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100 Million U.S. Adults Now Fully Vaccinated; Biden Administration to Restrict Travel From India; Rudy Giuliani Speaks Out. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2021 - 14:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

Rudy Giuliani is speaking out, denying any wrongdoing and vowing to fight back following Wednesday's raid on -- of his Manhattan home and office by federal agents.

He's also pushing back on a new "Washington Post" report that says the former personal attorney to President Trump was warned directly by the FBI in 2019 that he was the target of a Russia influence operation, an operation aimed at spreading misinformation about Joe Biden.

BLACKWELL: Now, Giuliani's lawyer just released a statement.

So, let's get to CNN reporter Kara Scannell. She has the details.

So, what is his lawyer saying?


Yes, so we just received a statement from Rudy Giuliani's attorney, Robert Costello, and he tells us this about "The Washington Post" story. "This story is totally false, according to Mayor Giuliani. He never received any such briefing."

And so what "The Washington Post" is reporting today is that Giuliani was told by the FBI's counterintelligence division that he was the target of a Russian misinformation campaign and was receiving false information about then candidate Joe Biden.

Now, CNN has not confirmed "The Washington Post" report. But what CNN has reported is that the White House was warned that Russians were feeding misinformation, or at least there were concerns that Russians were feeding misinformation to Giuliani during the presidential election campaign.

And after that -- the White House had received that warning, Giuliani still took a trip to Ukraine, where he met with someone who U.S. intelligence had later identified as a Russian asset -- Victor, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: So, Kara, listen, Giuliani went on FOX last night to defend

himself after the federal raid. What did he say there?

SCANNELL: Yes, so he gave this interview to FOX. It was really his first extensive statements about the raid on his apartment, which is just behind me, on Wednesday morning.

And Giuliani said that he -- that the investigation here is really focused on foreign lobbying and whether Giuliani was lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian officials, or if he was working for then President Donald Trump when he was pushing for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because prosecutors are concerned here that the Ukrainians had wanted her removed.

Giuliani in this interview with FOX has denied any wrongdoing. Here's what he said:


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I can tell you, I never, ever represented a foreign national.

The search warrant is purportedly based on one single failure to file for representing a Ukrainian national or official that I never represented.


SCANNELL: Now, what Giuliani also teed up in this interview is that he made he getting ready for a big fight with prosecutors over the devices that they seized and some of the materials within it.

He also said that he believes that his right, his constitutional rights were violated, because prosecutors had obtained access to an iCloud account of his in 2019 around the same time Giuliani said he was working with them president on his impeachment defense -- Victor, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Kara Scannell, thank you very much for all of these developments.

OK, now to the explosive new developments in the criminal investigation involving another close ally of former President Trump, and that's Congressman Matt Gaetz. The Daily Beast is reporting that an associate of Gaetz named Joel Greenberg wrote a letter in which he talked about how the Florida Republican congressmen paid for sex with a minor.

The letter was drafted after Joel Greenberg reportedly asked Roger Stone for help in obtaining a pardon during the final months of President Trump's term in exchange for a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

BLACKWELL: Now, CNN has not seen the letter, cannot independently confirm The Daily Beast report.

Let's go to CNN Paula Reid, as she's following the developments for us.

Paula, walk us through what we do know.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Greenberg reportedly wrote a letter admitting that he and Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including a minor who was just 17 at the time.

Now, there were several drafts, reportedly, of this letter. And in an earlier draft obtained by The Daily Beast, Greenberg claims that he and Gaetz thought this woman was 19, but later learned she was underage.

Greenberg reportedly claims that, when he figured this out, he immediately called the congressman and warned him. CNN, though, has not seen the letter and can't verify the details of The Daily Beast story.

But we have spoken to several women who were involved with both of these men. And we have reported that Greenberg paid women on behalf of Congressman Gaetz after some sexual encounters.

Now, CNN's own Chris Cuomo spoke to Roger Stone last night, and Stone says he doesn't recall any letter. He says he never heard Greenberg implicating Gaetz, and that he never tried to get Greenberg even a pardon.

Stone also told The Daily Beast he never asked for or received any money from Greenberg.


BLACKWELL: So, Paula, is Gaetz saying anything about this letter?

