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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
President Joe Biden Sets Ambitious Agenda On First Overseas Trip; Biden Overseas As His Legislative Prospects Darken At Home; Interview With Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA); Obama: There's A "Great Danger" When We Shut Out Anything That Contradicts Our Own Sense Of Righteousness In Big Debates; Is There A Link Between The COVID Vaccine And Cardiac Illness In Teens?; U.S. Intelligence Community Given 90-Day Timetable To Report On COVID Origins. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 09, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Thanks for watching us. "AC360" starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: There is no place like home, truly, just ask a President overseas with a domestic agenda as big as the world, but even tougher to navigate. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
And it's not as though the goals President Biden has set for his first trip abroad. We're not ambitious enough either. Arriving tonight in Britain's Cornwall Coast for Friday's G7 Summit, he is seeking to repair relationships that were strained by his predecessor, not to mention recommitting to NATO and coordinating transatlantic policy on fighting COVID, facing down China, cooling the planet. Oh, and don't forget confronting Vladimir Putin, whom he will meet next week, and who is at the center of some ominous news tonight involving dissident, Alexie Navalny and his political movement.
If all that sounds like a lot to you, there's also the small matter as the President sees it, of saving democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we're in an inflection point in world history, the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize enormous opportunities of a new age.
We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over as some of our fellow nations believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So there's that, and there's everything back home -- stalled legislation on infrastructure, police reform, voting rights, and investigating the insurrection, that, let's not forget was barely five months ago.
So, even as he is prepping for the G7 and NATO Summit, a Russia Summit, and all the rest, he has left his chief of staff behind in Washington to deal with Congress and is said to be working the phones himself. So, plenty to get through tonight on both sides of the Atlantic.
Let's start off with CNN's Kaitlan Collins in the English port of Falmouth. So Kaitlan, how much is this trip about the nitty-gritty of foreign policy? And how much is it about sending a broader message that the U.S. is under new management?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think so much of this John is going to be about that broader message, and you saw President Biden mentioning it in his first speech tonight, he was speaking in front of those Armed Forces saying America is back, and that is really the message that you were going to see the President and his top aides really try to hammer home while they are here on his first trip abroad and saying essentially, that look, of course, what happened over the last four years with his predecessor, they are here to essentially say, that is not the path that we want America to continue on, things are changing.
We do want to focus on building alliances, and essentially framing it as this critical mission, talking about the importance of a democracy versus an autocracy. But I think, John, where there is going to be a difficult challenge for the President is that a lot of these allies are still reeling from the four years that was Donald Trump, and they are wary of America sustaining really, essentially, on the world stage.
Because I think what they see is, yes, it is not Donald Trump in the presidency any longer, it is Joe Biden, but I think they realize how quickly all of that can change, you know, within 75 years of these alliances and these partnerships, so much can change depending on who is in office.
Of course, that seems obvious, but I don't think it was ever more obvious than when for President Trump was in that role. So, I think that is going to be the broader message we are seeing him hammer home here, but he is also going to also have several different challenges facing him, depending on which world leader he is going to be meeting with, and tomorrow that starts face-to-face with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
BERMAN: So, wary allies, and that doesn't even address the adversaries because late news today about a dramatic signal that Russia is sending the rest of the world ahead of Vladimir Putin's meeting with President Biden. It involves jailed Russian dissident, Alexei Navalny basically labeling his party, his political movement as extremists.
So, what more do we know about that and how it might impact the expectations for the talks between Biden and Putin?
COLLINS: Well, this seems to be a move that was taken by a court, but almost certainly granted approval by the Kremlin. This court deeming these two groups tied to Alexei Navalny as these extremist groups, and it's essentially being seen as this broadside, just days ahead of President Biden's meeting with President Putin here.
And of course, essentially, the message is going to be, stay out of what's happening in Russia and what's being involved there, and we kind of knew that was the message that Putin was sending. You heard him speaking just a few days ago, talking about what happened at the Capitol on January the 6th, saying how are you going to talk about democracy abroad, when you see what's happening in your own country.
