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CDC Director: If You're Masked And Mitigating Risk, COVID Won't Be Transmitted In School; Families Demand Biden Release Classified 9/11 Documents; Britney Spears' Attorney Files For Earlier Court Hearing To Immediately Remove Her Father From Conservatorship. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 06, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: It is now about 30 percent contained, but has burned so far 2,600 acres, forced thousands of people to evacuate with more than 3,000 more still in jeopardy. At least three people, including a firefighter have been hurt. But officials say their injuries, thankfully, are not life-threatening.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Michael Smerconish, sitting in tonight for Chris, and "CUOMO PRIME TIME."


I am Michael Smerconish in for Chris Cuomo. Welcome to the PRIME TIME COVID Command Center.

We have finally crossed the halfway mark, but still a long way to go. We can't stop now. Half the U.S. population now fully vaccinated, nearly seven months after the vaccine rollout began. That's 165 million completely immunized, 193 million with at least one shot. New vaccinations are up 11 percent from last week, all very encouraging signs.

But we're not moving fast enough to outpace the Delta surge, and the other variants, perhaps more deadly that could be on the horizon. New COVID cases in America grew 48 percent over the past week, because this virus still has more than 90 million hosts, the unvaccinated.

The Biden administration, now considering the extreme option of leveraging the federal government's powers, to help turn this pandemic around, early-stage talks, about withholding funding, from some institutions, like nursing homes, to boost staff vaccinations. That's how dire the fight is.

They're literally throwing away doses, in states like Alabama, according to a health official there, because they've expired with not enough people going to get them. We can't afford to waste what's saving lives.

Some of the unvaccinated, who've already been infected with COVID, cling to the notion that they have natural immunity. But the CDC today is strongly urging the recovered now to get vaxxed. And they're backing it with data that proves the vaccines more than half their chance of reinfection than natural immunity does.

This is about protecting one another, protecting children. We're now in one of the most at-risk categories, because many are too young to be vaxxed.

And a 11-month-old, COVID patient in Texas just airlifted to another hospital, 150 miles away, because there was no bed space for her. None of the major pediatric hospitals in the Houston area have beds available, to a local spokeswoman. Heartbreaking stuff!

Florida leads the nation in hospitalized children. It reported more cases overall, during the past week, than any other seven-day period this pandemic. It puts a brighter spotlight on Governor Ron DeSantis' decision to ban mask mandates, in his state schools.

He's pledged to stand in President Biden's way, on COVID restrictions, prompting a war of words. Biden calls him "Governor, who?"

And this was DeSantis' response earlier.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I guess I'm not surprised that Biden doesn't remember me. I guess the question is, is what else has he forgotten?


DESANTIS: I'm the governor, who protects parents in their ability to make the right choices for their kids' education.

I'm the governor, who answers to the people of Florida, not to bureaucrats in Washington.


SMERCONISH: Despite DeSantis' threat of withholding funds, more Florida schools are adding mask rules that the CDC's Director says are crucial to stopping the spread.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The places that are having disease that is transmitted in the schools are the places that aren't taking the prevention strategies, the places that aren't masking.

If you're masked, and you're doing all the prevention and mitigation strategies, it won't be transmitted in the school. It'll be contained.


SMERCONISH: Not all Republican governors are putting up a fight. Some are taking a strong stance against the virus, like Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I don't care what misinformation or conspiracy theories that you have heard.

You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us.

It may be only a matter of time, until you do get COVID-19.

So please, just get the damn vaccine.


SMERCONISH: An associate professor at Harvard thinks the hold-outs will need much more than a push.

Professor Joe Allen writes in a new column, "We have hit a wall with this voluntary approach. The only way out of our COVID-19 morass is to mandate vaccines, make the burden of being unvaccinated so high that people comply."

We'll take on the mandate debate in just a moment, but first to the science, and our CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leana Wen.

Dr. Wen, congratulations on your best-seller. Nice to see you again.

You heard me say that last week we had 11 percent gain in vaccinations. That's good news. But there was some bad news as well. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?



We are seeing surges, once again, in this country. Our infection rates are worse than they were last summer, at this time. And there is no end in sight.

