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National Archives Asks DOJ To Probe Trump's Handling Of White House Records; Illinois, New York, Rhode Island End Mask Mandate As CDC Stands Firm And Confusion Grows; Russia Adds 2,000 More Troops Near Ukraine In 24 Hours; Dem Rep. Beatty "Moving On" After GOP Lawmaker Said "Kiss My Ass" After She Asked Him To Wear A Mask; Figure Skating Medal Ceremony Delayed After Russian Athlete Tests Positive For Prohibited Substance. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 09, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM, who have all the latest gazpacho police. See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The National Archives is now asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate former President Trump's handling of White House records after revelations that he ripped up some official government documents and took others with him to Mar-a-Lago.

Also breaking, Illinois just joined New York and Rhode Island as yet the latest states to announce an end to their mask mandates. But the CDC says it's still too soon to change its mask guidelines, leaving so many Americans right now confused.

And Russia expands its military buildup near Ukraine adding 2,000 more combat troops in the last 24 hours alone. The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, will give us and up-to-the minute assessment on the and when Vladimir Putin will order an invasion.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And let's get right to the breaking news on a potential criminal investigation of former President Trump involving his handling of White House records. Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Ryan, tell us about this new reporting.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. CNN can confirm that the National Archives has requested that the Department of Justice look into a possibly violation of the Presidential Records Act against the former president, Donald Trump, this after a number of reports of Trump mishandling documents that were under his care during his time at the White House.

Some of those records, as we've reported, are documents that are now in the hand of the January 6th select committee, which today issued yet another subpoena of a close Trump associate.


NOBLES (voice over): Tonight, the House investigation into the January 6th insurrection is moving forward, the committee issuing a subpoena for former White House Adviser Peter Navarro. The committee interested in Navarro's efforts to subvert the election results in November of 2020.

PETER NAVARRO, FORMER TRADE ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We were going to challenge the election in six battleground states.

NOBLES: Navarro responded to the subpoena by saying, quote, as the domestic terrorists running the January 6th partisan witch hunt are well aware, President Trump has invoked executive privilege and it's not my privilege to waive.

Navarro's subpoena coming a day of sources confirm Trump staffer and White House Press Aide Sarah Mathews voluntarily appeared before the committee. Matthews was working in the west wing on the day of the insurrection. The committee asking her about what was happening inside the White House that day.

And the political fallout from January 6th continues to swirl, especially after members of the RNC voted to censure two select members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, because of their role in the investigation. Today, Republicans split over the move and the RNC's decision to label January 6th as a, quote, legitimate political discourse.

House Leader Kevin McCarthy is still defending the move.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Because they weren't referring to people who have broken into this building. Everyone understands that.

NOBLES: While some rank and file members understand say the RNC went too far.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): Their statement put us backwards.

NOBLES: CNN learning the legitimate political discourse line was a point of contention during the drafting of the RNC resolution. The committee went through several drafts of the censure of Kinzinger and Cheney using a variety of terms to describe the deadly insurrection.

One early draft described the work of the January 6th select committee as a, quote, a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in nonviolent and legal political discourse. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell taking issue with not just the language used but the purpose of the censure moved in general.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I do. But the issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That's not the job of the RNC.

NOBLES: Tonight, CNN learning that former Vice President Mike Pence had not initially intended to rebuke Donald Trump during his speech last week, where he declared Trump is wrong. Pence changed his mind and admonished Trump after the former president criticized him in statements.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I have no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.


NOBLES (on camera): And tonight, yet even more information about efforts by those close to the former president to try and get in the way of the certification of the election in 2020, The Washington Post reporting that Rudy Giuliani reached out to a district attorney in a small county in Michigan asking for him to turn over the voting machines in that county after the county initially incorrectly reported the election results showing Joe Biden with the lead.


Wolf, they actually corrected that mistake and reported the correct vote totals, but it's something that the former president has used an example of voter fraud and said that it happened all over the country, while there is simply no evidence to prove that. Wolf?

BLITZER: Absolutely right. Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Let's get some more in all of this. Joining us now, CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Philip, CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel and CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, how serious is this Archives request for the U.S. Department of Justice to look into Trump's handling of this White House documents? These are official documents, government documents. Could it potentially, Jeffrey, lead to criminal charges?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It could but there is a very important unknown, which is the issue of intent. It's not a crime to violate the Presidential Records Act. It's not a crime to destroy documents. It is a crime to destroy documents with the intent of keeping them from an ongoing investigation.

