Return to Transcripts main page


Surgeon General Warning for Unvaccinated People; Outbreak at Summer Camp; NYC Mayor's Race in Chaos; NY Prosecutors Examine Cash Bonuses at Trump Organization DHS Warns of Violence in August. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired June 30, 2021 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The CDC now estimates that the highly contagious delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India, and you remember how devastating it was there, now accounts for more than a quarter of new cases here in the U.S.. And the U.S. surgeon general is warning this morning that you -- if you are not vaccinated, quote, his words, then you are in trouble.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And there's Dr. Anthony Fauci really echoing that concern, saying the growing divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated people in this country is going to make this country like two Americas.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you are vaccinated, you diminish dramatically your risk of getting infected. And even more dramatically your risk of getting seriously ill. If you are not vaccinated, you are at considerable risk.

What you are going to see among under vaccinated regions, be they states, cities or counties, you're going to see these individual types of blips. It's almost like it's going to be two Americas.


HARLOW: Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here.

They've been saying this for weeks, and some people listen and other people didn't and now we're here.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Now we're here. And it's so unfortunate that almost half of the United States has chosen not to get vaccinated. And here comes, really, this, you know, pretty bad news, this delta variant. It is just growing by leaps and bounds.

Take a look at this graphic. All the way on the left is where we were in late April, early May. It was only like 1 percent of all of the coronavirus out there. And then fast forward to mid-June, so only like seven weeks later. Now it's 26 percent. It is a given that this will become the dominant variant just as it was in India. And, again, that is terrible news because another thing we know about this variant is that early evidence shows that it makes people sicker. It is more likely to land you in the hospital than the previous variants.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: So we've been lucky so far in that the vaccines have been effective against a whole host of variants, the U.K. variant, the Brazil, the South Africa variant. How effective do we know this -- these vaccines to be against the delta variant?

COHEN: That's the good news. Thankfully, this vaccine is quite effective against the delta variant.

Let's take a listen to what Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, said on CNN just hours ago.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL: If you are vaccinated, and fully vaccinated, that means two weeks after your last shot, then there is good evidence that you have a high degree of protection against this virus. But if you are not vaccinated, then you are in trouble. This is a, again, a serious threat and we're seeing it spread among unvaccinated people.


COHEN: So let's take a look at some of the numbers that Dr. Murthy is referring to. If we're looking at the vaccine and how good it is at protecting against infection, it's 79 percent. That's not as good as previous variants, but, still, 79 percent.

But this is the number that's really good news, it's 96 percent effective at protecting you against landing in the hospital. So that is great.

Now, I know I'm doing a lot of good news/bad news here. I'm going to turn to one piece of bad news, and this is it.

As this variant grows so swiftly among unvaccinated people in the United States, it gives that variant a chance to say, hmm, I think I can figure out how to outwit the vaccine. I can figure out how to be really trouble for the vaccine. And that's when the vaccinated among us are in trouble. And that's why it's so important. We're all in this together.

SCIUTTO: Yes. COHEN: Unvaccinated people need to get vaccinated or it's a threat to the rest of us.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean you're letting the virus practice basically, right?

COHEN: Exactly.


SCIUTTO: You know, in these areas that are not vaccinated.

COHEN: That's right. You can think of it almost like a sport, right, the more you play tennis, the better you are at playing tennis.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

COHEN: The more you spread as a virus, the better you are at outwitting the vaccine.


HARLOW: Elizabeth, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

HARLOW: It's an important warning. I hope everyone's listening. Thank you. Good to have you here in person.

COHEN: Good to be here.

HARLOW: Health officials say a COVID outbreak is linked to a summer camp in Rushville, Illinois, that's just southwest of Chicago. Eighty- five teens and adult staffers have tested positive across nine counties in three states.

SCIUTTO: Goodness.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live in Rushville, Illinois.

Adrian, do we know how this happened? Were there requirements, for instance, to have negative tests or to be vaccinated?


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, officials with the Illinois Department of Health say this outbreak is linked to a summer camp that happened here in Schuyler (ph) County. This is one of those nine counties that you mentioned, Poppy. And spread across three states.

First of all, it started as what Illinois Department of Health officials thought was an exposure, but then at least 85 people tested positive for COVID-19. We're talking about campers and the staff at the camp. Now, that camp happened in Rushville, Illinois. Just for some

perspective, that's about four hours southwest of Chicago. The camp took place earlier this month, specifically during the week of June 13th. The camp was from June 13th through the 17th.

The Illinois Department of Health says that campers were -- and the staff were not required to wear their mask when they were inside. The camp also didn't ask the attendees or the staff about their vaccination status. That specific camp was created for 8th through 12th graders. It was also open to graduating seniors.

Now, CNN has reached out to the camp. They have not responded to us for comment about this situation. However, on its website, they did post this message, and this message appears if you try to register for another camp because there's another camp, a one-day camp for first graders and kindergartners taking place next month. That statement says, due to a recent outbreak of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our fourth and fifth grade camp.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much. We hope that those kids and the councilors, that they recover.

