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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Colorado Health Officials Detect First Known Case In U.S. Of New COVID Strain; McConnell Attempting To Inject "Poison Pill" Provisions; Interview With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Source: Trump "Moody" At Mar-A-Lago; Vaccine Relief Comes To Disabled Community; Louisville PD Seeks To Fire Two Officers Connected To Death Of Breonna Taylor. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 29, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This year is the New Year's Eve event. It is a ticketed party. It is black tie.
It is typically very well-attended by club members and local Palm Beach members as well; and this year will be no different. I'm hearing that approximately 500 reservations have been made for Thursday night's party, as we've seen at the White House here with these Holiday parties, they are particularly not necessarily masked people who attend. There is not a lot of social distance.
So certainly, we may expect to see that at Mar-a-Lago, certainly avoiding the rules or advice of --
BIANNA GOLODGRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it must be nice. I hope they at least wear masks and social distance. Kate, always great to have you on and your reporting. Thank you.
And thanks so much for joining us tonight. "AC360" starts right now.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A very good evening to you. Jim Sciutto here sitting in again for Anderson.
And as a country, here we go again, just as with testing, just as with protective gear, just like with prevention against the coronavirus, the Trump administration at the end of the day is leaving one more vital piece of this effort up to the states.
The President late today making it plain in a tweet from Mar-a-Lago that when it comes to getting the COVID vaccine into the arms of those who need it most, it is not his problem, it is up to the States, he says to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal government. Read that as not his problem.
So even as he rightly takes pride in the remarkable Federal effort to develop not one, but two vaccines in record time, with more yet to come, he is not taking responsibility for the fact that promises like these just aren't being kept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: Overall, in the month of December between the two vaccines, the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, we expect to have immunized 20 million of our American people and keeping 20 million doses for their second immunization a few weeks later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: That was the promise two weeks ago, 20 million people immunized. Then just four days later, the language -- listen to this -- changed and the goalposts moved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. GUSTAVE PERNA, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: We remain on track to allocate 20 million doses of vaccine to all jurisdictions by the end of December, with distribution of those doses pushing it to the first week of January.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Okay, that's not the same thing from 20 million people immunized to 20 million doses allocated, not shipped, allocated.
As of tonight, here the facts. Only about 11 million doses of vaccine have actually been distributed. And of that 11 million, only 2.1 million so far have been administered.
Here's what President-elect Biden said about those sad facts today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even if we boost the speed of vaccinations to one million shots a day, it will still take months to have the majority of the United States population vaccinated.
I've directed my team to prepare a much more aggressive -- a much more aggressive effort with more Federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track. We will find ways to boost the pace of vaccinations.
This is going to be the greatest operational challenge we've ever faced as a nation and we are going to get it done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The current President, however, is laying that challenge off on the states without enough advance funding or follow through needed experts say to make it all work.
Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health put it this way, in a really revealing series of tweets today, quoting now, "The worst part is no real planning on what happens when vaccines arrive in states. No plan, no money, just hope that states will figure this out."
He continues, "States are out of money. So many are passing it on to hospitals, nursing homes. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Like our national testing debacle being repeated." He says.
He is frustrated and among public health professionals, he is not alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MICHAEL MINA, IMMUNOLOGIST, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The biggest limitations that we're seeing are the actual infrastructure that needs to be put in place to get these vaccines out to the communities. That is a massive overhaul and we should have been starting to put that infrastructure in place six, seven, eight months ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Again, 20 million vaccinations promised by yearend, only 11 million shipped, not given, not administered and a little more than two million actually into the arms of those who need it. At that rate, as our guest last night, Dr. Leana Wen, put it, this country will not be fully vaccinated until the year 2050 at that slow rate.
And faced with that, you would think the President might see the need for the same kind of federal priority effort to vaccinate people that did granting credit where credit is due here that did work so well in developing the vaccines, most of which is still sitting in refrigerators in warehouses and manufacturing facilities, any place, but where it is actually needed. That's for people like you.
SCIUTTO: Instead, it seems his priorities are elsewhere. At least they were today, yesterday, Sunday, last Thursday, and Friday, more than 300 other days since taking office. That's right, on the golf course, again.
Perspective now from Kathleen Sebelius who as former Governor of Kansas knows what states can and cannot do, and as a former Secretary of Health and Human Services also knows what only the Federal government can deliver.
