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Tokyo 2020 CEO Not Ruling Out Last Minute Cancellation Of Olympic Games; Rep. Jim Jordan On January 6 Committee: "This Is Impeachment Round Three"; Jeff Bezos & Crew Complete 10-Minute Flight To Space. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening again, from West Texas, near Blue Origin's Launch Site One. Chris is off tonight.

In this hour of 360, my conversation with Jeff and Mark Bezos, after their history-making flight into space.

We begin though with the world of trouble they return to, and breaking news on COVID, concerns that Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, a new study questioning its effectiveness against the Delta variant.

Some things to take note of though, and it's important, it's a test tube study, so the results are based on lab data, not real-world cases. The paper on it hasn't been peer reviewed, nor published yet in a scientific journal.

Still, it does suggest that if you've had the J&J shot, the one shot, you might need a second dose, possibly from one of the other two vaccines.

Meantime, the Delta variant has been detected in the U.S. Capitol Complex. That's according to a letter obtained by CNN, from Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan, to House members and staff, which perhaps should not be surprising.

It follows word today from CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky that the Delta variant now accounts for 83 percent of Coronavirus samples, sequenced in this country. In other words, it is now the dominant strain in the United States.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This is a dramatic increase from - up from 50 percent, the week of July 3rd. In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates.

The message from CDC remains clear. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease. And vaccination is the most powerful tool we have. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, it's certainly a lot to think about tonight, especially when you consider how badly behind the eight ball so many states now are, because when people in those places were offered the vaccine, they said "No."

So, let's not make any mistake. This situation is happening because not enough people have gotten vaccines yet. And you can still get them. They are available. It makes a difference, because if it's not this variant, there's going to be another variant coming down the pike, the longer this lasts.

Joining us now is Michael Osterholm, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, also CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's in Tokyo, to cover COVID concerns, at the Olympics.

So Sanjay, before we talk about the - happening here in the U.S., the games haven't even officially begun. I understand some competition has started. And a public health expert is warning the so-called bubble system is broken. And the CEO of Tokyo 2020 isn't ruling out a last minute cancellation of the games.

What do you think should happen?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean this is a challenging situation. I mean, even before this week, I think people knew how challenging it was going to be.

We're in a pandemic. Tokyo's in a state of emergency. Only 12 percent of the population here is vaccinated. And the numbers have been going up. So, it's really, it's tough. I mean, they clearly made the decision to move forward, despite all these various challenges.

I think that they're probably going to continue to move forward. But I think there's a few things that need to happen.

One is they probably really do have to address this bubble that is broken, as you just mentioned. I mean, you saw bubbles work well, with the NBA. It's really challenging to do it in the Olympics. 200-some countries and territory is being represented here.

The U.S. women's gymnastics team just basically said, "We're not even going to be in the bubble. We're going to put our own teams inside a hotel, because we think we can better control things there." I bring that up just to give you an idea of how broken the bubble is.

I think some of the precautionary measures in place have been effective. But some of it is still based on circa summer 2020 data, still using Plexiglas, for example, even though we know this virus aerosolizes, so, really being very careful about these precautions.

And I think finally, Anderson, just having some criteria at this point, because we're here on the ground. It's confusion now. Because as you mentioned, the CEO says the games could still be canceled at the 11th hour.

What are the criteria? What are they going to be looking for specifically? Those are the types of things, I think, we all want to know.


Professor Osterholm, just talking about the - this Johnson & Johnson issue, should - if you've had a Johnson & Johnson one-shot, should you get a booster shot?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, FORMER MEMBER, BIDEN'S TRANSITION COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD: Well, let's clarify the situation. And, as you pointed out, this is one limited study. There was a study similar in size, and reported several weeks ago that found just the opposite conclusion.

And so, I think, at this point, we do need more data. We do want to protect people, if in fact, they do need a booster dose, from J&J. But I think it's a little bit too early to come to the conclusion that that's exactly what we need right now.

I think in the end, it's very possible that all the vaccines will ultimately need that booster dose, as you've heard before. And surely, the Delta variant is going to help drive us towards getting to that answer, hopefully sooner than later.


COOPER: Sanjay, what do you - what do you make of what we're hearing now about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, out of the research from NYU?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean I think - I think there's a couple of other points besides what Mike just mentioned.

One is that the reason that a test tube study, we have to take with a little bit of caution here is that immunity is made up of all sorts of different components. We focus on antibodies. Those are easy to measure. But there may be other components of immunity that are offering protection.

