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State of the Union

Harry Reid Remembered; Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD); Interview With Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS); Interview With National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 02, 2022 - 09:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): One year later. The investigation into the deadly January 6 riot enters a new phase. What the committee has learned about the impetus of the attack and the role of the former president.


I will speak to January 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan next.

And tidal wave. Hospitals brace for more COVID patients, as the Omicron variant triggers more remote learning and travel delays.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: What really counts is making sure people don't get sick.

BASH: How worried should Americans be about what's to come? Dr. Anthony Fauci joins me to discuss ahead.

Plus: remembering Reid. From a house with no running water to the highest perch in the Senate, the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his own words on his legacy and parting push for Democrats now.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is hoping for a good year.

Happy new year.

It's not where many expected to be at the start of 2022, facing new restrictions and soaring cases from the pandemic that has now killed more than 800,000 people in the U.S. And, this Thursday, January 6, marks the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Despite the months that have passed and hopes that the country might come together, the nation remains bitterly divided and influenced by the lies that instigated the attack a year ago. A brand-new poll from "The Washington Post" and the University of

Maryland shows 92 percent of Democrats believe former President Trump bears a great deal or a good amount of blame for the attack on the Capitol, compared to just 27 percent of Republicans.

The poll also shows that one in three Americans now believe violence against the government can at times be justified, the largest share in more than two decades of polling. In Congress, the January 6 Committee is attempting a reckoning, investigating to understand and expose what went wrong that day and what role the former president played.

Here to discuss that work is Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attacks.

Thank you so much for joining me, sir. Happy new year to you.

First, generally, have you been able to determine how much of this was pre-planned, and how much the president and his allies were involved potentially in the attack?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, thank you for having me first. Happy new year.

Let me say that what we have been able to ascertain is that we came perilously close to losing our democracy as we have come to learn it. Had those insurrectionists been successful, we are not certain what we would have had, had it not been for the brave men and women who protected the Capitol, in spite of being woefully outnumbered.

We were in a difficult situation. We know former President Trump invited people to come to Washington on January 6, that he said it was going to be wild. We know that the speeches at the Eclipse (sic) weaponized a lot of people by telling them that people at the Capitol were trying to steal the election from them and they should go and be heard.

So, we are now in the process of interviewing witnesses, collecting thousands of pages of documents to say what actually occurred. As you know, that's the charge of the committee, to get to the facts and circumstances.

I can tell you right now there were a lot of missteps as to whether or not they were part of a broad plan. That's what we're looking at. But there are things, in terms of communication, between the Department of Defense and the National Guard, between state and local law enforcement, between intelligence-gathering agencies should not have been.

And so we are looking at it. And that's part of the body of work that our committee is doing on a daily basis.

BASH: Let's focus on the former president.

You are narrowing in on those 187 minutes of inaction by then- President Trump during the attack. You have testimony indicating that he was watching television coverage. You also believe he tried to tape a video several times on January 6 telling his supporters to stand down.

So, what is on those tapes? And if you can, tell us more about what have you learned about what he was doing during the attack.

THOMPSON: Well, part of what we are trying to get as a committee from the National Archives is the exact records of what occurred on that day.


The president has been in court trying to prevent us from having access to it. President Biden has said executive privilege does not apply. There have been two court cases that former President Trump has lost on that issue. And, as you know, it's before the Supreme Court now.

If we're successful -- and we think we will be -- we're convinced that we will have access to those 187 minutes of whatever occurred. But the harm that I see is the president of the United States seeing the Capitol of the United States under siege by people he sent to the Capitol and did nothing during that time.

Something's wrong with that. So we need to find out who was calling, who was texting, who was e-mailing during those 187 minutes to see whether or not that information will let us know if people were part of the problem.

BASH: Do you think that lack of action on January 6 may actually warrant a criminal referral?

THOMPSON: Well, the only thing I can say, it's highly unusual for anyone in charge of anything to watch what's going on and do nothing.

BASH: Is it criminal?

THOMPSON: And we will, as -- well, we don't know.

We're in the process of trying to get all the information. But I can say, if there's anything that we come upon as a committee that we think would warrant a referral to the Department of Justice, we will do that. And that's our oath as members of Congress.

So it's not just that. It's any of the other things we're looking at. If there's any confidence on the part of our committee that something criminal we believe has occurred, we will make the referral.

