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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

January 6 Committee Subpoenas Former D.O.J. Officials Who Pushed Election Lie; Star Trek's William Shatner Becomes Oldest Person to Reach Space; NIH Study Finds Mix-And-Match Covid-19 Boosters Appear Safe And Create A Strong Immune Response; Americans Divided Almost Equally On How Biden Is Handling His Job As President; Texas Businesses Face Tough Choice After Gov. Abbott Bans Vaccine Mandates; Always A Rocketman. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 20:00   ET


WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: I'm a rocket man.


SHATNER: Rocket man.

CARROLL (voice over): You are indeed a real life Rocket Man.

SHATNER: I think it's going to be a long, long time.

CARROLL (voice over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thanks so much for joining me. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Erin mentioned a bit of this just a moment ago. William Shatner, the man who boldly went where no man his age has gone before is now in the record books after his flight into space, the oldest ever astronaut. Not a five-year mission this time, only 10 minutes, but long enough to, he says, changed his life.


WILLIAM SHATNER, OLDEST MAN IN SPACE: Everybody needs to see it. They will have -- it was unbelievable. Unbelievable. I mean, I know the little thing, the weightlessness, but to see the blue color go whip by and now, you're staring in the blackness, that's the thing. The covering of blue, this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us.

We say, that's a blue sky and there's something you should do -- and all of a sudden, and so you whip off a sheet off your, when you're asleep, and you're looking into blackness -- into black ugliness and you look down and there is the blue down there, and the black up there and it's just -- there is Mother Earth comfort and there is -- is there death? I don't know. Is that death? Is that the way death is? Whoop, and it is gone. Jesus.


COOPER: More on that journey shortly. Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us.

We begin though with breaking news and a countdown perhaps to answers or if answers aren't forthcoming, to consequences, again, perhaps. The breaking news, another big subpoena from the House Select Committee on January 6. It's for Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department official whom the President wanted to make acting Attorney General as part of his scheme to overturn the election.

The countdown concerns former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon and former Pentagon official Kash Patel both scheduled to give depositions to the committee tomorrow. Bannon so far has refused to cooperate. The committee has threatened to bring criminal contempt charges if he and others won't.

Former Trump tweeter Dan Scavino and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows face a similar deadline Friday. Question remains, what will the committee do if they don't get cooperation? For days now, members have been talking tough. Here's Adam Schiff on CNN late today.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not willing to allow them to play rope- a-dope in the civil courts that way. That's why we're going to go straight to criminal contempt and expect the Justice Department unlike the last one to uphold the principle that no one is above the law, one no one gets to say, I'm not going to comply with a subpoena because I don't want to and there's nothing you could do about it.

In fact, there is something that can be done about it. And they can be prosecuted, they can go to jail over it.


COOPER: The former President as you know has been telling Bannon and company not to cooperate with the Committee.

As for who is counseling him, CNN has learned that a number of his former big name lawyers are choosing to sit this one out. According to sources familiar with his legal effort, some consider him toxic for trying to overturn the election. Others according to several people familiar with conservative legal circles are worried that he'll stiff them, not pay them.

In a statement regarding four attorneys who recently turned him down, the former President says he didn't even know who they are. He added, quote: "I do pay my lawyers when they do a good job," all but admitting he tries to stiff them when in his eyes, they don't.

We're joined now by CNN's Kaitlan Collins with breaking news on his effort to keep his documents away from the Committee and the current President's decision to waive executive privilege. So what's the latest -- Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a request that the former President has made, about 40 to 50 documents that the January 6 Committee has said that they'd like to see. Documents related to the White House on that day that they believe will help their investigation. And current President Biden and this White House have now said that they are not going to be asserting privilege over these documents.

And Anderson, they've made that formal in a letter that was just released by the White House today. It was submitted on Friday to the National Archives saying that they will not be asserting executive privilege over these documents that the former President wants to keep out of the hands of lawmakers.

Now, we don't know exactly what's in these documents or why the former President wants to keep them away from the Committee that's investigating what happened on January 6th, but we know that that is not an option anymore when it comes to this White House because the President himself and the White House Counsel have reviewed these documents.