So, the focus of the Justice Department investigation, if it goes forward, is why did Donald Trump take these documents, why did he destroy these documents? If he did it for some sort of innocent purpose or he did it as a matter of routine, I don't think that's a criminal matter. If he did it to keep the documents away from people who were doing an investigation, a legitimate investigation, then he's got a big problem.

BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, Jamie, how much could this potentially impact the select committee's investigation into Trump and his actions around the January 6th insurrection?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think this comes really as a surprise to the committee, Wolf. Remember, looking back from day one, there were reports about Donald Trump ripping up documents. The one thing we knew about this White House from the beginning is they were not following any of the norms or the traditions of the Presidential Records Act, certainly Trump wasn't. There was all the talk about using a personal cell phone.

I think the real question for the committee is, are they getting this information from the firsthand witnesses who were at the White House, who may have seen these papers, who may have copies? There are other ways to get the information.

But to Jeffrey's point, I spoke to a source with knowledge of the investigation just yesterday about the topic in general and the person said the critical question is, was he trying to circumvent? You know, as Jeffrey said, what was the intent here?

BLITZER: It's really important. Abby, as Jamie just said, it's been out there for years, as we all know, that Trump had a habit of ripping up documents. But is this request a sign that the former president may face some accountability, potentially, for breaking the law?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think in this particular case, it's less likely. There are a lot of problems with going after a president for violations like this, for example, that the president has the ability the declassify documents. So, if there were confidential or classified documents among them, it would be very difficult for them to charge the president for that.

I do think, though, the question in my mind and perhaps the National Archives and the January 6th committee, perhaps, wants to know this is who else helped former President Trump either destroy the documents or get them out of the White House. I mean, he certainly didn't cart these boxes of documents to Mar-a-Lago by himself.

And so there are clearly other people who would know a little bit more about this question of intent, about what was going on here. Was it just that he wanted to keep those letters to Kim Jong-un or was it that he was trying to hide something from the American people or perhaps anyone who seeks to investigate him in the future.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really an important point.

Jeffrey, we are also learning that Rudy Giuliani reportedly reached out to a Michigan prosecutor to ask for his county's voting machine. Just how beyond the pale is that, to pressure of a local prosecutor for those voting machines?

TOOBIN: Well, again, that's another matter of intent. Why was he doing this? Was he doing it because he was legitimately interested in finding out the correct vote totals or was it part of a conspiracy to overturn a legitimate election?

It's worth remembering that Rudy Giuliani is already under criminal investigation. There are search warrants has been issued for his phones, for his data. So, you know, he's got a lot of problems already.


And whether this is folded into that investigation, I don't know. But, you know, it's not like Giuliani has already gotten off scot-free. That's not the case at all.

BLITZER: Yes, that's absolutely true. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, the Russian military presence along the Ukraine boarder is now expanding. Is vladimir Putin about to make his move? I'll ask the Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby. There you see him. He is standing by live. We will discuss when we come back.


BLITZER: Tonight, Russia's military buildup near Ukraine is growing even larger despite efforts by the United States and its allies to deter an invasion.


A U.S. official revealing that about 2,000 more Russian combat troops were added near the border in the last 24 hours alone.

Let's discuss with the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby. He's a retired rear admiral. John, thank you very much for joining us.

How close is Putin to having 100 percent of the forces and weapons he needs to launch a full scale invasion?

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, we think he gets closer every day, Wolf. It's hard to tell exactly because we don't know what's on his mind, but he has upwards of 100,000 -- certainly100,000- plus troops and he continues to add even over the last 24 to 48 hours. So, every day, he gives himself new capabilities, new options, and as we've said, he could actually do something any day now. It's just a matter of like when and of how -- what size.

BLITZER: One E.U. official actually puts the number of Russian troops along the border and about 140,000, 140,000. Does that line up with the U.S. assessment?

KIRBY: Well, again, I don't want to get into exact numbers here, but we have said it's north of 100,000. And, again, he continues to grow that capability every single day.

BLITZER: Russian military drills in Belarus, just north of Ukraine, and the Olympics both come to an end around February 20th and there is also the factor of the growing thawing in the spring. So, how wide is Putin's window for a possible invasion?

