manage the next eight, nine, ten months at this point in time.
However, keeping options open is critical for two primary reasons, one, inside the Capitol building. Obviously the president's agenda is still very much top of mind. And you now have 29 House Democrats who have announced they're retiring. I think Jim Cooper from Tennessee announced today. The speaker certainly doesn't want the add on to that group as she is trying to maintain caucus unity as they take another run, perhaps at Build Back Better or any of the other agenda items the president wants to move through in the next couple of months.
But there is also the re-election issue themselves. The speaker is a fundraising behemoth. She is by far the most powerful person inside of the party. We're not talk millions of dollars. We're not talking tens of millions. We're talking near a billion dollars raised since she has been a Democratic leader in the House. And they want to ensure that they can maintain that fundraising ability given the very real headwinds Democrats are facing heading into November right now. And I think in making this announcement today, she keeps those options open while also not foreclosing the ability to retire after November or not seek the speakership or leader if she decides to stay on, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, at the same time, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is trying to navigate former President Trump's influence on the upcoming midterm election. In an exclusive CNN interview, McConnell tried to emphasize that he and Trump are on the same page. But how far is that from reality?
BASH: Well, it's as far from reality as Donald Trump wants it to be. [18:20:00]
And it's a case-by-case, or to be specific, state-by-state basis. They're not on the same page when it comes to what's going to happen in Alaska, that Lisa Murkowski has been, the Republican Senator has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, and he supports her Republican primary challenger. Mitch McConnell does not.
The kind of murky area is going to be in states where Senator McConnell believes they're winnable in the general election, states like Arizona. He believes if the governor, Doug Ducey, former Governor Doug Ducey has -- soon to be former Governor Doug Ducey, has a chance to run, he could win. In Maryland, Mitch McConnell believes if Larry Hogan, a Republican in a blue state, who is very popular runs for Senate, he is term-limited, he can win. So, those are options that Mitch McConnell thinks are very viable, but those are also two people Donald Trump will fight very hard against in primaries.
BLITZER: Yes, lots of developments up on the Hill. Guys, thank you, very, very much.
Coming up, a federal judge orders the Trump attorney behind the plot to overturn the presidential election to hand over his emails to the January 6th select committee. We're now learning just how closely John Eastman was working with the former president. New information when we come back.
BLITZER: Conspiracy Theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones questioned in a virtual meeting with the House January 6 select committee describing it is, and I'm quoting now, as a very intense experience. At the same time, a key victory for the panel as a Trump lawyer has been ordered to turn over emails detailing the extent of the former president's efforts to overturn the presidential election.
CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has details.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The House select committee investigating January 6 continues its quest to get more witnesses to talk, meeting virtually on Monday with right- wing Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones. He spoke about the experience on his podcast Monday.
ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: I just had a very intense experience, being interrogated by the January 6 committee lawyers. They were polite but they were dogged.
REID: Jones revealed that he invoked the Fifth Amendment nearly 100 times.
JONES: But I said this, my lawyer told me almost 100 times today during the interrogation on advice of counsel, I am asserting my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
REID: And said he did not want to answer all the questions for fear of perjuring himself.
JONES: I'm the type that tries to answer things correctly, even if I don't know all the answers, and they can then try to claim that, that's perjury, because about half the questions I didn't know the answer to. And a bunch of them were emails I'd never seen and planning things I'd never seen, at least from memory.
REID: The January 6 committee may soon get more information from another key Trump ally, Conservative Attorney John Eastman, who worked for Trump leading up to the insurrection. Eastman tries to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6th.
A federal judge ordered Eastman to respond to the committee's subpoena seeking his emails from the university where he previously worked. Eastman's lawyer also acknowledged his client had been working for Trump during key moments leading up to January 6, including on January 2nd, when he told state legislators that they needed to fix this egregious conduct that would put Joe Biden in the White House, when he was in the Willard Hotel's so-called war room with other Trump contacts, and on January 3rd when he met Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about blocking the congressional certification of the 2020 vote.
But the committee is still working to get cooperation from other key witnesses, including former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who said Monday he will continue to fight his subpoena from the committee, even after the Supreme Court rejected Trump's bid to keep secret hundreds of his White House records claiming executive privilege.
MARK MEADOWS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: It's not something that I can waive. And it's really not something the January 6 committee can waive. And so, hopefully, it will still be heard by the district court.
REID (on camera): In addition to the house committee's efforts, the Justice Department is of course also pursuing its own investigation, and you may remember earlier this month it charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy related to January 6. And today, ten of those defendants, including the group's leader, Stewart Rhodes, pleaded not guilty. The other defendant was not present for today's hearing and has not entered a formal plea. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Paula, thank you very much, CNN's Paula Reid reporting.
