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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  August 5, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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good evening. tonight, one of the nation's top-health officials said it bluntly. our latest-covid surge could be over, within a matter of weeks. or we could, soon, be right back to the very worst days of the entire pandemic. >> if we work together, unify as a country, vaccinate everyone who is interested and unvaccinated and -- and put our masks on to prevent disease, we could really control this in a matter of weeks. however, our models show if we don't do so, we could be up to 700,000 cases a day, similar to our surge in early january. >> and certainly, we all remember that and now she is saying it could go either way. that's the kind of world she sees, if more people don't get vaccinated and if we don't, all, start wearing masks indoors, in public, as annoying as that is. which is why the administration is pushing for full-fda vaccine approval, not just emergency-use authorization, as quickly as possible. and as we're learning, just now, tonight, that sense of urgency
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apparently extends to the question of booster shots. an administration official telling cnn a national-booster strategy is being worked on with september as the timeframe. we will have more on that, shortly. first, some place where the delta variant is surging but so is resistance at the very highest levels to steps like masks and vaccine requirements. florida, which is now seeing a 587% increase in patients, today, old and young, compared to a month ago. >> i've admitted perfectly healthy 19-year-old woman. okay? a perfectly healthy 25-year-old. >> our average age right now is at the 50-year-old mark. and we've seen patients infected with serious respiratory problems, as young as in their 30s. >> and to that point, florida also leads the nation in children hospitalized with covid, which is why education professionals in large-school districts in the gainesville area and broward county decided this week to follow cdc guidelines and require students to mask up. >> we know that if we have masked children in our
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classrooms and all of them are masked, we are going to have fewer quarantines and when we have fewer quarantines, that means our children are going to have direct instruction, more often. >> so that sounds reasonable enough, which bring us us to the governor, ron desantis. he is still standing by his executive order barring public schools from imposing any mask mandates and threatening their funding, if they do. when he signed it last friday, the state recorded just under 9,700 new cases. today, six days later, it's nearly 13,000. and again, more kids are hospitalized with covid in florida than in any, other state. the executive order claims the cdc guidances on masking in schools lacks a well-grounded scientific justification. presumably, the cdc, for weeks now, about the delta variant. all he has to do is visit one of the overloaded icus in the state or even worse, a pediatric icu. in any case, if you listened to his defense of his covid policy just yesterday, there wasn't a lot of science talk in it. just a lot of politics.
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>> joe biden has taken to himself to try to single out florida over covid. this is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to, quote, shut down the virus. and what has he done? he's imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border. why don't you do your job? why don't you get this border secure? and until you do that, i don't want to hear a blip about covid from you. >> ron desantis is considered leading contender, of course, to run for president in 2024 in donald trump's republican party. there's rarely any political downside to blaming undocumented immigrants, of course, for anything. or blaming democrats for undocumented immigrants. the blame for florida's covid problem lies a lot closer to home and so does the responsibility. and it's not just florida. bit later in the program, we will hear from a doctor in tennessee who lost her job as the state's top-vaccine official, what turned out to be a political firestorm. but first, this bookster news.
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cnn's phil mattingly joins us from the white house for more on that. so what are you learning regarding booster shots? >> what we are learning is fda officials have kind ever centered around the idea of having a full kind of layout for a proposal for all vaccinated individuals as it relates to booster shots at some point in early september. that would be for everyone. it's worth noting, according to an administration official that, perhaps, boosters would come for those who are most at risk at an earlier point in time. but i think what this all underscores, anderson, is other countries around the world are starting to move forward on the pr process of booster shots. but this planning makes very clear, there is an expectation and you get it when you talk to administration officials across the government that, at some point, it's coming. and it's likely coming, soon. and now, what we know is that, that plan, in full, for all vaccinated individuals is likely to come out next month. >> and as far as governor desantis of florida is concerned, is the white house commenting about his -- what he's been saying? >> you know, it's interesting. the president was asked about this today and he responded with the quick, governor who?