But I think the bigger -- the stakes here are going to be just so high not only because of this latest decision related to these two groups tied to Navalny, John, but also so many other things, including the recent rise in these ransomware attacks by these criminal groups that the United States has said they believe are being -- are based in Russia on critical U.S. infrastructure.
COLLINS: The SolarWinds hack, election interference, jailed political prisoners -- really, the list goes on and on, and I think it has raised the questions, even internally of what they actually are going to get out of this meeting, out of this face-to-face with Putin.
And you've heard the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan say they feel like it's better to get in the room, be one-on-one with him and actually talk to him directly to figure out where he intends to take this relationship while Biden is in office.
And so we'll see where that goes, but we should note that it doesn't appear the Russians have even committed to doing a two and two press conference where it's each world leader standing side by side, as you saw Trump do with Biden -- or with Putin in Helsinki. So far, they just say that President Biden will be taking our questions. They have not said if President Putin will also be taking questions from the White House Press Corps.
BERMAN: Oh, that's interesting. That is worth watching. Kaitlan Collins for us in Falmouth, thank you so much for being with us.
Joining us now is someone who knows exactly what the President is experiencing, having been there, done that and traveled there before and not as host of "The Axe Files" either, as former senior adviser to President Obama, I'm talking about our own senior political analyst, David Axelrod. He joins us along with CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.
So David, this is a big trip. You've been on these kinds of trips before, but this is the first one, which makes it even bigger. So, what's going on behind the scenes? How much of it is choreographed? And how much do they just have to sort of go with the flow?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a lot of it will be choreographed, the things you are concerned about are the things that come from the flow and that may come more from the meeting with Putin than anything else.
Look, I think, John -- and Kaitlan summed it up well -- I think the easy task for Biden is to forge relationships, personal relationships with these other leaders. They are hungry for it after four years of Trump. And Joe Biden is no stranger to them. He's been traveling the world for, you know, half a century, meeting with leaders as a senator, as Vice President. This is comfortable terrain for him.
His hard task is to persuade them that the commitments that he makes or commitments of the United States will stand by even after he is gone. And there is, you know, post-traumatic stress syndrome from Trump, and so that that is really his task and his -- and it is important because the Chinese are telling people, you know, you can't really rely on democracies and America to be consistent in their commitments because democracy is too fragile.
We are reliable, you can work with us. That is what we're fighting, and that's why Biden is casting this as a much larger discussion than merely any particular issue, even as the issues are really, really important.
BERMAN: So, Clarissa, to David's point, what are U.S. allies in Europe most wary of now? Where do they need the most coaxing?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he hit the nail on the head when he talked about this idea of post- traumatic stress, essentially, a deep seated fear that even though the expectation is that President Biden will come in and say the right things and make the right gestures and, and put things in place that people support broadly in this part of the world, what happens when the next U.S. President comes along?
Is the U.S. going to sustain this role in a long term? Can they be relied upon? And this is really seen here as being a sort of existential moment for liberal democracies.
There was a study that was done just recently that said, for the first time since 2001, the number of autocracies was larger than democracies. Autocracies seem to be very much on the ascendant, on the rise, and that has a lot of people in Europe, particularly very concerned.
Keep in mind, John, this is a time of flux. You're seeing Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. She will be leaving her position in September. There will be elections next year in France.
Recently, we heard the German spy chief come out and tell a German newspaper that they haven't seen this level of Russian meddling in German affairs since the Cold War.
So, the demands are huge. All of it happening against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic fallout from that. A lot needs to be achieved, not just in terms of rhetoric, but in terms of substantive agreements, to really try to comfort and assuage people here that the U.S. is back, that this role is something that can be counted on and that liberal democracies can work together to counter this threat of rising authoritarianism.
