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Staffer Who Filed Criminal Complaint Speaks Publicly; Former Top DOJ Officials Accuse Deputy Of Trying To Help Trump Subvert 2020 Election Results; California Governor Gavin Newsom Tours Town Destroyed By Dixie Fire; U.N. Warns Global Catastrophe Ahead Of Crucial Environmental Report; Interview With Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R); Tokyo Summer Olympics Wrap Up After Year-Long Delay. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 8, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you along with us on this Sunday.
And tonight, new details in the sexual harassment scandal swirling around embattled New York Governor Cuomo. One of his 11 accusers, in fact, the woman who filed a criminal complaint against him, has publicly come forward. Speaking exclusively to CBS this morning and the Albany Times Union, she says into Cuomo gradually escalated his physical contact with her and that the governor took an advantage of the power imbalance between an employee and the most powerful man in New York politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITTANY COMMISSO, GOVERNOR CUOMO ACCUSER: Then there started to be hugs with kisses on the cheek. And then there was at one point a hug. And then when he went to go kiss me on the cheek, he quickly turned his head and he kissed me on the lips.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you say?
COMMISSO: I didn't say anything. I didn't say anything. I didn't say anything this whole time. People don't understand this is the governor of the state of New York. There are troopers that are outside of the mansion and there are some mansion staff. Those troopers that are there, they are not there to protect me. They are there to protect him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And we should note, we reached out to New York State troopers. Governor Cuomo denies any wrongdoing, but even fellow Democrats have turned on him. State lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee meet tomorrow to review the evidence and the path forward toward impeachment and removal from office. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Albany, New York.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New York governor Andrew Cuomo facing what will likely be another trying week. On Monday, legislatures on the states Judiciary Committee returned to Albany where they're expected to meet with independent investigators to review evidence related to governor's impeachment probe.
But Governor Cuomo's sexual harassment investigation by the lawmakers nearing, he has until this Friday to offer evidence in his defense, an opportunity Cuomo's personal lawyer insists was not provided by the New York state A.G. before the release of a scathing report, in which several women accuse the governor of unwelcome and nonconsensual touching as well as making comments of a suggestive sexual nature.
Adding to the governor's trouble, the possibility of criminal charges. The Albany County Sheriff's Department confirmed it's investigating a complaint of behavior from Cuomo that was sexual in nature.
SHERIFF CRAIG APPLE, ALBANY COUNTY, NEW YORK: I had a female victim come forward, which had to be the hardest thing she's even done in her life, and make an allegation of criminal conduct against the governor.
SANDOVAL: Noted at the report only as executive assistant number one, that female victim is speaking publicly for the first time. Together with Albany's Times Union, CBS News previewing their upcoming conversation with Brittany Commisso, one of the governor's current staffers who's coming forward to defend her account without blurring to protect her image.
COMMISSO: The governor needs to be held accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And just so I'm clear, being held accountable to you means seeing the governor charged with a crime?
COMMISSO: What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law.
SANDOVAL: Rita Glavin, Governor Cuomo's Attorney, insists Commisso's claim are untrue. In her Saturday interview with CNN, Glavin did admit the governor may have touched another accuser, a state trooper on the governor's protective details. The A.G.'s report alleges he ran his fingers down her back while standing behind her in an elevator.
RITA GLAVIN, GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO'S ATTORNEY: One thing I will say about this particular trooper is that I do know that the governor has tremendous respect for her, believes she has been an excellent member of her detail, and to the extent that she believes and felt he did anything that violate her was inappropriate.
He feels very, very badly about that. That I do know and I know he's going to address those. SANDOVAL: Exactly when that would be remains unclear. The governor has, however apologized to a handful of women who he recognized were made to feel uncomfortable because of behavior he insists was well intentioned.
GLAVIN: He does slip at times. He's not perfect. But, yes, I get it. I absolutely --
BROWN: He does slip. When you say, he does slip, what do you mean by that?
GLAVIN: Oh, he said on his video statements, which is that, you know, he does make the mistake. He will say darling, he will say sweetheart. He does ask people questions about their personal lives. He didn't think that that was improper.
SANDOVAL: Polo Sandoval, CNN Albany, New York.
BROWN: And we reached out to Governor Cuomo's office and they didn't comment further on the CBS interview. The attorney for Brittany Commisso noted that she waited to come forward until after the attorney general's report was filed.
