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CNN NEWSROOM

Debate Over Masking Erupts Nationwide as Cases Surge; Rep. Stefanik Says Pelosi Bears Responsibility for Jan. 6 Riot; Republicans Try to Diminish First Jan. 6 Select Committee Hearing; Federal Reserve Keeps Ultra-Low Interest Rates Unchanged; England to Allow Fully Vaccinated from The U.S. and E.U. to Avoid Quarantine Next Week; Nearly 39,000 U.S. Children and Teens Caught COVID Last Week. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 28, 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]

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I don't know if that's to listen to the explanation or to try to convince the physician to change the guidance. But hopefully we'll get a readout of what happening in that meeting.

Let's turn to the 1/6 commission, S.E. and what we heard from the chair of the GOP conference, Elise Stefanik, trying to shift the narrative to say that Nancy Pelosi is the person who is responsible for what happened. And then after she got some blowback, trying to change that now to say the media is responsible. Let's listen to Elise Stefanik.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: What's your reaction to what we're hearing from Stefanik?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Victor, I had to watch that back multiple times. Because I could not believe that she had said that. I could not believe that she was actually spinning it that sort of disgracefully and cravenly. And it really is -- I mean, it would be laughable if it weren't so sad. The idea that Nancy Pelosi's role in the January 6th insurrection would be questioned. Her role was probably cowering in her office. She was targeted on that day. And as Elise Stefanik knows, the Speaker of the House is not responsible for the safety and security of the U.S. Capitol. Capitol Police are.

And the idea finally that the media is too afraid of Nancy Pelosi too ask questions, is absurd. It's much of us in the non-Fox media who want to know more about what happened on Jan. 6th, while Fox News media seem entirely incurious about that. It's Democrats who want the hearing to ask the questions, Republicans are the ones disinterested in holding the hearings. So, none of what she said is true. What she said is awful and pretty

indefensible. And it's really just sad to watch how power has corrupted Elise Stefanik.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Max, I mean Republicans try to say, with a straight face, and I mean Republican lawmakers, that they want to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th. But yesterday they were revealed. I mean all of their cards were revealed when CNN caught up with them and asked them what they thought of the gripping testimony that they had heard. So here are some of their answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Did you watch any of the hearings today?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): No, I didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why not?

MCCONNELL: I was busy doing work. I serve in the Senate.

REP. JAMES RASKIN (D-MD): I'm asking, did you watch the testimony of the Capitol officers who defended our lives on January 6th or did you not? It's a yes or no question.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): It's irrelevant, it's absolutely irrelevant to this amendment right here.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I didn't watch it. I don't know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you believe their testimony at all? I mean you've heard what they've said in the past, haven't you?

BROOKS: It's difficult to have an opinion on whether you believe somebody when you haven't heard what they had do say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Well, many of them said that they feared for their lives, sir. Do you think that that was true or --

BROOKS: If they said that, I agree a 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Max, explain to me the logic, Congressman Mo Brooks just said it's difficult to have an opinion on whether you believe somebody when you haven't heard what they have to say. He's actively not listening to what those officers had to say.

MAX BOOT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, Mo Brooks was one of many Republicans who was actively complicit in generating the riot that struck the Capitol on January 6th. So, there's no reason why he doesn't want to learn about what happened. I mean when Republicans talk about, we want to get to get to the bottom of this, to me it sounds a lot like O.J. Simpson saying I want to find the real killers.

Of course, they don't want to get to the bottom of this, because they know who is responsible, ultimately, it was Donald Trump who instigated this riot, which came very close to killing members of Congress, which came close to potentially overturning an election and destroying our democracy. This is one the most disgraceful episode in American history. And Republicans are firmly associated with it.

And now instead of trying to get to the bottom of it, they continue to try to cover it up with a couple of honorable exceptions like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the rest of the Republican caucus is being utterly disgraceful. They are becoming apologists for terrorism in essence. They are becoming an anti-democratic force in American life.

And to me what's really appalling is the way you've seen so many on the right, bashing the officers, the brave police officers who testified yesterday, who risked their lives to save every single member of Congress, Democrat or Republican. And you're seeing it being attacked and mocked on Fox News and elsewhere on the right. This is from people who claimed they back the blue, while they're bashing the blue. This is just disgusting, and you know, every time you think the Republican Party can't go lower, it does.

BLACKWELL: S.E.?

[15:35:00]

CUPP: Yes. I mean I sat through yesterday's testimony. It was really difficult to watch, but so important to do so. And I thought to myself, how could anyone be unclear about what happened? And how could anyone not be moved by the unvarnished and graphic accounts of these four police officers? Who talked about seeing some of the most horrific and hearing some of the most horrific things while on the job. And a job they never thought they would be doing. Defending the Capitol from Americans. Against them.

And yet, Laura Ingraham was on Fox News last night giving fake awards for best acting performance to these police officers. I mean how could you not feel as a Republican hoodwinked by a party that has told you it stands behind law and order, it supports the police. How would you take that seriously after watching what Republicans have done, disgracefully, to attack these officers and defend insurrectionists simply because Donald Trump told them to.

CAMEROTA: Yes, these police officers who were willing to die that day -- didn't want to but were protecting democracy as they all said so compellingly.

S.E. Cupp, Max Boot, thank you both very much for your perspective. Great to talk to you always.

You probably noticed that you're paying a lot more for everything. So, did the Feds increase interest rates again? What's going on? We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:40:00] BLACKWELL: Minutes ago, the Federal Reserve announced it will leave interest rates unchanged. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says that the economy's direction hinges on the course of the coronavirus. And he warned that inflation rates are higher than projected.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's bring CNN's Matt Egan. Matt, when does the Fed expect inflation to go down?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Well, the message from the Federal Reserve is that high inflation most likely is not here to stay. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said today that he does expect prices to cool off as supply catches up to demand.

But Powell, he did acknowledge that some of these supply bottlenecks that have lifted prices have actually been worse than people anticipated. That's why we saw consumer prices in June rise at the fastest annual pace in 2008. Everything to used cars to air fare to bacon and milk has gotten a lot more expensive. And Powell said there is risk that inflation ends up being higher and lasts longer than people expected. That's because we're really in this unprecedented situation because of the pandemic and the reopening.

You know, the big wild card right now of course with the economy and with the pandemic is the delta variant. The Fed is definitely watching this very carefully. Powell struck somewhat of an optimistic tone at first. He said each successive wave of the pandemic has seemed to have less of an impact on the economy, but he also said there's a risk that people shy away from going out to eat. That maybe they don't travel as much. That perhaps some schools don't reopen. And Powell sounded an even more cautious note about new variants. Let's play that sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: As long as COVID is running loose out there, as long as there is time and space for the development of new strains, no one is really finally safe. These strains, there's no reason they can't just keep coming. And one, you know, one more powerful than the next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EGAN: It is rare to hear the Chairman of the Federal Reserve speak so candidly about risks to the economy. I think it's another reminder, of course, that this pandemic is not over, and another reminder of the importance for people to get vaccinated.

BLACKWELL: Yes, striking to hear him describe it that way. Matt Egan, thank you so much.

EGAN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: U.K. officials say they will be rolling back travel restrictions for some fully vaccinated visitors starting next week. Travelers from the United States and European Union soon will be allowed to travel to England without quarantine.

CNN's Scott McLean is live at London's Heathrow Airport. Scott, what more are you learning?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor, yes, I know that for the last 16 months, it has been an absolute pain for foreigners to travel to the U.K. And so, for the most part, they've been staying away. Heathrow Airport where I am, has seen a fraction of the normal foot traffic that it would usually have. And then even tourist sites across the country are sorely lacking in tourists which is a shame. Because it is a great time to visit, the weather's nice, everything is open, and there are very few crowds.

To get the U.K. back up and running, the tourist market, a lot of those -- to get the U.K. back up and running, the U.K. really wanted to make sure that they were able to bring people in and make sure that they are vaccinated. Because as it stands right now, Victor, an American, a fully vaccinated American would have to take five tests, no fewer than five days in quarantine, spend upwards of $200 on all of those tests. And so many people simply weren't coming. A lot of those tourist dollars were simply going to Europe. The U.K. is now trying to bring them in this way.

The CEO of the Heathrow Airport called this move transformative. He also said that one of the hang-ups with Americans in particular, was the fact that there's no real universal, no real uniform way for Americans to actually show that they have been fully vaccinated. And so, some people are going to be showing up with these little paper cards they got from the CDC, others are going to have things uploaded to state-run apps. And so that's been part of the problem, but they seem to have crossed that hurdle. And so starting Monday, the door is wide-open, if you're vaccinated.

CAMEROTA: OK, well that will come as music to the ears of people who love to travel. Scott McLean, thank you very much.

So, as you know the delta variant is hurting more young people, even teenagers. And you're about to hear from a mother whose 15-year-old daughter is now on a ventilator. What she wants to tell other parents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:00]

CAMEROTA: The delta variant is making more kids sick. Nearly 39,000 children and teenagers caught COVID-19 just last week in the U.S. That's more than triple the number at the end of June.

In Florida, just 23 percent of 12 to 18-year-olds are fully vaccinated, 9 percent have gotten at least one shot. But that leaves 68 percent of eligible kids unprotected.

One Florida mom who was fully vaccinated is recovering now from a mild breakthrough case, but her unvaccinated 15-year-old daughter remains very sick in a Fort Lauderdale hospital. She's been on a ventilator for 11 days now. And Agnes Velasquez joins me now. Agnes, thank you very much for taking the time. I know what a scary time this is for you and your daughter. How is Paulina at this hour?