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and then, moved on and ignored the question. white house officials are not in the same mind. they are ready to have this fight, willing to have this fight and it's been a sharp turn over the course of the last several days. just that they would be willing to have this fight. they have tried so hard not to exacerbate any political tensions over the course of the last six months but the rationale, as it's been told to me by several administration officials is quite simple. they believe there are serious public-health drawbacks to the policies the governor is pursuing at this point in time. they look at the data in florida. 25% of the nationwide hospitalizations are originating in florida. the overall-case count is significantly higher in florida. the unvaccinated rate is very high in florida and there is a recognition that schools are starting and the possibility of having kids without masks, as the delta variant is raging throughout the state could create major problems not just on the health side but also on the education side. that is why you have seen the administration been so forceful. why they plan to continue to push back on desantis, if the back and forth continues to be engaged in. one thing i would note, and officials have made this clear, several times. just because they are going back
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and forth at the highest levels does not mean that there are not federal resources available to the state. 16 states, anderson, are currently tapping into an array of federal resources to deal with the surge of the delta variant. administration officials say they are, also, in talks with florida. making clear, if they need help, the federal government is there to provide it. even if they are going back and forth, from the press briefing room and the governor's press conferences. >> phil mattingly, appreciate it. thanks. perspective now from cnn medical analyst and former baltimore health commissioner, dr. leana wen. she is the author of the new book "lifelines, a doctor's journey in the fight for public health." also, andy slavitt, former senior advise for the biden administration. dr. wen, stark words from the director of the cdc tonight. how does this surge get turned around? i mean, what's the most important thing people should be doing tonight? or tomorrow morning when they go to work? >> well, i think there are two things that are equally important, when it comes to turning around the surge.
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wh one, of course, the ultimate answer is vaccination. we know that what will stop the virus in its tracks, and really is our only and best way out of the pandemic is to increase our vaccination rates because if we have a high enough level of immunity in the u.s., then we're able to stop this virus from wreaking the type of havoc that it is. but the second thing is, it is going to take a while for people to get vaccinated. even if everybody went out tomorrow, who's unvaccinated, and got their first dose. we're still talking about over a month before they're all, finally, able to be fully vaccinated. and so, in that meantime, we are going to have to look at the type of -- of measures that we took in the past, including indoor masking, i think, is the single-most important thing that we can be doing if there are public spaces in which vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing. we really should have indoor-mask mandates because of the risk of the unvaccinated to the people around them. >> andy, director walensky is warning that the u.s. could see several 100,000 new cases in the next few weeks. did you think the u.s. was ever
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going to see numbers like that, again? i mean, there is no reason for it, had we gotten more people vaccinated. >> i think the delta variant surprised everybody. causing trouble in israel, the same way it's causing trouble here. so, to some extent, these are new facts. and anybody who's been thinking about covid in its 2020 form needs to take a step back, and rethink. and i think that's exactly what the cdc director is doing, and helping us do. and then, you know, beyond that, i think you're right. you know, we are all a victim of the pockets in our country, the communities in our country with low-vaccination rates. those are the things that are causing so much havoc, now. that's where those several-hundred thousand cases will come from. it's avoidable, as dr. wen said. there is a way around this. we have a solution, this year, it's called the vaccine. >> dr. wen, you know, we have talked about this before. but i mean, some people may hear all this about breakthrough cases and think, why should i get the vaccine? what is your message to them, tonight? and explain how important it is that the cdc get a better understanding of how many breakthrough cases there are.
