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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

White House September 20 Booster Rollout may be Scaled Back to Just Pfizer Vaccine at First; A Teen Survivor's Message to Get Vaccinated; Louisiana Attorney General Investigating Nursing Home Deaths after Storm; Texas Judge Hands Abortion Rights Advocates Narrow Victory After Supreme Court Refused To Block New Law. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. The death toll on the East Coast from the remnants of Hurricane Ida is now at least 50 people. More than that shortly along with a live report from Louisiana where the storm first hit and President Biden visited today.

We begin though with a speed bump on the administration's road to COVID boosters by the 20th of this month. As you know, that's the day the President announced just last month.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C.'s committee of outside experts will be ready to start this booster -- this booster program during the week of September 20, in which time anyone vaccinated on or before January 20th will be eligible to get a booster shot.


COOPER: Well, that was the President on August 18th, and that qualification about F.D.A. and C.D.C. approval being needed has been part of the message ever since as a White House spokesman reminded reporters today.

All the same though, that part of it might have gotten lost somewhat because it's mostly been a stream of soundbites like these.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not at all be surprised that the adequate full regimen for vaccination will likely be three doses.

There's no doubt from the dramatic data from the Israeli study that the boosts that are being now done there and contemplated here, support very strongly the rationale for such an approach.


COOPER: Well, now even as that message was going out, though, Federal officials were warning the White House that there might not be enough data on the Moderna vaccine to recommend anything, but the Pfizer shot as a booster. It's a sign this leading vaccine expert says that the administration is taking the wrong approach with the public.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: You can't make an announcement and then say well wait to see what the F.D.A. and C.D.C. says, that's just really not the right way to do it.


COOPER: Meantime, as this is playing out, cases and deaths from the delta variant are rising. The country now averaging more than 166,000 new cases and upwards of 1,400 new fatalities every single day.

Now with that as the backdrop, the question is, how is the White House handling this? CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now with more on that. So, do we know why the White House seemed to get so out in front of this without full support from the C.D.C. and the F.D.A.?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, a couple of reasons that I've been told, Anderson in talking with officials. One is preparation. They wanted to make sure they were prepared when this moment came with those key caveats of things needed to be approved first.

The other was urgency. There's no question about it, the administration has been scrambling for several weeks now trying to get ahold of the delta variant and very concerned about the implications of the transmission of the delta variant that has surged throughout the country.

I think the last point, you kind of heard it from Dr. Fauci there, a level of inevitability, a sense that this was going to come immediately. They had seen other countries go first, and they felt like this was only a matter of time and that led them to some degree to get crosswise with some of the scientists inside their operation.

The F.D.A., according to one person familiar with the matter, warning, the administration not to put a specific timeline on things, to wait for the data to fully come in and wait for the agency to go through its process.

The head of the F.D.A., the head of the C.D.C. yesterday, in a closed door meeting with Jeff Zients, the President's top COVID adviser, made clear that that had come to pass to some sense. With Moderna, they did not have the data to move forward by that September 20th timeline, they've made very clear the timeline still remains that way for the Pfizer vaccine, but Moderna is not ready yet, and therefore, it's just not going to come to pass the way it was originally laid out.

COOPER: So what is the White House now saying and what happens next?

MATTINGLY: The White House is making clear that they are going to follow their scientists on this one, and they're not going to move regardless of any timeline they've set out. They won't move forward with any vaccine or any boosters until the F.D.A. and C.D.C. sign off.

Again, that is expected before that September 20th deadline when it comes to Pfizer. The expectation in talking to officials is that Moderna will probably be a few weeks after, but they don't necessarily know the specifics at this point. Moderna said they are giving the data that is necessary to move this process forward.

I think the biggest thing you've heard from White House officials is that they wanted to make sure they were prepared. They knew this was going to be a significant undertaking, not just thousands of shots, you're talking millions of shots from individuals in a tiered timeline and they wanted to make sure that they had the capacity. They know they have the supply, but mostly the capability to be able to deliver those whenever the boosters were approved -- Anderson.

COOPER: And the White House released a new plan today about future pandemics and preparing for that. What's in it?

MATTINGLY: You know, it's really interesting, for all the bandwidth, for all the focus inside the administration about battling the current pandemic. And obviously, that is where their sole focus has been for the better part of the last eight or nine months. The President has always made clear he also wants the administration to lay the groundwork for any future pandemics knowing that this isn't probably going to be the last.