And you're right that we are at 50 percent of the country now fully- vaccinated, that's great. We are seeing vaccination rates tick up again, probably because people are seeing their neighbors, their family members get infected with the Delta variant.

But we also have the Delta variant, which by the way also means that the amount of the number of people we need to get vaccinated actually is a lot higher. And that's because it's a lot more contagious. And so, I think we have a long way to go in this pandemic. And I'm really worried about what's ahead.

SMERCONISH: You heard me make reference to the Biden administration giving consideration to withholding funding from nursing homes, in addition to other similar facilities, if the staff is not fully vaccinated.

Your reaction to that is what? Does it go far enough, if they do it? WEN: I think it's definitely something that they should do. Right now, the federal government already oversees nursing homes. They already have to decide, what are the safety measures that need to be in place?

And I can't think of anything more important right now than making sure that our elderly nursing home residents don't die from Coronavirus. Surely that's something that they can do.

I think they should do even more though. There are other things that are under the authority of President Biden, including, as I understand, planes, trains, federal buildings.

Why not say that in order to board a plane, in order to go into a federal building, that you have to have proof of vaccination, or at the very least, you need to have a recent negative test?

I agree with what Professor Allen had written that we really need to make vaccination, the easy choice, at this point. You can opt out of it, if you want to. But that's got to be pretty inconvenient. And, by the way, it's - this is not about power. This is about protecting people's health and wellbeing.

SMERCONISH: Well, and I would go a step further and say federal employees ought to be mandated. They stopped short of going that distance, not only for federal employees, but all for Military personnel.

You wrote something in "The Washington Post," within the last couple of days that I thought was really terrific, and turned on its head, some conventional wisdom.

Provincetown, Massachusetts, so everybody talking about how 60,000 people converge. And one of the takeaways was to say, "Oh, my God, 700-plus people contracted COVID, many, if not most, of whom, were already vaccinated."

You looked at it differently. Explain.

WEN: Right. I mean, I think one way to look at this is, I think, to at this point, there are 900 or so individuals, who have contracted COVID. One way is to say, "Oh, my goodness, that's a very large number." But then you also have to look at the denominator.

We're talking 60,000 people, who converged. There were reports of many house parties, very crowded bars, and restaurants, people with prolonged close contact with one another, with an infection rate of 1.6 percent, with only seven people hospitalized, no one dying. In a way, this was the ultimate stress test of the vaccines, and the vaccines passed with flying colors.

Now, I do think it's important for us to acknowledge that breakthrough infections can happen. You could be vaccinated, and you can still be infected.

But I also think we need to keep in mind that because you are vaccinated, your chance of actually contracting COVID-19 is much reduced, and therefore your chances of then spreading it to somebody else is also reduced too.

So, I think what needs to be done now is we need to put restrictions on the unvaccinated.

Putting restrictions on the activities of the vaccinated really won't do very much, when it comes to curbing the spread of COVID-19. It might add to vaccine hesitancy.

And I think we need to let people make the best decisions for themselves, and for, their families, if they are vaccinated.

SMERCONISH: And finally, Dr. Wen, I'm about to get into a discussion about the debate playing itself out, right now, as kids are going back to school, as to mask requirements, or lack of mask requirements. I want to look beyond that.

When the vaccine is approved for those, under the age of 12, do you think it will be mandated, for school attendance, the way so many other vaccinations are already?

WEN: I think what you said at the end is exactly what we should keep our - what we should focus on, which is that the COVID-19 vaccine really should be looked at no differently than any other vaccine.

We have laws in every state for childhood immunizations. And it works. At some point, we need to really see COVID-19, and protecting against COVID-19, in the same way.

And so, it might take some time, for people to be comfortable with that idea. But, I think, we're starting to do that with vaccination requirements for adults. At some point, we are going to see that, vaccinations for children is really important, to keep them safe, and to stop the spread of this pandemic.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Wen, as always, thanks so much for your expertise.

WEN: Thank you, Michael.


SMERCONISH: Many Florida parents aren't happy about the governor's new ban on mask mandates, as I just referenced, and some are now suing. Two of those parents join me, John and Robyn McCarthy. Their son is heading into first grade. He has asthma.

Welcome to the PRIME TIME, the McCarthys.

