tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 29, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
at your best and 100%, it is very dangerous. gymnastics is a dangerous sport to begin with. when you are doing dangerous skills like she is doing of that caliber, it can be life threatening if you are not mentally there and prepared. >> thanks so much. a joy to have you on our show. our coverage on cnn continues right now. happening now, breaking news. president biden announces new orders and incentives to encourage covid-19 vaccinations, telling americans who haven't gotten their shots, you don't have to die. also tonight, the nation's capitol joins the growing list of cities reimposing mask mandates as the delta variant rages. it is more fuel for a republican revolt against mask rules. and congress approves $2 billion in funding aimed at better securing the u.s. capitol after the deadly insurrection.
i'll ask the capitol police chief about his top priority to prevent a repeat of the riot. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with president biden taking direct action to try to combat what he calls the pandemic of the unvaccinated. let's go straight to our senior white house correspondent phil mattingly. the president laid out new vaccine incentives saying this is about life and death. >> yeah, wolf. it is a stark reminder about the moment the country finds itself in where despite months of work by aed the min strags, more than 163 million people fully vaccinated, have a vaccine that actually works, there is still major problems. when you look at the data, there
is backsliding and hospitalizations in cases and even deaths. now the president is moving to try to address it. >> we need some straight talk right now. >> reporter: tonight palpable frustration turning into a dramatic policy shift. >> incentives and mandates, we can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives. >> reporter: president biden who declared this just three weeks ago. >> today, we are closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. >> reporter: now staring at a delta variant that left 1% of the country with a low rate of transmission and moving sharply to escalate the vaccination push. >> it is time to impose requirements on key groups to make sure they're vaccinated. >> reporter: requiring federal workers to attest to being vaccinated or face stringent testing and mitigation protocol. federal funds for local officials to pay $100 to newly vaccinated americans. >> if incentives help us beat this virus, i believe we should use them. >> reporter: the scale, the
policy shift matched only by biden's shift in message. moving all subtly from why the country is back in a moment, surge in cases, hospitalizations and death. >> the people who are going to understand that getting vaccinated makes a difference. and what happened was the new variant came along. they didn't get vaccinated. it was spread more rapidly, and people were getting sick? >> reporter: matching that of the private sector where companies are imposing vaccine mandates on employees or, in the case of famed restaurantauer danny mieer, given to eat in their restaurants. >> you can dine somewhere else and you can also go work somewhere else. >> reporter: a billionaire businessman mincing no words. >> you get the fda to say it's final, it's approved and i can gaurn you all the places i'm
involved in, if you don't get vacc vaccinated, you will get fired. >> reporter: white house officials viewing the federal requirement as a road map of sorts for the private sector. and privately hoping it pushes even more companies towards those mandates officials say. all as the delta variant continues to surge cases, hospitalization and death. that reality, however, appears to have somewhat contributed to an uptick in vaccinations in recent days with numbers that hadn't been reached since the start of the month. with more than 100 million americans still unvaccinated, no question about the increasing bumpy road ahead. >> this is no time to be disrespondent and let our guard down. we just need to finish the job with science, with facts, with the truth. and together as americans, we're going to be able to beat this. >> reporter: and, wolf, there is no question the administration
moving to require vaccination from federal workers is a definite shift. but there is a bigger question of is it possible for the federal government to impose a vaccine mandate across the country? the president was asked that today, and he said he didn't know. they still don't know yet. we're not told that's under consideration, but the president not explicitly taking it off the table. underscoring the administration is trying to find out a way, any way, wolf, to get tens of millions of people vaccinated and put a halt to the surge of the delta variant. >> clearly a lot of frustration out there. phil mattingly at the white house, thanks very much. let's discuss this and more with the president's vaccine policy for the covid-19 coordinator. jeff, thank you so much for joining us. i know you got a lot going on out there. what led the biden administration to determine that now is the time to require federal employees to get vaccinated or to submit to weekly testing?
