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CNN NEWSROOM

117 Staffers Sue Houston Hospital for Requiring COVID Vaccine; Book Excerpt Alleges Sean Hannity Scripted Trump Campaign Ad; Pelosi Lays Out 4 Options to Continue Investigating January 6th Insurrection; Senator Says Infrastructure Deal Is Very Possible; Qualified Immunity Is a Sticking Point on Police Reform. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 1, 2021 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

DR. MARC BOOM, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: You know, in healthcare we have a sacred responsibility to take care of our patients. And with taking care of our patients and keeping them safe comes a responsibility and that responsibility is to do everything we can to work hard to keep them safe.

We've asked our employees to be vaccinated. We ultimately mandated that vaccine. Obviously, if somebody doesn't feel comfortable getting vaccinated, they have a choice and they can decide to leave the institution and not put patients first as 99 percent of our employees have done to date.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: What about personal freedom? I mean, basically they're saying that they want to decide what is best for their health.

BOOM: You know, we've looked at this very carefully and very purposefully from a clinical and scientific perspective, from an ethical perspective, from a legal perspective and from a nuts and bolts operational perspective. When we look at our ethicists, there's a number of policies and ethical principles at play. One of those is autonomy, which you talk about, which is a very ethical principle. But when autonomy ends is when one's autonomous decisions can irrevocably and irreversibly harm somebody else.

And so our employees, if they don't get vaccinated -- they would never, of course, want to give COVID to a patient but they did and a patient ended up dying from that, that's irreversible. And so as we look with our ethicists that takes a backseat to many other ethical principles in terms of caring and protecting for our patients.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like what these 117 employees where saying is that this is just too new. It's too experimental. They basically say that you're violating the Nuremberg Code. What's your response?

BOOM: That's a very offensive statement, to be honest. But when you think about these claims that it's too new. To date we've had 165 plus million Americans have received doses of these vaccines. We've given almost 300 million doses in all told with people that have gotten their two doses.

These are remarkably safe. And at the end of the day, as healthcare workers, what have we all done? We're your doctors, your nurses, your therapists, etc. Everybody goes into this says I've done this to care for patients, to keep patients safe, to first do no harm.

And we're doing the same thing here that we've done with flu shots for a dozen years, which is mandating those to protect our patients. It's no different than that, and the experience is very significant with these vaccines right now.

Obviously if an individual isn't comfortable with that, that is their right. We're not making anybody take the vaccine. What we're saying is that in order to care for our patients and work at our institutions, you have to have the vaccine. If that is something you're not comfortable with, of course, you can exercise that choice and you can move someplace else.

CAMEROTA: But as you say, there is a precedent in your hospital system for this with the flu vaccine. Have there been any lawsuits for that? Have people left their employment because of flu vaccines?

BOOM: You know, I remember when we mandated the flu very well. I was involved in that a dozen years ago. And there was definitely a contingent of employees who were very reluctant, who were very, you know, suspicious of that and didn't want to do that. There were some people who left the institution over that as well. Obviously, flu shots are not nearly as politicized as the COVID vaccines have become, and so it was quieter. We didn't have any lawsuits at the time. But right now we have these individuals threatening to sue.

CAMEROTA: So what's going to happen on June 7th, that's the deadline. Will these 117 employees or however many of them are still employees, will they be fired?

BOOM: So the way the policy works is that people have until June 7th to be fully vaccinated. Meaning they have to have two doses of one the mRNA vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson. So there's still time for the about 1 percent of employees who have not been vaccinated to finish that up and get their one vaccine.

If they're not vaccinated as of June 7th, they'll go on a suspension at that point in time, it's the same way we would do that for other job requirements whether that's flu vaccine or other job requirements, to give them a chance to rectify that. And if they don't rectify that at that point, they would lose their jobs.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Marc Boom, thank you very much for your time. We'll be watching.

BOOM: Thank you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right so next, we knew they were close, right, but a new book shows us just how close Sean Hannity and the former president were, especially during the campaign. The Fox host reportedly went as far as to script one of Trump's campaign ads.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:35:00]

BLACKWELL: A new book about Donald Trump's 2020 campaign claims that Fox host Sean Hannity actually helped script one of the campaign's TV ads. And the campaign then spent a million and half dollars on Fox, to Fox to run it.

CAMEROTA: I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

BLACKWELL: Are you?

CAMEROTA: The ad called Biden a swamp creature. And that's want all. Here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden has turned his back on law enforcement and supports redirecting funds away from the police. And Joe Biden didn't even have the courage to condemn the anarchists rioting in American cities during his own DNC convention. Joe Biden, radical, corrupt, extreme and dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: This is all detailed in the new book by "Wall Street" journalist Michael Bender entitled, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election --The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Lost". The book is out in August. And Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent and anchor of "Reliable Sources" joins us now. Brian, so why would Hannity deny writing a Trump ad? I mean, ee does it every night.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, AND ANCHOR OF "RELIABLE SOURCES": That's right.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I don't understand, why the shame?

STELTER: Right. he officially says that this isn't true. But this is his M.O. he tends to deny these stories. Bender is at the "Wall Street Journal", he's a fantastic reporter. He has great sources on this.

[15:40:00]

It does speak to the hypocrisy of the Fox News GOP machine. Hannity likes to accuse other members of the media of exactly the kind of thing that he's doing all the time.

The best detail though from Bender's book out in August is that the ad stunk. That it wasn't a good ad.

CAMEROTA: Why because --

STELTER: The Trump campaign --

CAMEROTA: -- it was too over the top?

STELTER: Yes, and even for the Trump campaign, it was too over the top. So they barely ran it. They only aired it on Hannity's show.

BLACKWELL: Music and flames and the unflattering photographs and all of those things in one ad. They piled it up. But then there's the element of, you write the ad and then the money is spent back during your show to run it.

STELTER: That really does speak to how Fox is the beating heart of the GOP. All the stories you all covered about democracy being in trouble, so much of it links back to this distorted media machine.

And I was struck by what Juan Williams said in the new op-ed for The Hill about this. Juan Williams just lost his job on Fox's 5 p.m. show. Now he says he wanted to leave. He said he wanted to stay in D.C. and the show is moving to New York. He says it's all positive. But in the new op-ed for "The Hill" he is writing about his own colleagues as well as Senate Republicans.

Here's what he wrote about Senate Republicans saying: What Senate Republicans are really avoiding is the truth that Trump's lies and slash-and-burn, truth-be-damned politics, drove some of them to play along with him. They are implicated, he says, in the insurrection. Not in a criminal sense but in a moral sense.

So this a Fox commentator saying Senate Republicans are implicated morally. Then he goes on to take on bad faith actors in the media who he says, like to make fun of Democrats to make Republican viewers happy. He's talking about his Fox colleagues but now that he's not on the show he seems more free to critique them.

CAMEROTA: Is he staying at Fox?

STELTER: He is staying at Fox but in an analyst role. He's not only there as often and this is my theme in my reporting about Fox.

Liberals and folks in the middle who just want to do real reporting, they continue to be sidelined, they continue to be squeezed out of Fox. And then of course, more and more rabid right-wing talk takes its place. Now if this was reality based right-wing talk, maybe we would say that's a great diverse ecosystem but you know, Alisyn, all these shows are just about propaganda and talking points.

BLACKWELL: You brought gifts?

STELTER: I did bring gifts because we are back on the set with you for the first time. I haven't been with you all in a year and a half. This is my new book.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

STELTER: Coming out next week.

CAMEROTA: Paperback.

STELTER: You like that?

CAMEROTA: Is it autographed?

STELTER: I didn't autograph it yet.

BLACKWELL: Jake autographed his book when he gave it to me.

STELTER: But host comes out next week and it's about Fox. So I thought I'd bring you copies. I hope that's a nice gift for the new set.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: I read it in hard cover, it's fantastic, Brian. Congratulations.

STELTER: I'm going to sign it.

CAMEROTA: OK, just into CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to her caucus about how they can move forward with investigating January 6th. We are live with that update on Capitol Hill, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:00]

BLACKWELL: Just into CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid out four options for House Democrats who want to press forward with investigating the Capitol insurrection on January 6th. This is coming from a call the caucus had just a few moments ago.

CNN's Manu Raju has the details. So, what did you learn?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, bottom line here is the House Democrats prepared to investigate January 6th and what happened. They're just essentially trying to figure out the structure for doing that.

What she discussed on her call with fellow House Democrats is four options. One, to actually push for another Senate vote to create that outside commission. Remember, last week Senate Republicans filibustered an effort to create that outside committee -- that commission. That is an unlikely option, I can tell you from talking to multiple sources.

There are three options they're considering to investigate what happened on January 6th in the House itself. One would be to actually create a select committee. That is an outside -- that is within the House, it would be a new committee that the House would have to vote and to create so lawmakers led by Democrats could have subpoena power, they could schedule hearings and the like.

And then they could also allow, according to her, they can allow the existing committees in the House to investigate going forward. Those already have a chairman, they already have a staff, they already have ranking members and they could do it and have an existing committee. Or she said they could empower a single committee that already exists like the House Homeland Security Committee and make that committee in charge of the January 6th investigation.

Now all this suggests that Democrats are not going to let this go in the House. They do have the power in the majority, in that chamber to have unilateral subpoena power. They don't need Republican support to do that. They don't need Republican support to have hearings.

They had pushed for that outside commission, which would be a bipartisan commission, but Republicans didn't like that so they killed it in the Senate.

Now one other thing that was raised was on the call, guys, was the possibility of naming a special counsel by Justice Department to investigate what happened on January 6th.

Hakeem Jeffries raised that possibility, floated as an option. Now there's no indication of the Attorney General Merrick Garland will actually go that route but it's something that's at least being discussed within the Democratic universe here.

But the bottom line here is that Democrats plan to investigate. They're trying to figure out how to do that. And Nancy Pelosi is ready to push ahead -- guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Manu Raju for us, Manu, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting to hear the menu of options there.

OK, there's also a big meeting on infrastructure at the White House tomorrow. President Biden hosts Senator Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead Republican involved in these negotiations.

BLACKWELL: And this morning Republican Senator Lindsey Graham expressed optimism that there are bipartisan deals to be had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): President Biden wants to put points on the board in terms of bipartisanship, I think we're close on police reform. There's a deal to be had on an infrastructure package around a trillion dollars if he wants to go down that road.

[15:50:00]

CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now to discuss this is CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger. So Gloria, it changes from day to day. Are they close on infrastructure, or are they far apart on infrastructure?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it depends. It really depends on what day it is and who they are speaking with. I mean there are some Republicans who say that the president seems more willing to negotiate himself than some people who work for him. Or other Democrats for example like Bernie Sanders, the more progressive wing of the party doesn't want to.

I mean what, we can say without a doubt is that they are really at an inflection point here because what the president decides to do on infrastructure is going to affect a lot of other things.

Can he get a compromise on police reform, for example? Would Republicans then, if they got some kind of a deal on infrastructure, would they be more willing to work on other issues?

You know, lots of Democrats are really skeptical about that and say, are you kidding me? No, they are not going to be, so you ought to take advantage of this while your popularity is high, you know, before you get closer to mid-term elections, while the economy looks like it's coming back.

You ought to get as much done as you possibly can while the going is good and while the public seems to support you in what you want to do. So there are differing points of view. The president's going to have to work it out, but what he decides on infrastructure is going to affect a lot of other things.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, Lindsey Graham says that there could be a deal at $1 trillion when Republicans are already at $928 billion and the Democrats are at $1.7 trillion.

So let's move on to police reform because that's something else that he mentioned. Mitch McConnell says that qualified immunity is still a sticking point and Tim Scott, top Republican negotiator says that it's June or bust. I feel like that they are at the same place they were two weeks ago, three weeks ago.

BORGER: I do too.

BLACKWELL: Has there been real progress?

BORGER: Again, it depends on the day. It depends on who you're speaking with. I think qualified immunity is a huge sticking point. The question is whether they can come to some kind of compromise on that. So if you can't, for example, sue an individual police officer personally, could you sue the unit? Could you sue the county? Could you sue the city for what occurred at a certain event? I mean, there may be a way to work out some kind of a deal on that, but I think that at this point I don't see how they get there.

You know, the Republican objection is that you never get anyone to become a police officer again because there's too much at stake. And the Democratic argument is, well, they shouldn't have to worry about that if they are doing the right thing.

So it's -- it's hard to see how they get to yes unless they really want to get to yes, and that's -- you know, that's the big question that hangs over all of this. How much do Democrats or Republicans who have said from the outset, you know, we don't want to work with Joe Biden, how much do they really want to get to yes, or how much do they want to have issues like defunding the police, et cetera, et cetera, which we know is a false issue. But how much do they want to have issues like that to take into the mid-term elections rather than having solutions to these issues and giving Joe Biden a win?

And that's a question we don't have an answer to yet and when it comes to infrastructure, by the way, there's another big issue out there which is how do you pay for all of this, and they can't agree on that?

BLACKWELL: Yes. Gloria Borger, thanks so much.

BORGER: Thanks, guys.

BLACKWELL: Next, what happened to people in America? People are emerging from this COVID cocoon now and just acting crazy sometimes.

CAMEROTA: They have forgotten how to act in public.

BLACKWELL: I think that is -- I think some people remember and just aren't doing it. They're just not doing it. They are running on to the court throwing things at athletes, assaulting flight crews, a look at all the appalling behavior next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:00]

BLACKWELL: So after more than a year cooped up during the pandemic, it's clear that some people are either a little too excited to get back into the crowd or they are really not into this at all.

Let's go to this NBA game last night. A fan ran on to the court in the middle of play and pretended to dunk a basketball.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why?

BLACKWELL: He hasn't been, you know, a basketball court in a while, I guess. I don't know. Guy was tackled. Banned from the arena.

CAMEROTA: OK, in Boston, Kyrie Irving had a water bottle thrown at him by a fan. That guy was arrested and charged with assault and battery.

A Knicks fan, Trae Young has been banned from Madison Square Garden and just a few days ago a different fan dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook's head as he left the arena with an injury. That fan had his season tickets revoked.

BLACKWELL: People knew that that kind of activity was wrong before the pandemic. Let's just highlight that.

CAMEROTA: So I don't understand, people have forgotten their human skills while they have been inside for 14 months.

BLACKWELL: They've just not been required to use them. It's like wearing jeans again when you've been wearing sweatpants for 15 months.

CAMEROTA: I just expired. In other words our humanity has expired.

BLACKWELL: It takes a little work to get back into it. It's not just at sporting events. We have video now from that Southwest flight where a passenger punched a flight attendant in the face and knocked out two teeth. One of a few dozen incidents of people physically assaulting flight crews in recent months. CAMEROTA: It has gotten so bad that Southwest and American Airlines

have now extended a ban on selling alcohol to try to cut back on unruly passengers. That's a start, I would say. I would say that will help.

BLACKWELL: I don't know.

CAMEROTA: You're not a fan.

BLACKWELL: No.

CAMEROTA: You don't like that policy.

BLACKWELL: I do like a gin and tonic on my flight. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.

END