I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Her new book, by the way, is entitled Just Pursuit, a Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness, and it's an excellent book indeed.
Jeffrey, do these admissions from Eastman's lawyer paint the clearest picture yet of just how much he was doing on Donald Trump's behalf in the days leading up to January 6?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, yes, they do. But the more important news I think is that the emails that he sent and received are probably going to be turned over to the committee. You know, he was a professor at Chapman University, and he used his university email account to conduct all this business.
And the university has basically said we are going to cooperate with the investigation. So, I think the concrete evidence of all those email, if and when they're turned over, could be exceptionally important to deconstructing how the legal side of this attempt to overturn the election took place.
BLITZER: So, on that point, Laura, do you think the committee will be able to use these documents to establish a direct link to the former president's efforts to try to subvert the presidential election?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They ought to be able to. Not only the documents, but the words of the actual counsel for Mr. Eastman, where he spoke about having the statements and representing the then-president of the United States, that it was his client and he was acting on behalf of and representing that person and his attempts to try to lay out an erroneous, unlawful plan to try to have these substitute and false electors try to thwart the certification process. So, these are all going combine.
And remember the timing of all this. We've already known there are hundreds of people that have spoken to the committee, which means at this stage, they are more than likely having a clearer picture and putting in pieces and having corroboration more than just realizations and epiphanies. And so, to the extent of his emails actually provide more information, I suspect it will really corroborate what's already known and what's already out there.
And to Jeffrey's point, remember, the attorney/client privilege, even though it was his client, has some constraints. If they're involved in criminal activity, they're not protected. If it's outside the scope, it's not privileged. And, of course, if others are aware of it, it also goes away, combine that with the Supreme Court's discussion of executive privilege, and you don't have really a leg to stand on if you're John Eastman.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, the deputy attorney general of the United States, Lisa Monaco, sat down exclusively with our own Evan Perez, who asked her about the fake Electoral College certifications that declared Trump the winner of states he clearly lost. Listen to what she revealed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MONACO, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first, on the issue you raised in terms of fraudulent elector certifications has been reported, we've received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those. And I can't say anything more on ongoing investigations. But more broadly, look, the attorney general has been very, very clear. We are going to follow the facts in the law wherever they lead to address conduct of any kind and at any level that is part of assault on our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Jeffrey, how significant is that?
TOOBIN: I think it is significant in Evan's interview because one of the criticisms that a lot of people have had of the Justice Department is they're just concentrating on the small fish here, the foot soldiers who were inside the Capitol, and there are hundreds of them, and they're all being prosecuted. But as we've seen in the last couple of weeks, we now have a seditious conspiracy case against the Oath Keepers. And now it appears that they're investigating the provision of false Electoral College slates. And all of this is working their way up. And this is what the attorney general said he was going to do, and it appears like that's actually what they're doing.
BLITZER: It certainly does. All right, Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates, to both you have, thank you very much.
Coming up, when will an updated COVID vaccine targeting the omicron variant be ready if needed? We're learning new information about the clinical trials that are now under way.
BLITZER: New York State's indoor mask mandate is back in effect tonight. An appeals court judge granted a stay in the case just a little while ago, a day after a lower court struck down the mandate.
Let's get more on the state of the pandemic from CNN's Alexandra Field.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't think there is a chance that we're going to eradicate this.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): But Dr. Fauci says a national turnaround could be just a week or two away when it comes to the omicron surge and the World Health Organization is hoping the emergency phase of the pandemic will end this year.
DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I think normal is going to look like many of these peaks and valleys of surges.
FIELD: Nationwide, hospitalizations are now lower than they were a week ago, but deaths are higher than a week ago. While omicron cases are often mild or without symptoms for vaccinated adults, the country is now averaging more than 2,000 deaths daily, that's above the delta peak last September.
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: I think most of us would like to see the number of deaths drop to about 100 deaths per day, in which in that case will put you at par with approximately the number of deaths we see from the flu on a yearly basis.
FIELD: Israel's COVID-19 advisory board is now recommending a fourth COVID shot for all adult, citing the effectiveness of boosters, while Pfizer announces its omicron-specific vaccine is in clinical trials. When it comes to treating omicron, federal regulators announced this week they'll limit the use of certain monoclonal antibody treatments, which they say aren't effective against the variant. That move sparking a feud between Florida's governor who's vowing to fight back and the White House, which says they're using a lot of tools to fight COVID.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): People have a right to access these treatments. And to revoke it on this basis is fundamentally wrong.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let's just take a step back here just to realize how crazy this is. We're not relying on one type, one brand or treatment.