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>> well, this is the way that i would think about breakthrough infections because i think there's been some confused messaging around, well, if you're vaccinated, and you get a breakthrough infection, could you still infect other people? as much as if you are unvaccinated and are infected. this is the way that i would think about it. if i had to be in a room for all day in a small room with someone, and i could choose is it a random-vaccinated person? or random-unvaccinated person? i would choose the random-vaccinated person, every single time. and that's because if you are vaccinated, yes, it reduces your chance of severe illness. but it, also, substantially, reduces your chance of contracting covid-19, in the first place. so, chances are much better that the vaccinated person is not going to be carrying covid because, yes, the -- the vaccines don't protect you 100%. breakthrough infections can happen. but your chance of actually getting that breakthrough infection and, therefore, being able to expose someone else is much decreased. and so, i do think that we need to have much better data on breakthrough infections. and specifically, to answer this
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question. if you are asymptomatic and you have a breakthrough infection, are you able to pass the virus to others? we have partial data from israel here. the israeli ministry of health, for example, has said that 80% of their breakthrough cases, they -- the individuals who are vaccinated and have a breakthrough case transmit to no one else in a public setting. 10% transmit to only one other person. and so, i think we need a lot more data, like that, here in the u.s. and i hope that the cdc is very actively working to collect those data. >> andy, florida's governor is standing by his executive order banning mask mandates in schools. saying parents should make decisions for their children. he is also criticizing how the president is handling the pandemic. what do you say -- i mean, clearly, there is politics going on here. but what do you make of what he is actually doing? >> well, look. i think the president is actually -- doesn't think very much about the governor of florida. he thinks a lot about the people of florida and the people of florida are being prevented from keeping themselves safe. they are being prevented from
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keeping their children safe. it was easy enough for ron desantis to take a political stand, and attack dr. fauci. and say that he's not going to vaccinate the country when we thought cases were going down. but -- but it didn't last more than a few weeks, before the wisdom of that decision has made itself available for everybody to see. and so, what he needs to do is the same thing governor hutchinson did in arkansas, which is to say, you know what? i made a mistake. did this before delta and i need to step back. otherwise, as president said, he just needs to get out of the way because -- because his actions are causing real harm to people in the state. and i think that's what the president's worried about. >> andy slavitt. dr. wen, appreciate it. next, senator amy klobuchar on efforts to hold members of the former administration and other top officials accountable for their role in what might have been a coup if others hadn't stopped them. later, more on the clash between politics and covid prevention. one tennessee doctor's story, ahead, on "360."
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when we left you last night, we had just learned about how far one senior justice department official tried to go to help the former president overturn the election. essentially, stage a coup. also, how other officials went to stop him. also, cnn's evan perez reported last night that this man, acting assistant attorney general for the civil division, jeffrey clark, who you probably don't recognize, succeeded quote the course of histowould have been changed if he had succeeded. well, today, senate judiciary chairman, dick durban, said he wants his panel to question clark. senator klobuchar, it is remarkable, the details now that we have learned. we just mentioned your colleague, judiciary chairman durban wants to question this former trump justice official, jeffrey clark. what questions do you think he should answer? >> well, you know, i remember jeffrey clark's name in one very big way and that was the reports, at the time, from "the new york times" that trump was actually trying to install him
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as the attorney general over the acting-attorney general jeffrey rosen for the purposes of him maintaining the lie when it came to the election. so what we want to know about, now, is what his role was when it came to election suppression. when it came to questioning the results -- the final results -- of the election. and there is a lot of information out there about what he could have been doing with georgia. and i just -- just step back from this. this isn't a campaign. this is the justice department. and in america, the president isn't king, the law is king. so, that's the first thing. he has an obligation to the law of the united states, not to donald trump. and that is the oath of office that he took. um, and then, the second piece of this is just exactly as you point out, what he did. and we are, by the way, trying to make sure this never happens, again, with a bill that i have
