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"West Wing" Star On Battling The Big Lie; U.S. Missile Defense Agency Says Intercept Test Failed; New Defendants Charged In Oath Keepers Conspiracy Case; Former GOP Congressman Pays Painful Professional Price; Texas Cops Worry As State Moves To Drop Handgun Permits; When Change Came To Rahul Dubey's Door; Unvaccinated Staffers Sue Hospital Over Vaccine Mandate. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 19:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we were terrified before, for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm going back to a little bit of normalcy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life has returned, right? I mean, we're back. Thank God we've returned safely, you know, it's been a challenge. This last year has been really difficult.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Orphan children going to work in North Korean coal mines. The state says they're volunteers. Human rights groups say they're victims.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington on this Sunday. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Tonight, Texas Republicans, well, they have been working overnight to put new voting restrictions into place like preventing people from casting their ballots overnight. The controversial bill passed in the state Senate and now the House is rushing to beat a midnight deadline.

President Biden calls the looming Texas law part of an assault on democracy. This year 14 states have already enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote. This is according to the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice. It's this massive GOP effort to change voting laws nationwide that has actor Bradley Whitford concerned.


BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: Hey, everybody. The scariest thing to me about the big lie is not the fact that more and more Republicans are bowing down to Trump. We know they're in a cult. It's not that Liz Cheney got ousted from her leadership position. I can't believe we live in a country where progressives are upset that Liz Cheney lost her leadership position. No, the really scary thing about the big lie is that the GOP is openly

using it to strip away voting rights in states all across the country and they're not even trying to hide their racism. One Republican twerp in Texas straight up said that their voter suppression bill would preserve the purity of the ballot box.

These people must be stopped and they must be stopped for good. We've been harping about this for months but the Senate needs to pass the For the People Act and we need to pressure our senators to do it now.


BROWN: Bradley Whitford, the star of television series like the "West Wing" and the "Handmaid's Tale," joins me now to discuss.

Good evening to you, Bradley. Thanks for coming on. We want to start with just getting your reaction to this latest bill in Texas that further restricts voting as part of this broader GOP effort nationwide.

WHITFORD: Yes, it's -- Pamela, first of all, thank you for having me and happy holiday to you and to your viewers. It's just another example of this egregious attack on voting rights in -- at a time when we recently had the most secure election with the most participants in United States history, and don't take it from me.

Take it from Bill Barr who found absolutely nothing that would in any remote way change the result of this election, and in court cases across the country, often adjudicated by Trump appointed judges.

And this attack is particularly disturbing to me on Memorial Day when we are celebrating the ultimate sacrifice that people have made abroad to fight for freedom, and I think the best way we can honor them is by fighting fascism at home when we are called to do it, and the best way to do that is to pass HR 11 which sets a foundation for participation in our most -- with our most fundamental right regardless of your income, your zip code or your race.

BROWN: Right. So this is the For the People Act that has not been passed for Congress. It would require states to have at least 15 days of early voting in federal elections, allow for automatic and same-day voter registration, restore voting rights to former felons and so forth.

As you know, Bradley, Republicans say that this bill is a power grab, that's tilted towards Democrats, it favors Democrats and it is true. Look, the facts show this past election was safe, free and fair, but some Republicans are arguing look, the damage is done, it's important for these changes to happen to boost confidence in the election system. Here's what Texas Congressman McCaul said this morning on CNN.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Asking for an I.D. when someone votes, I don't believe that's voter suppression. I think, you know, 70 percent of Americans agree with that idea. And then the idea of verifying signatures I think is very important as well. I think what the Republicans here would tell you is they're trying to make sure that the person voting is the person on paper so it's a legitimate vote to avoid a fraud.


A lot of the American people seem to have lost faith in our government. They've lost faith in our elections that we need to restore.


BROWN: First off, I just have to fact check the level of fraud is not under massive debate. It is a total myth that there's massive fraud. The statistics are clear that it is statistically insignificant, vanishingly rare. But that aside, what do you say to him and other Republicans who echo those talking points, Bradley?

WHITFORD: Well, I think they're being disingenuous. I mean, these are elaborate solutions to a problem that does not exist. Voter fraud in any meaningful way does not exist. President Trump appointed a commission to look into the problem of voter fraud. Voter fraud does not exist. We should be celebrating an election where more people participated with their most fundamental right as an American which was reviewed over and over and over, recounts, court cases.

There was no fraud, and I would ask the congressman, does he think that his election was valid or -- you know, I know in Arizona Paul Gosar is very upset about voter fraud while the same machine that ensured his election ensured the election of Joe Biden so I think it's disingenuous. I do in fact don't like to use the word but we need to face the fact that this -- there's a racial element to these laws.

Signatures vary greatly especially among immigrants, access to voter I.D. may seem very obvious to people who are driving. It's a way to suppress. Some people of course can't afford a car. It makes it very difficult for young voters who are often in college at the time. We need to be making voting easier. If there was a problem in terms of voter security or voter fraud, I would be all for it.

They're being disingenuous. That is the big lie. And the insurrection that began on January 6th is continuing in Republican controlled statehouses across the country and it's time for us to stand up to it. Many of these laws including the one in Texas and in Georgia will allow political officials to actually overturn the results of elections. We need to live in a country where the citizens choose their leaders, not where the leaders choose who gets to vote.

BROWN: And of course, on the racial claim as you well know Republicans push back on that. They say no, this is just about making sure the election is secure, that it has integrity in the system. You just heard that from Liz Cheney recently who has been outspoken against the big election lie but overall as we look big picture, Bradley, I'm just curious because you're in a unique position, right?

You're a celebrity, you're well-known, you can speak out about this. But how do you convince people, someone that the big lie and the push to change voting laws and voting rights will fundamentally hurt democracy? Because we're in this hyperpolarized age right now, where people listening to you who believe the big lie and think that these voting laws should be passed, would say, oh, you're part of the liberal elite, why should I listen to you? What do you say to them?

WHITFORD: Well, you know, again, you need to send me some evidence that there was any voter fraud in the last election. This has been litigated. I believe there were three recounts in Georgia. There is absolutely no evidence of voter fraud, and again, you know, these are fake solutions for a problem that doesn't exist and I think the Republican Party is worried and they know that these laws which in a sort of buck shot way can reduce voter turnout in very close elections, allow them to stay viable as a party.

But, again, we do not on either side of the aisle want politicians to be able to overturn the results of an election and that is part of what these laws are doing all across the country.

BROWN: Well, and in Texas, it lowers the threshold for a judge to throw out election results. So it is a fair point you're making.


BROWN: But I want to ask you really quick because, you know, at some point we have to wrap this up, sadly. I could talk to you much longer about this issue. But given your passion for this, would you consider running for office?

WHITFORD: My standard answer to that is I have no capacity to act that much.


WHITFORD: But I admire the sacrifice that all politicians make in terms of public service. I just want to say that my passion about voting, my mother was part of the League of Women Voters, voting and voting registration was a very big deal. My great, great grandfather fought for the Union Army, the Indiana 81st Regimen, and they were the first people to fight for mail-in voting while they were fighting to preserve the union.

And after the war he fought to expand access to -- for African- Americans to get the right to vote. So I think it's our most -- I think it's the most important issue facing us is that we have a voice in our representative government and that is not to be suppressed by the powers that be.

BROWN: Yes. It's the bedrock of democracy, being able to vote, having your voice heard and having that access.

Bradley Whitford, thank you. And it's really interesting to hear about your family's history and why you are so passionate about this issue that we cover a lot on this show. We appreciate it and we hope you come back on some day.

WHITFORD: I'd love to, thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

Well, we are following some breaking news this evening. As the U.S. Military announces that a test for ballistic missile interception system has failed. More on that in just a moment.