I think we have to follow data very carefully here. So, if people start to get - people who have been vaccinated start to get severely ill, again, I mean, that would be important data.

But I also think something that I'm learning here in Tokyo, and I think is going to be a lesson maybe for other places around the world, is testing. I don't - vaccinated people in the United States really don't get tested, even if they had been exposed to someone with COVID.

There's probably a higher rate of breakthrough infections than we realize. And the reason it's important to do that testing is because that can give us the upper hand on recognizing that things are significantly starting to breakthrough, and maybe getting ahead of people actually becoming very ill. So, it's early study, as Mike pointed out. There's different studies that have shown the opposite. But I think we need to be ahead of this. And that probably means collecting more data.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, I mean, everything we have seen happen, doesn't it all just reinforce the truth that scientists already know, which is vaccines are right now the best hope, for humanity, and for all of us getting back to some semblance of normal?

And whether it's the Delta variant, the longer this goes on, there's going to be other variants, which this thing will continue to mutate, isn't that right?

OSTERHOLM: Right. And, in fact, I think if there's anything anyone takes away from tonight's discussion here, there's one number we must never forget.

There are 100 million Americans right now that have not been vaccinated, have not previously had COVID, and are susceptible to this virus, 100 million people in this country.

If we don't vaccinate those people, or a large portion of them, we are going to see play out throughout the country, throughout the world, exactly what we're seeing right now, in Missouri, Arkansas, and the other southern states.

Let me just say that since the beginning of the pandemic, we've had rises and falls, in cases, in this country. Much of it's been regional in basis.

But for the first time, we're now seeing literally all 51 states, plus the District of Columbia, seeing major case rises. We've had 42 states just in the last two weeks that have had more than 100 percent rise in cases, all tied to Delta.

So, I think it's really important to understand that yes, vaccination is everything. And this virus will find you, if you're not vaccinated and protected.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Sanjay, the week of July 3rd, the Delta variant accounted for 50 percent of the cases that we knew about in the U.S. And, as you said, we're not even testing a lot of people. Now, it's 83 percent. The CDC Director, Dr. Walensky said, it is a dramatic change.

Can you just talk about why the Delta variant, I mean, just trying to make a case, for somebody out there, who may be on the fence, about getting vaccinated, why the Delta variant? I mean how much - how much easier, is it to catch, the Delta variant than it was other forms of COVID?

GUPTA: Well, there's all sorts of different ways to measure this.

But I've been telling my friends and colleagues, about a study that came out last week, looking at the viral load. Someone gets infected. The virus starts to replicate in their body. How much it replicates to is sort of that viral load. What we know is that the viral load, in someone who's infected with

the Delta variant is 1,000 times roughly, maybe even more than that, higher than the original strain that we've been talking about. 1,000 times!

So, all the things that maybe you got away with, taking your mask off, not being diligent about things, whatever it might be, you're not going to get away with that.

If you think that this is sort of in the rearview mirror, you got to remember that because this is so much more contagious, the country is sort of fractionating into those who are vaccinated, and those who will almost assuredly become infected.

That's - it's - we're at the best part of the year, right now, in the United States, even here in Japan, in terms of the weather. That reduces transmission.

As we go into the fall with the variant that that's - that's that much more transmissible, it's a problem. And it doesn't have to be that way. It just, you know, we can still make a huge amount of progress, if we focus on the vaccinations now.

COOPER: Yes. It doesn't have to be that way. And we hear from people, who are now hospitalized, who say, "Oh, I wish - I wish I got vaccinated."

And I wish everybody could hear that because it's so frustrating that we have to wait for people to get hospitalized, and face death, just to change their minds. And not even that necessarily convinces others!

So, Sanjay, Michael Osterholm, appreciate all you're doing.


Still to come tonight, the House select committee on the Capitol riots meets one week from today. Question is will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi let Republicans, who voted to overturn the election, participate. Democratic congressman who was there that day joins us with his take.

And later, my conversation, with Jeff Bezos and, his brother, Mark, on the history, that was made today, when we continue.


COOPER: Exactly one week until the House select committee, on the January 6 riots, holds its first hearing.

And the big question is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will accept all five Republicans, appointed by the Minority, on Monday? Three of the five congressmen voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Jim Jordan, Jim Banks, and Troy Nehls.

And while Speaker Pelosi holds veto power, of the appointments, today, she said this vote is quote, "Not a criterion for service." Just what that criterion is, however, she didn't say. One of the Republicans appointed, the always-outspoken Jordan, has since condemned the very idea of the committee.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We know what this is. This is impeachment round three. This is to go after President Trump.