BERMAN: I have to say, it is pretty chilling that autocracy is a growth industry right now. David, with all the challenges that you and Clarissa lay out overseas, how surprised are you that Ron Klain, the White House Chief of Staff, a very powerful important Chief of Staff was left behind in the U.S. to deal with challenges on the domestic front.
AXELROD: Yes, not that surprising because this is a critical moment for the domestic agenda, and the domestic agenda is tied to everything else.
AXELROD: So, you know, the President himself feels quite confident on the global stage. This is actually his area of expertise. And so, I'm sure that's fed into it. He's got a very strong foreign policy team. So, you know, the fact that Klain stayed back to work the levers on the domestic agenda, and you know, we're in the midst of these -- the final throes of this discussion on infrastructure can be very, very important. You know, the direction of that is critical to Biden's overall agenda.
So, you know, I wouldn't read too much into the fact that Ron was left behind other than that the domestic agenda can't be left to flounder while the President is overseas.
BERMAN: Clarissa, I have to ask you what's going on in Russia with Alexei Navalny and his political movement. No one has covered Navalny as extensively and revealingly as you have. What do you make of this move from the Russian courts, almost certainly, with the blessing of Vladimir Putin?
What kind of message does that send prior to his meeting with Joe Biden? What kind of challenge does that pose to President Biden?
WARD: I think it poses a real challenge to President Biden because President Biden is coming in, John, and he is saying we're here to reestablish international norms. We're here to reestablish American values, democratic values, human rights.
And then you have essentially Russia coming out on the eve of the G7 and saying, okay, well, we've just designated Navalny's organizations as extremist organizations and we're making it very clear to you that internal domestic issues are off the table. This is a non-starter.
So, how does then President Biden go about trying to raise these issues? And I think the key question in all of this is, what is the metric for success from this Putin-Biden Summit? What exactly is everybody hoping to see from it? Is the bar simply that it just has to be less humiliating than the
Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki? Is the bar that we'd like to see some kind of a reset agreement between Russia and the U.S., in which case the two leaders will have to find areas to cooperate on?
I think you could expect to see them talk about things like nuclear agreements, also climate change, and counterterrorism. There are strategic areas where the two countries can find some common ground.
But really, President Biden is going to have to be very clear and very deliberate in walking this tightrope of standing up for those American values, defending them, and sort of bringing himself as an advocate, not just for the U.S., but of the G7, of NATO, of the European Union, and trying to balance that against what President Putin is drawing as very certain lines.
BERMAN: Clarissa Ward, thank you very much for that. David Axelrod, stick around, we are going to come back to you shortly to talk more about how the President navigates the same kind of Republican opposition his old boss dealt with and then some.
And next, Senator Ed Markey on what his fellow Democrats can hope to accomplish if they can't agree on using all the tools at their disposal, meaning reconciliation and eliminating the filibuster.
BERMAN: We touched on it at the top, President Biden leaves behind plenty of policy plates in the air back home, and there are bipartisan talks on major infrastructure spending now in their second incarnation after the first broke down yesterday.
There's voting rights legislation facing solid G.O.P. opposition, but also lacking a commitment from key Senate Democrats to passing it without Republican votes. There is legislation to reform policing also snagged.
The President has also called on Congress to tighten gun legislation, which seems to have hit a fresh snag just today on the question of background checks.
And on top of it all, there's the Senate defeat on an independent January 6th Commission, too, and what if anything, the White House does about that? Most or all of it depends either on getting Republican senators to agree and barring getting Republican senators to agree on getting Democratic senators to agree on procedures to go around them, neither of which seems to be happening.
Joining us now is Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts. Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Look, a close ally of yours, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, quote, "President Biden and Senate Democrats should take a step back and ask themselves if playing patty-cake with G.O.P. senators is really worth dismantling of people's voting rights, setting the planet on fire, allowing massive corporations and the wealthy to not pay their fair share of taxes, et cetera," and she went on to say, "It's a hustle."
What do you think of that? How do you feel about the issue of whether Democrats and the White House are maybe putting too much faith in Republicans to compromise?
SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Well, I've said all year long that we have to repeal the filibuster. The Republicans are using that, as you already said, to block gun safety legislation from passing, from blocking equal pay for women in the United States from passing, from blocking protections for voting rights from passing.
They are using the filibuster to accomplish that goal and they are extending it now to infrastructure and climate change with their obstructionist policy.
So, from my perspective, the filibuster has to go. It is a relic of a Jim Crow past and is now being used to block the agenda, which our country voted for last November with a Democratic House, Senate and President.
BERMAN: It's not going to happen today, you know that. Joe Manchin is against it, other Democratic senators are against it. So, what's your alternative plan?
MARKEY: Well, as you said, there's a new negotiation that has broken out between more moderate Democrats and Republicans, but John Thune, who's the number two Republican in the Senate said this afternoon that there aren't going to be the votes for anything that goes beyond what Shelley Moore Capito, the lead Republican negotiator already proposed to Joe Biden and Joe Biden rejected.
MARKEY: So, he already said that it's a nonstarter if you go beyond that. So, this new group is actually in political terrain that is not going to bear fruit. And, you know, as the great Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them the first time. They are telling us at the leadership level of the Republican Party that they are not going to accept anything that's any more than the modest proposal that Shelly Moore Capito has already made.
BERMAN: Have you been in contact with Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema about going the path of reconciliation -- which for our viewers, who may not know means going it without Republicans -- you need every Democrat on board for that.
MARKEY: Ultimately, we are going to need every Democrat. And I think ultimately, it's going to be a product of the failure of these negotiations to produce anything that matches the magnitude of the climate crisis, which we are facing.
We need a massive expansion of wind and solar and all electric vehicles and plug in hybrids and battery storage technologies, a new transmission systems in our country. We can save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation, and Republicans are just not going to support any of it. Nothing that is climate-centered will be allowed by the Republicans to be in the infrastructure bill.
BERMAN: How much jeopardy do you think the Democratic agenda is in? And how much time do you realistically think you have?
Look, I know it's still 2021. We're barely halfway through. We're not even halfway through 2021, but the midterm elections are coming up, and how concerned are you, you might not have the majority after that?
MARKEY: My feeling is that we have to be big, we have to be bold. We have to respond to what the American people voted for last year. And if the Republicans say, no climate, then I say no deal. Let's just move on. Let's move to the next phase where we work using the reconciliation process, as you said, which only needs 51 votes, all Democrats plus Kamala Harris, in order to pass something.
We can't allow the procrastination, the obstinate obstructionism which the Republicans have engaged in in the past, 1994 and 2010. We know what their strategy is. We've seen this movie before.
We've given them enough time. If they come to the table and they are reasonable, let's sit with them. But I just don't think it's going to happen after what we've seen in the first five months of the Biden administration.
BERMAN: I've got to let you run, but how frustrated are you with some of your Democratic colleagues -- Joe Manchin, he doesn't share your frustration, that he's willing to let this go on?
MARKEY: Well, thus far, Mitch McConnell has shown us what the Republican game plan is, I think the same thing is going to happen on an infrastructure bill that matches the magnitude of the problem that we're faced with in our country and our planet. And I think we'll reach a point where reconciliation and repeal of the filibuster is on the table and it will be the doing of the Republican Party.
BERMAN: Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts. Go Bruins. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.
I know, I know. All right, up next, what former President Obama told Anderson about the political divide we're witnessing right now, the danger he sees in it when we continue.
BERMAN: The first overseas trip of the Biden presidency is happening at a pivotal time domestically, not just Republican opposition, which after all is to be expected, but also some Democratic infighting.
In an interview that aired Monday night, Anderson talked with former President Obama about the divided political landscape. The former President warned, it's dangerous to ignore opposing viewpoints.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You wrote about the importance of getting
exposed to other people's truths, and that is how attitudes change. What happens when the only truth that people are willing to expose them to is their own?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, well, look, this is part of the challenge. It's part of the challenge with social media.