REID: He is.

A spokesman for the congressman responded with a statement that says, in part: "Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he ever had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. The story goes some way to showing how Representative Gaetz was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg, and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg's affairs."

But, Victor, Mr. Greenberg is very much involved in Mr. Gaetz's affairs. Greenberg is currently in jail. He's facing 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking. And sources tell CNN Greenberg has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year.

And he shared with them information about encounters he and the congressman had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. Greenberg is expected to finalize a plea deal with the government in the coming weeks.

BLACKWELL: This becomes more and more bizarre as time goes on.

Paula Reid read for us from Washington, thank you so much. Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash

and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, first to you.

Again, bizarre. You have got the investigation going on. But with this letter, how impactful could it be? What do you do with it?


It doesn't add much to the story. These are the same allegations we have heard from the beginning. But it could be significant in two ways. First, it is a statement that Greenberg made before he started cooperating with the authorities. So, one of their challenges right now is to try to verify or corroborate the things that he's telling them.

Having made this statement before he was in a cooperation agreement with them corroborates some of the claims. It's not a new story that he made up just to get their attention. It's something that he's been saying for a while. So that's one thing.

The second thing is, it just casts the whole bunch of characters in a very negative light. If there's ever a trial about these matters, you could likely get that statement admitted into evidence, and it would have the effect of really making Gaetz and Greenberg and Roger Stone look really, really shady and make them look terrible to the jury.

So, it could be very important down the line.

CAMEROTA: Dana, don't worry find this letter that is reportedly written by Joel Greenberg as this sort of confession in which he's seeking your pardon, don't we find this letter a little bizarre?

Let me just read one portion of it. He's talking about the woman, the underage young woman, OK, whom he calls "this individual."

Here it is: "On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida's First Congressional District and myself."

In your confession letter, do you normally spell out the congressional district that your co-conspirator is involved in? I mean, this is strange.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, what about this -- these allegations are not strange, right, Alisyn?

I have never written a confession letter, but my guess is I probably wouldn't spell it out like that. Having said that, let's connect a dot here as part of a question. And that dot is the question about whether or not the congressman contacted the White House about a pardon, and about a pre-pardon from the then-president, Donald Trump. Now, the president has said explicitly that he personally didn't get a

request. Matt Gaetz has denied that he made that request. But we do have reporting that there was -- that there were some conversations with people in and around the president.

Was the letter related to that? We do not know. But that is one of the questions that is being asked, especially given what Andy just said, which is that this letter, which looks more like something that you write when you are cooperating with the feds, and you want to try to lessen your sentence, but, apparently, it was written before this.

BLACKWELL: Andrew, let's turn to Rudy Giuliani and what we just learned from Kara Scannell, that his attorney is denying "The Washington Post" reporting that the former mayor was warned by the FBI that he was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign.

What would that briefing have looked like, and how common are they?

MCCABE: They are fairly common.

I mean, in FBI world, it's fairly common. It's not common in the general public. But, typically, what happens is at least two agents from the Counterintelligence Division meet with the individual, in this case, presumably Rudy Giuliani, and sit down, and they go over with him a few very key talking points that the agents and their supervisors and their leadership agreed to ahead of time.


It's very scripted, because the agents can't take a chance of exposing any confidential intelligence or sources and methods and things like that. So, they're very strictly kind of kept to a set of talking points.

Those agents will come back from that meeting. They will write up the results of the meeting. They will indicate exactly what they said and how the other person reacted. So, there will be a record of that meeting if it took place.

CAMEROTA: Dana Bash, Andrew McCabe, thank you very much.

We have to go for some breaking news now.

BLACKWELL: This is just in to CNN.

A White House official tells CNN that, on the advice of the CDC, the Biden administration will restrict travel from India.

CAMEROTA: CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us now.

Kaitlan, what are you just learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is massive news. It's something that has been under discussion for several days here at the White House, as we have seen these cases skyrocketing in India.

And now we are being told that, on the advice of the CDC, the Biden administration is going to start restricting travel from India, not starting immediately, though, we should note. It doesn't start until May the 4th. That's on Tuesday at midnight.

And, of course, that is in effect because, remember, last year, when a lot of these travel bans and these travel restrictions went into place, there was a panic at airports, where people were essentially emptying their savings accounts trying to book flights.

And so this is a little bit of a delayed effect before it starts actually going into effect. But they are talking about this right now here at the White House, putting this policy in place so that, starting on Tuesday, they will be restricting travel from India.

And they say this is exactly due to what we are seeing happening with the skyrocketing cases happening there and also the multiple variants that are making their way through India. That has apparently raised enough concern for federal health officials that they want to restrict travel from India to the U.S.

There are a few caveats, though, I should note here, because a lot of questions, I'm sure, are going to follow this, what this is going to look like, who exactly is restricted. And the White House says this policy does not apply to American citizens or lawful permanent residence.

You will still see those travel restrictions put in place, as you see with international travel right now, where you have to come and either quarantine or take a negative COVID test before you actually get on the flight to come to the United States.

Those policies will stay in effect. And the White House also says that this new policy on restricting travel from India does not apply to humanitarian workers. And they said that they are going to continue what we saw -- talked about last week, sending those shipments of PPE and other oxygen, basically everything else that India is in dire -- in dire need of right now, in short supply, are still going to go, continue to go from the U.S. to India as this is going into place.

The question also that's going to follow this is, how long does this last, and how long is this going to be in effect for? And that's something that we don't know yet. But this is a decision that President Biden has made with the CDC, with his coronavirus team here at the White House.

They say it's on the advice of the CDC that they are going to start restricting travel from India starting on May 4.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan Collins, you're so right. This is big news. So many people have been wondering if and when this would happen. And it just did.

Thank you very much for bringing this to us. So, the battle against coronavirus is heading in the right direction

in the U.S. The White House says more than 100 million adults are now fully vaccinated. So, coming up, we're going to speak to a doctor in Texas about what's happened there since the mask mandate was lifted.

BLACKWELL: Also, as Florida joins other states changing its election laws, a new CNN poll shows Americans are split down the middle on whether or not they believe the rules are making it too difficult to vote.

CAMEROTA: And later this hour, President Biden will be in Philadelphia to push his big infrastructure plan, so we will take you there live.



BLACKWELL: There are more signs that the U.S. is making progress in the fight to end the pandemic.

The CDC and the White House have announced that 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated from COVID. That's roughly three out of 10. Plus, a CNN analysis finds an 80 percent drop in the average of daily deaths since the peak in January. And vaccines may be partly responsible.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I think we can confidently say the worst is behind us.

Barring some crazy unforeseen variant that none of us are expecting to happen, we will not see the kinds of sufferings and death that we have seen over the holidays. I think we are in a much better shape heading forward.


CAMEROTA: Dr. Joseph Varon is the chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.

Dr. Varon, don't think that just because -- oh, first, we should mention that this is the heartbreaking photo that went viral at the height of the pandemic, and you're comforting a sick patient there. And so many people remember that.

And what I was going to say, Doctor, is don't think that just because I have moved to the afternoons that I'm going to start pestering you about your workload.


CAMEROTA: And you know what I'm talking about? Because this is your 407th day straight, OK, that you have been working. And it is just shocking for all of us to hear that. But you felt that you had no choice.

And so, Doctor, I will get to when you're going to take a vacation in a minute. But, first, just tell us what's happening in Texas, because I remember that the day that the Texas -- the Texas governor announced the lifting of the mask mandate, and you were very worried.

You told us you feared that you -- all of your hard work would go down the drain. But it hasn't. I mean, since then -- I will pull up a graph -- since it was lifted on March 10, the case numbers in Texas and the deaths have steadily gone down.


So, just tell us what happened in Texas.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I mean, I can tell you what happens in my hospital.

My hospital, initially, indeed, we have a decrease in the number of cases. However, over the last two weeks, we have had an increasing number of patients. At some point in time, I only had like eight patients in the hospital with COVID. In a period of a week, that number quadrupled.

So I have -- right now, I have 32 patients with COVID, which, yes, it's less than 50 percent of my capacity. But we're still seeing them. Just now, as I was getting ready to start with you guys, I had to admit two patients.

One interesting thing that's going on is that most of the patients that we're seeing are under the age of 50. And the second thing is that they are coming into us extremely sick.

