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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Wants Military Style Sendoff on Inauguration Morning; Rep. Garamendi Concerned About Armed Members of Congress; Biden Announces Plan to Administer COVID Vaccines. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 15, 2021 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00]

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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: With just days left in office President Trump is not playing the part of a gracious leader leaving office. Instead, he's focused on the pomp and privilege of the presidency. According to people familiar, Trump is asking for a major military- style sendoff before his last presidential flight to Palm Beach.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta there. And Jim, he wants what?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Brooke, this looks like yet another dear leader moment for Trump and it comes at the end of his presidency.

I talked to a source familiar with some of the planning earlier this morning and this person said that this -- the sendoff may include a color guard, it may include a 21-gun salute, the red carpet, a military band, the whole nine yards, and, you know, it is -- it is going to be such a sad end to the Trump presidency because, keep in mind, I was here on January 20th four years ago when Barack and Michelle Obama welcomed the Trumps to the White House.

It was part of the peaceful transfer of power and keep in mind the Obamas were welcoming somebody to the White House who had questioned the legitimacy of Obama and whether or not he was born in the United States. So politics can be tough, politics can be nasty but yet the Obamas still welcomed the Trumps to the White House.

Donald Trump is not going to do the same for Joe Biden. But you know, in addition to that, Brooke, the other thing we mentioned is that the president even today is welcoming people over to the White House who have been fueling these election conspiracy theories. We can show you some video that we just got in a moment ago.

Mike Lindell, who is also known as the founder of the My Pillow company, he is over here at the White House seeing the president or roaming the West Wing. We're not exactly sure perhaps the president needs a nap, needs a pillow. But you know, Brooke, one thing we should point out.

Lindell has been on social media questioning the legitimacy of the election, and so even, you know, five days left before this president leaves office, he is still associating with people who have been engaging in this, you know, ridiculous lie about what happened on -- what happened on November 3rd, and, you know, it is just another sad commentary as to how this presidency is coming to an end.

[15:35:00]

Sort of like the way he's going to end it on January 20th leaving Washington, leaving the White House without doing the common courtesy of wishing his successor well, welcoming him to the White House and sending him off as all presidents do during a peaceful transfer of power -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: And from what I've read that includes Melania Trump, right, not doing the traditional welcoming of the future first lady, Dr. Jill Biden. Jim Acosta, thank you.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BALDWIN: Ahead here on CNN the violent mob that stormed the Capitol reportedly came within less than 100 feet of Vice President Pence and his family. Many calling him a traitor there. Still, he's sticking by this president. We're asking why?

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[15:40:00]

BALDWIN: We are learning more about exactly how close the vice president came to danger in last week's deadly insurrection on the Capitol. He was whisked away from the Senate floor with mere seconds to spare and still the VP is seemingly standing by this president even though Trump didn't call him for nearly a week after Pence's life was threatened and continues to trash the vice president.

With me now former U.S. Senator Jeff Flake. Senator Flake, welcome, sir.

JEFF FLAKE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR (R-AZ): Hey, good to be here.

BALDWIN: Why do you think Mike Pence is still so loyal?

FLAKE: Well, I mean, he has been unfailingly loyal for the past four years, and he's seen a reward for that. The president basically labeling him as the enemy and ginning up a mob to go to the Capitol and go after him. The fact that the president didn't call him to see if he was OK just blows me away and it takes me back to -- I was on the baseball field when the shooter shot at all of us and wounded Steve Scalise and I remember just moments after it was over, I got a call from Mike Pence, the vice president, just checking to see if I was all right.

And a minute later from former president Barack Obama and then Joe Biden, and the notion that the president wouldn't call his vice president to see how he's going for days, it just blows me away. But Mike has been, like you said, unfailingly loyal. I was so glad to see him break with the president last Wednesday in a big way and that's where we are.

BALDWIN: I want to -- I just had a conversation, Senator, with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi, and it was one of those conversations I had to ask him the same question multiple times to make sure I was hearing him right, right.

I asked him whether or not he is actually fearful that his fellow members of Congress might harm him. This is what he just told me.