With us as well, infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist, and member of the Biden COVID Taskforce, Dr. Celine Gounder. Good to have you both on tonight. Thanks so much for taking the time.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY OF HEALTH UNDER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Dr. Gounder, if I could begin with you because you are advising the Biden transition on this. The vaccine rollout today, essential as to where it stands, what is your view? Are you pessimistic about where we stand today and how quickly this can be turned around? DR. CELINE GOUNDER, MEMBER OF BIDEN COVID TASKFORCE: Look, Jim, we
came into this mess really wanting to enter into this with good faith and give everybody the benefit of the doubt and we've really held back on being -- while we've done our due diligence and tried to learn the status of where things are in the vaccination plans and what we have learned, essentially, that there is no plan. The plan was to purchase vaccines and then leave it to the states to plan.
The states need to have guidance on how to distribute the vaccine, how to store the vaccine, how to go about having health workers provide the vaccine, none of those plans were in place. And so we are unfortunately yet again finding ourselves really flat footed here.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Sebelius, you have great experience here relevant to this, having led a state, but also served under H.H.S. Is a system in place in many or most states to distribute something like this?
I had a doctor on earlier this week who made the point that so much is being put -- so much of the burden is being put on private pharmacy chains like CVS, basically, like you guys, you know, distribute this. The real question is as to whether they can do that. I mean, is the infrastructure in place to make this happen?
SEBELIUS: Well, Jim, I think Celine said it well that the infrastructure is not in place. There has never been a Federal plan at any point along the way, as you suggested for testing, to gather PPE; now we are at the place of vaccination.
It's very exciting that scientists and the private industry and the government came together to actually accelerate successful vaccines. This is the most dangerous relay race we have ever been involved in as a country.
And when you think about a relay race, what should be happening is that the team in place right now, the Trump team who will be in place for 22 more days, God help us all, should be running through the tape as fast as possible, gathering all the resources, making sure that states have all the help and support they need to get the vaccine to the locations where they can begin vaccinating people including money.
And the Biden team is beginning to run to catch that baton when they are both in motion. What's happened is the Trump team has stopped running, I would say about the seventh of November when this election was called. Donald Trump stopped being the President. The COVID Taskforce hasn't met since the 19th of November. That's five weeks ago. Trump stopped being President seven weeks ago.
And we do not have the infrastructure in states. I live in a rural state. There are five cold storage facilities. Our Governor didn't know how many vaccines she would get, the number changed a couple of times. She wasn't sure which vaccine she would receive. That depends on storage.
She isn't -- she is supposed to figure out all of the logistics from getting it to the storage places to the most remote parts of the state. When the numbers are uncertain, she can't put the right people on notice to say lineup your staff tomorrow, you will have X number of doses. Her numbers have changed three different times.
So no, the infrastructure isn't there. And the President just two days ago, finally signed the bill that Congress again passed giving additional resources to the states. They are desperate for money. They could hire people to get the logistics right to begin to mobilize the vaccinators, but none of that has happened on Donald Trump's watch.
SCIUTTO: I've got to say, I'm shaking my head. I'm sure many people watching tonight are shaking their head because there was time to get ready for this. None of this should be a surprise.
Dr. Gounder, President Biden clearly aware of this. He was speaking about it publicly today. He set this ambitious goal of administering 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office. Is that a realistic goal, because it's another three weeks before he is occupying the White House, and it sounds to me, like there's a lot of work to do to get the infrastructure in place to get the shots and people's arms?
GOUNDER: Look, there's no sugarcoating that the next couple months are going to be some of the hardest and grimmest months in this nation's history, a lot of work to do.
And unfortunately, that is going to require a lot of catch up. We need to buff up increased funding to states and localities to do work. And so 100 million doses in a 100 days, that's really going to depend on whether Congress allocate funding.
And this is also happening, you know, Kathleen was talking what is going on in her state of Kansas, of over 25 percent of public health officials in the U.S. have either quit, been fired or retired over the course of the pandemic. So we are in a position we need to be hiring up and expanding distribution and all of these things very rapidly.
SCIUTTO: I'm shaking my head, as I'm sure you are and many people watching tonight that this groundwork wasn't already laid. Just very quickly before we go because Dr. Gounder, we're constantly keeping up with the medical developments in this, U.K. this new COVID-19 variant, first known case now of that variant in the U.S. confirmed today in Colorado.
