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NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Resigns, Effective In 14 Days; Interview With State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D-NY); Soon, Biden Speaks After Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate But Faces Fight In House; GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Suspended From Twitter For Vaccine Misinformation; Dominion Voting Sues Newsmax, One American News Over Election Claims. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 14:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Governor Cuomo has announced he is stepping down, but he still faces criminal investigations.

And it is unclear if New York State's assembly will move forward with its impeachment hearings. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet again next week.

Shimon Prokupecz is here.

Let's talk about the legal things ahead, the most important, Albany.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Albany is probably the one that will cause the most problems. The D.A. said they're conducting a criminal investigation there.

When you talk to people close to the governor or people in his orbit they expect it is potentially highly likely he could be charged in that case. Low-level misdemeanor. This is for groping. So they are definitely most worried about the Albany case right now.

There are other investigations. There's the federal investigation here in Brooklyn out of the eastern district of New York. That's a DOJ probe relating to there's been reports about his book.

And, of course, some of the COVID numbers in the nursing homes and whether or not there was an effort to hide some of that. So there's that investigation.

But the Albany one certainly is the one that's going to cause them probably the most concern.

There are also other D.A.s looking at some of the other complainants and some of the other information they've asked from the attorney general's office.

They're waiting to get all of that information. What happens with that? Who knows? But it seems like Albany right now is the one that is the most

significant for the governor.


BLACKWELL: Yes, the A.G. said that what happened today, the resignation ends a sad chapter. We know that there are still other chapters to be written as these investigations continue.

Shimon Prokupecz, thank you.

A reaction from New York State legislators has been swift, and they have heartily welcomed the governor's resignation.

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick is a Democratic state Senator from New York.

State Senator, attorney -- should go to what I just discussed with Shimon here, that this closes a sad chapter for all of New York? Does it?

STATE SEN. ELIJAH REICHLIN-MELNICK (D-NY): I think that it does. And it is a sad chapter for New York. And, of course, a very sad chapter for the governor.

But I think he saw the writing on the wall and he did the right thing for New York at this time and resigned his office effective two weeks from now.

I think that there was no other alternative for him.

He had lost the confidence of the legislature, had lost the confidence of the people of New York, and from Democrats from President Joe Biden on down telling him it was time to go,

And he saw that writing and it looks like he will be going.

BLACKWELL: So we've discussed already the investigations from D.A.s across the state. What about the investigations that are happening in Albany, what next for them?

REICHLIN-MELNICK: Well, I think certainly those investigations should continue and the facts should come out in a criminal context or in a civil context.

I know at least one of the women he harassed is pursuing civil litigation against him.

Him resigning, I think, closes one chapter but as the attorney general said, there may still be other chapters of his book to be written.

I will tell you that he has lost the one thing that he loved the most, and that's being the governor of New York State.

So for him, I know this has got to be a very, very bitter pill to swallow. But I am glad that he did the right thing. I'm relieved that he did the right thing and spared New York State a lengthy months-long battle over impeachment and conviction in the Senate, because that's where this was heading.

BLACKWELL: So you said that he lost the thing that he loved most, being governor of New York.

Did you hear though in that resignation statement today, I can't really call it a news conference because he didn't take questions, a man who believes that he has a future in New York politics?

REICHLIN-MELNICK: I don't know what he believes, but he does not have a future in New York politics.

The voters of this state are not going to turn to somebody at any point in the future who has been a governor who has resigned in disgrace after being credibly accused and found credible by the attorney general of sexual assault by 11 separate women.

So I don't know what he believes, but I do not think he has a future in this state politics

BLACKWELL: All right. In the next 14 days, the state of New York will have a new governor, currently the lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul.

What do you know about the preparations? There's a lot to face when she takes that oath. What is happening now to prepare her for that role and your degree of confidence?

REICHLIN-MELNICK: So I'm very confident in Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul's ability to step up. She is a qualified, competent and experienced public official.

She has served as lieutenant governor now for a decade and served in Congress and at the local level in Erie County out in buffalo. So I think she has done an excellent job as lieutenant governor.

And made a point to visit all over New York State to get to know the issues and to get to know people.

She has been in my district a couple of times just in the first six months I have been in the state Senate, and so I appreciate that attention locally.

I have to say that she faces a lot of tough issues. We obviously have the Delta variant that is running wild here just like it is everywhere else.

And we have major issues with trying to get the federal rent relief money out to tenants and landlords, trying to get over a billion dollars in small business grants out to small businesses in the state.

And schools still need guidance on what they should be doing when it comes to masking and letting kids come back to school, which the State Department of health has not been providing. We need strong leadership in the executive branch that is not

distracted by scandals. I think the lieutenant governor, when she steps up in two weeks, will be the one to provide it.

BLACKWELL: New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, thank you.

REICHLIN-MELNICK: Thank you so much.


BLACKWELL: Again, we are waiting for the president to address the passage of his infrastructure bill. While we wait for that, we will talk why the White House cannot yet take that victory lap.


BLACKWELL: Any minute now, we expect President Biden to mark the passage through the Senate of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, cleared with some bipartisan support.

There's money for roads and rail and air travel, broadband, water infrastructure.

This is a major accomplishment, but we've now got to go to the House.

CNN's senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, and CNN congressional correspondent, Lauren Fox, are with us now.

Lauren, let's start with this battle that's ahead in the House for this legislation. Walk us through it.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Victor, I mean this is the obstacle and it has been all along, that, in the House of Representatives, you still need to get the votes to pass this bipartisan infrastructure package.

And you are going to have to wait because the House is on recess.

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she wants to make sure that this package is paired with that broader Democratic package that really would reimagine the social safety net.

There's a lot of steps ahead before Democrats in the Senate can pass that piece of legislation.

They are starting that process today in the U.S. Senate. You saw them vote just a few minutes ago to pass that budget resolution.

That allows them to start writing that broader Democratic infrastructure package, but there's a long way to go.


Like I said, the House is on recess. So the president isn't going to be able to sign this bipartisan infrastructure any time soon -- Victor? BLACKWELL: Yes, 19 Republican votes, Phil, for this legislation. Boost

for the Biden agenda.

What do we expect to hear from the president in a few minutes?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A boost for the Biden agenda and I think boost for the president's theory of the case that bipartisanship was possible and it is now here in one chamber.

You will hear the president focus on what is in the bill and why it is important, why, in the past decade. they haven't been able to get a sweeping infrastructure bill done.

And today, the president took a major step to being the first to get it done.

Hundreds of billions of dollars into roads and innovation, trying to shift to clean energy for the country as well.

I think the president will make clear, as Lauren noted, there's a second piece for this proposal and the White House is keenly aware those have to go together.

The progressives are excited about the second half of the bill.

The president is not going to weigh in on legislative sequencing. He has done it before, won't happen again.

I think the White House is clear that it is a process that will be arduous in the weeks ahead.

But there's an overwhelming sense with officials I speak to that they feel the momentum here matters and the opportunity to do something big matters.

At the end of the day, that will carry the day. However, very aware they have a lot of work ahead.

BLACKWELL: Phil Mattingly at the White House, Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Marjorie Taylor Greene kicked off Twitter again. The latest in the battle against misinformation on social media, up next.



BLACKWELL: One of the leading proponents of vaccine misinformation has been suspended from Twitter again.

Republican Congresswoman Margorie Taylor Greene saying, "The FDA should not approve the vaccines because there's been too many reports of breakthrough case."

She also falsely claimed that vaccine and mask do not prevent the spread of the virus.

The CDC says studies show vaccines are 99.99 percent effective at preventing sever symptoms. An analysis by CNN shows that as well.

Oliver Darcy is CNN senior media reporter.

This is the third time for Marjorie Taylor Greene being suspended.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: It's the third time. She's suspended for one week by Twitter. Twitter rules say as the amount of violations grows, the suspensions grow as well.

By the fifth time, she with be banned permanently from the platform. She's been booted for a week.

BLACKWELL: I said she's one of the major spreaders of misinformation about COVID and the vaccines. There's so many though that are being fought.

DARCY: There are. There's this story out in the "New York Times" today that showed that vaccine misinformation did plunge as cases plunged earlier this year. But now that Delta is spiking, so is that vaccine misinformation.

It's coming from a lot of places. FOX News, social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube and Twitter.

It's really difficult for these platforms, it seems like, to get the arms around this problem.

They have been trying to implement different policies but it doesn't seem to be enough to really curve the spread of this misinformation.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn to the big lie. Not only on social media but right-wing TV news as well. This lawsuit from Dominion Voting going after this.

DARCY: Dominion has sued FOX, Sydney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. They are targeting OAN and Newsmax.

They are targeting with 1.6 billion lawsuits saying they created in this disinformation campaign that has harmed the business and caused the employees a lot of issues with threats coming into them and really hurting the reputation of the business.

They are asking for a lot of money. We'll see if they get it.

Dominion has -- Newsmax has come out with statement.

It says that, "While Newsmax has not reviewed the filing as of today, it is in its coverage of the 2020 presidential election, Newsmax reported on allegations made by well-known figure, including the president, his advisers and members of Congress."

It says, Dominion's action is undermining reporting.

OAN, we've reached out to them but they have not responded to us.

BLACKWELL: All right, Oliver Darcy, thank you.

DARCY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Pushing forward on the breaking news. Major announcement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that he will step down over sexual harassment scandal.


Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: Top of the hour. Thank you for staying with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

For the first time ever, New York State will have woman governor. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon he is resigning.

The announcement comes a week after the New York attorney general's report found he sexually harassed 11 women.



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And I love New York. I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.

I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help you is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.