So there is quite a bit to break down from all of these. Let's bring in Areva Martin, a CNN Legal Analyst and a Civil rights Attorney. Areva, thanks for coming on the show.
So, Governor Cuomo's personal attorney, Rita Glavin, sat down with me last night, as you saw there, for this one-on-one hour-long interview. She questioned the credibility of two of the more serious allegations against Governor Cuomo, including from the woman who broke her silence today about her criminal complaint against Governor Cuomo, previously known only as executive assistant one, who says Cuomo reached under her shirt and groped her breasts. Let's listen to that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: How was executive assistant one's account corroborated?
BROWN: It's corroborated because she saw the governor speaking and started crying when he said he didn't engage in inappropriate behavior. And so she told two other staffers at the time what happened and that was in the report. And I didn't, by the way, say --
GLAVIN: This was five months after she alleged this happened. And this was at a time --
BROWN: Okay. So does that undermine her story, in your view? Does that undermine her story that she waited five months?
GLAVIN: What undermines her story is that there is absolutely no corroboration at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: No corroboration at the time. So my question to you, Areva, does the fact that she confided in colleagues months later undercut the witness corroboration here?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all, Pamela. You know, what we heard from Governor Cuomo's attorney is the tired, pathetic, attack the witness approach that we've seen in so many of these hired profile cases. They go after the witnesses. They try to malign their character, undermine their credibility.
But what we know about executive assistant number one, we now know her name is Brittany, is that these investigators, independent investigators, have said in this 160-plus page report that she's credible, that her demeanor is credible, that the statements, the allegations that she made are also corroborated, as you pointed out in that interview, by other employees in the Governor's office.
So I didn't understand Rita's argument. I was really confused by her constant comments about the governor not being involved in what she deemed intentional conduct. He made slip, he didn't mean it. She knows as a seasoned labor employment attorney that the standard here is not his subjective spilling but it's a reasonable person's stand.
What would a reasonable person know? We're not talking about a low level of employee. We're talking about the highest-ranking elected official in the state of New York. We're talking about someone that should have participated in hours and hours of sexual harassment training, who has passed laws about sexual harassment.
So, Governor Cuomo absolutely having an understanding that his conduct was inappropriate, yet he continued to engage in it. So, for now, his lawyer to suggest somehow he didn't do it intentionally and he made slips, it is really offensive to those women. And this offensive to the work that he's been done over the last two or three years to bring these issues of sexual harassment forward, and finally to get victims like Brittany believed by the public.
BROWN: So, you mentioned the defense being that he just slips at times. I mean, that is what she said. I followed up on that as you heard. That is basically what she is saying, that it wasn't intentional. How much of a defense is that?
MARTIN: It's a zero defense. There's no defense about I didn't know, particularly when we're doing with the highest-ranking person in that office. And as you know, someone like Governor Cuomo has had to participate in so many conversations with H.R. professionals, with labor and employment attorneys. He's probably designed, a bit, a part of designed sexual harassment training for his entire staff. He knows what inappropriate conduct us.
And it's not enough to say, you know, I'm from a different era. We are in an era where everyone knows where the lines are, what the standards are. We lived through Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, so many high profile men who have had allegations against him that have been substantiated.
And so this notion that we're somehow in the dark ages just 20, 25 years ago, it's just an incredible argument, I think, to be making by the governor. And I think it just shows. He does not have a substantive, credible defense to these allegations.
BROWN: But I do want to bring up her argument is about the report itself, right? There are two issues. There is the report and there is also the allegations that were made. She says that this report has several key omissions. She'd heard from other attorneys of what their clients have said that wasn't included in the report. We still haven't seen, she hasn't seen the underlying evidence, the transcripts. Do you see that as problematic?
MARTIN: If what Rita has said is correct and that there are omissions of people who made statements people favorable to the governor, yes, that is problematic. And do of these kinds of investigations, and I've been involved in them, you should include all of the information that, that has been presented during the investigation. So, if witnesses came forward and said that statements that some these 11 women have made, you know, it's incredible or that these women had some ulterior motive, then, yes, that information should have been included.
