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House Republican Leaders Publicly Clash Over Donald Trump's Future In The Party; Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot Vaccine Meets Requirements For Emergency Use; White House Chief Of Staff On Tanden Nomination: "We're Fighting Our Guts Out To Get Her Confirmed"; Neera Tanden's OMB Nomination On Brink Of Collapse; Senators Leave Security Briefing Frustrated By Limited Details And Vagueness Of Threats; Sheriff: Tiger Woods "Had No Recollection Of The Crash". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 24, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: "AC360" starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So is it the party of Lincoln or the party of Trump?

John Berman here, in for Anderson. And that's the question today again after a number of Republicans twisted themselves into pretzels to show their fealty to the one-time, one-term, twice impeached president. It's coming in the run-up to a speech this weekend at the CPAC conference in Florida.


BERMAN: And it's coming as a slew of hearings try to get to the bottom of how the events leading up to in and on January 6th happened.

But for some Republicans, even asking the question pings the tuning fork towards some truly weird stuff.

Take Senator Ron Johnson. Late today, he upped the ante on this alternative reality account of the attack which he read into the Congressional record yesterday.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): He said that the mood of the crowd was positive and festive. Many of the marchers were families with small children. Many were elderly, overweight, or just plain tired or frail. Traits not typically attributed to the riot prone.

A very few didn't share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor the great majority.

Fake Trump protesters and in disciplined uniform column of attackers. I think these are the people that probably planned this.


BERMAN: So does this crew look -- to borrow a few words -- positive? Or festive? Jovial work for you? How about friendly? Earnest? Do I hear earnest?

The whole thing is ridiculous. But when this guy is in for a penny, he is for a pound or a pile. When CNN's Manu Raju late today asked him off camera whether he had any regrets about saying that, listen to his reply.


JOHNSON: Absolutely not.


JOHNSON: It's an eyewitness account from pretty knowledgeable trained observer. It's no conspiracy theory. Have you read it?

RAJU: I mean, are you trying to --

JOHNSON: Have you read it?

RAJU: I saw it -- yes, I --

JOHNSON: Have you read it? Read the article and then ask me questions about it.

RAJU: I mean, you'd do it again.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. We need the full perspective.


BERMAN: Full perspective. For Johnson, the full perspective apparently includes not just the real perspective, the one that happened, but the fantasy bunk, revisionist perspective. That makes it full, and he is full of something.

A senator known for spreading misinformation and even suspected Russian disinformation about the election before, during and after the fact. But as rich as that sounds, it's nothing new.

Senator Johnson showed sides a long time ago, so did House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he signed on to the attempt to overturn the vote, but then for one brief moment, broke ranks.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.


BERMAN: So not long after that, though, he was at Mar-a-Lago kissing the ring, or the line equivalent, and ever since, he has been all on board, which among Republicans is the majority view, but not the only view. Listen to a moment this morning, when he and the number three House

Republican were asked whether the man from Mar-a-Lago should speak at CPAC?


MCCARTHY: Yes, he should.

QUESTION: Congresswoman Cheney?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That's up to CPAC. I've been clear on my views about President Trump and the extent to which following -- the extent to which following January 6th. I don't -- I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future the party or the country.

MCCARTHY: On that high note ...


BERMAN: So Congresswoman Cheney voted for impeachment and has been censured by the party as had Republican senators who voted to convict, but increasingly, it seems that the true test of Republican loyalty is not merely their position on impeachment, but their willingness to embrace or tolerate falsehoods, fantasies and alternative facts in connection with it.

Here is Republican Senator Roy Blunt today, when asked whether or not he sees merit in Senator Johnson's performance yesterday.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I wouldn't say there's not a merit to what other senators want to bring to the table. And obviously, he was quoting somebody else that he thought was a significant addition to the discussion.

I think it's dramatically different than virtually anything else you're going to hear, but it's certainly not harmful for Senator Johnson to have his time on the Committee to present the information he thinks needs to be presented.


BERMAN: Again, to be absolutely clear, the account that Senator Johnson presents bears no resemblance to what happened and whether or not Senator Johnson knows it, Senator Blunt likely does.

As they say in spinal tap, it's not his job to be as confused as Nigel. And it all has a global impact, 89 percent of Republicans in a recent Quinnipiac poll said the former President is not responsible for inciting violence at the Capitol, which gives Republicans strong incentive for letting him off the hook.

Even Mike Pence, who had to be hustled out of the Senate, along with members of his family just steps ahead of people who wanted to hang him, even he is all in with the man who attacked him on Twitter at just about the very moment you're seeing.