And so what the administration rolled out today was basically a multi- tiered plan wherein $60 billion in proposals to better prepare the country for the next pandemic, whether it was centralizing the actual response to it, whether it was creating better defenses for the country when it comes to vaccines and therapeutics, bolstering the health system, really kind of taking lessons learned over the course of the last year plus.

And underscoring the fact there were so many dropped balls, so many failures, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic. That's what they're trying to correct.

One thing to keep an eye on, they know they're not going to get all $65 billion with a snap of a finger, but as Democrats move forward on the President's legislative agenda in the weeks ahead on Capitol Hill, the administration is asking to include at least $15 billion in the bill that Democrats are moving forward. They want to make this count and they want to make this stick. So, the President said he wanted to do the administration putting plans behind that pledge today.


COOPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, I really appreciate the update.

Perspective now from two MDs. Emergency Medicine physician, Jeremy Faust who teach this subject at Harvard Medical School and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore. Dr. Faust, given the way this has all played out over the past few

weeks, do you think the White House got ahead of itself?

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Thanks for having me, Anderson. Yes, they certainly did. And that's why you saw two F.D.A. officials who are highly respected, resigned yesterday because they felt that for the first time, the science was not leading.

Look, the Trump administration's handling of this pandemic was marked by nihilism, incompetence, and hubris, but the one thing they got right was to do the science on vaccines in a moment when literally we had a huge crisis on our hands.

We had the data in November, and we waited for the regulators to look through the safety data to say, yes, it's good to go. Now, we are rushing in a moment when in fact, the emergency is not among the vaccinated, the emergency remains among the unvaccinated and the safety signals out of Israel are inadequately described at this time. They have not been carefully described, even by Dr. Fauci unfortunately, and I think the American people need to know what it really means.

COOPER: So Dr. Wen, I'm still confused, what does this mean? I mean, you read on the screen there, September 20th booster rollout maybe scale back to just Pfizer vaccine at first. What does that mean? If somebody took the Moderna vaccine, would they get a Pfizer booster or it's only people who got Pfizer vaccines who will get a Pfizer booster?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think there's a lot that's unclear at the moment. Although, I might gently disagree with Dr. Faust here, my friend and colleague Dr. Faust, who I respect very much, and say that in this case, I think the White House actually did the right thing.

Because there was already enough data here in the U.S. to say that, yes, if you are fully vaccinated, you are very well protected against severe illness. However, it does look like the effectiveness against symptomatic disease, mild infections is decreasing, especially with a delta variant and then we also have the Israeli data showing that if you give people a third dose, that you're substantially increasing their protection, and in fact, reducing the likelihood of infection by 10 times in people over the age of 16.

So, I think that there's enough data at this point to make the recommendation, and even if the F.D.A. and C.D.C. don't want to make the recommendation, one thing they could do is to say, we are allowing people to get a third dose. That it is patient's choice to get a third dose, and we know this is something that's already occurring. Over a million Americans have already taken this step, and I hope that we'll see more clarity around allowing additional people to get the dose and collecting data so that we are able to weigh the safety and efficacy based on U.S. data here.

COOPER: Well, Dr. Faust, should people at least have the option to get a booster?

FAUST: Once we have data to share with them, they cannot make an informed decision without data. And right now, all we have is data from people over 60 in Israel. And in that group, it does suggest that a booster decreases infection, but once you have a breakthrough infection, whether vaccinated with two doses, or with three, the risk of hospitalization of severe illness in Israeli data set is the same.

So, the trillion dollar question becomes, how long does this protection in the 60-plus age group last? If it's months or years, then it makes a lot of sense to do it. But if it's not very long, and worse, if there's no effect in younger people who actually have a much higher rate of adverse effects that are important, and we roll it out to everyone and give them a choice without data, we will very much be shooting ourselves in the foot if there is a subgroup of people like younger males, who, for example, had much more side effects after two doses, it could be a major problem if the third dose doesn't help them, but hurts them.

So, the Israeli data suggests that it might be a good idea for the 60- plus group, but we still don't know how long it lasts and that is the crucial question.

COOPER: And Dr. Wen, if it works in the 60-plus group, is there a reason why it wouldn't work in the 20-plus group? And by the way, we should point out, Israel is now vaccinating everybody -- I mean, I know people in their 20s in Israel who have stood in line for an hour just, you know, this week and gotten the third booster shot.

