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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

G.O.P. Refuses to Purge Lies and Hateful Rhetoric; Joe Biden Says Trump should not Get Intelligence Briefings Because of his Erratic Behavior; COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered In US Outnumbered New Cases 10-To-1 This Week; Key Model: 631,000 COVID Deaths In The U.S. By June 1; Democratic Sources: It's Unlikely Impeachment Managers Will Pursue A Subpoena for Trump; Fox Business Cancels "Lou Dobbs Tonight". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 5, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00]

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thank you so much, Brian Stelter.

And finally, tonight, it is National Wear Red Day. That's why I'm wearing it. And the goal is to raise awareness about heart disease and strokes in women because heart disease is the number one killer of women.

So, to learn more about the risk factors, please go to wearredday.org and read about it. Thanks so much.

Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And Good evening, breaking news this hour. A short time ago, President Biden telling CBS News this about giving the former President classified Intelligence briefings and I'm quoting President Biden, quote, "There is no need for him to have the Intelligence briefings," unquote.

The briefings are a privilege, not a right bestowed to former Presidents. Biden's reasoning, the President's reasoning, quote, "Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection." We'll have more in this story in just a moment because we want to start with the insurrection at the Capitol.

Tomorrow, one month will have passed since one of the most shocking incidents political and domestic terrorism this country has ever witnessed. The trauma will be measured in years, if not decades, particularly for the family and friends of the five people who died from the violence that day, including one Capitol Hill police officer laid to rest this week.

But also because in the days since January 6th, we have learned exactly who we are right now, and it's not a comforting lesson, it is a painful one in fact, because members of our democracy have chosen to memory hole why this violence occurred in the first place.

Simply put, one man used lies, fear and violent rhetoric to provoke his most volatile supporters and they were then put in a position, a rally near his opponents where they could do something about the election results or so they thought.

That was this nation's first attempted coup, one we all watched unfold live, and then days later, Republicans seems want to forget. In the words Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, two days after the attack, quote, "It's time to heal and move on." That's what he said.

What's happened in the month since the attack on the Capitol is that the brief moment of unity experienced, one where even the Republican leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy said the President bears responsibility has receded, in its place, we see this, that same Republican House Leader essentially bending the knee after making a journey to the former President's residence.

According to a source close to McCarthy, the Minority Leader was warned at the time that it would look like, "he was crawling back to Trump," that was a quote. That's exactly what it does appear.

And what is happening today as well, the party is crawling back and trying to take the nation with it. Again, this is who we are almost one month later and the party is not merely crawling.

On Wednesday night, many gave a standing ovation behind closed doors that of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of all people. The QAnon supporting freshman congresswoman who questioned whether or not a plane hit The Pentagon on 9/11, called the massacre of Parkland a false flag operations, trafficked in other racist and anti-Semitic tropes, stripped of her committee assignments by House Democrats and just 11 Republicans.

This was her message to the party today about the party and the former President's influence over it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): And when I tell you Republican voters support him still, the party is his. It doesn't belong to anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The party is his, she says of the former President. It doesn't belong to anyone else. A comment that could wind up being one of the most truthful ones Congresswoman Greene has uttered; again only 11 House Republicans voted to strip her of her committee assignments, the true power of a Member of Congress.

Meanwhile, 61 voted to kick Liz Cheney out of her House leadership position for her vote to impeach the then President. Not all Republicans agree with the Georgia Congresswoman. This is Senator Ben Sasse speaking to his constituents in Nebraska about the same issue, the former President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): Now many of you are hacked off that I condemned his lies that led to a riot. Let's be clear. The anger in the state party has never been about me violating principle or abandoning conservative policy. I'm one of the most conservative voters in the Senate.

The anger has always been simply about me not bending the knee to one guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Sasse took several jabs at supporters of the former President like Greene saying, quote, "Personality cults aren't conservative," and that he also said, "Politics isn't about the weird worship of one dude." And yet all indications are that the former President will survive his Senate impeachment trial next week quite easily.

And so tonight, on the eve of the one-month anniversary after the former President incited an attack on the Capitol of people wanting to overthrow the duly elected President of this land, that is who we are tonight.

Perspective on all this now from former Republican Member of Congress, Barbara Comstock of Virginia. Thanks so much for being with us, Congresswoman Comstock.

When you look at what many in the Republican Party have done in the month since the insurrection, downplaying the violence, saying we should move on, visiting the former President rallying behind, standing ovations for Congresswoman Greene. I mean, is this -- is this really who Republicans want to be?

BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: No. And what I focus on is, you know, at the beginning of this week, the Freedom Caucus claimed they had 115 signatures to get rid of Liz Cheney, and in fact, she won resoundingly in a landslide with 70 percent support.

I think the brave Republicans like Liz Cheney, like Ben Sasse, like Adam Kinzinger, who are standing up to the bullies are the future of our party.