>> well, first of all, thank you, wolf, for allowing me to come on the show. i think it is important to start with how much progress we made over the last six months. 163 million, more than 163 million americans fully vaccinated, which means they are -- have a high degree of protection against the covid virus. as president biden talked about, this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, so we need people to get vaccinated. we have seen an acceleration in the number of people getting vaccinated, which is good news. but we need more. we need everybody to get vaccinated. and the president deciding to have a mandate of the veterans administration health care hospital that all doctors and nurses get vaccinated is part of what we believe is right to protect veterans and it is consistent with what many health care systems are doing across the country. the system where if an individual attests to being
vaccinated, they are able to come back to work in the straightforward fashion, versus if they refuse to get vaccinated or refuse to attest to being vaccinated. so it is a difficult system of regular testing, masking, social distancing, and you can't -- can't travel for work. why? to protect people. but also to incent people to get vaccinated. this serves as a model for private employers and other institutions. as we heard in your opening, many are following suit. that's good news. everything we can do to incent people and where appropriate require people to get vaccinated. the more we get vaccinated, the faster we beat this pandemic. >> but what happens to those that refuse to comply? there are millions of federal employees, millions of federal contractors out there, and many of them don't want to get the vaccine. what if they refuse to get the vaccine? what if they refuse to get tested every few days?
do they get fired? >> well, first of all, i think you point out an important thing, which is the president not only called on federal employees but also those who want to do business with the federal government will need to have these types of standards, these types of models, these types of systems in place. we believe people will get vaccinated. it's the right thing to do. if it's required, people will do it. we have seen that across the economy in different locations across the country. and, therefore, we believe that people will do the right thing, protect themselves, protect their loved ones, protect their community and get vaccinated. >> why isn't the president ordering all military personnel, he's the commander in chief, to get vaccinated? we did some checking. as of early july, only 58% of the u.s. marine corps had been vaccinated. army 70% vaccinated. navy 70%. why not mandate that all u.s. military personnel get the shots just as they're required to get other shots? >> well, wolf, it is a good and
timely question across the military, the vaccination rate is about 70%. it's picked up quite a bit over the last couple of months, which is the good news. today the president asked secretary austin to come back with a recommendation as to vaccination requirements across the military as vaccines, many vaccines are already required in the military. so secretary austin will make that recommendation in short order. >> can you define "short order"? >> you know, i think in a matter of certainly the next few weeks. >> all right. the president also left open the possibility of the federal government could require vaccines for all americans. is that something the administration right now is exploring? >> no. that's not an authority that we're exploring at all. but i think what the president is referring to is his justice department has said that it is legal for employers to require
vaccination. and there are, as we talked about at the top, many businesses, local governments, stepping up, requiring vaccination or following the type of system that we talked about, which is that those that are vaccinated have a straightforward path back to work. those not vaccinated need to go through regular testing, masking, social distancing and other requirements. >> the president says mask requirements, mask requirements depend on the level of vaccination out there. but just two days ago, the cdc director said it depends on case rates. which is it? because americans right now are understandably confused. >> well, let's be clear that this is driven, this need to in certain locations mask up again is driven by the delta variant. it is much more transmissible. it is much more contagious. so the guidance from the cdc is that if you're in an area with a high level of cases, you should mask in indoor public settings. what the president is referring
to is disproportionately those areas that have high case rates are those areas that have lower levels of vaccination. but the cdc guidance is clear. if you are in an area that currently has high levels of cases, everyone should mask in an indoor setting. >> but you understand why this is confusing to millions of americans out there, right? >> well, you know, i think the thing that's changed here, wolf, is the delta variant. and how transmissible and contagious it is. so we're following the science here. the president said from the beginning he will always follow the science and the facts. and the cdc recommends in those areas of high transmission where cases are high, even the contagious nature of the delta variant that people do wear masks indoors. what we need to do is to get people vaccinated, beat this pandemic, drive cases down, and then we can be back to no masking. but in this situation with the delta variant, the prudent right thing to do following the
science is for people to wear masking in those locations where the case rates are high in indoor settings. >> the president says as of now americans do not need booster shots. but as you know, the israeli government today announced it's recommending a third booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine for people over the age of 60. why is the white house saying otherwise? why is the president reluctant to go forward with that announcement right now? >> well, let me be clear. this is not the white house. this is the fda, its scientists, which i think everyone would agree is the gold standard. they're evaluating the data, the clinical trials, laboratory data, taking all the inputs. and they will decide when and if americans need boosters. right now they are certain that no americans need boosters. they had said that. but i will tell you, wolf, if we do -- if they do decide that americans need boosters, we are
ready. we have the supply and people will be able to get a booster shot if it's needed in a fast and efficient manner. >> even the 12 million americans that got the johnson & johnson vaccine, they don't need a booster; is that what i'm hearing? >> that's right. the fda and the president's scientific and medical advisers do not recommend a booster shot at this stage. >> key words at this stage. let's see what happens in the coming weeks. thanks so much for joining us. thanks for all you are doing. >> i appreciate it, wolf. thank you. just ahead, we will take you to some covid hot spots around the united states to see how officials are fighting or discussioning the surge of infections among the unvaccinated. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." yes, thank you, that was fast. sgt. houston never expected this to happen. or that her grandpa's dog tags would be left behind. but that one call got her a tow and rental...