[15:50:00]

AGNES VELASQUEZ, 15-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER HAS COVID, IS ON VENTILATOR: Thank you. Paulina is (INAUDIBLE) getting better and better every day. It's a slow progress. (INAUDIBLE) she didn't just you know improving and going the right direction.

CAMEROTA: And do you think that she'll be able to come off the ventilator today? Is that what they're telling you?

VELASQUEZ: No, definitely not today. This is something from (INAUDIBLE) the doctor, something that it's a very slow process and very slow.

(INAUDIBLE) before they even you know take her from the ventilator.

They have to (INAUDIBLE) you know and just wait a few days, you know, how she tolerates, how her body tolerates, and then you know hopefully maybe you know if everything goes smoothly. You know they get more better news at the end of this week.

CAMEROTA: You know, we're looking at pictures of her. She was a healthy -- I mean two weeks ago she was a healthy, vibrant teenager, 15-year-old. Have doctors been able to tell you why she deteriorated so quickly?

VELASQUEZ: No. They only say, you know, when virus attacked, when COVID, you know, attacked her, it just attacked her in a fast way. You know, attacked her lungs and blocked oxygen going to her brain and to her lungs.

So, you know, (INAUDIBLE) cause pneumonia, too. So, in (INAUDIBLE) in five days she was out into, placed into, in this coma and under ventilator.

CAMEROTA: Is it true that she had planned to get vaccinated this week?

VELASQUEZ: No, she plans to get vaccinated actually at the end of June, and but she came with some runny nose and sore throat, and I said, you know, we're just going to wait until you get better and then we'll, you know, vaccinate you.

And you know, to be honest with you, she got better a little bit and then, you know, beginning of July she started getting sore throat and, you know, runny nose. And they said we're just going to wait. I'd rather be safe than sorry later. And you know, we never had the chance vaccinating her.

CAMEROTA: And was there a reason that you were holding off or that she was holding off until the end of June to get vaccinated, though it was available a little earlier?

VELASQUEZ: Yes, you know, I was also thinking, like, you know, wasn't sure, you know, the vaccine is good for, you know, for her, you know, and all these things. But, you know, I definitely wanted to -- you know, I wanted her to get the vaccine, and I was explaining her, you know, how, you know, how good is, you know, for extra precaution to take the vaccine. And she finally, you know, said, OK, mommy, yes, I want to do it, I want to get vaccinated. But you know, unfortunately, you know, something else came, you know, and then we weren't able to do that.

CAMEROTA: Yes. What is your message now to other parents of children and teenagers?

VELASQUEZ: My message is, you know, from experience, what I experienced, you know, for the 11 days of being in this ICU, it's something I don't wish to any parent, you know, what I go through days and nights. So, you know, I would like encourage everyone, parents and then, you know, not only parents but also adult people to please take the vaccine, don't wait till something happens, don't think that, you know, oh, you know, this virus is just a game.

This virus is very powerful and dangerous virus. And it doesn't discriminate between the age and, you know, or where you're from. It just, you know, hits you, you know, and it's scary.

So, you know, I encourage everyone to please get vaccinated, and if you get the vaccine, also don't think you can take off your mask. Please use your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, use the proper guideline to prevent spreading the virus.

[15:55:00]

And think about it, if you get vaccinated, you're not only going to save your life, but you also will save life of many others.

CAMEROTA: Yes, including maybe even your own children. Well, Agnes, we're thinking of you and Paulina. Obviously, we'll be following her case and her progress that we're praying for. I know you also I believe you also have a GoFundMe page. I just want to let everybody know it's Paulina Velasquez because you are going to have a lot of medical bills.

Agnes, thank you very much for being on. And please keep us posted on Paulina.

VELASQUEZ: Of course. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Yes, she says it does not discriminate by age or community. And that's what we need to remember.

CAMEROTA: And I appreciate what she's saying, she was trying to work on her daughter, you know, trying to persuade her to get vaccinated. Slowly working on her. Sometimes it's hard to get teenagers, you know, to go along with you.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, it is.

CAMEROTA: But she is the, you know, cautionary tale that you have to make them at some point.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, it looks like progress on the bipartisan infrastructure deal might be pretty close. What Senator Chuck Schumer has to say about a possible vote that could come tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis sharing some rather unique parenting advice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILA KUNIS: When I had children, I also didn't wash them every day. Like, I wasn't the parent that bathed my newborns ever.

ASHTON KUTCHER: Here's the thing. If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there's no point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: You got kids. Did you wash them every day?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Maybe I shouldn't have. By the way, my personal bathing regimen has improved markedly since we had these hours.

BLACKWELL: No, really?

CAMEROTA: Yes, you're getting the benefit of whatever John Berman.