FIELD: In New York City, Sarah Palin allegedly flouting COVID-19 restrictions by dining inside a restaurant while unvaccinated on Saturday, and then testing positive on Monday, delaying her defamation trial against The New York Times. An attorney for Palin declined to comment.
And another stage goes dark, Sir Elton John testing positive for COVID, delaying two concerts in Dallas.
FIELD (on camera): And, Wolf, effective tomorrow, the Biden administration is withdrawing a regulation that required the employees of large businesses to either be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. That, of course, after the Supreme Court blocked the rule earlier this month. The rule a big part of Biden's push to get more Americans vaccinated. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Alexandra, thank you very much. Alexandra Field in New York. Let's bring in CNN Medical Analyst, the Emergency Room Physician Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen, thanks for joining us.
Is it omicron specific, omicron specific booster shot still worth pursuing even though it will almost certainly arrive too late to help with this current wave?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: You're right. By the time we get the results in, it's going to be probably months later. And so it's not going to help was this current wave, but I do think that studying it is going to be important because we could have another variant arrive in the future that looks more like omicron than previous variants. And, by the way, I also think the results are going to be important because they're not just study the booster, they're also studying the vaccine. So, for unvaccinated individuals, could this omicron-specific vaccine be better. Still, the message though for people who are not yet boosted should be don't wait for that omicron- specific booster. Get your booster now because immunity is waning.
BLITZER: Such a critical piece of advice. What about a fourth dose of the original vaccine. As you know, Israel is now recommending a fourth dose for all adults.
WEN: It's too soon for us in the U.S. to be talking about a fourth dose for most Americans. And that's because more than half of Americans who are eligible to be boosted have not yet even got their third dose. And that includes one in three older adults old over age 65 have not yet gotten their booster. So, I would really like to see us get that third dose in before we start talking about a fourth dose here.
BLITZER: Last night, I asked Dr. Paul and Dr. Ashish Jha here in Situation Room if boosted and vaccinated people should now feel comfortable eating inside, going to a bar, for example, seeing a movie. They said they should. What's your take?
WEN: I think it's very reasonable for someone who is fully vaccinated and boosted and generally healthy to say the risk to me is going to be really low, even if I contract COVID and so I feel comfortable returning to my pre-pandemic activities.
I personally feel differently because I have two little kids who are unvaccinated. And so the household risk for us is still not yet as low as I would like it to be. And so I'm choosing to be careful. I am not going to go to an indoor restaurant where I'm shoulder to shoulder with people who potentially could be unvaccinated. But I would feel comfortable going to the theater, going to an indoor gym, other places where I can wear a mask in order to keep safe.
BLITZER: And if you're going out to dinner, you want to make sure the people sitting at the table with you are fully vaccinated and boosted. I think that's really significant.
As you know, Sarah Palin allegedly flouted New York City's indoor dining vaccination mandate just before testing positive for COVID. How essential is it for restaurants to enforce these mandates regardless of who wants to eat there?
WEN: Right. I think if I were in that restaurant and I had the expectation that people around me were fully vaccinated, and then I find out that somebody was unvaccinated and then tested positive for COVID subsequently, I'd be very upset. And we should remember that unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected with COVID compared to somebody who is vaccinated.
BLITZER: That's a good point. All right, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much. Coming up, authorities in multiple U.S. cities are now investigating very disturbing flyers pushing anti-Semitic COVID conspiracies. Just ahead, I'll speak with one mayor trying to deal with this dangerous disinformation.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're following a disturbing new twist in the COVID pandemic. Anti-Semitic flyers filled with COVID conspiracy theories popping up in cities around the United States, including Miami Beach.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is there for us.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a community on alert. An investigation under way to find out who is behind the hate-filled flyers delivered to more than 200 Miami Beach homes. Officials say the flyers left in the middle of the night targeting the Jewish community, falsely claiming the public health response to COVID is being orchestrated by Jewish people.
RONNIE ISSENBERG, RECEIVED FLYER: At first I thought it was targeted to me until I started looking around and seeing it on every house. So, this has kind of like shocked a lot of people that have lived on the island for over 50 years.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We're already living in a moment where we've seen a remarkable rise in anti-Semitic incidents. We have about double the number of acts of harassment, vandals and violence today that we did just a few years ago. And this weekend, we had these anti-Semitic fliers dropped in six different states.
SANTIAGO: Over the weekend, in San Francisco, police officers collected flyers with some of that same anti-Semitic language. In Colorado, flyers now under investigation, distributed in Denver. The ADL also reports flyer distribution in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Texas over the weekend.