So, what are they going to do? The same old thing, go after President Trump, who was the most successful president in our lifetimes. They're going to go after him again.


COOPER: Joined now by Democratic congressman Jason Crow, a veteran, who was in the Capitol that day, and won praise for his ability to lead and project calm, during the riot.

Congressman Crow, do you think Speaker Pelosi should allow these five Republican congressmen to serve on the committee?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Thanks for having me, Anderson, always good to be with you.

I think Speaker Pelosi will make the right decision. And either way, I see merits to allowing the selection to go forward, and - or not allowing it to go forward.

Because I've long said that our obligation, in what we have to do, to discharge our oaths of office, and to find the truth, doesn't depend on what other people have to do. That is no different today.

If the Republican Party and Kevin McCarthy want to be - want to have their standard bearers on this to be folks that believed in the "Big Lie," and want to sweep this under the rug, the American people deserve to know that. If they want to have a more substantive and robust debate, obviously, we welcome that debate.

COOPER: Did it surprise you that Kevin McCarthy didn't appoint some of his most controversial members, like Matt Gaetz, or Marjorie Taylor Greene? Or do you think that Jim Jordan will be aggressive enough for McCarthy?

CROW: I don't know. I mean, I don't purport to know what's inside the mind of Kevin McCarthy. I've kind of given up on that a long time ago. And that's not, frankly, a place I want to go. So, I don't know what he's thinking.

There are certainly some folks that he put forward, as nominees for this committee that have leadership within the Republican Caucus, leadership within certain committees. So, I mean, that's telling to some degree.

At the end of the day, we're going to have to have a discussion about what happened. That's what this committee is all about.

And regardless of who is - and who he appoints, and whether Jim Jordan or others want to talk about whether this is about going after Donald Trump, which it's not, or talking about what happened on January 6, the truth will come out.

We will know the truth, and the truth will set the American people free. And that's what's going to happen, at the end of the day here.

COOPER: A lot of supporters of the former president probably agree with Jim Jordan, who says, he wants to serve because he says this is quote, "Impeachment round three. This is to go after President Trump. And I don't frankly blame the Democrats for doing this, because what else they got?"

What do you say to those who believe that? What do you say? I mean, how do you say that this is not about going after the former president?

CROW: Here's the truth. January 6 was an insurrection against our democracy.

There was an attack on our Capitol. Over 140 police officers were brutally beaten. Up to six folks lost their lives, including police officers, as a result of the action of those rioters, those insurrectionists. It derailed, temporarily, the certification of our election. That was the intent of that attack on our Capitol.

We have never seen anything like that. I saw it firsthand. I was there. I know what happened. People that watched it live know what happened. The video shows very clearly what happened. It's important, not just for history, that we tell the real story about what happened.

But it's important to move forward, as a country, because we cannot actually protect our democracy and public safety, unless we actually deal with this extremist movement that we deal with the "Big Lie," and we tell the truth about what this was all about. That's what this committee is about.

Of course, defenders of Donald Trump are going to try to cast it about something else that they will try to do that. But we won't let them do that, because we know what happened, and we're going to continue to tell that story.

COOPER: In this new book, from "Washington Post" reporters Carol Leonnig, and Philip Rucker, who will be joining me tomorrow night, they write about Congresswoman Liz Cheney, recounting an exchange she had with Congressman Jordan, on the day of the insurrection.

They write, "While these maniacs are going through the place, I'm standing in the aisle," this is in the voice of Liz Cheney, "I'm standing in the aisle and he said," talking about Jordan, "We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you." I smacked his hand away and told him, "Get away from me. You effing did this."

Do you think Congressman Jordan holds some responsibility for what happened?

CROW: Well, first of all, it doesn't surprise me at all that that's what Liz Cheney would say. That definitely seems like something that Liz Cheney would say. There's no doubt in my mind about that.

I think people that continue to perpetuate the "Big Lie" that continue to try to recast the events of that day, and sweep it under the rug, continue to bear responsibility. There's no doubt in my mind about that.


Listen, I have had many conversations with police officers that held the line that day. And there was one conversation that just sticks in my mind that I cannot get out. And it's a young man, who I've gotten to know, over the last couple of years. I've become friends with him. And he was on the riot team that day.

The next day, I called him, and I checked him, and I said, "How are you doing? Are you hanging in there?"

