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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  December 17, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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a second covid vaccine take the last, big step toward emergency approval. great news, to be sure. but it comes at the end of another searing day in the middle of a nightmare. john berman here, in for anderson. this nightmare is the kind, in which screams go unheard. or even worse, unheeded by those
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who should care. and it's a nightmare that didn't even need to happen, at all. exactly six months and one day ago, the vice president of the united states, the head of the self-proclaimed whole-of-government effort against the outbreak said it would not happen. here's what ran in the "wall street journal" six months and one day ago, under mike pence's name. the piece is headlined there isn't a coronavirus second wave. quoting now. thanks to the leadership of president trump and the courage and compassion of the american people, our public-health system is far stronger than it was four months ago. and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy. the truth is, the piece concludes, whatever the media says, our whole-of-america approach has been a success. success. that was six months, one day, and more than 190,000 american deaths, ago. 823 americans died, today. those words appeared in print. nearly 2,900 deaths, just so
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far, tonight. on top of more than 3,600, last night. more than a quarter million new cases, and a record-number of people hospitalized. no mention of any of that from the man whose name is on that op-ed. we will have the inside story of it shortly, by the way. no mention, either, from the president. not a peep. nothing, acknowledging california, today, reported its highest number of covid fatalities, ever. 379, in a single day. by contrast, just 634 south koreans have died, in the entire pandemic. not one word about that. or the terrifying fact that in southern california, right now, icu availability is at 0%. no capacity, at all. nothing from the president, either, about florida. his intended, new home. reporting more than 13,000 new cases, today. the most since july. no word from the president on that, or even a hint of encouragement for all the people who have been working so hard to save lives. including, his own.
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>> being surrounded by death every day in the critical-care units, in a way that we had not previously experienced. and having patients so isolated from family members, and often with nursing staff being the only bridge between a dying patient and -- and their family and the outside world. put tremendous stresses on all levels of care providers. i'm very worried we're going to have a prolonged tail here of a lot of providers flat out leaving the profession. >> and in the president cares, even a tiny bit, about this, we're not aware of it. what we do know is that he is big on projection, falsely accusing others of his own bad deeds. that, and telegraphing his next move. so, it's not surprising that, shortly before going radio silent on covid, he was saying this. >> covid, covid, covid, covid. by the way, on november 4th, you won't hear about it, anymore. you turn on the news.
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covid, covid, covid, covid, covid. would like to talk about covid. it's covid, covid, covid, no matter what happens. that's all i hear. i turn on television. covid. covid, covid, covid. a plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. i guarantee you this, on november 4th, you won't be hearing as much about this. here's what happens. november 4th, you won't hear too much about it. you won't hear too much about it. >> you won't hear about it, anymore, he said. and he was right. we haven't heard squat from him. which is too bad, because it's not even that hard to do the right thing. just ask chris christie, who was infected with coronavirus, and also picked up, it seems, a bit of perspective. >> you know, lying in isolation in icu for seven days. i thought about how long i was to remove my mask at the white house. today, i think about how wrong it is to let mask wearing divide us. especially, as we now know, your choice is likely to get covid-19
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if you don't wear a mask. because if you don't do the right thing, we could all end up on the wrong side of history. please, wear a mask. >> more, now, on all of this from cnn chief white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, we haven't seen the president, today. and even on twitter, his preferred method of communication, he only mentioned the vaccine in a tweet about stock market and stimulus talk. so, do we know what the president actually did, today? >> well, john, you know how it is with short-timers. they take that long lunch. they cut out of work early. this is a president, who has turned executive time into an art form. and he did that today. he was in the oval office for a bill signing. press was not allowed in. cameras not allowed in for that bill signing. he obviously does not want to take questions about how he lost the election, and his bogus, election challenges. he spoke with king salman of the saudi arabia, at one point.
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although, the president has not come out and weighed in and condemned vladimir putin and the russians for being behind that attack. and so, it is sort of the song remains the same over here, at the white house, john. in many ways, this is a nation without a president, today, because the president did not use the bully pulpit to show any kind of sympathy for the thousands of people who lost their lives from the coronavirus, and who are going to continue to lose their lives from the coronavirus, from here on forward. >> so, vice president pence is publicly receiving the vaccine, tomorrow morning. and president-elect biden could get it as early as next week. yet, we don't know when, or if, president trump will get it. what's the reasoning behind that? >> yeah, john, in a way, vice president pence has taken on the role of the president, from a -- from a bully-pulpit perspective. he is going to be out in front of the cameras, tomorrow morning, at around 8:00 a.m. to -- to get the coronavirus vaccine. the vice president's office has made this very clear. he wants to do this to show the american people that they can
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have confidence in this vaccine. vice president biden, who is about to become president biden, is doing it for the same reason. the white house will only say, about president trump, that he is still enjoying the benefits of some of the treatments he receiv received during his bout with the coronavirus. that, as soon as the white house medical team says it's okay for him to get the vaccine, he will do so. but we're receiving very little guidance about this, and the president is not putting himself in a position where we can ask him the question. obviously, john, and you i know all too well, if the president of the united states, if donald trump, gets out there and says he will take the coronavirus vaccine. that will go a long way in instilling confidence in millions of his supporters that it is okay to be vaccinated. he is just not doing that, at this point. just in the same way, he's not leading on russia. john, it has just been one of those confounding things that we have seen throughout this presidency. one of the through lines of this presidency, how he has been, at times, anti-science and pro-russia. john. >> jim acosta at the white house. keep pushing, stay safe. >> you got it.
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>> more, now, about that "wall street journal" op-ed published six months and one day ago, under vice president mike pence's name. saying there would be no second wave. we now know it was false assurance. and our next guest had her own objections to it, even before it ran. olivia troy served as homeland security, counterterrorism, and covid task force adviser to vice president pence. she has since left the administration, and broken with it publicly. we're happy to have her on the program, tonight. olivia, great to see you. i know you were against this op-ed being published. can you tell us where the idea originated from? how it came to be? >> i don't know where it originated, inside the white house. but i can tell you that i first got word of it from my chief of staff on the vice president's team. and he was the one, he informed a speechwriter, at the time, and myself, that we needed to work on this together. the way that works is usually with remarks or things like
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this, the speechwriter will take a lead on drafting. and then, they'll run it by the subject-matter expert or the adviser which, at the time, was me. and we were forced to take on this impossible task, knowing that the data and the science and what the experts on the task force, you know. i ran it by dr. birx. it just -- it wasn't there and it was a ludicrous idea. >> you say mark short was behind it or one of the people pushing it. mark short is known to be skeptical or has been skeptical of many aspects of cross aorona from the beginning, even though, he, himself, was infected. how involved was the vice president in putting it together? >> from my recollection, you know, i don't know what conversations mark short had with the vice president, directly. i wasn't in the room for that discussion. if i had been, i, personally, would've told the vice president, myself, that it was a bad idea. and that it would, you know, follow him for a very long time because this was -- the facts
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weren't there. and i was known for briefing him, and sticking to the facts. so, i don't know, in the end. i do know the vice president reviews things, and remarks very carefully as they go out. but i don't know what happened on the back end there, and i don't know whether it was katie miller or mark short who made the final approval on it. >> after it was published, what was the vice president's reaction? >> he was upset. he was upset at the headline on it. and he was upset at the public backlash on it. but quite frankly, i don't know how -- what else he would've expected. right? i mean, we knew it was going to -- well, those of us who were saying don't -- this is ridiculous, including dr. birx, knew that this was going to be -- we were watching case numbers spike. and that following week, i remember that very vividly. the numbers soared in the south. and that was really, from what i recall, the turning point for
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the messaging and everything where there was a full-on, full-court press to pressure people to open up. and that's what yen you see the white house pressure governors. you see the president getting on calls and saying you've got to get in line. and he tells republicans you have got to get in line on this. we have got the election coming up. >> that was 190,000 deaths, ago, when that op-ed was published. so, looking back on what's happened since then, olivia. and to an extent, how the administration has walked away from even talking about the deaths. how does that make you feel, tonight? >> you know, i grieve, every day, for what's happening in this country, and how much hurt is happening. i carry that with me, and i think back to every moment of the task force. and a lot of really hard situations that happened, behind the scenes.
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and it is infuriating, to me. it is, also, just devastating to me that these people don't care. and, you know, they've never cared. some of these people never took it seriously. they never thought it was real. and their behavior was always cavalier, which made it impossible for those of us, and experts like dr. fauci and others on the task force, who were trying to actively do the right thing. but it was impossible, given the fact that this is a white house that was never going to accept and take it seriously because they knew that they were on the losing end on it. and it's just a -- it's tragic. >> do you put mike pence in that group of people? i mean, did he review this piece, before it was published? what responsibility does he have for that message? >> he can't be the head of the coronavirus task force, and especially more recently, i have been appalled at his behavior.
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in going along with this whole machine. you know, with the rallies, and with staff getting infected and there being outbreaks in these events that continue and the holiday parties. i don't know how you can morally look yourself in the mirror, and say this is okay. i mean, i -- but, at the end of the day, i know who his boss is. and i know that he has always catered to that fact. and i know that he is in a tough situation. but at some point, when people are dying and you're responsible for the protection of the country, you really have a responsible to take a stand. >> olivia troy, we appreciate you being with us tonight. thank you. >> thank you. so, as we reported at the top, some welcome news on moderna's covid vaccine. the fda's independent advisers, today, voted 20-0 with one abstention to recommend emergency-use authorization. meantime, some snags on the rollout of pfizer's vaccine.
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a number of states now say they have been told to expect fewer doses than originally planned for by the federal government's operation warp speed. for its part, pfizer says it's not having any production issues and no shipments, they say, are delayed or on hold. dr. sanjay gupta and also dr. celine gounder. so, sanjay, now that the fda-advisory committee has recommended authorization of the moderna vaccine, what comes next? and really, what are the differences between the pfizer and moderna vaccines? >> yeah. well, first of all, in terms of the calendar, it's going to feel very familiar. it should feel very familiar to what we went through last week with the fieszpfizer rollout. we can put up the calendar. it's a recommendation that they make to the fda for authorization. could happen even tonight. last time, with pfizer, it happened the next day. over this weekend, there will be
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these additional, committee meetings involving the cdc. and that's sort of the who, what, when. trying to figure out how the moderna vaccine will roll out with a pretty good idea who they prioritize, the cdc, for this vaccine. distribution and everything, you know, next week, john, monday, tuesday. kind of like we saw with the pfizer vaccine, we could start to see people getting vaccinated again. so, it should happen fairly quickly. and my understanding is there's between 5 and 6 million doses of the moderna vaccine available. >> really it astounding. moderna says their vaccine, sanjay, involves no mixing or diluting. does that mean we won't get that extra, added benefit that we just learned of this morning, from the pfizer vaccine, that they are getting more doses from each vial? >> right. the heavy pour, like you call it, right, john? yeah. well, no. it's unlikely that the moderna vaccine will have those extra
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doses because with the pfizer vaccine, and this is part of the fill-and-finish process is, oftentimes, they put a little extra in the vial to account for a little bit is lost when you draw it into a syringe. and that extra turned out to be a fair amount extra. enough to make one or two doses. but the moderna vaccine is not being like that. >> so, dr. gounder, as i mentioned, 20 members voted in favor of the recommendation. one abstained. no one opposed. the one who abstained, it really is an education. but what were the concerns behind the abstention? >> well, i think there were concerns around whether we needed to be collecting additional data in the form of the authorization that was granted. and, you know, there -- there's the emergency-use authorization, which is how these vaccines are being granted authorization.
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you have a full-fda approval. and honestly, from my perspective, i think it's completely legitimate to offer emergency-use authorization, understanding that we will continue to collect data on both of these vaccines, as well as any other vaccines granted emergency-use authorization. to make sure that we continue to evaluate that they are safe and effective. and eventually, that data would be submitted to the fda to get full approval, down the line. >> so, sanjay, we've promised full transparency on the issue of potential reactions to the vague vaccine. but also, full perspective on it. so, in that vane, we learned today, that four people in moderna's trial developed some kind of muscular -- neuromuscular disease. bells palsy. again, these are very tiny numbers of people, so that's the transparent part. perspective. what does this mean to you?
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>> well, you know, one way that i think about these things. i think when you hear about these sort of side effects and we are going to get an education here. but one thing like -- so, bells palsy, for example. one of the first questions i ask is what is just the background incidence of bells palsy? how often does it occur outside of a vaccine trial what's happening now? the answer is somewhere in 22 in every 100,000 people. so out of 44,000. three of them in the vaccinated group. one in the placebo group. first of all, the incidence is not much higher than the average incidence that occurs, already. but it is curious the three of them were in the vaccinated group, versus placebo group. i would say, it doesn't seem to be a huge concern because it's not high incidence in the general population. but we should continue to look at that. and, you know, as part of these emergency-use authorizations, as dr. gounder knows better than anybody, is that they have this
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vaccine adverse-event reporting system. but i have to tell you. just looking at that and looking at the allergies, it's not that -- not that worrisome, yet. we will keep an eye on it. i don't want to dismiss it but it's not that worrisome. >> dr. gounder, you are nodding, in agreement. >> i am. i mean, some of these things just happen from other causes. whether that be a resu rheumatological cause. so, you have to compare these rates against what is common, what is normal, in the general population. and so, what we're seeing, it's -- it's kind of like what you would expect. it would be like saying, well, somebody got vaccinated, and then they had a heart attack. well, some people are going to have heart attacks. so, just because the vaccine preceded the heart attack doesn't mean it's causation. i mean, this goes back to the whole expression, correlation is not causation. it's even more than that.
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there is no correlation, even. >> again, we promised transparency and perspective. we just gave them that. dr. gounder, in terms of the pfizer vaccine, we are hearing from officials in washington, illinois, michigan, among others, who have been told by operation warp speed they are going to receive fewer doses than originally planned for. do you know why this is happening? what do you make of it? >> well, i do know, in certain parts of the country. where i am, in new york city, we are being hit with a pretty bad snow storm. so, that could certainly get in the way of ups and fedex deliveries. they are our two major transporters of the vaccine, at the moment. but i think it's bigger than that. you know, it's not just about discovering a vaccine, you know, manufacturing the vaccine. you then need to distribute that vaccine, and there are a lot of moving parts in that. and there ever maare many place things could have gone wrong along the way. >> dr. gupta, dr. gounder.
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there is also breaking news, tonight, on the president-elect's growing and history-making cabinet. cnn's jeff zeleny now with the latest on two more picks. jeff, what can you tell us? >> john, we are learning, tonight, as president-elect biden continues filling the cabinet. there are two more history-making picks. first, the interior secretary. he is tapping new mexico congresswoman deb holland. she will be the first native american to serve as interior secretary, and to serve as cabinet secretary if confirmed if the prszesident's cabinet. this is the interior department. and of course, the long history with the interior department and native american lands across the country make this a very interesting pick, indeed. so, this is someone that, yes, is going to take away from the democratic majority in the house, if she is confirmed. but we are told, speaker nancy pelosi gave the biden-transition team her blessing for this. now, democratic majority will be just down to three votes. so razor thin but certainly an
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important pick. also, head of the epa. michael reagan from north carolina. he heads approximanorth carolin department of environmental quality. he would be tasked with really undoing a lot of what the trump administration did. and both of these members of the cabinet potentially are central players in the climate team, which is going to be unveiled here in wilmington on saturday. the first woman treasury secretary, janet yellen. pentagon chief, lloyd austin, if confirmed, the first african-american there. the list goes on. so clearly, this is most of the cabinet but still some key positions supposed to be done by christmas. we'll see. >> yeah. the keyest of those key positions, though that's not actually english, jeff, is attorney general. we don't know, yet, who that pick will be. but we do know the top-two contenders. what have you learned? >> we do, john. really, all eyes are on this attorney general position.
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who is going to lead the department of justice in the post-trump era? and we are told, from a variety of sources, that two of the leading contenders tonight are judge merrick garland. you will remember him. he was nominated by president obama in the final year of his term to the supreme court. of course, he was blocked by senate republicans, mitch mcconnell, in particular. so he is being described by allies as someone who is politically independent. one source described him to me as a boy scout. someone who could actubsolutely answer all of these questions. and there is also alabama senator doug jones. he is very close to mr. biden. has a long, civil rights record, as well. so, those are two of the main contenders. john, we are told that position should be announced next week but, of course, that is up to mr. biden to make that timing and that decision. >> jeff zeleny, stick around. i want to bring in cnn political commentator, bakari sellers. also, cnn senior political reporter, nia malika henderson. nia, democrats grumble.
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it's what they do. there was some grumbling about some of president-elect biden's cabinet choices. but as we look at it now, it's a pretty diverse group. it's a very diverse group which is what he pledged. so, what do you make of the choices? >> it's true, in terms of racial diversity, it's a very diverse group. there were some grumblings, early on, with his initial rollouts. they didn't seem like they were going to be that diverse. and you saw pressure. pressure from civil-rights group, pressure from people like representative jim clyburn, as well, who were pushing him to make good on this promise. i think there is still an open question about ideological diversity. are these picks enough to satisfy progressives? i do know that the interior secretary pick, progressives, very much, like that. i was texting with some of those folks, early today. and that is the pick that they wanted to see. so, we'll have to see. he's got some other picks to
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make. as you said, ag. he's also got education to make. department of labor. so, we'll see how he rounds it out and whether or not those progressives, who still have some complaining, i think, to do. and want some of those picks in -- in these -- in these other cabinet positions. they want to see their people get some jobs as well. >> progressives are gushing about congresswoman deb holland, if you have been on social media. that is a pick they love. so, bakari, african-american voters in south carolina. joe biden owes the nomination, i think he would admit that, to this group. he said in one of his many victory speeches over the last six weeks, he said, you've always had my back. i will have yours. so now, as the cabinet is filled out, you have the first african-american nominee to be secretary of defense. first african-american head of the epa nominated. is joe biden proving that he does have the backs of african-americans, at least with the cabinet selections?
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>> i mean, look. you can't say that joe biden is not doing what he promised he would do. i mean, michael regan at epa. marcia fudge at hud. general austin at secretary of defense. i'll be completely honest. deb holland. i don't know if we are giving her the respect due. that's a bfd. to use the words of joe biden, that's a huge deal. department of interior, to have the first native american person to be a part of a cabinet at the department of interior is huge. we cannot underscore that. i have spoken a lot of my friends. ryan ramirez. keith harper. the former u.n. ambassador to the human rights council who pushed for this. this is an extremely big deal. and for joe biden to make this pick just looms large. i think that -- that it took pressure. i mean, as -- as nia was saying, it takes pressure. that's why you have these groups. that's why you have these individuals who are pushing, the
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cbc, these legacy civil rights organizations, everyone's applying pressure to respective caucuses and that's what's necessary, sometimes. but joe biden has risen to the occasion. and much props goes out. i'm been someone who is critical, someone who praised when praise is due. and i can say, tonight, he's put justice at the forefront. with a native american pick at the front of the interior, with someone who puts justice first, we will see what happens. where those civil rights departments have literally been gutted. but up until this point, you know, he's done everything he promised he would do. so you have to be proud about the moment we're in. >> lightning round. jeff zeleny, first. lloyd austin. general austin nominated to be defense secretary. some complications here, having to do with the waivers because he is only four years retired from the military. where does that stand? >> john, bottom line is it would be really surprising, by
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everyone, if he were not confirmed, at the end of the day. yes, there are some discussions about has he been in the civilian sector long enough? the law is seven years. he's been out for four years. but he's been talking to, you know, dozens of members of congress, already. will be talking to more. that's an historic pick leading a diverse military. i would be very surprised if he is not confirmed, john. >> nia, pete buttigieg to be secretary of transportation. you know, secretary of transportation may not be the sexiest to people, cabinet position, but it is a cabinet position. he would be the first, senate-confirmed, gay man to serve in the cabinet. what do you make of it? >> you know, it's a big job for him. some people thought he'd go to the u.n. maybe, he'd even be secretary of defense. some people thought ambassador to china. he's landed here. it is a big job. and again, it is history. we saw him, obviously, make history in his run and really impress with some of the things that he was able to do in
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pitching the biden presidency, all over the country. so, yeah, this is -- this is a good move for pete buttigieg who, obviously, has national aspirations, presidential aspirations. >> bakari, you got 20 seconds. given the year we have had and issues of racial justice, where does that land to you? >> are you trying to -- this is a sobering reality, i guess. no, i think doug jones stands head and shoulders above everyone else. i mean, doug jones is united states attorney. prosecuting the case against the -- the 16th street church bombers. doug jones being a united states senator. you know, merrick garland is great where he is. he should remain there. it's going to be hard to replace him there. but i think this is doug jones's opportunity to be attorney general. and i think that doug jones believes that justice is a verb. and so, black folk will rally around that. we know where he stands and we know where he will lead us. >> thanks so much for being with us, tonight. enjoy seeing all of you. next, we have breaking news
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on another major issue that president trump has yet to say a word about. that big, suspected, russian-hacking operation, targeting this country. a member of the house intelligence panel joins us next. and later, accusations that the government of -- florida republican governor ron desantis downplayed numbers in the state, as he tried to help president trump get re-elected. sofi made it so easy to pay off my student loan debt. (chime) they were able to give me a personal loan so i could pay off all of my credit cards. (chime) i got my mortgage through sofi and the whole process was so easy. choosing sofi was literally one of the best decisions i could have ever made because it gave me peace of mind.
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more breaking news, now. a senior white house official
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says president trump has been briefed on that suspected russian hack. on some of the highest levels of government agencies, as well as some private companies, we're learning now. we are learning more, by the hour, about the breadth of this huge attack. just in the last few minutes, microsoft says it's identified 40 organizations around the world that have been targeted. 80% of those, in the united states. microsoft's president says it is a certainty that the number of victims and locations will only grow. writing, in an op-ed, in today's "new york times," tom bossert, the administration's former cybersecurity expert said, quote, at the worst-possible time, when the u.s. is at its most vulnerable, during a presidential transition and a devastating public-health crisis, the networks of the federal government and much of corporate america are compromised by a foreign nation. the reported data breech occurred at some of the most sensitive areas in multiple government agencies. sources now say that includes the state department. it was so insidious, that republican senator, mitt romney, went out of his way, today, to
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assail both the company cyber-defenses and the administration in an interview with sirius xm radio. >> they had the capacity to show our defense is extraordinarily inadequate. that -- that our cyber-warfare readiness is extraordinarily weak. that, they think so little of our ability to fight back from a cyber-standpoint that they do this with immunity. so, our national -- national security is extraordinarily vulnerable. and in this -- in this setting, not to have the white house aggressively speaking out and protesting. and -- and taking punitive action is really, really, quite extraordinary. >> joining me now, congressman jim himes, who sits on the house-intelligence committee. go into it in too much detail but what can you tell us about the size and scope of this apparent, russian hack? >> well, it's -- it's enormous.
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and it was very cleverly done, in the sense that it would appear the people who did this, and the government is, not yet, prepared to make a formal attribution. but it would appear, the people who did this got into an american software maker, solar wind, changed the code. and the reason that's a very big deal is because the government is pretty good at seeing stuff that comes across the border. but this appears to have originated from a u.s. company. and infected the world through u.s. ip addresses. and boy, do we have a lot to learn from -- about that. we don't know the extent of the damage. we still don't have a good sense about whether lots of data was taken out. we know that, however, this infection was -- was really, very pervasive, will be global. and we, also, know, and i agree with senator romney on this, that if we don't take a very strong and clear stance and retaliate, and i do mean
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retaliate, depending, of course, on what we learn about what the -- what the cost was to us. the -- the -- whoever pulled this off, will -- will do it again. >> so, you heard part of what senator romney said there. he also mentioned that, quote, a cyberhack of this nature is really the modern equivalent of almost russian bombers flying undetected over the entire country. so, you know, as we sit here tonight, how concerned should americans be about the security of our nation's most sensitive information? >> well, they -- they should be concerned and we should be concerned. but we, also, shouldn't panic. again, we know that this exploit got into a lot of computer systems. what we don't know was what it was capable of doing. was it capable of ex-filtrating, as they say? we still don't have answers to that question. so, i mean, one way to think about it is that the
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perpetrators of this hack got into everybody's home. what we don't know is what they did, once they were in that home. but, again, we need to learn that information. i was not entirely satisfied by what the government knows, today, about exactly how intense and -- and -- and how severe this -- this hack was. and then, once we understand that, whoever did this, we need to exact a very significant cost from that group so that this doesn't happen again. if you'll recall, the russians, in 2016, that hack. you know, the obama administration did not retaliate in a way that exacted enough cost against the russians in that 2016 hack. >> what the u.s. does not know or is not saying is notable in and of itself, tonight. because i want to play you some of what president trump has said about russia during his presidency. listen. >> i think that the last person russia wants to see in office is donald trump because nobody's
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been tougher on russia than i have, ever. well, i don't care what anybody says. >> i have been tougher on russia than any president, maybe ever. you can ask putin. nobody's been rougher on russia than donald trump. okay? >> nobody has been tougher on russia than i have. with the sanctions and everything else. and i guarantee you that, in closed doors, putin says that to his people. has nobody been tougher on russia than i have? >> by the way, nobody's been tougher on russia than me, with the sanctions. and nobody has been tougher with russia than donald trump. >> he has not said a single thing about this suspected-russian hack. so, how tough can you be if you remain completely silent? >> well, that's exactly right. and if it turns out that it's confirmed that the russians were behind this, the fact that the president-elect joe biden is talking about this hack but the current president of the united states is not. if it turns out to be the
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russians, that sends the same kind of signal that gets sent to the russians. and john, we'll remember this. it was just a couple of months ago, when there were allegations that the russians might have been paying people in afghanistan to kill our troops. i don't remember donald trump -- about that. and that -- that sends a -- a very, very strong signal. that silence sends a very strong signal to the russian leadership. >> congressman himes, pleasure to see you. thanks so much for being with us tonight. >> thank you, john. speaking of all things russian, president vladimir putin, today, denied he or any agency under his control had anything to do with the poisoning of dissent alexei navalny. if someone had wanted to poison him, they would have finished him off. of a quote, shameless disinformation campaign to shift blame away from the russian president. all in response by cnn reporting by clarissa ward. russian security service, fsb,
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formed an elite team specializing in nerve agents that followed navalny's moves, for years. clarissa joins me now. so, clarissa, were you surprised putin didn't deny the facts of your reporting? and that he could have finished the job, if he had wanted to. >> yeah. john, it was definitely a little surprising. because this isn't the first time that someone has revealed something, a journalist has revealed something, that's been embarrassing to the kremlin or embarrassing to president putin or the security services. but it's definitely the first time, that i can remember, where the response of the kremlin hasn't been to say this is outrageous, this is preposterous, this is nonsense, this is ridiculous. but actually, to say, sure, why wouldn't we follow him? and the reason that president putin gave for following alexei navalny for allowing fsb operatives to follow him was saying essentially he is working
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with u.s. intelligence services. the question he didn't answer, though, or the allegation in our reporting that he did not speak to is the crucial one. which is that these weren't just normal, fsb operatives. they were experts in chemical weapons and poisons. they were in regular contact with a lab in moscow that is known to be producing novichok. >> putin basically said, if they had really wanted to do this, they would have done it right and finished the job. but we should point out, if the pilot hadn't made emergency landing, if navalny wasn't immediately brought to an icu unit, he would have been assassinated. does the kremlin have anything to say about that? >> well, no. and we have definitely spoken to a lot of experts, john, and they agree. alexei navalny should be dead. and there are only two reasons that he is not dead. one of them, as you point out, is that plane was diverted to the city, it was supposed to be flying for another three hours. and also, when he landed in omsk, there were medics on the
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tarmac. they had atropine, a lifesaving antidote. that is why he is alive and that is not something president putin has addressed. >> so, putin also went out of his way to blame the united states and really your reporting, saying this was all u.s. intelligence. this was a ruse used by the u.s. to cast blame on russia. how typical is that, of the russians, to say something like that to try to muddy the waters? >> that is pretty typical, particularly, with alexei navalny. they are really trying to cultivate the narrative that he is not truly russian. that he is in cahoots with western-intelligence sources. that he is a stooge, if you will, for the cia. and one other thing that was really telling, john, throughout this press conference and other press conferences we have heard putin give, where he is talked about navalny. he will never say navalny's name. today, he referred to him simply as the patient in berlin. talking about the hospital that he was transferred to in berlin. another point, he called him the blogger. but he won't say his name.
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he won't allow him to be a person. and that, one can only assume, is because he views navalny as a legitimate threat. >> there is almost something pathological act tha pathological about that. any sense how your reporting and this press conference is being received by the russian people? >> it's extraordinary because honestly, it's been radio silence. there hasn't even been the usual, propaganda campaign against us. it's just been no one talking about it, except for some independent journalists. there are quite a few of them here. they are incredibly brave. the work they do. they can get into a lot more trouble than we can for speaking out. but for the most part, everyone seems to be trying to turn a blind eye to it. even president putin. yes, he answered a couple questions about it. but he was also almost dismissive of it. it's not a big deal. move on. if we wanted to kill him, he'd be dead. >> clarissa, i have to say this is incredible reporting. it just keeps on going. thank you so much for the incredible work you are doing and thanks for being with us tonight. >> thanks, john. a lot more to get to,
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including a conversation with ohio governor, mike dewine, a republican, about his party's continued resistance to president-elect biden's victory. and the surprise news, tonight, that some states will be getting less vaccine this year than originally thought. and later, a cnn investigation into accusations florida governor ron desantis downplayed the pandemic and misrepresented the number of reported dead near election day. all that, when "360" continues. together with a dedicated advisor, you'll make a plan that can adjust as your life changes, with access to tax-smart investing strategies that help you keep more of what you earn. and with brokerage accounts, you see what you'll pay before you trade. personalized advice. unmatched value. at fidelity, you can have both. ♪ more than this at fidelity, you can have both. at mercedes-benz, sit's not just a job, it's our mission. from our expert technicians armed with state of the art tools and technology,
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with joe biden and kamala harris taking office in just about a month's time, several prominent republicans still have not wrapped their arms around that inevitability.
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mitch mcconnell has privately warned his republicans not to interfere with the final congressional approval or counting of the electoral college results. some senators are pressing ahead with complaints. listen to missouri senator josh hawley at a hearing yesterday with remarks he said were reflective of some of his constituents'. >> every win of them told me that they felt they had been disenfranchised, that their votes didn't matter, that the election had been rigged. these are normal, reasonable people. these are not crazy people. these are reasonable people and who, by the way, have been involved in politics. they've won. they've lost. they've seen it all. these are normal folks living normal lives who firmly believe that they have been disenfranchised. >> arguably it's the kind of rhetoric that has exacerbated passions of the legitimacy the election. here to discuss, mike dewine.
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governor dewine, we appreciate your time. senator hawley uses this circular logic. he says there are so many people, so many republican voters, who say they think there was fraud. it's because people like josh hawley and president trump are out there screaming florirom th rooftops every day that there was widespread fraud. yet in the courtroom, they haven't presented any kind of evidence that's been convincing in any way. so what's the takeaway? >> well, john, i've said all through this that i think we should trust our systems. we should trust our judicial system. the president had every right to go into court. his campaign had every right to go into court. courts do a good job discerning what the facts are and what the law is. the same way we should trust our election system. and i think what should come out of this is people should say, look, this works. the system has worked. look, we have acrimonious campaigns. we've had them in the past. we'll have them in the future.
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but in the end, americans do this pretty well. we've done it for a long time. we know how to have a peaceful transfer of power. we know how to accept elections and get ready to go fight again. that's what you do when you lose an election. i've lost a couple myself. so i think rather than, you know, worrying about the system, the system has worked, and it's worked very well this time. it works well. you know, there's flaws. they're mistakes. there's things that happen. but by and large, we do it pretty well in this country, and we should, you know, accept that and be glad of that. >> what have the courts and the system said just to be clear? >> well, you saw the -- look, i mean courts make decisions. i can't keep track of all the different decisions. look, they have been reported, and the supreme court finally, for all the people who thought that, you know, the trump appointees to the united states supreme court could not be trusted -- and frankly, we heard
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some of that -- look, they made a decision, and they made a decision. they called balls and strikes. they do what judges do, and they made a decision. so the system works. you know, i spend my day not worrying about that. i spend my day worrying about the coronavirus, which is spreading, you know, rapidly in the state of ohio. we've got in our hospitals one-fourth of every patient is a covid patient. one-third of every patient in the icu is a covid patient, and frankly that's what my focus is on every day. >> i want to ask you about ohio and coronavirus in just one second, but i just want to ask one last question about the republican party in general. mitt romney, senator romney, former governor romney, former presidential nominee mitt romney was saying the republican party is different now than the republican party that nominated him to be president in 2012. how different is it, do you think? >> well, i don't know about
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that. i mean i just -- i don't know what to make of that statement. what i see is, at least in ohio but i think also across the country, you know, republicans are -- we're winning in blue collar communities in ohio that ten years ago we didn't have any chance of winning. we would have laughed at the idea that we could have won in steubenville, ohio, or that we would have won jefferson county, belmont county. we're winning in those areas, and not only did the president win, but a lot of local republican officials won. so there's a -- that's the positive. the negative is, you know, we're falling back in franklin county, in columbus. we're falling back in some suburbs. we're constantly -- i think both parties, you constantly try to appeal to voters and meet people's needs. and that's what we're trying to do. >> i don't want to cut you off, but i do want to talk about coronavirus. >> sure. >> we've heard reports that some
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states are being told they wouldn't get as much of the pfizer vaccine as they expected. what are you hearing on that front, and just give me a sense of what you want people in ohio to know in this week before christmas? >> well, the good news is tomorrow morning, 7:30, we start vaccinating people in nursing homes, thank god. this is where we've seen the biggest number of people who have died. whi we can't get them vaccinated soon enough. we started several days ago vaccinating people who are our frontline defenders. we're moving forward. we've not heard any change in the amount from pfizer. they've delivered -- in fact they actually delivered more because we're getting six and seven doses out of a five-dose. so we're moving forward. >> good. governor dewine, thank you for being with us. we wish you the best of luck. >> thanks, john. >> in these tough weeks dealing with the pandemic. the republican governor of another state won by president trump taking a different approach. ron desantis still intent on
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keeping as much of his state open as possible. that's despite reporting the most new cases today since july. as we mentioned earlier, that's more than 13,000. tonight there are questions surrounding just how forthright his government has been with the state's coronavirus data, specifically deaths reported near election day as the governor and trump loyalist tried to help secure the president's re-election. the details from cnn's senior investigative correspondent drew griffin. >> hey, ron, how are we doing? >> reporter: in the weeks surrounding the november 3rd election, florida's department of health all but stopped reporting deaths that had taken place more than a month earlier, making overall death numbers appear much lower. days after the election, the department went back to reporting those backlogged deaths as first reported by the sun sentinel newspaper. why? the state isn't saying. but cnn has interviewed more than a dozen state officials and experts and finds governor ron desantis' administration has sidelined health experts, promoted questionable science, and left some county officials
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feeling muzzled from raising the alarm about rising cases. >> they are not necessarily at liberty to release all the information that they might want to release. >> reporter: dr. eileen marty, an infectious disease expert at florida international university says the governor's approach to the virus has made it worse. >> it's counterproductive. >> is it also deadly? >> it leads people towards behavior that increases transmission. bottom line, it leads to more deaths. >> reporter: in recent weeks, governor ron desantis has defiantly kept restaurants and bars open, joined a maskless crowd tweeting this picture from a high school football game, and scoffed at the notion of more government-mandated shutdowns no matter how bad the virus. >> if they want to shut down businesses, i'm going to stand in the way. >> reporter: what he has rarely done is mention the 20,000 floridians who have died or the more than 1 million who have been infected, seemingly, say critics, to downplay the virus,
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keep florida's economy open in an effort to win an election for one person. >> we're with the governor of florida, ron desantis, who's done a spectacular job in florida. >> he's doings a miserable job. >> reporter: the governor's executive order has prevented county officials and mayors like carlos hernandez, the republican mayor of hialeah, from enforcing local mask regulations or other restrictions that could have slowed the virus' spread. >> maybe he has a number in mind that's it's okay for that number of people to die but i think there's a lot more that we could be doing as a state. >> reporter: instead, state experts say desantis' administration controls the messaging about the response. >> all of those decisions are made in tallahassee, and i suspect that the governor's office. >> reporter: two department of health i does tell cnn in late september they were told to not focus on covid-19 in their public messaging. both workers, who asked not to be named, said they were afraid
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of being fired. we're putting politics in front of lives, one said. and sure enough, the state's public messages about coronavirus almost entirely vanished. the florida department of health's website and social media accounts used to be filled with covid information and advice. but on september 25th, the day the governor signed his order that fully reopened florida, all of that changed overnight. the tweets and facebook posts suddenly were about infant hearing loss, carbon monoxide poisoning, and the flu shot. up until thursday, the department of health's website was filled with a weeks old image promoting national diabetes awareness month, which was november. to find the latest news on covid-19, you need to click on a link. >> the governor made up his mind about what the right thing to do was, found people who supported that and then went ahead. the problem it was kind of an all or nothing and undermined a lot of local efforts. >> reporter: florida's state health department refused to
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answer any questions. >> drew griffin joins us now. drew, what's going on here just seems to be governor desantis, as president trump has done, treating a pandemic like a divisive political issue. >> reporter: no doubt, john. we talked to that one health official who said this is politics in front of lives. today, john, over 100 deaths recorded in florida. 13,000 new covid cases. that's the most daily caseload they've had since july. the governor put out one tweet today, another one about high school football. john. >> drew griffin, thank you very much. just as we leave hair this evening, some new numbers. 2,995 reported deaths so far today. another grim count that is. sadly not over. the news continues, so let's hand it over to chris for "cuomo prime time." thank you, john. appreciate it. i am chris cuomo and welcome to "prime time." we all know that we are under atta,