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the resurging coronavirus pandemic is forcing cities all across the united states to confront the threat posed by the delta variant. let's get an update from florida right now where hospitals are filling up as the covid crisis escalates. cnn has the latest. laila? >> reporter: governor ron desantis is doubling down on his stance when it comes to masks. he does not believe government or school officials should be requiring students to wear them in the upcoming school year. that said, where i am right now in brow ward county, the school board decided to require masks for the upcoming school year, given the new cdc guidelines. let's move further south. miami-dade is also going back to the drawing board after those guidelines came out. and they, too, are reconsidering how they will move forward when it comes to mask policies for the upcoming school year. we checked in with a handful of districts. and many of them echoed that
sentiment, that they are now trying to figure out how they will move forward with mask policy for the upcoming school year, given what the governor is saying, given what the cdc guidelines and what is best for their students. wolf? >> thank you very much. let's get an update right now on the situation in chicago, where a massive music festival is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to attend. cnn has details. adrian, tell us what you are learning. >> reporter: wolf, despite the rising number of covid cases, that could not keep this crowd behind me away from lalapalooza. if ticketholders want to get inside, first, if you are vaccinated, you have to show proof. so bring a printed version of your vaccine card. if you don't have the covid-19 vaccine, you will be required to obtain a negative covid test at least 72 hours prior to entry. some people are concerned events like this will be a super
spreader event. the city's top health officials said there is always that risk. there is a chance we could see a spike in the number of covid cases. not only here in chicago but across the state. but she said she feels confident and comfortable because the event is outside. tonight miley cyrus is taking the stage. wolf? >> thank you very, very much. let's go to atlanta right now where a new mask mandate has just been announced. cnn is on the story for us. natasha, give us the latest. >> reporter: wolf, the atlanta mayor issued an executive order yesterday requiring masks and face coverings in all indoor public spaces. that includes private businesses. a press release from her office says this is response to an uptick in covid cases. the impact of the delta variant and new cdc guidance. the city of atlanta falls in both fulton and cobb counties.
this follows the savannah mayor's emergency order on monday, also requiring masks indoors. mayor van johnson said, yes, effectively this punishes the minority of people unvaccinated. but georgia governor brian kemp tweeted yesterday there would not be any lockdown or statewide mask mandate. georgia's seven-day rolling average of new cases is at its highest level since early march. >> thank you very much. let's get some more on today's coronavirus developments. i want to bring in the dean of brown university. as you heard, president biden just told americans that if you are in an area with high levels of vaccination, you don't need to wear a mask. but the cdc says it depends on case rates. can you set the record straight for us? a lot of us remain confused. >> yeah, absolutely wolf. thanks for having me here.
so the cdc is right. it really should be driven by local transmission or case rates in your community. the more infections you have, the higher the risk for everybody. again, mostly for the unvaccinated, but it is spilling over to the vaccinated as well. i think what the president suz probably referring to is low vaccination places are where the big outbreaks are happening. so there is a correlation there. but you have to follow the case rates, the infection numbers to make that decision. >> are you optimistic that vaccine mandates from both the president or private companies are actually going to work? >> i am. you know, the experience so far has been really terrific. we saw this with one of the leaders houston methodist and houston texas. 99% of their employees ended up getting vaccinated. we saw that at universities where almost everybody is getting vaccinated. i think these mandates are going to make a big difference. >> but these mandates, some fear, are too little too late
because the us is now averages nearly 64,000 new covid cases each day. that's a 59% increase from last week alone. >> yeah. there is no doubt about it. like things are pretty tough right now. we have seen a massive increase in infections during this month. i wish we had done these mandates a month earlier. that would have made a bigger difference. but even do it now will help. ultimately, wolf, it will be high levels of vaccinations that will bring this pandemic under control. i think the other things we are doing right now will help in the short run. i do think the mandates will be a part of that long term solution. >> the president says as of now and you heard it in his speech americans do not need booster shots. israel is recommending that people get a third dose. how will we know when we need to get these boosters, those of us who have had the two shots five, six months later? is it time to get a third shot? >> yeah. i think this will be driven by
data from the fda. the fda really is the gold standard for making these decisions. they're looking at data right now. i would not be surprised if in the upcoming weeks we see a recommendation for boosters for immunocompromised people, maybe for frail elderly people living in nursing homes. i think those are likely coming. whether we will do it for all older americans or for all americans, i'm more skeptical. but we'll see what the data says and we'll see what the fda says on that. >> thank you as usual for joining us. really appreciate it. coming up, i will ask the chief of the u.s. capitol police about his most urgent needs right now to defend against any future attacks. the chief is standing by live. we will discuss.
