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Impeachment Managers Wrap Case, Trump's Defense Tomorrow; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is Interviewed about the Second Impeachment of Donald Trump; Biden: U.S. Secures Additional 200M Doses Of COVID Vaccine; Impeachment Managers Wrap Case, Trump Defense Tomorrow; Source: Trump's COVID-19 Condition Was So Concerning That Doctors Considered Putting Him On A Ventilator; Five People Associated With Proud Boys Arrested On Conspiracy Charges In Connection With Capitol Riot. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired February 11, 2021 - 17:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. We're following breaking news.

House Democrats just wrapped up their case against former President Trump in his second and truly historic impeachment trial. They focused in on his words and actions, as they urged senators to hold them responsible for repeatedly lying that the election was stolen from him, and then encouraging his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol in a siege that left five people dead.

The Democrats also played the words of rioters who say they were following Trump's orders and argued that he, "lit the match of insurrection."

Let's begin our coverage this hour with our Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny who's up on Capitol Hill for us.

Jeff, the Democrats not only want Trump convicted, they also want to bar from ever holding office again, with one warning that he would, "undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed."

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, those words were dramatic and certainly waited with American history in mind here as the House prosecutors rested their case several hours early. They implore the Senate jurors to hold the president accountable for his actions, with one impeachment manager saying impeachment is not only designed to punish but also prevent. Of course, prevent is the idea of stopping the former president from ever running for office in the future.

But even as one critical audience for these arguments were in the Senate chamber, those 100 jurors, it's clear a second audience is the American people. And these House impeachment managers are trying to change the president's legacy forever.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): January 6 was not some unexpected radical break from his normal, law abiding and peaceful disposition. This was his state of mind. This was his essential MO.

ZELENY (voice-over): The House impeachment team rested its case tonight, urging senators to hold President Trump responsible for repeatedly misleading his followers and inviting them to the Capitol in a last-ditch effort to stop the election from being certified.

RASKIN: He knew they were coming. He brought them here. And he welcomed them with open arms.

ZELENY: On their final day of arguments, the prosecutors zeroed in on the former president's own words and actions, saying he showed no remorse and must be held responsible for his conduct.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO): You don't have to take my word for it that the insurrectionists acted at Donald Trump's direction. They said so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were invited here. We were invited by the President of the United States.

ZELENY: Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, one of the impeachment managers, seized up on the stories of one rioter after another who said they breached the Capitol at Trump's direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's call Trump yet. Dude. Dude, let's tell Trump what's on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump would be very upset.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I give you like -- No, just say we love him. We love you, bro. No, he'll be happy. What do you mean? We're fighting for Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do.

DEGETTE: All of these people who've been arrested and charged, they're being accountable, held accountable for their actions. Their leader, the man who incited them must be held accountable as well.

ZELENY: The big lie that the election was rigged and stolen from Trump is also on trial, which prosecutors argue was dangerously misleading and not protected by freedom of speech.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): He was the president of the United States. And he had spent months, months using the unique power of that office of his bully pulpit to spread that big lie that the election had been stolen. He struck a match. And he aimed it straight at this building, at us.

ZELENY: Prosecutors also say Trump has still not told the truth and restored faith in American democracy.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): He does not say the one sentence that would stop future political violence, the election was not stolen. He still hasn't said that sentence.

ZELENY: One day after horrific sights and harrowing sounds of the attack filled the Senate chamber.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruiser 50, we've lost the line. We've lost the line. All MPD, pull back. We have been flanked and we've lost the line.

ZELENY: Convicting the President still remains a remarkably high bar with 17. Republicans needed to join all Democrats in finding Trump guilty. But Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin said that was the best way to ensure Trump does not return for another bid at the presidency.

RASKIN: President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, he gets back into office and it happens again, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.



ZELENY: And of course, the audience for those remarks includes some of the potential rivals for the 2024 campaign if President Trump were to jump in again. But Wolf, we are talking to Republican senators as they're leaving the chamber. And to a person they are praising the actions of the House impeachment managers, they're saying they put together a very good case, but many of them are stopping short of saying they still believe it's unconstitutional to impeach and convict a former president.