Mrs. McCarthy, tell me about your son. What's the issue here?

ROBYN MCCARTHY, MOTHER OF 6-YEAR-OLD WITH ASTHMA, SUING GOVERNOR DESANTIS OVER BAN ON MASK MANDATES: The issue here is that the governor, by passing his executive order, took away our choice. So, we're now basically being told that if we do not intend to attend the school in-person, we lose our spot at our magnet school, which is very hard to get into. So, we don't really have a, you know, we don't really have a choice

because our son has asthma. And even if a couple kids go unmasked that puts him at a really high risk. So, I feel like our hands are tied.

We haven't been given other accommodations or options. So, I feel like we don't know what to do. We're really we're struggling here because we never saw this coming.

SMERCONISH: John McCarthy, who should make this decision?

Governor DeSantis says, "Well, this ought to be a parent's choice." Some say there ought to be a state mandate. Others think it ought to be left to individual school districts.

JOHN MCCARTHY, FATHER OF 6-YEAR-OLD WITH ASTHMA, SUING GOVERNOR DESANTIS OVER BAN ON MASK MANDATES: Well, I think it should be the individual school districts. Up in Tallahassee, there's not a lot of people in that area, whereas we live in Miami-Dade County, which is the most populated area. And it's this is where all the cases are.

So, if you look at the cases that are in this - in the United States, most of them are in Florida. And most of them, then in Florida, are here in Miami. So, what's happened here is we're looking for a solution.

It should have never really came to this. But it should, answering your question, should go back to the areas, Miami-Dade County. If they don't really have a lot of cases, up there in Taylor County, or Leon County, wherever it is, then maybe they could have a different rule up there.

But our child is six. And I have a nephew that's 12, and was able to get vaccinated, whereas my son, he can't get vaccinated. We're very worried about him.

SMERCONISH: You know that some say, and I've done a lot of reading online, to see what the competing thought is, on this issue, some say, "Well, the risk of spread, among children, leading to severe illness, is relatively low. Therefore, it's cruel to make all kids wear masks in class."

And you would say what to that?

J. MCCARTHY: I would say that when a child that has COVID isn't wearing a mask, it gets up in the air. And when it gets in the air, it can get in their eyes, and then it spreads.

And there's plenty of children that are right now in Miami Children Hospital, as their parents are not only able to see them, because they have to wait outside, because they don't want this to spread.

And this is what I would say to them is that when a child comes in with COVID, and isn't wearing a mask, they are - when a child has COVID, and they wear a mask, they're protecting not just themselves, but the other children. And that's what we're really worried about is that he's wearing a

mask, another child isn't, and it gets in the air, and he ends up with COVID. And he has a pre-existing condition. He has asthma.

I had a nephew that was in the hospital, two weeks on this. And my sister had to stay outside of the hospital, and she was just distraught the whole time. I was on the phone with her. And I just don't want this to happen to my son.

R. MCCARTHY: I think also the Delta variant is the new ballgame.


R. MCCARTHY: Something completely different this--

SMERCONISH: Yes. I was going to say Mrs. McCarthy - Mrs. McCarthy, what if you lose? What if you're unsuccessful in this litigation against Governor DeSantis?

J. MCCARTHY: We lose our son going to a magnet school.

So, I spoke to the Commissioner of the Magnet Schools here. And he said that if - I said that if other children are going in, and they have COVID, and not wearing masks, it can go to my son, he said "Well, you will go to a virtual school," and I said, "Well what happens if we try to come back after," he says "No, you're not going to be able to come back."

This is an extremely hard school to get into. And it's a lottery. It's very hard. So, that's what we have to lose. And if we have our son, go in, who has asthma, and a child goes in without the mask, we have our son end up in a hospital, like my nephew was.

And I don't want that to happen, especially since the children his age don't have access to a vaccine yet, whereas my nephew that he goes to - he's 12, and he was vaccinated, as my other nephew wasn't. And he was - he caught this. And so, that's what we have to lose.

SMERCONISH: Well, as I--


SMERCONISH: --as I said to Dr. Wen, that will be the next debate. That's the debate on the horizon, when there's approval for those who are under 12.

John and Robyn McCarthy, I wish all good things for your son. Thank you for being here.