BASH: Let me just ask one more question about the former president and what he was doing or not doing as the Capitol was under attack.

I know you're still trying to get the records, but you have spoken to a lot of people, maybe people we don't even know about. Have you learned from witness testimony more about what he was or wasn't doing?

THOMPSON: Yes, we have. We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White

House had been told to do something. We want to verify all of it, so that, when we produce our report and when we have the hearings, the public will have an opportunity to see for themselves.

But, Dana, to be honest with you, what occurred on January 6 played out in full view of the American public and the world. And we want to make sure that that never, ever happens again. So we need to get it right. We need to get all the facts and circumstances. And that's what the committee's body of work is about doing at this point.

BASH: Did or has the former president obstructed an official proceeding of Congress?

THOMPSON: Well, what he's doing is the typical Donald Trump modus operandi.

He sues. He goes to court. He tries to delay. If he continues to be successful at delaying, obviously, it inhibits the committee's work. We're doing a lot, but we have access to the records. President Biden has said executive privilege does not apply.

So, we think we will have access to a lot of the records necessary for us to complete to our work. If we have access to the records, then former President Trump's wishes on delaying will have no bearing on our work.

BASH: So, your fight for access to those records from or of the former president is now before the Supreme Court.

And in a brief, he is arguing that a comment that you made about his potential criminal behavior means your committee is overstepping its legislative purpose and making a -- quote -- "mockery" of the Constitution.

What's your response?

THOMPSON: Well, he makes two arguments in the same case. He first says we have no legislative purpose. Then he says, well, you do have one, but now you are doing something else.

Former President Trump can't have it both ways. We have a legislative purpose. We take an oath of office as members of Congress. And if we see something that we believe to be illegal, we are obligated as members of Congress to make the referral.

Now, after that, it's up to the Department of Justice to determine whether or not there's merit. But I think making referrals has nothing to do with our legislative purpose.

And so, again, it's the misinformation that came about because of the loss of the election and the continued misinformation that Donald Trump is known for.

[09:10:12] BASH: Mr. Chairman, do you have any evidence by the president or

anybody around him of financial fraud, that they committed financial fraud?

THOMPSON: Well, what we have, we have created a special task force within our committee to look at the financing of what went on toward the January 6 insurrection, I will call it.

We're looking diligently at it. We have some concerns, but we have not made those concerns public at this point. But we do think it's highly concerning on our part that people raised monies for one activity, and we can't find the money being spent for that particular activity.

So, we will continue to look at it. And the financing is one of those things that we will continue to look at very closely.

BASH: I want to ask you about the makeshift war room at the Willard Hotel run by top Trump aides like Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani.

What have you learned about their communication with the then- president ahead of the January 6 attacks?

THOMPSON: Well, part of our work is to try to get access to the records on that day, who paid for it.

Bernie Kerik is significant. He started cooperating with our committee. We look forward for that cooperation to continue. The hotel has been asked to provide information for us. So we're in the process of doing our investigation.

And, again, for people who are assembled to change the outcome of a legitimate election, it's significant. Those individuals who were there, what they determined, we have seen records indicating that there was a written plan on what needed to happen.

So we need to just get all the information and review it, talk to the people that the investigation will lead us to, and then we will make a determination as to next steps.

BASH: Any sign yet whether or not there was communication with the then-president from within that war room?

THOMPSON: Well, we're in the process of gathering that.


THOMPSON: And part of the National Archives requests, as well as the requests from Mr. Kerik and others, will help us determine that.

BASH: OK, Mr. Chairman, I want you to stay right there, because we're going to talk about a lot more, including what's ahead for your committee, after a quick break.


[09:16:19] BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

We're back with Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Chairman, let's talk about your public hearings.

You have promised that the public will see -- quote -- "nontraditional hearings" to tell the story of what happened on January 6.

What does that mean by nontraditional? Are we going to hear from specific people? Do you know who yet? And when will those hearings begin?

THOMPSON: Well, thank you very much for asking.

What we plan to do in this coming year with our hearings, we will look at some of those state and local election officials who, as you know, are charged with conducting the elections to determine whether or not the elections were fraudulent, whether or not they determined that fraud occurred.

We will also talk to some government officials, some who actually said to this administration, we can find nothing wrong with the elections.

