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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
FDA Approves Pfizer Vaccine; U.S. Military Needs Biden Administration Decision On Any Extension Of Mission In Kabul By Tuesday; Biden Urged Against Extending Afghan Deadline Over Security Concerns; Source: House Committee On Jan. 6th Capitol Riot To Seek Phone Records Of Members Of Congress; Arizona "Fraudit" Team Misses Delivery Date For Its Report; Trump Booed At Rally After Telling Supporters To "Take The Vaccines". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 23, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us this evening. "AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Today has been a day of truly good news in the fight against COVID, but it is tempered by what one of the leading figures in it just said about the timeline.
Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci told National Public Radio, quote: "We could start to really get some good control over this as we get back into the fall of 2022." Not this fall, next fall, and it all depends, he said on how successful the vaccination effort is. He joins us in a few moments.
We begin with a milestone in that vital effort, the F.D.A. granting full approval to Pfizer's COVID vaccine for patients 16 and up, and to borrow a phrase from the development effort, that happened at warp speed. The process taking only 40 percent of the usual time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING F.D.A. COMMISSIONER: Well, this and other vaccines have met the F.D.A.'s rigorous scientific standards for emergency use authorization as the first F.D.A. approved COVID-19 vaccine.
The public can be confident that this vaccine meets the F.D.A.'s gold standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality that we require for an approved product.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Words that could not come a day too soon. That is because as of this weekend, the country is back to averaging a thousand-plus deaths a day from COVID. That grim figure hasn't been this high since March.
In Florida, over the weekend, hospitalizations set a new record for the entire pandemic with more than 17,000 men, women, and children in COVID units, ICUs and the ERs across the state.
Nationally, new cases are once again averaging close to 150,000 a day, that's nearly 10 times what they were in June and experts on this program have predicted they'll hit 200,000 a day before this latest surge is over.
And even as cases soar, vaccine hesitancy or even outright hostility remains. And while today's announcement might not persuade the hardest core vaccine refusers, recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that nearly one in three unvaccinated Americans would be more likely to get the vaccine if it received full F.D.A. approval. That would mean tens of millions of Americans.
So, there's that possible beneficial effect to think about. There's also this, full approval makes it easier for the U.S. military, other government agencies, school districts, and businesses to make getting vaccinated mandatory, something President Biden encouraged today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local labor who has been waiting for full F.D.A. approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that, require it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did just that, making vaccination mandatory for all education department staff, without testing as an alternative in the city's largest in the nation public school system.
At the same time, though, for all the proven benefits of vaccination, some people are still choosing instead to risk their lives on quack remedies. The City's Department of Health a repeated its warning not to ingest the livestock drug, ivermectin, this after the state's Poison Control Center received reports of at least two individuals hospitalized with potential ivermectin toxicity.
The agency instead suggested people get vaccinated and consult their doctor if infected.
For more now in the difference in lives saved today's decision could make, we're joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the President's Chief Medical adviser.
So, Dr. Fauci, I want to get to the F.D.A. approval in a moment. First, I do want to ask you something about what that you said to NPR today. You said, if the majority of Americans get vaccinated, quote, "We could start to really get some good control over this as we get back into the fall of 2022," a year from now. Is that the best case scenario? And what does control look like?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No, Anderson, I have to apologize. When I listened to the tape, I meant to say the spring of 2022. So, I did misspeak, and in the conversation with Mary Louise Kelly, she was saying when do I think we're going to start to get some control? I said, if we can get through this winter, and get really the majority, overwhelming majority of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we can start to get some good control in the spring of 2022.
I didn't mean the fall, I misspoke, my bad.
COOPER: Okay. What does control -- what does that mean and what does that look like to you?
FAUCI: Well, to me, that means that you have either the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, those who have been infected will have and have cleared the virus will have a degree of protection and we are recommending that those people also get vaccinated because the degree of protection that you could induce in someone who has been infected, who has then recovered and then vaccinated is an enormous increase in the degree of protection.
FAUCI: If we can do that with the people who have been infected, get them revaccinated. The people who are unvaccinated now, that 90 million people get them vaccinated, I think we can get a degree of overall blanket protection of the community that as we get into the early part of 2022, getting through the winter, which could be complicated by influenza, by respiratory syncytial virus, that as we get into the spring, we could start getting back to a degree of normality, namely re assuming the things that we were hoping we could do. Restaurants, theaters, that kind of thing.
But again, there's a big caveat there, Anderson, this is a very wily virus. We thought we were going to have that degree of freedom as we got into the Fourth of July and the summer, and then along comes a sucker punch with the delta variant, which is extraordinary in its capability of spreading from person to person.