And he said, "Sir, I am covered in bruises. I can barely walk. I was holding the line as much as I could. I fought back, for hours, until finally that crowd overwhelmed me. And I just laid on the floor, and they brutally beat me. And the only thing I could think about was, "Where are the members? I'm failing the members."

And he broke down in tears with me, and said, "I failed you, you know? I should have held the line more."

And I said, "You know? You did not fail. Other people failed you. You did your job. And we're going to tell the truth. We're going to get to the bottom of this. And you're going to get the leadership and the accountability that you deserve. That's what this is about. And I'm not going to back down."

COOPER: Congressman Crow, I appreciate it. Thank you.

CROW: Thanks.

COOPER: Up next day history made not far from where I'm standing, the first crewed flight of Blue Origin Shepard One, my conversation with two of the passengers Jeff and Mark Bezos about what it was like, and where it leads, what is the future of all of this in space?



COOPER: "Taking small steps, but giant leaps," that's how astronaut Chris Hadfield described the launch, from the - from the launch pad, over my shoulder, about 3 miles away.

[21:25:00] Even though it's pretty far away, the sounds, was really just extraordinary. Being here, we watched New Shepard, the rocket, named after Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space, 60 years ago, this May, launch from that pad.

Here's how both looked and sounded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T minus 10, nine, eight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, command engine start.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a liftoff. And the clock has started!



COOPER: On TV, you really don't get a sense just of the power of that engine on board that as I said, from three miles away, I've been standing here, when it went off, it was so loud. It was incredible.

On board, New Shepherd, Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos and, his brother, Mark, also 82-year-old flying legend Wally Funk, who became the oldest person today, ever in space, and 18-year old Oliver Daemen, who is now the youngest.

They felt three times the force of gravity during the climb, then for a few brief minutes, they felt the weight of the world disappear.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, wow! Oh, wow!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's incredible!




COOPER: Loved that each of them had the same reaction. "Oh, wow!" What else can you say? Soon, probably too soon, they were drifting back home. Their descent

slowed by three parachutes, and the capsule. Their final few feet cushioned by a small rocket. The booster that launched them also, amazingly returned safely, so it can be reused and landed vertically. Technologically, a huge achievement.

A short time later, I spoke with Jeff Bezos and, his brother, Mark, inside a training capsule, which is virtually identical to one that carried them into space.


COOPER: You've been dreaming of space your whole life. You spent summers on your granddad's ranch.


COOPER: In South Texas. I imagine looking up at the sky and the stars.

J. BEZOS: Absolutely.

COOPER: What do you think your grandfather would think about you and Mark today?

J. BEZOS: We - so we called him "Pop." And he was a gigantic figure in our lives. We spent a lot of time with him.

I think he would have been, if he were here, he would have been the most proud, most excited, of all the people present. So, he had this curiosity about him, and this wonder.

When we knew him, he was a rancher. But before that he had done a lot of - he worked for DARPA, at one point, and other things. So he had all this exploration in him.

COOPER: He might have been in the vehicle with you.

J. BEZOS: He would have. I mean, there's a long line of people trying to stow away in that vehicle, this morning, including our dad.

MARK BEZOS, BROTHER OF JEFF BEZOS: Yes. We had to check the balcony (ph).

COOPER: You've called this the most - you call Blue Origin, the most important thing that you will do in your entire career. I mean, you built Amazon. That's pretty huge, employed half a million people. How can Blue Origin be bigger?

J. BEZOS: Well, I think--

COOPER: Or more important?

J. BEZOS: Yes. I think - the way to think about this is we need to build a road to space, build, I mean, build infrastructure, reusable space vehicles, and so on, so that the next generations can build the future. COOPER: You talked about the infrastructure you already had in place, when you started doing Amazon. You had the Postal Service. You had--

J. BEZOS: Exactly. So, when I started Amazon, I was a young guy, and this is 27 - almost 30 years ago, and I didn't have to build a package delivery system. It existed.


J. BEZOS: It was called the Postal Service, and UPS, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, and so on. That would have been hundreds of billions of dollars in capital expense to build.

COOPER: So, if some smart kid, in a dorm room right now, has a dream for space, they can't do it.

J. BEZOS: They can't do it. That's exactly right.

And - but if we can lay that infrastructure, then do that hard work, then they will be able to be the bunch of entrepreneurs. Maybe that - the young guy, Oliver, who flew with us today, maybe he'll be one of them.

COOPER: What does that look like though? I mean, what does this road look like? I mean, you've talked about a human presence on the moon.

J. BEZOS: Yes.

COOPER: Obviously, Elon Musk is talking about Mars.

J. BEZOS: Yes.

COOPER: What does it look like?

J. BEZOS: And there are a couple things.

One of the things is that it's really about moving heavy industry. I know this sounds fantastical. And it is fantastical. Remember, if you went back to the Kitty Hawk era, and showed them a 787, they would think that's fantastical.

But we really have to move heavy industry and polluting industry off Earth. Earth is too small and too fragile.

COOPER: So nuclear power plants--

J. BEZOS: Everything.

COOPER: --coal plants.


J. BEZOS: And you beam the energy down to Earth, we'll make it in space with probably solar. We'll beam it down. When we make chips and microchips and everything else that all that dirty polluting stuff, we will make it in space, and do those activities in space. It will be much better.

This planet is so precious, Anderson. And you can see it. What we saw today, we got up there. We looked out. We see, when we're on the ground, we think the atmosphere is big.

But really, the atmosphere is tiny. It's this tiny, little fragile, thin layer. And we all depend on it for our lives. And we've got to stop polluting it. So that is something that - but that can't be done today. If you try to move heavy industry off Earth today, that's just crazy.

COOPER: So, what is the timeline for something like that?

J. BEZOS: Decades, multiple decades. It won't be done in my lifetime.

But what I can do, and what we, the whole Blue Origin team can do, is lay the foundation for that work. That's what we mean when we say "Build a road to space," because then there'll be other people driving on that road, and they'll do much greater things than we will do.

COOPER: Why do you want to have people on the moon?

J. BEZOS: The moon is a great place for resources. It's close, which is a big advantage.

So, one of the great things about the moon is it has very low gravity, one-sixth gravity, takes 27 times less energy to lift a pound of material, off the moon, than it does to lift a pound of material off the Earth. And so, if you want to build big structures in space, you want to go get materials from the moon.

COOPER: Obviously, you've stepped down as CEO of Amazon. You'll have little more time on your hands.

Are you going to focus more on Blue Origin, and how much more? I know you've been liquidating like a billion dollars' worth of Amazon stock every year to fund it. Are you going to do more than that?

J. BEZOS: I don't know. We'll have to wait and see about that. I'm also using a lot of Amazon stock for the Bezos Earth Fund.

COOPER: Right.

J. BEZOS: So, the two big initiatives that I know of right now that I'm going to focus on, are Blue Origin, and Bezos Earth Fund, which is all about sustainability, climate change, protecting the natural world, those things that we have to work on the here and now of that too. So, Blue Origin's working on the future. But we have to work on the here and now of that as well.

COOPER: Elon Musk told "The Washington Post," your newspaper that if Blue Origin is to be successful, you should run it full-time. And he hopes you do that.

J. BEZOS: Well?

COOPER: Any chance?

J. BEZOS: Bob Smith is the CEO of Blue Origin. And he's running it amazingly well. He's been here only a few years. He's doing a great job. I'm not taking Bob's job.


J. BEZOS: But I am going to spend more time on it. I'm going to have the time to spend on it. So, I'm going to be right in there, rolling up my sleeves deep in it.

COOPER: Did you - did you know what to expect? I mean, intellectually, you can know about spaceflight, but to actually go up, and experience it?

M. BEZOS: Yes, I mean, we went through about 2.5 days of training. And we were prepared for basically what a nominal mission should, what the experience should be like. But watching a PowerPoint, watching some videos, and experiencing it, are very different things.

I was not prepared for what the actual g-forces felt like, on liftoff, and while we were accelerating, when the crew capsule separated from the booster that - we knew what sound to expect, but that sort of jump, as the springs released. And then just the experiencing zero-g, that was - it was remarkable.

COOPER: When you - when you were all sitting there together, before you entered the capsule, what do you talk about? What do you - I mean, it's, there's danger, there's--

J. BEZOS: Well--

COOPER: --a million things must be going around in your mind.

J. BEZOS: Wally kept asking "What's taking so long?"

COOPER: Oh, yes?

J. BEZOS: That's how you get to be Wally. You're impatient. You're like, you know, in a very healthy great way. So yes, we're talking about - she's like, "There's a 6-minute delay, why? What's going on? We're supposed to be out there." So that was part of it.

M. BEZOS: And--

J. BEZOS: We told each other we love each other. I mean it's emotional too.

We left this morning, when we left the house, left at the crack of dawn - well, way before the crack of dawn, and our - all of our family was there. And we gave each other big hugs. It was a very emotional morning.

M. BEZOS: There was also - there was a moment while we were all sitting on the - on the launch pad before we - before we took off, and Jeff sort of spoke to the crew. He's like, "Guys, before we go, if I could just, ask you a favor?" And

he said, "What we're about to do is going to be extremely fun and extremely exciting."

He goes, "But, I would also encourage you, if you will, while you're up there, while you're taking in these views, to understand how important what we're about to do is."

And he was able to say, "Look, I know what something big looks like when it was small," right? And he has that credibility, from starting Amazon, nearly 30 years ago, right, there? E-commerce was nothing back then.

COOPER: And you had the same idea about--

M. BEZOS: And this is the--

J. BEZOS: This is the same what--

COOPER: --about Blue Origin?

M. BEZOS: This is how it starts. This is how something big starts. I know what it feels like. And this feels exactly the same.

J. BEZOS: It's the beginning.

M. BEZOS: And take it in.

J. BEZOS: You can feel it in.

M. BEZOS: And so that was - that was really moving for all of us.

COOPER: But to get to the point you're talking about, you need a ton more companies, coming up with new ideas--

J. BEZOS: Yes.

COOPER: --new ways to build rockets and everything.

J. BEZOS: Anderson, that's exactly right.


Great industries and great change is not ever made by a single company. It's made by a whole ecosystem of companies, and organizations, and government organizations, everything, all working as part of - as part of an ecosystem.

So, that's what's going to happen. That's what has to happen. But those first steps, sometimes you can just feel that big things start small. They always do.

And this, you can just tell this is, what we did today, people can say, "Oh, it's a tourism mission. It's the suborbital." But it's a operational commercial vehicle that we can use to practice over, and over, and over, take people up, over and over, and get really good at doing space travel.


J. BEZOS: And it is like the barnstorming days, you know? That's where we are right now. And that eventually leads to the 787.

COOPER: There are a couple of progressive Democrats who tweeted out today, saying "This is basically a boondoggle. It's a waste of money. There's more important things."

To that, what do you say? You gave an answer in the money. You gave $200 million away today.

J. BEZOS: Yes. I--

COOPER: But what is the importance of this?

J. BEZOS: What I would say is, first and foremost, we have to do both.

So, we have to, for example, we have lots of problems on Earth. And we have - we have poverty. We have hunger. We have all kinds of problems. We have climate disasters. We have pollution.

We have to work on the here and now. And we have to look to the future. And we, as a society, as a civilization, as humanity, we've always done that. We've never just focused on the present or just focused on the future.

COOPER: And what happens, if we don't do this--

J. BEZOS: If you don't focus on--

COOPER: --exploration in space?

J. BEZOS: --focus on the future then you don't have explorers. You don't have progress.

What if you said to Wilbur, and Orville, Wright, "Hey guys, you know, why don't you, work on something with - a little more practical? You're smart guys. Surely, you could use your brains to do something a little more practical."

But that's what exploration is. It's a kind of wandering. And all research and development and all small things have that characteristic that they're not obvious how they're going to work out. But that's what exploration is.

COOPER: Do you have "Mom" written on your hand?

J. BEZOS: Yes. We did. He's got "Hi" written on his. It's almost washed off now. But we did - when we were up in zero-g--

COOPER: Wait, that's--

J. BEZOS: --yes, well it will say "Wow" like this.

COOPER: OK, all right.

J. BEZOS: This it says - but that's because I flipped upside down.


J. BEZOS: And when we were in zero-g and I put my hand so there--

COOPER: Hi, Mom.

J. BEZOS: --so it was like this.

M. BEZOS: It was "Hi Mom."

J. BEZOS: And we got - we got that photo.

M. BEZOS: We were so--

J. BEZOS: We were - no, wait, wait--

M. BEZOS: We rehearsed it a few times.

J. BEZOS: Really, rehearsing that on Earth is challenging.

COOPER: It's nice to know that you're still Mama's boys. I mean--

M. BEZOS: Forever.

J. BEZOS: For sure.

M. BEZOS: Yes.

COOPER: All right. Congratulations!

J. BEZOS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thanks.


COOPER: And his mom and dad were here - both their mom and dad were here, to watch their sons in space.

Joining us now, CNN Aerospace Analyst and, fair to say, space enthusiast, Miles O'Brien.

It's really always interesting to hear Jeff Bezos talk about his kind of vision. He's obviously got a track record of making futuristic or impossible visions a reality. And he certainly has the money to do it with some $200 billion, however much he has right now.

Building that road to space, it is all about sustainability. And the reusable rockets are critical for that.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST, PILOT: Yes, and he's proven he can do it. I just love that line that the two brothers rift on, that idea that "I

know what something big looks like when it's small." And when they say that, that really resonates, doesn't it?

And to make something big in space, it has to be reusable. Imagine Anderson, if every time we got on a 737, and flew to Cleveland, they threw away the airliner? We wouldn't - we wouldn't be doing much of that, would we? And this is basically how space went for many years.

We tried to make it reusable during the shuttle era. But that didn't go so well, turned out to be very expensive, the way it was done.

The way Musk is doing it, the way Bezos is doing it, they are preserving the pieces in a way that makes it efficient to reuse them. And once you start lowering that cost, and making it more repeatable, which is what reusability is all about, it just changes the equation.

What we used to say, in the shuttle era, it was $10,000 per pound of anything, to put it in space. That's your weight in gold, and then some. That is down by orders of magnitude--


O'BRIEN: --now because of these guys.

COOPER: And if space is to become a place, where I mean, in Bezos' mind, it's where heavy industry ultimately is moved, and Earth becomes a place to live, and have light industry. And that protects - that's a future way to protect the planet as well.


That requires just a huge investment, in bringing costs down, and having rockets that can come and go. I mean, this - the way we have been doing space, for the last generations, that's just not sustainable. That's not going to get us to the kind of vision that he's talking about.

O'BRIEN: No. But you have to keep doing it.

Just like what - pick your date, whether it's December of '03, or May of 27 with Lindbergh, imagine aviation, and those, at those moments, and what it took to get to where we are today, it would be impossible to imagine all that. And that's kind of just the nature of trying to project these things out.

But if it continues, and these guys have proven they can do this - they're going to do it again. This is not going to be the end of it. May not have quite the coverage, we're giving it right now, for sure,

But there are going to be other people, who are going to write big checks to do this. And slowly, but surely, those checks are going to get smaller, and more and more people are going to get there, and what that leads to is sometimes hard to see.

And it seems like science fiction, what Jeff Bezos says "We're going to do microchips in space." But again, the 787, what would you say in 1903 about that?

COOPER: Yes. Listen? I still don't know how an iPhone works. And I, you know, so I'll believe anything that anything is possible these days.

Miles O'Brien, appreciate it. Loved experiencing this day with you. I really appreciate you being with us throughout the day.

Coming up next, Tom Brady was at the White House today, took a big - dig at the "Big Lie," and the former president, who at one time was one of his biggest fans. Details on that when we come back.



COOPER: I'm old enough to remember time, a couple years ago, when the former president's love of Tom Brady was so intense that "The Washington Post" wondered if he had a man crush on the now 43-year-old quarterback.

Even before he entered office, he repeatedly tweeted about how Tom was his friend, and a total winner, and that people were quote, "So jealous of Tom Brady," which is why what happened at the White House today, probably kind of hurt the man in Mar-a-Lago.

As Dan Rather tweeted, "Got to confess. Didn't have Tom Brady trolling Donald Trump at the White House on my July bingo card." Oh, Dan!

Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now with details.

Phil, so how did - how did the event go today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the biggest question, going into the event, was whether Brady was going to show up at all.

White House officials, I talked to, yesterday, didn't seem to have a good sense of things. It wasn't actually confirmed until people started tweeting pictures of Brady, at the White House, on social media.

And White House officials definitely had no idea what Brady was actually going to say, particularly this. Take a listen.


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. And, in fact, I think about 40 percent of the people still don't think we won.



BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I understand that!

BRADY: We had a game in Chicago, where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down, in 21 years of playing. And they started calling me "Sleepy Tom."


BRADY: Why would they do that to me?

BIDEN: I don't know!


MATTINGLY: That, I think, Anderson, you could say, was not subtle at all.

But it's worth noting, obviously, Brady skipped the 2017 visit to the White House, citing personal family reasons that several of his teammates boycotted. But he hadn't actually been to the White House, Anderson, since the George W. Bush administration, obviously, showing up today, and making a few jokes along the way.

COOPER: I mean, Tom Brady, at least was known supposedly, as a friend of the former president. At one point, at least he had a MAGA hat in his locker. I don't know what that meant anything.

Did everything seem like it was all in good fun at the White House today?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it really did. I think if nothing else, what you're struck by at this event, besides, Brady's comedic ability, to some degree, was just how normal it was, right?

Obviously, in the wake of the pandemic, where any events like this had been canceled up to this point, several teams boycotted the White House, during the Trump administration. Others, the President didn't invite at all, because he was in a tiff with those individuals.

This was very much what you used to see, a president harkening back to his glory days, as a football player, trying to slide out a couple jokes. And Brady with comedic timing that was somewhat akin to the ease in which he would hit Rob Gronkowski down the seam for a touchdown pass.

It was normal, and, I think, for the most part, based on everything I talked to, is in good fun, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Up next, what President Biden said today, to mark the six-month anniversary of his taking office, and what's ahead on his to-do list, he says.


COOPER: President Biden presided over his second official cabinet meeting today, held for the first time, in the actual Cabinet Room, meant to symbolize a return to normalcy.

But as he marked his six-month anniversary, in office today, there's uncertainty over COVID, and his legislative agenda.

Tomorrow night, the President's going to take part in the CNN Town Hall, in Cincinnati, Ohio. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is already there talking to voters about the President's promises. It's a state which Biden lost last year, to the former president.

And here is Jeff's report.


ALICIA REECE, VICE PRESIDENT, HAMILTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: I think they heard from the election that "Hey, we don't have time to play around. We've got to move and the people want action."

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alicia Reece is sizing up President Biden's first six months in office.

REECE: I'm not saying that the administration is perfect. We got other things we got to work on. Certainly, voting rights is got to get done, criminal justice, the George Floyd bill's got to get moving.

ZELENY (voice-over): Here, in Cincinnati, some early promises from the Biden administration, like economic relief, from the pandemic, have been delivered, and other pledges, like improving infrastructure, are teetering.

REECE: If we keep the theme of delivering for the American people, I think we'll be OK.

But if we get back to the old days of Washington, bickering back and forth, while the American people watch it, and say, "Hey, they're totally disconnected from us," then we'll be going backwards.

ZELENY (voice-over): That sentiment from Reece, Vice President of the County Board of Commissioners, sums up the challenges facing Biden, as he tries advancing a bipartisan infrastructure deal, testing whether Washington can still work.

One face of America's failing infrastructure has long been right here, the Brent Spence Bridge, which crosses the Ohio River on one of the busiest trucking routes in the country.

ZELENY (on camera): If the infrastructure bill does not go through, how much of a disappointment will that be?

REECE: I think it'll be a big disappointment because we heard over and over that infrastructure is important, and the Brent Spence Bridge is so important.

ZELENY (voice-over): Six months after taking office, Biden has entered the long hard days of summer.

BIDEN: There's much more to be done, and so much more to do.

ZELENY (voice-over): A critical stretch on which the success of this presidency will rise or fall, amid a COVID resurgence, inflation worries, and complex foreign policy challenges.

Allen Fleury voted for Biden, and so far is generally pleased with his new president.

ALLEN FLEURY, OHIO RESIDENT: President that is working with others, consulting with others, feel like he's - has more strategic direction, less shooting from the hip.

ZELENY (voice-over): Biden admirers point to his character in kindness as a welcome respite.

KIM GREEN, OHIO RESIDENT: I think he advocates justice and equality for all people. So far, he's doing really good.

ZELENY (voice-over): But in a country deeply divided, other Biden supporters want him to use the power of the Oval Office, while he has it.

JOE MALLORY, PRESIDENT, CINCINNATI NAACP: No, I'm not running out of patience. It's a tough job. I know he's got a tough job. I think there are some things he can do to be more forceful.


ZELENY (voice-over): Joe Mallory is President of the Cincinnati NAACP. He's waiting for Biden to speak more forcefully on protecting voting rights, by eliminating the Senate filibuster, and police reform.

MALLORY: He has a lot of room for improvement, because this is just the beginning part of his term. But we're still going to be pressing for more.


ZELENY: Now, even though the President is only at the six-month mark of his term, there is a sense of urgency in the West Wing.

Tonight, a senior White House official telling me, "We know that. The President certainly knows that. The clock is ticking." So, that is why the pressure on the White House now is so critical, over these next coming summer weeks, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

President Biden joins Don Lemon for an exclusive CNN Presidential Town Hall. That's live tomorrow night, at 8 P.M. Eastern. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The news continues. Want to turn things over now to Don, who's in Ohio, tonight, ahead of his Town Hall tomorrow, with President Biden. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Welcome everyone.