You know, I think there's been a lot of conversation about how we are able now to just filter out anything that contradicts our own biases, prejudices, and predispositions.
It's not symmetrical, I have to say this. You know, the truth is, is that on -- what are what -- at least the right would consider liberal media like CNN, you know, you guys will still take Democrats to task for things. I think, Democrats, Lord knows, when I was pressed, I was getting a lot of incoming from my own base.
And so you know, it's not symmetrical. But what is true is for all of us, there is a great danger that we just shut out anything that contradicts our own sense of righteousness in these big debates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Back with us now, former senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod, and joining us, former special assistant and personal aide to President Obama, Reggie Love.
So David, it was interesting to hear that conversation about politics today, and I'm wondering, one of the criticisms you hear from Democrats and I know you've heard over the years is that, you know, the Republicans are better at it than we are, some Democrats say, right? They tune everything else out. They don't care what people say, and they just go for it. Is there any truth in that, do you think?
AXELROD: Well, I think it is true that the Republicans don't care about that. They are fundamentally, you know, Matthew Dodd was on with me the other night and he said that they don't feel shame. They don't -- they don't care that much about attacks on them for, you know, behavior.
But -- and they are also not wedded to these institutions the way Democrats are. So yes, I think that they go farther, but I have to say, John, I was listening to that conversation with Senator Markey and you know, AOC's tweet and it reminded me of when I was working for the President.
We were trying to pass the Affordable Care Act in your home state dispatched Democrats from the Senate seat in 2010, after Ted Kennedy died, and all of a sudden, we didn't have 60 votes. The House wouldn't accept the health care bill that the 60 with Kennedy passed.
And all of a sudden, you know, everything seemed in parallel, they sent me over to the Senate to talk to the caucus. And my friend Al Franken stood up and was, you know, just spitting fire. And he said, why doesn't the President of United States go over and tell the Speaker of the House and the House Democrats to pass the Senate health care bill.
And I said to him, Senator, if you have 218 votes in your pocket a list with 280 names, you should ankle on over to the House side of the rotunda and give her the list, because I don't think she has that list. And if she did, I think she passed the bill.
And in fact, it took us months to pass that bill, we did pass that bill, there is an Affordable Care Act. And by the way, as good as people say the Republicans are at this, I remember John McCain turning his thumb down and preserving the Affordable Care Act. So, you know, when you have --
AXELROD: -- narrow majorities, nothing is guaranteed.
BERMAN: Yes, you either have the votes or you don't have the votes, and you can --
BERMAN: -- make them up or they aren't. You know, this isn't Lyndon Johnson in 1958 anymore. It's just not.
And David quickly, on the point of the media, which President Obama is talking about quite a lot. He says that there's no equivalent for the Democrats to Fox News in the Republican --
BERMAN: -- Party. What's the impact there?
AXELROD: It's huge. I mean, we -- voters who support Democrats have very diverse media outlets, and they get different, different versions of the news. Republicans, Fox News is a dominant force in terms of Republicans getting news, Facebook, and social media is another and they're very much locked in a silo, which is why so many Republicans believe that the last election was fraudulent when there is absolutely no evidence to support that.
But when you're fed that story, through your, you know, new sources again and again, and again, you tend to believe it. And that is a huge problem.
BERMAN: So Reggie, you're here. I'm happy to see you pop on the screen here. I want to play a little more of Anderson's interview with President Obama, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (on-camera): One of the things you write we need to explain to each other who we are, and where we are going. I mean, as somebody who is dedicated myself to storytelling I -- that really resonates with me. But I wonder, are we are we, as a country still willing to listen to each other stories?
BARACK OBAMA (D) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, I think this is the biggest challenge we have is that we don't have the kinds of shared stories that we used to. There's always been a division along lines of race, right? It's, you know, we have 400 years of whites and blacks not being able to have shared experiences because of slavery, and segregation, and so forth.
But even within, let's say, the white community write the stories of kids who are growing up in Manhattan, and the stories of kids who are growing up in Abilene, Texas, and the stories of kid who's growing up in Montana.
Those stories no longer meet, partly because of the segment, you know, the siloing of the media, the internet, entertainment, we occupied different worlds. And it becomes that much more difficult for us to hear each other, see each other.
The thing I learned first as an organizer, and then as an elected official, as a politician, was when you start hearing people's stories, you always find a thread of your own story in somebody else. And the minute that recognition happens, that becomes the basis for our community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So Reggie, you know, you were with the former president for so many of those conversations when he heard those different stories, and I wonder how important you think it was to be able to share, to try to find that common thread?
REGGIE LOVE, FMR SPECIAL ASSISTANT & PERSONAL AIDE TO PRES. OBAMA: Well John, I think that this is such an important conversation. And I do believe that the biggest challenge is that it's not about running for president and having to go into the homes of people to hear their stories. These stories exist in the communities that we live in. And what we really have to do is to be empathetic, to be able to hear and listen to those perspectives, that experiences that are different from the ones that we know.
And I think that is what -- and I think Obama writes about this and before he's ever president and dreams for my father when he talks about the Constitution, you know, and he kind of says that look, you know, because the power in our government is so diffuse, the process of making law in America compels us to entertain the possibility that we're not always right.
And sometimes we can change our minds. And it challenges does examine our motives and our interest constantly. And it suggests that both our individual and collective judgments are at once legitimate and highly fallible at the same time. And that's hard for people to do. BERMAN: Yes, no surfeit of humility right now in this country. That's for sure. David Axelrod, Reggie Love. Thanks so much for being with us.
AXELROD: Good to be with John.
BERMAN (voice-over): Up next, Dr. Anthony Fauci's concerns about the slowing pace of vaccinations and the threat of a COVID variant that appears to infect younger people more than others.
BERMAN: Several new developments tonight on the coronavirus. Millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses may be close to expiring and need to be thrown out. Plus, heart inflammation reported a small number of teenagers and young adults who received Pfizer or Moderna shots plus growing concerns tonight over the variant that has devastated India and is now here.
A lot to talk about with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, she's the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore and the author of the upcoming book Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey In The Fight For Public Health.
And Sanjay, you know, Dr. Fauci said he's concerned about the Delta variant. That's the variant, first seen in India concerned about it becoming dominant in the United States. Do you share those concerns? And what is particularly worrying about that variant?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a more transmissible variant. And so as we've seen now, in the past, if something is more transmissible, it essentially starts to outpace the other existing variants out there. So, there's about 6%, sort of presence of this variant now in this country. But it's likely to continue to crowd out the other variants.
I'm worried about it for people who are unvaccinated. I mean, this is the conversation we've been having for some time, the vaccine against the variants, that's the race. What we know is that the vaccine if you're vaccinated, thankfully, you're pretty protected.
I mean, we can show you this is some real world data now that we're getting back, looking at just how well these vaccines protect against. The yellow is the UK variant. By the way, the Delta variant is now the predominant variant in the UK get to keep up with all this.
But you can see there's a little bit of drop off in terms of protectiveness with the Delta. That's the Pfizer vaccine on the on the left, but it's pretty good AstraZeneca, you can see the protection you get there. Again, a little bit of drop off with Delta as compared to the UK variant, the alpha but pretty good.
One of the big things here is this far right graph. And this is a good reminder, John, basically one shot versus two shots, you see that if you've had just one shot, your protection is far lower than if you get both shots. You remember a couple months ago, a few months ago, we were having the discussion, should people just get the one shot and there was a lot of debate back and forth, because we didn't know if we'd have enough.
What you heard from the scientific community at that point was get the two shots. That's where the data sort of leads us. And now we know why, getting the two shots is really protective.
So John, if you're vaccinated, I'm not that worried. If you're not, this is another reason to do it.