So, we hope we'll be there at the timeframe that I mentioned correctly being the spring of 2022, but there's no guarantee because it's up to us. If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated, that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on leading to the development of another variant, which could complicate things.
So, it's within our power to get this under control.
COOPER: And what percent --
FAUCI: And that is to get vaccinated.
COOPER: What percentage of the population would need to get vaccinated, even if they've had it before, would need to get vaccinated in order to get that kind of control?
FAUCI: All right, Anderson, in all transparency and honesty, we don't know that because we have not been to the point where we've gotten there, then fell below and then see the virus comeback. We've been there with measles. We know with measles, you get 90 plus percent of the population vaccinated, you have herd immunity.
You get to a community like we saw a couple of years ago, with Hasidic Jewish community in New York, they got down below into the 80s and lower and they had an outbreak. The number could be 90, it could be 85. We don't know what it is. And what I say when people ask me and try to pin it down, you know how you're going to know, just get as many people vaccinated as you possibly can and when you get control, that'll be the number.
COOPER: So, today's decision by the F.D.A. most likely will lead to a wave of public and private employers mandating the vaccine. It already is. How much of a difference, do you think this will make for vaccination rates? Because my understanding is in Israel, early on, it was really when companies started to insist that it was mandatory, then a lot more people got vaccinated, and that's where we get a lot of data from.
FAUCI: I think you're going to see two things, Anderson. You're going to see -- and the estimate is, and there was some poll that showed it, that about 30 percent of people who are not anti-vaxx, they just were waiting to get what they felt was the real final stamp of approval, which we just got today with the Pfizer product, and those 30 percent are saying, when that occurs, they will feel very, very comfortable about getting vaccinated.
So right away, you're talking about 30 percent, I hope, I hope they come through with what the survey said.
But the other thing that you just mentioned now, is they're going to give a lot of incentive and backing for a lot of institutions and organizations and places of employment to mandate and that could be colleges, university, the military, organizations that employ a lot of people, some of the big corporations are going to say, if you want to work for us, in person, you've got to be there and get vaccinated.
And I think that's a good thing. I know, I respect people's freedom, but when you're talking about a public health crisis that we've been going through now, for well over a year and a half, the time has come, enough is enough. We've just got to get people vaccinated.
COOPER: The F.D.A.'s full approval is for the Pfizer vaccine, ages 16 and older. We heard acting F.D.A. Director Dr. Janet Woodcock say today that this does not mean the vaccine can be used off label in teens and children under 16.
What is the risk if a physician did do that, especially for children?
FAUCI: Well, there's two sets of children. There are children from 12 to 15 who are covered by the EUA and then you have the full approval of 16 and older. The question that people ask appropriately is what about 11 down to five and even lower, namely the elementary school kids who everyone really wants to get under the veil of protection of a vaccine? Right now, we at the N.I.H., the companies are all doing studies to do
what we call age de-escalation, looking at 11 to nine, nine to six, six to two, and then six months to two years.
We're collecting safety data and we're collecting immunogenicity data. We're going to have enough data where the companies will be able to present the data to the C.D.C. by the mid-fall or so, somewhere around September or October, for Pfizer; a little bit later for Moderna.
FAUCI: The FDA then has the task which they did so well now with the VLA, of looking at the data and making a risk benefit analysis. Is the risk of the unusual and rare adverse event, is that worth it because of the benefit that children will get from a vaccine at their particular age group? And that's going to be a regulatory decision.
COOPER: How long would that be?
FAUCI: You know, word of that -- well, you know, that could be a couple of extra months. So we don't know whether or not we're going to get the regulatory decision by the late fall, early winter, or it might even go into the following year. I hope it will be within this calendar year.
COOPER: Would they give an emergency use authorization on something like that to speed it up, as opposed to waiting to give the full approval for a little kids?
FAUCI: Good question, Anderson, and that is a possibility. The emergency use authorization will be predicated on their feeling, is it in an emergent situation in the children to get them the vaccine until we get further amount of data to give it the full approval? And that's going to be an F.D.A. decision.
It is entirely conceivable that they will judge, given the situation that was seeing so many infections in children and children going to the hospital, they may say that you can get it under an emergency or they may say, given the safety concerns, not that there's any overly concern, but given the safety precautions, they might want to wait a few more months.
And again, we leave it up to them because that's a regulatory decision that when you're dealing with children, it's fundamentally based on safety. I don't think there's going to be any question that this is going to be effective in the children at that younger age. I have no doubt about that. It's going to be a safety issue.