As you know, there were some people in the Department of Justice who said to former President Trump that, if you politicize the Department of Justice, we're not going to leave, because that's not who we are.

So, we will look at that and we will talk again to individuals who came to Washington under various circumstances. But we will tell the story. We will talk to the National Guard people who, as you note, sat for over three hours ready to come help the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police defend the Capitol, but they were not authorized to go.

BASH: So...

THOMPSON: Some people have said they should have gone. Others said, we don't know why they didn't.

But we will get to all those facts, because that's part of what happened on that day. And there's a belief that a lot of what happened on that day wasn't a comedy of errors, but a planned, coordinated effort.

And so our hearings will determine whether or not what occurred on January 6...

BASH: Well...

THOMPSON: ... was a comedy of errors or a planned effort on the part of certain individuals.

BASH: Well, you have been investigating this for six months now. You're the chairman of the committee.

What do you think the answer to that question is?

THOMPSON: Well, it was not a comedy of errors. I can assure you of that.

But we want to -- before we go forward, we want to get all the evidence. That's why we are talking. We have talked to over 300 people. We have some 30,000-plus documents that we have received.

BASH: Right.

THOMPSON: And the staff is working night and day to try to get to what actually occurred.

And so, before we just run out with a story we can't defend, we will get to what we believe is the truth, and that's the charge that we have as a committee.

BASH: So, one of the many things that you're looking at is the involvement of people who you currently serve with, Republican members.

You say Republican Congressmen Jim Jordan talked to then-President Trump on January 6, and Republican Congressman Scott Perry tried to convince him to name a loyalist as acting attorney general.

Neither Jordan nor Perry is cooperating. Are you willing to subpoena them?


THOMPSON: Well, let me say that both those gentlemen, based on the statements you have just read, have acknowledged that they either talked to the president on January 6, like Jim Jordan has said.

The other gentleman, Mr. Perry, tried to replace the current attorney general with somebody else who would do the wishes, bidding of President Trump with respect to the elections.

And we have asked them to come in voluntarily. Now, we will look at whatever opportunities we can to get those people to come in. But, again, Dana...

BASH: Does that include a subpoena?

THOMPSON: Well, we will look at it.

I'm not going to -- I would hope that those individuals who took an oath of office as a member of the Congress would come forward. That's why we have asked them to come voluntarily, and we think coming voluntarily should do it.

Now, if not, then, obviously, we will discuss what other options that we will have available to us as a committee. But it's unfortunate that, with what we saw on January 6 and what most of the members who have acknowledged was a very dark day that occurred in this country, they won't come forward and help us guarantee that it will never happen again.

BASH: So, we saw some new video that was released last week, really intense video. You see them showing rioters pushing police back and some very, very violent stuff.

Are you worried that an attack on our democracy like we're seeing right there with our own two eyes on January 6 last year could happen again going forward?

THOMPSON: Yes, I am.

Our committee toured the Capitol. We saw all those points and some others that's not in that video that really causes us significant concern that, unless we get it right, given the attitude of what's occurring in this country now, it could happen again.

When I see people legitimizing storming the Capitol and the activities around it, I'm very concerned. I'm concerned to the point that, sometimes, people feel they can break the law if they are dissatisfied.

The greatness of this country, Dana, has been we settle our differences at the ballot box. But now, all of a sudden, there's a mind-set out here that's saying, if my candidate loses, then I can tear the place up simply because my candidate did not win.

BASH: Chairman Thompson, thank you so much for joining us. We certainly look forward to having you back as you are able to learn or express more publicly about what you are learning.

Thank you so much.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me.

BASH: And Chairman Thompson will be back for a special event on the one-year anniversary of the Capitol attack, including the latest on the investigation and remembrances from people who fought for democracy that day.

That's live from the Capitol, "January 6: One Year Later," Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And the Republican Party has largely accepted former President Trump's election lies. Is there anything that could change that?

Republican Governor Larry Hogan is next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Last year's attack on the Capitol has done little to distance the majority of the Republican Party from the former president.

But there are a small number who speak out, denouncing the attack and those who instigated it.

One of those Republicans is Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland. And he is here with me now.

Thank you so much for joining me. Happy new year to you.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Happy new year.

BASH: Let's start with what polls are showing about Republican voters.