CNN has learned that Pence told a group of conservative lawmakers yesterday that he maintains a close personal friendship with the man and harbors no ill will toward him. That's according to one Republican congressman at the meeting.

It's a political love story. And love apparently means never having to say you're mad at the people -- the people who wanted you hanged, or maybe being too scared to say it, because you want a future in his party.


BERMAN: It's a calculation. And that math may work for a time, it might help his poll numbers in the party. But one other number to keep in mind, 100, the mob got within 100 feet of Mike Pence at the Capitol. The mob sent by the former President, 100 feet.

The risk he takes is maybe next time, they get closer.

Plenty to talk about with CNN political analyst and "New York Times" correspondent Maggie Haberman, also Amanda Carpenter, CNN political commentator, and former Communications Director for Senator Ted Cruz.

And Maggie, when you hear Senator Johnson peddling these lies and conspiracies, revising history before our eyes, what does it tell you about the grip that the former President still has on members of his own party?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, what it tells me is that that grip remains very strong, as you know, it remains very strong because the voters of the party are still very aligned with former President Trump.

And part of that, as you note is because they are being told that President Trump is not responsible. They're being told by their elected officials. They're being told by Republican leaders in Washington, not all of them, but many of them and it becomes a self- fulfilling cycle where President Trump ends up or former President Trump, excuse me, ends up looking stronger.

Whether that grip remains, I don't know. I think it is going to be very hard still for former President Trump to get the kind of attention that he got before, but as -- and he doesn't have his favorite weapon of Twitter anymore.

But as long as he remains this force and unwilling to see the stage, I think you're going to continue to see things like what we saw with Senator Johnson this week.

BERMAN: So we see this schism about what his role should be in the party, Maggie, what's your reporting on what he wants his role to be going forward and what he might say about it on Sunday?

HABERMAN: So what we expect him to say on Sunday at his CPAC speech, which is essentially a cattle call that he is joining with a bunch of other potential 2024 hopefuls is going to be partly focused on policy. It'll be focused on immigration policy in particular.

There's a very sharp contrast between what he did and what President Biden is undoing of what former President Trump did in the area of immigration policy.

Look, as you know, what they write up for former President Trump to put on screen for him to read and what he actually says is often very different, but what he wants is to remain the formidable front runner for 2024 and he is hoping to come away being seen that way after he leaves the stage, which is essentially the first outing for any potential 2024 Republican candidate of the coming cycle.

BERMAN: That's the first event of the 2024 presidential campaign in many ways. So Amanda, Congresswoman Cheney, she was asked about Trump speaking at CPAC. There were a hundred ways to answer that question that warrant I think, as bold or direct as she did, particularly after Kevin McCarthy said, yes, he thought the former President should speak there.

Is anyone listening to her in the party? Does she add at all to her coalition was something like that?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, it's no secret that the Republican Party is an extremely hostile, almost inhospitable place for anyone who criticizes Donald Trump.

Liz Cheney knows that, but she wants to have this debate. I mean, she was deliberately bold about that question in front of Kevin McCarthy for a reason, because there are so many people trying to shut down any dissenting Republican voices.

And she is saying right there, loud and clear, I don't think he should have a voice in the party.

Now to your questions, do I think she is going to be adding to her ranks? I doubt it. I don't know how a Trump critical Republican can function in this party and people like Liz Cheney need to consider their options, which I think can be healthy because she is going to have to develop her own fundraising networks, her own new and different coalition that doesn't look like the CPAC audience.

It's going to be difficult, okay, for people like her and Adam Kinzinger, and others, but they're trying. There is a fight there. It is showing that they don't want to surrender to Trumpism. There may be no Civil War, but they're itching for a fight.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, because even I framed it like this at the beginning of the show, is it the Party of Lincoln or the Party of Trump? And people often say there's a battle within the party.

But I'm not sure there is. I mean, it maybe that that the battle is over, right?

CARPENTER: Yes. Well, Rick Scott, who is the Florida Senator who is Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a memo last night saying the Republican Civil War has been canceled, right? Like they want this forced unification behind Trump and to just shut up and move on and not talk about the insurrection, not do an investigation because they don't want to talk about it.

The anti-Trump speak will not be tolerated, which is why people who care about stopping this from happening again have to find a different way to work within the party by developing a new coalition which will be hard work, but could be very productive in the end.

BERMAN: So Maggie, we learned and you've got reporting on this also that Mike Pence told Republicans that he maintains a close personal friendship with the former President and harbors no ill will toward him.

That's rich, given everything that Mike Pence went through leading up to and during the insurrection and then leading up to and during the Inauguration.

What does Mike Pence want to get out of this?

