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Israel, UAE, Bahrain Sign Historic Peace Accord At White House; Dr. Chris Pernell Discusses Vaccine Trials, Trump's Timeline Challenged, Dem Senate Candidate "Hesitant" To Take COVID Vaccine; Trump Health Aide Pushes Conspiracies, Warns Of Armed Revolt; Gulf Coast Bracing For Sally's Life-Threatening Storm Surge, Flash Flooding. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


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ANNOUNCER: The president of the United States, the prime minister of the state of Israel and His Highness the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates will sign a treaty of peace, diplomatic relations and full normalization.

They will each sign three copies, one in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

We kindly ask that all guests remain seated for the signing of the documents.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, UAE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: (INAUDIBLE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Will you do the same for me in Arabic?

TRUMP: I will.

(LAUGHTER)

NETANYAHU: So which one is mine?

Thank you.

It is easiest.

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TRUMP: Prime minister, thank you.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

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ANNOUNCER: The president of the United States, the prime minister of the state of Israel and the minister of foreign affair of the kingdom of Bahrain will now sign the declaration of peace.

They will each sign three copies, one in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

We kindly ask that all guests remain seated for the signing of the documents.

DR ABDULLATIF BIN RASHID AL ZAYANI, BAHRAIN MINISTER OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass to your right.

ZAYANI: (INAUDIBLE)

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

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ANNOUNCER: The president of the United States, the prime minister of the state of Israel, His Highness the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, and the minister of the foreign affairs of the kingdom of Bahrain will now sign the Abraham Accords.

They will each sign four copies, one in English, one in Hebrew, and two in Arabic. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We are watching a historic peace agreement

here at the White House being signed by these three nations and the United States.

I want to bring in Vivian Salama and Oren Liebermann, in Jerusalem, and Kaitlan Collins, who is following this from the White House.

Vivian, this is a big day, this peace accord normalizing relations between Israel and these two Arab nations, Bahrain and the UAE.

What's your takeaways as you're watching this moment?:

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, a very significant day for the Middle East with regard to this historic moment, also for the Trump administration, President Donald Trump, in particular.

Optics-wise, this is exactly what he envisioned dating back to the 2016 campaign talking about Middle East peace, flags at the White House and a signing ceremony.

And by the way, today's ceremony is not accidentally timed. Actually, the Oslo Accords, signed between the Israelis and Palestinians and brokered by President Bill Clinton in 1993, the date was September 13th. So White House officials had hoped to kind of plan this around then for some significance.

However, the difference between that signing and this one is Palestinians are not involved. And that was the original intention of Middle East peace when the president tasked Jared Kushner with that in 2016.

The Palestinians not seeing the Trump administration as an honest broker and they stopped talking to them. Even as Jared Kushner rolled out his big plan this year, the Palestinians said, no, we won't deal with you. So they looked for a different alternative and this is it.

The Trump administration looking to bring in Arabs that were largely tolerant of Israel, actually, never at war with Israel and they were already starting to engage commercially in covert ways with Israel.

And said this is going to be a description of Middle East peace looking forward. And if we can get the Arab countries to the table with Israel, then maybe it will be the start of something bigger down the road.

But there's one message here and that is to Iran. This is ultimately an anti-Iran coalition that's starting to form. And that, for the Trump administration, is one of the ultimate priorities for the Middle East.

KEILAR: Kaitlan, where the Palestinians are in all of this, we have heard a promise from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's walking up there on the south side of the White House with the president, and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and UAE saying this can end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict once and for all. That's a big promise when you don't have the Palestinians at the

table.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. They know that. And so kind of what we have heard from administration officials is that they are hoping, since they are getting the other leaders to come to the table to formalize these relations, that it will help the Palestinians to get behind the proposals.

So that's another question, Brianna, but a big thing to watch coming out of this. And what we're going to see out of this is what happens with those F-35 fighter jets. That is something that UAE wanted from the United States for a very long time. It has not happened.

And now whenever this agreement was first signed, we were first told about it when taken into the Oval Office a month ago, that was a big question is, was that a tacet agreement to formalize the agreements with Israel to get the fighter jets from the United States.