KIRBY: Well, there's lots of factors that would go in here if he wants to invade. Certainly, the weather is a factor. The ground is a factor. His capability and the size, depending on what he wants to do, all that's a factor. As we've said, we believe he has the capability to move any day now. It's really going to be a factor of what he wants to actually accomplish.

And I would also say, Wolf, there is still a time and space for diplomacy. This doesn't have to end in armed conflict. Sometimes we talk about it as if it's almost inevitable, and there's no reason for it to be.

BLITZER: If Russia were to invade Ukraine, is there a U.S. contingency plan to send U.S. troops into Ukraine to get, what, about the 30,000 American citizens out?

KIRBY: There is no active planning going on for what we would call a noncombatant evacuation inside Ukraine. There's no design to do that right now. There is plenty of time for Americans that are living in Ukraine to leave Ukraine. And, certainly, the State Department has made it clear they don't want Americans to go to Ukraine right now. The president himself has said, if you are in Ukraine, you should think about leaving. And there is plenty of ways and vehicles and transportation opportunities available for you to do that safely right now.

BLITZER: So, you want them to get out right away?

KIRBY: That's right. This is really not a good time for American citizens to be in Ukraine, and we have actively encouraged people to leave.

BLITZER: As a former Pentagon correspondent, myself, John, I am very upset that the Biden administration is not allowing journalists to embed with American troops who have now been moved from the United States to NATO countries near Ukraine, in Europe, or even allow them to interview people right now. Why not? Why not allow the American people to see what's going on and allow journalists to be there on the scene?

KIRBY: Sure, Wolf. Hey, look, this is on me. I'm the head of public affairs here at the Pentagon, and I can tell you, as I told the press corps in the briefing room today, there is a lot of factors that go into deciding how we handle media access. Some of these decisions are very difficult to make. We take it very seriously. And right now, we're trying to balance a lot of factors in terms of the time and space for diplomacy. And so, right now, we're just not able to provide that kind of access. And if that can change, we will certainly be very open and transparent about that.

We have tried to explain what we are doing every step of the way. But right now, I think we need to be careful and measured and very deliberate about the messages we are sending out there in the media space.

BLITZER: Well, U.S. journalists, Pentagon reporters have been embedded with military troops from the 82nd Airborne or whatever during all these conflicts in recent years. I don't understand why you don't want some transparency.

KIRBY: Well, we do want transparency, Wolf. And, again, we're doing the best we can. And yet, remember, on the embedding process, I mean, this -- you said, embedded in conflict. First of all, there is no reason for this to become a conflict, number one. Number two, the troops that we have that we're sending to Europe, they are in very small numbers and they're not engaged in conflict, they're not engaged in combat. They're doing some training and they're doing some reassurance exercises and reassurance initiatives with our allies. And it's a small number.

So, again, we're going to keep looking at this, Wolf, and, again, obviously understand the obligations to be truthful, to be honest, to be transparent and to provide as much access as possible. But, again, these are tough decisions and we're trying to make them in real time while there is a diplomatic effort ongoing.

BLITZER: My recommendation, let the journalists cover what's going on.

Let me also ask you, John, about CNN's investigation, I'm sure you saw it last night, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, into the ISIS bombing in Kabul, at the airport, last August. 19 witnesses, eyewitnesses, now tell us they saw gunfire or were, themselves, hit with bullets, contradicting the Pentagon's conclusion that that suicide bomber alone caused all of the casualties.


How you can say the Pentagon's findings are, quote, definitive, when the investigation didn't necessarily -- your investigation, U.S. military's investigation, didn't speak to any of the Afghans who were actually injured or the doctors who treated them or go to hospitals, all U.S. troops were removed right away?

KIRBY: Well, we did talk to 139 witnesses to that bombing, including some that were not in the U.S. military, the British and people that were not far away but enough away from the blast area that they weren't affected. And we talked to a lot of people that were on the scene. We just, as the investigator said last Friday, there was simply no evidence to suggest that there was gunfire in any meaningful way after the blast that killed our 13 soldiers and 170 innocent Afghans. There's just no evidence to support that. There were some warning shots fired but no evidence at all that there was gunfire into the crowd.

BLITZER: Did you speak to the people in the hospitals? Did you speak to the doctors in the hospitals?