COOPER: So, you're talking really in the New Year, you know, if it's October for the companies to get their data together, or at least a little later for Pfizer, and then it goes to the F.D.A., and whether it's --
FAUCI: No, a little late for Moderna.
COOPER: For Moderna, I'm sorry. So, you're talking really -- it's unlikely we'll hear even if it's an emergency use authorization from the F.D.A. for kids under 12. And, you know, ages -- a variety of ages, we probably won't hear anything definitive until 2022.
FAUCI: Well, it could be we see it before the end of this year. It could be, if the data was so strong, you could see it before the end of this year. Yes.
COOPER: All right, Dr. Fauci I appreciate it, as always. Thanks so much.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Anderson. Thanks.
COOPER: Let's get perspective from two people who we've turned to throughout this pandemic, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen. She is a recent author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."
Sanjay, I'm wondering what you made of what Dr. Fauci said.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he -- it's better spring of 2022 versus fall. So, that was that was the first thing because I'd heard his comments earlier and obviously, no one likes to think about an extended timeline like that.
You know, the winter, cooler, drier months are always worse in terms of transmitting these viruses. I think that's probably what's informing his predictions as well, and they are just that -- predictions. But you go into the spring, the weather gets warmer, it's more humid, and viruses don't like that. So, if at that point, when you have the benefit of both lower viral transmission and enough immunity, maybe we can sort of put this into a position where it is not causing the tremendous impact that we see now.
We will probably see waves, Anderson. I mean, a few weeks from now, if you look at what's happened in other countries around the world, they've had some rapid decelerations as well of viral transmission, which is good. Maybe that'll happen here as well, we are not sure. Schools may add some fuel to this transmission.
But then it may sort of go up and down, and I think people have to be prepared for that. You know, Leana and I have talked about this, we keep talking just like from a mindset standpoint, thinking this more like weather versus like a linear sort of thing. The weather changes, you've got to be prepared, and you know, hopefully by next spring, we'll be in a position where we won't have as many of these weather outbursts.
COOPER: Yes, and again, as Dr. Fauci said, it all depends on getting as many people possible vaccinated. Dr. Wen, you know you and I have talked a lot about, you know, for children, what the prognosis is in terms of the time they -- how long it's going to be before they can get vaccinated.
COOPER: What do you make of what Dr. Fauci said on that?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's sobering. I mean, the timeline keeps on getting pushed back. Initially, I thought that for the six to 11-year-old group that we would be able to have a vaccine, potentially, by September-October. Now, we're saying maybe in 2021, maybe 2022, possibly.
I mean, I think at this point, we really need to have another conversation about risk benefit analysis, as in there should be no question that if the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, that it should be available for children under emergency use authorization.
We are in a global pandemic. We have the most number of children hospitalized yet during this pandemic. We have kids down going back to school, including in some cases in schools that are not requiring masks. I mean, it's an emergency for younger children to also to be able to get the vaccine.
I think that in the meantime, it really is so important for us to increase vaccinations for adults and I am very happy about the announcement today about full approval. I think that that is going to push a lot of people to getting vaccinated not because they're going to line up tomorrow because of the full approval, but rather because their employers, their schools, the restaurant, the concert venue they want to go to is going to start requiring vaccinations. That will also help to protect our children.
COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, it is undeniably good news that the FDA has given approval. I mean, you know, it's -- I think it's important to try to take them the happy moments when one can, it's certainly a good development.
GUPTA: Yes, and I think that, you know, when you start to try and figure out what is the impact of this going to be overall, as Leana is mentioning, you know, there have been these polling studies that have looked at how many people were simply not getting the vaccine, because they said, look, it's not approved, it's just authorized, it feels not quite there yet. So maybe three out of 10 will sort of fall into that category.
It's also going to allow these companies, Pfizer, in this case, to market and advertise. And, you know, it's interesting, because I think you're going to start seeing advertisements where you're going to basically paint a picture of what vaccinated life looks like for people. And obviously, they're trying to get more people vaccinated, taking their vaccines, but that may be having an impact as well.
But I think it is that final point where, you know, colleges and big institutions will start mandating these having to cover now the approval, and that will probably make the biggest difference.
COOPER: Yes, Sanjay and Dr. Wen, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Later, you'll meet supporters of the former President who will seemingly follow him anywhere he leads, but who won't listen, not even to him when he says they should take the vaccine that he himself helped get developed.
Next, breaking news on the evacuation from Afghanistan, whether the President will extend it beyond the end of the month and why you might have to make a decision on that tonight. That, plus a live report from Kabul when we continue.