They overwhelmingly believe the election lies that fueled the Capitol attack. And Republican candidates across the country are playing into that belief and trying to win primaries that way.

So, can American democracy survive when these lies have been -- become so deeply ingrained in your party?

HOGAN: Well, it's a great question, Dana.

That's one of the reasons why I continue to speak up and tell the truth about what happened, because I think it's critically important. I mean, it's -- frankly, it's crazy that that many people believe that -- things that just simply aren't true, that they believe a different version of reality.

But, look, let's face it. There's been an amazing amount of disinformation that's been spread over the past year. And many people are consuming that disinformation, and believing it as if it's fact.

To think that the violent protesters who attacked the Capitol, our seat of democracy, on January 6 was just tourists looking at statues, it's insane that anyone could watch that on television and believe that's what happened.

BASH: You spent January 6 fielding desperate calls to send help to the Capitol, but you struggled for hours to get approval from top Trump administration officials to deploy the Maryland National Guard.

Have you heard from the January 6 Committee? Have you been asked to go -- come and give them information about what happened? And have you learned anything more about why that delay happened?

HOGAN: Interestingly, I have not heard from the committee.

And, as you're pointing out, I had a pretty involved role that day. You know, I got calls from the leader -- leaders of Congress who were trapped in, I think, the basement of an undisclosed location when they were whisked out of the Capitol, pleading for help.

I immediately sent nearly 300 riot-trained Maryland State Police to the Capitol. And we were trying to send the National Guard. And we kept requesting up and down the flagpole, from our adjutant general in the Maryland National Guard requesting the head of the National Guard to the secretary of the Army.

We were repeatedly denied approval to send the Guard. I called them up and activated them anyway and kind of started staging them at the border of the district, ready to get approval. And it took two-and-a- half-hours before Ryan McCarthy, the secretary of the Army, called me and asked the -- asked for our help.

And we immediately sent them in. I believe the Maryland National Guard was the first to arrive at the Capitol. The State Police, Maryland State Police, came in right after the Metropolitan Police. And the Maryland National Guard came in right after the D.C. Guard.


BASH: Do you...

HOGAN: But it was hours -- two-and-a-half-hours' late.

BASH: Do you know -- yes, do you know anything more in the year that has passed about why it took so long?


I mean, that, I think, is one of the things we need to get to the bottom of. You could give the benefit of the doubt and say it was the fog of war, there were miscommunications up and down the chain, or there's something more involved.

But all I know is, we were -- we require to have the approval of the secretary of defense, and we didn't get it.

BASH: Let's turn to COVID.

You tested positive for coronavirus just before Christmas, even though you are fully vaccinated, you are boosted. And you're a prime example of the frustrating phase we are in right now, when even people who do everything right, like you, can still get sick.

HOGAN: Well, yes.

And I -- luckily, because I was fully vaccinated and boosted, I didn't get really sick. I did self-quarantine and isolate for 10 days, as we recommend everybody does, because I didn't want to get anybody else sick. But because I had that protection, I had sort of a bad cold.

But what we're faced with now, unfortunately, this new Omicron variant is impacting just about everyone, including many people who are fully protected, but it's keeping them out of the hospital.

And that's the thing we have to keep in mind. These vaccines were designed to help stop serious illness and death. And they're working beautifully that way, because, right now, we have 92 percent of our state vaccinated here in Maryland, one of the most vaccinated in the country.

But we have overflowing hospitals. And so that 8 percent of the population who has not been vaccinated is responsible for 75 percent of all the people that are filling up our COVID beds in the hospital.

BASH: So, you...

HOGAN: And so we're still encouraging people to get vaccinated to get those boosters. And we're taking all kinds of emergency actions to help our hospitals and our nursing homes, because here we are, nearly two years later, and it's like deja vu.

We're faced with this emerging variant, very similar problems to what we had at the beginning.

BASH: Well, there are more than 2,000 COVID patients hospitalized in your state.

And the Maryland Hospital Association warned this week that medical facilities are nearing capacity. You just alluded to that.


BASH: Are you doing enough to keep up with the demand? Will you call in reinforcements like retirees, students and the National Guard, speaking of, to help?


Yes, so we have been talking about this problem for nearly a month and preparing for it, but you can't really manufacture doctors and nurses that don't exist. And, frankly, these heroes on the front line that have been working so hard for two years, there's fatigue.