KIRBY: There was no -- there was no way that we could speak to doctors in the hospitals or those who were treated in those hospitals. Again, the focus of the investigation was to focus on what happened at that blast site and how that occurred. There were lots of interviews of people that were on scene, both in the military as well as medical personnel on Kabul at the airport, but there was no -- this all happened. The investigation happened after we had left. So, there was really no ability for them to talk to doctors in Afghan hospitals.

BLITZER: I want to be clear, U.S. investigators didn't speak to any Afghans or any of the five Kabul hospitals that CNN spoke to over these past few months? They didn't speak to any of the victims who have medical record of gunshot wounds. So how can you be so sure, John?

KIRBY: They didn't speak. You are right, they didn't. And, again, even in the initial treatment of our troops, our own doctors, at first diagnosed gunshot wounds, and then after getting in and working on these troops, realize that there were no gunshot wound to our troops, that the injuries were caused by 5 millimeter ball bearings, which leave a wound that very much looks like a bullet wound. And reading the CNN report, there is no autopsies that were done by those doctors in those hospitals of Afghans as well.

So, again, we respect the reporting of CNN clearly, but we're going to stand by the investigation, which did not find any conclusive evidence that there was gunfire of any kind by American troops on Afghans.

BLITZER: Do you think CNN reporting merits a little bit more investigation by the U.S. military?

KIRBY: I'm not aware of any effort to re-litigate the investigation right now, Wolf. But, surely, look, as we would say in any regard, if additional information comes to light that the department really believes needs to be looked, and, again, we will certainly do that. But at this time, we stand by the investigator's finding that there was no gunfire into the crowd by our troops.

BLITZER: Well, it looks like additional information has come to light, but we'll see what happens. John Kirby, as usual, thank you very much for joining us.

KIRBY: My pleasure, thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, Illinois just became the latest state to announce an end to its mask mandate. The CDC still says it's too soon. So, who should Americans listen to? We'll be right back.



BLITZER: There's breaking pandemic news tonight. Multiple states are announcing plans to end their mask mandates, contrary to current CDC guidelines.

CNN's Alexandra Field reports the mixed messages are creating growing confusion for a lot of Americans.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Facing a confused public, the CDC trying to be clear on masking.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: At this time, we continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission. That's much of the country right now. FIELD: But more governors across the country are taking matters into their own hands. Today, Massachusetts, Illinois and Rhode Island announcing plans to begin rolling back mask mandates. New York will keep masks in schools for now while relaxing other restrictions.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): At this time, we say that is the right decision to lift this mandate for indoor businesses and let counties, cities and businesses to make their own decisions on what they want to do with respect to masks for the vaccination requirement.

FIELD: Under pressure from governors to issue new guidance, the CDC says it will update recommendations but not yet.

WALENSKY: We've always said that these decisions are going to have to be made at the local level. Many of these decisions are using a phased approach. Not all of these decisions are being to stop things tomorrow. They may have to be done at the local level, but I am really encouraged that cases are continuing to drop dramatically, hospitalizations are continuing to drop dramatically as people are making these decisions and as we are working on our guidance.

FIELD: And Dr. Fauci telling The Financial Times that as we get out of the full-blown pandemic, these decisions will increasingly be made on the local level and that there will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus.

But the White House is taking a decidedly tougher stance, saying students and teachers should adhere to federal guidelines and keep masks on for now regardless of state rules. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a new Pew survey shows 68 percent of Americans say they are confused by changing COVID-19 policies. As people try once again to navigate mixed signals on masking, public health experts are pleading for patience.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Do parents, in an ideal setting, want their kids in masks? No parent would want a mask if it's not needed. But I think our goal should be is to get to a place where we can pull back on these types of restrictions as often, as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.


FIELD (on camera): And, Wolf, we certainly know that a lot of news parents out there have been waiting for vaccines for children under the age of five. The federal government today is saying they are already preparing to roll out an initial 10 million doses for kids under five just as soon as the FDA authorizes the vaccine for that age group. And we know next week, FDA advisers will gather to discuss the matter. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Alexandra Field reporting from New York, thank you.

Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Ala Stanford, Founder and CEO of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, she is also a CNN hero for her pandemic work in communities of color.

Sanjay, is now the right time for all these states to lift their mask mandates?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, there are still a lot of virus out there, Wolf. I mean, we're still being showered in viruses. You just heard from the CDC director, and most of the country is either high or substantial transmission, 61,000 people forecasted still to die, amazingly, over the next four weeks. I mean, these are still very high numbers.