Also ahead, critics call it a return to the Wild West as Texas moves to make it easier to carry a handgun. The president of the Houston Police Officers Union tells me why he thinks it's a terrible idea.



BROWN: More of our breaking news this evening. The U.S. Military is announcing that a test for a ballistic missile system interception failed on Saturday.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more details. I talked with her last hour.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via phone): The whole idea was that there is a Navy ship out there and it is equipped with something called the standard missile. An advanced version, not a fancy name but very advanced, very high tech. They were testing to see if they could fire a salvo of those missiles against what would have been a stimulated ballistic missile target.

Not a real ballistic missile but in a test of course you want something that's a target and you try and shoot it down, and that tells you if your missile defenses work. This time it didn't work and they don't know why yet. So an investigation underway into this failed test.


BROWN: And new tonight, the Justice Department is building out the criminal conspiracy case against the Oath Keepers charging former people who allegedly prepared for and took part in the deadly Capitol insurrection.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz has been reporting on this story and is on the phone now.

So, Katelyn, what can you tell us? I mean, this seems to be a big step forward for investigators in building out the conspiracy idea.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Hi, Pam. It really is. There were 12 charged defendants in the case before today. Now we've got 16. That's a lot of people. So three of these new defendants today are from Florida.

We also have others from Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina, but the three that we know of, their names today are Joseph Hackett. He's from Sarasota. Jason Dolan from Wellington, Florida, William Isaacs of Kissimmee, and there's a fourth new defendant's name that is still redacted.

Now these people are charged with conspiracy and taking part in the insurrection but this is part of a much bigger case where prosecutors have given all kinds of details about what they've been learning as it's going on. The prosecutors have written in court filings about guns that members of the group allegedly brought to a hotel in Virginia to support them as backup during the insurrection.

They've also been writing into indictments including the one today words that the Oath Keepers allegedly were saying to each other during the insurrections. Things like push, push into the Capitol, talking about the training, talking about regrouping and being on a mission on January 6th.

And so what this does is not only does it add these four additional names to the Oath Keeper conspiracy case, it also ups the pressure on this group, so no one in this 16-person case has pleaded guilty or flipped at this time.

They all have pleaded not guilty when they've been given the chance but we know that prosecutors are tightening the screws around the defendants in this case and others who might have knowledge about conspiracies and planning before January 6th. And so that's what we're seeing here steps forward in a very big investigation -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Katelyn, thanks for helping us understand this latest development and we'll be tracking anything else that happens involving this case and others, involving the insurrection on January 6th.

Meantime, former Republican congressman Joe Walsh is paying a painful price for speaking the truth about the state of his own party. He joins me next to explain.



BROWN: Fighting cancel culture has become a rallying cry for conservatives but in today's Republican Party no one has cancelled faster than a critic of Donald Trump. Congresswoman Liz Cheney found it out the hard way after she refused to say the 2020 election was stolen. Former GOP congressman Joe Walsh says he is the latest victim of conservative cancel culture. His radio show was just axed from the air and he says it's because he is critical of the former president.

Joe, thanks for coming on the show. Walk us through what happened.

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Hey, Pam. Very good to be with you. The show was just pulled a couple of weeks ago. The owner of the network is a big Trumper. He was riding my butt for a whole year. He did not want an anti-Trump voice on the radio.


Pam, this isn't the first time this has happened to me. Prior to my primary challenge to Trump a couple of years ago, I lost a nationally syndicated radio show. The deal is this, it doesn't matter where you stand on issues, Pam, if you're a Republican or a conservative. If you're anti-Trump, there is no room for you in right-wing media.

It's analogous to my time in Congress, what Liz Cheney is facing now if you're outspoken against Donald Trump, there is no room for you in the Republican Party, either. It's a pretty crazy spot to be in.

BROWN: So was there a specific thing you said that you think was just the last straw or was it just your general hostility toward Trump and they finally had it?

WALSH: It's conservative talk radio and it's the fact that I'm anti- Trump, and I'm very outspoken in my anti-Trump, anti-Trumpism views, Pam. And again, this isn't the first time this has happened to me. It happened a few years ago when I was on about, gosh, about 100 markets around the country. The network I was with then, they busted my chops every week back then to support Trump and say good things about Trump.

This is the pressure that people in conservative media are under and Pam, almost everybody buckles to the pressure. You can be like a strong Hannity and just be a stupid Trump cheerleader, and many people in right-wing media do that, or you can be like a Tucker Carlson and just do your best to ignore having to talk about Trump.

I couldn't do that, either, Pam. I mean, I'm in a business to speak my mind so I had to speak out against Trump and if you're outspoken against Donald Trump, there is no room for you in conservative talk.

BROWN: So basically, you're painting this picture that if you want to be in conservative media today, you can't be honest but instead you have to, as you put it, kiss Trump's feet all day. Do you believe your party is moving toward fascism?

WALSH: It's -- Pam, it's there. I left -- I'm a lifelong Republican. I left the party a year ago which is because it has become an authoritarian embracing cult. It is fascist. I mean, my god, look where we are right now, Pam. Just this past week Republicans decided they did not want to investigate and attack on our government a few months ago. Why? Because that would have angered their cult leader.

It doesn't matter where you stand on the issues, Pam. I'm still a consecutive, have always been but that doesn't matter in today's Republican Party.

BROWN: Let me just ask you.

WALSH: You're either with Trump or you're not.

BROWN: You've been a longtime conservative, as you pointed out. You are no stranger to controversy yourself. You even once tweeted this. You imply that you would refuse to accept the results of a presidential election in 2016, said, "If Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket."

I have to ask you about this. Do you blame your own rhetoric at all for where we find ourselves today? I mean, so many Republicans have let Trump spew the lies about the election, and it's fraudulent, and all of that. which is complete nonsense but they let him do it and it got baked in.

WALSH: Pam, you are so right. Look, I have spent a good chunk of the past three years publicly apologizing for everything I did that led to Trump. I went to Congress back in 2010, Pam. I was part of that Tea Party class and yes, a lot of the ugly politics that we engaged, that I engaged in, that led to Trump. A Republican Party establishment that ignored their voters for years, that led to Trump.

Here's our problem, though. Trump now is the party and the party base is radicalized. Pam, they don't believe January 6th was a big deal. They don't believe Joe Biden won fair and square and this is the crap, Pam, that they hear on talk radio every day, which made me so sad, because I was the only one out there trying to tell them the truth.

BROWN: Yes, as I say, it's like junk food for the brain.

Former Congressman Joe Walsh, thank you for coming on and sharing your experience.

WALSH: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: And your evolving perspective as a I guess reformed or former conservative. Thanks so much.

Well, despite a nationwide pandemic of gun violence, Texas is moving to scrap licenses and training for perspective gun owners. Now police officers are worried. The president of Houston's Police Officers Union joins me live up next.

And the richest black neighborhood in America ripped apart by a violent white mob. Uncover the hidden story. The CNN Film "DREAMLAND: THE BURNING OF BLACK WALL STREET" premieres tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.



BROWN: The State of Texas is moving to drop most licensing requirements to buy and own a handgun. Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign a law that makes it legal for virtually anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun. No permit required, no training required.

Up until now, Texas said you had to have a four to six-hour training course, pass a written exam and pass a shooting proficiency demonstration.

All those rules will now be scrapped if Abbott signs the bill as he is expected to do. I want to bring in Douglas Griffith, the President of the Houston

Police Officers Union to talk more about this. Thanks for coming on, Douglas. You told "The New York Times" that it's not the number of guns that worries you, it is an increased number of people with guns who haven't had any training. How is this going to make your job harder?

DOUGLAS GRIFFITH, PRESIDENT, HOUSTON POLICE OFFICERS UNION: Well, originally, the bill that came out prohibited us from even approaching anyone with a sidearm and questioning as to their motives of what they're doing.

If you would have someone, let's say walking into a mall or a synagogue or anything like that with several guns on them, we were actually prohibited from questioning those individuals.

Now, the new one with the amendments on it allows us to at least access and talk to someone that may have multiple weapons or even just one weapon and determine their motives as to going into a facility.

BROWN: So, I mean, you know, this takes away some of the training requirements, the exam requirement. But you all know, as a police officer, how much training it takes to be able to use a gun efficiently and hit your target. If you would talk about the concern of that being taken away -- those requirements being taken away.

GRIFFITH: Well, some of that, we would just like people to know what they can and cannot do with that weapon. There are certain things that you have to know regarding the law, you can have all the best intentions in the world, but if you're doing it wrong and you're actually committing a crime, now, we don't want to see the normal citizen out there trying to do the right thing get involved in something like that.

That's why we are in firm belief that we need to have training. Look at all of our law enforcement officers. Officers are trained on hundreds of hours on how to use a firearm, when they can use it and everything else, and yet, there are still mistakes that happen. How much more important is it that our citizenry are going to be out there with weapons that they may just purchase off the shelf? Those who have ammo on their hip and go out there with no training at all, and it concerns us a little bit.

BROWN: Yes, they could turn 21, go by the gun. No, nothing. No requirements, nothing.

There are a lot of people who are fierce Second Amendment advocates who use this rationale, the good guy with a gun rationale for owning a firearm. They say being able to take down a bad guy is a good reason to carry a gun.

If you would tell us, how often does that actually happen when a good guy takes out a bad guy before the cops show up?

GRIFFITH: It's fairly rare. We really don't have that issue that often. We've had constantly, I mean, open carry for a couple of years now, but we were concerned about that when it came out. But we really don't see anyone walking around the streets with a weapon loaded on their side, so it's very rare to see that.

And again, most of our people are doing it right. They are going and getting the firearm license and they are taking the test. They're doing what they need to do to carry that weapon. We just wish everyone would have that same respect for that weapon and go and do the right thing. Learn it, understand what's involved in having it and what you can and cannot do with that weapon.

BROWN: All right, Douglas Griffith with the Houston Police Officers Union. Thanks for coming on sharing your time and your perspective on this issue there in Texas. We appreciate it.

GRIFFITH: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: One year ago, the murder of George Floyd sparked global protests and inspired millions of people to condemn police brutality and demand racial justice. The demonstrations profoundly impacted people who didn't even participate in them.

This week, CNN Heroes salutes Washington, D.C. based healthcare consultant, Rahul Dubey. When police corralled hundreds of peaceful protesters outside his home, he made a split second decision that changed his life.


RAHUL DUBEY, HEALTHCARE CONSULTANT: That night of June 1st, what I saw were people confused. I saw fear.

They were trapped on the street trying to get home, and you hear this loud banging and I saw the clubs coming out and pepper spray flying everywhere. All I could do was just fling open the door and like, get in the house.

They were getting pepper sprayed as they were running up. It was pure chaos. They were washing their eyes out with milk, baking soda. Everyone was tending to each other.

Protesting in an organized way was not my thing. I would hear these verdicts. And yes, I would say to myself, oh my God, that's terrible, and then I would still go to dinner, but to see the atrocity show up on your front door, if people like me don't open the door, then really who will?



BROWN: To see the full story of how that night changed Rahul's life, go to and nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.

Up next, the lawsuit set to determine whether employers can mandate vaccines. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BROWN: A hospital system in Houston is requiring all of its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That comes as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a Federal agency said Friday that employers can require employees coming to the workplace to get vaccinated with certain exceptions.

But that's not stopping a group of 117 unvaccinated hospital staffers from filing suit against their employer claiming it's unlawful to require the shots. Health officials are promoting the proven safety of these vaccines, but the lead plaintiff, Jennifer Bridges tells "The Washington Post," she believes the vaccine needs further study.

Nurse Jennifer Bridges joins me now. Jennifer, you are a nurse at Houston medical hospital. And we should note after the segment we are going to talk to a doctor about some of the concerns that you have, but we really appreciate you talking to us because the concerns that you have, other people have as well.

So if you would walk us through why are you suing? Is this more about the fact you don't like being forced into to this by your employer or because you're concerned about the vaccine and for medical reasons, you don't want to have to take it?

JENNIFER BRIDGES, NURSE, HOUSTON MEDICAL HOSPITAL: A little bit of both. And thank you for having me. Basically, we just want our sure rights. We don't want to be forced into anything and for -- and to be able to keep our job, we'd like to be able to choose for ourselves what goes into our body.

And also a lot of us just want more proper research. We want it fully F.D.A. approved. We want it to be out there a couple of years to fully know what it could possibly do because there's no long term effects that are studied yet, basically.

So between both of those things, that's what we're fighting for, just our right to have enough time for the proper research before we decide to put it into us.

BROWN: Well, you're right, there is no long term data, and a lot of people share your concern about that. And I've spoken to doctors about that recently about vaccine research, the lack of long term data, and here is what they had to say about it. Let's take a listen.


DR. RUTH ADEKUNLE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: The mRNA technology that was used for the vaccine is not new. It's actually been around since the 1980s, and so it was already primed, essentially, for us to be able to use that for vaccine development.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What about that messenger RNA technology, do you think that gives us a head start to be ready for the next vaccine that needs to be created?

KIZZMEKIA CORBETT, LEAD SCIENTIST FOR CORONA VACCINE RESEARCH, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Absolutely. That is exactly how we think about it. Plug and play. You really can drop just about anything into messenger RNA and it works beautifully as we're seeing.


BROWN: And we should note there have been no reported issues with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which is this mRNA technology. So as you heard there, Jennifer, they are making the case that this mRNA technology and these vaccines, they have been tested, they have been around for decades.

And as you know, thousands of people were in Phase 3 trials before the F.D.A. gave Emergency Use Authorization. So when you hear that, what do you say to that? Are you still able to be swayed in your decision?

BRIDGES: No, I absolutely disagree. Because for one thing, no one has had the vaccine in their body longer than less than a year now, so we have no long term data. Nobody could possibly do.

I'm actually still currently working in the hospital and I have taken care of numerous patients and have had a lot of employees right next to me with very severe adverse reactions. I've seen tons of blood clots --

BROWN: Really quick, I just want to stop you there because you don't know -- that's unsubstantiated that their reaction was from the vaccine.

If you have millions of people getting a vaccine, of course, they could still develop an issue unrelated to the vaccine. So I just want to point that out. But go ahead, and then I'm going to ask a question on the other end. Go ahead.

BRIDGES: Oh, sure. No problem. Of course, it's hard to prove it. But we've had a lot of patients and employees that were fully healthy, nothing wrong with him and right after taking the second dose of the vaccine, they came down with some severe issues.

We even had employees have miscarriages and perfectly healthy, no issues before. And I know it is hard to make sure that's what's causing it, but it is very likely; it's hard to ignore it. So people need to look at the risks and a lot of people aren't properly getting the informed consent that they need to be able to choose this vaccine because they're not getting told a lot of the risks behind it.

BROWN: So let's just talk about this a little more. And I just want to make -- I just want to make clear again, we don't have evidence to support what you said. But what we do have evidence of is that there are no reported issues with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. But what you raise is a real concern. People who are still on the fence are concerned about the side effects.

[19:50:15] BROWN: Medical experts, though, Jennifer, point to the fact that in

every other vaccine available, side effects are seen within six months, not years later. So there's no scientific reason, this would be any different.

And here is what Dr. Schaffner who is on the C.D.C. immunization board told me about side effects and the vaccine. Let's listen to what he had to say.


DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE IN THE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So far, except for that rare blood clotting disorder and be very rare anaphylactic reactions, which we all know about, no other condition is occurring more frequently in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated.

The surveillance system is very intense and these are very reassuring results. These are very safe vaccines.


BROWN: So he is saying, look, there's a strict surveillance system. They do baseline comparisons, that all of these things such as miscarriages, and so forth, they happen to people anyway without the vaccine, which is why they have this surveillance system to make sure to see if there's any correlation, and right now they have not found that with those mRNA vaccines.

So what do you say? I'm curious, Jennifer, what do you say to people who say, look, you're a nurse, you're in a hospital setting, you're around high risk people. You have a higher duty to get vaccinated to protect those around you. What do you say to them?

BRIDGES: Well, I still believe everybody should have their right to choose whether they take this or not. In all of last year, when I worked with all the COVID patients, we wore the N95 mask and the face shield, and it was perfectly acceptable by the C.D.C. and by Methodist. So there's no reason why we still can't do that right now until we have enough research and data where we're comfortable before we actually take it.

Because the thing that's disheartening is Methodist makes you sign a waiver before you take the injection, that they're not held liable. So if something does happen to you, there's no one accountable for it. So that's --

BROWN: And just to be clear, you have taken other vaccines, right? I mean, it's not like you're an anti-vaxxer. I just want to be clear on that.

BRIDGES: Oh, no. No, I'm definitely on an anti-vaxxer. I've taken every other vaccine there possibly is to take, even the flu one because they mandate that one as well. We're just -- I'm more comfortable with that one because it's been around for so many years. And this one's just -- it's too brand new. There's not enough data on it yet.

BROWN: And that is a concern that we hear from a lot of people, which is why I wanted to have you on and hear what you had to say about it. So thank you, Jennifer Bridges. Thanks for coming on. We do appreciate it.

Let's unpack all of this with an expert, CNN contributor, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He is the former Detroit Health Commissioner. So you heard that discussion there doctor with Jennifer Bridges, a nurse who is suing her employer over the vaccine mandate. What is your reaction to her major overriding concern this lack of long term data?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I appreciate that, Pam. Look, Nurse Bridges seems like a really lovely person, and there are a couple of challenges though that we have to step back and appreciate that in healthcare, we have an overriding responsibility to patients and that starts with first do no harm.

And we know that COVID-19 has done harm to 600,000 people who have died, plus thousands more who have been infected and spent nights in the hospital, lost loved ones, and so we have a responsibility as healthcare providers to protect our patients first and foremost.

We have a safe and effective vaccination that we can use to do that thing, and it is within the rights of a hospital to make sure that every patient knows that when they go in there, they are not going to be inadvertently infected with a very serious virus because all of the personnel in that hospital have followed the science that they use every single time they treat anybody who walks into the hospital to really take that vaccine and protect themselves and their patients.

BROWN: I've got to ask you about another false claim from what we know about the research that vaccines would somehow cause miscarriages. Women had this concern. What do you say to that?

EL-SAYED: Well, we know what the evidence has shown us. We know that among the tens of thousands of people who were enrolled in these studies, there was no greater risk of miscarriages among people who received the vaccination versus folks who received saltwater.

You know, that would be like saying that if it rained and somebody had a miscarriage, it was because of the rain. We know that that millions of people are getting vaccinated every single day around the world and that miscarriages do happen. But to connect the two, you have to go back to the science and the science shows us that there is no greater risk among people who have been vaccinated versus people who have not.

BROWN: And yet the science also shows us that COVID can present risks to people and fertility.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thank you so much for that. We appreciate it.


BROWN: And thank you so much for joining me this evening, I'm Pamela Brown. As we leave you tonight, we honor the sacrifices made by the men and

the women who served in the United States military.

Good night.