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just introduced with senator warnock of georgia. to extend some of the protections, so that we can't have states diving in and taking elected officials out, local-election officials out and putting themselves in power to be able to, whether it's counting the ballots or setting the rules of the election. this is really scary stuff, anderson. >> it's also scary, i mean, just if clark had, you know, gotten his way. and -- and the president -- the then-president had gotten his way, there were, despite the outcry that would have occurred, there were millions of americans who were willing to back up this big lie, at the time. as we saw on the capitol insurrection. so, i mean, the idea that this could have, actually, resulted in the -- the incredibly serious threat to our democracy. it's not far fetched. >> yes, and i like how you connect all these dots because the insurrection just didn't happen, by itself. donald trump was leading up to
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that, since the election day on. and calling people to join him, in this big lie. and calling people, that day, of course, to march down the mall to the capitol. what i'm most interested, right now, of course, is not only figuring out how all of this happened. we looked at what happened at the capitol. the select committee in the house is actually looking at in a deeper way and that's really important to allow to go on. but as that happens, i am always looking at what's the next step? and the next step is the over-400 bills that have been introduced around the country to limit people's right to vote, including ones that have passed, like in the state of georgia, which basically says you can't even vote on weekends during a runoff. you can't even register people to vote during a runoff. you can't give water to nonpartisan volunteers to people in line. you have to put your birth date on an envelope in the inside envelope because they know people can mess that up. these are the kinds of bills
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that are passing, as you mentioned texas, around the country. and so, this is all tied into what was going on before the election. and it's important to look back at what happened. but it's just as important to stop what's happening, now. >> yeah. i mean, it's interesting because i -- you know, i get direct messages on instagram from people saying, well, why are you still talking about the former president? just ignore him. what you just said is the reason. that there are -- there is actually legislation happening, now, which is based on and relies on the big lie. this isn't just some guy in mar-a-lago in the -- you know, the -- you know, in the -- hanging out in the lobby of mar-a-lago talking to anyone who will listen about his stolen-election allegations. they're making legislation based on it. >> exactly. and, you know, audits that aren't real in arizona and the like. so that's why you wonder why we are so focused on the for the people bill. that sets national-federal standards saying, you know what? you should be able to vote
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early. you should be able to vote in whatever way you can that's safe. like, mailing in your ballot. there should be drop-off boxes. there should be ways to vote early. and that's why the bill is so popular at its core. it's firmly grounded in the constitution that says that congress can make or alter the laws for federal election. and also, it's wildly popular with people because they don't want the mess of who is counting the ballot, when. and having some basic-federal standards really helps people and they like the idea. >> you know, clark was drafting a letter, which was in support of what the president's big lie, particularly about georgia. is there any, possible justification for such a high-level justice-department official to -- to draft such a letter? >> no and look at what former-attorney general barr said, himself. he said that there wasn't fraud in this election. the highest-ranking person in homeland security under
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president trump, who had oversight over the election, said it was the safest election in american history. jeffrey rosen, the acting-attorney general at the end who trump was allegedly trying to replace your guy, jeffrey clark's not your guy, anderson, but the guy we're talking about. replace him with jeffrey clark. um, he also was trying to hold the line. so, you saw all these people. and while i didn't agree with a lot of what they were doing, you saw attempts of them trying to hold up the rule of law over people, like jeffrey clark. and that's why it is so dangerous because you can't have a president putting in, basically, campaign-style people in the justice department who aren't following the law. >> yeah. you were at the white house this evening, when president biden signed the bill you co-sponsored honoring the capitol police officers with the congressional gold medal for their actions on january 6th. 21 house republicans opposed the bill. what do you say to some of your republican colleagues in both chambers of congress who are, still, trying to rewrite history
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and deny what happened that day and make it seem as though it was just a regular day with tourists coming to the capitol? >> well, it was absolutely absurd that 20 some of them in the house didn't support it. and the fact that they said it was, was because it had the word insurrection. i was really proud of the work that i did leading the bill with my friend, senator blunt, republican. and the two of us, actually, got every senator to support the bill. um, the republicans and democrats in the u.s. senate, every one of them. and when i got out of the chamber, after we passed it, unanimously, the cops noticed. they said to me, this means so much that every single senator, not only is supporting us with the gold medal that will be forever displayed in the smithsonian so kids can ask their parents what is this about? and they can explain what happened that day. but also, that every single person agreed to the language that said that these were insurrectionists. and that this was an insurrection. so, that was a big deal in the senate.