Dr. Fauci has been saying for some time, we need to expect it's already here. Significance?
GOUNDER: Yes, this was not unexpected. I think this is again yet another example of why we need to invest in public health. Had we been doing what we call genomic surveillance, we would have probably picked up on this sooner and picked up on the threat sooner.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, a lot of work to do. Good to draw on both of your experience here, Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Celine Gounder. Let's hope for all of our sakes the country gets this right now. Thank you.
Well, next, the President says he wants people to get bigger COVID relief checks. Question, what is he willing to do if anything to get what he wants? Senator Sherrod Brown will join us to discuss later.
A former senior White House adviser on what is said to be the President's darkening mood in the bright Florida sunshine and what he is talking about as thousands of Americans die of COVID every single day.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Our big story tonight: the President's lack of follow-through on getting Americans immunized with the very same COVID vaccines that he likes to boast so much about and that he did make big progress on, not much follow-through though either beyond angry tweets on his call for boosting COVID relief payments. No sign he is doing the kind of lobbying of his own party's leadership and membership that he would need to do if he were really serious about getting this passed.
Consequently, when Senator Bernie Sanders brought yesterday's House bill, which calls for those bigger payouts to the Senate floor today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it on ice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): So Madam President, would the senator modify his request that immediately following the vote on the veto override, the Senate proceed to the consideration of H.R. 9051 that the bill be considered read a third time and the Senate vote on passage of the bill without intervening action or debate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is their objection to the request for modification?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Object.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection is heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So Senator McConnell -- and listen to this -- then introduced his own legislation, which adds totally unrelated items, poison pills, in effect, meaning that if they all right, as Democrats say those bigger relief checks, the President says that he does want, likely won't be going out anytime soon, perhaps not ever.
Here to talk about this, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Senator, thanks so much for taking the time tonight.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Nice to see you. Thanks so much.
SCIUTTO: So the majority leader has now added to this COVID relief bill to expand payments up to $2,000.00, unrelated things including his fixation on Section 230. This is about protections for social media companies, but also a voter fraud commission. Is this new plan dead on arrival for Democrats? BROWN: No, apparently it is. I mean, McConnell -- it's what McConnell
always does. I mean, when there's a fork in the road, and you can decide one side is corporate interest and the other is working families, McConnell always takes corporate interests and that's what he is doing here.
He knows that the public overwhelmingly, including Republicans support the $2,000.00 I've been calling for it since March. He knows that's popular. He knows people want that. He knows that enough senators would vote for it if it passed. So he's going to block it.
I mean, it's what Mitch McConnell does. He uses Senate rules to obstruct popular kinds of things Congress might consider doing and he ends up always helping his rich friends become richer and his powerful friends become more powerful.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you, though, has the leader outmaneuvered the Democratic leadership here? I mean, he would be forcing Democrats to still cast a vote against $2,000.00 stimulus checks, or accept a voter fraud commission, repeal tech company immunity.
I mean, we know he is a master operator of Senate rules here, but I wonder if you're concerned that he has outmaneuvered the Democratic leadership on this.
BROWN: Well, he hasn't outmaneuvered Democrats. It's just what Senate rules allow you to block. If you're the Majority Leader, you can find a way to block essentially any vote in the Senate, especially when we're in the last week of session at the end of the year.
SCIUTTO: I know, but he is in effect going to put senators like yourself in a position of voting no on the $2,000.00 stimulus check.
BROWN: Well, that's not clear yet. It is unclear what he is going to do when we're back in town next week. We're all willing to stay, I think. We're all willing to stay through the New Year to fix this, but again with McConnell, you know, it's always, he uses Senate rules to block again -- to block and to obstruct popular will in this country.
He even went -- and he's got most of 52 Republicans that are essentially spineless and always back him up. It's usually siding with the President; now, it's siding with the Majority Leader and think how much Mitch McConnell has funded these campaigns.
BROWN: There are a whole lot of senators who are returning who are going to get sworn in on January 3rd, that were the beneficiaries of McConnell's literally tens of millions of dollars in dark money that he raised and put into those races.
SCIUTTO: Well, we will know on January 6th whether -- or early next year, depending how close it is, we'll know if he keeps his majority.
There is of course, another bill, as you well know, up for consideration. This is the massive Defense Bill. Senator Bernie Sanders, he said, we will block a vote on the Defense Bill until there is an up or down vote on those stimulus checks.
Is that a tactic you endorse to get that money into people's hands?
BROWN: I will. I will support anything that lets us get that money into people's hands. I don't think that there's a way around what Senator Sanders wants to do that McConnell can do. It just takes three days to do it.
But I will support any effort that I think will help us get the $2,000.00 into more than a hundred million Americans' pockets.
SCIUTTO: Final question before we go. When we began this program, and I know you're well aware of really a disappointing rollout in this vaccine, and that none of the administration's targets being met here and the real questions as to whether states have the capability to get this vaccine out into millions of people's arms and quickly.
I wonder, you have a new President in 21 days, what can the Senate do to help the new administration get this done?
BROWN: Well, the first thing the Senate can do is what we did and pass that COVID package that would help to put the money in people's pockets so the economy would default or less as this is happening. But it's -- I mean, President Trump is playing golf today. He has no interest in doing this.
Mitch McConnell has done essentially nothing to help him do this. The most important thing we do is we win the senate next Tuesday, in the special election in Georgia, and we come right back to work and working with the President-elect when the President of the United States won't even essentially meet with -- basically meet with Biden and allow his team to meet with Biden's team.
It's pretty hard to do this, but it's the number one priority for all of us. It should be in the Senate, and it certainly as for the White House -- the new White House.
SCIUTTO: CNN has a new story tonight about the Defense Department not cooperating with the Biden transition, we have details on that.
Senator Brown, we do appreciate you taking the time tonight. We wish you and your family the best for the Holidays.
BROWN: Thank you and yours. Thanks.
SCIUTTO: Well, as we said earlier, President Trump is watching this all play out from Florida. Coming up, we'll check in for reaction there, angry tweets at members of his own party for failing to act on those $2,000.00 stimulus checks.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. President Trump is spending another day in Florida golfing, tweeting, and putting the onus of getting people vaccinated onto the states.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in West Palm Beach for us tonight. Kaitlan, is the President doing anything to combat the pandemic right now? I mean, Americans want to know, need to know and we're clearly at a point here where the distribution of vaccines is running into serious roadblocks.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Officials in his administration are certainly making efforts to try to talk to reporters about that. We just found out that there is going to be a briefing with H.H.S. officials and Pentagon officials tomorrow to answer questions about why the U.S. is so far behind those goals that Federal officials had set for the end of the month.
But Jim, when it comes to the President himself, he has been what he has been for the last several months, which is basically pretty uninvolved in this process and in what's going on.
So you saw his tweet earlier where he was talking about vaccine distribution and really putting it off on the states, something that we saw the President also do when it came to coronavirus testing and PPE for hospitals saying that basically, it's up to them.
And that is true, the Federal government is passing this off to states once they have the vaccines. But the question that people are now raising is whether or not states are prepared to handle this and the Federal government has set them up for success because they are already strained as it is when it comes to testing and contact tracing. And now they've got vaccine distribution as another responsibility.
So those are big questions. And in the President's tweet, he passed it off to states. He criticized Joe Biden for the handling of the swine flu, and of course, that's something that the President has often turned to when he has been criticized for his administration's coronavirus response.
So we'll be waiting to see what it is that Federal officials do say during this briefing tomorrow about why they are so far behind on the numbers and the goals that they set for themselves.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, about 335,000 more people have died from coronavirus than the swine flu. The other, of course, focus here is the stimulus payments, the possibility of raising them to $2,000.00. Has the President reacted in any way to leader McConnell's new bill that now ties these checks to two things the President has wanted, 230 reform, relates to liabilities for tech companies, but also a voter fraud commission.
COLLINS: Yes, so those are the things the President wants and what Mitch McConnell is saying is that he's going to put all of them together in a bill that would be introduced on the Senate floor. But that's not going to go anywhere because we know that the other measures the President wants included in this are going -- is going to face a lot of opposition from Democrats. They're not going to get the votes that they need. And so that idea that Democrats had, which is to bring that just
$2,000.00 for stimulus checks to the floor today, Mitch McConnell blocked that and that wasn't going to happen. He said, you know, we're not doing that. I object to that. That's what we saw from when he was on the floor with Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders and several other senators today.
And so, the President hasn't responded to what this is going to be. It's what he wants to see, but it's not going to end up in what he actually wants to get. So that's the question here.
What we do know is the $600.00 stimulus checks that were part of that Bill the President signed Sunday night could start going out as soon as in a matter of hours, according to the Treasury Secretary, but whether they get to what the President is demanding and is saying is going to be a death wish if Republicans don't get there, it is still in limbo and far from clear where this is going to end up -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, and on that issue, there's unity with some strange bedfellows. President-elect Biden supports them, other Republicans and many Democrats. Kaitlan Collins, great to have you on tonight. Thank you.
Well, perspective now on all this from Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Scott Jennings, who is, in fact, quite close to Senator McConnell. Both are CNN political commentators. Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us tonight.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Jim.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey Jim,
SCIUTTO: Paul, if I could begin with you from your perspective, this is a classic Leader McConnell move here is what he's doing here a win- win for him politically. I mean, he is putting forward what the President wants. But he's also effectively ensuring that those payments do not get -- he does not want to spend the extra $465 billion on those payments. Forces Democrats perhaps to vote no on those payments because of these poison pills. I wonder from your view, has he checkmated Democrats on this.
BEGALA: No. What I think he's doing is he's presupposing that people in Georgia are dumb. And he's wrong. They're smart. They know that a poison pill is designed to kill. And when he puts a poison pill in there $2,000 survival check that the Democrats support, he's killing it. Any senator who votes from McConnell's poison pill is voting to kill the $2,000 payment.
And that means Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two senators who are on the ballot next week, they likely they've said they're going to vote with McConnell. They're probably McConnell. If they do they're voting to kill that stimulus, that survivals stimulus a survival check. By the way, Perdue and Loeffler got wealthy, they were already wealthy, but they got wealthy with controversial stock trades, while Georgians were getting sick and dying. So the notion that these millionaires and billionaires were buddies of McConnell are profiting while middle class people are getting hammered. They, you know, rich people get the gold mine.
BEGALA: Working people get the shaft. This is a message, I think, Bonanza for the Democrats. I think it's terrible position McConnell has put his senators in.
SCIUTTO: Scott, I wonder if you agree, because it is true that many Republicans support these checks. You got Josh Hawley, the President, of course supports giving increasing these stimulus checks, as do many Democrats. I mean, do you think that this is a dangerous move for McConnell, and could it damage some Republicans including in those Georgia runoff races?
JENNINGS: Well, a couple things. Number one, I don't know why you all are dismissing out of hand the idea that Democrats should block vote against the repeal of Section 230. I mean, if $2,000 checks, is all that stands in the way between, you know, functioning in the abyss, which is what Paul is arguing. And it seems like repealing section 230 and having some commission look at voter fraud is a small price to pay for that.
SCIUTTO: Well, but you also know there's a voter --
SCIUTTO: -- voter fraud commission, you know, driven by false claims and voter fraud. And that's, you know --
JENNINGS: It's a commission, it's a commission. It's designed to study and it doesn't -- he can study and he can say there was no voter fraud, substantial enough to overturn the election, which is I suspect --
SCIUTTO: Why do you need that attached to stimulus checks legislation? I mean, all the courts rejected me --
JENNINGS: Why did Democrats attach any number of things to the stimulus legislation that just passed in the House? Look, the reality is, the President issued a signing statement. He said he wanted three things, $2,000 checks, repeal of 230 and a voter fraud commission. McConnell for four years has done the exact same thing. If the President says I'd like to put something on the floor, he has found a way to put it on the floor. So he's going to do that.
So, look, I think they're Republicans who might want to vote for the whole thing, or Republicans who might want to vote for some of it. But I don't know why Democrats would block vote against $2,000 payments. If all -- I mean, look, there's a growing bipartisan consensus that some of these tech companies need to have their ears pinned back anyway. So, I mean, 2,000 bucks if that's all that's going to keep millions of people from falling off the edge of the cliff. It strikes me that they may want to reconsider block voting against it if all we're doing is making a policy change on extraordinarily wealthy tech companies.
SCIUTTO: Paul would you take (INAUDIBLE) Paul before I want to get your reaction here. But on the question of voter fraud, we did have news today and that is that the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, after doing an audit, a signature match audit in Cobb County, Georgia, something the President has claimed repeatedly and falsely that there was voter fraud. That audit in fact found that 99.9 percent matches with signatures, and he stated definitively there was no widespread fraud. So, yet one more claim knocked down by the facts.
But Paul, what do you believe that Democrats should do here? Senator Sanders, he's saying he can hold up the defense authorization bill, to demand a vote on this. Is that a strategy you think would be smart?
BEGALA: They may have to the -- Mitch Mcconnell's position and Kelly Loeffler is in Georgia and David Perdue, they will pay any price bear any burden to keep the middle class from getting to $2,000 that they need to survive. These are people who sent $2.3 trillion to corporate America while corporate America was experiencing record profits. So this is all about whose side you're on and it's a very simple message for the Democrats to take to the people of Georgia.
If you think you are worth $2,000 keep body and soul together to keep your small business open to keep your children fed, then you have to vote for the Democrats, because Mitch McConnell cannon will kill that money he will, as long as he's Majority Leader. The people of Georgia have it in their power to take that back. And to give it to folks who actually give a rip snort about the middle class. I'm telling you this, we also -- McConnell is a legislative genius and nobody knows his way around the power lobbyist better than Mitch McConnell. But I'm telling you, somebody spent a lot of time in Georgia. He is misunderestimating the people of Georgia as George W. Bush would say.
SCIUTTO: Scott a separate topic just because CNN has new reporting, just this hour myself, along with my colleagues, Barbara Starr, MJ Lee, and that is that the Defense Department is refusing to cooperate with the incoming Biden administration, refusing to share critical information about the Pentagon budget, U.S. force posture in a number of war zones around the world. Recently announced troop withdrawal plans and the recent cyber attack attributed to Russia. What's your reaction to that? You have one administration going out another one coming in? These are -- this is about sharing information intelligence on the most severe threats to this country's national security. Should that stop?
JENNINGS: Yes, it's extremely troubling. I think in terms of transition, you know, some of these agencies, you know, the reality is the transition doesn't make all that much difference to how the new administration will operate, but in the area of national defense. And I would also argue in the area of vaccine distribution, you need the absolute most seamless handoff that you can have to vaccinate Americans of course, it's an unusual situation, but more broadly protect Americans from the external threats that we obviously face.
And so, I'm extremely troubled by that. I haven't seen the reporting, Jim, but I would just say, the Pentagon, the Trump administration, the Biden transition people, they need to be together every day, to ensure that we don't miss a beat as it relates to polling one of the most sacred duties that our government has, and that's keeping us all safe from foreign hackers.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I'll share that recording. Please quickly before we go.
BEGALA: COVID has already filled our hospitals. It's filled our ICU units. We don't have space for people. If there's a mass casualty attack, we're more vulnerable to a terrorist attack right now than we have ever been in my lifetime.
SCIUTTO: Yes, my goodness. Imagine if, if more had been injured or worse in the Nashville bombing. Well Paul Begala, Scott Jennings, we appreciate your perspective and we wish both of you and your families the best for the holidays.
BEGALA: Hook 'em horns (INAUDIUBLE).
JENNINGS: Thanks Jim.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): What's got President Trump especially irritated while he spends time in his Florida club? Just ahead, it's got nothing to do with politics, Congress, or even his golf game. The answer when "360" continues.
SCIUTTO: There are new details tonight on President Trump's state of mind as the clock ticks down on his time in office. CNN's Kate Bennett reports that according to multiple sources, the President's mood has been dark ever since he arrived at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida last week.
In addition to soon being out of a job, the President was apparently upset with renovations to the club's interior, many of which were overseen by First Lady Melania Trump. Keep in mind that Mar-a-Lago is believed to be where the President is moving when he departs the White House and little more than three weeks.
Kate also reports that a source says the President is in fact so moody, that the sources word -- that's the sources word by the way that he's spending more time than usual behind closed doors, is not socializing as much as he normally does. As another source puts it, the vibe is off. So here to discuss and the consequences of that, someone who knows President Trump's inner orbit better than most former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Gentlemen, good to have you on tonight.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FMR WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Hey, great to be here, Jim. Thanks for having me. You know, yes, I think that, you know, he's humiliated. And so, when you're humiliated like that, you have that kind of personality and ego.
He, you know, he was calling the Vice President, now President-elect sleepy Joe Biden, saying suggesting that he was in his basement to falsehoods. But now he's got to come to grips with somebody that was sleepy in their basement, kick the pants off woman (ph). So it's going to be very hard for him to greet all of those people like he's done traditionally, New Year's Eve, and so forth.
SCIUTTO: What are the consequences of that right? Because we're already seeing one consequences of that with the rollout of the vaccine. I mean, the President has checked out I mean, checked out on the outbreak for months now, really, but now we're having a real consequences in the midst of a worsening health crisis here, with his withdraw in effect from the job. What does that mean for running the country for the next three weeks?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, he's just providing evidence every single day that he was unfit for that job. So I mean, the last 30 days have actually been the worst days of his presidency. And so, if you see, you know, what happened last weekend with the false start on the bill, and then the ultimate signing of the bill, and then the veto.
And now you've got these 22 days left, where, you know, he's completely checked out, but he's got his people frozen and pinned, and he's putting a tremendous amount of pressure on Vice President Pence related to January 6. And so, you know, I don't know what he's suggesting. But he sends out tweets related to people coming to Washington on January 6. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it seems nefarious to me. And it's unconscionable. Jim.
So, you know, you got 22 days to go, they feel like forever, frankly, you know, but he's leaving. I mean, and I think he knows he's leaving now. It'll probably be one last gasp of fundraising before he leaves. I think that's something that he's found very lucrative. But he's not going to have fun in Florida. He won't be sitting in Florida for very long.
SCIUTTO: Tell us what if you can discern it his intention or endgame is with stimulus checks. I mean, again, it was his own White House team that negotiated and signed off on this bill prior and then he sort of threw a tantrum about it this weekend finally signed it, but now is circling back. Does it does he have a plan and endgame here?
SCARAMUCCI: No, well, that's been the whole thing with the President. You know, he he's calling place in the line of scrimmage, everything is an audible, I'm reasonably certain that he never really looked at the bill or never really focused on it. And more or less did the hand waving gestures that it was OK was OK.
And then when he finally got a hold of it and looked at it, he probably thought that $600 made him look bad. And so that's why he rejected it. And then there was just great irony there. Just shows how disorganized he is and the lack of executive management skills, and the lack of intellectual curiosity to actually read something dense and reasonably complicated look through the whole thing.
And so, all of this is manifesting itself. If you and I were on a publicly traded board of a company and we had hired him, we'd be looking at each other say, OK, we have to dismiss him for the unsoundness of his personality related to the job that he's been placed in.
SCIUTTO: So tell me about January 6, we had another day today where Republican Secretary of State in Georgia said, listen, I did audited the signatures 99 percent -- 99.9 percent match, no widespread fraud count, you know, knocking down yet another of the President's claims. And yet, on January 6, as you mentioned, he still putting pressure on his vice president to somehow contest before the floor that you speak to folks in this administration. How does Vice President Pence plan to handle this?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, you know, I can't speak for the Vice President. But I'm very confident that he's going to do what is appropriate for the United States. And he did a vow to the constitution and take an oath to the Constitution. And so, I think he's going to do what's appropriate. And then I think the last two weeks of the administration, there'll be a series of ridiculous pardons.
And there'll be a series of nefarious neglect and activity related to setting up President Trump and his family, for the post presidency. And some of it will get be gimmickry. Some of it will be related to fundraising, and some of it will be pardons. With those pardons being tied to something in the future. And that's, you know, it's terrible.
And so, we -- we're going to have to protect ourselves going forward. If we get somebody like this with this moral fiber in the presidency, on a going forward basis, we'll probably need an amendment to one of those amendments, we've rendered the 25th Amendment, basically useless, Jim, because remember, now he has so many acting cabinet members, that if they tried to call the quorum, and then they tried to invoke the 25th Amendment, he could dispatch all of those cabinet members because they were never sanctified by the Senate.
So, we've got the 25th Amendment's been paralyzed by the Trump administration. We need to look at that as a group of people and refortified the institutions of our democracy. And I think that's one of the great things we got out of the Trump administration. The last great thing is he is bringing us all together.
You know, you see Democrats and Republicans teamed up against him taking him on related to these two bills. And I think that's a refreshing thing. And hopefully that's a good start for the new incoming Biden administration.
SCIUTTO: We'll see if there's political. Well, just very quickly, yes or no before I go if he had a bet five bucks now is he running again in 2024 or is a charade?
SCARAMUCCI: You know, I got I got 5,000 feet -- about five bucks. I get 5,000 that he's not if you want to take it to 50 Jim, we got to probably go to a bookie but I'm in. He's no chances this guy's running again, in 2024.
SCIUTTO: We'll set that up in the break. Anthony Scaramucci, thanks so much for your time and best to the family for the holidays.