BERMAN: So, Dr. Wen, there's something else I think of concern out there, which is a CNN analysis of data from the CDC found that nearly 11 million doses of the J&J vaccine, about half of the doses delivered and not been used. In a source told CNN late today that approximately one to two percent of the doses distributed, they're going to expire.
Maybe even soon, like we're talking within weeks. How foreseeable was this? What more should or could have been done to prevent this from happening? With so many countries in such need of these vaccines?
LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well John, this was anticipated. So that's how much it was foreseen, it was actually anticipated. There were state health officials that have been sounding the alarm for months down, that they're we're soon going to be -- to be reached the point where supply exceeds demand in the States.
And I just think about the real tragedy that there is right now that there are billions of people in the world who have not yet seen a drop of the vaccine. There are vulnerable elderly people, health care workers on the frontlines, who would -- were begging to get the vaccine.
And I think in a way, it's a sign of American exceptionalism, that here we are begging people to get this life saving vaccine, when so many people around the world would really wanted. But I think this should be a call to action for the Biden administration to figure out what to do before the dose is actually expired. What's the plan, it is hard to export drugs and therapeutics. But surely we can cut through the red tape and make an exception in this case.
And I think we need to do a lot better job of scaling up production of vaccines around the world, understanding that there are 11 billion doses, the World Health Organization estimates we need 11 billion doses of the vaccine to be given out. And again, such a great tragedy for any of these doses to be expiring on our watch here.
BERMAN: Sanjay, I know there are parents who are concerned when they see reports that there may be a connection between this rare very rare cardiac illness in young adults, specifically (ph) young men who've taken the Pfizer, Moderna vaccines. What do we need to know about this?
GUPTA: Well, first I can appreciate those concerns. I mean I'm a parent, you're a parent, I know your boys got vaccinated their second dose recently, so did my girl, so I understand those concerns. This is a rare phenomenon that we're talking about known as Myocarditis, say inflammation around the heart.
What we know is that there's been a few cases but enough cases where it seems to indicate that this seems to be more than just a standard background rate. And what I mean is that at any population, you do have occurrences of things like myocarditis. The question often is it higher among these people who've been vaccinated or not? And it's looking increasingly like it might be slightly higher, they're seeing that in Israel. They're starting to see that now here.
So, we don't know for certain but this looks like more of a biological phenomenon. But very rare typically happens four days after the second shot, people have chest pain. Seven patients were written about in this journal, they had chest pain for the patients had fever, and they were treated and it was, you know, pretty easily treated according to that journal article.
So I get the concern, it's still a far better idea to get vaccinated. These patients by the way, did not have what is known as MISC, this inflammatory syndrome. At first the doctors thought maybe it might be that, but, you know, this is something to keep an eye on and it shows the surveillance system sort of at work.
BERMAN: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much. Sanjay, stick around for one more minute, because coming up, Sanjay is going to examine what we know about the origins of the pandemic and the difficult path going forward to unearth the truth about where and when and how it began.
BERMAN: As you heard, there's a lot of COVID News lately but one mystery remains where and how did it originate? President Biden is ordered the intelligence community redouble its efforts to find out. But as chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains hard and fast answers may be difficult to come by.
GUPTA (voice-over): I'm still struck by what former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told me in February.
ROBERT REDFIELD, FMR CDC DIRECTOR: I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped --
GUPTA (voice-over): For a lot of people it was stunning. Not so much what was said and after all, the lab leak theory had been out there for some time, but rather that the former director of the CDC was the one saying it. Someone with access to raw data and intelligence many others didn't have.
REDFIELD: That's the way I put it together.
GUPTA (voice-over): After largely being dismissed by the scientific community. The lab leak theory is now gaining new momentum.
DAVID RELMAN, MICROBIOLOGIST: We know that all laboratories everywhere in the world have had accidents, continue to have accidents, despite our very best efforts to prevent them.