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and president biden did a beautiful job, today, with vice president harris as he called up the little kids. billy evans, an officer who had been killed months later when someone rammed their car into a barricade and pinned him down. and those little kids standing up there with the president giving him the pens as he signed the bill. and the kids distributing 'em to the police and the police chiefs is something i'm never gonna forget, anderson. >> before i let you go, i do want to ask about infrastructure. majority leader schumer tonight was noncommittal on timing for the final passage of the bill. where do things stand right now? >> well, i'm smiling because i'm standing right here waiting. and i'm really proud of that bill. we've got strong bipartisan support. i worked a lot on the broadband piece. um, it's going to be a game changer for our country. and we're going to get this done. right now, they have a package of amendments that we're trying to get approval on. and that takes a while in the senate so we can begin the votes. but there's every reason to believe this bill will get done,
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and signed into law. maybe, it's gonna be in the wee hours of the morning one of these days but it will get done and we are not going to go home until it gets done. >> senator klobuchar, appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. >> up next, my pillow ceo, mike lindell, devoted ally of the former president, keeps pushing false claims about the 2020 election, including to our drew griffin. >> we couldn't find a single person that said this is even possible. >> drew's report is next. and definitely, worth watching. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ summer is a state of mind, you can visit anytime. savor your summer with lincoln. new customers get our best deals on all smartphones.
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mypillow ceo, mike lindell, continues to claim he has evidence that china hacked u.s. voting systems and switched votes for the former president to biden votes. in a moment, you will hear what two-dozen election officials and cyberexperts contacted by cnn say about those claims. lindell is not backing down even as he faces a lawsuit from voting machine maker, dominion, alleging he's defamed the company with false accusations and lindell's company is countersuing. cnn's drew griffin went to talk to lindell. >> reporter: mike lindell. yes, the mypillow guy is convinced. china hacked the election. donald trump really won. and lindell has the absolute proof. >> they did it in all the states. every single state. every single state. >> and you have the proof? >> yes. >> that will show -- >> i have the --
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>> -- the actual exchange of votes? >> yep. yep, 100%. 100%. >> reporter: it is, of course, complete nonsense, despite every piece of so-called evidence lindell has presented so far, three videos, a lawsuit, screenshots he sent to cnn. there's still no proof that the election was hacked and that's according to two-dozen cyberexperts and election officials contacted by cnn. >> 100% evidence. >> reporter: when lindell released his so-called evidence, in videos like this, fact checkers, quickly, found out it was evidence of nothing. these images are just publicly-available voter data. scrolling across the screen. not proof of election hacking. so, lindell changed his story saying, now, the real evidence will be revealed at a cybersymposium streamed live with mypillow discounts available, throughout. and as further proof, he sent cnn a preview. six different screen shots. >> you sent us this, on friday.
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>> yeah. >> what is this? >> that's just one piece of 1.2 billion lines of data from the election. okay? there's, within that, will be timestamps of when -- when it happened. there'll be flips in there. >> so we sent this to our own experts. >> uh-huh. >> he said that -- that it doesn't show any specific actions, of any kind, election related or not. and it's proof of -- of nothing. >> okay. so, he said that's nothing, huh? well, he's he wrong. then, you didn't hire a cyberexpert. >> reporter: we didn't consult just one cyberexpert. we consulted nine top-election security experts, who told us lindell's screen shots were extremely rudimentary metadata and completely ridiculous. we also reached all 15 officials from the 15 counties where lindell says, without any proof, votes were hacked and switched. lindell mentions some of the counties in his videos, and lists them out in his
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counter lawsuit against dominion voting. they are counties that use paper ballots counted by systems not connected to the internet. every one of them told cnn there is no evidence they were hacked by anyone. >> you identify 15 counties where the votes were switched. we contacted all-15 counties, red and blue, red and blue. and we couldn't find a single person that said this is even possible. they say, are you mistaken? they think you're wrong. the bottom line is they have paper-ballot backups that prove that they were not. >> they let you audit there? they let dyou do a full audit? cnn? >> we did what lindell would not do, we went to michigan to see how the election was carried out. trump won here, nearly 2-1. >> the state michigan. entry point or delta county. >> in his videos and his lawsuit, lindell claims someone in china hacked the election system here, and stole away