But what we didn't hear of the governor's lawyer is attack the credibility of the claims made by the 11 women that have come forward. She spent a lot of time talking about two, Bennett and Boylan. And she wouldn't say much about this state trooper that was involved, but there are nine other women. So to suggest 20 percent of these claims may have some credibility issues, okay, what about the other nine? We haven't heard party any mention of those allegations.
But, yes, she has every right to raise questions about the thoroughness and the completeness of this report. And if it lacks in some areas, then, absolutely, let's get that evidence out.
BROWN: And you mention the state troopers. Listen to these back and forth about the touching of the state trooper, what she was going to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: That's not criminal conduct, as far as I know.
BROWN: Okay. Okay if he did that, is that acceptable behavior?
GLAVIN: It depends on what the context of the circumstances were.
BROWN: Depends on the context -- okay. So I just want to be clear because the governor is completely has said he hasn't done anything inappropriate. Are you saying it depends on if it was consensual or not? Is that you are getting that?
GLAVIN: No. No, what I'm getting at, Pamela, is the governor may have very well touched the state trooper's back and she may have understood it one way and he understood it another way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So I asked, how was that appropriate? What was your reaction to her response?
MARTIN: That was an idiotic response. Let's set the stage here, Pamela. You work for the governor, the highest ranking official in the state of New York, the power dynamic that exists between an employee and their supervisor, and not just any supervisor, the governor. And he touches your back. Under what circumstances would it ever been appropriate?
Maybe there's a fire on the elevator and he's trying to rescue her, his trying to save her. So, yes, there are some circumstances under which your supervisor can touch your back. That didn't happen in this case. This lawyer knows that didn't happen in this case. The state trooper would not to come forward and made these allegations if this was some casual touch.
And I should -- you know, I want to make this point, when you're dealing with sexual harassment, you're talking about severe and pervasive conduct. You're not talking about a straight comment or a casual remark that's made by someone. This conduct has to be so severe and pervasive that it changed the nature condition of this work environment. It made the work environment hostile. It changed the conditions of employment for these employees.
So we're not talking about, again, a casual touch that might happen because maybe the elevator skipped a floor. This was intentional conduct on the part of the governor that was unwelcomed and unwarranted, unsolicited by these women, and the lawyer knows that.
BROWN: They said, yes, unwanted touching. All right, Areva Martin, thank you so much for offering your legal analysis on this.
MARTIN: Thanks, Pamela.
BROWN: Well, the first wave of American children already back in the classroom where political battles are raging over mask mandates. The Republican governor of Arkansas, who signed a law forbidding school districts from mandating masks has now reversed himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): So I asked the legislature to redo the law that prohibited those requirements or those options for the school districts to protect the children. And so it was an error to sign that law. I admit that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The nation's education secretary is pleading with other decision-makers to ditch politics and embrace the importance of vaccines and masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIGUEL CARDONA, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: To those who are making policies that are preventing this, don't be the reason why schools are interrupted, why children can't go to extracurricular activities, why games are canceled.
We need to do our part as leaders, like Governor Hatchinson is doing, to make sure that they have access to the decision that they need to make to get their students safely back in school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And now the reality check, only half of the country is fully vaccinated. And it's the unvaccinated providing who are providing the fuel to the delta wildfire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: We would not be in the place we are right now with this delta surge if we'd been more effective in getting everybody to take advantage of these immunizations. And now we're paying a terrible price as the cases go up quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Next hour, I'm going to speak to Dr. Catherine O'Neal from Louisiana State University. She is pleading with her community to get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: Today, 11 children are admitted to our children's hospital, children who were healthy before they came in the doors. We never saw that last year. Today we have ten 20-year-olds admitted to the adult hospital, two of them on a breathing machine. We never saw that last year. That's you, those are people who look and act just like you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And still ahead, California's Dixie fire super charged by climate change and now officially the state's second biggest blaze on record.
Also tonight, police in Wyoming, Michigan, facing accusation of racial profiling after a black realtor and his black clients wound up in handcuffs.
But, first, new reporting tonight on the underhand tactics the ex- president was trying -- was using to try to overturn his election lost. CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash I live with more on that.
Plus, Dana has a first looked at her special report featuring Democratic firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We'll be right back.
BROWN: It's always the one you least expect. A Justice Department, an environment law chief, was at the center of a major effort to help former President Donald Trump undermine the election results. That's according to a source familiar with the close-door testimony of two top former Justice Department officials.