I think of those 10 people who voted for impeachment, you're going to see future governors, future leaders of this party, you know, people like Ben Sasse. So, I am going to focus on the positive there.

[20:05:25]

COMSTOCK: I think it was appropriate that Marjorie Greene was kicked off of her committees with bipartisan support. Again, I'm glad about that. And I think you will see Marjorie Greene, even be kicked out of the party before too long, because she will blow herself up as she goes along, and people do not want to be associated with her.

You've seen a lot of strong statements from senators and Congress to that effect, and she doesn't represent the party. She represents one very red district, which will be redistricted in a year.

COOPER: When Congresswoman Greene though says that the party -- the Republican Party is Trump's party. It doesn't belong to anybody else. I mean, it's the same thing Donnie Trump, Jr. said the morning of the insurrection. You know, he said to the crowd that this is Trump's party.

I mean, is there any doubt that she is right? Even Kevin McCarthy, who spoke, you know, sort of against the President the night of the insurrection, at least was critical of his lack of well, was critical of his performance, his leadership, and his lack of it, he is visiting Mar-a-Lago.

COMSTOCK: Well, Donald Trump has lost the popular vote twice. He got 46 percent latest, and we know his support has deteriorated. So even if you're only at 10 percent deterioration, you're down at 42, double digit loss. But it's more like 25 percent.

So somebody who can only get 35 percent of the national vote is not the future of the party. You know, a 70-something-year-old man is not the future of our party. I want to focus on people like all of the women that I helped get elected last year, actually, specifically the board I worked on to elect Republican women, we opposed Marjorie Greene and supported her male opponent in the primary.

But we have great women like Young Kim from California who voted to kick Marjorie off of her committees. You know, Joni Ernst got re- elected. We have two new Congresswomen from Iowa. We have, you know, these great members who voted for impeachment. That's the future of our party. And I don't think -- I think these brave people who won't bow to the bullies are going to, you know, rise in stature as the President is shrinking.

And I do think it's important that he is convicted, you know, in the trial for impeachment, I support that. And I think there may be more support than you think. Because, you know, earlier this week, people thought it was over for Liz Cheney. Now, she is looking strong, Marjorie, who isn't going to be passing any bills, won't be in any committees, I think she's going to be long gone before Liz Cheney, or these other 10 who voted for impeachment.

COOPER: But you know, what does it say, you know, with someone like Lindsey Graham who the night of the insurrection, you know, got up and said he was he was -- you know, that was it for him. He's done with the former President He was sorry it ended this way.

But then, you know, he gets heckled in an airport, which was very unpleasant, obviously, by Trump supporters. And then, you know, days later, he is riding on a helicopter with the President going down to the border. He seems to have changed his tune.

COMSTOCK: Well, there's a lot of disinformation and that's what Ben Sasse was speaking to today, and I think Liz and Adam Kinzinger has been very active on that front, one former Members of Congress, Denver Riggleman who works in Intelligence has been talking about that.

I think we need to take that head on. QAnon has no place in the Republican Party, but it has no place in politics and we've got to take that apart, you know, lie by lie. You know, and starting with the President's election lies, and I think the lesson we have learned from January 6th, which was a horror for me and so many members, you know, I worked there as an intern, staffer, a counsel and then as a member.

And I think the lesson from January 6 is don't lie. Don't attack our elections and don't attack our Capitol, our sacred place for our democracy. And that is why Republicans are leaving this President, and I think, yes, it's going to take a while. But stop looking at Marjorie Greene and start looking at these brave leaders.

Look at some of our leaders, people like Chris Sununu who ran 20 points ahead of the President. We have some great leaders who are working with people to solve problems.

COOPER: Former Congressman Barbara Comstock, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

COMSTOCK: Thank you.

COOPER: I am joined now by senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip and chief national correspondent, John King.

John, is this the party of Donald Trump has Marjorie Taylor Greene contends?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. I completely get Barbara Comstock's point and I completely get the fight she and others in the party want to make. Until they win it, it is Donald Trump's party.

When can they win it? Well, the 2022 midterms are going to be a whole bunch of primary fights. They are going to primary Liz Cheney. They're going to primary Adam Kinzinger.

[20:10:06]

KING: Barbara is right, Marjorie Taylor Greene's district may be redrawn. There will be a primary in that district. So that'll be one way to see it play out on the ballot.

But just watch what happens next week, Anderson. To Barbara's point, the Republican Party is trying to escape Trump. What did Marjorie Taylor Greene do today? The day after her own leadership, even Liz Cheney came to her defense to keep her -- you know, to try to keep her on her committees. They lost. Democrats had the votes.

They came to her defense. She just stuck it to them, coming out and saying Donald Trump is the leader of the party, not even respecting her own leaders who stood with her.

Next week at the trial, the former President wants his lawyers to repeat the big lie, to go on the floor of the United States Senate and raise questions about the election.