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precisely 3,215 trump votes, and turned them into biden votes. the republican county clerk finds the allegation laughable for one, main reason. >> it is never connected to the internet. >> never? >> never connected to the internet. at all. whatsoever. >> reporter: not only are they not connected to the internet, the votes are cast by hand, on paper. voters scan their ballots into this dominion-scanning machine, where two digital storage cards keep a tally. the paper ballot goes right into this bin, under lock and seal. >> and that container is sealed. >> reporter: and just to check that everything went okay, they conduct audits comparing the paper ballots to the results on the computer. and in 2020, it was an exact match. >> we audited three different precincts, and they matched exactly. so -- >> so, what would you say to somebody who made a documentary that, among many counties, accused your county of being the victim of a -- of a chinese hack
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that changed the vote counts? >> i would say that didn't happen in delta county. >> reporter: a republican-led michigan state senate investigation found out it didn't happen, anywhere. no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud. i don't think you really understand how votes are cast, collected, and tabulated in this country. >> okay. you know what? i do. but what you don't understand is they can get, after they're tabulated, they can get hacked after the fact, which they were because donald trump was going to win, anyway. donald trump was going to win, anyway. >> the paper ballots which were cast -- >> you didn't do an audit to match them up, though. no, they weren't. no, they weren't. no, they weren't. who told you that? >> the county officials. >> oh, did they tell you that? well, they're going to have some answering to do. >> reporter: no matter who says there was no widespread fraud in the election, whether it's local-election officials, secretaries of state, judges, or even donald trump's own attorney
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general, mike lindell's conclusion is the same. they are all wrong. all these county officials are lying? >> i don't know. they might be misconstrued. we'll see. misconstrued because they don't realize what happened. >> reporter: lindell says his information comes from multiple sources. all of them, supersecret. he claims he's spent millions on the project, and also claims he will give $5 million to anyone who proves him wrong. >> mike, you could -- you can make up anything. >> who can -- no, you can't. this is -- no, this is -- no, no, no, no, no. no, no, no, no, no. this is where you're wrong. we're giving it -- we're giving it to the cyberpeople that show up. we are going to give them each state. here's a state. georgia. they can take it apart. >> you could possibly be the victim of a scam here. >> well, then why don't you come to the symposium and make $5 million? are you worried about me? we should give a hug. you're worried about old mike? oh, god bless you. >> here's what we're worried about. we're worried that, what you are doing is mistakenly or
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deliberately destroying the confidence in the legitimated-elected president of the united states. and fostering what could be real damage to this country. >> never said anything bad about biden or the democrats, ever, never. wrong. >> you have, through this -- through this investigation and this -- >> you are lying now. you're lying. i said the democrats warned us. no, you're lying. i said the democrat party warned us of this. and this will -- >> biden was illegitimately elected. >> i am saying that china did an attack on our country and -- >> and that the wrong person won. >> that's right. >> the people who watch your video believe what you say. >> 100%. >> if you are wrong, isn't that very dangerous? >> but i -- yes, but i'm not wrong. i have checked it out. i've spent millions. you need to trust me and come there. >> yeah, trust him. drew griffin joins us, now. do you have any reason to believe that, now, after months of this, i mean, he has never offered proof of anything. and there is no proof.
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and it's been debunked. it's, like, his support for sham remedies. i mean, he has a history. >> and it just -- the conversation, as you can tell, anderson, goes round and round in circles. and i'm telling you, after our discussion, i'm not convinced mike lindell understands how voting works, period. let alone, that he has proof of a massive-voting conspiracy. and like you say, he -- he claims to have all these supersecret sources but he never shows those sources. never shows their proof. there's very good reason to believe all of this is linked to recycled-conspiracy theories from the past. all, completely discredited. lindell says, no, this is new. he's paid millions to check it out. but, you know, as we've seen, so far, it just does not hold up, period. >> yeah. drew griffin, appreciate it. thank you. coming up. inside the battle of politics versus science during the covid pandemic. i will speak with a doctor caught in the middle of it and get her take on the real-life implications.