HABERMAN: Look, I can't speak for what's in Mike Pence's heart about Donald Trump. But certainly, we know what Mike Pence went through on January 6th and we know what then President Trump tweeted about him while he was in the middle of that mob attack on the Capitol.

What Mike Pence wants is a future in the Republican Party. Remember he spent four years enduring a lot as one of Donald Trump's closest advisors, as one of the people who basically was his main defender and explainer with certain people on Capitol Hill, among others within the Republican Party.

And so, I think what he wants is to be able to be President someday. If Donald Trump decides to run in 2024, that's going to be really hard for Mike Pence, and I think that he doesn't want to have his future completely torn apart.

As you say, for anybody who wants a future in the Republican Party that road right now goes through Donald Trump. Whether it always will is an open question, whether it even will after 2022 in the midterm cycle is an open question.

But certainly for right now, Donald Trump has shown absolutely no willingness to get off the stage and as long as he is there, it's going to be very hard for someone like Mike Pence.

BERMAN: So Amanda, Senator Mitt Romney, in an interview, said that Trump quote, "has by far the largest voice and a big impact on my party," and that if the former President ever run in 2024, Mitt Romney says he is pretty sure he would win the nomination.

Do you agree with Mitt Romney? What does it tell you that Mitt Romney is saying that?

CARPENTER: Yes, I mean, I think if the primary were held today, there's no doubt. Who would oppose Donald Trump in this environment?

But it kind of gets to the point about the strategic silence of Mike Pence. Like I do think Mike Pence would like to be President. Realistically, he probably never will. But what he does know is that if he keeps his mouth shut, the mob that came after him on January 6th won't come after him again.

He will have a safe, comfortable life in the warm bath of the conservative movement at think tanks and conservative media where they will never ask him a tough question about the events that he witnessed that led up to the insurrection and what it felt like to become a victim of it.

Like he has a safe, comfortable life, if he just keeps his mouth shut and waves the flag for Trump. That's what he is angling for. Anything after that, gravy.

BERMAN: That's something. Maggie, last time we spoke, and I can't remember if it was this morning or last night or yesterday morning. That's how things are at this point.

But you told me that the former President has been talking a lot about 2024 lately. What's the nature of that conversation? And also, what's the intersection of that conversation and the focus on the criminal investigation surrounding him?

HABERMAN: It's a great question, John. Look, I mean, it's always hard to know what exactly goes into Donald Trump's calculations. But certainly, he believes according to a number of his advisors and people close to him that the more prominent he is, the more he appears to still be in the political arena, the more he can paint investigations into him as political.

We know that there are a number of investigations that he is facing, that his company is facing. He is worried about investigations into his children. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is pursuing investigation related to his business practices and his taxes. So all of that is on his mind.

But there's also just the general question of relevance with him, which we know he craves. He has been very clear with a lot of people that he wants to be seriously seen as a 2024 contender. He's been more open about it with some than others. Some people have walked away from conversations with him thinking he's very serious about it, and that's top of mind.

Others think he is more sort of toying with it, but he is not going to, I think, say one way or the other for most of the next two years. If anything, he will lean into the idea of running, and that is going to make it again very hard for other Republicans to ignore him.

Whether that means the media does is a different question, but it's going to make it very hard for other Republicans who want to be President to move forward with their own plans.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, Amanda Carpenter, thanks so much for being with us tonight. Have a great night.

CARPENTER: Thanks. BERMAN: Next, breaking news. The latest COVID vaccine heading for

approval and the questions you might have about taking it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Leana Wen are here with answers.

And later, has time run out for Neera Tanden? Will she become President Biden's first nominee not to make it through the Senate confirmation process? And if so, will it be because she is being held to a different standard about being nice on Twitter by Senators who had no problems with the former President's Twitter habits?



BERMAN: There is an armful of breaking news tonight in the race to get Americans vaccinated before tougher forms of COVID take hold.

A new study out of Israel of about 600,000 people confirming Pfizer's vaccine is highly effective. The F.D.A. announcing that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has cleared another hurdle towards emergency authorization and new data from their briefing showing it could provide better protection than first thought against the strain first identified in South Africa.

Moderna, meantime announcing it has designed an updated version of its vaccine that could be used as a booster against the variant from South Africa.

A lot to cover tonight, most of it good news for a change. Joining us, CNN chief medical analyst, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And also CNN medical analyst, educator and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.

Sanjay, the Johnson & Johnson data came out when we are on TV this morning and you were reading it through in real time. You've now had all day to go through it. So what's important? What do the numbers from Johnson & Johnson mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so you know what my day has been like, John, first of all. Let me show you the numbers because as you point out, I think there is some good news here. This is what the F.D.A. is going to be looking at in order to determine whether or not going to authorize the vaccine.