So we're at the very beginning of this fight. Today, it is Donald Trump's party until proven otherwise. COOPER: Abby, you know, again, the tone struck by Greene this morning,

she tweeted, "I woke up early this morning literally laughing thinking about what a bunch of morons the Democrats plus 11 are for giving someone like me free time in this Democratic tyrannical government. Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway. This is going to be fun."

It is, I mean, A, it is kind of what she wants. I mean, she doesn't actually now have to pay attention, any stuff going on in boring old committees where things are actually -- important things are actually done. She is not going to be, you know, actually getting any bills passed.

She is just going to be like an influence, like an Instagram influencer, but in Congress, you know, what someone on the program last night called a clickbait congresswoman. Is there any precedent for a sitting Member of Congress having no committee assignments, and basically just fundraising and making money off of who they are?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I mean, there probably is, I mean, when they kicked Steve King off of his committees, there was a period of time in which he was not going to be passing any bills. And even before that, I'm not sure that he was really doing anything legislatively.

This is, you know, just version 2.0 of the sort of own the libs kind of Republican Party that Marjorie Taylor Greene is advocating for. And it's really emblematic of a broader problem here, which is that there are Republicans who want to talk about issues and policy, and then there are others like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz who want this to be sort of performance art, in some ways about showing the liberals that they don't really care, and that that all of this doesn't really matter.

And that is that is the choice that faces the Republican Party right now. Is it actually about principles? Or is it just about this constant, you know, bomb throwing in Congress and you know, I'm not surprised that she thinks that this is ultimately a good thing for her.

I don't think she was necessarily elected in her district, based off of issues. She was elected in her district, based off of her fidelity to Trump, based off of her willingness to espouse all of these kinds of what we're calling crazy theories that don't bother her constituents one bit.

So that's why she was brought here to Washington. So I'm not surprised that she is not worried about passing bills.

COOPER: John, you hear Republican Senator Ben Sasse say that politics isn't about the weird worship of one dude. I mean, as of now, that seems exactly what politics is about, at least G.O.P. politics.

KING: Look, he is one of the still few making the fight, Anderson, and whether the people watching at home are Democrats or Republicans or Independents are not sure, we need a competitive political system in this country.

You want to have at least two parties, some people want three or four parties, where they are having debates about policy. President Biden wants to do a lot of big things. He wants to change a lot of policies. We should be having debates about those things.

So Ben Sasse -- you want people like Ben Sasse in the fight, whether you agree with him or not. I'm not taking sides. I'm just saying that is what you want.

But they are outnumbered right now. You have these state parties in Nebraska that are going after Ben Sasse. In Wyoming, they went after Liz Cheney.

All the Republicans who voted for impeachment in the House are being attacked by their state party for a vote of principle, which is why I say, again, there is this a fight going on within the party. We will watch it play out, but at this moment in time, it is Donald Trump's party, and watch -- I'm fascinated to watch Marjorie Taylor Greene because remember, they're in the minority. She is not on any committees.

There's a long history of backbenchers in the minority, A, causing trouble for their own leadership and B, trying to get a national profile. We'll see if it works.

COOPER: Yes. John King, Abby Phillip, stick around. We're going to discuss the breaking news about President Biden saying his predecessor is too erratic to receive -- his word -- to receive further Intelligence briefings. We will have a live report from the White House.

Plus, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper joins us.

And later, a major milestone in vaccines reached on the fight against COVID, what it means for our recovery efforts in this country when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:08]

COOPER: Now, to our breaking news. Days ahead of the former President's Senate impeachment trial, President Biden told CBS News that his predecessors should not receive classified Intelligence briefings, something typically bestowed upon former Presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Well, let me ask you then something that you do have oversight of as President, should former President Trump still receive Intelligence briefings?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think not.

QUESTION: Why not?

BIDEN: Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.

QUESTION: I mean, you've called him an existential threat. You've called him dangerous. You've called him reckless.

BIDEN: Yes, I have and I believe it.

QUESTION: What's your worst fear if he continues to get these Intelligence briefings?

BIDEN: I'd rather not speculate out loud. I just think that there is no need for him to have that Intelligence briefing. What value is giving him an Intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all other than the fact he might slip and say something?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Again, President Biden tonight suggesting he will not extend the same classified Intelligence briefings offered to other living former Presidents citing erratic behavior.

This, as President Biden also said today he would like a bipartisan COVID relief deal with Republicans, but will not wait long for one. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us now with the latest.

So do we know if President Biden has officially instructed his Director of National Intelligence to stop or deny former President Trump any Intelligence briefings?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We don't know that, and he didn't say that in the interview. He just said he doesn't think he should get them. That doesn't mean that he won't get them. But of course, that also requires President Trump to request an Intelligence briefing.