Meanwhile, at a rally in D.C., anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. --
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., ANTI-VACCINE ACTIVIST: Even in Hitler, Germany, you could -- you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You can hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. SANTIAGO: He has cynic apologized. Even his wife tweeted: My
husband's reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in D.C. was reprehensible and insensitive.
The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own.
The Anti-Defamation League reports a sharp increase over the last decade in anti-Semitic incidents.
Back in south Florida, the dangerous rhetoric concerning city leaders and residents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this is nothing you can brush off. This is not oh, well, what kind of crime was committed? I don't care if we charge him with littering, these people need to be held accountable. You drive in to our town and throw your garbage on to our lawns.
LEYLA (on camera): And, Wolf, I am in the neighborhood tonight where this actually occurred where these flyers were handed out. And I've got to tell you, there is a strong sense of fear and vulnerability when you talk to neighbors, even a local rabbi, but there's also a strong desire to call this out for what it is, to call it out for being hate.
Miami Beach police tell us they are working with the FBI to get to the bottom of this.
BLITZER: Hope they do.
Leyla Santiago in Miami Beach, thank you very much.
Let's discuss with the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber.
Mayor, thank you for joining us.
As you know, Miami Beach police say they have not collected more than 200 anti-Semitic letters. What are you learning about who potentially is behind these very disturbing and dangerous flyers?
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, obviously, it's disgusting. This is an important issue because you can't just sit around and ignore it or hide from it. You have to speak out against it and we intend it do it. Our police are investigating with local and federal authorities. You know, fortunately, the folks that are responsible for this, their hate was only rivaled by their stupidity because we are a community with a lot of cameras around. People have security cameras, guard gates.
So I am pretty confident we will identify these folks if we haven't already, and whatever we can do, we are going to do, because our community isn't just going to sit around and say, you know, do what you want. We have to speak out very strongly against this.
BLITZER: I'm sure you have a lot of leads right now. I'm sure you follow up very diligently. You said you just can't assume this is harmless stupidity. So, what actions, Mayor, are you taking to ensure the Jewish community in Miami Beach is protected?
GELBER: Well, you know, I was on my morning Sunday walk with my wife and we saw these scattered around in our neighborhood. We immediately -- our police immediately went to temples and houses of worship to increase their patrols. We have a pretty good, you know, system with our own rabbis and priests and we sent out word very quickly that they should be vigilant.
I mean, look, the truth is, it's flyers, but it's from people who are vitriolic in their hate. So, you know, when you see something like this in your own neighborhood in front of your house, you sort of wonder, well, is the next thing going to be a rock? And if it's -- then is the next thing after that going to be something even more deadly?
So, we don't take it lightly. We take it extremely seriously and we don't ignore it and pretend like it's just, you know, stupid behavior. It's threatening behavior.
BLITZER: Certainly is. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, thanks so much for joining us.
GELBER: Yeah, yeah.
Coming up, a sobering news out of New York City where a second police officer has died after being shot last week.
BLITZER: The New York City Police say a second officer who was shot while responding to a domestic incident last week has died.
CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras is working the story for us. She's joining us from New York.
Brynn, a very, very sad development. What's the latest?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, Wolf, devastating blow to the New York police department losing not one, but two officers in that incident that took place in Harlem on Friday. Wilbert Mora, 27 years old, a four-year veteran of the police department, he was responding to that domestic incident on Friday with his partner, Jason Rivera, who also passed away on Friday. His funeral is actually scheduled for later this week. Mora's we are hearing is scheduled likely for next week.
The commissioner calling him a hero not just for his service but also for the fact that he will be donating his organs, hopefully, saving the life of more people moving forward. And this is coming as the mayor of New York city really spent the day today trying to sort of defend some of the parts of his plan that he laid out yesterday to address the rise in crime that we are seeing in New York City, in particular when it comes to those anti-crimes officers, plain-clothed officers who will be going to neighborhoods where the most crime in the city is happening.
Listen to how he talked about that unit that will be coming to the streets in the next couple of weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: I know how fear and abusive that unit was. We are going to reinstitute an anti-gun unit where police officers will have a modified version of police uniform apparel. They are going to be better trained. We're going to use technologies with cameras to video every interaction and I'm going to make sure the right officers are assigned there, precision policing, to go after those who are dangerous gangs and carrying guns in my city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: So the mayor making it clear that this unit is going to be different under his administration in hopes to bring the crime down here in New York City. Also taking the time though to say this isn't just an NYPD problem.
Again, Wolf, we talked about this, that also he is calling on district attorneys, the courts to help out with this issue in trying to bring crime down -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brynn Gingras, thank you so, so much.
And our hearts go out to the families of these two police officers -- our deepest, deepest condolences. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.