GUPTA (voice-over): David Relman is a microbiologist and professor at Stanford, he penned a letter, along with 17 other scientists in the Journal Science, writing, quote, more investigation is still needed to determine the origins of the pandemic. Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover, both remain viable.
Now, the question is, will we ever know? It's not easy, I mean, if you think about it, tracing the origins of a small strand of genetic material on a massive planet never is. Consider that it's been 45 years since the first recognized cases of Ebola.
(on-camera): This is as close as we can get.
(voice-over): And yet, we still aren't sure of its origins. Tracing SARS, to horseshoe bats took 15 years.
RELMAN: Nearly all previous outbreaks of emerging infectious agents have arisen through natural means. Second, this virus does appear to be related to bat coronaviruses.
GUPTA (voice-over): But just how closely related is a critical question. According to the World Health Organization, this coronavirus is 96% similar to another virus found in bats, known as RATG-13.
RELMAN: Is not close enough to say that it's the exact virus that gave rise to this one in a simple evolutionary step. That kind of gap 4% means years means decades, in terms of natural evolutionary time.
GUPTA (voice-over): And that evolution means something. Typically, after a virus makes the jump from animal to human. It sputters along, evolving, learning how to become more efficient, that takes time with SARS-COV-2, the virus seem to come screaming out of the gates.
REDFIELD: Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission.
GUPTA (on-camera): So in the lab, do you think that that process of becoming more efficient was happening? Is that what you were suggesting?
REDFIELD: You know, most of us in the lab we're trying to grow virus, we try to help make it grow better and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it.
GUPTA (voice-over): According to two people briefed on U.S. intelligence, well, before the first cluster of cases in Wuhan was reported to the WHO in December 31st, 2019, there were concerning reports of researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology becoming sick with some sort of pneumonia like illness.
Were they the first patients in the world to contract COVID? We don't know. And we were told they tested negative for antibodies. But that hasn't been independently confirmed. Which leads to perhaps the most crucial parts of a successful investigation, access and trust.
RELMAN: If we can convince the scientists in China and Wuhan, to sit down with us and share everything that they have. And we likewise share everything that we have with them, I really do think that we can make some headway.
GUPTA: It's worth pointing out again, that these lab leaks do occur. I mean, the smallpox leak in the UK in 1978, there was a SARS leak out of China in 2004 and in the United States anthrax leak in 2014. So that occurs, John.
The big question is the type of research that's happening there oftentimes makes these viruses more efficient in humans. Is it worthwhile research? And can we prevent these sort of leaks from happening and make sure that the labs are accountable? Those are going to be the big questions going forward. John.
BERMAN: Sanjay, thank you very much for that.
Up next, what former White House Counsel Don McGahn said in his closed door testimony to Congress, new details.
BERMAN: And to the court fight to get Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify before Congress. Last Friday, he finally did in the transcripts. They came out late today
CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us with the details. Ryan, what are the key revelations?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big thing John was something that most of us already knew, and that was that the former President Donald Trump did have conversations about trying to oust Robert Mueller as special counsel but McGahn said in his testimony that he did everything he could to prevent that.
And then McGahn went even further saying that Trump wanted him to go on the record and deny that Trump ever tried to remove Mueller as special counsel and that was something McGahn refused to do because he was afraid it would expose him criminally. And he also was afraid that it would expose the former president, Donald Trump criminally as well because they could be charged with obstruction of justice.
McGahn also talked about Donald Trump's behavior during this period of time. He described it as erratic and sometimes out of control. He even went on to say that some of the things that Trump asked him to do were crazy. This just goes to show the state of mind of Donald Trump during this period of time.
It's important to point out John, that this revelation by Don McGahn this testimony, it really won't amount to anything. The Mueller reports already been issued. The former president, of course, be back in impeachment proceeding around that time. This was really about just making sure that he would come in front of this committee for future instances like this coming up.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tonight putting out a statement saying his testimony alone was a victory for democracy. John.
BERMAN: Ryan Nobles up on the Hill. Thanks so much for being with us.
The news continues. So let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.