The numbers on the left are basically the protection this vaccine offers against moderate up to severe disease. You mentioned that if you look at that bottom line on the left, South Africa, that trial was done in South Africa, most of the virus circulating was the variant that we talked about from South Africa.

Previously, they said it was 57 percent protective. Now, they are saying 64 percent, so some of these numbers have gone up. But really it's that number on the right that I think is going to be so critically important across the board, you know, this this vaccine is 85 percent protective against I think what people care about the most, that they would get very sick, may need to be hospitalized, or even die. It was very protective against that.


GUPTA: One other thing, John, you may remember you asked me this morning, and I didn't know at the time, how beneficial was this vaccine in terms of potentially also preventing infections, because we know it can prevent people from getting sick.

There's some early data on that as well out of this -- the 62 pages. Small numbers of people, but basically, they say it's around 70 percent protective to the person who takes a vaccine against getting infected, not carrying the virus, not subsequently transmitting it to others. Small data, but we're going to keep looking into that -- John.

BERMAN: That is good news. Just to be clear, people really want to know, the very first question is, is one vaccine better for you than another? To that, you say?

GUPTA: Right now, I'd say take what you can get because demand is far outpacing supply. But I do think it's a fair question, you know, so we take -- if you look at the data, you can start to make some judgments, although the other vaccines were trialed at a different time. The variants weren't as widely circulating.

So if you looked at Madonna and Pfizer now, they may come back similar to Johnson & Johnson. But I think the fact that Johnson & Johnson is a single shot vaccine, maybe a little bit less effective than the other vaccines, it starts to give you sort of an idea of how to approach this, maybe it should be reserved for people who live more transient lifestyles, and are unlikely to come back for their second shot.

Maybe because it may not protect as well against serious disease, it could be reserved for people 60 and older, and you keep the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for people who are at more risk.

I'm just -- we're going to hear about this from the C.D.C. but I think as we have more vaccine, we'll get more granular about those decisions.

BERMAN: So Dr. Wen, a third vaccine on the market, how does that change things? What benefit will that have for people?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, the first is that we know that supply is the constraining factor here. And so having one more vaccine that's authorized, hopefully soon, will be a big difference just in and of itself.

And then as Sanjay mentioned, this is a one-dose vaccine. So it definitely simplifies things when it comes to distribution.

If you don't need to have people come back for a second dose and make that second appointment that makes a big difference.

Also, in terms of storage, this is a vaccine that can be stored at regular refrigerator temperatures. So think about your normal community pharmacy, your local doctor's office. They don't have specialized medical grade freezers, but they can have this vaccine. And so opening up additional distribution sites will make a big difference, too.

But just to one thing that Sanjay mentioned that I think is so important to underscore that the endpoint that really matters is the endpoint of preventing severe disease, especially at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, which this Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine was 100 percent of preventing such severe disease that resulted in people getting hospitalized or who died.

And part of the trial, as was mentioned, it was done in South Africa. So even with a variant, it was a hundred percent of preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

And so I think we all need to counter the narrative that somehow this is a more inferior vaccine, because it's not and I very much agree with what Sanjay said that you should take whatever vaccine is available to you.

BERMAN: That's an important, important point for people to know as they approach this.

Sanjay, Moderna announced today that they are dealing with updating their COVID-19 vaccine to deal with a variant found in South Africa, a booster shot. What does this mean?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, it's really cool science, I will tell you this idea that they can essentially retool this vaccine very quickly. I am told talking to these vaccine makers, four to six weeks, they could potentially create a new type of booster shot.

We could talk -- we could show you the different types that they're now considering. One approach, John, they are saying, we're not actually going to create a new vaccine necessarily, we're just going to give more of the existing vaccine. That'd be sort of a booster of the standard vaccine.

Second is what I'm just talking about, you know, sort of recreate a new sort of vaccine based on this variant perhaps the South Africa variant, and that would be specific.

And the third option, a combination of both. So these are the sort of -- this is how they're thinking through it. They're going to put these through trials and see if one of these options works better than the others.

And if they figure that out, that could benefit other vaccine makers as well in terms of how they approach this.

BERMAN: So Dr. Wen, with this booster, I mean, one of the questions this poses is if you get the Pfizer vaccine this spring, would you be able to get the Moderna booster in the fall?

WEN: It's a good question, and I don't think we know the answer to this yet. I mean, it would make sense that you get the same booster as the vaccine that you got initially. But I also think that just because you got one vaccine to begin with, it may turn out over time that we find out that a particular vaccine is more beneficial to a certain group of people.