They said they don't feel it is justified in asserting privilege over those documents, which would not let the lawmaker see them, and Anderson, the new thing that is in this letter tonight that was released by the White House is there is now a countdown on this.

Because in this letter, the President is instructing the National Archives, given the urgency of this investigation to release these documents within 30 days of letting former President Trump know, of course, that key line is the one right there where it says, "absent any intervening court order," which of course, is something this White House is expecting potentially from the former President.


COOPER: All right, Kaitlan, appreciate it.

Joining us now with more on the Capitol Hill, on that end of the story, CNN's Ryan Nobles. So what more do we know about the subpoena for Jeffrey Clark, the former Department of Justice official? And is there any indication yet he is going to cooperate with the Committee?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reason that the Select Committee needed to take this step of issuing a subpoena, Anderson, is because they could not get Clark to cooperate. They had been in negotiations with he and his lawyer for several weeks, attempting to negotiate some opportunity for him to hand over the information that they were looking for, and he was just dragging his feet and they decided they needed to take the serious step of requiring a subpoena to compel him to cooperate with their Committee.

And in their letter to Clark today, they wrote, quote: "The Select Committee's investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice and efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power." And this is of course, important, you'll remember that Clark was a high-ranking D.O.J. official between Election Day and January 6th, who was trying to convince many of the high-level officials in the Justice Department to investigate these false claims of election fraud.

One of the people he was trying to convince was the then acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen, of course, rebuffed those claims, would not act on them. Interestingly enough, Anderson, we learned today that Rosen have voluntarily cooperated with the Committee today. He was interviewed for more than eight hours behind closed doors, a sign that he is giving them the information they're looking for.

COOPER: In terms of the subpoena deadlines for other Trump aides this week, where do things stand?

NOBLES: Well, right now everything is up in the air because the Committee just does not know what to expect in terms of the level of cooperation that they'll get with this round of private depositions scheduled to take place tomorrow and Friday.

But the Committee has made it clear, if any of these four individuals does not comply, they are ready to take the step of criminal contempt, and that could come quickly perhaps even as soon as tomorrow night if someone like Steve Bannon, for instance, does not show up or just outright defies their request.

Now, each one of these four individuals is either not cooperating or cooperating on different levels, so it is important that we need to look at each one on its own merits. But right now, the Committee has made it clear, they are not going to wait around to move to criminal contempt if they feel it is necessary -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thanks.

For more now on what happens if and when the Committee tries to impose consequences for non-compliance, we are joined by CNN contributor Garrett Graff, also CNN senior legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

So Elie, I want to ask you about those subpoenas in a minute. But just regarding the news from Kaitlan Collins that the White House formally rejected the former President's request to assert executive privilege, the clock has started now on 30 days to release these documents, absent an intervening court order.

Do you think this will ultimately end up with a legal fight?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I do think it will, Anderson. This move by the Biden administration puts Donald Trump in a very tough spot. Now Trump has two options. One, he can do nothing and let it be, which means 30 days from now, those documents go over to the Committee, or two, Trump can go to court and ask a court to block those documents from going over. But that's a serious uphill climb legally, because we don't have a definitive answer in the law, but it is fairly clear that while a former President can have some say in executive privilege, generally speaking, it's the current President who gets to decide. That makes sense. We've actually seen Barack Obama and George W. Bush exercise or not exercise executive privilege on behalf of their predecessor.

So Trump has got a serious uphill climb. It seems the real object here, Anderson, is to get it into the courts and delay and we've seen courts take months even years to resolve these disputes in the past. Courts need to do better, they need to do it quicker. They need to prioritize if these cases land before them so they don't drag on forever.

COOPER: Garrett, how big a deal is this? I mean, if the Committee does in fact get the documents in 30 days, it could include call logs from January 6, schedules, meetings with top officials, outside advisers, including Rudy Giuliani. How significant might it be?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could be quite significant because what we're beginning to see sort of across the actions of the January 6th Committee over the last week or so is the move to examine the root causes of that insurrection of the Capitol on January 6th, and to understand effectively the permission structure that was created for the rioters to participate that day.