J. MCCARTHY: Thank you.

R. MCCARTHY: Thank you so much.

SMERCONISH: When is a vaccine mandate, not a mandate? Some well-known companies are being pretty picky, when it comes to those actually required to get the shot. I'll explore the impact with Catherine Rampell. That's next.









SMERCONISH: The list of companies mandating vaccines, it just keeps growing. It's the biggest names like Facebook, Google, Disney and Walmart, leading the way. But how effective are these mandates?

A closer look at who falls under these vaccine policies raises important questions. My next guest explores this in a new piece for "The Washington Post." Catherine Rampell joins me now.

Catherine, I had no idea of this duality that you have written about. Walmart and Walgreens, by way of example, if I'm working in the office, the policy is what, as compared to the warehouse?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, WASHINGTON POST OPINION COLUMNIST: At both of those companies, the white-collar workers, the people in corporate positions, or office support staff, they are required to get vaccines. However, as you may be familiar, those demographics are more likely to already be vaccinated.

However, the blue-collar workers, the workers who are working at stores, or in warehouses, distribution centers, they are exempted from these vaccine mandates.


So, in other words, what's happening is that companies, and not just those two examples, are effectively telling workers, to get vaccinated, who are already vaccinated, and then exempting those who most could use the motivation.

SMERCONISH: OK. Equinox and Soul Cycle, as contrasted with Blink Fitness, or Danny Meyer's high-end restaurants, as compared to Shake Shack, of which he was a founder, same sort of a duality.

RAMPELL: Right. It's the same sort of K-shaped pandemic recovery, K- shaped vaccine mandates that you have here. And what's happening essentially--

SMERCONISH: OK. Why is the question? RAMPELL: Why? Why?

SMERCONISH: What drives it?

RAMPELL: Because companies are doing this not because - they're not deciding on vaccine mandates, or not having vaccine mandates, depending on what the evidence shows, or what's in the interest of public welfare. They are doing what is good for their bottom line, as companies are supposed to do.

They are adopting policies that they believe will help them retain or attract the most number of workers, which again, I don't blame them for. So, they're basically reflecting back the preferences of their own workforces.

If they think that their workers will feel safer coming back to the office with a mandate, because they're already vaccinated, and they want their co-workers to be vaccinated, they will have a mandate.

If they think that their workers might bolt, because they're suspicious of vaccines, they're more worried about the side effects, without evidence, than the actual risk of COVID itself, then, they're not going to mandate these kinds of requirements.

And again, it makes sense, right? I mean, this is not about whether companies are moral, or immoral, about whether they're enlightened, or woke, or what have you.

It's about they're adopting policies, where they think the benefits outweigh the costs. And so, these are the decisions that they're landing upon. So, I applaud those who have--

SMERCONISH: Well it makes - it makes sense.


SMERCONISH: It makes sense, if you're trying to hold your workforce in a market, where keeping a labor pool has been difficult. I guess I understand it.

But on the other hand, if you had an outbreak, in the warehouse, and all the sudden, you've got a lot of folks, who just can't work, then, it seems that it would be the complete opposite.

Let me ask this question. Is there a union consideration here?

RAMPELL: Some - there's been a split within organized labor. So, some unions have been supportive of vaccination mandates, and others have not.

It's not really clear why union - some of these unions have been so resistant. You would think that the interest of the union is to protect the most vulnerable of its own members, including those who are immunocompromised, who have kids who can't get vaccinated, et cetera.

But some of them have taken a stance and said, "We don't want our members to be forced to be vaccinated."

And some unions, in fact, have said "We don't even want this vaccination or frequent testing option, unless we get overtime pay or what have you." That's the case for the Paramedics Union, for example, in New York City.

So yes, some unions have stood in the way. And, I think, frankly, this is completely ill-advised. It's jeopardizing public health. It's jeopardizing their own members.


RAMPELL: It's jeopardizing their own political influence.

But it doesn't mean that some of them aren't doing it, perhaps because they do have members, who are cranks, or want more money, or they're using it as an excuse to negotiate for other kinds of perks.

SMERCONISH: Your answer to my "Why" question, the bottom line, makes total sense.

