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DOJ Watchdog Says FBI Botched Gymnastics Doctor Abuse Probe; COVID Patients Now Younger, Getting Sicker; First Paying Customer on Bezos Rocket Will Be Youngest into Space. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: A new scathing watchdog report says the FBI severely mishandled the sexual abuse investigation into USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar. The report finds that senior FBI agents at the Indianapolis field office failed to respond to multiple allegations of sexual assault against Nassar and they performed only a limited follow up on his allegations and did not formally open an investigation or fully document the activities.

Jessica Howard is a former rhythmic gymnast and one of Nassar's accusers. Jessica, it's great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: I can only imagine what went through your head and heart when you learned how badly the FBI in Indianapolis handled those first allegations.

HOWARD: You know, I had an inkling of what would be in the report just because I was on the board of directors. I know Steve. I know the way they work. There was too much going on between their communication to give you ease about the FBI's role.

But after reading the report yesterday, and I'm just saddened and I'm shocked. Because it's the FBI. Like, if you can't trust the FBI, like what stopped in all of those field offices with all of those people, them sending an e-mail or picking up the phone and just saying, you know, this is going on, and there are children in danger.

CAMEROTA: And doing the proper follow up. It turns out that some of the accusers, the FBI agents didn't even call them. So they knew there were multiple accusers and didn't, I don't know, make the time, expand the investigation to even talk to them. What does that tell you?

HOWARD: It tells us they don't care a smidge about us. As an elite athlete, I can definitely tell you your worth is your competitive results and what they can get from that. And you know I've had to deal with a lot of side effects from this entire saga, but there have been a few people that stood behind us and really helped us move forward.

And I know that they're going to be here now. And Senators Blumenthal and Moran they were exceptional, and they believed us and made it seem like we weren't crazy. You know because everybody else is trying to make it feel like you're the one who's crazy. And these men lie, lie, lie, not men, women too, lie all the way through in every part of this investigation.


CAMEROTA: I've heard you say that people don't realize how long the PTSD lasts.


CAMEROTA: And for you, it's been years.

HOWARD: I mean, I was struggling pretty severely before this came out just with the side effects of the psychological and physical abuse that was a part of my day-to-day training. But when the sexual abuse factor came into play, it's just like this dormant volcano exploded and everything was so clear, so much in the forefront of my mind.

And you can't stop that from happening and going through your mind and you feel it in your body. And the side effects are just absolutely insane. And I don't think people fully realize that these aren't just things that happened in the past.

And what's absolutely abhorrent to me is that people in the FBI knew that this was happening and instead of doing their jobs, I mean, they call it a failure, but a failure seems like something that would happen in the office if your documents get, you know, mixed up or something or you don't get the right approval for this or that. This is a catastrophic wrongdoing against the victims that were taken to Nassar during that time.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I'm so glad that you point that out. Because that was the most chilling part to me. I'm going to read this excerpt of this Inspector General's report.

According to court documents approximately 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually abused by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment between July 2015 when USA Gymnastics first reported allegations about Nassar to the Indianapolis field office in September of 2016.

In other words, it didn't have to happen after the 2015 report.

HOWARD: 70 and our numbers bring us closer to 120. And the youngest of them being eight -- eight years old. And those girls, I hope they have supportive families. I hope they have the means to get through this so it doesn't affect their lives so horribly. But they could have stopped that. Not could have stopped it, it shouldn't have happened.

CAMEROTA: What do you want to happen now? Now that you know this. HOWARD: Well I was encouraged by Senators Blumenthal, Moran's statement today. Because they are appalled. And it is clear that they are furious.

I mean this is yet another report that outlines crime after crime after crime, lie after lie after lie after lie. And then at the very end of it, like everything else we've dealt with this whole time, there's a little bit of a shrug off on page 104. It starts with their recommendations and they basically say, you know, we'll make the changes we need to do better in the future.

CAMEROTA: Better training. Basically they're saying the FBI field office will be better trained. But shat specifically do you want?

HOWARD: I would like to see the DOJ, I would like to see Congress step up, I would like to see the president appoint a special prosecutor and I would like to see indictments and I would like to see people being held accountable.

CAMEROTA: These FBI agents?

HOWARD: FBI agents. Again it's very easy to angle this towards one or two people. And right now Nassar is the only person in prison. The number of people that should be in some sort of legal criminal proceedings right now is negligent. And it's the same here. It all sounds like it's one or two people doing this. This is bureau, agencies. This is different field offices. It's just -- it's really sad. And I know this Congress's help and with a special prosecutor and with like just straightforward facts these people will end up in prison.

CAMEROTA: We'll be following it. Jessica Howard, we're thinking of you. Thanks so much for your bravery and coming in and talking to us again.

HOWARD: I'm going to keep going. We're not done.

CAMEROTA: Good for you. We applaud you.

HOWARD: Thank you.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So there's a message from top health officials as this delta variant spreads. They say that we are losing time. Next, I'll speak to a woman who is seeing the surge from inside a Missouri hospital.



BLACKWELL: As the delta variant ravages parts of the country, Texas County, Missouri, east of Springfield, has seen its test positivity rate jump from less than 10 percent last week to more than 30 percent this week. Texas County Memorial Hospital says it's now seeing COVID patients who are younger with fewer underlying health issues than in previous surges. But they are coming in sicker. And they're getting worse more quickly.

Lauren Toman is the Director of Respiratory Care at Texas County Memorial. Lauren, thank you being with us. First, I just want you to paint a picture for us of what you're seeing in your hospital?

LAUREN TOMAN, RESPIRATORY CARE DIRECTOR, TEXAS COUNTY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Right Victor, so before, you know, we had prepped for this a year and a half ago and we've been ready. And we saw very sick patients but we saw more older and preexisting.