Well, a mayoral mess. A vote-counting blunder by the elections board in New York has now raised serious questions about that race. When are we going to know the results for sure? Next, why this error has ramifications possibly beyond New York.



SCIUTTO: Bit questions now in the race for New York City mayor after the city's election officials mistakenly counted 135,000 test ballots in the Democratic primary along with real ballots. The board of elections released new numbers first yesterday that suggested Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams' lead in the primary had narrowed.

HARLOW: But after the Adams' campaign and others questioned those numbers, the board backtracked and revealed it had mistakenly included those test ballots in the initial tally. The board has removed all of the data they put on the website yesterday from their website.

Are you confused? So is New York City.

Our national correspondent Athena Jones is here and CNN political writer Harry Enten.

Athena, obviously let us begin with you.

How does this happen?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a mess. They bungled this.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. JONES: And it sounds like it was a simple error with not clearing the computer. But, still, it doesn't inspire confidence. That statement that the board of elections put out late last night they explained ballot images used for testing were not cleared from the election management systems. They have to do these prequalification tests for the system. So approximately these 135,000 additional records were included in the vote.

And this is something that Eric Adams, one of the candidates who had been in the lead and still is in the lead, at least we think, put out -- he put out a statement around 5:00, a couple of hours after they put out these initial results --


JONES: Calling into question this discrepancy, saying why are there more than 100,000 extra votes than we thought were cast at all on Election Day? So this took a while for the board of elections to clear up. But it's still not entirely clear. And the bottom line is, this is a board that has a history of messing up and this part does not -- does not inspire confidence at all.


JONES: Before we say the election is all lost, because that is far too easy an allegation to make in today's America. Folks are doing it without basis.

HARLOW: Yes. Good point.

JONES: There is a fix here, is there not? Tell us what that fix is and how it plays out from here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, look, the fix is pretty simple, they're going to re-start the count. They're going to take out those, you know, pretend votes that they were trying to essentially, you know, test the system with. We're going to go through the rank choice process again.

So, look, there's a lot of disillusionment in this country when it comes to vote counting but there's nothing nefarious that happened there, it was just incompetency to be perfectly --

SCIUTTO: And they caught the mistake.

ENTEN: And they caught the mistake.

SCIUTTO: And they're fixing the mistake.

ENTEN: And they're fixing the mistake.

And here's the thing I will point out, is even when they fix the mistake, we only have the election night votes in the system right now. A week from yesterday, we're going to have to add in some of the absentee ballots. So even when we start this new count, we've still got more count to go. HARLOW: OK.

ENTEN: And if you are confused by this, let me just say, you're not alone.


ENTEN: This is crazy. And I study elections. I've studied elections for a while. This is -- this is nuts. This is nutter butter. What are we doing?

HARLOW: Yes. And it's also, Athena, I think important because this is the first city, I think -- I know Maine is a state, but to test rank choice voting.

JONES: It's the largest (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: OK, the largest. And 74 percent of New Yorkers voted to have the election this way. So I wonder what they think after this. But, also, what are the candidates saying?

JONES: Well, the candidates are saying we need more transparency. Eric Adams saying, you know, this mistake was unfortunate but it's critical New Yorkers are confident in the electoral process. Maya Wiley went further. She said, you know, this shows generations of failures, talking about the incompetency of the election board.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

JONES: And Kathryn Garcia saying it's deeply troubling and requires a much more transparent and complete explanation.

But Eric Adams pointing out that, yes, this is the first time that this city is choosing its leaders in this way and so it's even more important to make sure the vote count is clear and people understand it and that there is confidence in it.


And, as you mention, New York City, the largest jurisdiction in the country, to allow voters to choose their candidates in this way.

HARLOW: Right.

JONES: And a lot of people argue it's better because the voters have a -- more of a say --


JONES: In who is ultimately chosen.

But this system whereby they're -- not only they're announcing these -- these results not only by mistake in this (INAUDIBLE) with mistakes yesterday but piecemeal, it also might cause confusion. It might be something they reexamine.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: OK. And not to strike the devil's advocate to them too much --

ENTEN: Yes, sir.

SCIUTTO: But there is a science to rank choice voting. There is a way of counting them and tabulating and coming out with the ranks in the end.

ENTEN: Right.

SCIUTTO: I mean this is not -- it didn't just get cooked up yesterday in New York City, this plan, right?



ENTEN: I mean rank choice voting has been around a decade, century, whatever.

This is -- the problems that we saw in New York yesterday are not the fault of rank choice voting.


ENTEN: They are the fault of a board of elections that, over the last decade, has been incompetent in numerous situations.

HARLOW: But why? We knew there were problems at the board of elections before.

ENTEN: Why don't we fix them? Well, here's the -- here's the question -- here's the reason why. The mayor has no say over this, right. It's actually the governor who can actually remove these folks. So Cuomo would have to get involved.

The way that they're actually appointed is you need -- you have two in each borough, a Democrat and a Republican from each borough. Basically the parties put them forward and the city council basically confirms them. It's a patronage system if we're being honest with each other.


ENTEN: We need to have major reform in this. It states at the state government.


ENTEN: And that's what we really need because we can't be doing this thing. This is (INAUDIBLE). We should be doing better than this, folks.

SCIUTTO: But also I think -- I think we should be aware of the disinformation peddlers. \


SCIUTTO: Because there is an enormous amount of disinformation around elections. This is an embarrassing mistake, but it has a fix. And as you say, no one is alleging any nefariousness activity in this.

ENTEN: No, just incompetency.

JONES: And on one level they are trying to be transparent. I mean that is why we're seeing so many rounds of this that they're going to release. It took them several hours to explain the discrepancy, but they did explain it.


HARLOW: Thank you both very, very much. And you make a great point, Jim, because you don't want people to feed off this and say, look, you can't trust the results. We will be able to trust the results.

SCIUTTO: There is some -- there is some players out here I'm sure will be weaponizing this for -- to their own ends.


SCIUTTO: I won't name them.

HARLOW: All right. A warning from the Department of Homeland Security about possible violence this summer from domestic extremists. We'll have those details, next.



SCIUTTO: There are new developments this morning into the ongoing investigation into the Trump Organization.

HARLOW: Sources tell CNN New York prosecutors are scrutinizing cash bonuses paid to some Trump Organization employees. This is part of the probe into potential tax fraud.

Kara Scannell has been digging into all of this.

Kara, good morning to you. Yet another leg here. What does it tell us?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Poppy, that's right, another development as part of this investigation where prosecutors are scrutinizing compensation and benefits that employees have received. Now, we're learning that in addition to the rent-free apartments, the company cars and school tuition, that prosecutors are also zeroing in on bonuses that were paid to some executives.

Now, our sources did not tell us how much money this totaled or exactly who the executives were, but when we're talking about these cash bonuses, we don't mean a suitcase of cash, but we mean money that was paid to executives where they may not have paid taxes. That's the essence of what this case is shaping up to be, about compensation paid to executives and whether the company and those executives paid taxes on that.

You know, we do expect charges in this case to come as soon as this week. You know, we have the holiday weekend on Friday. So this could be very soon.

But, again, this is just another leg of this investigation as it really looks at compensation issues and whether taxes were paid by both the Trump Organization and some of its executives.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Kara, thank you very, very much.

Also now homeland security warning of possible violence from domestic extremists over the summer fueled in part by conspiracy theories and the big lie. DHS says it is closely watching the time leading up to the August anniversaries of other extremist attacks.

SCIUTTO: CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild joins us now.

It really is a perfect storm, is it not, of dates, potentially meaningful dates to these groups in the month of August?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right. So we have this, you know, conspiracy theory that the former president's going to come back and, you know, resume his rightful place as president. And so it's that and it's combined with these other anniversaries.

And what DHS is saying is just a reminder to many law enforcement agencies across the country that these dates are meaningful in the minds of these people who are militant adherence to conspiracy theories and that in the past we have seen violence carried out in the name of a conspiracy theory. Notably January 6th.


WILD: However, this also follows CNN reporting that the FBI in particular was very concerned that militant adherence to the QAnon conspiracy theory may feel more emboldened and are likely to continue out acts of violence.

So this is -- this symbolizes several things. One, that they're doing -- trying to do a better job to keep their local -- state and local partners more engaged in the conversation so that they don't have another January 6th in, say, a Denver, or a Tucson, Arizona, or somewhere else across the country.


WILD: So that's the first thing. It's the biggest change from January 6th.

And then finally, it also represents that we remain in this heightened threat environment and that is very real. And so, you know, there's really no end in sight for that.

HARLOW: You've done such good reporting with your team on this throughout. And I wonder if you have learned or gleaned from it whether more people feel emboldened in the wake of January 6th or whether they are nervous as they see all these prosecutions or if it's a mix.

WILD: Well, I think it's a mix.

So the FBI report that we reported on I think drills down on this the best. And what it says is, for people who were these, you know, really strict followers of QAnon, in the absence of Q, have realized that that was all fake. And so some of those followers are falling away.

However, there are some people who look at the absence of directions from Q and say, now it's time to take matters into our own hands and thus feel more inclined to violence, which is just mind-boggling.


SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, I mean, you think of the years, the efforts spent on getting at the root causes of Islamism terrorism, right? You know, the thinking, the propaganda, the disinformation and so on is a key part of that terror fight. And now, as we always note, the FBI says it's these domestic white extremist groups that are now the biggest terror threat to this country.

WILD: Biggest. Right. The difficulty has always been, how do you stop a thought?



WILD: And that's, you know -- it remains a challenge. And it is particularly challenging for law enforcement now because they're very concerned about not infringing on anybody's First Amendment right.


WILD: That is also the biggest challenge here.

SCIUTTO: And you have a former president spreading some of the same conspiracy theories.

Whitney Wild, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thanks, Whit.

SCIUTTO: There's this blazing heat on both U.S. coasts which is now causing hospitalizations, deaths, as well. President Biden set to address the matter in just minutes. We're going to have a live update, next.