But I can't believe that if Catherine Rampell is calling upon these companies, and saying, "Why this duality?" I can't believe that would be their rationale. What's their spin?

RAMPELL: They're - it depends on who you ask. They're basically saying, "Look, we're taking it slow. We are trying to follow whatever the local public health guidelines are," which is kind of a non- answer.

But effectively, if you read between the lines, the answer is they're afraid that their own workers will reject these mandates. And yes, a lot of workers have tried to reject them. As I just said, the organized labor that represents some of these workers has fought these mandates.

So, it's pretty clear what the dynamics are. And again, I don't really blame companies for doing this for, for, in some cases, exempting certain classes of workers. That's why you need government intervention.

Because when it is not in, at least the near-term interest, of these companies, to mandate vaccines, you need government to be the bad guy, right? That's what happened here in New York City.



SMERCONISH: I hear you. But you're asking the government, which hasn't even mandated for its employees, to now impose this on the private sector. The government needs to begin by leading and mandating for all government employees, cops, firefighters, EMTs.

RAMPELL: Oh, I agree. I agree.

SMERCONISH: Those in uniform, who are in the Military, all of them.

RAMPELL: I agree. And look, that has happened, to some extent, at the local level.


Here, in New York City, there was a mandate for public workers and for hospital workers as well. And then, it was extended as well, or an announcement was made that it would be extended to restaurants, gyms, and entertainment centers, and entertainment events.

So, New York City, to its credit, has begun modeling, by example. I hope other localities do the same.

My understanding is that there's some question about whether the federal government would necessarily have the same kind of authority to do that. But it certainly seems like--

SMERCONISH: Yes, I believe.

RAMPELL: --President Biden could put his--

SMERCONISH: I believe they could.

RAMPELL: --thumb on the scale here, a little more.

SMERCONISH: They could. They definitely--


SMERCONISH: My view is that they could, based on some legal analysis.

Anyway, great piece! I learned a lot from it. Catherine Rampell, thank you very much.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: A key Senate vote expected tomorrow, on a critical Biden priority. And that's revitalizing our nation's crumbling infrastructure. The GOP may not stand in the way. But Biden's own party just might. Progressives are warning their votes shouldn't be taken for granted.

We'll talk to a member of the House Progressive Caucus, next.








SMERCONISH: President Biden could be on the brink of a signature win in the Senate. But this time, Democrats in the House might stand in his way.

A key vote, expected tomorrow, on what would be a huge investment in infrastructure, $550 billion in new federal investments, over five years that includes $40 billion to fix bridges, $39 billion for public transit, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail money, $65 billion for broadband.

Even more noteworthy, it's expected to pass with a bipartisan vote. And yet, this will likely be a case of "Hurry up and wait." House Dems want to see an even more expensive so-called "Human infrastructure" bill, passed by the Senate before they take this one up in the house.

And one of those House Democrats joins me now, Congressman Ro Khanna, from California.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here. What's about to unfold?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, Michael, first of all, it's an extraordinary achievement for President Biden, to get this bipartisan deal. It's going to deliver rural broadband, roads, bridges, airports. It's bipartisan. And many House Democrats will support it.

But we will support it after we also have a reconciliation bill that has climate goals, that has renewable energy, that has actually fiber to rural, that has energy efficiency standards. That's equally important. And we want to get both done. And we will get both done.

SMERCONISH: How far are you prepared to go? Are you ready to stand in the way of this, ongoing, meaning that it wouldn't even get through, if you don't get what you're looking for?

KHANNA: Well, the Speaker has been very clear that the - this bill will get a vote, once the reconciliation bill gets a vote.

And the reason is because there are very important climate goals. There're very important goals on public transport. There're very important goals on childcare and community college in a broader bill.

Look, this is Mitt Romney's bill. This is Rob Portman's bill. They didn't get elected President of the United States. We're not going to have two years, where we have the "Rob Portman agenda," or "Mitt Romney agenda."

We're going to have the Joe Biden agenda. This is his achievement, on a bipartisan bill. And we'll get the rest of his agenda. And we will pass it by the end of the year.

SMERCONISH: This bipartisan bill has overwhelming public support. I've seen numbers in the 70 percent range. I think that has to do with the perception of, what is infrastructure.