WEN: Yes, I don't think there's a question that the vaccine -- the third dose would add an additional level of immune protection for everybody who is getting it. I think what Dr. Faust is getting at is there is a different risk benefit calculation for different groups of people, and there I agree.


WEN: I think, though, that we are entering a part and a point in the pandemic where people are making different risk decisions. We see this happening already. Some people are saying, I'm fully vaccinated, I'm going to resume all my pre-pandemic activities; others are saying, I'm going to be a lot more cautious. And I think it's the same thing when it comes to whether to get a booster dose.

Some people might say, I don't want to get a booster dose, I'm pretty healthy. Even if I get a breakthrough infection, it's going to be mild. I don't need to get this for now. Somebody else, let's say an elderly individual, chronic medical problems, emphysema, renal disease, diabetes, heart problems. For them, a mild infection could very well land them in the hospital, and maybe that person lives at home with an unvaccinated family member. It would make sense to allow this person the choice to get the booster dose at the time.

COOPER: Dr. Faust, I want to ask about, there was a new study on breakthrough infections that found that being fully vaccinated reduces the odds of long-term COVID symptoms by half. Obviously, even with those odds long, COVID is still a possibility. That would seem that that's certainly some good news, though, that it does significantly reduce the risk of long term COVID. Should we be using different metrics for when it's time to double down on boosters?

FAUST: So that data looked at not boosters, but people who were fully vaccinated. So long COVID is less likely after full vaccination and that's great news for vaccination. Over and over again, the vaccine is the winner.

I feel like we have a baseball team that's losing a little bit right now because of delta. But our slugger, the vaccine hit a grand slam, and everyone' is questioning whether the slugger is worth it.

This is not the question. The major question is, has the vaccine done what we said it would do, which is to keep you out of the hospital to keep you from dying? And the answer is it has. So, I think that this is still -- if you ask anyone and I'm sure Dr. Wen would agree with this, if you ask anyone, what's more important to get the unvaccinated people on board and end this crisis or to basically run up the score in the vaccinated subset?

I think that when you look here and abroad, the answer is clear. This remains a crisis of the unvaccinated. Delta is making it harder, but still, the solution is the same.

COOPER: Dr. Faust and Dr. Wen, I appreciate both your perspective, thanks very much.

Now, from the question of a third shot to the millions of Americans still hesitant to take it at all, including young people who are now turning up in ICUs with the delta variant, such as the Florida teenager you're about to meet.

Having caught the virus and nearly dying of it, she is now hoping to be an example to her peers, a life-saving example. Our Randi Kaye has her story.



PAULINA VELASQUEZ, 15-YEAR-OLD HOSPITALIZED FOR COVID: Much better I'm able to walk, finally able to move around, do stuff by myself. Still need a little bit of help, but I'm improving every single day.

KAYE (voice over): Just weeks ago, an interview with 15-year-old Paulina Velasquez seemed unthinkable. The unvaccinated Florida teenager had tested positive for COVID-19 and was fighting for her life in a Florida hospital.

KAYE (on camera): Paulina, do you remember how you felt by the time you got to the ER?

P. VELASQUEZ: The last thing I remember is like walking into the ER. And like, I was like dragging my feet, like it was hot outside and I just couldn't breathe normally. KAYE: Was it scary for you?

P. VELASQUEZ: Yes, very.

KAYE (voice over): Paulina tested positive for COVID on July 11th, just as she was making plans to be vaccinated. First it was just a runny nose, but then came the headaches, loss of taste and smell and the struggle to breathe.

This was Paulina before she got sick, a healthy energetic high school sophomore.

That quickly turned into this. Less than a week after testing positive, Paulina's oxygen levels dropped to below 70. So on July 17th, when she went to the hospital, doctors immediately put her on a ventilator.

AGNES VELASQUEZ, PAULINA'S MOTHER: Oh my God, that was the scariest moment when they told me because I didn't know what to expect. I started asking questions. So first, I said no, no, no, please. No. And they said, well, we don't have any other alternatives. We have to do that, other way, you know, it's something you know, worse can happen.

And I said, okay, well, I guess you guys know better. So, just do what you can do to save my daughter's life.

KAYE (voice over): Paulina's mother Agnes Velazquez had also tested positive for COVID around the same time, even though she'd been fully vaccinated in April. She insisted on staying in her daughter's hospital room.