You know, the Justice Department has done a Herculean job bringing, you know, 600-plus criminal charges against defendants who participated in the riot and the insurrection itself. But we haven't actually begun to see consequences for the people who enabled it, who incited, and who created the mass of disinformation and attempts to actually overthrow the government at the upper levels. And it's important that those people face consequences and as Elie says, face consequences quickly.


COOPER: Elie, how significant is the subpoena for Jeffrey Clark? He has worked at the Department of Justice. He then was helping then President Trump in his efforts to overturn the election, and there was this meeting today with former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to the investigation.

HONIG: Anderson, D.O.J. is a central part of the big picture here and it is enormously significant that Jeffrey Rosen went in today because the single most valuable weapon Donald Trump could have had, the most potent weapon in trying to overthrow this election was D.O.J. and thankfully, Jeffrey Rosen and other leaders at D.O.J. stood up and said no, and it's significant that he testified for eight hours. That's a long time for one witness.

Jeffrey Clark has some serious problems now. One, the committee is trying to compel him to testify as they should because Jeffrey Clark tried to commit a fraud. He drafted a letter saying the D.O.J. has identified concerns about election fraud in Georgia. That's just false. And so Jeffrey Clark needs to think about potential criminal exposure here, too, committing a fraud is a crime. Conspiracy is a crime. Election interference is a crime. He has the right to take the fifth, he might be well advised to do that here.

COOPER: Garrett, you've watched the rise and fall of Steve Bannon. His attorney said he'll not cooperate arguing that he's bound by quote, "executive privileges" belonging to President Trump. It's obvious, you know, it's dubious because the former President is not the sitting President, and Bannon was not a White House official in January.

He was actually, you know, already -- he was actually charged with something -- with fraud -- which the President then pardoned him for. What do you think Bannon's endgame is here?

GRAFF: I think we mentioned in the intro to the segment that the goal here in almost all cases is to delay. The hope is that they are able to run out the clock on these investigations, run out the clock on the prosecutions, and basically get into the midterms where potentially the Republicans can take control of Congress and make this whole thing go away.

COOPER: Elie, all signs are pointing to the committee moving toward criminal contempt charge if Bannon doesn't show up for the deposition tomorrow. How likely is it that Merrick Garland's Justice Department would approve a criminal contempt charge?

HONIG: Yes, a big decision coming from Merrick Garland and notably, Anderson, Adam Schiff has been all over the place putting pressure on Merrick Garland. He said on our air here on CNN multiple times. The reason we couldn't do this in the past is because we had Bill Barr and the Trump D.O.J. Well, now we have a new person.

This will be Garland's decision. On the one hand, how could he not bring charges? It is a Federal crime to commit contempt of Congress. On the other hand, the history here is actually against charging these cases. Nobody has been charged with this criminally in over 50 years. And even over the last decade, D.O.J. under both parties has declined to bring these criminal prosecutions. The question is, will Merrick Garland recognize that we're now in unprecedented territory and do what he has to do to impose some accountability here.

COOPER: Garrett Graff and Elie Honig, appreciate it. Thanks.

Coming up next, William Shatner's flight, more of his moving thoughts on it and some thoughts from Neil deGrasse Tyson as well.

And later, new research on a different kind of booster showing the benefits of getting a Pfizer or Moderna COVID booster if you initially got the Johnson & Johnson shot. Why mix and match could be better, ahead on 360.


[20:17:19] COOPER: The most fun that I've had recently was talking to William Shatner ahead of his flight aboard Jeff Bezos's New Shepard spacecraft. As you might imagine, it was nothing compared to the fun he had today.


ANNOUNCER: Two, one --


COOPER: With the Blue Origin rocket powering away, Shatner and three crewmates went soaring into space on a suborbital flight. And for him, at age 90, for the record books is the oldest person ever to make that journey.