And by that I mean this. I went to your website. And you, like many others, I do it, cite the American Society of Civil Engineers. And I think their most recent grade for our infrastructure is a "C minus," in this country.

But Congressman, I'm putting on the screen right now how they define and, I think, how the public defines infrastructure, aviation, broadband, drinking water, levees, public parks, roads, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, not the definition that you're using in the so- called "Human infrastructure" bill.

I guess my question is, do you think, and can you justify, widespread public support for what you are pushing for?

KHANNA: Yes, Michael. And there is part of the reconciliation, I would say is infrastructure, the Clean Energy part. I do think having a smart grid, I do think, renewable energy is modern infrastructure.

But there are parts that I wouldn't call infrastructure. I'd call it human development, childcare, community college. But what I would argue is those policies are very, very popular.

I'm not going to get into a semantic debate. I'm not going to say that we have to call community college infrastructure. Call it investing in the American people. The point is it is needed in a 21st Century economy. I can stand by all of the policies and reconciliation, and they're exceedingly popular as well.

SMERCONISH: The bipartisan bill that which is about to get Senate approval, the one that we began this conversation by discussing, includes a big chunk of change for broadband.

In 2019, you yourself were very concerned about gridlock, precluding broadband getting approval. Let's all watch.



KHANNA: I'm very concerned for the country. Our competition is China. While they're investing in their country, we're at gridlock.

We need an infrastructure bill, to expand broadband, to everyone, to expand - invest in science and technology. And it's disappointing that we can't get that done.


SMERCONISH: Congressman, are you the one now who's going to contribute to gridlock by precluding the bipartisan bill from getting passed in the House?

KHANNA: Not at all. I love the broadband parts. But actually, the reconciliation goes broader in broadband. Because the - if you look at the infrastructure bill, it only has copper wires going to most of rural America. Jim Clyburn has a bill, the House bill that actually would have fiber go to rural America, because it's not as much of a handout to telecom.


So, I want to do broadband correctly. And that's what reconciliation does. That would ensure that they broadband I have in my district, in Silicon Valley, also is in rural communities, and we're getting fiber everywhere.

So look, I want to vote for the bipartisan deal. I will, once we get the reconciliation deal. And I don't really view this as "Standing in the way." I fully expect Joe Biden's agenda will get through. It has popularity ratings, over 70 percent, for almost every provision.

And, I guess, what is it that the Republicans are opposed to reconciliation? Are they opposed to childcare? Are they opposed to free community college? Are they opposed to giving seniors dental coverage and vision and hearing?

These things, poll off the charts. Let them be opposed to it. Let them run their election and not wanting to make those investments in the American people.

SMERCONISH: Congressman, it's going to be interesting to watch. Thanks so much for being here.

KHANNA: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: The 20th anniversary of 9/11, just over five weeks away, but some of the victims' families don't want to see the President show up, at any memorials, because they say there's an important promise he hasn't kept.

I'll speak with a man, who lost his father, in the attacks, and talk about why this is so important to him, and to others. That's next.









SMERCONISH: More than 1,600 people, who lost family members, on 9/11, say they don't want President Biden to visit Ground Zero, on the upcoming 20th anniversary. It'll be his first, as Commander-in-Chief.


BRETT EAGLESON, 9/11 FAMILY MEMBER: In a few short days, we will have Administration officials, President Biden, and others, mark the most devastating attack, on American soil. And they will stand up, and they will utter words, "Never forget."

I'm here to tell you now, those words ring shallow to all the family members, because they stand up, and utter words "Never forget." But the administration, behind the cloak of secrecy, continues to stab us in the back.


SMERCONISH: For years, and through multiple administrations, the victims' families have been pushing for the government, to release classified documents, they believe, implicate Saudi officials, in the attack.

Brett Eagleson's father, Bruce, died at the World Trade Center.

And he joins me now.

Brett, what is it you want to see and why?

EAGLESON: We want to see President Biden stand with us, and stand up for American citizens.

It's been too long. It's been 20 years. And the 9/11 families deserve justice and closure. Matter of fact, all Americans deserve, to know, the truth, behind what the Saudi Arabian government's role was in 9/11.