cnn has learned that members of the january 6th select house committee are preparing to hold a strategy session tomorrow morning. they plan to meet in speaker nancy pelosi's office as they consider their next moves, including subpoenas. cnn congressional correspondent jessica dean is joining us live from capitol hill. jessica, what are you learning about the committee's next step. >> they want to move quickly to that. we know they're looking into more witnesses and that they want to make sure that they're taking depositions before they have more hearings. we also know that we can expect, although it remains to be seen and be official, but we're expecting that some members of congress could be called to testify before the committee. some of the names that could pop up include kevin mccarthy,
include congressman jim jordan and mo brooks. those are some of the potential witnesses that could be called in addition to potentially others. we also heard mccarthy talking a little bit more about his phone call within president trump on january 6th during the insurrection. that happened today. take a listen. >> when i called the president, i was telling him about what was happening in the capitol because none of you would know unless you were in the capitol. >> there is a lot of speculation about what was said between those two men. there has been talk that the committee will want to talk to mccarthy about what was said to president trump as that insurrection was happening, as rioters were making their way through the capitol hill -- through capitol hill and all throughout congress that day. now, all of this is happening, wolf, as we're also seeing the senate unanimously passing security funding for the capitol police for the national guard and for other law enforcement that is covering spending that was incurred during the
insurrection and beyond that immediately went to the house this afternoon where they passed that 416-11. again, wolf, this is $2 billion that will go to capitol police, to national guard and other law enforcement that will cover those costs. if you remember, just a couple weeks ago, capitol police said they expected to run out of money by august, that their overtime had already been tapped out. so this was critical money that will now go to law enforcement that risked their lives on january 6th. >> jessica, thank you very much. let's discuss this and more with the new u.s. capitol police chief. thank you so much for joining us. good luck in the new assignment. how critical is this $2 billion legislation to your mission up on capitol hill? what specific security enhancements are your top priority? >> so when you look at the
reports that have been done since january 6th, the inspector general's report is a report that came out of the senate, there are recommendations that were in every one of those reports. and it was really a blueprint of what improvements needed to be made within the police department. and, so, we have already started and the leadership here already started working on implementing these recommendations. some of them could be done for no cost. some of them it was just the stroke of a pen. but so many of these recommendations required additional resources. and with what happened today and i'm so grateful that the congress was able to pass this supplemental, we can now really accelerate getting many of these recommendations implemented. so i'm -- you know, folks had asked me, what are you going to
do if you run out of money? i really was confident that the congress knew how profoundly vital this money was to the police department. and, so, i'm very grateful today. and we start right now using those resources to get -- to make the improvements that need to be made. >> yeah. because these improvements are critically important, especially for those of us who love capitol hill, want to make sure its secure. one of the capitol police officers who testified this week spoke about how demoralizing it is to have risked his life protecting lawmakers who are now down playing that entire attack. how do you improve morale, chief, among your officers when there are still members of congress comparing rioters to tourists? >> you know, one of the things that i -- the messages that i have really harped on when i
have been to roll calls and i'm going around meeting officers on their posts and trying to talk to as many cops as i can is to remind them that they, in fact, did prevail on january 6th. not a member of congress was harmed and the legislative process was ultimately completed. and, so, we, in fact, did prevail. and i remind these cops of that because there is a lot of folks that are focussed on what went wrong that day, that talk about the failures that day. there is one thing that did not fail. that was the courage and the resolve of the men and women that were out there fighting to protect -- to protect this institution. >> yeah. it's so important. the capitol, as you know better than anyone, is also dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. and there is some serious pushback right now to the reinstated mask requirement. today some house republicans actually held a protest against
these masks. what is the role of the capitol police force, and you're in charge, in enforcing these rules? >> well, you know, we do have the responsibility to enforce the rules here. but whether a person wears a mask or doesn't wear a mask, it is not a law. it's a rule. what our role is to encourage people to comply with the rule. if they don't, we give them the alternative. they can either comply or they will have to leave. and, so, it's -- we're just monitoring that. the last thing anybody wants is for somebody to be arrested for a situation like that, and that's certainly -- it hasn't happened yet and we have had this rule before here. we never had any arrests, and we don't -- i don't anticipate there being any, but it is up to my officers to make sure people are complying with that mandate and we give folks a choice. you can either put the mask on
or you can leave. >> yeah. that's so important. good luck. you have a difficult assignment, chief. appreciate it very much. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, i'll speak with a key member of the january 6th committee, congresswoman stephanie murphy. we have lots to discuss. stay with us. you are in "the situation room." mission control, we are go for launch. ♪ t-minus two minutes and counting. ♪ um, she's eating the rocket. -copy that, she's eating the rocket. i assume we needed that? [chomping sound] ♪ lunchables! built to be eaten.