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REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Of course, why would you bring a gun onto the floor? You want to get into a fisticuff or you want to get into a gun battle? You don't need to have a gun on the floor of the House or even in any of the Capitol complex or the offices. It's a very, very secure place except when a mob incited by the president of the United States turns that mob loose into the Capitol. Now you've got a danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Senator, your reaction?

FLAKE: Well, that's a terrible thing to hear that somebody fears that. I can't imagine any member of Congress going after other members of Congress, but you have rules, you have metal detectors. There are rules not to bring guns onto the floor and those need to be and should be enforced.

BALDWIN: The fear obviously from him and other Democrats is, that you know, some of these Republicans are flying by the metal detectors, and the fear is that they are armed and aren't sure what may happen after and it was just a noteworthy exchange.

FLAKE: It is, and there are a few who have said we're going to carry and we're going to continue to carry. That's just -- that's just wrong. They shouldn't. And for no other reason carrying -- if somebody else, we have an incident like we did last week you wouldn't want anyone having a gun that shouldn't have a gun because it would end up in the wrong hands.

So I just can't imagine anybody not complying with that directive to leave your guns at home, not bring them into the Capitol.

BALDWIN: Yes. Here's another one for you, Senator. After all of this, a source tells CNN that President Trump is asking for this military- style sendoff and a crowd of supporters the morning of inauguration day. What's your response to that request?

FLAKE: That's -- that's not how we roll. That's not what we do in this country. The president is always seeing himself as more of a military leader. He wanted the big parade, you know, with a show of force and the military spent a lot of time just trying to scale things back so this doesn't surprise me at all, but it shouldn't be done.

We're not a country like North Korea or Zimbabwe where leaders go out like this. It's called a peaceful transition of power for a reason, and if the president doesn't want to attend that's his prerogative, but he shouldn't get a military sendoff.

BALDWIN: Not how you roll. Former Senator Jeff Flake, thank you very much.

FLAKE: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You got it.

[15:45:00]

In moments, Joe Biden will lay out his plan to administer 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days of office. This part of a massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and this is all as we get more alarming new headlines about the battle against COVID.

Scientists now discovering the virus will knock more than a year off of the average life expectancy with black and brown communities facing the worst of it. Those new details next.

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BALDWIN: Any moment now, President-elect Joe Biden will be outlining his plan to vaccinate millions of Americans against coronavirus. And his announcement comes amid a backdrop that the U.S. on track to hit 400,000 deaths by next Monday.

[15:50:00]

Global deaths just passed the 2 million mark. And health experts say the pandemic will likely knock a year off the life expectancy for an average American. Nick Watt joins me live. Hey, Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so Brooke, any second now we'll hear what the Biden administration plans to do to try to speed up this frankly pathetic vaccine rollout so far. We are at Dodgers Stadium here in L.A., which is one of the biggest mass vaccination sites.

BALDWIN: Hang on, Nick. We've got him. We've got president-elect. Let's listen.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT: -- I spoke to the nation about the human toll pandemic, and the economic crisis. I spoke about a two-step plan of rescue and recovery and how we must deliver immediate economic relief to those who need it the most in this country.

Millions of people, through no fault of their own, are so badly hurting right now. Millions who never thought they'd ever be out of work, facing eviction or waiting hours in their cars for a meal from a food bank. I talked about how our rescue plan is a necessary bridge to our

economic recovery and our ability to build back better, stronger and more secure. And while the crisis -- these crises have cost real damage, I explained how it would cost more, hundreds of billions of dollars more, to undo the harm.

I talked about our moral obligation to act and about the clear economic consensus that making the investments I'm calling for, that the resource, that the required deficit spending as the original plans have as well, are necessary to get us out of this deep hole we find ourselves in as a nation.

I also talked about our seriousness of purpose, our clear plan with transparency and accountability, and why our call for unity is equally necessary. Unity is not some pie in the sky dream. It's a practical step to getting things done.

We didn't get into all of this overnight. We won't get out of it overnight either. But we will get through it. We'll get through it together. And today, I would like to talk more about what that means, in sparing no effort, I mean sparing no effort to get Americans vaccinated.