We don't believe that he has done so far, and he was never really interested in getting those Intelligence briefings even when he was in office. You often hear people --

COOPER: Well, that's what I was -- that's what I was going to ask. I mean, as I recall you reporting, he didn't really get Intelligence briefings like every other President did when he was President.

COLLINS: Or when he did get them, you hear from people who actually briefed him who will now say on the record that he was incredibly difficult to brief because he wasn't listening or he would tell them that the Intelligence was wrong. He would push back on it.

And they said, it was a really difficult way to actually get the President to ingest information. You heard that from people.

And this issue we should note was actually raised by a person, an Intelligence official, Sue Gordon, who used to brief President Trump and she was the one who came out after the election and said she didn't think he should have access to these anymore, that it was too dangerous, and that he should be cut off from them.

[20:20:29]

COLLINS: And so now, we also have the current President weighing in and saying he agrees, which is just remarkable in and of itself.

COOPER: Yes, the President also made news tonight, COVID relief and the Federal minimum wage, what did he say?

COLLINS: So this is something he promised on the campaign. He has put it in his proposal. They've talked about it time and time again at the White House, but it is facing roadblocks on Capitol Hill.

And remarkably, in this interview, even before we actually got to the fight with Democrats, about whether or not this is going to be included in the final legislation, President Biden seems to be conceding that it's not going to make it in. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Apparently, that's not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate.

QUESTION: So you're saying the minimum wage won't be in this --

BIDEN: My guess is, it will not be in it. But I do think that we should have a minimum wage stand by itself $15.00 now and work your way up to the $15.00. It doesn't have to be boom. And all the economic show, if you do that, the whole economy rises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So you see, Anderson, he still says he thinks that we need one. He does not think it's going to be in this. This is remarkable, because it could help stave off that fight that we were likely going to see between moderate Democrats, people like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who said he didn't think it should be included, and other more progressive members like Bernie Sanders who have said that this is something that should be included in this.

And now President Biden is seeming to say that they're going to have to try to achieve that some other way and that it's not going to end up in this proposal.

COOPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Back with us, CNN's Abby Phillip and John King. We're also joined by retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence and CNN national security analyst whose own security clearance was threatened, you may remember by the former President.

He is also the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence."

Director Clapper, do you agree with Biden that Donald Trump shouldn't have access to Intelligence briefings? JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely,

Anderson, I think it was the right thing to do. I think, first point, which Kaitlan alluded to was the fact that typically, at least the way it worked in the last administration, we reached out to the incoming Trump administration and asked to arrange for outgoing President Obama to receive these briefings, which they eventually agreed to.

In this case, I rather doubt that President -- former President Trump would ask knowing that probably he would get turned down anyway. I think, the more important point, though, is given President Trump's disdain for the content of Intelligence, as well as his disdain for protecting it and we've witnessed, you know, sharing Intelligence with Russians and public discussions was involved in classified Intelligence at Mar-a-Lago that this was absolutely the right thing to do.

COOPER: And John, you know, we should point out, Intelligence briefings are one of the perks of being a former President. They are really just a courtesy.

KING: They are a courtesy and as Director Clapper noted, you give -- you can give to President Obama. George W. Bush when he left office, remember, after 9/11, the threat of al-Qaeda, there was a different situation there. We wanted to keep him in the loop, including extra security because of threats. So sometimes, it's adaptable based on the situation at hand.

But in this case, look, Joe Biden just gave the answer. Maybe he hasn't personally directed his Director of National Intelligence to do it. That was the direction right there in that interview.

Presidents have to make a lot of difficult decisions, Anderson. This is not a hard one. Director Clapper knows it a lot better than I do. But Donald Trump, it's been well reported has some financial issues. Why would you give him access to sensitive Intelligence? Donald Trump has not respected the Intelligence or the people who gathered it in the past.

And I would also just say this, and Director Clapper knows this firsthand, Donald Trump has a history of taking a tiny nugget of truth and spinning it into a wild fantasy conspiracy land. And so why give him access to something that he will either use nefariously or recklessly?

COOPER: It is just incredible, Abby, I mean, of the many incredible things that we have, you know, borne witness to and continue to bear witness to that you can't trust the former President, that you know, he has so many financial problems, you don't know who he is beholden to or what he would do. And you pretty much know he would do just about anything, given his shamelessness.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, not only can you not trust the former President, but the truth is that you probably couldn't trust President Trump when he was actually in the office. The only difference is that, at that time, he was sort of covered by this view that the President can basically declassify anything, but very early on in his administration, he revealed classified information in the White House to the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

So these things actually happened. He has a long track record of letting out information that should be confidential sometimes in interviews with reporters and at other times in private settings as well.

[20:25:12]

PHILLIP: Now, I think the question is, what is going on with his business life, his personal life, and also his political life? How can, to John's point, how may he use some of this information to further spin whatever kinds of conspiracy theories that might be politically advantageous to someone who is very desperate to cling on to power both within his party and outside of it and show the world that he has some kind of political sway, at least for the next four years.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I mean, it's not like Donald Trump doesn't already know about a whole host of America's secrets. I mean, I guess what -- there is no way for the Intelligence Community to kind of go about, you know, a delicate task of making sure he doesn't share that or sell that information, regardless of future briefings.

I mean, you know, he wants to do business in the Middle East somewhere. You know, does he use some information that he has access to or make promises if he gets back in office in order to get business?

CLAPPER: Well, that's certainly hypothetical -- hypothetically possible, I think, although I would hope it would be unlikely. And in fact, there's not a lot that could be done about it unless he does something like that, and we learn about it. And then, of course, he'd be subject to some form of prosecution.

So, of course, in the past, you know, we've always depended on former Presidents under sort of the Honor System to protect the classified information that is shared with them.

And in this case, I think President Biden made exactly the right judgment, and there is no question that, Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence will certainly comply with that instruction.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Director Clapper, when you hear that Sue Gordon, the former Principal Deputy D.N.I. during the Trump administration, as Kaitlan Collins mentioned, wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" in favor of denying the former President Intelligence access, she said, "It's not clear that he understands the tradecraft, which he has been exposed, the reasons the knowledge he has acquired must be protected from disclosure, or the intentions and capabilities of adversaries and competitors who will use any means to advance their interests at the expense of ours."

I mean, that is just remarkable from the person who was tasked with giving briefings to the President of the United States.

CLAPPER: Exactly, and knowing Sue as I do, it was a remarkable statement of her concern about the risks involved in continuing to try to brief President Trump.

And one other point I would add, some of that information that finds its way into a PDB, people have risked their lives to acquire it, and so there's a sacred trust involved here in protecting it and protecting the people who collect it.

COOPER: John, this initiative by President Biden on the $15.00 Federal minimum wage, he doesn't think it is going to survive the COVID relief proposal. How is it going to play among Democrats? Because I mean, there are an awful lot of Democrats, you know, Bernie Sanders, the progressive wing, who want to see that.

KING: They're going to realize, number one, it's the truth, and you have a President who was a senator who understands the rules, who has been deeply involved, unlike his predecessor, deeply involved in talking about the legislative strategy here and he understands that Republicans are going to raise a point of order in the Senate saying it doesn't fit the definition of reconciliation. You cannot do it through the legislative vehicle. They're going to pass this budget.

Now, Senator Sanders is now the Chairman of the Budget Committee, he wanted time to give it a try, and so he will be disappointed. One thing President Biden has done is he has kept very good peace with the left since winning the nomination, since winning the election and even in the early days of his presidency.

This will cause him a wrinkle. He is addressing political reality. This was likely going to be the end anyway. His Democratic allies, especially on the left would have preferred he just stayed quiet. Let them fight the good fight and see where the chips fall.

COOPER: Abby, how do you see this playing out among Democrats?

PHILLIP: Yes, I think john is absolutely right. Democrats understand the politics of the situation. I don't think that it comes as a surprise to them that the $15.00 minimum wage wouldn't make it into the Bill, reconciliation or not. It was likely from the very beginning to be the thing that got cut off from this process, because it was the easiest, the lowest hanging fruit to offer as a compromise to the other side or to moderates.

But I also think that, you know, many Democrats even before Joe Biden was inaugurated made it very clear that a narrow margin in the Senate might actually make it easier for them to justify cooperating with, you know, the rest of the party.

In other words, the progressives understand that this narrow majority gives them so little room for error, that in order to have any wins at all, they have to work together. They either go together or they don't go at all and I think that's what you're seeing happening right now with Democrats.

You're not hearing all that many complaints because they know if they fight with their own, they're going to get nothing at the end of the day.

COOPER: Yes, Abby Phillip, John King, Director Clapper, thank you very much.

A slew of major developments today in the battle against COVID-19, including when the CDC says they'll release their plan to get kids back to school.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

[20:30:18]

COOPER: Another big news in the fight against COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the U.S. outnumbered new cases of the virus tend to one this week. There's that word today the NFL has pledged to make all 32 of their team stadiums available as max back -- that mass vaccination sites.

Also today, the CDC said they'll release their plan on reopening schools next week. So there's all that against the backdrop of the new modeling released by the IHME last night that project 631,000 deaths in the U.S. by June 1st. The model also projects that daily deaths had peaked and are declining. That's good news.

The director of the IHME Dr. Chris Murray joins me now along with our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Dr. Murray, I want to ask you about your new project and can you just explain what you factored into those numbers and also this idea that we've already peaked?

[20:34:59]

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, IHME: We fact into the new projections that in some states, you know, some of the new variants have showed up. So, we already take that into account once the variant is got community transmission. So that alters the trajectory, for example, for New York goes up a bit. And we're factoring in that as people get vaccinated, we think about a quarter of them will sort of go back to a pre-COVID level of mobility.