COOPER: The effort to get Americans now, and the Afghans, out of Kabul appears to be turning into a race tonight with several different clocks ticking and at least two deadlines fast approaching. At the White House tonight, CNN has learned that the President is still deciding whether to continue the airlift beyond August 31st. An administration official telling us he could signal his decision during a G7 meeting tomorrow.
We've also learned that military advisers have told him he has to make the call no later than tomorrow to allow enough time for troops to themselves pull out. Several advisers have counseled against any extension beyond the 31st citing security conditions on the ground.
Meantime, a White House official tells CNN that approximately 10,900 people were evacuated over a 12 hour stretch today on 15 Air Force and 34 coalition flights. As for how many Americans specifically, Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby said today that quote "several thousand" had been evacuated since the 14th, and the administration still cannot offer a precise number for how many remain. More and all this now from CNN's Oren Liebermann.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At Kabul International Airport, the end of the month is coming too quickly. The U.S. is trying to hit its self-imposed August 31st deadline to complete the evacuation from Afghanistan.
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: In the days remaining, we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul.
LIEBERMANN (voice over): Taliban warning there will be consequences if it takes any longer. A firefight at the airport Sunday that left one Afghan security member dead, underscoring the tense security situation as the U.S. tries to maximize the number of people that can fly out.
The military flew more than 10,000 people out of Kabul in 24 hours and another 5,000 on charters and other flights, a new record and a pace that must continue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are pushing the limits to do everything we can to get every single evacuee out of Kabul.
LIEBERMANN (voice over): in order to speed up evacuations, The Pentagon activating the Civil Reserve Air Fleet for only the third time, using 18 aircrafts from commercial carriers like United and American to move evacuees from the Middle East onwards.
For now, though, the U.S. prioritizing getting American citizens out. The Pentagon acknowledging helicopters have left the airport not once, but twice to pick up evacuees. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby hinting at more.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: On occasion, where there's a need and there's a capability to meet that need, our commanders on the ground are doing what they feel they need to do to help Americans reach the airport.
LIEBERMANN (voice over): For now, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is telling Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and evacuees not to come to the airport until they're told. With potentially little more than a week left of his evacuation effort, fear of a totalitarian Taliban regime is growing.
The brother of an Afghan interpreter received these letters from the Taliban, a court date for helping U.S. troops and shielding his brother and then a notification of his death sentence.
"These court decisions are final and you will not have the right to object." The third and final letter reads. "You chose this path for yourself and your death is imminent, God willing."
There are still some 13,000 people at the airport and more trying to get through every day. But a new terror threat from ISIS-K, an offshoot of ISIS in the Middle East, forcing the U.S. to develop alternate routes to the airport for safety, even when there is so little time left to evacuate.
COOPER: Oren Liebermann joins us now. As we mentioned, the President is reportedly mulling extending that August 31st deadline being told he'll have to make a decision by tomorrow. According -- that's by the way according to a defense official. What are you hearing?
LIEBERMANN: Well, the Biden administration and The Pentagon want to be done with this by August 31st. Every day you extend past that is not really extending an environment where you have a security threat from ISIS-K as we just mentioned, as well as al-Qaeda and others, logistically, it's simply difficult to have more people on that base for longer in terms of food, water, sanitation, again, security. All of these are the reasons that The Pentagon and the administration want out.
The question is, of course, can they do it that quickly and it's very difficult to get a sense of without knowing how many U.S. citizens there are and without knowing exactly how many Afghan evacuees they're trying to get out.
And on top of that, this requires at least some coordination with the Taliban. There has been constant communication with them. That has helped de-conflict an incredibly tense situation. But the Taliban has said they want the U.S. out by August 31st, or else there will be in their words, consequences.
COOPER: Oren Liebermann, appreciate it. Before leaving Afghanistan, CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward saw the worst of chaos in Kabul, but also the very best in the American allied effort there, having made it back to Europe, she joins us now, so does CNN senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley who is at the Kabul Airport.
COOPER: So Sam, the Biden administration has to decide by tomorrow. Based on what you know, what you have seen on the ground, what do you think is likely to happen?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've got a catch 22, Anderson, if they don't extend their stay here, no matter what the military risks the human beings risk, certainly in their view, dying inside Afghanistan at the hands of militants. But if they do extend, they risk coming into confrontation with the Taliban who have said, absolutely, August the 31st is the red line and there will be these specified consequences if the Americans stay on.
There might be some negotiated wriggle room there with the Taliban. But right now, I can hear what appears to be what sounds like quite a ferocious firefight here at first light off in the direction here on the edge of the airport. We don't know what is going on there. But there is a great deal of tension here, indeed, not because of the threat posed by the Taliban, but because of this persistent threat being perceived did come from ISIS-K-- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Clarissa, based on what you saw, I mean, can you just explain the difficulties involved in getting all these people out? And are you optimistic they could get, at least all the Americans out by the 31st.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have to say, Anderson that I'm not optimistic at all. I'm talking to people every day, U.S. servicemen, Congress people, congressmen and women, so many who are working around the clock to try to help facilitate these extractions.
I spoke to one U.S. soldier earlier today who said that he had desperately been trying to get 30 people in, but you just can't get them through these gates, because the situation is so kinetic, as you just heard Sam say there. And because there are non-state actors who are now involved in further complicating an already very complex, dangerous situation, it becomes next to impossible to try to find people in the crowd, find an entrance for them to come to where there isn't a sort of crush already of other people waiting, and bring them in and then safely evacuate them.
So, I think we have to be realistic at what we're looking at now, which is a best case scenario, the U.S. succeeds in evacuating all the Americans who want to be evacuated. But at the same time, you're looking at tens of thousands of people who have fought with Americans, who have died with Americans, or had family members who have died with Americans, who have sacrificed and risked everything for two decades of service, who increasingly, it becomes clear or likely to be left behind.
COOPER: Clarissa, a Taliban spokesperson has given ultimatum that Sam was mentioning, and I want to read you the quote of what they said. They said: "Our leadership will take proper and necessary decisions." That's if the U.S. isn't out by August 31st. What do you take that to mean?
WARD: I take that to mean the Taliban is not granting any extension to this deadline. They don't want what they call an extended occupation and they have been pretty clear about that from the beginning. There are several reasons why they don't want this.
Number one, they don't feel that they can really begin the business of fully running Afghanistan as an autonomous political force as long as the scenes are playing out at the airport. Number two, they're fully aware of how the optics of what's happening at the airport are terrible for the Taliban, because as long as you continue to see all these people who are literally willing to risk life and limb and crush themselves and throw their babies over razor wire in order to escape the Taliban, that's not a good look for the Taliban. That's not something that they can abide.
And then thirdly, I think they're feeling pretty ebullient right now. They're feeling they're victorious. They have a big war chest of filled with American weapons and ammunition, you know (AUDIO GAP) to compromise if they feel that have (AUDIO GAP) does seem that the U.S. has lost and left (AUDIO GAP).
COOPER: Clarissa, we are having a problem with your feed, Clarissa -- Sam, I want to play something from the White House Press Director Jen Psaki in the briefing today when she was pressed about Americans being quote, "stranded." Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: First of all, I think it's irresponsible to say Americans are stranded, they are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home. We are in touch with them via phone, via text, via e-mail, via any way that we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are no American stranded is the White House's official position on what happening in Afghanistan right now?
PSAKI: I am just calling you out for saying that that we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when I said -- when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sam, I mean, based on what you're seeing and hearing, are there Americans who are currently stranded. Is that an appropriate way to characterize it?
KILEY: So in a lot of political spin involved there, what there is, is an estimate of some thousands of Americans who, some of whom are many of whom want to get back to the United States or get out of Kabul, the authorities here at the moment are struggling to get them safely into this location, all of the gates are officially closed to Afghans, even those carrying the Special Immigrant Visas. In order to try to facilitate this, they're prioritizing here the bringing in of people with permanent residents in the United States, or United States passports.
But to do so they've had to use what they're calling alternative routes, which are essentially Special Forces operators try and go and grab them and find safe routes for them in through Taliban lines and into the headquarters here.
This is not necessarily because the Taliban who have some record of abusing people on their way in but really have negotiated good behavior with the Americans in order to facilitate this process. But because of this persistent threat, coming from ISIS-K.
And I mentioned that firefight that was going on over to my right, it's, I would guess it's probably about a kilometer away, you can clearly hear aim shot, single shots being pulled off, and then the spray of rapid fire is clearly a firefight of some kind. And it's precisely that kind of event that is making it so difficult to get Americans stranded or not into this base.
And of course, the longer this insecurity persists, or the greater the more it grows, Anderson, the harder is going to be to get them in and the harder it's going to be for the United States to meet that deadline. And the harder the Taliban will negotiate for any kind of concession out of the Americans. Should they agree to move that red line a little bit to the right, Anderson.
COOPER: So Sammy, just to be clear, you said right now or and for how long? I'm wondering that the doors are shut for Afghans right now. Right now the focus is purely on getting Americans permanent residents through the wire, through the wall.