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now, more on the battle between science and politics. and tonight, there are fears things could turn violent. around the country, where there have been some bitter battles over mask wearing, several
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local-health officials say they have been intimidated or have been receiving threats for those opposed to mask wearing. an executive from the national association of sitting county health officials said, conversations quote sometimes are turning nasty and out of control. it's, of course, one more symptom of science clashing with politics almost every step during the course of the pandemic. earlier in the program, we heard from florida's republican governor criticizing president biden about his covid response. somehow, trying to commingle border policy with science. look no further than tennessee. there, dr. michelle fiscus was fired last month from her position as director of the immunization programs for the state. she says it was after she sent a memo to medical providers informing them about a decades-old tennessee law that essentially says teenagers can get the vaccine, without their parents' permission, in some cases. dr. fiscus and her husband, brad, who's a former teacher and a school-board member, join me tonight. >> dr. fiscus, a cnn analysis published today says that tennessee is one of the states with the fewest adolescents
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fully vaccinated, at just 17%. in your experience, what's behind that? and -- and what can be done to improve that? >> i think there's, probably, a few different things at work here. one is that the state actually stopped doing any kind of outreach to adolescents in tennessee, about three weeks ago. um, specifically, to covid-19 vaccine but, also, to other vaccines, as well. um, over the legislature being upset about the law in tennessee that would allow adolescents to consent for their own healthcare, including vaccination. um, the other is that we have a very vaccine-hesitant state, unfortunately. whether that is because of mistrust of the government. or mistrust of vaccines. or what we've seen across tennessee, this ideological objection to vaccines where it's really felt that getting the vaccine is -- is, somehow, placating the left part of the political spectrum.
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>> brad, you're williamson county board of education member and your district, you start school tomorrow i know you have been getting pressure from the community on whether to issue a mask mandate or not. and i understand you are not speaking for the board at all tonight. just in your own, personal capacity. personal opinion. what do you think should happen? and what have those conversations been like? >> yeah. they've been very difficult. and they go back to even at the beginning of the start of this pandemic when we closed schools down in 20 -- 2020, 2019. it seems that this conversation has been going on, since then. and at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, we voted, as a board, to have a mask mandate. and -- and i truly believe, because of that, we were on -- in campus, on -- in classrooms much more than many of our other districts across the state were because we had that mask mandate. um, and so, as we start this school year tomorrow, i'm fearful, quite honestly. because we're dealing with a
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different virus, now, than what we dealt with at the beginning of the pandemic and at the beginning of the 2021-school year. >> brad, i know, some states like florida where the governor said the decision to mask your child is up to parents. is that enough? to leave the decision to parents to decide whether to send their child to school with a mask or not? >> i believe in parents' choice. i believe parents have the right to choose what is best for their children. however, by them making a choice to come to school without a mask, if that's their choice, they are making choices for other families, as well. and so, in a school that's set up for free and public education for all, we have to make decisions, as board members, that sometimes not everyone's going to agree with. and our job, first and foremost, is, obviously, to provide access to quality-public education. but we can't do that, if we're providing an environment that is not safe. >> dr. fiscus, do public schools in tennessee require a certain number of vaccinations for
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other, potential illnesses before kids can go to school? >> they do, yeah. tennessee has a very robust immunization program. and immunization requirements for kindergarten and for 7th grade. and in the state of tennessee, there is no philosophical exemption to vaccinations for school. so, parents need to get their children vaccinated, unless they have a medical reason or a religious exemption or religious objection to doing so. >> so, the state could, in this case, for adolescents, children above the age of 12, at this point, could mandate vaccinations, if they wanted to? >> well, it could have. except, in january, very early on in our legislative session, our state legislature outlawed the ability to mandate covid-19 vaccines not just for these -- this virus, now. but for any, future covid-19 vaccines that might be developed
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for any government entity, which would include our public-school system. >> uh-huh. >> dr. fiscus, i mean, based on where vaccinations are right now in the country and -- and in your state and the track of the delta variant. do you think things are going to get worse, before they get better? >> i do, unfortunately. we have projections that all of our children's hospitals will be filled to capacity by sometime next week. um, this is a variant that is sickening children. there were two children in shelby county, where memphis is, that died from covid-19 over the weekend. there are children, across the state, who are on ventilators because of covid-19. and unfortunately, you know, the speaker of the house for the state of tennessee expressed, a few days ago, that any school district that tried to put in a mask mandate would be penalized. that they would call a special session of the legislature to try to outlaw the ability to do that. and that any school district that closes schools because of
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high covid-19 case rates would be penalized financially, where they would take the money out of those schools and -- and give vouchers to -- for those children to attend private schools. and it's that kind of intimidation that is going to work against the -- the health and the welfare of our children. >> dr. michelle fiscus. brad fiscus, appreciate both of you. what you do. thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you for having us. >> thanks, anderson. up next, more breaking news. list of new york district attorneys asking questions about the investigation into the governor and the sexual harassment allegations against him is growing. the latest on that, ahead. you founded your kayak company because you love the ocean- not spreadsheets. you need to hire. i need indeed. indeed you do. indeed instant match instantly delivers quality candidates matching your job description.