Now, if those aren't right, if the if the variants are more widespread, and people, you know, go back to their previous life faster, than you get closer to our worst scenario that we put out.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Murray, I'm curious, and we were hearing a lot more about these variants now, you know, obviously, from the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and everyone's keeps describing this as this race between the vaccines and the virus. How do you know you're going fast enough? I mean, how do you sort of, you know, contextualize this race? Obviously, faster is better. But is there a right speed or a speed that's good enough?

MURRAY: You know, I think that the metaphor of the race is right, I mean, the more we vaccinate, the less transmission, the potentially fewer people that will get exposed to the new variants. But, you know, in all probability, those variants will spread. I think both CDC and ourselves think that, you know, come April, the, at least, you know, the UK variant would be pretty widespread, maybe the South African variant, and that'll start to change the dynamic. So, you know, the more vaccination, the more deaths we're going to prevent. But it's not clear that we can stop the variance spreading throughout the country.

COOPER: And Sanjay, the CDC put out a report today that showed what impact the state mass mandate can have in hospitalizations. What did they find?

GUPTA: Yes, no, this was pretty significant. I mean, you know, what they found was that masks would decrease the growth rate in hospitalizations, and it would do it pretty fast 5.5% decrease overall, in the growth rate in new hospitalizations. And, you know, that was for people between the ages of 18 and 64. And they found that, you know, usually you started to see the benefits of masks, again, on hospitalizations, not just new cases, but on hospitalizations within three weeks. So that was pretty, you know, we've known for some time masks have a significant benefit, but now we're getting this objective evidence.

COOPER: So, you know, there's the question about surgical mask or N95s. Should Americans be wearing those if they can get their hands on them? Because there was, we talked to the head of the CDC, you know, I guess it was in the town hall. I think it was, I don't know if it was her or Fauci who we had on also, who was saying, you know, what, they're actually difficult to wear, and that there's concern that people will get uncomfortable with, as opposed to wearing a mask that's more comfortable.

GUPTA: Yes, look, I you know, I was there, I heard that as well. And I've also talked to people like Abraar Karan at Harvard, who says, if you have N95, masks widely available, or even KN95 masks that have been, you know, authorized under emergency use, and people are wearing them in situations where they go into population dense areas, that we could, you know, essentially make a significant impact. He actually said, end this pandemic in four weeks if we did this regularly.

Yes, I mean, I wear these masks all the time. You know, I wear them in the hospitals, they are more uncomfortable than other masks. You do -- you're supposed to get them fit tested. But that basically means breathing in and making sure that thing is really around your, you know, your face and your nose and your mouth. And it's suctions pretty well. But, yes, I do think that they should be more widely available, to be honest with you. I mean, there has been plans that were discussed even back in March of last year to make these more widely available. If you're going to protect yourself, I think you should do it with the best possible mask, and we are still in a position to be able to do that.

COOPER: Dr. Murray, do you agree with that?

MURRAY: You know, I think it's quality of masks matters a lot, N95 is at the very top end, you know, it's highly effective. Probably from some of the lab studies, three ply mask with a good seal around the nose gets you to about 80% and is far more comfortable for most people. So it's really about getting the most protection on Americans as possible. You know, after a year of campaigning, we're about three quarters of Americans wearing a mask. So, we should, you know, try as hard as we can to get the best quality masks in use, but recognize that some people, it's better for them to wear a comfortable three ply mask than then not wear a mask at all.

COOPER: Dr. Murray, the Biden administration is hoping to resurrect a proposal from the Trump administration to mail medical grade face mask to every American. Based on your data over the past year or so during the pandemic, is that a good use of time and resources now?

MURRAY: You know, I think it mailing to everybody, probably not because we know three quarters of people are wearing a mask. But getting it to those communities where mask uses low, super important, I think, you know huge benefits of getting masks, it makes it just easier for people to wear a mask. But a lot of this is about people's choice in the sense we've got to persuade that extra quarter of people to wear a mask. And probably it's not because they can't afford or get access to a mask. It's just convincing them that they can save lives in their community.

[20:40:27]

COOPER: Yes, I mean, that's what Dr. Fauci said in our last town hall as well that he didn't think access to the mask was the issue.

Sanjay, the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the new guidance on reopening schools is going to be released next week. She says, on Wednesday, teachers may not need to be vaccinated for schools to open and the White House walk that back saying she was essentially kind of talking her personal capacity, which I'm not sure that's, that doesn't seem to be true.

So, should vaccinating teachers be a prerequisite for getting students back to the classrooms?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think what Dr. Walensky was sort of, you know, reacting to was the studies that have come out showing that you have certain school districts around the country, where you've been able to open safely. In fact, the spread within the school was far lower than in the surrounding community, the Wisconsin study, for example, that was looking at the last term of school, and they found it was I think, 37%, less COVID transmission within the school.