Administration officials pushed back on that initially, Brianna, saying, no, that is not part of the agreement. Weapon sales are not part of this.

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And then you heard the president say today on "FOX and Friends" he has no problem giving the UAE the F-35 fighter jets, which is a sale to be approved by Congress.

And you have to think, if the Israeli prime minister was against that, the Congress would not approve the sale.

And it shows how the administration is viewing this. And they said yesterday that they would not grant the sale of that if they thought it would threaten Israeli security.

And it's been a concern for Israel is giving the F-35s to the UAE. And that's a big question is how's that going to happen. What other agreements do we see come out of this? And whether there's more arm sales as a result of this, including the F-35.

Of course, there's caution with that. It determines if President Trump is re-elected whether or not that goes forward. And it takes so long to make the F-35s. But a thing to keep an eye on as a result of the agreements today.

KEILAR: Oren, you are there covering this from Jerusalem. What is the reaction there? And I understand you have breaking news.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Just after Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke and just as the foreign minister of the UAE were speaking, at least one rocket was launched from Gaza towards a southern Israeli city.

According to the Israeli Red Cross, two people were injured from shattered glass as a result of that rocket and four people treated for shock.

It's noteworthy the timing of that. It did not appear to come while Netanyahu was speaking. It came while the Emirati foreign prime minister was speaking. That gives you a sense of where militants in Gaza, either Hamas or Palestinian jihadists reporting their anger.

Not necessarily at Israel. There's no love lost there. But anger at the UAE for what they see as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause and a betrayal of their hopes for some sort of solution and an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

So that is noteworthy. We'll keep an eye on if there's more rockets coming from there.

The Palestinians feel entirely betrayed. They've made that clear. Both in the case of the UAE and Bahrain.

As for Israelis, these agreements are welcomed across the Israeli political spectrum. Even those members of the opposition who are not fans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu view this as a historic day and significant agreements, raising Israel's standing in the region.

These are not peace agreements, which has been pointed out. There's no conflict ending here. And when President Trump kept saying a region full of bloodshed, these agreements end a war that never happened and don't do anything to affect the wars going on with the fighting in Syria, Yemen or Sinai.

But still, these are significant agreements, significant normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the UAE.

These countries are hard at work at implementing these as quickly as possible in terms of embassies, exchanges ambassadors, tourism, finance, health, direct flights as soon as possible.

There's an excitement on the ground here. I felt it in UAE. I was on Israel's first commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi.

A bigger question: What does it feel like on the ground in Bahrain? Bahrain is a Sunni kingdom. There's a Shia majority population. And they may view this very unfavorably. Bahrainis have protested before. Will they again?

That will be a key question on the ground there as we move forward.

KEILAR: Oren, thank you so much.

Vivian, thank you.

We do also have some breaking news to follow along the gulf coast. Hurricane Sally is taking aim at the U.S. in what's called a life- threatening event. We'll take you there.

Plus, new warnings about the potential coronavirus vaccine, including a new timetable and whether there will be enough doses. And one of the president's top health aides pushing bazaar and

baseless conspiracy theories about scientists out to get him and warning of an armed revolt if the president loses re-election.

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KEILAR: More global vaccine experts challenge the president's timeline on when a vaccine against the coronavirus will be available in the U.S.

But that's still not keeping President Trump from pushing the prediction that it could be ready before Election Day in November.

The World Economic Forum said there's, quote, "a strong possibility that the current manufacturing capacity may not supply programs worldwide."

A German minister says she does not expect a vaccine broadly available until mid-2021.

And the Serum Institute of India, boasting it sold more than a million doses, recently said, if the COVID vaccine requires a double dose, there won't be enough supply until 2024.

However, President Trump continuing to say this.

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TRUMP: We'll have a vaccine in a matter of weeks. It could be four weeks, it could be eight weeks, but we're going to have it. It will be soon.

Will it be before the election? It could be in terms of we have something. And we'll start delivering it immediately upon getting it.

But we're very close to getting the vaccine. And that's something I look forward to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to discuss all of this now with Chris Pernell, a doctor at Newark University Hospital.

Chris, you are familiar with the human toll of this. You lost your father to coronavirus. You have volunteered for Moderna's vaccine trial.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dad.

DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PHYSICIAN & CHIEF STRATEGIC INTEGRATION & HEALTH EQUITY OFFICER, NEWARK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Thank you.

KEILAR: I want to get your reaction here listening to this push from the president for a vaccine by Election Day, even as world health officials are contradicting him.

What do you make of this?

PERNELL: This isn't helpful at all. At a time where the public mistrusts the process, at a time where we see skepticism in black and brown communities, it is not helpful to say we are skirting the process, making it quicker.

It is not healthy for us to have this conversation and dialogue about encouraging participation while the president is talking about quickening the pace. It is just not rational.

KEILAR: And so, right now, you're volunteering, right, volunteering for a Moderna trial.

PERNELL: Yes, I am. It was my way to live out my father's legacy. He is a research scientist. He frequently told me, follow the data, the science. That's what I did.

I considered the results that are available from the phase one. I considered that no serious medical events announced for phase two. And I wanted a solution.

This is my passion, my purpose, my calling, and this was it.

KEILAR: You are sort of on both sides of this. You are seeing how people are being -- they're lacking trust, right, lacking trust in government.

We see the federal government, the president politicizing this. And so public health is kind of coming up against this politicization.

I want to ask you about comments that came up in a North Carolina debate for U.S. Senate that reflect a larger debate in the country. Thom Tillis said he would take a coronavirus vaccine. His counterpart said this.

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CAL CUNNINGHAM, (D), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have questions. And we have seen too many times, and especially in recent years, politics intervening in what should be driven by health and science.

Whether it's CDC, Centers for Disease Control suggestions and recommendations on how we deal with this pandemic, we have seen politics intervene there.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Do I read you to say you would be hesitant to receive the vaccine if it were approved by the end of the year?

CUNNINGHAM: I'm going to -- yes, I would be hesitant.

TILLIS: We just heard a candidate for the U.S. Senate look into the camera and tell 10 million North Carolinians he should be hesitant to take a vaccine. I think that that's irresponsible. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Is that irresponsible?

PERNELL: No, I don't think that's irresponsible.

Let me tell you what I'm hearing. He wants to make sure that this vaccine goes through the process and in a proper and effective way.

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When we know we have a record public mistrust, when we know that we have skepticism, it is so very, very important that we can say we followed the science and that we followed the process clearly.

We need a vaccine, no doubt. But we can't rush that vaccine. That could possibly cause people to have hesitancy around other adult and childhood immunizations.

We need to be prepared. We need to be mindful. And we need to respect that people need to work this process out.

KEILAR: I really appreciate you being with us. Dr. Chris Pernell, thank you.

PERNELL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just in, "The New York Times" reports that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton over his memoir.

Plus, one of the president's top health aides baselessly accuses scientists of sedition and warns of an armed revolt if the president loses the election.

And proof of how low this campaign season is going. We'll discuss a vile tweet that the president is promoting about Joe Biden.

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KEILAR: One of the president's top health appointees is escalating outrageous conspiracy theories.

Michael Caputo, the spokesman for the administration's coronavirus response, is now claiming, without evidence, that CDC scientists are engaging in what he called sedition in their handling of this pandemic.

Caputo made these claims during a live video event that he hosted on Facebook, saying there are scientists who, quote, "haven't gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops to plot how they're going to attack Donald Trump next."

He goes on to say, quote, "There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president." Caputo also claims, without proof, that left-wing hit squads were

being trained for insurrection after Trump wins re-election and tells followers to arm themselves.

CNN's Sara Murray joining us to talk about this.

Give us background on Michael Caputo, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of inflammatory language on this. In some ways it's not surprising. Michael Caputo is a longtime political guy who has gotten in hot water a number of times for speaking his mind and isn't afraid to speak to his mind.

Particularly when it comes to supporting the president, which is absolutely what he felt like he was doing here.

He wrote a book filled with a bunch of conspiracy theories about Joe Biden. He was never charged with wrongdoing in the Mueller investigation, but he is mentioned in the report as one of these witnesses who may have potentially lied to investigators.

He also caused waves when working on the Trump campaign briefly after Corey Lewandowski got fired as campaign manager. Caputo was celebrating a little too loudly about that and resigned from his role.

He's also longtime friends with Roger Stone, who was convicted as part of the Mueller investigation and the president later commuted his sentence.

Caputo has a long history of controversies here. In this case, he shares a view that a lot of people in this Trump White House, in this administration have, this feeling that there are people who are working in these health care agencies who actually want to undermine the president.

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Obviously, he chose very strong language there. And he pointed out, Brianna, when I was talking to him earlier today, that his family faced threats and that may have contributed to his anger when he was doing that Facebook video.

KEILAR: He seemed to talk about being under pressure and having some health issues.

MURRAY: Yes. I think this has been, you know, a difficult -- for anyone working on this, this is a difficult time. I think it's very clear he feels an immense pressure around this job.

And I think there's a certain sense among some of these political appointees that people are out to get them.

KEILAR: Yes.

Sara, thank you so much. Sara Murray. I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon.

What is the effect, John, of having the HHS spokesman attacking the CDC here?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the opposite of helpful at a time when our country is facing a pandemic.

This guy is a right-wing political hack with no health experience. He got called out on attempts to interfere with the data being put forward to the American people. And then he goes off and says what a lot of these folks say privately.

Let's be clear, this isn't a difference of opinion. This is the paranoid style of American politics.

He accuses scientists of committing sedition, talks about a second Civil War and his salary is being paid by the taxpayers.

Let's not buy into the new normal because it's a Donald Trump appointee echoing the president's talking points.

This is a dereliction of duty. He's not a victim. He is stirring and inciting some of the sickness in our country, and not doing his job, which is dealing with the real pandemic.

KEILAR: I want to talk about a tweet that the president retweeted. It's despicable.

AVLON: Yes.

KEILAR: What it does, it basically promotes a post that wrongfully calls Joe Biden a pedophile.

AVLON: Yes.

KEILAR: And it's important that we remember that the widespread QAnon conspiracy theory, which the president has expressed appreciation for, its supporters, is based on a false claim that the president is fighting off powerful satanic pedophiles.

We know why he's amplifying this message, because he enjoys their support.

But what does it say about how low he is going and the misinformation he is harnessing, going into Election Day?

AVLON: There is no bottom. I mean, remember not so long ago when Republicans campaigned about restoring decency and honor to the White House? We're in another universe.

When the president retweets or endorses, he is reamplifying QAnon conspiracy theories. His son has done the same. This isn't something we should even have to dignify by saying it's inaccurate. Of course, it is. It's so outside the bounds of decency and honor and integrity and

fact. It's pandering to a conspiracy theory by the president. And it is part of a pattern.

This is the second sickness we've got going on in this country.

Hyper partisanship and conspiracy theories have gotten together under the Trump administration. And the president has become a prime driver of disinformation and misinformation in the country.

That's just the reality.

KEILAR: Yes.

John Avlon, thank you so much.

AVLON: Thank you, Bri.

KEILAR: We are coming up here on the top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar. Thank you for joining me.

We begin with Hurricane Sally, the category 1 storm that is crawling toward gulf coast states at a snail's pace. And that snail's pace is really the problem here.

Sally's slow movement may deliver a powerful one-two punch, potentially historic rainfall and then life-threatening storm surge that doesn't move fast.

Many governors are issuing similar warnings of caution.

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GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): I know you all want to protect your family and your property, but this is not worth risking your life.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): I really think that the entire Mississippi gulf coast and the entire Alabama gulf coast has to be on alert because of the lack of predictability of Hurricane Sally.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): One thing that we tend to forget about is one-third of the time, landfall will happen outside of the cone, either east or west. So I guess what I'm saying is everyone needs to continue to pay very close attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right. Let's go to Jennifer Gray.

Jennifer, tell us what to expect here.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I think rain is going to be the biggest issue with this, Brianna. This storm is moving, like you said, at a snail's pace. We can walk faster than this storm.

It's only moving at 2 miles per hour. It has winds of 80 miles per hour, gusts of 115 moving ever so slowly to the northwest.

So what's going to happen here, with the storm moving this slowly, you're going to have so much rain. We could see three to four-months- worth of rain in just a matter of days with this storm.

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So you can already see the rain pushing on shore, the Florida panhandle, the Gulf Coast here.