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there is more breaking news. two more district attorneys' offices requesting information from the new york attorney general investigation into the alleged sexual harassment by new york's governor andrew cuomo. there are now six d.a.s requesting material with suffolk county and erie county offices looking into whether incidents occurred in their jurisdictions. meanwhile, the new york state assembly says it's nearly complete with its impeachment investigation on the governor. they are giving him until next friday to respond. all of this taking on new urgency after the new york attorney general released that damning report finding the governor sexually harassed 11 women.
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he denies those allegations. cnn's erica hill joins us now with more. erica, do we know when exactly this impeachment investigation is going to be completed and the next steps from there? >> you know, quickly is the short answer. what we do know is that letter gave, of course, the governor's attorney until next friday to submit any additional evidence. the articles of impeachment won't be done prior to that. but once they're ready, it could be a pretty quick process. we know a majority of the assembly members have told cnn that they would vote to impeach and then from there, of course, it would move on to the senate. >> and what more do you know about the evidence the governor's team may submit? >> so the reaction to this letter stating that they were nearing completion, in terms of the impeachment investigation and inviting the governor's attorneys to submit more evidence, they said they would cooperate but there were a couple of clues in there. we do know that from the governor's rebuttal, essentially, one of the events they take issue with is the one that involved allegations from executive assistant number one, who said the governor had cupped her breast on one occasion.
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they say that that was basically incomplete. and that also an attorney for the executive chamber, we know, has taken issue with the way the retaliation against lindsey boylan was described. describing it as legally and factually wrong. in response to that we can tell you the new york attorney general's office said they stand by the report. >> and the governor obviously continues to lose support from longtime democratic allies including former virginia governor, terry mcauliffe, who is running for his old job and says governor cuomo should step down. is there any reason to think the governor is considering that? >> based on everything that we have heard, no. and even some insight that we got from jay jacobs last night in terms of conversations. he's the state democratic party chair. conversations he had with the governor trying to urge him to resign. his takeaway was that the governor was really focused on his defense, and he wants to tell, in jay jacobs' words, his side of the story. >> erica hill, thanks, appreciate it. up next, what the texas governor greg abbott is calling for with one special session about to end, as democrats still remain away from the state in
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texas governor, greg abbott, says he will call another special session the state's legislature beginning this weekend, after democratic lawmakers fled the state during the first one blocking bills they say will restrict voting rights. the new special session will begin just about 12 hours after the first one ends. those democrats effectively stalled any action on new voting bills by leaving pretty much as a group for washington. more than 50, as you know, democratic lawmakers have remained out of the state since mid-july. they spent time meeting national democratic leaders, pressing for national voting rights legislation. it remains unclear whether the democrats will return to the state or if their stalling tactics will even eventually succeed. the news continues. want to hand things over to chris for "cuomo prime time." chris? all right. thank you. i'm chris cuomo. welcome to "prime time." the covid command center. the government is moving in the direction of getting us ready for boos