For three of the flights 10 short minute, Shatner and company got to experience the weight of the world literally falling away. Something most of us can only dream of. On the USS Enterprise, as you know, gravity was simulated making its five-year mission a lot less fun, perhaps just a bit less moving than the real thing because as much as "Star Trek" might have changed William Shatner's career, he says this experience changed his life.

He spoke for a while when he left the capsule today, and it was an amazing thing to see in here. Here's a good bit of it.


SHATNER: Jesus. It was so moving to me. This experience. It's something unbelievable. You see, yes, you know, weightless -- my stomach went up. This is so weird. But not as weird as the covering of blue. This is what I've never expected. Oh, it's one thing to say, oh, the sky and the thing, fragile -- it is all true. But what isn't true? What is unknown? I tried to do it -- is this purity. There is this soft blue.

Look at the beauty of that color, and it is so thin. And you're through it in an instant. It's one of -- I think -- is it a mile? Two miles?

JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, BLUE ORIGIN: No, I mean, maybe -- it depends how you measure because it thins out, but maybe 50 miles.

SHATNER: But you're going 2,000 miles an hour, so you're 50 miles, whatever the mathematics was.

BEZOS: Fast. Yes, really fast.

SHATNER: It's like a beep and a beep and suddenly you're through the blue, and you're into black. And you're into -- you know, its rough, mysterious, and galaxies and things. But what you see is black, and what you see down there is light, and that's the difference.

And not to have this? You have done something. I mean, whatever those other guys are doing, what isn't -- they don't -- I don't know about that. What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just -- it's extraordinary. Extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it.

It's so -- it is so much larger than me, of life, and it hasn't got anything to do with a little green or the blue or the -- it has to do with the blue thing, it has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death, oh, my God.

BEZOS: It's so beautiful.


SHATNER: Beautiful, yes, beautiful in its way, but --

BEZOS: No, I mean, your words.

SHATNER: Oh my word.

BEZOS: It's just amazing.

SHATNER: I don't know, I can't even begin to express what I -- what I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible the jeopardy, the moment you see how -- the vulnerability of everything, it is so small. This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin. It is a sliver -- it's immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe.


COOPER: William Shatner today experienced clearly exceeding expectations certainly he had one we spoke just last week.


SHATNER: I'm looking forward to the whole thing. I've been there -- I was there last week rehearsing whatever they call it.

COOPER: Training I think is what they call it, but you know rehearsing works.

SHATNER: Oh, training. I think of it as rehearsal. I want to go warp speed. Take me to warp speed and they say what? And the weightlessness? Absolutely is entrancing.


SHATNER: I mean imagine being weightless and you're thin enough, but I'm not -- imagine being weightless and staring into that blackness and seeing the Earth and that's what I want to absorb. That's what I want to see firsthand.

COOPER: It goes by fast though, you know, because they -- on their flight, on Bezos's flight, you know they were throwing Skittles at each other and catching and stuff, and it looked like a lot of fun. I think I'd be -- I mean, I wouldn't want to be staring out the window the whole time while offloading.

SHATNER: Glued -- I want to press my nose up against the plastic window. What I don't want to see is somebody else out there looking back at me. No, no, we don't want that one.

COOPER: Oh my God, that's really funny.

SHATNER: Wouldn't that be funny?


COOPER: It turned out to be a whole lot more than that. Perspective now -- oh, by the way, we're going to talk to William Shatner on Friday on "Full Circle." I hope you'll join us for that. It is our digital show.

Perspective from someone who is well acquainted with the cosmos. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist from the American Museum of Natural History and author of "A Brief Welcome to the Universe: A Pocket Sized Tour."

Neil, you know, William Shatner. I saw the picture he tweeted today, both of you. You wrote: "Godspeed," and that he's going to reach Mach 3 on his ascent. He said it was a very small percentage of warp factor one, which just shows you are a nerd as well as I am.

So I'm wondering when you saw his reaction to it, he was clearly moved. What do you think?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Yes, I think we need more people who are not traditional astronauts to go into space because then you'll see a much greater range of reactions. Yes, and actors who played roles in space and poets, send musicians, send journalists and people who, when they come back, they can infuse civilization with what -- whatever way space has influenced them, which then filters back into life for everyone.

And so I was delighted to see him take this voyage.

COOPER: I want to see Amanda Gorman going to space and coming back with some sort of poem that's -- you know, amazing.

TYSON: Yes, yes, and I think we're missing a big part of what civilization could say about being in space. Space should not be the perch of the privileged few or the privileged billionaires. And I see over the coming years, that right now, we are bearing witness to the birth of an entire economy, an entire industry.

I mean, imagine a hundred years ago, you're watching people fiddle over their aeroplanes, trying to turn them into something that can carry more than just one passenger. And I feel the same way like we're witnessing the birth of an entire new marketplace.

COOPER: The thing that interests me about what Jeff Bezos is doing with Blue Origin is this notion he has of building an infrastructure for space, and I've heard him talk about this, you know, he said that, you know, he could build Amazon because the Postal Service already existed, FedEx already existed.

There was an infrastructure and he says, you know if some really smart kid in a dorm room somewhere in a college campus right now has an amazing idea to do something in space, without an infrastructure, you can't really do it at this stage. And that he hopes to be part of building that infrastructure, which I think is -- I mean, if that is actually what he's doing, I think that's a really fascinating concept.


TYSON: I mean, that's part of the birth of a new entity. By the way, Elon Musk knew this with his electric cars. You can't give electric cars to everybody if you can't charge them en route to where you're going.

So there are now more than 40,000 electric car charging stations across the country in the United States. By the way, the same happened with internal combustion engine cars. You can't have people buying cars unless there were roads, and you can't have you know, roads with distance on them, unless there are places you can refill.

So, he is exactly right. For space to become our next frontier, to boldly go -- it's not the final frontier, it's just the next frontier -- you need all the rest of that infrastructure and that could take time. I would say decades, not centuries, for sure.

COOPER: I've got to know, would you want to go on Blue Origin or any spaceflight?

TYSON: Well, so I am an astrophysicist. And so you know, I do the math. And you know, how high up does Blue Origin go relative to a schoolroom globe? It goes the thickness of two dimes above.

And so for me, and then you're boldly going where hundreds have gone before. So for me, I would -- I would get on a spaceship if you're going to take me somewhere -- the moon, Mars, or beyond. Then there's a destination and that's what I'd want.

COOPER: Just very briefly before we go, all these unidentified craft that have been seen. Where do you stand on this?

TYSON: Well, it's not a matter of stance. I've said this before, just look at -- by the way, there are three billion smartphones in the world and each one can take a high resolution color, video, or still picture, and the best evidence we're looking at is monochromatic fuzzy tic-tacs on a Navy screen? Really?

We are crowdsourcing any visitor to Earth. I'm just -- I am looking for better data than that.

COOPER: But I mean, the pilots. I've interviewed one of the pilots, they seem completely credible and the things they saw are crazy.

TYSON: I am not saying people aren't credible. As a scientist, you know what the criteria is? Are they human? That's all that matters. If you're a human, and you see something astonishing, sure. You hear them speak of it, and they are pilots and they're used to seeing bogeys and yes, they'll be astonished. That doesn't mean they know what it is.

Just because you don't know what it is doesn't mean you know what it is.

COOPER: All right.

TYSON: That's what you're saying. And by the way, I think when the aliens come, you don't need fuzzy video to be pointing to them. We'll all know, okay, I am just telling you.

COOPER: Neil deGrasse Tyson, I appreciate it. Thank you.

TYSON: All right.

COOPER: There's breaking news involving COVID booster shots. A new study shows it's not only okay to mix and match vaccines, it might actually be better.

We'll break it down with CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, next.



COOPER: A new study from the National Institutes of Health found not only is it safe for people to get a COVID-19 booster different from the vaccine they initially received. But in some cases, it could actually be better for those who initially got the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a boost from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines seem to provide a stronger antibody response. People initially got the Pfizer and Moderna shot seemed to have a comparable response with any booster. The results of the study have not yet been peer reviewed or published, but are expected to be discussed during meeting the FDAs vaccine advisors on Friday.

Joining us to try to make sense of it, Dr. Leana Wen, A CNN medical analyst and the author of the book Lifelines Of Doctors Journey In The Fight For Public Health.

So, what were some of your takeaway, or least initial takeaways from this NIH study, again, not peer reviewed?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Anderson, this is really significant. And I think a lot of people have been waiting for the study to find out, do they have to take a booster that's the same brand as what they got initially. And so, let's take a look at the study. So this is a study that's relatively small, 458 participants, they broke the group's down into nine groups. And that's because they are three groups of individuals who got the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That's three groups who then got the same booster as they got of the initial vaccine, then they have six additional groups of people who got a different brand than what they got initially.

The most important takeaways are two things. One, is that all of these different nine combinations are safe, as in there are no new or different side effects. So all of these appear to be safe. And then the second big takeaway is that all of these combinations induce a pretty strong robust antibody response. So that actually justifies the mix and match approach, which I hope is something that the FDA and CDC will endorse in their meeting this week.

COOPER: So as you mentioned that the study also shows that people who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine got a much higher response after Moderna or Pfizer booster and if they receive a J&J booster. So, just -- can you walk us through what that -- what it shows?

WEN: Right. So, up until this point, the 15 million Americans who got the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine really have not gotten any guidance at all. What this study found is that the people who got a second dose of Johnson & Johnson had a four fold increase in the neutralizing antibody response. That's very good. But people who got a second dose that's a Pfizer vaccine had a 35 times the level of neutralizing antibody increased and who got Moderna had a 76 fold increase.

And so, I think there are a lot of people who got the J&J vaccine for now and going to be wondering, should I get the second dose that's something different than J&J? And again, I know, that's something that the FDA and CDC will be discussing in detail, but this study certainly points in that direction.

COOPER: So you were part of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. Seeing this study, would you be getting or will you be getting a booster and is it possible all those who received J&J could be eligible for one in the future just simply based on those numbers?

WEN: Well, I think there have already been a lot of studies that have shown that people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not as well protected as those who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. And so, I had already decided that I was going to get a booster I've not done so yet. But I've also decided that I am not going to get a second dose of the J&J vaccine, and that's because of another reason which is that for women under the age of 50, there is a very rare but very serious side effects that's been associated with the J&J vaccine of a rare, but again, very serious blood clotting disorder.


And so, I think I was already based on the data and from other countries for AstraZeneca, which is similar to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I was already going to say, it would be reasonable to get a Pfizer or Moderna booster instead of a second J&J booster. But looking at these mix and match results from the NIH today, I mean, even more inclined to get to the -- a Moderna or Pfizer booster, because not only is it safe, it appears to be even more effective.

COOPER: Yes, I just want to put that that last screen back up. I mean, it's remarkable if you got if you have J&J. And then you decide to get another J&J as a booster. It's fourth -- it benefits it's a four times improvement. But if you get the Moderna, it's 76 times improvement, Pfizer 35. I mean, that's incredible.

WEN: Right. And to be fair, antibody response is not the only measure of immune protection. You also have B-cells and T-cells that are involved in immune response. And the studies have not looked at effectiveness as in they're not looking -- they're looking at how much do your antibodies increase, but not how well protected you are against COVID-19.

So, it's not like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are many, many more times more effective, but you do get this very strong antibody response, because antibody response is a correlate of immunity. I think it does, it should give people a lot of pause, at least you consider getting a second dose for people who got the Johnson & Johnson initial vaccine.

COOPER: Dr. Leana Wen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still ahead, new CNN polling revealing how Americans feel about the job President Biden is doing and what that could mean for some key governor races coming down the pike as well as midterms. We'll be right back.



COOPER: New CNN polling out tonight shows Americans are divided almost equally over how President Biden is doing his job. In the new poll, 50% approve while 49% disapprove of how Mr. Biden is handling his presidency. It's largely unchanged from a CNN poll conducted in August and September.

Senior data reporter Harry Enten joins us now. So, when you look at the new polling, what do you make of it? And what might it tell us about races in New Jersey and Virginia coming up?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'm confused. I know that might be surprising for me to say, but I'm confused. And here's why. We have this all this new slew of polling right, we have the CNN/SSRS poll, we have a CBS News/Yougov poll, which pretty much agrees, right that Biden's approval ratings at 50%. But if you average all of the polls, not just those two polls, what you see is that Biden's approval rating is it just 45% and his disapproval rating is six points higher. So that creates a net of minus six. You can see there's a bunch of different polling there. It's giving you essentially different results.

Why is that important? Because take a look at last year's presidential results in Virginia, New Jersey versus the nation, what do you see? You see that Virginia and New Jersey are significantly more Democratic than the United States. So if let's say the CNN/SSRS poll is right, and Biden's net approval rating is essentially even or plus one, there's basically no shot that the Democrats lose in those two governor's races in either Virginia and New Jersey. But if in fact the other polling is right, and let's say Biden's underwater, then especially in Virginia, Democrats might be in a bit of trouble.

COOPER: So as always be aware of polling. ENTEN: Yes, as always be aware of polling, be aware of outliers, average, average, average. And look, take the widest margin of error you possibly can, because in that particular case, I can never be wrong.

COOPER: There's also insight into how Americans feel about the infrastructure and larger social spending bills hung up in Congress right now. What can you tell about the differences?

ENTEN: Yes, look, here's the bottom line, the Democrats have to pass something if they want to satisfy their own voters. And here's essentially why, if you look at the polling, what you essentially see is that look, enact all of it, right, enact the whole big package to $3.5 trillion. Look at that, 75% of Democrats like that, 20% of Democrats say, you know what, enact fewer proposals for less cost, but only 4% say, enact nothing. So you got to enact something, if you're the Democrats, you want to satisfy your own voters, even among the electorate, at large. Look, exact nothing is just at 29%.

Now, why is that important looking forward to both Virginia and New Jersey? Here's the reason why Democratic voters seem less motivated this particular point than Republicans are, because look at the likely voters in Virginia, plus three Terry McAuliffe that is a much smaller lead than among registered voters where it's plus six. Even in New Jersey, look at that you actually have a pretty competitive race. If you just look at the voters who have voted in each of the last few elections versus among all registered voters, it's plus 13 Murphy.

So essentially, you want to make sure those Democrats right now who aren't that enthusiastic, get off the bench. And the way to do that is actually to, let's say, pass legislation that Democratic voters like.

COOPER: Historically to the races, these races tell us much about what's going to happen in midterms.

ENTEN: Yes, especially in Virginia. Look, if you look back, and if you go all the way back to the late '70s, long before I was born, although I believe you were alive at that particular point.


ENTEN: What do you see is --

COOPER: You hurt me Harry.

ENTEN: I might have hurt you a little bit. But the base and bottom line is, the bottom line is that eight out of the last 11 times the winner in the Virginia gubernatorial race, right, that side wins House seats, gains House seats in the next midterm. So yes, I'll be looking at Virginia and especially if it's close, look, the bottom line of Virginia is it's such a Democratic state. So if that race is close, that's bad sign for Democrats. They want Terry McAuliffe not just to win, but win by a fairly large margin if in fact they want to be in a good position looking forward to next year.

COOPER: What year were you born Harry Enten? ENTEN: I'm sorry, I do not give that away. Somewhere between 25 and 34 years old, you know, I click that on the polling dial.


ENTEN: But I'll say this, my father was born in 1927. And he was I was born when he was in his '60s. So that I think gives you an understanding --


ENTEN: -- both into my personality and why I kind of sound like an old Jew. But also into my actual age.

COOPER: A lot to chew on Harry Enten, thank you. Appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thank you. I got to get home and fix the flooding in my apartment.

COOPER: There would be a shonda (ph) if you didn't.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you. Up next, the tough spot Texas Governor Greg Abbott is putting businesses in his state in over -- and over his ban on vaccine mandates. See why an attorney for Texas's largest counties as the business has should sue the governor?