In fact, you know, out of 5,300 people within that school district had 191 people who, who actually, were found to have been diagnosed with the infection, but only seven of those cases, actually were from the school itself. I think what, you know, I've been talking to a lot of people about this. And it's complicated. I don't think there's a slam dunk answer here. There are school districts around the country that seemed to have enough resources to be able to do the things necessary, to have the adequate ventilation, to have the masks that we're talking about, hand hygiene. They have the space, the square footage so that people can actually keep safe. But there's some that don't.

And I think that that's what a lot of teachers are concerned about, are you going to make me go back and teach in or in a room that is poorly ventilated, too small and all these things? And I think the default answer has come in some of those school districts that we must be vaccinated before we will do that.

So, you know, it's I think it's, it's not a one size fits all answer here. And I think I'll be curious to see how the CDC sort of, you know, makes these recommendations next week. I imagine it's -- there's going to have be these benchmarks. Do you have the adequate ventilation in the space and the masks and all those things? If you don't, then maybe the vaccines will be will be a prerequisite.

COOPER: Sanjay. Dr. Chris Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, what President Biden said tonight about the former president's second impeachment trial? And will the Democrats push for Biden for their -- President Biden's predecessor to testify when it gets underway next week? All that when we continue.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

[20:47:04]

COOPER: With the former president second impeachment trial set to start next week. That topic also came up time President Biden's interview with CBS News. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's turn to the impeachment trial, President Trump's impeachment trial. If you were still a senator, would you vote to convict him?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Look, I ran like hell to defeat him. Exonerates unfit to be president. I've watched what everybody else watched. What happened when that that crew invaded the United States Congress. But I'm not in the Senate now. I'll let the Senate make that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: President Biden leaving it with the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats are now signaling they're unlikely to issue a subpoena for the former president his testimony. Democrats now don't think they'll need him to testify on Capitol Hill to make their case despite requesting yesterday that he testify under oath. Instead of Democrats plan to argue his refusal to testify highlights his guilt. Also, Democrats believe there's evidence from video and other sources showing the former president's intent to incite the Capitol insurrection without his testimony.

Joining us now for his perspective on all this, Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar Noah Feldman, who was a witness for the prosecution during the last impeachment.

Professor, good to have you back on the show. If the House impeachment managers want to wanted the former president's testimony enough that they asked him to voluntarily appear? Why wouldn't they then try to compel him to appear now that he's refused? I mean, the foreign president's attorney said this a publicity stunt. Doesn't it make it seem like a publicity stunt? Since they've now just said, OK, it's not really necessary?

NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it's trial tactics, which isn't exactly the same thing as a publicity stunt. You know, if they subpoena the president, which the Senate has the power to do by a majority vote, then Trump could refuse to show up. And he could essentially go to court or the Senate would have to go to court to try to compel him. And that would draw out the whole process for a longer period of time. And I just don't think that anybody and certainly not President Biden, wants that kind of delay involved.

COOPER: So the House Democrats are indicating they would use the former president for refusal to testify against him at trial, how can they actually do that?

FELDMAN: Well, it's not a criminal trial. So you can draw inferences from anything you want to. You know, in a criminal trial, you couldn't say the accused didn't testify. And so therefore, he's guilty, because the Fifth Amendment prohibits that in our modern world. But you can say that in a Senate trial, they could say, well, listen, you know, we call the president to justify his conduct he refused to so therefore, you can conclude that he actually engaged in incitement. Of course, the jurors, the senators are free to not listen to that, but that they can make that argument if they want to, and it sounds like they're going to.

COOPER: There have been some complaints from Republicans that the process is rushed that there was no evidentiary hearings in the House. Given the volume of video and social media evidence, the fact that members of Congress experienced the insurrection themselves, how do you expect the future managers to go out laying out their case?

FELDMAN: I think they're going to use that publicly available evidence, evidence that we've all seen again and again and again, and maybe they'll have some new video footage or new angles to explore. But basically this is an impeachment charge based on stuff we saw in real time. We saw Donald Trump speech, we saw the reaction to it, we saw the breaching of the Senate, rather of the Capitol.

[20:50:14]

And so, I just don't think there's so much here that is unknown, the job of the House edgers is to connect the facts that we know, to the charge of impeachment. And that's what they're going to try to do.

COOPER: How much of the trial do you expect to actually be about the insurrection itself and the President's -- former president's role? And how much you expect to delve into the larger bogus claims of election fraud?

FELDMAN: I hope that this House managers do delve into the bigger story. Because to my mind, what we actually saw on January 6, was just a culmination of a much longer term process by which Donald Trump tried to break the election system. And that started all the way back with the contract. He was impeached for the first time when he tried to break the election by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and he never stopped. And then when he lost the election, he continued to use different techniques to try to break the electoral process. And that's a high crime and misdemeanor trying to interfere with democracy. So I hope those things are emphasized along with the events January 6.

COOPER: So how to impeachment managers, defense lawyers for that matter approach to trial, which 45 members of the jury have already gone on record to say they think the proceedings unconstitutional, because the former president is no longer in office. I mean given that and under what circumstances could there, there are really no circumstances there could possibly be a two-thirds vote for conviction.

FELDMAN: It's hard to picture what those would be, the only thing you could imagine would be some kind of new evidence emerging, some kind of February surprise, but I think if that were going to happen, we would have heard about it already. And that would have had to do with other things that Donald Trump might have done to try to preserve himself in the presidency. We heard a little bit about attempts with Department of Justice. We haven't heard anything about attempts in the Defense Department. If there were something there, I would think we would have heard about it by now.

But if something came out involving the Defense Department, you could imagine that maybe that would sway some of the Republicans. But essentially, the Democrats have nothing to lose, because 45 people have already said that they're going to vote to acquit.

COOPER: And we still don't know what the structure the rules for the trial will be. Is that unusual?

FELDMAN: It is unusual. Ordinarily, there would have been consensus by now given that the trial is set to start quite soon. But in reality, the rules can be at this point, whatever the Democrats impose, with their 50 votes plus one. So, you know, I think in practical terms, the rules are likely to be pretty close to what the rules have been in the past. And what's open for question is really just how long will each side have. We know they'll have the same amount of side on amount of time on both sides. So I'm not sure there's anything major that's going to be fascinating or new with respect to the rules.

COOPER: Professor Noah Feldman, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

FELDMAN: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Up next, the Friday surprised. Fox Business cuts ties with Lou Dobbs takes him off the air. He's the host of the network's highest rated show. Question is why? Talk to Chief media correspondent Brian Stelter in a moment.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

[20:57:23] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Lou Dobbs, the highest rated host on Fox Business Network has been fired, this evening was the last broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight. The cancellation comes after he and two other Fox News hosts were named in a $2.7 billion defamation suit this week by voting software company Smartmatic. CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter joins us now.

So, wow, this is something --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's what I said.

COOPER: Yes. What do you learning?

STELTER: (INAUDIBLE) Fox Business staffers are saying a lot of employees in the network are stunned that Dobbs has been benched, his show canceled. Now they're going to have him sit off and they're going to pay out his contract so that he can't go join Newsmax or some even further right wing channel. This is a very rare decision by a network. And it raises all sorts of questions about Dobbs connections to Trump, whether Fox News, Fox Business or trying to change, trying to clean up their act, or if something else is going on here, Anderson.

COOPER: Not only in TV do you get paid to not work. I mean, it's one of the extraordinary things about TV. I mean. I mean is there any reason to think that Fox is going to make other changes that could move it toward a more reality based existence? Because I mean, I assume you can't divorce him being fired from the lawsuit that they're facing. And I guess who are the two others? It's Jeanine Pirro is in that and I don't know the third one is.

STELTER: And Maria Bartiromo.

COOPER: Maria Bartiromo, yes of course.

STELTER: One of the three stars.

COOPER: Right. The Kool Aid drinkers.

STELTER: The next day -- right and the next day his show was taken off the air. Yes, that was absolutely a factor the lawsuit, the threat of another lawsuit was a factor. But there were other factors as well. Dobbs did not have appeal among advertisers, because it shows content was so extreme. He had been taking off management for quite some time. So the question is, is it that Fox is going to have less tolerance for extreme crazy, radical opinion? Or is they -- are they just cutting Dobbs loose is he just, you know, one way to try to get the lawsuit in some ways off Fox's back. That question really remains to be seen. It's unclear what the real agenda is here.

COOPER: And President Trump, the former president I should say he sent out a while I don't know how he sent it out. But there was a message from him about Lou Dobbs was in there.

STELTER: That's right. This is coming from some of his aides. You know, he still has a few staffers working with him. They send out these statements now on Trump's behalf. Trump saying he's a big fan of Lou Dobbs, he can't wait to see where Dobbs ends up next. Maybe at some point Dobbs will reemerge on some other channel. But this is a similar, you know, what's happening in the right wing media is the same thing that's happening in the GOP. How much space is there going to be for extremism? How much space is there going to be for conspiracy theory, content and television. Lou Dobbs show being canceled is one sign it might be going away, but there's a lot more shows just like is still on TV.

[21:00:03]

COOPER: Yes, which make a lot more money for the network and probably have --

STELTER: You got it.

COOPER: -- better ratings, so they stick around.

STELTER: You got it.

COOPER: Brian, appreciate it. Thank you.

Reminder don't miss "Full Circle" our digital new show. You can catch a live streaming 6:00 p.m. Eastern at cnn.com/fullcircle or watch it there and on the CNN app anytime.

The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris?