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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

No More Beds Left At Louisiana's Largest Hospital As COVID Cases Surge; C.D.C. Reports Average Daily Case Count Of New COVID Cases Up 44 Percent; Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Millions Could Lose Homes After Freeze On Eviction Expires; McCarthy Jokes "It Will Be Hard Not To Hit" Pelosi With Gavel If He Becomes House Speaker; Widow Of Assassinated Haitian President Talks About The Attack In Her First Sit-Down TV Interview Since That Night. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 2, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: ... that the President needs more allies, not more antagonists. Of course, for Church's part, she believes the White House could use a progressive push -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It's good to see you, Jeff. Thank you for that reporting.

And thank you all so much for joining us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan. "AC360" starts now.

[20:00:15]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with COVID and growing evidence the country is facing some hard weeks ahead. At the same time, thankfully, there were signs pointing in the opposite direction, but not enough, at least not yet to change the course that we're on.

So, at the end of another good news-bad news day in the beginning of what looks to be another good news-bad news week, there's a lot to get to.

Here is the Chief Medical Officer for Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where they have run out of beds in the intensive care unit and 23 patients are waiting in the ER.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. KATY O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, OUR LADY OF THE LAKES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: There are no more beds left. Those 23 patients are a glimpse of what we have been doing for the last two weeks while we have been trying to get everybody vaccinated, and it's not helping enough because it's not happening fast enough.

And when you come inside our walls, it is quite obvious to you that these are the darkest days of this pandemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: The darkest days of the pandemic there, and some of the

hardest for the people in the hardest hit states such as Louisiana who staff the ICUs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FELICIA CROFT, ICU NURSE: I have worked in the COVID ICU pretty much the whole pandemic, so a year and a half, two years now, and I can say today was probably one of the most emotionally hard day since the pandemic started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That nurse, Felicia Croft, who has been working since the beginning in the ICU, she joins us shortly. She says the patients she is treating in this latest wave are younger. Parents this time, not just grandparents and the delta variant is now sending kids to the hospital.

Listen to the Chief Clinical Officer for the Arkansas Children's Health System.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. RICK BARR, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, ARKANSAS CHILDREN'S HEALTH SYSTEM: Throughout the previous months of the pandemic, we would have you know zero to maybe three children admitted to the hospital that tested positive for COVID, and they were often in for some other reason, they weren't showing symptoms of a COVID infection.

Today, we have 24 children in the hospital with COVID infections. They are all symptomatic with COVID, and eight of those are in intensive care and five requiring mechanical ventilation to breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It is scary, eight kids in the ICU; five of them on ventilators. Kids, some of whom are too young to be vaccinated in a state where just 58 percent of adults have gotten their first shots. In Louisiana, the figure is even lower, just under 54 percent. Nationally, now it stands that 70 percent, which was where President Biden had hoped the country would be by Independence Day nearly a month ago. That said, the pace is picking up and picking up fastest where the surge is the worst.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Louisiana has seen a 302 percent increase in the average number of newly vaccinated per day, Mississippi 250 percent, Alabama 215 percent, and Arkansas 206 percent.

This increase in vaccination rates in states that have been lagging is a positive trend. Americans are seeing the risk and impact of being unvaccinated and responding with action, and that's what it is going to take to get us out of this pandemic. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Which is good news as far as it goes, but in the words of the doctor in Baton Rouge, it's not helping enough because it is not happening fast enough.

So, no more ICU beds in her hospital. Arkansas today reported the biggest daily jump in hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitals also under pressure in Texas and Florida, which are now responsible for about 30 percent of new cases nationwide. Two states, Texas and Florida, responsible for about one-third of all new cases in the United States.

Now, taken together, it has put parts of the country even some of the redder portions back into mitigation mode. Louisiana today re-imposed a mask mandate, the same for the San Francisco Bay Area. New York's Mayor though, he stopped short of doing the same preferring he said to keep the focus on vaccination.

As for vaccines, more private companies like SoulCycle today have stepped into the breach requiring all employers and members to show proof of vaccination. Equinox Fitness Centers is doing the same. Davis Polk, one of the country's biggest law firms today told staff they'll need to be vaccinated to return to the office in September or will no longer be allowed in the building.

That's not happening though across the country, or at least not enough, which brings us back to Louisiana. Today, the state's health officer said he expects COVID-19 hospitalizations tomorrow to reach their highest level so far in the entire pandemic, which for nurse, Felicia Croft, means more patients in her ICU and far too many more days like these.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROFT: Last night my daughter came to me, my 14-year-old, Macy. She came to me. She said, "Mom, we need to pray for my friend's parents." And her friend's parents are in my ICU, and one of them may not go home. The other one is really, really sick, too.

And as a nurse to know that if you can't get these two people home to their kids, they will be orphans. Their 14-year-old could be an orphan, and to know that my daughter might come to me when she gets that call, and say, "Mom, why didn't you save them?"

I can't explain the feeling of defeat. When you do everything, you put everything into a patient, and it's not enough, and then to know that they could have gotten vaccinated and it could have made a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Felicia Croft joins us now. Felicia, thank you so much for being with us, and thank you so much for what you have done. I cannot imagine working all throughout this pandemic, as you have more than a year and a half working in a COVID ICU.

I mean, I know doctors who are burnt out, I know nurses who have quit. Talk just about what you're up against right now? What kind of patients you're seeing?

CROFT: Right now, we're seeing a lot of patients, number one; and patients that are sicker, and patients that are closer to my age, which just brings it to a whole new level. I'm 34 years old. You know, I have kids ranging from 10 to 14, and I know some of these people have kids younger than me.

And I know all of the milestones that I want to see my kids hit. I want to see my kids graduate. I want to walk my kids out on the football field on senior night. I want to get my daughter ready for her first prom. And these are things that people were sending to a funeral home instead of their house are missing, and that these are experience and memories that their kids won't have with them, and that's really hard.

You know, in the beginning, it was sad, we lost a lot of people in the beginning. But mostly it was people that had lived long lives of love, and they had seen their families grow. And this is just different. This really has made it show that you know, COVID does not discriminate and everybody is vulnerable.

COOPER: Louisiana expects COVID-19 hospitalizations to reach its highest level in the pandemic tomorrow, which is just extraordinary when you think about it, given the fact that there is a vaccine out there.

What's it been like to, you know, work every day seeing this in the most intimate, horrific way possible? And then to leave the hospital and hear people talk about, you know, not wanting to wear masks, and it's annoying. And I mean, you know, it's difficult, and they're just not going to do it. I mean, what is that -- that's got to be a weird juxtaposition.

CROFT: Well, so we have become a very selfish generation and a very selfish just group of people sometimes when I hear what others say.

So this pandemic, and masks, and vaccines, this is not about you and this is not about what always makes you feel good. And it's about, you know, you're -- the cashier at your local gas station and it's about your local baker and you know, your neighbor and your cousin's friends and people that maybe aren't important to you, but they're important to someone else.

And I think that stepping out of that what's most important to me and what makes me comfortable and keeps me happy, I think if we change to that mindset, it will change a lot of what's happening outside and inside the hospital.

And I look at people as individuals and as you know, creations of Christ and I hope that others will start to look at that instead of just saying how uncomfortable they are. And I have to just be real careful and let the Lord guide my words when it comes to that because sometimes it's for me to speak and sometimes it's not.

But yes, it does put us in a very difficult position.

COOPER: In the video, you talked about your 14-year-old daughter who must be, I hope, so proud of you. She came to you wanting to pray for her friend's parents who are in your ICU. I mean, how do you explain all that to your child?

[20:10:00]

CROFT: So, you know, when she comes to me, we number one, we pray for -- and we tell God not that he has any, not that He doesn't know, but we ask Him what we hope for. And of course, we hope that they get better, and we hope they come home.

But we also hope that God prepares us for whatever His will is, you know, whether that is or isn't, and that we can use whatever testimony from here on and, you know, just reminding her that God has a purpose and a plan, and that we are part of it. And, you know, whether that's in a good, you know, happy light, or you know, just to love on someone when they need us, we just have to be prepared to let God use us either way.

COOPER: It is so interesting and so important, I think, what you say, because there are folks who are, as you know, are people of faith and good people who feel well, you know, I'm just going to -- I'm not going to get a vaccine, because I'm just going to leave it up to, you know, to what the Lord wants. You know, I think I'll do fine.

You come from a religious tradition, you come from a religious background and a worldview, and yet you also are embracing the vaccine?

CROFT: Absolutely, because, you know, there's a story about the man on the roof and the flood, and, you know, there's a boat that comes by and he says, "No, God's going to save me," you know, everybody has heard that story. And oops, sorry. You know, I feel like, this is the boat, you know, and God gave somebody a whole lot smarter than me with a lot more letters behind their name, the knowledge to develop this vaccine, and I think that He gave it to us.

I think that, you know, one, we have, absolutely, I think we have a choice, you know, to take it or not to take it. But you know, if that choice is based on just you, then maybe you're making the choice wrong. If you're truly loving you're neighbor as yourself, would you do it for your neighbor? Just to know that this is something that God gave somebody knowledge, or -- I mean, I feel like, that's a reason to embrace it.

I did not get the vaccine when it first came available. I was nervous. I had questions. There were things I didn't understand, like, a lot of the same questions that people ask me now. You know, how is this safe? How did we come up with this so fast? You know, how do we know that we can trust this?

And so I did my own research and I talked with my doctors. And the more I did my own research, you know, I'll tell you that, I am a firm believer that God is never taken by surprise. And the more I researched, the more I saw that mRNA research started back in the 1980s. So, in the 1980s, God knew this was coming and He gave somebody smarter than me the knowledge to start to lay this foundation.

And this foundation has built and built until now, here we are, and we had everything we needed to get this vaccine out quickly to people.

COOPER: Yes. It is a medical miracle in so many different ways. Felicia Croft, it's awesome to talk to you. And I mean, just bless you for what you're doing. I really just think it's extraordinary what you and everybody in the medical community has done and continues to do. And thank you so much. I appreciate it.

CROFT: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. All right, my best to your daughter and to your family. Take care.

I want to get some more perspective now from Dr. Jerome Adams, who was Surgeon General in the previous administration. Dr. Adams, good to see you again. So, you know, we talked to nurse Felicia Croft and God -- I mean, God bless nurses. I mean, I know doctors are great, too. But nurses, I've got to tell you are just incredibly incredible people.

I spoke with a doctor in Missouri last week who said some of the things about her patients and said they were younger, sicker, didn't have comorbidities. How concerned should people be about what seems to be one of the major differences with the delta variant?

DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, they should be incredibly concerned. And again, listen to Felicia, listen to your local doctor, listen to your nurses.

Anderson. I was in the hospital just a few hours ago working today. And I'll tell you, the nurses were the ones that were the most frustrated, were the most burned out because they've been busting their butts for 18 months, working long shifts, doing things that are outside their comfort zone, because nurses will do anything to help their patients, and they are just frustrated that last year, we didn't have masks. We didn't have vaccines. We didn't have monoclonal antibodies.

This year, we have multiple miracles that have been delivered to us and it is frustrating in the face of a variant that is, as you mentioned, a thousand times more contagious than what the previous variant was that we have many more tools, but we're not making use of them.

[20:15:09]

COOPER: In terms of a timetable for the surge, N.I.H. Director, Dr. Francis Collins says the projections say we're in for a tough August, September and October. Former F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says he thinks the wave of infection could pass quickly. Infectious Disease expert Michael Osterholm, a Professor said something similar that we may see a fast drop of new infections in September.

How long do you think this will last?

ADAMS: Well, we don't know, because when you look at different countries, they tend to be more homogeneous. The United States compared to the U.K. is very spread out, and when you look at this pandemic, it has never hit the entire United States at one time. It's always hit us in regional pockets.

One of the things about this delta variant that Dr. Gottlieb refers to is that when it hits an area, and takes it hard, it hits it fast, and you may be achieving a temporary herd immunity very quickly in a certain area just because everyone is getting it as you've heard Admiral Giroir say, look, you've got two choices. You're either going to get vaccinated, or you're going to get the virus because it's that contagious.

COOPER: The challenge of getting an accurate sense of how many breakthrough infections there are, Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, is among the latest to say he has COVID despite being vaccinated, how does the country get back to a place where there's enough testing being done on a daily basis to know who has the virus, both symptomatic and asymptomatic? And I mean, should there be more testing? Is that important to know?

ADAMS: We absolutely need a better testing strategy and it is frustrating to me that we spent all of 2020 talking about testing, testing, we need more testing, we need better testing. We now have plenty of testing, and what we don't have is an intelligent testing strategy from a Federal perspective to utilize the antibody test, to utilize the antigen test, to utilize the PCR test.

And the better PCR tests that we have now that are point of care to be able to see where the virus is spreading asymptomatically to be able to quickly diagnose the cases. It's definitely a need that we have to really understand what's going on.

And I've been calling on the C.D.C. and the White House to really articulate that Federal testing strategy, to have a testing czar like we did during the last administration. There are a lot of things you can point your fingers at us for doing wrong, but Admiral Giroir and the testing team really helped stand up testing, but we aren't utilizing it.

COOPER: Dr. Adams, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

ADAMS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, a third police officer who defended lawmakers and democracy on January 6 has died by suicide. Let's see how one senator is once again dishonoring the sacrifices that he and so many other officers made that day.

Later, she almost died at the hands of assassins who killed her husband. Tonight, the widow of Haiti's slain President tell CNN what she experienced that horrible night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:22:00]

COOPER: We learned today that a third police officer who answered the call on January 6 has died by suicide. Officer Gunther Hashida, who joined the D.C. Metro Police in 2003 was found in his apartment on Thursday, and we honor the work he and his fellow officers did when the country needed him most.

The same cannot be said for a Wisconsin senator and serial insurrection minimizer, Ron Johnson, who is at it again, this time according to a video obtained by "The Washington Post" is insinuating the F.B.I. knew more about the attack than we know, which is odd considering he is on record downplaying the attack itself.

His comments came after a local political event over the weekend. He says in part and I quote, "So you think the F.B.I. had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan, but they don't know squat about what was happening on January 6th, or what was happening with these groups? I'd say there's way more to the story."

Just one of a number of things tonight to talk about with Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. Senator Murphy, thanks for being with us.

For a sitting U.S. Senator to suggest that about the F.B.I. and the insurrection. What is -- I mean, what is he doing? Is there a strategy here?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I mean, listen, unfortunately, it is par for the course, Senator Johnson has been treading in these conspiracy theories for years now, and there are many who are unfortunately willing to follow him. There's a crowd inside the Republican Party that is dominant right now that believes might makes right, that if you are acting in service of the leader of your party, Donald Trump, then all the rules go out the window, anything that you do is justified including violence.

So, you're going to continue to see Republicans try to justify what happened on January 6. You're going to see them try to explain it away, because many of them have made the decision that they are willing to do everything and anything, including enable mob violence in order to try to maintain power. That's really dangerous for our democracy.

Right now, it is the minority of Americans that take that tact, but if more people follow the lead of my colleague and others, you know that that potentially spells doom for the American experiment.

COOPER: I mean, Senator Johnson was the Republican Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. I mean, it's not as if he's like a crank who has just gotten to Congress. Do you think he believes these things? Is it just to appeal to some of his voters and stay in power?

MURPHY: So, I do think that many of my colleagues in the Senate, Republicans, not maybe the majority of the caucus, but a sizable group of Republicans in the Senate, believe in this anti-Donald Trump deep state. They do believe that there is some kind of cabal or conspiracy at work and was at work for four years to try to undermine Donald Trump's presidency and when they hear potential conspiracy theories about the complicity of law enforcement in January 6th, I guess, it sort of speaks to that narrative. That Deep State narrative is still very much alive amongst Republicans in Congress, unfortunately.

[20:25:14]

COOPER: I want to read something that you tweeted recently. You said, "So a few months ago, my workplace was ransacked by a violent mob that wanted to kill us. People died, the place was trashed. Now, a bunch of my co-workers are acting like it didn't happen, which is weird. It makes me wonder whether they might have been in on it. Am I paranoid?" End quote.

Do you think the majority of your Republican colleagues want a full and accurate accounting of what happened?

MURPHY: I think there are many Republicans who do not want to full and accurate accounting because they know, in the end, the story will come right back to them, that there is no way to tell the story of January 6 without holding accountable Republicans who created this impression that Congress could stop the election of Joe Biden.

All of those people came to that Capitol on that day because they were under the belief, led to that belief, not just by Donald Trump, but by many Republicans in the House and the Senate that they could stop the votes from being counted.

That wasn't true, but it almost came true. They were seconds away from grabbing the electoral ballot box in the United States Senate, which would have practically interrupted that count and they were there because Donald Trump asked them to be there. But they were also there, because Republicans in Congress asked them to be there, and I just don't think that a lot of those same Republicans want to be held accountable for that.

COOPER: I want to ask you about infrastructure and where things now stand?

MURPHY: Well, we're moving this $550 billion bill, the biggest bipartisan investment in infrastructure in the history of the country. It looks like we can get a vote later this week. We're going to process a bunch of amendments, many of which will be offered by Republicans to try to make the bill better or different.

And so, we're hopeful that by the end of this week, we will, you know, we will make good on the promise that Joe Biden made to the electorate that Republicans and Democrats can still come together to do big things.

Now, $500 billion won't be enough, and so, we will have to come right back and pass a second bill that will involve all sorts of investments in human infrastructure, tax cuts for poor people, folks in the middle class, increased help for childcare and home care. So, we're going to have to do two different bills to get the Biden

agenda to the finish line, but it is important, and it speaks to the strength of Joe Biden that the first bill is going to be sizable and it's going to likely happen this week with a lot of conservative Republicans supporting it.

COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Over the weekend, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told what his office said was a joke about how Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats not amused. Reaction when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:34]

COOPER: The White House is saying tonight it tried but could not find a legal justification for extending the federal eviction moratorium but said it isn't giving up. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden would have in her words strongly supported efforts by the CDC to extend the moratorium but the Supreme Court rule new legislation would have to be passed to make that possible.

Several progressive members of Congress have been camped out on the steps of the Capitol since Friday trying to bring attention to the problem.

Joining me now one of their colleague Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Chairman Jeffries, appreciate you being back on. What if anything, is the House realistically going to be able to do about evictions? Or are you now looking to the White House?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, we're scheduled to convene tomorrow and have a conversation with the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen. And I think we're focused and unified around the need for the states and localities to get the more than $40 billion in relief that we allocated in the American Rescue Plan out to landlords and tenants. So we can resolve this eviction crisis decisively.

And that's what we hope occurs over the next few days. That's the most important thing that can take place.

COOPER: I mean, the labs in the eviction moratorium obviously, would disproportionately impact communities of color, lower income residents, you recently signed on a bill with Congressman -- Congresswoman Maxine Waters to extend the moratorium to December 31st. It was blocked by Republicans. Even if you were somehow to get it passed, though in the House. Does it look like he could ever get 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate?

JEFFRIES: It appears that it's very unlikely that the Senate will be able to move on extending the moratorium the Republicans, of course, blocked it in the House, they're likely to do the same thing in the Senate where at least 10 Republican senators would have to support that extension.

And so, I think it's critical one that every state governor exercise their discretion to extend out the eviction moratorium, which has been the case here in New York, where Governor Cuomo has extended it through the end of the month. And that will have to be revisited when August 31st arrives.

But Anderson, I don't want the point to be lost. That in the American Rescue Plan, we allocated almost $50 billion in order to provide relief so that tenants can have their back rent paid, so that landlords can receive that income, and that no one in America has to confront eviction. And what has occurred is that in excess of $40 billion of that relief remains with local governments and gubernatorial offices across the country.

COOPER: Why is that?

JEFFRIES: That's unacceptable. Well, I think the Biden administration, one is putting the pressure on the states and localities to do something about that Janet Yellen I think is taking the lead. The White House had a press conference earlier today, to make it clear that this was an unacceptable thing. And I think all across the country, you've got members of the House, who are raising their voices in their respective states to try to turn this situation around.

COOPER: Because I mean, if the money I mean it's 40 billion where does that -- where would that -- how would that change the issue right now if that money was gotten out.

[20:35:08]

JEFFRIES: Well, if you have tenants who owe back rent, that is the reason why they would be facing eviction. The money now exists across the various states and localities for that back rent to be covered. So that no tenant finds themselves in a situation where they confront eviction that was the whole purpose of allocating a substantial amount of money.

The challenge that we've confronted and recall that the American Rescue Plan was passed in mid-March, is that for months, the money has not made it out of the door. This is why we're going to have the conversation with Secretary Yellen tomorrow, to begin to get an understanding as to how we, as members of Congress, can ensure that the administration is exerting the appropriate amount of pressure and using its leverage to make sure that the relief makes it to the landlords and tenants who are confronting this eviction situation.

COOPER: You know, there are those who will argue, look, there are many landlords in America, not just wealthy real estate magnets, right -- citizens who, you know, have a apartment here or there, or building. What people, I mean people whose livelihoods depend on rental income from properties that they own. I mean, can you keep pushing? I mean, how long can there be, you know, an eviction moratorium in this country?

JEFFRIES: Well, we're in the middle of a public health crisis, the Delta variant is accelerating like wildfire in many parts of the country. Part of the reason why you don't want hundreds of thousands of people, if not more to be evicted and put out on the streets, is that -- that situation can contribute to the public health crisis getting worse, at the very time and moment when we need to deal with it decisively.

This is one of the reasons why we think that the CDC may actually have the authority given this current situation to extend out the moratorium and I'm pleased that they are going to evaluate that to see whether they've got the ability to do it, given the change in circumstances.

But it's all hands on deck, Anderson, and we're going to continue to make sure that we do what's necessary to provide the assistance to the American, people to crush this virus, make it through this storm and supercharge the economy in every single zip code.

COOPER: Chairman Jeffries, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, next --

JEFFRIES: Take care (ph).

COOPER: -- Congressman Kevin McCarthy's office is calling joke about the Speaker of the House others are calling something far less flattering and beneath someone in his position as the House's top Republican would be speaker himself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:41:37]

COOPER: Speaking at a Republican fundraising events in Tennessee over the weekend, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy was presented with an oversized gavels, symbolizing his desire to become speaker of the House in 2022, midterm elections replacing Nancy Pelosi. He then proceeded to make a what he says a joke, as you can hear in this audio recording obtained by Main Street Nashville.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'll make this one promise here, if we win the majority, which is know we're going to do, you're all invited. (INAUDIBLE) but more importantly, I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It'll be hard not to hit her with it, but I will bang it down (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: McCarthy's office says he was joking, of course politicians generally make lousy comedians, leading Democrats denounced what McCarthy said almost immediately.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, what do you think when you hear the audio?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's pretty shocking. At any point in history, I think it's shocking. But certainly in this day and age, I think that people have more of an awareness, I would hope that a leader of the Republican Party but have more awareness of the fact that violence against women is a major problem in society.

And it's just not a joking matter. There just are some things that we don't joke about. And throughout history, people have often invoked jokes is a way to cover up behavior that is otherwise not acceptable. People do it when they say something racist. When they do it -- when they say something sexist or misogynist or homophobic. And then they say, oh, I'm just joking. And you can't take a joke as if you're the problem. And the problem is, is joking about a very, very serious issue.

COOPER: Yes. And McCarthy spokesperson told NBC News in response to his comments that he was obviously joking. It does sort of, you know, there's a lot of people who would listen to this discussion and say, well, look, this is political correctness gone amok. And, of course, he's just joking. And people laughed, and it was just a light hearted remark.

POWERS: Well, I think people invoke political correctness when they try to discount serious issues. And so, it's a way to say, why can't we just make a joke about beating women? Because the same reason you don't make a joke about Jewish people, like just pick something that they actually care about I guess that they would, that they would understand.

And so, it's, it's a way to ignore important issues, rather than just acknowledging that this isn't funny, that there are people that are watching this right now, there are people who heard that who are currently in abusive relationships and who have suffered violence, whether it's in a relationship or outside of a relationship of men, beating women.

So I mean, it's a pretty violent act. I don't think that it's -- I don't think that is political correctness. I think it's honestly, I feel like not that long ago, even someone like Kevin McCarthy would was just say I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said it. And the fact that it got such a big laugh and that people can't just recognize that this is an OK. I think is highly problematic.

[20:45:12]

COOPER: Do -- you don't expect Kevin McCarthy to apologize? Do you?

POWERS: No. Because I think he is just all in on Trumpism and Trumpism now, it's about never saying you're sorry. And, you know, he won't say that he's sorry. But I also think that it's just an interesting joke to tell. It says, you know, he has this frustration with Nancy Pelosi and Nancy Pelosi is an incredibly powerful woman, she will go down in history books, as one of the most powerful speakers of the House, one of the most deft leaders of Congress. Kevin McCarthy, if he's lucky, will be a footnote. And I think that

this is what happens when you have a woman who reaches the level that Nancy Pelosi does this kind of resentment that you get from Kevin McCarthy that comes out as a joke about being violent against a woman who's too powerful.

COOPER: That's interesting. I think that's, I mean, Nancy Pelosi in many regards has, from time to time and many times kind of run circles around Kevin McCarthy.

POWERS: Oh. Most Republican members of Congress would kill to have Nancy Pelosi as their leader. Kevin McCarthy isn't even really that powerful. Even though he holds the position that he holds. There are other members of Congress, obviously, Marjorie Taylor Greene, he can't control Marjorie Taylor Greene, he can't control Jim Jordan.

There are other people that seem to have more power in his own caucus. You don't see that kind of behavior happening in the Democratic Party because Nancy Pelosi is such a deft leader. I mean, she she's really legendary. And that's not a that's not a partisan statement. That's something I think historians looking at speakers. She has had this really unique ability to keep her caucus together despite having much more diversity, frankly, than the conservatives have.

COOPER: Yes.

POWERS: Or Republicans have. So yes, she is historically a huge figure of any kind, but particularly for women.

COOPER: Kirsten Powers, it's great to have you on. Good to see you. Thank you.

POWERS: Great to be here.

COOPER: Up next, Haiti's -- the wife of Haiti's president who was assassinated in a first television interview, she shares what happened that night she was shot and survived, and her husband was killed, when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:29]

COOPER: It's almost a month since Haiti's president was assassinated in his home in the middle of the night. And tonight you'll hear from a witness, his wife. It's her first sit down TV interviews and her husband was killed and she was shot and wounded. She spoke with CNN's Matt Rivers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When gunmen stormed Haiti's presidential residence and assassinated President Jovenel Moise just one witness was there when he died.

(on-camera): Madam First Lady, how are you? Thank you so much -- (voice-over): His wife, Haiti's First Lady, Martine Moise, flanked by

private security. She agreed to go on camera for the first time with her side of a story that's left her shaking.

(on-camera): You have armed security here at this interview. We've been asked and agreed not to disclose the location of where we're talking right now. You're obviously at least thinking about threats to your life. Do you feel like your life right now is at risk?

MARTINE MOISE, FIRST LADY OF HAITI: Yes, it is. Because I wasn't supposed to be alive.

RIVERS (voice-over): In a long conversation that switched between Haitian Creole and English, Moise described in vivid detail what happened the night her husband was killed.

It was around 1:00 a.m. she says when the shooting started, it wasn't something small. It was the sounds of automatic weapons.

Bullet holes still pockmark the compound at the time she and her husband hid in their bedroom. But just minutes later, she says the door burst open, gunfire ripped through the air. And at first only she was hit facedown and bleeding. She thinks about a dozen men ransack the room looking for something specific.

They came to find something because I heard them saying that's not it. That's not it. There it is. Which means they found what they were looking for.

She doesn't know what they found. But after they did an attacker approached her husband at this point still alive and unheard and got on the phone.

She says that person called someone and described what my husband looked like saying he was tall, skinny and black. Maybe the person on the phone confirmed to the shooter that was him. And they shot him on the floor.

The President was dead and the attackers left soon after Moise believes they thought she was dead too, critically wounded. She lifted herself up.

(on-camera): When you stood up and you saw that he was dead. Did you say anything to him?

In my heart, I said something I used to tell him when he was alive. We are married for better or worse. And even beyond the grave. Her left side bleeding and her right arm shredded by gunfire. She's eventually led out of the house by police and comes to a quick conclusion that dozens of security guards normally on hand to protect the President either let the attackers in or they abandon their posts.

MOISE: No.

RIVERS (voice-over): There's no other explanation, she says. You're there to protect the President and the President is dead and you're nowhere to be found, adding that she was amazed. Apparently not a single guard was injured. Moise believes it's part of a much larger conspiracy.

(on-camera): At your husband's funeral, you said quote, the raptors are still out there watching and laughing at us. What did you mean by that?

MOISE: Yes they are. Because no one is being arrested yet. The people that they arrest, this is the people that pull the trigger. They won't pull the trigger with no orders. So the main character that we need is the people that paid for that and the people that gave the order.

RIVERS (on-camera): And you think that that person or persons has not yet been arrested?

MOISE: No. No.

RIVERS (voice-over): The official investigation has led to the arrest of more than 40 suspects but has still not provided a motive for the President's killing or identified a mastermind behind it all. That has left a vacuum. Haiti flooded with theories about who killed the President, who at the time of his death was an embattled, largely unpopular leader. Even still for his widow. This was an unimaginable ending.

MOISE: I never thought that the level of hate ever existed in the country.

RIVERS (on-camera): You never thought this could happen?

MOISE: No.

RIVERS (on-camera): Because your husband did have a lot of enemies.

MOISE: Yes, he did. But I didn't know that they hate it that much to kill him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Matt Rivers joins us now. Does the First Lady have any confidence that the investigation will lead to who orchestrated this whole thing?

[20:55:08]

RIVERS: I think it's safe to say no, she does not Anderson. She continues to want the U.S. authorities that are already involved in this investigation to even ramp up their participation. She's also publicly calling on the United Nations to create a special investigative tribunal to investigate her husband's assassination, much like they did after the assassination of Lebanon's president back in the mid-2000s.

Basically, she's saying there are so many powerful interests in Haiti, that if outside investigators, foreign investigators are not involved in this. She doesn't think the truth will ever really be found out. COOPER: Matt Rivers, appreciate it. Thank you. Fascinating.

Up next, the surprise about what's ahead for American gymnast Simone Biles at Tokyo's Olympics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: American gymnast Simone Biles who won four gold medals in the 2016 Olympics in Rio will return to competition at Tokyo. USA Gymnastics confirm the Biles will take part in Tuesday's individual balance beam finals with teammate Suni Lee. This after withdrawing from the women's team finals last week, citing mental health concerns. Biles also withdrew from for individual finals in this year's games.

[21:00:16]

The 24-year-old is one of the most celebrated American Olympians in recent years, and we certainly wish her well tomorrow.

The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.