So for example, people who are immunocompromised or people who are older or who have certain medical conditions, and so I think over time, it may be that you get your initial vaccine that gives you some level of immunity, but then you end up getting another vaccine that may give you some additional benefit in other ways.


WEN: We don't know this yet. But again, I just want to urge people that if something is available to you now, don't wait, don't say, well, a booster may be available later. So I'm going to wait until I get that booster. No, get whatever vaccine you have now, because it benefits you to get immunity to protect you from COVID-19. But it also benefits all of us.

If more people have immunity that means less COVID-19 can spread and that also means that we can put an end to this pandemic sooner.

BERMAN: Sanjay, Dr. Wen, thank you both very much.

Just ahead, another sign that President Biden's pick to head up the Office of Management and Budget may become his first major defeat. A new reporting on how the White House may have miscalculated Democratic support. That and Republicans suddenly finding religion on mean tweets when 360 returns.


BERMAN: More evidence tonight that President Biden may see his first high profile nominees subject to Senate approval go down in defeat.


Two hearings scheduled to vote on near attend his nomination to be the top budget official in the White House postponed. Part of the reason more than a thousand deleted tweets directed at some of the very senators who holds her political future in their hands, the culprit


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): My friendly advice to President Biden is to withdraw Neera Tanden's nomination and select someone who at the very least, has not promoted wild conspiracy theories, and openly bashed people on both sides of the aisle that she happens to agree with or disagree with.


BERMAN: That's Republican Senator John Cornyn on Tuesday, who like many of his Republican colleagues, the past four years, just did not seem to have the time to read or to comment on tweets by the former president that were often far more cruel and conspiratorial.


PAUL RYAN (R) FMR SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Every morning, I wake up in my office, and I scroll Twitter to see which tweets that I will have to pretend that I did not see later on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you think of the President's tweet?

LAMAR ALEXANDER (R) FMR SENATOR: I'm not giving a daily commentary on the President's tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I didn't see the tweet. I thought I saw the tweets this morning. I missed that one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you make of the President's tweet this morning? And does the President need to be more cautious?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I didn't read that but I'll go check it out.


BERMAN: The President is hoping to frame the debate over issues of double standards and sexism. Tonight, however, they have another problem on their hands as well whether they miscalculated the way they handled two key senators in their own party.

Our senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now with the latest. And so Phil, the Republican policy aside, is this nomination all but sunk.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure flashbacks to my last four years on Capitol Hill. Look, to relay what a senior's Senate Democratic aide told me if you had money, don't bet it on Neera Tanden's nomination surviving. Now, the White House is sticking by her at least publicly take a listen to what White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said tonight.


RON KLAIN, WH CHIEF OF STAFF: Let me be clear, we're going to get Neera Tanden confirmed that's what we're working for. And she will be -- she will prove her critics wrong as an outstanding budget director that works with people on both sides of the aisle.


MATTINGLY: But John, the reality is White House advisors I've spoken to get that they have a math problem. They need at least one Republican to support Neera Tanden's nomination and there's really only one Republican out there that anybody's keeping an eye on that Senator Lisa Murkowski, somebody who Neera Tanden also tweeted negatively towards.

Murkowski found that out today when reporters told her and there's a recognition that while she has not made up her mind yet, and White House officials have been reaching out to her over the course of the last couple of days, it is unlikely within Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urging his members to stick together kind of wield some power here and their new experience in the minority. It is unlikely that they will get a Republican to support Neera Tanden, and that means Neera Tanden's nomination is likely going down.

For the moment the White House is sticking it out. The White House is willing to let this play out for another couple of days. But I think they understand the dynamics at play here, John.

BERMAN: So the White House doesn't even have all Democratic senators on board to confirm Neera Tanden. And in fact, we have new reporting and how complicated things are with Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, what's the latest there?

MATTINGLY: Look, this is the biggest issue. It's a 50-50 Senate, there's no margin for error. They cannot afford to lose a single Democrat if they are going to move forward on anything nominations, legislation, whatever it may be, with Democrats only, and they have lost a Democratic senator.

And part of the reason for that, according to White House officials and congressional officials, I've been talking to you over the course of the last couple of days is there was a miscalculation, this assumption that Joe Biden as the new president, new Democrat in the Oval Office, would have Democratic support on everything, particularly picking his new team over the course of his opening weeks into office.

But the reality is the United States Senate where one senator always holds a tremendous amount of power. Never has that been more clear than in this United States Senate with these dynamics and what the White House has stayed in touch close touch with Senator Manchin, Biden and Manchin have had multiple conversations by phone I'm told and they are staying in touch with Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona senator who doesn't speak publicly very often.