Of course, that question was decided earlier this week. It is constitutional, at least by a majority vote.

So now going forward here, the question is how many of these Republican senators actually are open to changing their minds throughout the course of the afternoon in the Senate chamber. Many seats on the Republican side of the aisle were in fact empty. Many senators milling around, clearly not paying as careful attention as yesterday during that very dramatic testimony.

But now tomorrow, the President's legal team has their shot at this. They're working on their arguments here tonight. Wolf.

BLITZER: The vote was 56-44, that it was constitutional, but you need 67 to convict. That's a pretty tough challenge right now.

All right Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

Let's dig deeper into all of this. Our correspondence and analysts are with us.

John King, now that we've all heard the totality of the House impeachment managers' case, did they do what they needed to do?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I think the praise from so many Republicans, Wolf, answers in the affirmative. Yes, that does not mean they changed the minds. As you noted, 44, Republicans voted this shouldn't happen. This shouldn't -- they don't believe it's a constitutional trial.

Now, they're not supposed to make their next vote based on that, they're supposed to vote on the facts now that it has been granted jurisdiction. But this is a political exercise as much as it is a trial.

However, what did the Democrats do? A compelling dramatic fact filled, and emotion filled, two days of presentation and mix of videos of former President Trump's tweets going back years to show this is how he operates. This is what he does. He knows his followers follow his words. They made a very compelling case.

And again, you see that in the praise, number one that the Republicans are giving it. And number two, you see it in the words that the president's lawyers are using when they give interviews outside of the -- outside saying they want to make the case that this trial should not be happening.

Again, in a court of law, they could not make that argument because it has been settled by the vote the other day. But in the Senate, they can and that's what they will do, saying you just shouldn't be here.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point.

You know, Dana Bash, as strong as the Democrats presentation may have been, the House impeachment managers, what do you do if almost all, almost all of those jurors, the Republican jurors, in this case seem to have already made up their minds?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You hope that there are more Senator Bill Cassidy's out there. You hope that Bill Cassidy, in the final vote, will be the way he was on the vote about whether or not the trial was constitutional. And by that, I mean, he was willing to be persuaded. And he certainly was.

Having said that, they understand the math, they understand the reality. They understand the political climate that Republicans are in, particularly within their own party and the problems that they are having and many of them who are on the ballot would have. It could be a political death sentence for them to vote against President Trump.

And many of them are not willing to do that, which is why so much of what we've heard for the past two days, Wolf, has been about trying to convince the jury and persuade the jury, but it's about marking it for history. And about gathering all of this in such an incredibly powerful narrative as they have, in a way that historians will be able to look back and say this was and this is the Trump legacy.

BLITZER: You know, Norman Eisen, let's talk about the legal perspective for a moment. Did the House managers prove what they needed to prove from the legal perspective over the last couple days? NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, they presented an overwhelming case that the President over a long period of time starting before the election incited the insurrection. He packed the bomb, if you will.

On January 6, as Joe Neguse said, he lit the fuse, and he threw it at the Capitol with completely predictable results. Neguse pose three questions and I think the managers powerfully answered them. Was violence foreseeable? Did the president encourage violence, and did he do so knowingly in that recital of evidence? The Pence tweet, the video of a later tweet by the president embracing the violence, the failure to renounce, to this day, the president's inaction, his glee at watching the violence on T.V. It's an overwhelming legal case.

And to add to Dana's point, they didn't only argue to the jury in the Senate. They didn't only argue that case to history and posterity. They argued to the American people with Jamie Raskin at the end saying, senators, America. So there will be consequences for the Senate.


How many times before the Republicans learned the lesson that there will be consequences if they defy this overwhelming case?

BLITZER: You know, Gloria Borger, of the House managers, they did present their case and it was really stark. We had people inside the Senate, that at times, there were, what about, 15 empty chairs on the Republican side of the chamber? It's hard to have your mind change if you're not even listening to the argument, isn't it?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. I mean, we were told, of course, that because of COVID, people could be watching on television and they were allowed to do that. But I do believe that these arguments had to focus the minds of a lot of Republicans, even though they, in the end, are going to disagree with Jamie Raskin. Because what he did at the end was, he took away the fig leaf from them, because the constitutionality argument, which we hear from the president's lawyers has been decided, the Senate voted on it. It's not before the Senate right now.