Vice President Harris and I, we just received a briefing from our COVID team. Truthfully, we remain in a very dark winter. Infection rates are up 34 percent. More people are being hospitalized because of COVID than ever before.

We're up to between 3,000 and 4,000 deaths per day as we approach a grim milestone of 400,000 deaths in America. That's staggering, to state the obvious.

I know the pain that so many of you have experienced, experiencing right now. Starting by sitting down for breakfast this morning and staring at an empty chair around the kitchen table, where a loved one used to sit, laugh, talk about how you love one another. I know the frustration that we're all feeling it.

Almost a year later we're still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this. Things will get worse before they get better. I told you, I'll always level with you. You know, and the policy changes that we're going to be making are going to take time to show up in the COVID statistics. And they're not just statistics, it's people's lives.

People getting infected today don't show up in case counts for weeks. Those who perish from this disease die weeks after exposure. So it will take time, but I know there are things we can do, and we can do them now.

For example, the vaccines offer so much hope. We're grateful for the scientists, and researchers and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We're grateful for the integrity of the process, the rigorous view in testing that's led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely. But the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure

thus far. In today's briefing we discussed five things, five things we'll do in an attempt to turn things around. Five things to turn frustration into motivation.

[15:55:00]

Five things to help us meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days in office. Some wonder if we're reaching too far for that goal. Is it achievable? It's a legitimate question to ask. Let me be clear. I'm convinced we can get it done.

And this is a time to set big goals to pursue them with courage and conviction, because the health of the nation is literally at stake. First, we will immediately work with states to open up vaccinations to more priority groups.

The process of establishing priority groups is driven by science, but the problem is implementation has been too rigid and confusing. If you were to ask most people today, they couldn't tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated. What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccine sitting unused in freezers around the country, while people who want and need the vaccine can't get it.

We'll fix the problem by encouraging states to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond health care workers and move through those groups as quickly as they think we can. That includes anyone 65 years or older. A population that has accounted for over 80 percent of the deaths to date. 80 percent of the deaths to date.

We also have to continue vaccinating frontline, essential workers, like educators, first responders, grocery store workers, et cetera. It won't mean that everyone in this group will get vaccinated immediately as the supply is not where it needs to be.

But it will mean that vaccines become available -- as they become available will reach more people who need them. Will reach out and get the vaccine used.

The second thing we're going to change, if we're getting more people vaccinated, then we need more vaccination sites. That's where we're harness the full resources of the federal government to establish thousands of community vaccination centers.

On my first day in office, I'll instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, to begin setting up the first of these centers. By the end of our first month in office, we will have 100 federally supported centers across the nation that will ultimately vaccinate millions of people. Think of places that are convenient and accessible, school gymnasiums, sports stadiums, community centers.

We've already had productive conversations with bipartisan groups of county officials, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, leaders of the private sector who shared their ideas with us about this effort.

And as we build them, we're going to make sure it's done equitably. We're going to make sure there are vaccination centers in communities hit hardest by the pandemic, in black and Latino communities, rural communities as well.

Within the first month of our administration, we're going to deploy mobile clinics, mobile clinics moving from community to community that will partner with community health centers and local primary care doctors to offer vaccines to hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities in cities, small towns and in rural communities.

And to staff up these centers, we will mobilize thousands of clinical and nonclinical professionals. Think of the people deployed, that we deploy in natural disasters. Experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, from FEMA and the Center of Disease Control. Our public health service commission core, our military medical personnel, our first responders.

Additionally, we're going to expand the pool of medical professionals including retired health care workers, who can administer the vaccine and to ensure we have enough vaccinators to meet the nation's needs, as we ramp this up.

And as governors of both parties have asked, our administration will reimburse states 100 percent when their National Guard is deployed in the fight against COVID. We'll provide resources to help states cover the cost of personnel, vaccinators, administrative staff as well as supplies like dry ice and laptops and protective equipment.

The third change we're going to make is we're going to fully activate the pharmacies across the country to get the vaccination into more arms as quickly as possible. Millions of Americans now turn to the local pharmacies every day for their medicines, flu shots and much more.