But at the same time, as you heard from Alexandra, the numbers are coming down. We've seen that. We've seen the effectiveness of the vaccines overall. So, I think the big question is how do you make the decision?

Let me show you Oregon, for example. I don't know if we have this trajectory of what happened in Oregon. Just to give you an idea, people are trying to project ahead. So you can see sort of mid-June time period is when they sort of lifted some of the mask mandates at that time, this is last year, and, you know, the delta surge sort of happened. The numbers went up and they had to reinstate the masks at that point. So, you have to be nimble, I think, here and anticipate that it is possible, hopefully not, but possible that if these mask mandates go away, that there may be a time when they have to be reinstated again if the numbers go up.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly do.

Dr. Stanford, many of these states imposed some of the strictest measures in the nation since the beginning of the pandemic. So, what does it say to you that so many of them are now ready to lift their mandates?

DR. ALA STANFORD, FOUNDER AND CEO, BLACK DOCTORS COVID-19 CONSORTIUM: I think they I have to be careful who is providing them the information. When they say the case numbers are coming down, that's related to omicron with December and January 2022 surges. But prior to Thanksgiving, the cases were lower, the positivity rates were lower and the hospitalizations were lower.

And so we know we can do better as we continue to vaccinate, booster, wear the masks and so forth. And I think to remove theme prematurely is a mixed message. And we have got kids about to be out for president's day. Easter is coming up. And we know an uptick, like we've seen this story play out already. So, I think some patience would be help and let's watch the trend over a good four week, six weeks before you start pulling back the mask mandates.

BLITZER: Yes. And on that note, Sanjay, the White House says students in classrooms should listen to the CDC guidance, keep wearing their mask, regardless of what local officials are saying. So, who do you think they should be listening to?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, if you listen to the CDC director, I think what she said was these are still local decisions, because different places, as Dr. Stanford is talking about, are in different positions right now around the country. So, it's very hard to paint the entire country with one brush here.

I think hospitalizations is the key, really. I mean, if you are in a situation where hospitals are still very full in your state and you pull back measures, it's going to be hard to take care of patients, even non-COVID-related issues.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really a good point. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Ala Stanford, thanks to both of you, as usual.

Just ahead, there is breaking news, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, acknowledges the league is falling short went it comes to hiring black head coaches.



BLITZER: There is more breaking news we are following, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, just speaking up about the league's glaring lack of diversity among its head coaches. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell facing tough questions about racism in the league at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Racism or any form of discrimination is against our values.

TODD: Goodell admitting the league has fallen in hiring enough minority head coaches in the wake of the class action lawsuit filed by former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores against the league and three franchises.

GOODELL: I think we made a lot of tremendous amount of a lot of progress in a lot of areas but not at the head coach. And that is something that -- is something we really had focused on to try to get the kind of results that we would expect, and we fell short of that by a long shot for us.

TODD: Flores, fired as the Dolphins' head coach after posting winning records in two of his three seasons, accuses the New York Giants and Denver Broncos of bringing him in for sham interviews, in the case of the Giants, for a head coaching job they'd already decided to give to someone else.

BRIAN FLORES, FORMER NFL HEAD COACH: It was humiliating, to be honest. There was disbelief, there was anger.

TODD: He also accuses the Dolphins owner of offering to pay him to lose games, which the owner denies.

GOODELL: All of those to me were very disturbing.

Integrity of the game is obviously an important element.

TODD: The league and the franchises named in the suit all deny wrongdoing, but Goodell announced the league will take a fresh look at the hiring process.

GOODELL: We're going to talk to other people, have independent people come in and look and help us evaluate it, because it's sometimes hard to evaluate your own policies and procedures.


TODD: Flores and his attorneys say the NFL Rooney Rule, which requires every team to interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions doesn't work and is basically a scam, with teams interviewing people for window dressing then hiring the coach they really want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you not bear some personal responsibility for not having made more progress?

GOODELL: The answer is, yes, I do. As a league I don't think there is a subject we've discussed more frequently in the ownership over the last four or five years. It has been at every league meeting other than two.

TODD: about 70 percent of the NFL's players are black. But out of 32 teams, only two have black head coaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does the NFL and its owners have such a difficult time at the highest levels hiring black people into decision-making positions?