There are people who are working in hospitals that are coming down and being infected, so we're taking all kinds of actions. We have already -- we put $100 million of emergency funding into our hospitals and our nursing homes. We waived requirements for out-of-state nurses and doctors and health care workers.

We have sped up the graduation of our nursing students, so they can get out early and get out to help. We have called out the Maryland National Guard. And we're continuing to take actions every day, nearly every -- everything that anyone can think of to help us get through this.

Look, we believe that the next four to six weeks are really going to be a terrible point in this crisis. And it's potentially going to be the worst part of the whole two-year fight. And we're going to take and continue to take every action we possibly can to help our hospitals, our nursing homes, and to keep people safe.

Our focus is what it's always been since last -- since two years ago. And that's trying to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

BASH: Governor, before I let you go, I have to ask about a "Washington Post" extensive investigation that they published this week about your use of an app which allows you to send messages that delete within 24 hours. According to "The Post," you use the app to coordinate with state

employees, direct Maryland's pandemic response, comment on media reports.

A Maryland law requires public officials to preserve records and communications. Can you guarantee that nothing official that should have been archived was in those messages?


So, look, we're -- we take transparency very, very seriously. It's something we have focused on for the entire seven years that I have been governor.

It was a pretty misleading piece done by this reporter in "The Washington Post." Look, do we ever have communications, casual conversations or chats with people inside and outside the government about things that are happening in the paper? Yes.

Do we do we not preserve official government documents? Absolutely, we do not do that. We preserve them all the time. We respond to literally hundreds and hundreds of requests for freedom of information, put out probably nearly a million pages of documents.

We're going to continue to be as transparent as we possibly can. But, yes, there's no -- this doesn't not impact us at all whatsoever in having personal conversations and chats about things that are happening.


BASH: Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, thank you so much for joining me. Glad you're feeling well.

HOGAN: Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Dana.

Happy new year.

BASH: And -- you too.

And a top medical expert warns the U.S. is weeks away from a viral blizzard. But is there reason to hope, by next month, things will be better?

Dr. Anthony Fauci joins me next.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

It's a new year, but with cases soaring to new records, it doesn't exactly feel like a fresh start.

Joining me now, President Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Happy new year to you.

FAUCI: Thank you.

BASH: So, coronavirus is now infecting nearly 400,000 Americans every day.

We know that deaths and hospitalizations typically lag behind, but there are some signs that the Omicron variant may actually be milder. So, do you foresee a spike in hospitalizations and deaths?

FAUCI: Well, there's certainly going to be a lot more cases, Dana, because this is a much, much more transmissible virus than Delta is.

So, quantitatively alone, even if you have a virus that it looks, in fact, like it might be less severe, at least from data that we have gathered from South Africa and from the U.K., and even some from preliminary data from here in the United States, the only difficulty is that, when you have so many, many cases, even if the rate hospitalization is lower with Omicron than it is with Delta, there's still the danger that you're going to have a surging of hospitalizations that might stress the health care system.


So it's kind of like a very interesting, somewhat complicated issue, where you have a virus that might actually be less severe in its pathogenicity, but so many people are getting infected, that the net amount, the total amount of people that will require hospitalization might be up.

So, we can't be complacent in these reports, which are likely accurate, that it is ultimately in the big picture less severe. We're still going to get a lot of hospitalizations.

BASH: Right.

OK, so what you describe is hospitals that we're already seeing overwhelmed, facing staff shortages in particular, airlines canceling thousands of flights. The FAA is warning travelers to expect even more. In New York, subway services are reduced because of the surge there.

So should Americans be preparing for major societal disruptions in the coming weeks? And what would that look like?

FAUCI: Well, certainly, I -- when I say major disruptions, you're certainly going to see stresses on the system, and the system being people with any kind of jobs, Dana, but particularly with critical jobs to keep society functioning normally.

We already know that there are reports from fire departments, from police departments in different cities that there are 10, 20, 25 and sometimes 30 percent of the people are ill. That's something that we're going to need to be concerned about, because we want to make sure that we don't have such an impact on society that there really is a disruption. I hope that doesn't happen. What the CDC is trying to do is trying to

get a position where, in fact, when people are without symptoms, who are infected, that you can get them back to work a little bit earlier than the 10-day, perhaps at five days if they remain symptoms -- symptomatic -- remain without symptoms, that is, that can go back into society.