And that may be because many of them say, oh, it's just COVID, it's no big deal, and they come in late, or they just don't want to come to the hospital because of concerns of getting in trouble in the hospital.

BLACKWELL: So, we know that we're getting to the point where the supply of the demand is outpacing soon -- the supply of the vaccine, I should say, outpacing demand.

We spoke with some Texans who are choosing not to get vaccinated. Listen to this.


QUESTION: You getting vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't need a vaccine. I had COVID last March, sick for all the five hours. I don't need a vaccine for that.

QUESTION: The CDC recommends, even if you had COVID, you should get vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they can recommend stuff. QUESTION: It's got emergency approval, right?


QUESTION: Who's the emergencies determine in the emergency approval.

QUESTION: Do you think Trump is wrong on this one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I don't know what the situation is on that, but I know I'm not wrong. And we're the independent, freedom people of America, and we make our own decisions.


BLACKWELL: We know there's this political divide amongst those who will and will not get the vaccine. But what's your reaction to what you heard there?

VARON: Well, I mean, it's -- obviously, for me, it's sad to hear things like that, because I'm the one that is on the front lines. I get to see those patients that don't listen.

Every single patient that I have right now in my unit is a patient that did not get a vaccine for one or other reason. I mean, the fact is that vaccines work. And the numbers that you guys were mentioning as to why we're going down is because of the vaccine. There's no question about it.

The more people we vaccinate, the better off we are. I know that there is a lot of concern about the potential side effects and stuff like that. But, for God's sake, everything we do has a potential risk.

And, more importantly, when you consider feeling sick for a couple of days or a very weird illness that can happen one in a million vs. getting COVID and dying from COVID, there is no question in my mind that we need to -- and I get so passionate about it because, like I said, I'm the one that has been working for 407 continuous days.

So, when I see that people don't want to get the vaccine, the first thing that I want to know is whether they're well-educated as far the vaccine, the vaccine development, I mean, not all of these things that we hear that this vaccine was developed overnight and nonsense like that.

CAMEROTA: Doctor, I'm so glad you're pointing that out, because I -- when I hear people talking like that about how it's their personal freedom not to get the vaccine, of course, that's true. I mean, of course, they can exercise their personal freedom.

But I don't think that they're thinking about your freedom. I mean, I don't ever hear them talking about the repercussions for the doctors and nurses who are in the hospitals who have to deal with this. And, as you said, people are younger and sicker now than you have ever seen before.

And so you are, of course, as always, just having to deal with all of that.

And so, Doctor, that leads me to my question. It's been 407 days. Are you going to be able to take a day off anytime soon?

VARON: I'm probably going to take a day off a week from Saturday.

My son is getting married, and he's going to have a bachelor party. And believe it or not, he invited me to the bachelor party, which will be...


VARON: There will be social distancing and all that stuff.

But I am going.

CAMEROTA: So, you are taking a day? You're taking a week? What are you taking off?

VARON: Oh, I'm just taking a day off.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.


CAMEROTA: All right.

BLACKWELL: I mean, I think it's interesting that he invites his dad to his bachelor party. I mean, that's...

CAMEROTA: That says a lot about what a great dad Dr. Varon is.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it does. It does.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Varon, I don't know if one day is my prescription for you, but it's a start.

So, thank you, as always, for all that you do. We really appreciate checking in with you, Doctor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, thank you, Dr. Varon.


BLACKWELL: All right, we're keeping an eye on Philadelphia right now, just a few moments away from President Biden's remarks on the 50th anniversary of his favorite mode of transportation, the Amtrak train.

CAMEROTA: And despite Biden being in office for more than 100 days now -- isn't it -- today is the 100th day? -- Republicans in Arizona are still auditing the vote count.

We will tell you about that story ahead.



CAMEROTA: So, any moment, we expect to see President Biden at an Amtrak station, also known as his natural habitat....



CAMEROTA: ... in Philadelphia.

He will be giving a speech for Amtrak's 50th anniversary.

BLACKWELL: So, this is part of his major push for two enormous economic plans, one to improve infrastructure, like railways, and the other is geared towards middle-class families.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there for us.