In interviews with the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy A.G. Richard Donoghue say that their subordinate, Jeffrey Clark, tried to use the department's resources in support of false voting claims by Trump. He went out of the chain of command, even trying to oust his bosses he was resisting Trump according to the source.
Clark's attorney declined a comment to CNN.
And this morning on CNN's State of the Union, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin told Dana Bash that according to testimony Trump also asked Rosen to do certain things and meet with people related to crazy conspiracy theory. Rosen refused to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Just how directly personally involved the president was, the pressure he was putting on Jeffrey Rosen, it was real, very real. And it was very specific. This president is not subtle when he wants something, former president. He's not subtle when he wants something.
And I think it's a good thing for America that we had a person like Rosen in that position who stood -- withstood the pressure?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And Dana Bash joins me now to talk about this extraordinary stress test our democracy was under. Really incredible to hear that from Senator Durbin, and just the fact that, essentially, the acting attorney general was standing in way of what appeared to be an attempted coup. Where might we be if the acting attorney general had gone along with former President Trump's request?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is such an important question. Maybe the answer is another thing that Senator Durbin told me, which is what the former president was trying to do was find whomever he could in the Justice Department who agree with him, which is probably why he ended with somebody who does environmental law and not election law and trying to subvert the law, subvert the actions of these states that were really critical to Joe Biden winning and him losing, which is what happened.
And what the judiciary chairman said -- this is seven hours of testimony that Jeffrey Rosen, who was the acting attorney general, gave yesterday, seven hours. And the kind of takeaway that Senator Durbin had was that the president was trying as much as he could to find whomever he could to stop it. And that there were people not just in the Justice Department like Rosen but even in the White House who surprised him who were trying to put the guardrails back up.
So we're going to clearly learn a lot more that we did not know about the very deliberate actions, according to Durbin, that Donald Trump was taking in order to stay in office.
BROWN: Wow, and you know we were covering that time period together and we had no idea the extent of it, how far it reach and how involved these DOJ officials were in preventing this. But you have this one DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, who seems to be at the center of this, a Trump ally who was trying to move forward with Trump's plans. How critical is his testimony to the committee? Is he likely to talk?
BASH: We've seen this before, Pam, during so many years of the Trump administration, where people who are still very much aligned with him are reluctant to talk. But we'll see. We'll see. The issue with the Senate, as you as you well know, as supposed to the House, is that there has to be a vote in order to send a subpoena.
And what the judiciary chairman told me today is that, unless somebody like Clark or even Bill Barr comes voluntarily, it's probably going to be difficult for the democratic leadership to get enough votes in order to make that happen, in order to compel it, so they hope it that it is voluntary.
BROWN: But what they heard already led Senator Blumenthal to say he was struck by how close this country came to total catastrophe, which is really chilling.
And tomorrow CNN is airing the first -- very first episode of a new episode of the new series, Being, and you are front in center, Dana. You spend time with people who affect American policy. This first interview features Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
So the big question is, is she aiming for a bigger political platform soon?
BASH: That's right, and we asked that question. You tell me at the end if you're satisfied with the answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Are you going to challenge Senator Schumer in a primary race?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): You know, I -- here's the thing, is that -- and I know it drives everybody nuts, but the way that I really feel about this and the way that I really approach my politics and my political career is that I do not look at things and I do not set my course positionally.
And I know there's a lot of people who do not believe that. But I really -- I can't operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to other things. And so all that is to say is that I make decisions based on what I think our people need and my community needs. And so I'm not commenting on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, basically, I'm going to give a long-winded answer and say I don't make moves based on my political ambitions. But since she didn't really --
BASH: She did it. But one of the things that I thought was so fascinating in her answer was that -- and we know, we're around politicians a lot, that those who are aspiring for a different office or higher office try to position themselves in a very strategic way. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't because the wind changes in politics.
And what she was saying is, I understand my role. As she said to me that my role is to break glass and to get attention for the issues that I care about. And I can't do that if I'm going to be thinking about the next step in my career.
But she does have to make a decision as I mentioned, because the calendar is such that, if she's going to run in a primary against Senator Schumer, she's going to have to decide at some point you know within the next year. But we'll see.