A. VELASQUEZ: They said, okay, that's fine. But they told me if I go in to the room, I cannot go out. So, that's why I was every single minute with her.

KAYE (on camera): Did you pray for her?

A. VELASQUEZ: Of course, I did. I did pray every single day. There was no day or moment that I would not pray.

KAYE (voice over): Paulina had pneumonia, too, and doctors put her into a medically induced coma. They kept her on the ventilator for 11 days.


KAYE (on camera): Do you remember anything about being in the hospital when you were so sick?

P. VELASQUEZ: I don't remember much since I was in the medically induced coma. Besides, when I woke up from the coma and seeing my mom by my side.

KAYE (voice over): After a month hooked up to life-saving machines, Paulina was finally able to go home, August 13th. And now she has a message. KAYE (on camera): A lot of teenagers think that they don't have to get

vaccinated. They're so young, nothing's going to happen to them. Do you believe that given what you went through?

P. VELASQUEZ: No, it is a very serious virus. This virus does not pick and choose who to infect, and it could hit you as hard as it hit me. And I don't want anybody to go through what I went through.

My message technically is, just if you're eligible to get the vaccine, please do. I plan on getting vaccinated as soon as my doctor lets us know when I can.


COOPER: Hey, Randi, does she know when she might be able to get that vaccine?

KAYE: Well, Anderson, she wants to get it as soon as she can. But doctors of course want to give it some time. They want to make sure that Paulina is strong enough to take that vaccine, but she is working on getting stronger. She is doing physical therapy, but because of that medically induced coma, she's had to relearn some things, even picking things up and holding on to things, she has had to relearn that.

She also has some weakness in her arms and her legs. So, she's learning how to balance again and walk on her own. But the big question, Anderson, is will she go back to school when the time comes? Because as you know, there's a big battle over masks in the classroom, certainly in her county in Broward County here in Florida.

So, the doctors may tell her that she is not ready to go back to the classroom depending on how strong she is. She is waiting to find out, but whether or not she is in the classroom or not, Anderson, her message is very clear to her fellow teenagers, get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Just because you're young, you are not invincible -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, I appreciate it. Thank you.

One other item out of Florida, though, a somewhat hopeful one, the state tonight reporting a drop in new cases for the week, a little more than 129,000 which remains staggering, but at least an improvement over last week's record high of more than 151,000.

Much more ahead including breaking news in the wake of Hurricane Ida and the launch of the Louisiana State investigation at the deaths of now five nursing home residents.

And later Senator Ron Johnson, that conspiracy theory friendly, insurrection downplaying senator from Wisconsin and new questions about what is next move maybe.


[20:20:34] COOPER: As we reported at the top of the program, at least 50 people

are now known to have died as what was left to Hurricane Ida moved up the East Coast. There's also breaking news tonight, Louisiana's Attorney General launching a probe into the deaths of nursing home residents who were taken to a warehouse during the storm. The death of a fifth person was announced just moments ago.

Today, President Biden visited the state surveying the damage and reassuring more than 800,000 customers still without electricity that more help is coming.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you're all are frustrated about how long it takes to restore power. It is dangerous work.

We will deploy more Federal resources, including hundreds of generators and there is more to come to restore power as fast as we possibly can, faster than anything happened during Katrina.


COOPER: CNN's Brian Todd joins us now from Independence, Louisiana. So, we've been checking with you regularly this past week. What do you see in terms of recovery on the ground? How are things?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as far as the restoration of power is concerned, we are getting word of steady progress there. That sentiment coming from the Entergy Louisiana power company, the Cleco Power Company and from New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell -- all of those entities, basically telling journalists that they expect full, if not complete restoration to Baton Rouge and New Orleans by next Wednesday, September 8th.

But the New Orleans Mayor Cantrell says she expects more sooner and there will be steady, you know, improvements of power restoration in New Orleans in the coming days, but they are pointing to next Wednesday to say that, you know, most if not all of the power of those residents in New Orleans and Baton Rouge should have it back by next Wednesday.

As far as the gas lines are concerned, that is still a real struggle here in Louisiana. Several refineries are down. Officials saying it is taking a while to get those back up and people are still waiting in long and very agitated lines to get gasoline.

This comes as we're getting new information tonight on what happened here at this warehouse regarding those nursing home patients.