BASH: So, let me ask you about that.

These are relaxed quarantine guidelines that came from the CDC, and they're coming under fire from some public health experts. CNN medical analysts Dr. Jonathan Reiner sent out a tweet saying -- quote -- "The latest CDC guidelines which allow people to leave isolation after five days without a test remind me of when the public was told we didn't need masks, when, in reality, the problem was the U.S. didn't have masks."

You have always promised to follow the science, Dr. Fauci. Is this driven by science or by the social and business pressure we were talking about?

FAUCI: Well, there are a couple of aspects of it, Dana, that I will explain.

There is no doubt that you do want to get people out into the workplace if they are without symptoms. And in the second half of a 10-day period, which would normally be a 10-day isolation period, the likelihood of transmissibility is considerably lower in that second half of a five -- of a 10-day period.

And for that reason, the CDC made the judgment that it would be relatively low-risk to get people out. You're right. People are getting concerned about, why not test people at that time?

I myself feel that that's a reasonable thing to do. I believe that the CDC soon will be coming out with more clarification of that, since it obviously has generated a number of questions about, at that five-day period, should you or should you not be testing people?

BASH: So, you're saying, yes, they should?

FAUCI: There will be further clarification of that coming very soon.

But I'm not saying, yes, they should. I'm saying it's something that absolutely should be considered. And I believe the CDC is going to clarify that.

BASH: So, the overwhelming feeling...

FAUCI: I have been in favor of that. I mean, I have said that, yes.

Excuse me?

No, I said, I have been in favor of that. But, then again, there's a big picture of trying to do it in a way that is scientifically sound, but that also gets people back to work. The CDC is doing their very best in trying to get the right balance of getting people back, but doing it on a solid scientific basis.

BASH: Got it.

OK, well, let's talk broadly about some of the things that are making Americans very confused right now. And I want to tick through a couple of key questions and try to get some clarity.


BASH: First, do at-home rapid tests work to detect Omicron?

FAUCI: The answer is, they do.

And I think the confusion, Dana, is that rapid antigen tests have never been as sensitive as the PCR test. They're very good when they're given sequentially. So, if you do them like maybe two or three times over a few-day period, at the end of the day, they are as good as the PCR.


But, as a single test, they are not as sensitive. And when the FDA came out and looked at what they did in stacking up against Omicron, they said their sensitivity was diminished somewhat against Omicron.

But people should not get the impression that those tests are not valuable. They are very valuable. They're valuable for screening. They're valuable if you do them more than once in a sequential way to tell you whether or not you're infected.


FAUCI: I think there was sort of a surge of concern when people said that, when it came out that the sensitivity was down. But they are still very valuable tests.


Are cotton and surgical masks effective at preventing the spread of Omicron?

FAUCI: Yes, when the CDC says they are effective, in fact, they are.

Are they as effective as an N95? No. But what was being said is rather wear a cotton or a surgical mask than not wear any mask at all. And that's the point that was made. I think it was a consideration that people were saying, if they're not effective, well, then don't wear them.

They have a degree of effectiveness. And if that's the mask that's available to you, use it. If you want a higher degree of protection, go to a higher quality of mask. But the masks that are being used, the surgical masks, do give you a degree of protection...


FAUCI: ... maybe not as the ultimate that a surgical -- that an N95 would, but you do get protection.

BASH: How should vaccinated and boosted people behave? Can they go into a restaurant, eat safely indoors right now?

FAUCI: You know, when you're having such a -- I call it a tsunami of infections, Dana, we are seeing people who are vaccinated and boosted who are getting breakthrough infections.

So, when you're in a situation where you have so many infections going out, the thing that you want to say is that, if you want to do things like that, better do them in a setting where you know the people around you are vaccinated and boosted.

And that's the reason why I have been saying, when asked about the holiday season, the safest thing to do is to be in a home setting, friends, relatives who you know are vaccinated and boosted. If you want to go the extra step of safety, then get a quick antigen test, which will give you an extra degree of safety.

What you want to avoid are places where you have 20, 30, 40, 50 people, many of whom you have no idea of whether or not they're vaccinated or boosted. That's more risky than the home setting.

BASH: That sounds like a yes.