And also, just another teaser, I asked her if she is thinking about running for president and what she said was very interesting with regards to little girls. She said she wanted to be careful on how she answer that question because she doesn't want little girls to not dream big.
BROWN: Wow, I cannot wait to watch this. Dana Bash, that is a very good teaser.
Be sure to catch, Dana's Being AOC tomorrow night 9:00 P.M. Eastern right on CNN.
Well, catastrophic, that is the urgent warning from the U. N. about the consequences of climate change. We're already seeing it happen. Just look at the Dixie fire in California, exploding to the second largest fire in the state's history today. More details just ahead.
BROWN: Right now California's Dixie Fire is officially the state's second biggest wildfire ever in history. About 700 square miles of northern California are now consumed by this fire and it's nowhere near contained. More than 100 homes are burned to the ground, thousands more are under threat. Extreme heat and severe drought taking a brutal toll on that part of the country. Look at these pictures of Lake Oroville, right near Sacramento, last
year compared to this year. The water is so low that a major hydroelectric plant had to be shut down. California's governor says it's time for everyone to agree on what's to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: The dries are getting a lot drier and the heat and hot weather is a lot hotter than it's ever been. The extreme weather conditions, extreme droughts are leading to extreme conditions and wildfire challenges the likes of which we've never seen in our history. And as a consequence, we need to acknowledge to straight up these are climate induced wildfires. And we have to acknowledge we have the capacity in this country not just the state to solve this.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The leader of the United Nations next climate talks insists we will see catastrophic consequences if the world doesn't act now to curb climate change. His comments come just a day before a major international climate report is released. It's expected to provide the most conclusive look yet at manmade climate change and the urgency needed to stop it.
Let me bring in CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir.
Bill, you know, I just mentioned that International Climate Report about to be released. What are you looking to learn from it? I mean, we are seeing the consequences of manmade climate change all over the world.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You don't have to look very far to see the consequences of the predictions that these same groups of scientists have been making going back now through generations. Every seven years or so, it's now eight years due to COVID. Basically the world's scientists who specialize in climate, cloud specialists from Asia and reef specialists from Australia they get together, 195 nations included in this, and agree on here's the state of the science, here's where we are.
And we expect this report, it's embargoed until early morning, to show that we are reaching this 1.5-degree Celsius warming, this real red flag moment much faster than anybody ever thought and the effects are much more devastating than anyone ever predicted.
BROWN: And then you have this new study showing a crucial system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean is showing signs of instability due to climate change. What does that mean exactly? Why is that so concerning to scientists?
WEIR: Well, I was just with some scientists in Greenland recently, which is melting at such a staggering rate. Just one day last week enough of fresh water ice in Greenland melted to cover all of Florida in two inches of water. And as all that fresh water slides off, it's sort of -- kind of grinding the gears of the gulf stream. This is sort of a conveyor belt that brings warm water from the Bahamas, from the Caribbean up the American coast and all the way over to Ireland. And it really is the weather system. It's like the thermostat of both North America and Europe.
And if that thing slows down and grinds to a halt as a result of a lot of different factors, who knows what that means? It could mean deep cold snaps in the northeast. It could mean, you know, arctic-like conditions in Ireland but much hotter in the Caribbean. And everything is so interconnected and so complicated. Nobody knows for sure, but that may be mentioned in tomorrow's report.
BROWN: And then you have these wildfires that we're all seeing the visuals of. I'm sure we're going to put it on the screen here. These wildfires offering Americans in the Western United States this firsthand look at the devastating effects of climate change. But for our viewers in other parts of the country, what kinds of weather events can they expect to see if global temperatures continue to rise?
WEIR: Well, I mean, in the broadest terms, Pamela, you know, not enough water in places that desperately need it, way too much water in places that don't want any more. It will throw off food security. The crops in the Pacific Northwest took a massive hit this summer because of that heat dome up there. It can mean more icy winters in Texas and places like that. It's sea level encroachment.
And before the waves are sort of lapping up on South Beach, insurance companies will say we can't cover the most vulnerable neighborhoods in America anymore and if you want to live there the risk is on you. That throws off property values and tax basis.
This is how -- you know, those beach front properties are how people pay their -- cities pay their cops and their teachers. So it's really complicated as we get closer and closer to having to deal with really mitigation and adaptation at the same time in every country in the world.
BROWN: Yes. There's no escaping this. So unsettling.
BROWN: Bill Weir, thank you as always for coming on to share all of your expertise on this very important topic, climate change.
And it's going from bad to worse in fighting this pandemic, especially in Florida where the state just reported a record number of new cases. The patients are younger and sicker because of this Delta variant.
When we come back, I'll speak to the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, about the strain on the hospital system there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's so high in Florida that I think that if Florida were another country, we would have to consider banning travel from Florida to the United States. He needs to understand that he's painted himself into a corner. People are dying in Florida. It's going to get much worse. The hospitals are filling with people.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Children as well.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So that was Dr. Jonathan Reiner talking about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and how bad things are there. As we know, DeSantis has banned mask mandates across the state. He has threatened to pull funding from any district that tries to compel students to wear them.
This is happening as Florida is reporting record breaking new daily cases of COVID-19 that are putting heavy pressure on already exhausted healthcare workers. One infectious disease expert at Florida International University told CNN that Miami area children's hospitals are, quote, completely overwhelmed right now.
Francis Suarez is the mayor of Miami, and he joins me now to talk about this.
Mayor, thanks for joining us. Just how bad are things across Florida and in your city right now?
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: Well, definitely the lead indicators are not good. You know, new cases are up. Percent positivity is up and hospitalizations, as you mentioned, are up. The good news is that our population is increasingly vaccinated. For those that are in the most vulnerable population, 65 and older, 99 percent of them have received one dose and 84 percent of them are fully vaccinated.
We have I believe 75 percent of those 18 and over are also fully vaccinated. So this is as a CEO of our public hospital, one of the largest public hospitals in the country, said, this is certainly a pandemic of the unvaccinated in many cases because what we're seeing across our hospital systems is that a large percentage of the people that are being hospitalized have not been vaccinated so we're certainly continuing to message how important vaccinations are.
BROWN: And we know some can't be vaccinated. Right? Kids under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated right now. They're not eligible. Your state's Governor Ron DeSantis is against mask mandates, especially in school.
But with cases skyrocketing and the Delta variant more transmissible, is that the right move?
SUAREZ: Yes, you know, it's -- you know, the schools are about to open in the next couple of weeks and unless something changes dramatically, and so far the trends are not in a positive direction, I think what's important is that the local superintendent, many of which are elected officials and in the case of many superintendents across the state of Florida, be empowered to make some of these decisions.
Every city is different. And I think the governor at the beginning of the pandemic did a wonderful job of allowing the cities and local authorities to make these decisions. That's actually a very conservative principle to allow local authorities to make this. He pivoted away from that later on. And I think now given the new construct that we're seeing and the new realities that we're seeing, it may be something that he may want to return to.
BROWN: So you're saying that you are in favor of mask mandates if it's necessary in certain places in Florida?
SUAREZ: Yes. Look, with our government we've already implemented that. Actually our government has --
BROWN: In the schools. I should clarify.
SUAREZ: Yes. Well, for our government, we implemented -- for our employees -- that they have to wear masks unless they're vaccinated. And obviously as you said with children, they're not. I can tell you many private schools are opting to, you know, have children wear masks. And, you know, my children wear masks and they do it. I have a very, very young daughter, she does it and she does it very, very well.
So, you know, I think it's something that certainly parents need to weigh in on, but if it gets to a point where this doesn't change in the next couple of weeks, they may need to be mandated.
BROWN: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his city is going to require people to show proof of vaccinations to enter restaurants and other places like movie theaters. Do you think Miami should do the same?
SUAREZ: You know, I think that private businesses should have the right. You know, and we're seeing this play out right now with, you know, the cruise industry where the cruise industry in order to sail safely is being told by the CDC that 98 percent of the passengers and 98 percent of the crew need to be vaccinated, and the cruise industry can't demonstrate that threshold without asking, you know, the passengers to prove their vaccination.
So I totally support the cruise industry and private businesses having the right to be able to determine whether, you know, they want to take on the risk of people who are not vaccinated being inside their establishments. That's a right that we should all have as private citizens.
BROWN: So you're a Republican. There is a lot of vaccine hesitancy among Republicans. Every night there are FOX News hosts like Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, spreading misinformation about the vaccine. Do you think that misinformation from FOX is killing people? SUAREZ: You know, I just focus on the facts. The facts are that 99
percent of the people that are vaccinated, if they get COVID a second time, they're not experiencing serious symptoms, 99 percent. And 90 percent approximately of the people who are being hospitalized right now in our hospital system are not vaccinated. So I mean, when you compare those two statistics, it's very hard to argue that people shouldn't be vaccinated.
Those are just the facts and I like to stick to the facts and, you know, and of course advocate for what the best position is which is for people to get vaccinated.
BROWN: Unfortunately, some people aren't focusing on those facts. And they're focusing on the misinformation, though. And that's the big problem we're contending with as a country.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, thank you so much.
SUAREZ: Thank you.
BROWN: Well, after two weeks of competition and a long year of waiting, the Olympic flame in Tokyo is now out and the 2020 games are coming to an end. More on the closing ceremony and where the torch is headed, next.
BROWN: After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics have now come to a close. Fireworks mark the official end to what was supposed to be the 2020 Summer Games. And it was a closing ceremony like no other.
Our Will Ripley has been in Tokyo throughout these strange summer games.
Hey, Will, good to see you. Definitely an appropriate ending to what is, I think safe to say, the most unusual Olympics of our lifetime, right?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Pam, this is my last Tokyo 2020 live shot and it's with you. I'm so excited.
BROWN: That's special. That's very special.
RIPLEY: Get ready. This is going to be the best 90 seconds of your life. All right, so talking about the closing ceremony. It was spectacular to see the light show and there was this really cool, I don't think we have a still image of it, but like, you know, I loved the drones in the opening ceremony. In the closing ceremony they actually made the Olympic rings hover in the middle of the stadium.
And because there were no spectators and we didn't get tickets to go, we watched on TV and thought, wow, are these like little tiny little drones? But actually a lot of the effects in the closing ceremony were made for TV graphics that were inserted over video. So people sitting in the stadium actually didn't see anything. So maybe in some ways, it was -- the people at home got a better experience.
But the medal count as I told you yesterday was going to be down to the wire and it was. Gold medals, the U.S. just squeaking by China, 39 gold medals for the U.S., 38 for China. And the sport that pushed the U.S. over the edge, women's volleyball. And it's the first time that they won a gold for women's volleyball. So that was pretty cool.
What else? Women's basketball. A great showing for them. They've been winning gold medals at seven consecutive Olympic Games, since 1996. But they got another one in the bag. Of course, men's basketball also won big. And it's just been an Olympic Games full of really happy moments. You know, like the American swimmer who embraced her competitor who beat her but set a world record and the American runner who lifted up another runner who fell during a relay and they walked arm in arm to the finish line.
So in the end, maybe that will be, Pamela, the legacy of these games is the athletes really banding together, creating these really special moments despite the pandemic and the lack of spectators and all of the other things. It was the athletes that really brought us over the finish line here.
BROWN: That's a beautiful ending for your last live shot there in Tokyo.
RIPLEY: Thank you.
BROWN: Will Ripley, a wonderful, exhilarating 90 seconds for us.
RIPLEY: Just for you.
BROWN: All right, thanks so much, Will.
BROWN: Get some rest. Appreciate it.
Well, imagine that you went to look at a house for sale and ended up surrounded by armed police, and then put in handcuffs.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2417. Sharon. The Wyoming Police Department, come out with your hands in the air. Do it now.
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BROWN: Well, that's what happened in Wyoming, Michigan, to a black realtor. His black client and the client's 15-year-old son. They say if they were white, it wouldn't have happened.
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ROY THORNE, HOMEBUYER HANDCUFFED BY POLICE: That's when I really got paranoid because I knew once they surrounded the home, they were just preparing for a stand-off. And so my instincts told me, we need to get out of here. We need to get to where they can see that we're not a threat. I was worried but I was just more concerned about getting my son out of that situation.
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BROWN: I mean -- police say a white neighbor called 911 to report a break-in. It turns out a different man was arrested at the same home a week earlier for unlawful entry. Wyoming Police say they reviewed the incident stating this, "Race played no role in our officers' treatment of the individuals and our officers responded appropriately." Wow.
When we come back, Louisiana Doctor Catherine O'Neal calls these the darkest days of the pandemic. I'll get her view from the frontlines, next.