And there is significant evidence. The FBI has it. The DOJ doesn't deny that it exists. In fact, the Trump administration invoked State Secrets on it. So, there's concrete evidence that supports our allegations that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia materially supported the hijackers.

And we need the President to be our hero.

Be our hero. Be our champion, Mr. President. This is a direct appeal to you. Help us in this fight. Stand by our side. Allow us to have the justice and closure that we deserve.

SMERCONISH: Brett, I was an advocate, for a period of years, for the release of the so-called 28 pages, in my role as a radio host, my day job. What is it that we didn't get from the "28 pages," when I think it was in 2016, we finally saw those documents?

EAGLESON: That is a great question. And thank you for bringing it up.

The "28 pages" were based on evidence that was, or investigations that concluded in 2004. In 2006, two years after the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission Report,

the FBI undertook and began a secret operation called Operation Encore, which spanned the course of a dozen years.

The 9/11 Commission Report and the Joint Inquiry never had the luxury of relying upon the findings of a 12-year-long secret FBI investigation. It's those files that we want. There's nothing in there about that that would expose anything on sources and methods. It's those files that the Trump Administration invoked State Secrets upon.

So, if there's nothing to--

SMERCONISH: Well, what is it--

EAGLESON: --if there's nothing--

SMERCONISH: What is it that you think would be shown? Don't go too far into the weeds, because people aren't paying--


SMERCONISH: --as close attention to this, as you are, and as I have in the past. But what is it you think, if you got access to the documents, it would show?

EAGLESON: There was a hierarchy of command, within the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, in Saudi Arabia.

So, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs is almost akin to like a State Department here, so, like a Tony Blinken would be directing underlings, under him, to support the hijackers, to be successful on 9/11.

And I'll just say this. FBI Special Agent Steven (ph) Moore has gone on record, in a sworn affidavit, in a filing in court, Steven (ph) Moore, briefed Bob Mueller weekly. He had 350 field agents, reporting up to him. He said that were it not for the Saudi support network, 9/11 would have had a zero percent chance of being successful.

There are countless bits of information--

SMERCONISH: OK. And I of course - and I, of course, remember, and everybody will remember that, I think, the number 14 of 19 were Saudi nationals.

I have to ask this.


SMERCONISH: It seems like this is the only issue, on which there's agreement from W, from Obama, from Trump, and maybe now from Biden. Why would that be the case?

Why would for American Commanders-in-Chief stand in the way of the American people getting the answer, if it's as you described?


EAGLESON: I don't understand. I don't know the answer to that question. But here's the thing. Democrats and Republicans can agree on nothing these days.

What the - what the Executive branch of government is doing, is so egregious that you have Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Cornyn, and Senator Grassley, and my senator, I'm so proud of, Senator Blumenthal, coming together to agree on legislation called the 9/11 Transparency Act, which was just released yesterday.

So, President Biden's own political leaders, the leaders of the Democratic Party, are calling upon President Biden, to do the good thing, for once and for all, stand with the families.

He could be the real hero here. He could be the hero that we need. And just think about it, politically for him. Why wouldn't he do it? It's a no-brainer.

It's a common-sense, feel-good story. Stand with the families. Let's bring them closure. And let's for once and for all expose the truth behind what Saudi Arabia's role was.

SMERCONISH: Well, I wish you - I wish you success in this. I appreciate you being here. And sorry about the loss of your father.

EAGLESON: Yes, I appreciate you having us on. And thank you for covering the story, because it's really important. And it's one that's often not told, as much as it should be.

SMERCONISH: Well, never forget!

Thank you for being here, Brett. Appreciate it.

EAGLESON: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: New developments in Britney Spears' fight for independence.

CNN has obtained a new court filing by her father, who's fighting to remain her co-conservator. And the singer's other conservator now argues that dad is misrepresenting her.

The whole drama, in just a moment.








SMERCONISH: Britney Spears' fight for freedom now caught up in dueling court filings.

Rather than waiting for things to proceed in a hearing, late next month, Britney's new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, is asking for an immediate hearing, to remove her father, Jamie Spears, as conservator of her $60 million estate.

In the filing, Rosengart states, quote, "Ms. Spears should not be forced to continue to feel traumatized, lose sleep, and suffer further. Every day matters."

Her father has denied allegations of abuse. In a new court filing today, he questioned Britney's mental state, by citing a conversation he had with Jodi Montgomery, his daughter's personal conservator.

And he says, quote, "After Ms. Montgomery shared her detailed concerns about my daughter's recent behavior, safety, and overall health, she raised potential options, including a 5150 psychiatric hold, which raised my concerns."

With me now, CNN Entertainment Reporter, Chloe Melas, and CNN Legal Analyst, Elliot Williams.

Chloe, let me begin with you. What is the role of Jodi Montgomery? What does she do on a day-to-day basis?


Jodi Montgomery is the conservator of Britney Spears' person. She oversees Britney's day-to-day medical decisions and medical care.

This is something that Jamie Spears was overseeing, for over a decade, since the conservatorship was first put into place. But he stepped aside, from this role, when he had his own health issues. Jodi Montgomery stepped in.

And, until recently, there were discussions on both sides that they agreed that Jodi was going to become the permanent conservator of the person.

But now, it doesn't look like that might happen anymore, because Britney has made a bunch of allegations, at both of her testimonies, over the summer, saying that she was forced on lithium, forced to remain on an IUD, not able to start a family, a lot of questions that these are areas that Jodi is overseeing.

But what I have to say is that things are getting ugly. There are so many questions, all of these petitions back-and-forth, and now, Jamie Spears, saying that Jodi actually called him, saying that she thought that Britney should be under a psychiatric hold? Remember, Britney was placed under two psychiatric holds, at the

beginning of her - before she was conserved. There were two, in January of 2008, which is what led to Britney being put under a conservatorship.

This is a bombshell, but Jodi Montgomery is saying "Not so fast. I didn't say that."

So, my big question is, how is the judge going to know, Judge Brenda Penny, who to believe? And is she going to move up this--


MELAS: --court that was scheduled for September?

SMERCONISH: Elliot? If it did occur, the way the father says, what would be the significance?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right. But that's the thing. We just don't know if it occurred the way the father says. And, frankly, minutes after issuing that statement, it seems pretty clear that Montgomery issued another one disputing it.

Look, if it is exactly, as the Father has said, it is quite significant that the personal conservator is a - was seeking to have Britney Spears involuntarily can - put into a psychiatric facility. But we just don't know.

And it's exactly what Chloe was saying. You have all of these disputing - disputed points here. They just need to get it into the court, and just - and hash it all out with the judge.

But there's so much conflict between what the parties are saying that I don't think anybody has any real sense as to whom to believe here.


MELAS: The bottom line is--

SMERCONISH: Anything from Britney herself on this issue?




MELAS: No. She addresses it here and there, on her social media feed, on Instagram.

Just today, she posted a video saying that "I know you guys know everything, the cat's out of the bag, what's going on in my life, when it comes to the conservatorship," and then she moved on to a different topic. This is what we do know. Britney Spears said, multiple times, at two different hearings, this summer that she wants her father removed, but she wants the conservatorship terminated.


So Elliot, I wish you could explain to us why is Mathew Rosengart filing to remove the father?


MELAS: But not filing a petition to terminate this conservatorship, once and for all?


MELAS: I don't understand that.

WILLIAMS: You know? And that's perplexing to me too.

SMERCONISH: Elliot? A quick--


SMERCONISH: --a quick final thought, please.

WILLIAMS: Yes. No, that's perplexing to me too. And your guess is as good as mine.

Now, I think the issue here, broadly speaking, isn't the conservatorship. It's dad. It's his conflict of interest. It's the fact that he's involved, and he's seemed to have a toxic relationship with Britney.

Immediately what they can do is get him off the case, and then resolve the question of what to do with the conservatorship, with both parties, all three parties later on. But I think it's more--


WILLIAMS: --the pressing issue is, get the dad out.

SMERCONISH: Wish we had more time! Chloe Melas, Elliot Williams, thank you both so much for being here.


SMERCONISH: We'll be right back.







SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for watching. Please join me tomorrow, and every Saturday morning, at 9 A.M. Eastern, for "SMERCONISH," right here on CNN.

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