SCARAMUCCI: Happy New Year, Jim.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Well, the vaccine rollout is certainly rocky. Those are the facts. But the joy of those who do receive it just unmistakable. Our Gary Tuchman visits a health center catering to young people at risk of severe cases of COVID when "360" returns.
SCIUTTO: The slow rollout so far of COVID vaccines, of course, a sad fact at this point. But when they do arrive we've seen this so many times now that joy just palpable especially for health facilities that cater to those who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus and are cut off from the ones they love.
Our Gary Tuchman visited one such place in upstate New York.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New York State's Catskill Mountains. It's a landmark day for these young people, all of them who have severe medical issues and comorbidities. Today's the day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey. One, two, three. Awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): They get the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Awesome buddy.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the 1,500-acre center for discovery, where hundreds of vulnerable children and adults with complex medical conditions live in visit for clinical treatments and educational, social, nutritional and recreational experiences. 24-year-old Khadij Redese (ph) has cerebral palsy. (on-camera): That's a beautiful hat. How do you know to make a hat? I have no idea how to make a hat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): I do? I couldn't do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are done. Good job.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): For months the residents here were not able to see their parents and families in person because of COVID. Now with proper precautions they can and parents are with their children as they get their vaccines.
DENISE LOMBARDI, RJ'S MOTHER: Good job. You're doing great.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): RJ has severe autism. His mother says his grandfather died from COVID in April.
LOMBARDI: And I know that my dad would be so proud. And hello, RJ, you know, has done through this entire ordeal. And particularly today, you saw how much of a trooper he was getting his shot.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jodie also has profound autism and seizure disorders.
JODIE SINGER, PATIENT: Looks like a boo boo.
ALISON SINGER, JODIE'S MOTHER: Yes. OK, you (INAUDIBLE).
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Her mother says not being able to see Jodie in person for months was excruciating.
A. SINGER: Just the thought of that, for me has been the worst part of the pandemic. So, getting the vaccine today --
J. SINGER: Clock.
A. SINGER: -- it's the beginning of the end of that nightmare.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Although residents and employees here have tested positive for COVID over these months, there have been no deaths. Credit is given to the diligence of the employees here about 1,700 of them and they too are getting the vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, here we go. Tell me you're ready.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): After all it's the employees who can bring the virus in.
PATRICK DOLLARD, PRESIDENT/CEO, CENTER FOR DISCOVERY: Their courage and their efforts just keep us moving forward. But we have to stay with it. You know, it's not a mic drop yet. You know, we still have to get through this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three. TUCHMAN (voice-over): The parents visiting realize this frightening time is not over. But the relief on this day is palpable.
MICHAEL ROSEN, NICKY'S FATHER: It is so emotional. And he knew in his gut that this is something he wanted to do. I can't tell you how emotional it is to watch. Just someone you were so worried about for so many months. Now automatically see hope on the horizon?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And remember the hat maker we met earlier?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, a little pinch. Ready? Can you feel it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And (INAUDIBLE) say she is most grateful that she too, has now been vaccinated.
SCIUTTO: God, we need to see those smiles don't we, Gary? And good to have you. I'm so glad you tell the story. We do know that some people have concerns about vaccines. Do you know if most of the residents where you were took the vaccine today?
TUCHMAN: The answer's yes Jim, but 83 percent of the residents here took the first vaccine today, they'll come back in three weeks to take the second vaccine. And for those who didn't take the first vaccine today, they can come back in three weeks and also get their first shot. So we're expecting that number to go above 83 percent. These young people who we met today Jim, they are excellent role models.
SCIUTTO: They're following a science, right? I mean, the sad fact is, many people are not. But Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.
(voice-over): Coming up next. Breaking news is significant new development in the wake of the police raid that cost Breonna Taylor her life.
SCIUTTO: Some breaking news to report now in the case of two Louisville police officers connected to the deadly raid that killed Breonna Taylor back in March this year. Just moments ago we learned from lawyers of the two officers that the police department is seeking to fire them. Breonna Taylor was 26 years old when she was killed by police late at night in her home during a botched drug raid. Police said the shooting was justified because they say her boyfriend shot first, he says that's not true.
Lawyers for detectives Joshua James and Myles Cosgrove said their clients had received letters of termination in connection with the March 13th raid. According to the letter received by the lawyers and police hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday. CNN has reached out to the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Louisville police union for comment.
And the news continues. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.