I want to read a tweet, Dr. Fauci, from Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He said -- quote -- "Record numbers testing positive for a sore throat isn't a crisis. And people in the hospital for car accidents testing positive isn't a surge. The real crisis is the irrational hysteria which has people with no symptoms waiting hours for testing -- for a test or missing work for 10 days."

What do you say to vaccinated Americans saying that kind of thing right now?

FAUCI: Well, first of all, that's one of the reasons why the CDC has made this now a movement towards getting people back who are without symptoms after five days, rather than 10 days.

So, that's the exact reason for doing that. If you are without symptoms, and you're capable of working, you want to safely get people back to work wearing consistently a mask.

The idea that, if a person gets infected, and is without symptoms, that that has no impact on society, those are the people that might spread it to other people who might be vulnerable, who might be elderly, who might have an underlying condition, who then wind up in the hospital.

Of course, you don't want to get people panicking over asymptomatic infections. But asymptomatic infections are part of the process that spreads it around to the community. And many members of the community are vulnerable. That's the reason why you have so many people in the hospital.

The last count, there have been 90,000 people that are in the hospital right now, and 1,200 deaths per day. That is not a trivial situation.

BASH: No, it's not. It absolutely is not.

Dr. Fauci, thank you so much. Hopefully, we will have some good news to continue to talk about after the Omicron surge is over. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Happy new year to you again.


FAUCI: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.

BASH: He grew up in a house with no running water and became the leader of the U.S. Senate.

The legacy of Harry Reid and his message for today's Democrats, that's next.


BASH: Former Senate Majority leader Harry Reid died this week at age 82.

And countless obituaries, including one that I wrote, remembered him as a former boxer who fought his way out of abject poverty and excelled in elected office by throwing many a political punch.

But, as his former aide Adam Jentleson wrote this week, that misses something else about Reid that made him really successful. He also wasn't afraid to take a punch.


BASH (voice-over): To know Harry Reid was to spend time with him in the truck stop town of Searchlight, Nevada, where he grew up in a home with no running water.

FMR. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): It was hard making a living. And the man that my dad worked for a lot of times wouldn't pay him or give him bad checks that would bounce.

BASH: He spoke candidly about painful memories.

REID: My parents both drank a lot. And I was always so glad when they were broke, because they couldn't afford stuff then.

BASH: That was December 2006, right before he was first sworn in as Senate majority leader, his complex personality fully on display, a square-looking guy listening to hip songs on his iPod.

(on camera): Cowboy Junkies.

REID: You know the Cowboy Junkies?

BASH: I do. (voice-over): Self-aware and eager to surprise people.

REID: He's a walking contradiction.

BASH: Much has been written about Reid's contributions to the demise of political discourse.

(on camera): You called them Tea Party anarchists. You called them wacky. You called them the weird caucus.

REID: That's what they are. They're anarchists.


BASH: (voice-over): But many of his good friends sat across the political aisle. And he was never afraid of taking heat from his own party for cutting deals.

REID: Compromise is not weakness. Consensus-building is a strength.

BASH: He told me he had no regrets about changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster for presidential nominees, despite Donald Trump later benefiting from that with three Supreme Court justices.

REID: I have no doubt that I did the right thing.

BASH: In recent years, he backed further changes to the filibuster, urging Democrats to finish the job he started.

Reid reveled in playing the political bad guy. He saw it as taking the punch for the greater good.

REID: I don't really care. I don't want to be somebody I'm not.

BASH (on camera): You have said that part of your success is, you gain loyalty by being straight with people and sometimes telling them things they don't want to hear.

That's not always the case with people, but definitely politicians.

REID: You can go and buy a resume, experience, good looks, all kinds of things, but the one thing you can't buy is loyalty.

And I have determined the only way to have loyalty is, you have to prove to whoever you want to be loyal to you, you have to be loyal to them.

BASH (voice-over): The last time I saw Senator Reid was in Las Vegas, February 2019, already fighting the cancer that took his life and, perhaps for that reason, more circumspect than usual.

He hoped he would be remembered for looking up for the little guy, passing the Affordable Care Act, imposing regulations on Wall Street, and helping conserve five million acres of public lands in his home state.

REID: But I also want to throw in this.

I think that one of the things that I hope that people will look back at me and say, if Harry Reid could make it, I can.


BASH: And may his memory be a blessing.

The news continues next.