GOODELL: We work really hard. We believe in diversity. We believe in it as a value. We believe it's made it stronger. People who have come into the league who are diverse have been very successful and made us better. And we just have to do a better job.

TODD: One analyst is skeptical that the Flores lawsuit will affect real change.

HOWARD BRYANT, WRITER, MEADOWLARK MEDIA AND ESPN: The NFL owners do not want to hire black coaches. The reason why they don't hire black coaches is because they've never hired black coaches unless they have been forced.


TODD (on camera): The NFL is also conducting a new independent allegation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Washington Commanders Owner Daniel Snyder, who has been accused by a former team employee of making inappropriate physical contact of trying to force her into a limousine. Snyder denies the allegations. The team itself today announced its own independent investigation into that. But Roger Goodell said flat-out, he does not see anyway a team can do its own investigation of itself. Wolf?

BLITZER: Right. Brian Todd reporting for us, Brian thank you very much.

Let's get some more on this, Dr. Myron Rolle, a senior neurosurgery resident at the Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital, is joining us, he's also a former NFL player, and he's also author of the new book that's coming out soon entitled the 2 Percent Way, How a Philosophy of Small Improvements then Took Me to Oxford, the NFL and Neurosurgery. Dr. Rolle, thanks so much for joining us. We'll have you back to talk about the book when it's published.

But you just heard the commissioner, Roger Goodell, acknowledged that the NFL has fallen short when it comes to hiring black head coaches, but he says it has made tremendous progress diversifying. You're a former NFL player. Has it?

DR. MYRON ROLLE, SENIOR NEUROSURGERY RESIDENT, HARVARD/MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Yes. I would say, no. I would say a lot of it is words but not a lot of action and policy behind it. When Colin Kaepernick was taking a knee to protest police brutality years ago, a lot of people in the NFL were condemning him for that action.

And then when Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and some of those other Black Lives Matters things happened, the NFL wanted to take more of an aggressive approach towards being more equitable. And so they tried to get involved in some societal type of issues that advance black causes, but they fell short with the hiring process. And it is evident by the fact that you don't see many black head coaches, quarterback coaches, coordinators and even owners. So, they still have a lot of work to do.

BLITZER: Goodell repeatedly said the NFL will look at its policies, but did you hear any concrete solutions that give you confidence, Dr. Rolle, that the playing field will be leveled in the near future?

ROLLE: I really did not. And the one solution I really wanted to hear was, you know, the NFL game play right now is so informed by analytics and informatics, right? There are statisticians and advanced technology that go into decision-making on the field. Can we use some technology to see how were these people hired? Are they going from quarterback coach, matriculate them to coordinators and then becoming head coaches? So, they fit a certain profile.

And if we know the pipeline, can we feed that pipeline with quality, you know, worthy candidates who are men, women, unrepresented demographics, to eventually have a position, have a shot at becoming one of these front office personnel. Right now, we don't see it, and I'm hoping to see policy change in the future.

BLITZER: There is a huge disparity, as we all know, between the number of black NFL players, about 70 percent of the players are black in the NFL, and black head coaches. Based on your personal experience, Dr. Rolle, and you played in the NFL, how problematic is that?

ROLLE: Very problematic when you have 70 percent of the league being black and then having that disconnect with getting to the next level. A lot of these players don't go into neurosurgery. They don't want to be physicians like me. But many of them want to stay involved and invested in the sport that they have given their life to. And when those opportunities are limited or we see some people from the outside getting those positions, then you are left to wonder, where is the gap? Where are we missing it? And how are we not qualified to at least get a shot?

These black coaches, Brian Flores, Lovie Smith and others, they don't want to just be given a job as a check box, they want to be given an opportunity where they can control, they can look at different things, they can have a chance to succeed, have a chance to win, just like anyone else.


And I think that's what's lacking. And, hopefully, we can make progress to real change.

BLITZER: I hope it happens.

Dr. Myron Rolle, thank you as usual for joining us.

ROLLE: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Coming up, a Republican colleague told her to, quote, I'm quoting now, kiss my ass, for asking him to wear a mask. Just ahead, Congressman Joyce Beatty standing by live.

We'll discuss, there you see her, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Tonight, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus says she's moving on after being disrespected and cursed by a Republican colleague.