But they've been speaking to her office. The one thing that I'm being told right now is they're still trying to navigate this idea of these two moderate senators who hold so much power. They obviously had a misstep when they had Vice President Kamala Harris do television interviews, particularly in West Virginia. Manchin made very clear he did not appreciate that.

But I think also trying to get a better sense of Kyrsten Sinema. One of the things that I've been told multiple times by White House officials is given the fact she's a relatively new senator, given the fact she is not served in Congress while there's been a Democratic president in the White House, they're still trying to get a feel for her what she wants, what she needs and where she's going to end up. But I think that miscalculation that inability to read where those two senators are, at least at this point in time, may have imperiled one of President nominees, John.

BERMAN: Phil Mattingly, great to see it. Thanks so much my friend.

Perspective now from our chief political correspondent and anchor of CNN State of the Union, Dana Bash. And Dana, I guess that there are people who have issues with Neera Tanden's positions and politics. There are people who legitimately oppose her nomination? But there is hypocrisy here when you have Republicans talking about her tweets, right for the four years that they ignore them or didn't read them. So is there a different standard here?


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the definition of a double standard. I mean, there's really no other way to look at it. And the fact that you played just some examples of Republicans running the other way, instead of condemning some, you know, exceptionally vile tweets from the president in their own party for four years former President Trump is just a perfect example.

But the word standard is really the key one here, John, and that is because the sources I'm talking to particularly Democratic sources on Capitol Hill, say that this is an example of Joe Biden promising to raise the standard, to change the standard and to have the country and in particular. Democrats live by a different standard. And that they don't think that Neera Tanden fits that bill, not all of them, of course, but those like Joe Manchin and a few others who are on the fence.

BERMAN: There is a lesson here in politics, maybe a lesson in life, actually, I mean, if you're going to trash talk somebody on Twitter, or anywhere, say Bernie Sanders in 2016, and a few years later, he's going to turn out to be the chairman of the budget committee, and you're going to need him to get confirmed now, he hasn't come out a post in Neera Tanden just yet, but it is an awkward situation. So, how much of this should she have expected?

BASH: Well, you know, because you know, you covered it real time when Neera Tanden was trashing Bernie Sanders. She was doing it from the perspective of being a very staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and many people in Hillary Clinton's orbit were not happy with Bernie Sanders, she took it to a much more direct and much more biting level in public on social media than others did.

Many of the others said a lot of those things in private, but still, that was the way that she saw her role there. The notion of her being nominated for a cabinet position and having oh, Bernie Sanders to be the chairman of the committee in charge of your nomination. I'm sure it never crossed your mind.

But I think what you're saying is the lesson is be nice, don't say anything even though politics ain't beanbag. You know, maybe before you hit, send. Think about it.

BERMAN: You know what they say? They say karma is a budget committee chair. I think it's something like that is what they say. Senator Joe Manchin, who is really, you know, the crucial swing vote now on many different things Democrat from West Virginia, he was the first to come out and say that he was a no vote on your attendance, saying it would have a, quote, toxic impact. And then it was nothing personal.

But look, you know, Senator Manchin, voted to confirm a lot of President Trump's nominees who had similar things on their record Rick Grinnell ambassador, what to Germany who has a full Twitter account with stuff like this. So what's going on here?

BASH: What's going on is well, first of all, I heard Phil report that the opposition from Joe Manchin took the White House by surprise, and that's understandable because anybody who has talked to Joe Manchin or followed his record, Rick Grinnell is a perfect example.

He thinks of his role as a senator, through the lens of being a governor, and somebody who wanted his people around him and was always hoped that the legislature approved his nominees. And that is, for the most part, how he has spent his Senate career.

And the fact that this was a different calculation was quite noteworthy, particularly since he understands his role as the centrist. He is very, very disappointed that Joe Biden and the Biden administration is not working harder on the COVID relief bill, to find a bipartisan deal.

And, you know, this is a way for him to show that, having said that, talking about the CEO, you know, the thought that he has and some others have is that for Neera Tanden, if she were in the real world, if she were up for CEO and these tweets about, you know, employees or a company or whatever the analogy you want to use came out, she probably wouldn't get the job and that's the point that he's trying to make. It's the new standard that he says that Joe Biden is holding them to and should.

BERMAN: Dana Bash. Great to see you. Thanks so much.

(voice-over): Next, new details from were briefing senators got on Capitol security and a breaking news curveball on a congressional ally taking part in the insurrection.



BERMAN: Another key area of business today on Capitol Hill the future of security there in the wake of the January 6 riots about how threats are being assessed and how long members of Congress and the public will have to see those 10 foot fences and barbed wire. A briefing was held today for senators about these and other security issues.

CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles joins us now with the latest. Ryan, what are you learning from the senators who were inside that briefing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, frankly, John, we're learning that those senators didn't really learn all that much. both Republican and Democratic senators expressing a lot of frustration that the Capitol still remains a militarized zone with National Guard troops all over the campus. And as you mentioned, those 10 foot fences that are adorned with razor wire.

And in this briefing today, they didn't really get too much of an idea of how long this fencing and that security posture is going to remain in place and they were pointed to some events that security officials are concerned about in the coming days perhaps the chance of President Biden's delivering a joint session address that hasn't been scheduled yet, but they are concerned about that.


And also these lingering concerns about what could happen on March 4, which is, of course, another date that conspiracy theorists and QAnon supporters have targeted for potential uprisings. But John, the frustration is palpable because it is so quiet up here. There are no protesters anywhere around this campus. And there really hasn't been since January 6.

BERMAN: So Ryan, I understand that CNNs investigative team to KFile is learning more about one of the Capitol insurrectionists, who was apparently a close ally of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. This is interesting. What details do you have on this?

NOBLES: Yes, this individual by the name of Anthony Aguero, he's a conservative live streamer, he's someone that has been a longtime supporter of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and he posted a number of videos in photos from the Capitol insurrection, he was an active participant in it. Now he isn't somebody that's been specifically targeted for criminal action at this point.

But what is most interesting about this interaction with him, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, as you mentioned, this is someone that's been a big supporter of hers a big proponent of her someone that he's described as one of his closest friends. Taylor Greene has suggested on multiple occasions that perhaps it wasn't Trump supporters that were responsible for what happened on January 6.

Aguero in a video the day after the event specifically says that it was all Trump supporters that there was no one from Antifa here, no one from Black Lives Matter. But it was Trump supporters that were participating in this event and subsequent riot, completely contradicting what Marjorie Taylor Greene has said. Now, Greene the KFile reached out to her office today to try and learn more about her relationship with this individual. And they simply didn't respond.

BERMAN: Imagine that Marjorie Taylor Greene may have said something that proved not to be true. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much for being with us.

So, in the wake of the Capitol riot, more attention being given now to the infiltration of extremist groups into us society. And now CNN has obtained a report by the Pentagon the details the ties between white supremacist and current and former members of the U.S. military. More now from our Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann.


DAVID BROWN, REDEMPTION INK: The cover up was I want to say six total sessions.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ink can hide the symbols of extremism, but the damage runs far deeper. BROWN: When he first came in and showed us the work that he had. I think everybody jaw kind of hit the floor.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): At Redemption Ink in Colorado Springs, Dave Brown has covered more than 70 extremist or hate inspired tattoos. More than 20 estimates were military, and he has a waitlist of 635 people.

BROWN: We have covered everything from portraits of the founding fathers of the KKK to swastikas. I've covered up a human trafficking branding.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The Army veteran camouflage is the tattoos of hate for reformed extremists. But these ideologies and their symbols are still spreading in the military. Tattoos can be a calling card for white supremacists and extremists in the military. A way to grow their own ranks in secret amidst a nationwide surge in white nationalist activity.

But according to a Department of Defense report on extremism obtained by CNN, some of the recruiting tactics are more brazen and more open. One example in the report, a military member and co-founder of the neo-Nazi group, known as Atomwaffen Division told another member that he was open about everything with his friends at training. They love me too, because I'm a funny guy. He wrote in a message. But Defense Department determined that others find each other through obscure fascist symbols on T-shirts, or simply connect on social media and messaging apps.

U.S. troops are primary targets for many extremist groups who want their training, their combat experience and the legitimacy they bring to an organization. The report found that members of one far-right extremist group shared military manuals, including an army manual on IEDs, improvised explosive devices on the encrypted messaging app known as Telegram.

The Capitol riots of January 6 put a spotlight on military extremism. A CNN analysis has shown that at least 27 people facing federal charges in connection with the riot are current or former members of the military. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has made the fight against domestic extremism, one of his top priorities,

LLYOD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: These tears at the fabric, very fabric of cohesion. And it's important for us to be able to trust the men and women on our left and right.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Extremism has been a problem in the military for decades. Austin says he believes the number of extremists in the military is low, but there is no data to back up his assertion. Austin has ordered a review of policies on extremism but extremism expert Heidi Beirich says this will take time.

HEIDI BEIRICH, CO-FOUNDER, GLOBAL PROJECT AGAINST HATE AND EXTREMISM: This is a massive management task, and it's not going to be something that's done very easily at all.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The military has strict legal limits on the screening and background checks it can do of applicants and service members. Deeper, more intrusive investigations required working with the FBI. A key recommendation of the DoD report. Beirich says the military needs a better screening process to root out extremism before it enters the ranks.

