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Pelosi "Considering" Election Deniers for Jan. 6 Committee; Ready or Not, Schumer Plans Senate Vote on Infrastructure Plan; Bootleg Fire Creating Its Own Weather as California Wildfires Burn Over 20,000 Acres This Year; DeSantis Pushes Vaccine as GOP Group Sells Anti-Mask & Anti-Fauci Merch for Campaign. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a controversial choice, whether to allow three Republicans who supported the Big Lie that fueled the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill to serve on the select committee investigating that very insurrection.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): -- considering the proposal --


PELOSI: To be clear, how people voted on the president. Affirming the election of Joe Biden is not a criterion for service.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is the criterion?

PELOSI: That doesn't matter.


CABRERA: On this list is Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, Indiana Congressman Jim Banks, and Troy Nehls of Texas. All three voted to overturn the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota are also on the list. They voted to certify the election results.

And we are joined by CNN chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, from the Hill now.

Manu, where do you see Pelosi going on this?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear. She said to me there that criteria is not whether they voted to certify the election. The fact that they voted to overturn the results does not seem to mean they will not get those ultimate picks.

But then I asked her, what factors are you considering here. And she would not say. She said you'll wait to hear my announcement. I said are you going to make the announcement today. She said, I'll make it when I'm ready.

The only person who knows what she'll do is the speaker herself.

The Republicans believe she should move ahead. Kevin McCarthy said there's no reason for her not to.

When speaking to the Republicans, it's clear they want the focus to be largely on the preparations as well as other matters, including protests that occurred last summer involving Black Lives Matter and other issues, not just what happened on January 6th.

But one of the members you mentioned, Jim Jordan, I spoke to him earlier and asked if he would be willing to testify before the committee about his conversations with Donald Trump and the run up to January 6th as many Democrats want, and he indicated to me that he would.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I mean -- (INAUDIBLE). I don't know why.

RAJU: You had conversations leading up to January 6th.

JORDAN: I have conversations with the president all the time.

RAJU: Did they ask you --




JORDAN: I have nothing to hide.

RAJU: Do you want to look into Donald Trump's role?

JORDAN: I want to look into everything. I think it's important the committee take a deep dive into it. You keep bringing up Donald Trump. That's why obviously you formed your opinion already.

RAJU: I'm asking --


JORDAN: I thank you for your opinion. I think it's premature.


RAJU: I also asked that congressman if he wants to hear from Nancy Pelosi himself. He indicated an openness to that. You'll hear that side of the argument pushed by the Republicans as the

Democrats try to look at Donald Trump. They have all the factors there as well.


But, Ana, the first thing they want to talk to are the police officers themselves. Testimony next week expected from the Capitol Police and Metro Police officers who defended the building and their experiences.

CABRERA: Thank you so much, Manu Raju. Keep asking the good questions.

Let's turn to the Senate where patience is running thin. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to force a vote tomorrow to begin debate on a bipartisan infrastructure plan. Republican leaders argue Schumer is rushing the process and it may hurt his chance at a plan here.

CNN congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is on the Hill here.

This sounds dead on arrival. No?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, both sides aren't ready to go that far. They are still talking. The process is still moving.

But the vote on Wednesday could be trouble for the progress of this bill. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is going to put a procedural vote on the floor tomorrow, essentially to test the temperature of where both Republicans and Democrats are on this piece of legislation.

Now, Schumer said he doesn't think it's necessary to have anything on paper quite yet. This is just a step in the process, and that they can continue to fill out the language as they continue to negotiate.

And essentially what Schumer tried to do is force this bipartisan group of Republicans and Democratic Senators to get the process moving. To stop stalling in some cases.

And it seems to have had that work out at least on some level. They are going to meet today again at 3:00. They're essentially going to lock themselves in a room until they can come up with at least some sort of resolution.

And they are starting to find some areas of agreement on things, especially as to how they're going to pay for this specific legislation.

Still, there's going to be a lot on the line here Wednesday if that vote does go forward.

Republicans say they aren't going to vote yes unless they have a deal in hand. And, Ana, they're just not there yet.

CABRERA: Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill. Thank you for that update.

The Bootleg Fire in Oregon is so big and so hot it's creating its own weather. Next.



CABRERA: Right now, extreme heat is fueling dozens of wildfires across 13 states. One fire in Oregon has become so fierce it's creating its own weather.

The heat from the Bootleg Fire is forming storm clouds with lightning and strong winds. That fire is burning so fast it would scorch through Central Park in about 45 minutes.

South, in California, there are seven large fires currently burning and more than 200,000 acres have burned there so far this year in that state. That's more than five times greater than at this same time during last year's record-breaking season.

Let me turn to CNN meteorologist, Tom Sater.

Tom, let's start with the Bootleg Fire. It's creating its own weather. What exactly does that mean?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, take a look at this picture. It looks like a thunderstorm with an anvil head. When you have the type of intense fires that we have seen the last couple years, that rapid rise of the warm air is creating its own weather.

Let me share a statement from Marcus Kaufman, a spokesperson for the Forestry Department. He told us, again, in an article on CNN that, "Typically, it's the weather that determines the fire. But now it's the fire that's determining the weather."

This reaches up to altitudes where the plane flies, 40,000 feet in that anvil, and, throughout the thunderstorm, they even had rain yesterday at a command site.

It's the lightning that poses a threat. They're not going to get enough rain with the dry weather and the conditions to help the firefighters much.

This is an animation. See the white plume at the end of the animation here? From the Hill Fire? You'll start to see the pile of cumulus develop. This smoke is into eastern Canada up into New England now.

But what we're seeing with the Bootleg Fire, it has been ravaging, get this, scorching 1,100 acres an hour. It's been doing that for 13 consecutive days.

At that rate, that would burn let's say Central Park in 45 minutes. It's now the third-largest fire that we've had in Oregon history.

And 83 large fires.

But in California, these are just the large ones. They've had 5,000 fires. Over 5,000. A week ago, it was three times greater than it was at this time last year. This week, it's now five times greater.

And, again, we're going to have more of these popup storms with the lightning really creating havoc for the firefighters even again today and the next couple weeks.

CABRERA: Is there any relief in sight for the fires?

SATER: Well, there's some rain, as mentioned. It's not going to be a lot to help areas of the northwest. But the monsoon is helping.

I think there's six large fires in Arizona. This comes with lightning.

The problem with all the extreme heat, the heat domes we've seen with all the record-breaking temperatures are not moving much. It's slowing the Jetstream.

The heat dome in the Pacific Northwest and desert southwest now moves to the plains and the Great Basin. We're going to put up with this for a while as well as the smoke encompassing northern parts of North America and toward eastern Canada as well.

We'll have to put up with this for a while. Record-breaking season, unfortunately, underway.

CABRERA: Tom Sater, thank you.


Talk about mixed messages. At the same time Florida's governor is pushing vaccinations, his reelection campaign is ripping Dr. Fauci and he's fighting COVID restrictions. We head to one of the nation's biggest hot spots next.



CABRERA: Florida is once again a COVID hot spot. Right now, it has the highest case rate in the country as new infections approach peak pandemic levels.

Governor Ron DeSantis urges residents to get vaccinated. But that message is undercut by a group tied to DeSantis selling this anti-mask and anti-Fauci merchandise.

They're peddling this stuff in the middle of a surge that, once again, has local hospitals buckling.

CNN's Leyla Santiago reports.


DEBORAH WELLS, COVID-19 PATIENT: And it shows you everything you have to wear before going into the room.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind every single door in this unit is a COVID-19 patient. Suiting up in full protective gear is a must right now.

In this room --

WELLS: Lady!

SANTIAGO: -- we met 65-year-old Deborah Wells.

SANTIAGO (on camera): She has been here since Saturday. And she, too, has tested positive for COVID.

Ms. Deborah, we're talking over the phone right now for safety reasons. Can you tell me what you're experiencing in terms of your symptoms and how you feel?

WELLS: Well, before I came in I felt like I was about to die. As soon as I get out of here and get well, I'm going to get vaccinated.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): At U.F. Health Jacksonville, the number of COVID-19 cases has doubled since last week.

LAUREN SCHLIER, NURSE, U.F. HEALTH: Sad and frustrating because we thought that we were towards the end of it. And within not even two days, we are back to being just like it was in December/January.

SANTIAGO: The director of infection prevention, Chad Nielsen, tells us the surge is driven by the highly contagious Delta variant and the unvaccinated. The overwhelming majority, 90 percent of their COVID-19 patients, are not vaccinated.

CHAD NIELSEN, DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA HEALTH: We could be an entire hospital full of COVID in a matter of a month if things don't begin to slow down or vaccinations don't increase.

We need policymakers at a higher level though to really listen to us, start doubling down on vaccination pushes, stop with disinformation campaigns on social media and really start helping the health care community because we're starting to reach a breaking point across the state.

SANTIAGO: According to the White House last week, one in five COVID-19 cases can be found in Florida, and only about 48 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Governor Ron DeSantis is encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated, but he's ruled out the possibility of another lockdown.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): These things have a pattern. We saw the pattern last summer. It is similar. I think it started a little later. And so people should just be prepared for that.

SANTIAGO (on camera): What do you say to someone who makes the argument that these fluctuations are exactly what we saw last year?

NEILSEN: Yes, I would say that that's not based on the evidence. Right now we know the fluctuation we're seeing right now is based on this Delta variant, which didn't exist previously.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): And his concern, staffing shortages. The staff here, he says, reflects the general population, influenced by social media with fears and questions about the shot.

About half of the staff is unvaccinated, he said, and many are getting sick. Others are dealing with the burnout.

SCHLIER: Seeing patients on this floor who are young and passing, it is really difficult. It is difficult to see patients that resemble your loved ones.

SANTIAGO: The worst part, Deborah Wells tells us, struggling to breathe.

WELLS: I was coughing so bad.

SANTIAGO: Now with a sense of regret from her hospital bed, she wants the unvaccinated to know.

WELLS: You want to get vaccinated. You don't want nobody to have this.


SANTIAGO: And, Ana, today we learned that U.F. Health here in Jacksonville surpassed its winter surge peak numbers.

We know that they are very concerned that if patients continue to pour in they will not be able to provide adequate health that those patients will need.

In fact, we've learned that starting next week they will start delaying some of their elective surgeries.

CABRERA: Leyla Santigo, in Jacksonville, Florida, thank you.


Up next, what star quarterback, Tom Brady, says he has in common with President Biden.


CABRERA: President Biden today welcoming the 2021 Super Bowl champ, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to the White House. No sign of Gronk there.

But Tom Brady was there, after opting out of several of the visits following wins with the New England Patriots.

Today, he joked that some people still don't believe that Tampa actually won the Super Bowl.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Not a lot of people, you know, think that we could have won. And, in fact, I think about 40 percent of the people still don't think we won.



BRADY: You understand that, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I understand that.



Personally, you know, it is nice for me to be back here. We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was, I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me Sleepy Tom.


BRADY: Why would they do that to me?


CABRERA: Who knew he was a comedian, too?

This is the second championship team President Biden has hosted since taking office.