TODD (voice over): Wheelchairs and hospital curtains scatter the site of this remote warehouse where five nursing home residents died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a nightmare. It is a nightmare. TODD (voice over): Local leaders now looking for answers for what went


ROBBY MILLER, PRESIDENT, TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LOUISIANA: That nursing home owner should be held accountable. As far as an investigation, we understand there is one.

TODD (voice over): The warehouse in Independence, Louisiana served as a temporary evacuation facility for more than 800 patients from seven area nursing homes. The conditions inside were appalling.

MILLER: Crowding, mattresses on floors instead of beds. Port-a-Potties instead of bathrooms and probably not enough of them. Just -- it was just things that none of us would want our family members to have to go through.

TODD (voice over): And according to one patient who was inside, insects were crawling all over the mattresses. The Independence Police Chief says the facility was prepared for a certain number of residents, but the number nearly tripled quickly.

CHIEF FRANK EDWARDS III, INDEPENDENCE, LOUISIANA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I believe that the corporate management have planned for 350, they, for whatever reason sent in 850 and where they failed is not proactively seeking to move those patients to an appropriate facility.

TODD (voice over): Renata de Rosa's 84-year-old mother made it out, but she suffered for several days with a 103-degree fever.

RENATA DE ROSA, MOTHER EVACUATED IN WAREHOUSE: I can tell she was very upset, but at least I knew she was alive, and if we would have known, it would have been a place like this, I would have took her with me.

TODD (voice over): With no power, generators required to provide patients oxygen failed, and the heat was oppressive. The state says the health department tried to intervene Tuesday when they heard about the deteriorating conditions.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): LDH inspectors visited the site and I will tell you, were expelled from the property and prevented from conducting the full assessment.

TODD (voice over): CNN obtained property records showing Bob Dean owns all seven of the nursing homes, plus the warehouse. Dean has a history of poor disaster management. A local investigation from found he made a similar plan to evacuate residents to a warehouse during Hurricane George in 1998.

MILLER: I would hope that his license for nursing homes is revoked and the outcome that he doesn't get to do this again.

TODD (voice over): The Governor committed to a full investigation, have promised relatives will not let them forget.

[20:25:03] SABRINA COX, AUNT IN NURSING HOME: Why didn't you contact anybody for

help? Let somebody know what was going on. Contact one person. People shouldn't be treated like that. You should be held accountable.


COOPER: Brian, has the owner of these nursing homes, has he talked at all?

TODD: He has spoken to one affiliate, Anderson. We reached out several times today to Bob Dean. He is the owner of all seven of those nursing homes where those patients came from. He is also the owner of this warehouse. We wanted to ask him for any kind of comment and any kind of explanation for what happened here, he did not respond to CNN.

He did however, tell CNN affiliate WVUA that given that they lose -- they would have expected to lose more patients in that period of time with those conditions. He said, quote, "We did really good with taking care of people in this incident." Anderson, it's not a great defense, and this gentleman has a track record of poor maintenance of his nursing homes, so we'll see what happens in this investigation.

COOPER: Wait, he said they did really good? Five people died in the warehouse behind you. I mean, wow.

TODD: Right.

COOPER: Brian, I appreciate it.

TODD: Right. His quote is, "We did really good with taking care of people." Yes.

COOPER: More to learn. Brian Todd, appreciate it.

Coming up, a major new abortion ruling in Texas that could change the landscape.

We will be right back.


COOPER: There is more breaking news tonight. A judge in Texas issuing a narrow, but potentially significant ruling on Texas's new anti- abortion law which the Supreme Court this week declined to block.

Joining us, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who conducted a marathon filibuster back in 2013 to block abortion legislation.

So Jeff, explain what happened and how big a deal this is and what the ruling means?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, a trial court judge in Austin, which is Travis County, Texas, just ruled that Planned Parenthood could not be sued under this new law for at least two weeks. This is a temporary injunction until September 17th. There's going to be a hearing on September 13th.

But unless an appeals court steps in, Planned Parenthood is now insulated from any lawsuits and that that individuals might file to stop them or punish them for conducting abortions after six weeks. This ruling only applies to Planned Parenthood.


So, other institutions, other medical operations, other people who assist women and having abortions could still be sued in this two week period. But at least for these two weeks, Planned Parenthood is safe. Of course, in last, this ruling is overturned by an appeals for.

COOPER: The judge so unclear would other people, you know, under Texas, this, this new law, you know, Uber drivers who drives somebody to a Planned Parenthood, could they be sued?