BEIRICH: I would say you need to fix your screening procedures immediately. Social media accounts need to be taken a look at not just voluntarily but seriously. You need a functioning tattoo database for your recruiters and they need to be trained in the signs of white supremacy.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Even beyond the challenges of rooting out domestic extremism within active ranks, there's the issue of veterans more than 18 million of them who are also prime targets for domestic extremists.


BERMAN: And Oren Libermann joins me now. Oren, clearly, this is a problem. We've seen current and former members of the military charged in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot. What's the Pentagon doing about it?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the first big step for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is that military wide review known as a standout and that will include not only review of policies and procedures, the rules about extremism, but also discussions at all ranks of the military about the oath of service as well as the sort of the code and what's important to the military, and the values here.

That he says is only a first step crucially that only addresses active duty. The question of what to do about veterans who find themselves with extremist ideologies or extremist ranks is a much more difficult question. Because DoD can't do the same sort of monitoring, screening investigations or keeping track of veterans the same way it can do for active duty.

Crucially, again, this all requires data, how widespread is the problem and where's the problem exist? And that is fundamentally lacking at this point. John.

BERMAN: It's an important story. Good reporting and Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon. Thank you very much.

(voice-over): Still ahead, breaking news on that car wreck that left Tiger Woods injured. What the L.A. County Sheriff is saying about the golfers recollection of what happened. Next.



BERMAN: Breaking news now as Tiger Woods spends his second day at a California Trauma Center after the rollover accident yesterday. The L.A. County Sheriff tells CNN the golfer told investigators at the hospital that he has no recollection of what happened.

Earlier the sheriff said that charges will not be pursued and that in his words this was purely an accident. A statement released on the golfers Twitter page shortly after midnight says the accident caused significant injuries to his right leg and screws and pins had to be inserted into his ankle and foot. This is statements of support continue to pour in wishing him well and what has to be considered a very long recovery.

CNN's Kyung Lah now with more on what happened.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The investigation into Tiger Woods is crash we'll look at speed how quickly the SUV was traveling down this road when the golfer lost control.

ALEX VILLANUEVA, SHERIFF, LA COUNTY: We're hoping obviously this can be equipped with this black box and we'll have some information about the speed it will may be a factor in this accident.

LAH (voice-over): This winding downhill road is known as a local trouble spot. Deputies did not find skid marks or indications of brakes use or any evidence of impairment. Deputies say the engineering of the SUV, airbags and the seatbelt likely saved Woods's life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a rollover with someone that trapped.

LAH (voice-over): Responding officers found Woods trapped in the wreckage of the high-speed single car rollover. The hospital says his legs were broken in multiple places. Surgeons inserted a rod to stabilize fractures exposed to open air. Bones especially in his right foot and ankle needed screws and pins. Surgeons also worked to relieve muscle swelling and pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surgeons likely believed that they did not perform one of those procedures to release that pressure. They actually were worried that he could lose the limb. that amputation might have been necessary.

LAH (voice-over): Woods' family says he is awake, responsive and recovering in the hospital. Emotion continues to pour in from the sports world.

JAY MONAHAN, COMMISSIONER, PGA TOUR: We love them. And, you know, it's anytime someone that you care deeply about is hurt. It hurts. And it's not me. It's everybody out here.

LAH (voice-over): To those marking the barrier breaking figure in a sport largely dominated by white athletes.

JEMELE HILL, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: There were some people who were able to look at Tiger Woods and understand black excellence in this arena in a way that they hadn't understood it before. TIGER WOODS, ATHLETE: I had come to a realization that I would never play competitive golf again.

LAH (voice-over): Woods has faced potentially career ending injuries before. This video featuring Woods from a healthcare company explains his comeback after one of his five back surgeries. A reminder of why even after this devastating accident, Tiger Woods cannot be counted out yet.

WOODS: I went from accepting it and having a peace of mind that I would never ever do this again. To all of a sudden mucking around with my kids with the green coat just hanging around the living room. That -- this is wild.


LAH: The Los Angeles County Sheriff has stressed repeatedly and publicly that they're not looking to charge Tiger Woods or put the blame on him. The emphasis is going to be on the roadway. The County of Los Angeles has ordered a safety review of this particular stretch of roadway, John.

Here's a little bit of perspective. Just since January of 2020 there have been 13 car acts along this stretch of road that's about one every single month John.


BERMAN: Wow. All right, Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

Reminder don't miss "Full Circle", Anderson's digital news show, you can catch it streaming live at 6:00 p.m. eastern at or watch it there and on the CNN app anytime On Demand.

The news continues. So let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME".