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CNN NEWSROOM

Cuomo Accuser Pens Scathing Essay; Officers Turn their Back on Chicago's Mayor; Nurse Shares Story of Frustration; Dominion Voting Systems Files Lawsuits. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired August 10, 2021 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[09:32:07]

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Developing overnight, hundreds of people in Miami forced out of their homes after the city declared an eight-story condo building unsafe. The building, which houses 138 units, was inspected on July 27th.

A report stated several repairs was needed. The city said it was safe to live in while repairs were underway. But then on Friday, an inspector found unpermitted structural work was being done at the building and an assessment yesterday found some of the parts to be, quote, structurally insufficient and unsafe to occupy.

A scathing new essay by the first woman to accuse Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, former aide Lindsey Boylan, now says the embattled governor is gaslighting the 11 women who came forward, writing in part, I am personally devastated by the accounts of the governor's widespread harassment, the scope of the retaliation campaign he waged against me and the efforts by his minions to protect him at all costs.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following all of these developments for us from Albany.

So, Polo, what more are we hearing from Lindsey Boylan?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in short, Erica, in this newly published -- this newly pushed essay, what Boylan does is write that she is, quote, relived that the attorney general finally released that report.

Remember, it was just a week ago today that the New York City AG released that scathing new report, including these allegations of misconduct against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, including several serious allegations of sexual harassment. And Boylan is one of those 11 women coming forward in this essay that was just recently published, writing about what she described as a, quote, toxic work environment while working at the governor's office. She also addresses what is one of the latest attempts by the

governor's attorney to defend him and to deny some of those allegations that have been brought forward.

I do want to read you a portion from the essay for you, Erica, and some of our viewers here. In that essay Boylan writes, he, referring to the governor, continues to abuse us. As recently as Saturday, the governor sent his attack dogs on national television to accuse me of lying. He is gaslighting and re-victimizing us. He is showing everyone what happens to women when they speak up about harassment and abuse in the workplace.

Another portion of that essay too, Erica, important to note, that he also -- she also claimed that she has an intention to actually sue, not only the governor, but some of his colleagues for attempting to smear -- to smear her.

Back to you.

HILL: Well, meantime, Polo, I know we have reporting that a sources is saying the governor is in a, quote, fighting mood, isn't coming to grips with the thought of the end of his time in office. What more are you hearing this morning?

SANDOVAL: Yes, we have to be clear, at this point it is far from certain exactly what the next move will be for the governor. But, yes, as you point out, a lot of the reporting that's coming in to our colleagues here essentially suggesting that those around him, those close to him, have been telling him that there is no other way out but to step out of office. So, ultimately, though, that is his call and this is happening as that impeachment investigation continues.

We heard just yesterday from the head of the Judiciary Committee that's leading that -- that investigation here in Albany, that they are moving forward with this investigation and they could potentially vote in the coming weeks.

[09:35:08]

And, remember, even before the developments over the last few weeks, many of those lawmakers have suggested to CNN that they would vote to impeach if given that opportunity.

HILL: Polo Sandoval with the latest for us. We'll get to you to follow it. Thank you.

New this morning, three men have been charged in connection with a shooting that killed Chicago Police Officer Ella French over the weekend. One other officer remains in critical condition. And now several rank and file officers are literally turning their backs on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins me now with more.

So, Omar, the mayor was shunned by dozens of officers as she visited the hospital. How is she responding? OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, a statement released

from her office said that this is not the time for divisive and toxic rhetoric, as they put it. As -- when Mayor Lightfoot visited the hospital over the weekend to show support to the officers and their families, about 30 rank in file officers physically turned their backs to Mayor Lightfoot according to reporting from "The Chicago Sun Times."

Now, the head of the local fraternal order of police said this is proof that the men and women of the police department have lost respect for Mayor Lightfoot. And, again, saying that this was proof of that.

Lightfoot has been at the center of police reform here in Chicago. But to read some more of the statement that her office put out, part of it read specifically, the mayor was present at the emergency room to offer support and condolences to the families involved and the hundreds of line officers and exempts who were there, which she did. In a time of tragedy, emotions run high and this is to be expected. The mayor spoke to a range of officers that tragic night and sensed the overwhelming sentiment was about concern for their fallen colleagues.

Now, in conversations I've had with the Chicago Police superintendent here, he's told me morale is a constant fight. And when you look at the past year and a half in particular, through COVID, though the past protests and, of course, reminders like these of the grim realities when it comes to safety of an officer on the job.

Before August, 36 police officers had been shot at here in Chicago. Nine of them hit by gunfire according to Chicago Police Department. But 29-year-old officer, Ella French has been the only one to be shot and killed in the line of duty this year.

As for the suspects in this, two of them police say are involved in the shooting, at least one of them has been charged with first degree murder. A third suspect is in federal custody after allegedly buying the gun used in the shooting in Indiana and giving it to one of the alleged -- one of the alleged people involved, I should say in the shooting because they couldn't get it because of a prior conviction.

Erica.

HILL: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thank you.

Mississippi's top health officials say there are no more ICU beds available in several of the state's top hospitals. The crush of COVID patients, the number of deaths in that community, so overwhelming for one nurse she's now decided to resign. She joins us, next.

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[09:42:45]

HILL: People want to argue about masks and vaccines and freedom. I just don't want to watch anyone else die. Chilling words from an ICU nurse in Mississippi who is at a breaking point. The state's COVID hospitalization rate is among the top five highest in the country, yet its vaccination rate is among the lowest.

Nichole Atherton joining me now. She has worked through the pandemic as a ICU nurse at Singing River Ocean Springs Hospital in Mississippi.

You were telling me in the break you've been hit pretty hard at the hospital over the last 24 hours treating patients in the lobby at this point. And last week you made the decision to resign. Why?

NICHOLE ATHERTON, ICU NURSE PLANNING TO RESIGN: I did make the decision to leave. It has been a tremendously difficult year and a half since the pandemic started. We've had to watch a lot of people die, you know. And as a nurse, you're called to save people and to help people get better. And sometimes it feels like we're fighting a losing battle. And to see, as you just said, Mississippi has such a low vaccination rate and our COVID hospitalizations are through the roof, it's just -- it feels like we're fighting an unwinnable war.

HILL: So what happens now? I mean I know you're not -- you're not giving up nursing. You are burnt out is probably putting it mildly after everything you've been through over the last year and a half plus. But you talk about fighting this losing battle. We hear all the time from officials, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Is that what you're seeing in your hospital?

ATHERTON: Absolutely that's what we're seeing. And that's what I really want people to understand is that it is truly the unvaccinated people that are sick enough to need critical care. It is the unvaccinated people that are on ventilators that do not survive. That if they do survive, they leave the hospital with a tracheostomy, a breathing tube in their throat, a feeding tube in their stomach, some of them in a persistent vegetative state. They may survive the virus, but they're not truly living after that.

And in our current ICU, I work in a 12-bed ICU. All 12 patients right now are COVID. They are all unvaccinated. We do not have a fully vaccinated person in that ICU. And they are young. We are watching not grandparents this time around, parents, parents with young children.

[09:45:03]

We have a mother right now who has never held her newborn baby because she --

HILL: And she's in your ICU?

ATHERTON: Yes. We watched her meet her baby on FaceTime. We held the phone up so that she could see her baby for the first time. And that's heartbreaking. This amount of -- we're trained to deal with death as a nurse and to help people die with dignity when that time comes. But seeing this much death day in and day out for this extended period of time, it becomes unbearable. And the trauma that that gives you, it's not something that will just easily go away. And I wish people would choose to wear masks and get vaccines and keep their neighbors safe because your older nurses are retiring earlier because they don't want to be another statistic and your experienced nurses can't continue to deal with trauma at this level indefinitely and your nursing staff will be less and less experienced as this continues to go on. And it is -- it will become extremely unsafe.

What people can do is get vaccinated and prevent this. It is safe. It is effective. There were no steps skipped in the vaccination research process. There was the whole world working together to fund this. There were willing participants for the studies. This is based on 30- years of research for oncology vaccines. It is safe, it is effective, it is not new technology and it can literally save your life.

HILL: For so much of the start of the pandemic, there was an emphasis to healthcare workers. And we talked about how you all are heroes, which you still are to this day. And we talked, I think, a little bit more in the beginning about the toll that this pandemic was taking on you. I read that you're sort of tired of being called heroes.

ATHERTON: I think that's a fair statement. I think that -- I know I can only speak for myself and, you know, the people that I am close with that are in this position with me. To call us heroes but not do what you can to protect yourself and to protect us, it's just words. And words don't save lives, actions save lives. And to continually -- people say, I want my freedom and I'm going to live as I want to live. I understand that and I respect that.

But please know that you are exposing all of our staff to this deadly virus as well. Those people that don't believe it and -- or choose not to get vaccinated, when they can't breathe, they still show up at the hospital and we still care for them and treat them with absolute respect and do not want them to feel judged for the decisions that they've made around their health.

But I do want people to understand that they're jeopardizing our lives as well and we have children to go home to. There's a whole generation of children right now that will grow up, hundreds of thousands of kids in the United States of America, that will grow up without grandparents because of the first wave. And now we're seeing parents. There are going to be children, children in my own community, that are orphans and it could have been prevented.

HILL: Nichole Atherton, thank you. Thank you for what you do on a daily basis. Thank you for speaking out this morning. I wish I could reach out and hug you, quite honestly, but, thank you.

ATHERTON: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: We'll be right back.

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[09:53:12]

HILL: This just in to CNN. Dominion Voting Systems has filed a lawsuit against "Newsmax" and One

America News Networks for spreading lies about the company and its software in the wake of the 2020 election.

CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter, joining me now.

So, Brian, what are we learning in this lawsuit? What are the details here?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this voting technology company is now suing the entire right wing TV trifecta. They filed suit against Fox News earlier this year. Now they are suing the two smaller right-wing channels, "Newsmax" and One America News. But to the tune of almost $2 billion, alleging defamation on a grand scale because these channels were pushing voter fraud lies last winter.

So here's a quote from the claims from Dominion saying, "Newsmax" and OAN and both endorsed, repeated and broadcast and amplified a series of verifiably false lies about Dominion in order to serve their own commercial purposes. The company also suing Patrick Byrne, saying Byrne is responsible for bankrolling and promoting a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion that reached millions of people. We are suing to set the record straight.

Byrne is the ex-CEO of Overstock.com. He was allegedly working with Rudy Giuliani and others to push voter fraud lies last winter.

So you see Dominion and another firm, Smartmatic, continuing to escalate this legal war, trying to clear up their names. And we can show you on screen some of the other figures that have also been sued in basically what is an attempt to hold people accountable for the big lie. It's "Newsmax." It's OAN. It's these figures like Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani. These (INAUDIBLE) cases may take months or years to wind their way through the system, but it is an intense effort by these voting companies to set the record straight.

HILL: An effort to set the record straight and it's also a reminder, Brian, that the big lie is still alive and spreading. In fact, the former president spreading it again over the weekend.

STELTER: It's alive and unwell and it's spreading in different directions.

[09:55:00]

OAN, for example, this fringe right-wing channel, it has repeatedly aired films by Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, pushing voter fraud conspiracy theories. Lindell is out there claim that Trump's going to get reinstated at the end of the week. You know, it's coo-coo talk but it's airing on television, sometimes right down the dial from CNN. It comes on, looks like real news, even though it's the fakest of all and it is still alive and unwell, Erica.

HILL: Brian Stelter, appreciate it. Thank you. STELTER: Thanks.

HILL: A dangerous standoff over masks now pinning public health against politics and it's kids who are caught in the middle. The details, next.

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[10:00:07]

HILL: A good Tuesday morning. I'm Erica Hill. Poppy and Jim are off today.