TOOBIN: That's a little unclear to me, I think, in a broad interpretation of this ruling would be anyone working with Planned Parenthood could not be sued for the next two weeks. Certainly Planned Parenthood cannot be sued. But certainly other institutions that perform abortions or assist women in having abortions, they are still subject to the strictures of this law, even for these next two weeks.

COOPER: Senator Davis, what do you make of this?

WENDY DAVIS, FMR STATE SENATOR (D-TX): So, a little bit of a more narrow, I think, application than Jeff was just talking about. And you know, this literally just came down the pike and so we're all --


DAVIS: -- still trying to understand it. But it appears as though it blocks a particular organization, and its affiliates, Texas, right to live and any one associated or affiliated with it from suing any Planned Parenthood center under this particular law, it's not clear yet that it applies to any third party who might try to sue even Planned Parenthood. So, it's a victory of sorts, it certainly the -- a step in the right direction. And we're so proud of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and their outside counsel for pursuing an aggressive strategy like this. But still a little unclear exactly what the protections are that are going to be provided even for the Planned Parenthood clinics themselves.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin --

TOOBIN: And Anderson --

COOPER: -- that it could be in some other third party could still supine permanent.

TOOBIN: That's unclear to me. I think it is possible that that's one ruling that that this only applies to Texas right to life and people affiliated with what makes it somewhat more complicated is the Texas right to life has been soliciting people to become vigilantes, they have suits, they have solicited people to be bounty hunters to find people, by anyone organizations that are aiding and abetting abortion.

So, you know, that it could be a lot broader than just Texas, right to life, because they are acting, as I understand it, are trying to act as a kind of clearinghouse for people filing lawsuits under this law. I mean, because this law just went into effect on September 1st, I mean, we really don't know how it's going to work. I'm not aware yet of any lawsuits that have been filed, but because the way this works, it's likely some lawsuits will be filed pretty soon against Planned Parenthood someone else.

COOPER: Senator Davis, do you -- I mean, do you envision other provider providers filing these kind of lawsuits like Planned Parenthood did? Or do you think they will kind of wait and see what happens over the next two weeks?

DAVIS: You know, I think this has certainly given them reason to hope and reason to pursue an aggressive strategy as Planned Parenthood has done. I would not be at all surprised to see other abortion providers in Texas pursue a similar strategy, even prior to the outcome in two weeks, which will decide this on a more permanent basis. So time will tell. But we are feeling much more optimistic right now than we were at this point in time yesterday.

COOPER: And Senator what happens in two weeks. Who, who decides this?

DAVIS: So this court again, as Jeffrey was mentioning a moment ago, this is a temporary restraining order for the next two weeks, she will then hear more evidence from both sides and make a decision about whether to permanently enjoin, at least Texas right to light its affiliates, right to life, its affiliates.

And as Jeffrey said, all of the people that they've been recruiting on basically their snitch website, we believe it blocks all of those parties from filing suit, at least for now against Planned Parenthood under SB-8.

COOPER: Jeff, I understand you have a question.


TOOBIN: Well, yes, I guess Senator Davis, the question is, is this just Austin? You know, Austin is a blue island in a red state. Obviously, there are a lot of Democrats in, in the cities in Texas. But are you concerned that this is a court ruling that, you know, in the blue island of Austin, and perhaps some other once it starts getting into the appellate process, which is far more conservative than most people in Austin. Are you concerned about, you know, where, where this may go, in the large in the larger Texas legal system?

DAVIS: No question about that, Jeff, you know, we have, as we have more liberal district court level courts, like in Austin, we also have some more liberal appellate court systems and some more conservative ones. So, this is going to create ultimately a clash, which will I have no doubt make its way to the Texas Supreme Court. And time will tell what that decision will ultimately be.

COOPER: And Senator --

TOOBIN: And it's just -- it's worth pointing out that the Texas Supreme Court, unlike some supreme courts, is an elected Supreme Court. So that means all the members are Republicans. And it's a very conservative court. So, I just think as these moves through the process, Planned Parenthood has a very tough road in the Texas legal system.

COOPER: Senator Davis --

DAVIS: I do but.

COOPER: Go ahead.

DAVIS: I do want to point out one thing that as long as, you know, Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics can stave off the application of this law while we wait, and we still wait for the Fifth Circuit to hold a hearing and make a determination on the constitutionality of the law. Every day, we can keep it from being effective here. While we wait for that to happen as an important and positive and powerful day for Texas women.

COOPER: And Senator Davis, do you have a sense of when the Fifth Circuit might weigh in?

DAVIS: We have no idea. Anderson, they canceled a hearing without any indication of why several days before this law took effect. That's why there was this emergency request to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it is still pending in front of them and at some point they will take it up and have that hearing and make a decision.

COOPER: Well, Senator Davis, Jeff Toobin. I appreciate it both of you. Thanks for the on the breaking news.

Coming up next, President Biden, by all odds has had a pretty tough political month. Coming up, we'll assess the damage and David -- talk to David Axelrod about what may happen moving forward.



COOPER: It would be an understatement to say the last month was a tough one politically for President Biden, today's less than spectacular job numbers were a big disappointment. Only 235,000 jobs were added far less than estimates and what the administration had hoped. Then there's the continuing anger and disappointment over the evacuations from Kabul and the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and the seeming confusion as we outlined earlier in the program of a vaccine booster shots.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows the president is underwater on the overall question of his job approval. 44% approval now compared to 50% back in June.

Joining me, CNN senior political commentator and former top aide to President Obama, David Axelrod.

So David, the Biden campaign really -- well they campaigned on a promise of competence that he would restore sense of calm. Do you think he and his team should be concerned about his ratings at this point?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I'm sure they're concerned, it's been a bad stretch. You know, I, I experienced these kinds of things in the White House, myself when I was there. And, you know, some of these things are out of your control. Afghanistan clearly set him back, even though in this Washington Post poll today, 77% of the people polled supported his overall position that it was time to withdraw from Afghanistan, only 30% on his on the quality of the exit the nature of how we exited.

But, you know, I think a lot of this has to do with COVID. I think they had hoped that they would be this would largely be in their rearview mirror by now. That impacts the economy. You mentioned the job numbers today. Those are a function of what happened with COVID. So, a lot of things that are weighing them down right now. And yes, I think it's a concern, primarily because you've got midterm elections coming up next year. And those are going to be important to him and the party. And, you know, you want some forward momentum going in. But I would point out, we're 12 months -- we're 14 months away from those elections.

And what we tend to do Anderson, and I caution against it is we tend to measure these things in the moment. And we live in a very dynamic process. And so many things will happen between now and then that that could change that dynamic.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, 14 months is a lifetime in the world of politics. And in the world of news, the way it is today. The disapproval was most dramatic with independence, according to Washington Post --


COOPER: -- ABC News poll in June, 43% of independents disapproved the President Biden's job compared to 57% now. It's really, I mean, again, you know, it's a snapshot in time, but in -- this -- in this moment, it would certainly seem to give an opportunity to Republicans.

AXELROD: Yes, look, two weeks ago, NBC had a similar poll and showed a dramatic drop, I think 14 or 15 points, among independents 29 points, by the way, among independents on COVID, which was I thought instructive. But the number that I think will trouble Democrats is among those independents, their congressional preference, in the two months between the NBC polls had shifted from plus 14 Democrat to plus one Republican.

So yes, I think there's a lot of nervousness about this now. I mean, it is the natural state of politicians and Democrats too be nervous. So that's not unusual. There's something -- you know, there's something to be concerned about here and the independent numbers are the ones that I would really focus on because there aren't that many moveable parts in American politics anymore. Yes, he dropped some points among Democrats, but he still has an 86% approval among Democrats. He has virtually no support among Republicans are very little. But that's the nature of our politics. But the independents are the movable blot, he won them in the election by nine points.


And so, it is concerning that he has a 57% disapproval rating among independents right now.

COOPER: We mentioned the new jobs numbers released today for August, were well below what was expected. The unemployment rate did go down. How much do you think the success or failure of the Biden presidency will depend on the economy? Or I mean, normally, it's oh -- you would say it's always but with COVID? I wonder if that's somehow more important.

AXELROD: Well, there's no doubt that that is going to be a big factor. You know, there are a lot of factors lined up against him in these midterm elections. Historically, presidents lose seats in the first midterm after their election. This is a redistricting year and that redistricting will favor Republicans. And he's hoping that he can reverse those trends by passing his major pieces of legislation, this fall on infrastructure and social infrastructure, and that the economy will take off and they'll -- he'll have any left forward momentum going into that midterm election.

But that's speculative at this point. And you know, right now, it doesn't feel very good.

COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, appreciate it. Thanks, David.

AXELROD: Good to see you.

COOPER: Up next, California's Governor Gavin Newsom facing a recall election a little more than 10 days from now. One constituency he thought he could count on whoever's not exactly warming up to him. An explanation when we continue.



COOPER: California Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall election the week after knacks one demographic that has consistently voted for Democrats doesn't seem at this stage all that engaged with Democratic incumbent.

CNN's Kyung Lah has that story.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gary Montana's day as a maintenance technician is so jammed he doesn't have time to care about the upcoming California recall election, a registered independent he carries one overriding feeling about Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. GARY MONTANA, CALIFORNIA REGISTERED INDEPENDENT: It just said that lack of I don't think he really understood like the average person voted you in.

LAH (voice-over): He's most upset about Newsom dining at an exclusive restaurant in the middle of the pandemic while he works.

It is in California's Latino communities where COVID impact was felt the most. Everyone in Montana's family got COVID.

MONTANA: I just saw the lack of leadership feels like. That was to me was like OK, and that's when I thought we needed to recall the Governor.

LAH (voice-over): Latino's make up an estimated 30% of California's voters.

KEVIN DE LEON COUNCILMAN (D-LA): All roads to victory come September 14, are going to lead through every Latino neighborhood in the state of California. Am I right?


LAH (voice-over): He and whether Governor Newsom keeps his job.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Thanks for your help.

LAH (voice-over): Why Democrats are blanketing Spanish language media with ads.


LAH (voice-over): As are the Republican challengers.


LAH (voice-over): With less than two weeks to go to recall election day, the drive is getting the base out to vote.

Progressives have been knocking on doors through the Central Los Angeles neighborhood. While some say this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you heard about the recall?


LAH (voice-over): And there is frustration over the Governor's economic policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're recalling Gavin Newsom, right?


LAH (voice-over): Most we talked to in this predominantly Latino community say they'll vote no on recalling Newsom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most likely will say keep, keep them enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to end up with something worse, something like Donald Trump.

NEWSOM: Thank you, California.

LAH (voice-over): In 2018, 64% of Latinos voted for Newsom, part of a resounding victory sending the Democrats to the Governor's mansion. While the most recent recall poll shows Latinos support keeping Newsom there are questions about whether those voters will even cast a ballot.

LUIS ALVARADO, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sometimes we show up and sometimes we just don't it depends on what the issue is. And sometimes we're the ones who can change the whole paradigm and sometimes we just don't show up and everybody wonders what happens.

LAH (voice-over): One frustrated independent feels so disconnected, he's considering voting Republican.

MONTANA: Yes. I would rather see someone more in touch with the people.


COOPER: What is the latest on high profile National Democrats going to California to try to help Governor Newsom? Is that something they are hoping is going to happen?

LAH: Well, Anderson, you may remember it was a week ago that the Vice President Kamala Harris who was from California, she had to cancel the rally with Governor Newsom because of what was happening Afghanistan. She instead flew back to D.C. So we've been waiting to hear and this weekend marks that arrival National Democrats will be here, Senator Amy Klobuchar on Sunday, Senator Elizabeth Warren tomorrow both will be at rallies, they're going to really try to rally that Democratic base.

And what the Governor is looking for is that extra charge to get people to put their ballots in the mail, because even though all of those Democrats that we talked to Anderson said that they would support the governor, a lot of them had not dropped that ballot in the mail. Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, eight days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Biden has answered the calls of hundreds of family and friends demanding more information about the investigation. Details on that, next.


[20:59:03] COOPER: One week from tomorrow the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And today President Biden signed an executive order directing the Justice Department to conduct declassification of documents related to the FBI's investigation of those terror attacks. They have six months to release the documents. The President has said this fulfills a campaign promise and it's something that families and friends those killed by 9/11 have been demanding. A group more than 1,600 affected by the attacks had asked the President to refrain from visiting Ground Zero next week unless you released more documents and read them hoping for more information about what many of them believe are possible links between Saudi Arabia and those who conducted the attacks.

A programming note to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, CNN is going to air a special report "FRONT ROW TO HISTORY THE 9/11 CLASSROOM," this Sunday. We're visiting that horrific day through the lens of the second grade students, their teacher and White House aides were in the Florida classroom with President Bush, the moment he learned about the second plane hitting the World Trade Center. That's Sunday 10:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.


News continues right now. Let's hand things over to Michael Smerconish, who's in for Chris Cuomo tonight. Michael.