Democrat Joyce Beatty says Republican Hal Rogers poked her in the back and told her to, quote, kiss my ass after she asked him to wear a mask before boarding the Capitol subway system. We now have video of Beatty confronting Rogers as they got off the train. Watch.


REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): I'm a member of Congress, like you, and I'm a woman. You will not disrespect me. I will bring you up in front of the ethics and everything else. You picked the wrong woman for that.


BLITZER: Congresswoman Rogers later apologized to Representative Beatty.

Representative Beatty is joining us live right now here in THE SITUATION ROOM. What does this say to you, Congresswoman, that a fellow member of Congress felt he could speak to you like that?

BEATTY: Well, I think it says a lot about what's happening in our chambers today. I think it talks about the hyperpartisan environment that we're in and the lack of civility and the lack of respect. It was surprising. It was shocking and it was alarming that someone would do this within there was a sign right there on the window and most of the cabins are blocked off because of COVID-19.

So, you're limited to that one cart to ride in. And I actually said, would you put your mask on, please? And there was a sign saying mandatory to put your -- to wear a mask if you were riding.

So, you know, it happened to me. And I think that he realizes he picked the wrong person to do this to at this time, because I'm not going to be bullied and I wanted to make sure that everyone knew, I needed a public apology, not a personal mumbled apology.

But we made him make a public statement. He did admit to doing it. At least he did not deny his ill actions.

BLITZER: You think Congressman Rogers would have spoken to you this way if you weren't a black woman?

BEATTY: Well, you know, I look at it this way. I am a black woman and he knew that I was a woman and I think whether you are black or white, he should not have poked me and spoke to me that way.

When I said, naturally, it's because I'm Black. But I think the bigger question I am asking is what would have happened if a Black man would have poked a white woman and then said that to her publicly? You know, that's why I demanded the public response because I think the outcome would have been different.

We still deal with systemic racism. We still deal with members on the other side not wanting to support voting rights. Not wanting to make sure our democracy is represented. So I think it's important for not only the Congress but the nation to know. I think they lack leadership on the other side.

I've not heard from their minority leader even after he apologized, a courtesy call from Kevin McCarthy didn't happen. I believe if John Boehner was there. He would have at least reached out and said, are you okay, baby?

But it's changed especially after the last eight years. We've seen so many things that's foreign to everyone that we have never witnessed before in the halls of Congress.

BLITZER: Yeah, I've covered Congress for a long time. I haven't seen anything like that either.

Representative Beatty, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

Coming up, will the international Olympic Committee force team members to give up their gold medals during a doping scandal? We have a live report from Beijing right after the break.



BLITZER: Drama tonight in the figure skating team event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing where the medal ceremony has been delayed after one athlete on the Russia Olympic team tested positive for a prohibited substance.

CNN sports analyst and "USA Today" sports columnist, Christine Brennan, is in Beijing. She broke this story.

Christine, what's the latest?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Well, the latest, Wolf, of course, it was overnight. Now, it's morning here and there are a lot of questions to be answered. The International Olympic Committee, the International Skating Union, that's the world wide body that governs figure skating.

The questions now are not only positive tests. I reported one of the six athletes on the victorious Russian figure skating team dominated the competition. One of them is tested positive. What happens here?

We presume Russia will be disqualified. We do not know that yet for sure. I cannot report that yet. But the logical way of thing here, Wolf, would be that Russia would be disqualified, U.S. was second. In that case, the U.S. would move up to the gold medal, Japan would up to the silver and Canada would move into a bronze position.

But we don't know that for sure. There is real uncertainty how to move on next, not only does it affect the team competition, it affects the rest of the Olympic Games. All of these skaters have events. The men's event is tonight, in a few hours with Nathan Chen, with going for the gold and also the women's ice dance and the pairs. It's not just about the team. It's about the rest of the Olympic Games.

BLITZER: There was a dramatic moment when a top U.S. skier crashed during her second race in a row. What happened?

BRENNAN: Yes, Mikaela Schifrin. She has now skied out twice, meaning that she did not finish either race and is extraordinary. She hasn't done this when the she was a teenager, one of the greatest skiers to ever compete. But these got two Olympic Games, two golds from two previous games. The question is, what can happen in the next events here?

BLITZER: Christine Brennan, we'll stay in touch with you. Thank you very much for joining us.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.