What is before the Senate is, is the President guilty of inciting an insurrection? That is the only question. And they have to vote on that question. And that is what he was telling the American public.

So, if they weren't sitting in their chairs, OK, the American public was hearing this. And the American public heard, as Norman said, a very methodical case laid out about what happened before leading up to January 6, what happened at the rally on January 6, and how the President did not react as he should have, after the rally on January 6, as the violence was occurring. That is what the public heard. And that's what, to Dana's point, that's what's going to be in the history books.

BLITZER: The Democrats, Abby, Phillip, they also devoted a really significant portion of their time today to try to demonstrate what they say was a complete lack of remorse from the former president to Trump. Why is that factor so important in this case?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we heard one of the impeachment managers being very clear that the question is not whether Trump runs again, or whether he should run again. But what happens if he runs again and loses? And what is the likelihood that these events could happen again, and that they might be successful in overthrowing the government or the will of the American people after an election in which he loses.

The message from the impeachment managers is that the lack of remorse is a signal that Trump is not chastened by any of this, that it opens the door that this could all happen again by him. Not to mention by someone else who watches this and says, well, there are no consequences.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, you see them arguing about the what ifs of the other part of this argument. They are saying, well, what if, you know, another party uses impeachment to punish their political rivals? I think the bigger question for the democracy is what happens to democracy if someone is successful in overthrowing the results of a free and fair election?

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. We're going to have much more on the breaking news coming up. We'll talk about the latest impeachment developments as well with Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono. She's standing by to join us live.

Plus, there's breaking pandemic news we're watching right now, very significant. President Biden just made a major announcement about vaccines, as the country tries to ramp up the fight against the coronavirus.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the House impeachment managers. They just rested their case against the former President Donald Trump. Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju was up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, I understand you're getting some reaction from Republicans.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I've been speaking to a number of Republicans since this wrap this afternoon. And what's interesting is that almost universally, Republicans are praising the job of the Democratic impeachment managers gave. They're saying that this performance was much better than what happened in 2020, when most of these Republican senators were sharply critical of how the House Democrats then presented their case against Donald Trump.

But this time, they're saying that they did an effective job. But there's still a catch. Virtually all of them still have the same process concerns that they have been saying for days and days and days that they don't believe the Senate should be trying a former president. And their signal still signaling they plan to vote to convict.

But still some interesting reaction coming including from Texas Senator John Cornyn, who's a member of the Republican leadership, who told -- he said I have to compliment the impeach of managers just in terms of the presentation. He called it an excellent presentation. He said that the standard is pretty high for the Trump team to meet.

But then I asked him about -- pushed him a little further about how he plans to approach his final vote and whether he believes that Trump is responsible for inciting this deadly riot on January 6. He said, well, you have to look at what is in Donald Trump's mind at that time, and we don't know yet.

But then he added this, he said the real -- the biggest concern I have is about the idea of impeaching a former office holder without explicit authorization in the Constitution, and what that means to exactly retribution on political opponents in the future.

And that Wolf is what the line is from Republican senator after Republican senator, which is a sign of where this is headed. While they believe that Democrats made an overwhelming case and show that Donald Trump was responsible for what happened here, they're still sick (ph) and they're going to let him off the hook. And that ultimate vote, probably no more than six Republican senators at most signaling they're likely to convict, but the moment at least saying the Democrats in the last couple of days neither case, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they're saying the Democrats made the case but they're still going to vote to acquit and not to convict.

All right, Manu, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. She's a juror in this case as well.


Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

So, what's your reaction to that reporting that we just heard from Manu? How optimistic are you that any additional Republicans can be persuaded to convict, especially after most of them voted that the entire trial isn't even constitutional?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): We already voted on that issue in the first day of the trial, but I'm afraid that our Republicans are looking for an escape hatch, because they're still afraid of Trump and his base, and that escape hatches that this is somehow unconstitutional. It is not because he -- for one thing he was impeached while he was still president and most constitutional scholars have said that impeachment was perfectly within the authority of the House, and therefore the Senate can conduct the trial. So, there you have it.

We already took a vote on it. But the Republicans are looking for some kind of an escape hatch. And I think it's really a sad day, when the House team or Jamie Raskin and his team, as far as I'm concerned, prove that the President incited a violent insurrection against another branch of government, that's Congress, trying to do its constitutional duty. And he -- the president did nothing to stop the riot and the harm that the insurrection caused.

BLITZER: The House managers as you heard, Senator, they argued repeatedly that the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, we're taking marching orders, in their words, from the former president, how strong was that evidence?

HIRONO: It was very strong. And in fact, many of the insurrectionists they use the bullhorn. One example was when Trump was still going after Pence, and use certain language, and the rioters use the same language in a bullhorn and through a bullhorn. And then they started chanting, hang Pence.

And so, there was a lot of that kind of communication going on. The President knew clearly that he was sending a group of people who are intent on taking over the Congress by barging in, by hurting people. And, you know, the President did nothing.

So, I would say one of the questions that Jamie Raskin left us with is, you know, the President is acknowledged that he would have been the person who could have put a stop to this riot and this harm. Why didn't he?

The minute he heard that there was a massive riot going on at the Capitol, why didn't he stop it? Two, why didn't he stop it even in two hours into the riot? Why didn't he ever condemn the insurrectionists and the insurrection?

And so really, we are left with a question of, if a president incited a violent insurrection, is that a high crime and misdemeanor? And I would say yes.

Now, I think the Republicans are going to look for all kinds of escape hatches to not come to that conclusion.

BLITZER: Yes. Again, as we keep saying these 67 votes in order to convict.

Democrats were extremely critical, as you remember, Senator, of the last impeachment trial a year or so ago for not allowing witnesses, the Republicans didn't allow witnesses at that time. Did the managers hurt their own case by not calling on witnesses this time around?

HIRONO: This was a case that occurred in front of the whole world's eyes, and all of the jurors, that's us, we were all there. So, it was a very different kind of an impeachment trial than the first one.

And by the way, I did not think that the House managers did a bad job. If I thought, they did an excellent job in pursuing what was very difficult because the Republicans refused to require any production of documents or appropriate witnesses. So, this case, you know, Trump was offered to come and be a witness, but he declined.

BLITZER: He certainly did. He certainly did decline. They wanted to have him answer questions under oath, go through cross examination, they made that offer, his lawyers declined.

Senator Hirono, thank you. You want to make another point?

HIRONO: Yes. This is not a criminal trial. So, we don't have to figure out what was in Trump's mind. We just have to look at what he did, what he said both before the January 6, during January 6, and thereafter. That's what we need --

BLITZER: Thanks so much for joining us, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

There's more breaking news we're following here in the Situation Room. President Biden announces a major development in the U.S. effort to get more COVID vaccines.

Plus, former President Trump's latest thinking on his impeachment trial and what he wants to see happen as his lawyers are now preparing to offer their defense starting tomorrow.



BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories this hour including the House impeachment managers just concluding their case against former President Trump, setting the stage for his lawyers to present their defense starting tomorrow.

And there's breaking pandemic news we're following as well, a significant boost. This is very important, a significant boost to the U.S. vaccine supply. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, I understand President Biden just announced what's going on over at the National Institutes of Health. Tell, our viewers what's going on?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. While he was there, he confirmed that they have purchased an extra 200 million doses of vaccine. That means that there would be enough for every American by July, it's 100 million doses from Moderna, 100 million from Pfizer as well. That does not mean that they are ready yet, Wolf, so they are not going to be ready until later this year. That means there will still be challenges to come about distribution and actually getting those vaccines into the arms of Americans. But it does ramp up the supply that they would have. And these are the details really that President Biden gave us while he was speaking just a few moments ago.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna, and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. We're also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July faster than we expected. And in further good news, both companies agreed, and we're now contractually obligated to expedite delivery of 100 million doses that were promised by the end of June, to deliver them by the end of May. That's a month faster, that means lives will be saved. That means we're now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.


COLLINS: Now, Wolf, while President Biden was there, he was heavily critical of his predecessor saying that they were misled by former President Trump's team on what the state of the vaccine program was. They did not find that out. He said until he got to office. That's a criticism that they've logged in the past, but he probably made it in its starkest terms yet they're speaking at the NIH and saying that while the scientists did their job to get a vaccine ready in record time, President Biden said that former President Trump did not do his job to get a program ready to actually administer that vaccine to Americans. And now it's something that they are having to deal with.

So, some pretty strong criticism of former President Trump and, of course, Wolf, this comes as this impeachment trial has been going on and President Biden has insisted that he is not watching much of it, though he did weigh in earlier after he caught the highlights of that grim new footage that we saw yesterday.


BIDEN: I watched him this morning. I think the Senate has a very important job to complete. And I think my guess is some minds may have been changed, but I don't know.


COLLINS: He said that he's guess, Wolf, but he did not answer a question about whether he now does believe that former President Trump should be convicted by the Senate.

BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in our Chief Domestic Correspondent Jim Acosta, and our CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jim, you're down not too far from Mar-a-Lago, down in West Palm Beach right now. What are you hearing from the former President's inner circle about what we should expect from his legal defense team tomorrow?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first of all, we should point out Donald Trump was out on the golf course during the final presentation from the democratic impeachment managers earlier today. But as for the strategy for what we're going to see tomorrow, I was talking to Bruce Castor earlier today, just very briefly about what we should expect. He said that they -- the impeachment team for the former President will be streamlining their case, that they are streamlining it right now to make this case as brief and as concise as possible. And in his words, we are cutting it now to shorten the case. That is what he told me earlier today. And so, they're going to go out there, they're going to present some videos tomorrow, Wolf, in the Senate that they hope will show some hypocrisy on the Democratic side, some instances where Democratic lawmakers have used terms like fight, like hell and so on to say, well, you know, Democrats have used this kind of heated rhetoric as well. Obviously, there is no equivalence there because when those Democrats have used that kind of rhetoric, it did not end in any kind of insurrection. But, Wolf, you do get the sense talking to our sources that the Trump impeachment team wants to get this over as soon as possible. I think the strategy at this point is less is more.

BLITZER: You know, Jamie, you got a lot of well-placed Republican sources, how are they responding to the Democrats are closing arguments?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Everyone I've spoken to today thought that the Democrats, the House managers did an extraordinary job. That said, these are people who, by and large, think that Donald Trump should be convicted, and they're really, I would say distraught and disturbed that there is -- we are not seeing movement from the Senate Republicans. They do not think the votes are there.

One of them said to me that they were just shocked because of the influence of the big lie, that they just can't get past it and an influential Republican connected to leadership said to me, Trump knew exactly what he was doing. It was premeditated. He held the rally. He invited people to the rally. He sent them to the Capitol.


He encouraged violence over and over. But another Republican sort of said to me, they're still scared of Donald Trump. But what this person said is, the way to stop being scared is to convict him and then vote that he can't run again. That's really the way to be done with him, but they do not seem willing to do that, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly don't. You know, Jim, I understand you and Kaitlan have some new reporting, significant reporting on the former President's personal battle that we all remember with coronavirus. Apparently, what are you hearing, was far more serious than officials at the time were willing to admit?

ACOSTA: It was far more serious than officials were willing to admit. But we knew that at the time, to some extent, Wolf, and I'll explain that a little bit. Yes, Kaitlan and I are reporting that at the time that the President came down with the coronavirus that he was showing signs of potential pneumonia at that time, and also that there was some talk of putting him on a ventilator. Now, I will tell you, Wolf, at the time, you know, when we talked to White House officials about how the then-President was doing, they were saying things like he had mild symptoms from the coronavirus. He's going to be just fine and so on.

I was talking to sources that day who were telling me something very different that he was having difficulty breathing, that he was not doing well, that he had some supplemental oxygen, that he had been administered oxygen. And then the next day, Wolf, we all recall, Dr. Sean Conley, the then White House physician went out in front of reporters and essentially danced around reporters' questions about whether or not the former President had received supplemental oxygen at the time, what was his oxygen level in his blood at that time. There was a lot of dancing around about all of that from the doctor, treating the President at that time.

And then Mark Meadows, you recall, Wolf, the White House Chief of Staff at that time, went up to reporters after Dr. Conley gave that presentation, and essentially told reporters, no, the President is doing far worse than what you're being told. We're not out of the woods yet. He is still in a very serious state. And so, Wolf, it just goes to what we knew at the time, what we were reporting at the time, but I think it's a perfect time to punctuate it once again, with some of this reporting that we're seeing in the New York Times this evening.

Also, on all of these, they were first to report some of these details, the White House -- and there's just no other way to put this, Wolf. The White House was lying to the public about how serious the President's condition was at that time. There's just no other way to put it.

BLITZER: Yes, that's excellent reporting from you and Kaitlan. Guys, thank you, thank you very, very much.

And we're getting more very important news coming into The Situation Room on the coronavirus. We also have a lot more on the other breaking news, very important breaking news from Capitol Hill where Democrats, they wrapped up their impeachment case against the former President. So, will former President Trump's attorneys, are they ready to make their case starting tomorrow? We'll update you new information coming in.



BLITZER: We have a lot more on the breaking news, coming out of the House impeachment managers' decision to wrap up their case against the former President Donald Trump. But we're also following breaking news in the coronavirus crisis. Just a little while ago, President Biden announced the United States has secured another 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines.

Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us right now. How significant, Sanjay, is this new purchase, 100 million doses of Pfizer, 100 million doses from Moderna?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you start to do the math on all these, Wolf, you're realizing now between those two, you're going to have 600 million doses. And that's just, again, the two of them not counting Johnson & Johnson, for example, which may come out under Emergency Use Authorization. But two doses each, that's 300 million people, Wolf, and you keep in mind that everyone talks about the idea that we want to get to this herd immunity of some, you know, 75 percent of the country. You know, 250 million people or so would be around that herd immunity.

So, it's -- you get to the position now where you say even without another vaccine, we have more than enough. The amount is there, but the speed is going to be important. We know some of these doses will arrive probably, you know, all of them by the end of July, but some hopefully earlier even by May perhaps.

BLITZER: The CDC now says -- and I think this is significant -- that people who have been fully vaccinated In other words, both doses two doses, and that's millions of people already might be able to skip quarantine if they've been exposed to someone who does have COVID. Tell us about that.

GUPTA: Yes, this is really interesting and there's a lot in this. So, people should look at what the CDC has put on their website. But, basically, what they're saying is that if you have the antibodies now, you -- even though you could still potentially be carrying the virus and potentially even transmit the virus, the risk of that is significantly lower. That's what the CDC is essentially saying. So, even if you've been exposed to someone with COVID, and you have the antibodies, it is still true that you could become infected and possibly transmit the virus even if you don't get sick. You're not likely going to get sick because the vaccines protecting you.

So, they're saying because that risk is so low that you don't need to go into quarantine after that sort of exposure, you still need to wear a mask so that you don't potentially infect others. But quarantine, the number of people who are going to be in quarantine is going to be significantly reduced by these sorts of measures. We need to -- you know, it'd be good to see some of the evidence behind this to understand exactly how the CDC is basing this. Israel -- there was a study that came out it in Israel that basically showed people who had been vaccinated, even if they subsequently had an infection, asymptomatic infection, the overall amount of virus they were carrying in their nose, in their mouth was a lot lower, which means that they were a lot less likely to infect people around them.


So, bottom line, no more quarantine if you've been exposed after being vaccinated.

BLITZER: The CDC also, this is interesting came up with some new research and how we could get more protection from our masks, one mask, two masks, tell us what the CDC is now suggesting.

GUPTA: Yes. Well, you know, the mask data is interesting, Wolf, we keep getting more and more data about this. We've known, you know, that masks can be very effective in terms of reducing the spread of the coronavirus. But now we're seeing, you know, what seems to work better. Double masking, we can show this if we have the graphic show how much more effective this is, double masks. And then people who not up the mask at the end. So it's really getting a snug fit around the ears and folding the mask, so you'd have no gaps around the nose of the mouth. That tends to work the best if everyone around you was doing that, and you're wearing that level of protection, you significantly bring down transmission.

Wolf, as much as we talk about vaccines critically important, masks, especially the way that we're showing them on the screen here, would be a lot more effective in terms of actually reducing transmission now. I will say, Wolf, and, you know, I've talked about this, that there's even better masks these high filtration N95 or KN95 masks, which are particularly good as well. And really bringing down the likelihood that you would spread it or actually receive it, receive the virus.

BLITER: Yes. If you wear that mask, a medical mask, let's say, then you put a cloth mask over it, you're in much better shape potentially, much more protected, and much less likely to spread coronavirus in the process. That's what I think they're suggesting.

All right, Sanjay, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, new charges emerging right now in the Capitol siege. Five people associated with the so-called Proud Boys organization are now accused of conspiracy. We have new information.



BLITZER: New developments tonight of the Capitol siege, five people associated with the far-right group, the so-called Proud Boys have now been accused of conspiracy. Let's go to our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, he's working the story for us. Evan, these -- there are these new charges tonight, as well as some alarming new details emerging in courts. So what's the latest?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This is the biggest group of defendants who are being charged in one conspiracy case. And this is a five people who are associated, as you said, with the Proud Boys that were arrested in Arizona, and in the area near Kansas City, Missouri. They're accused of helping to lead groups of rioters into the Capitol. According to prosecutors, they were tactical style gear, including helmets and gloves. One had a wooden club or an axe handle that was initially disguised as a flag.

And, again, this is the biggest group grouping of conspiracy charges against one group of individuals. The Proud Boys now represents the largest groups of an organized group that attacked the Capitol on that day. In court today, we also got some more details about another group that was charged separately, Wolf. These are associated with another group called the Oath Keepers.

Thomas Caldwell, according to prosecutors, they believe he was in touch with another paramilitary group to try to bring weapons across the Potomac River using a boat to bring weapons into Washington. This is just days before the insurrection. And then there's another one who was charged alongside Caldwell, Jessica Watson, she's a leader of this Oath Keepers groups that was in Ohio. According to prosecutors, she said that essentially, she was waiting for the signal from President Trump. I'll read you just a part of what the prosecutors say in court. "I am concerned that this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it's not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will otherwise I can't trust it." This really goes in line with what you heard, Wolf, over the last couple of days in those presentations at the impeachment trial.

BLITZER: No one, I understand, Evan, has been directly charged, at least so far, in the death of the Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, but you have some new information about the investigation. What are you learning?

PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. And, look, a month after the event, it's clear that this has been a very difficult case for prosecutors and for investigators. But there is new video that investigators have that they believe narrows the number of suspects to just a handful of people, and that's a big development simply because until now, they were struggling to try to build a case. Now, they believe that this will help them bring charges, federal murder charges against whoever was responsible.

One of the interesting things is, Wolf, that they're pursuing the idea that Sicknick who was there helping to call back the crowd, was perhaps sprayed with chemical irritant, perhaps bear spray, and that that was the thing that fatally killed them.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens on that front. Evan Perez, doing excellent reporting, as he always does. Thank you very, very much.

There's more breaking news we're following. The impeachment trial of former President Trump about to enter a critical new phase as House Democrats, they've now wrapped up their case and Trump's lawyers are preparing to present this defense starting tomorrow.



BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. We're following breaking news on the Trump impeachment trial. The House managers have now wrapped up their arguments and they have set a very high bar as the Trump team prepares to make its case starting tomorrow. The Democrats closed in on some key issues of the trial. They argue that Trump directly and knowingly incited the deadly Capitol insurrection, that he showed absolutely no remorse and took no responsibility.