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we're following breaking news. president biden says all federal employees and contractors must get the covid vaccine or face weekly testing or other major restrictions. let's discuss this and more with democratic congresswoman stephanie murphy of florida. she's a key member of the january 6th select committee as well. congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. as you know, the entire country right now is grappling with this delta surge. but there has been some harsh blowback to the reinstated mask
requirement where you are with some of your republican colleagues actually staging a protest today. do you feel safe with so many bucking these rules and apparently so many republican members refusing to say whether they have been vaccinated? >> first let me just say it is great to be with you, wolf. but i'm deeply saddened by the fact that the response to this pandemic has become so politicized. it is a pretty simple thing to wear a mask or to get vaccinated. i have small children who are not vaccinated. i wear a mask so that i'm not infected and carrying that home to them or to any of my immune compromised constituents because i get on a plane every single week and travel back and forth. wearing a mask is such a simple thing. it is a patriotic thing to do because we all saw that this summer we had a -- just a small nano second where it was a return to normal. i don't know about everybody
else, but that was so exciting for me. now we're back in this place with hospital rooms being filled and having, you know, our health care system overburdened by people who are suffering from covid. and people, families, losing their loved ones from covid. as a country, we need to be able to pull together, do the simple things. it is simple to put a mask on. go get vaccinated if you can. and let's fight this pandemic together so that we can return to fully normal lives. >> yeah. let's hope. i know your district is in florida. you got a lot of problems down in that state specifically. but i want to get to the investigation into the january 6th attack. your committee will meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. what is on the agenda? how will you decide the time line for your work which documents testimony you need to go forward? >> we're going to take as long as we need to in order to paint the full picture of what led up
to january 6th. how january 6th unfolded. and then what do we need to do to make changes so that we can protect our democracy and our country and our capitol. and, so, i don't know that we're working on any specific time line but rather on the outcome that we need. looking towards the 9/11 commission report as the gold standard of how we do that because a lot of this is about laying out the facts for the american people to see what happened. obviously, it is a little bit harder in this situation because there is so much disinformation that is happening at the same time. but it underscores the importance of this committee moving forward in a somber, non-partisan way, collecting the details, collecting the facts and sharing that with the american people. >> we now know, congresswoman, that one of your colleagues, republican congressman jim jordan, spoke to then president trump on january 6th. and congressman mo brooks actually wore body armor to his
speech, riling up the crowd ahead of the riot. will you subpoena them to tough? >> we will subpoena whoever we need to subpoena in order to have a full picture of that day. but i think one of the interesting things is that my colleague representative brooks knew to wear body armor. i also knew to come to work in civilian clothes. i basically wore running clothes to work that day because i understood that that day would get dicey. i packed a go bag and left it in my office the night before knowing that it might get tough. so the question then becomes why didn't our intelligence agencies and our departments understand that there was a threat? if i knew to come to work in disguise, why didn't they know to equip our capitol police and preposition national guard? >> those are great questions. and you need to come up with the answers. we have to learn exactly what happened to make sure it never ever happens again. representative stephanie murphy, thank you so much for joining
us. good luck. >> thanks so much. have a good day. thank you. coming up, more on the republican revolt against a renewed mask mandate in the house of representatives, including a rather crude statement by representative margery taylor green. end is finally summoned back to the office, ♪ cold ones will remain firmly top of the agenda. it's time to take summer by the coolers. there's a world where every one of us is connected. everyone. everywhere. where everyone is included. where everyone has access to information, education, opportunity. ♪ ♪ ♪ when everyone and everything is connected. that's really beautiful. anything is possible. good morning. cisco. the bridge to possible. people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible
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right now, we're following the escalating republican revolt against the reimposed mask mandate in the house of representatives. brian todd is joining us with all the late breaking details. the mask wars seem to be back. republican lawmakers are now finding new ways to protest. >> reporter: the mask wars are back, wolf. they are intensely political,
and it is especially vitriolic in the house of representatives. so much name calling and finger pointing across the aisle. a symbol of open revolt. republicans in the house of representatives today staging a symbolic mask-free walk to the senate, where masks are not required. they're battling a new rule saying house members have to wear masks inside chambers. gop congresswoman margeorie taylor greene tweeted, sayi ing- >> this institution is a sham! and we should adjourn and shut this place down. [ applause ] >> reporter: congressman chip roy, led an unsuccessful vote to shut down the mask. >> we have a crisis at our border, and we're playing footsie with mask mandates in the people's house.
you all put masks, masks up front here? which is it, vaccines or masks? the vaccines work or they don't work. do the masks work or they don't work. >> reporter: house republicans also held a tense meeting with the house attending physician, dr. brian monahan. sources in the room telling cnn they grilled monahan on whether he was pressured by democratic leaders to institute the mask rule. monahan insisted he wasn't pressured, the sources say. still, the debate over the cdc's new guidelines for mask wearing across the country has not only gotten political in washington, it's gotten personal. that's speaker pelosi saying, he's such a moron, slamming the gop minority leader kevin mccarthy for his tweet saying new calls for mask wearing are not a decision based on science. mccarthy fired back at pelosi, accusing her of politicizing medicine and outright hypocrisy. >> just today i watched her in a private meeting not wearing a
mask. >> reporter: on the first day of the new mask requirement for the house, at least 24 republicans seen defying it, including congresswoman lauren boebert. >> we know science is real. >> reporter: a since says boebert threw a mask. her office says she slid the mask back across a table. one analyst says while politics like her may not be household names across the country, they are resistance to mask wear kg have a real impact. >> seeing her say no, we're not going to do it, people say, we don't have to either. they're mainly trying to appeal to this -- the part of their constituencies who think this is all a conspiracy against them by the democrats to impose their will on them. >> reporter: and an enpeoplologist has a warning tonight about america making mask wearing political. >> we'll see what happened last year, when politics got in the way of public health. we'll see the virus win.
>> reporter: public health experts say part of the problem with the resistance to mask wearing across the country is the guidance is no longer all encompassing, it requires every american to look up where they need a mask depending on a map like this one. a top psychologist says you're asking a lot from everyone when you move the finish line on the pandemic. >> good point, brian todd reporting. thank you very much. we'll have much more news just ahead, including an update from tokyo, where sunni lee put on a phenomenal show on her way to earning a gold medal for team usa. when you earn a degree with university of phoenix, we support you with career coaching for life, including personal branding, resume building and more.
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team usa gymnastics scored a huge victory today, despite the absence of simone biles. american gymnast suni lee turned in the performance of a lifetime to claim the gold in the women's all around final. cnn's will ripley has more on her remarkable story. >> reporter: from a family of southeast asian refugees, to olympic gold for team usa. >> it's like it doesn't even feel like real life. >> reporter: 18-year-old sunisa lee, stepping up when simone biles stepped back. taking women's individual all around gold, win number six in the event for team usa. tying the former soviet union's record. >> this medal would not be possible would my coaches, the medical team, my parents, and it's just so surreal and i haven't even let it sink in yet.
>> reporter: nearly 6,000 miles away in oakdale, minnesota, the small refugee community celebrating big time. lee's parents fled laos for the u.s. >> all the hard work, all the broken bones, all the time you missed vacationing with us, it paid off. >> reporter: lee's road to gold, tougher than most. in 2019, her father fell from a rader, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. in 2020, her aunt and uncle died of covid-19. >> there was a point in time where i wanted to quit and i didn't think i would ever get here, including injuries and stuff. so there's definitely a lot of emotions, but i'm proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself. >> reporter: and now suni lee, making olympic history. the most coveted gold medal at
all of the olympics is the all-around gymnastics final for individuals. suni lee has it. simone biles was cheering her out, and -- >> congratulations to suni. so proud of her. thank you very much. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, biden's message to the american public -- you don't have to die as he gives federal employees a choice, get vaccinated or get tested. did the president go far enough? is a nationwide mandate what is needed right now? and a police sergeant is speaking out after his gripping testimony of the january 6 committee. what does he say to those who mocked him? plus, the former ceo of overstock.com, now the biggest donor to the arizona audit. and the cyber ninjho