So then we had a little bit of a break and we started to become more positive about all the situations. And now what we're seeing is younger, sicker, faster. We don't see the pre-existings that we saw before. It's very frightening.

BLACKWELL: And are they in intensive care? Are they needing ventilators?

TOMAN: So when they're coming in a lot of times before we would see them and they would have low oxygen and they almost wouldn't know it.


Now they're coming in and they're gasping. They're needing oxygen. Our hospital is very well-equipped. We have a lot of tools that we use. We often start them out with what we call, high flow, and it's offering oxygen and flow and humidity to just to try to combat but they're rapidly declining. So often times where before we see that they could sustain longer. We're seeing younger without the preexisting and they're rapidly declining. And unfortunately, we're seeing a higher number of people going on the ventilator that are at younger age.

BLACKWELL: How many of these patients you've treated over the last few weeks are unvaccinated?

TOMAN: So I can't officially say for all of them. I know the patients that I care for, the very critical, they have been unvaccinated.

BLACKWELL: All of them?

TOMAN: Yes, sir.

BLACKWELL: All of them unvaccinated. And let's put up the map here. This is the state of Missouri and you could see here that the percentage of vaccinated there. The few number of people who are there who are vaccinated in Texas County as we've looked at the stats from your state, 21 percent of people there are fully vaccinated. So that means close to 4 out of 5 of the people who live in that county are unvaccinated. Are they telling you why they're not getting the vaccines?

TOMAN: You know I can't speak fully for that. I usually when I'm in the trenches I'm just there to work with them, help them get towards a goal that we get them out of here safe and healthy. So I'm really not having those discussions. I'm more focused on getting them through the bad part of it and getting them out of here healthy and alive.

So Victor, unfortunately, I can't speak for the public. I can just say, as for us as health care workers, it's extremely saddening when we see people hurting, suffering and unfortunately passing and there's an effective tool. That's the hard part for us.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I understand you can't speak for everyone there in the state or even in the county. But speaking for yourself, how does this feel to be back at this place after what your state and the country lived through over the last 15 months or so?

TOMAN: I'm going to be honest. I've had some moments -- and I have a lot of support at my hospital. We have an amazing administration that comes in and they've asked what can we do to keep morale? So it's almost like watching a storm brewing and you're like it's happening again. And I say I try not to tear up about it. We're respiratory therapists. We're kind of salty. We've seen it all. We're kind of called when it's the worst of the worst. I've been doing this 24 years and I've seen a lot.

But this is -- it's hard. It's fighting and trying and then you have the technology, you have the appropriate equipment and it's not working and you know it's coming again, but the population is younger and then you worry about your family.

I was taking to an E.R. doc yesterday. He and I have been friends for years. He said it's truly saddening. We all are staying positive for each other. You know, we're doing little things for each other, but to be honest, you drive home sad.

BLACKWELL: And listen, we're seeing all over the country the increase in cases and some communities, like you said there in Texas County, just are not getting this vaccine, which we know works. 4 to 5 people there in the county unvaccinated.

Lauren Toman, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

TOMAN: Thank you, Victor.

CAMEROTA: I feel for them. I mean, you know, obviously they say they've seen the worst of the worst. They're trying to stay upbeat but it's really hard knowing it doesn't have to happen.

BLACKWELL: We know what works and people just are not getting it.

CAMEROTA: OK, next, Jeff Bezos announcing that an 18-year-old won a trip into space with him. Details on how and why and --

BLACKWELL: When was the contest? I mean I would have entered.

CAMEROTA: Why didn't someone tell us? And how much did that cost?


[15:50:00] CAMEROTA: OK, the race to space now includes Gen Z. Blue Origin which is founded by ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announcing its first paying customer to ride its rocket.

BLACKWELL: So that's the ticket, you got to pay. This lucky traveler, he'll be the youngest person into space. If you think he looks like he's barely out of high school, he is. 18 years old, just a 2020 grad.

CNN's Rachel Crane is here with this story. Tell us about him.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS, INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Alisyn, as you pointed out, Oliver Daemen, who is the lucky winner here of this historic seat on New Shepherd's first crewed flight set for January 2022.


He's just out of high school, hasn't even started college, now he's from the Netherlands. We know that his father Joes Daemen actually bought him this seat to be on this flight and saying that it's a lifelong dream of Oliver to become an astronaut. He's been studying to become a pilot but that he has always dreamed of going to space. Take a listen.


OLIVER DAEMEN, TO BECOME YOUNGEST PERSON IN SPACE: I've been dreaming about this all my life, now I become the youngest astronaut ever because I'm 18 years old. I am super excited to experience zero G and see the world from above. Thank you so much for the people of Blue Origin for making this happen. And making new shepherds. Thank you.


CRANE (on camera): Now, Victor and Alisyn, Oliver is set to join Jeff Bezos, Jeff's brother Mark Bezos and also aerospace legend Wally Funk on this historic flight. Wally Funk will become the oldest person in space at the age of 82. So very interesting that on this flight you will have the oldest and the youngest person ever to travel into space.

Also, interesting to point out that Oliver was not the original person intended to be on this flight. An auction winner paid $28 million but Blue Origin is saying a scheduling conflict forced that participant to drop out and now we have Oliver set to become the youngest person in space.

CAMEROTA: OK, Rachel, thank you very much. I don't know if it's winning if you pay $28 million.

BLACKWELL: No it isn't, no. It's a purchase.

CAMEROTA: All right. In just a few minutes President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold this joint news conference to talk about climate crisis, Russian cyberattacks, et cetera.

Jake Tapper will have special live coverage when THE LEAD starts right after this.