KILEY: Yes, it is. Yes, that's been the case now for about at least 48 hours, I'd say the gates are closed. And also clearing the backlog, there was about nearly 20,000 mostly Afghan evacuees but not just Afghans obviously foreigners to move through. They are now being moved through pretty efficiently with you can hear in the background and other aircraft taking off.
They've been taking off and landing all day long. They are being moved through very, very efficiently now. There is a pretty slick operation that has been stood up in four or five days only. It had a disastrous start with a lot of log jams. They tried to clear it now. The hope from the Afghan perspective and indeed from the foreign perspective is the gates might open soon. But of course, every time the gates open Anderson, more people flock to them, the crowds get bigger, and then they become a bigger terrorist target for a group like ISIS-K.
And the one thing that the Islamic State would love to do is humiliate and cause destruction for the Taliban in the early days of their nascent administration and humiliate the withdrawal, the withdrawing forces led by the United States. Anderson.
COOPER: Clarissa is back with us. Clarissa, the last time we spoke you were at the airport about to leave Kabul. You said you were -- as you said, you were one of the lucky ones. We have a picture of you that you took on the plane. What was that journey home like?
WARD: I mean, it's just surreal Anderson, you're walking in the sort of dead of night through the airfield, there's hot at jet engine air being blasted into your face, and you walk onto this huge C-17. Everybody has to stand facing the same direction because there's, uh, you know, so many people packed in so tightly. And then at a certain point, you're given the word and you all sort of sit down simultaneously.
And, you know, what really stood out to me is that because I'm a Westerner, all these people were like, excuse me, please. Can you tell me where are we going? Excuse me, please, can you tell me what happens when we get there? How can I call my loved ones I left my family outside the airport, we got separated. Can I charge my phone?
And you just this overwhelming sense of even though they're the lucky ones, this absolute fear of the fact that everything they know and which is familiar has been left behind. They're walking into a completely uncertain reality. They have no information about what's waiting for them on the other end.
They're desperately afraid of what could happen to them along the journey, the translator who CNN had been working with who was traveling with us, he was so worried that something was going to get stolen from him. He wouldn't let himself sleep for a couple of days.
I mean, people are going through a form of trauma, even in the -- even in this process of extraction, even in the process of getting out to safety. This is not where their troubles end. In many ways, this is where so many challenges begin. And I really felt that sitting on this C-17 for three hours like sardines, sitting cross legged, with everybody full of questions.
WARD: And I of course was not able to answer those questions Anderson.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, appreciate the reporting. Sam Kiley, as well. Please be careful, Sam. Coming up next, more breaking news tonight. A live report from Capitol Hill, plus analysis but a major development investigation of the Capitol riot, one with potential repercussions for Republican members of Congress and others. We'll be right back.
COOPER: There's more breaking news report. This time involving major next step in the investigation in January 6 Capitol Riot by the House Select Committee with potential repercussions for some members of Congress.
I'm joined now by our congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles and CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen, who also served as former counsel to House Democrats during the former president's first impeachment.
So Ry -- excuse me, Ryan, the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. They're planning to seek phone records including that those of some members of Congress. Do we know which members phone records they're planning on going after?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we don't yet Anderson. The committee wasn't specific about that. But the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson telling us today that they're going to seek the records of some hundreds of people as a result of this investigation.
And another member of the committee, Jamie Raskin told me today that obviously, they want to find information about people that were involved in the planning, the execution, both inside and outside on that day. And when it comes to members of Congress, we know we'll be a part of this tranche of information that they're looking for.
There is a certain number of Republican members of Congress who are on the phone that day with the White House, specifically, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both have said they spoke to the former President Donald Trump on that day. So while the committee is not tipping its hand right now that's a logical first place to look in terms of the information that they'll be in search of.
COOPER: Norm, do you see any legal issues when it comes to obtaining phone records of sitting members of Congress and can telecommunications company deny the request from the community?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, thanks for having me back. There, there are always legal rules that apply. But here you have a well founded basis for seeking the phone records. In any investigation, whether it's congressional, civil or criminal, you need evidence in order to make the case. So, I think there's an adequate basis to ask for them. And I think they're going to get them.
COOPER: Ryan, could members, these members of Congress be called to testify publicly. NOBLES: That would be the next logical step Anderson and the committee has told us repeatedly that they are going to go wherever this investigation takes them. And if that means calling before the committee to testify, either in public or behind closed doors, members of Congress who have knowledge as to what could have happened that day, they are not afraid to do that.
And it's not necessarily just active members of Congress, it could be also members of the Trump administration, who could be called in front of this committee to testify. But that's part of what this records request is about. It's about building that evidence, starting a paper trail that would be part of that investigative process. And they need to form these telecommunications companies, you need to tell them that those records cannot be destroyed because they're -- they could be potentially part of an investigation.
COOPER: Norm, I mean, there's plenty of ways though, that this could just get bogged down in litigation. I mean, there's, you know, they could issue subpoenas and people could refuse to show up, they could cite executive privilege. Can they?
EISEN: Anderson, it's true that the Trump administration was kind of a master class in the obstruction of congressional investigations. But CNN is reporting is that the committee (INAUDIBLE) is starting with reputable actors, the telecommunications companies, social media companies, they're not going to play those games.
Congress has just re-established its right to enforce subpoenas in the Trump litigation in the Supreme Court and the McGahn litigation that we worked on in the first impeachment in the D.C. circuit. And the courts are going to, if it goes to court, I think it could move more quickly and the courts are not going to tolerate the kind of game playing that we saw from Donald Trump.
COOPER: Norm Eisen, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you.
Just ahead that never ending so-called the audit in Arizona was finally supposed to end today. Instead, the preventable happened. Details when we continue.
COOPER: Breaking news now and something that was supposed to happen but did not the conclusion of the bogus Arizona audit so-called ordered by the Republican led state Senate. Now the report was supposed to be handed over to the State Senate today after a long drawn out process that even a local Republican called incompetent and quote conspiracy theory driven.
Joining us to explain the delay, CNN's Kyung Lah. So, this group the so called Cyber Ninjas, were supposed to share their findings with the Arizona senate today. What happened?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, COVID happened. Increasingly you hear about in the news COVID hits the Cyber Ninjas. The Arizona Senate President Karen Fann announced that the head of Cyber Ninjas Doug Logan, this is a subcontractor, you were mentioning Anderson, that he had tested positive for COVID, in addition to two other members of the so-called audit team. We understand at least one of them may be quite ill.
What we don't know is their vaccination status. We don't know the health status of the other two. What we can tell you is that they were photographed by multiple agencies, including CNN working inside the warehouse, without mask on, that members of the so-called audit team did testify in public, not wearing masks that mask were not a part of this effort towards the end when the machine ballot count was happened.
So what did happen today is that the Arizona Senate did receive a partial report that they'll start to look through on Wednesday, the full report, obviously, at this point is going to be TBD. Important to note, Anderson, that this was not going to be released publicly anyway. And when it was released, there certainly was going to be a lot of dispute about any sort of factual basis of this report. Anderson.
COOPER: Just to be clear though, the only evidence we don't know for a fact that they have COVID. This is what the state GOP leader has said, right? That this is the reason they're giving. I just wanted because --
LAH: In a statement, that is all we got.
COOPER: OK. So I know you -- I mean, you've been for better or worse, you have been on this story now for quite some time. I don't know how you've done it, and kept your composure. But you've been looking at the Cyber Ninjas. You went, you even tracked down their alleged offices in Florida, which there was no one there. What do you learn about them over the last few months?
LAH: Well, we had to travel to Florida because no one was calling us back. The Cyber Ninjas were hired with very little experience. In fact, zero experience when it comes to election auditing. So we went to Sarasota Florida, and we didn't find much. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAH (voice-over): Cyber Ninjas is headquartered in Sarasota. So, we flew the 2000 miles to Florida. Our first stop Cyber Ninjas' legal department.
(on-camera): Suite number 421.
(voice-over): The office listed as a fourth floor suite is a rented mailbox. Inside a UPS Store.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling Cyber Ninjas.
LAH (voice-over): No one ever answers the official business phone number. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press three --
LAH (voice-over): And every extension you press.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press four, press five.
LAH (voice-over): Gets you to only one ninja.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please leave a message for Doug Logan. Doug Logan, Doug Logan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: I'm still waiting for Doug Logan to call me back. He never returned any of our inquiries. Well, we can tell you on paper that the Cyber Ninjas Anderson were paid $150,000 by Arizona taxpayers to conduct this audit. In addition to millions that were funneled into this effort. We don't know if they got millions, but millions was funneled into this effort to conduct this so called audit. Anderson.
COOPER: They're ninjas. You can't see him. They've moved so fast. They're amazing. Kyung Lah, thank you very much.
LAH: So fast.
COOPER: We'll continue to follow it.
Up next, returning to our top story, the Pfizer vaccine getting full approvals. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan went to a rally hosted by the former president over the weekend, there were plenty of vaccine hesitant people there. Question is did the former president change their minds with his message to get vaccinated. We'll show you next.
COOPER: Told you at the top of the program about the FDA his decision to fully approve the Pfizer COVID vaccine and how it just might change the landscape for those people who have been at least many of them who've been on the fence about getting one.
This came after the former president spoke in Alabama rally over the weekend and while he received his usual throat -- full throated welcome, when it came to vaccine, many who came to here and had no support for either the vaccine or of him telling them they should get the vaccine, which he did.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan was there. He talked to his supporters about the vaccines at the time pending approval. Here's his report.
VICKY SIMS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No. Not getting that vaccine. No, no, no, no, no. The vaccines are not good, huh?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Are you vaccinated?
JERRY RAMSEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No. But I have a lot of hydroxychloroquine sink (ph) in my house.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): So have you got your vaccine shot?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That, won't it?
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): No? Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tested it enough for my opinion.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes. The Pfizer shots is about to get full FDA approval, would that change your opinion on it at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not until they do a whole lot more investigating and knowing.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing's going in me until then.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Right. Do you think that would take a long time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 10 years or so.
SIMS: I don't trust the government, I don't trust CDC, I don't trust non of them.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What is it about the vaccine that (INAUDIBLE)?
SIMS: Because I've watched Dr. Tenpenny and she's done a lot of research on it.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Dr. Sherry Tenpenny is a discredited conspiracy theorist who pushes dangerous misinformation about vaccines.
SHERRY TENPENNY, AMERICAN PHYSICIAN: I'm sure you've seen the pictures all over the internet of people who've had these shots and now they're magnetized and put a key on their forehead it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Those and other unhinged false claims landed Tenpenny on a list known as the disinformation dozen, super spreaders of COVID misinformation.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by. This killing people spat information.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But Tenpenny and others in the disinformation dozen are finding appeal among some Trump supporters.
SIMS: Mound doctor tried to get me to get shot and I told him to go watch that Dr. Tenpenny.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): So you trust this woman on the internet more than your own doctor.
SIMS: I do.
JUDY SMITH, AREA ADMINISTRATOR, ALABAMA HEALTH DEPT.: To listen to the internet or to listen to rather than the professionals, the scientists, the CDC, the FDA, if you look at the history of vaccine, it's been again, the greatest gift we've ever been given. People today wouldn't be at any of these events. It -- they would either have polio, they would have smallpox, they would have many other diseases. Vaccines have saved us.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Trump came here to Alabama Saturday. It's the state with the lowest vaccination rates in the nation and at the time of this rally every ICU bed here was full. His timid suggestion his supporters should get the shot was matched with cheers.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And you know what I believe totally in your freedoms. I do pray you got to do what you have to do, but I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It's good. Take the vaccines, but you got down. That's OK. Sorry. You got your freedoms. But I happen to take the vaccine. If it doesn't work, you'll be the first to know. OK.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Trump got the vaccine, though.
SIMS: Yes. They keep saying that. I don't know that. I mean, I'm not fully convinced to that.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): You don't think Trump (INAUDIBLE)?
SIMS: I don't think he did. I really don't.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): And so many peoples mind, so many people who don't want to get the shot. This is a Republican-Democrat thing.
SMITH: Oh, absolutely. You know, we know but I will tell you, I don't personally see that that virus came over here on a donkey or on an elephant. And, and it's affecting everybody.
SIMS: I watch Prophets of God and Newsmax and maybe a little farts (ph) that's better. That's better at.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Right. That's (INAUDIBLE) --
SIMS: But I've kind of turned away from news. I don't want to listen to it. I want to listen to what God's saying, what he's fixing to do. That's all I'm concerned about. I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats. You know.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What are you?
SIMS: I am a -- I'm a goat because I ain't a sheep. I'm not doing what I tell me to do. I'm fighting against it.
COOPER: And Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. Do you think the former president saying that he got the shot? Although you said it was timid, nevertheless, he did say do you think he convinced anyone?
O'SULLIVAN: No, it didn't seem like that, Anderson. I mean, and I think that is something that Trump knows. We know Trump likes to take credit for things that he can, in many respects, take credit for the development of this vaccine. But he knows that so many in his base do not want to take this shot. It is a red line for them.
And it's really remarkable to hear you know, so many folks we've spoken to do not want to be as that woman described as a sheep. They don't want to take this vaccine. They view it as a political statement holds almost. And some folks are so intent on not becoming part of this herd of sheep. They're going as far as taking medicine for horses.
So, it is a very troubling situation here. And as you heard from that public health official Judy Smith in our piece, some folks are only willing to take the shots once they see a family member or a loved one really, really sick in hospital.
COOPER: Yes. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it. Thanks. We'll be right back.
COOPER: The news continues. Let's hand things over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.