COOPER: Texas businesses are facing a tough choice after Republican Governor Greg Abbott this week banned vaccine mandates in the state including private businesses. The move is aimed at President Biden's vaccine requirement for companies doing business with the government among others. Texas businesses now must decide who to comply with already Southwest and American Airlines both based in Texas have said elevate the federal mandate.

Christian Menefee, attorney for the largest county in the state Harris County, says the governor's -- Governor Abbott move put lives at risk. He's calling Texans to take legal action against the governor. And if he said in a statement on Tuesday, this is mostly a political bluster designed to create confusion and subject businesses to burdensome lawsuits which can only slow down or economic recovery. I encourage Texas business owners who believe in science and the rule of law to sue Governor Abbott and join Harris County and other cities and school districts fighting back against his overreach.

Christian Menefee joins us now. Mr. Menefee, thanks so much for being with us. Can you explain what why you're encouraging businesses to sue over this ban?

CHRISTIAN MENEFEE, ATTORNEY, HARRIS COUNTY TX: Thank you, Anderson. I'm happy to be here. This is not our first rodeo with Governor Abbott exceeding his legal authority and issuing these bans. He issued a ban on mask mandates right on the cusp of schools opening back up in the state of Texas. School districts were prohibited from issuing mask mandates, local governments were prohibited from doing the same.


And so, what we've seen is that the governor is not going to respect the people, he's not going to respect the law, which is very limited and when he can issue executive orders. But one thing is going to have to respect is the world of courts. And so, I'm calling on Texas business owners to file these lawsuits because that's exactly what we did in local government. When the governor previously issued these bans on various measures to stop the spread of COVID, we filed lawsuits, school district filed lawsuits, cities across the state filed lawsuits, and I think it's time for businesses to get into the game as well.

COOPER: Are you planning on bringing legal action on this ban on vaccine mandates?

MENEFEE: Well, the good news is our pending lawsuit against the governor and the attorney general right now already addresses the overreaching question, which is does the governor have the legal authority under Texas Disaster Act to issue these executive orders? If the Texas Supreme Court finds that the answer is no, and we hope that they will, then it means that none of these executive orders that he's using to tie the hands of local officials and businesses have any legal merit. And so, we're confident that with the lawsuit that we have in place right now we'll be able to get these questions answered by the courts.

COOPER: It seems because back in August spokesmen for a spokesperson for Governor Abbott and said the businesses did have the option for mandating vaccines because and I'm quoting, private businesses don't need government running their business. What's changed between then and now for the governor do you think?

MENEFEE: Well (INAUDIBLE) and that's that he has gotten to high profile primary opponents in his race for re-election. This is an ongoing pandemic, people are dying across the state. Texas is second in the nation and deaths from COVID-19. This is a very serious matter, we shouldn't be playing politics with it. But the only thing that's changed between now and the time period that the governor made that statement is that he has primary opponents who are pulling them to the right, he's now trying to push a message to a very small and specific base in the state of Texas that are against various measures to keep folks safe during COVID-19. It's wrong.

Local governments are doing everything we can as our school districts. And there are many businesses across the state who are seeking to do the exact same thing, there's already been statements released by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, by the local business organization in Houston. And nobody's in support of this, and it's pretty obvious that the governor is doing it for political reasons.

COOPER: What -- I mean businesses that decide to follow the president, the federal government mandate, as opposed to the -- what the governor wants, could they potentially face financial penalties for defying the state?

MENEFEE: Absolutely. And that's what makes the governor's order so nonsense is it purports to ban any entity in the state of Texas formation any type of vaccine mandates. Well, we know that there are entities in Texas that comprise 100% of federal employees. We know that there are entities including nursing homes that have to get federal dollars in order to do so they have to comply with federal rules. That's exactly what this order was intended to do Anderson. It was intended to confuse businesses so that they don't know whether they should follow the federal rules or the state rules.

But it's not good policy. It's not good leadership, especially at a time like this when we're dealing with pandemic.

COOPER: When you expecting your lawsuit to be ruled on?

MENEFEE: Well, we originally teed this up for the Texas Supreme Court months ago because we were trying to get an order before school started. But they have since put it on the issue and it was cast back down to lower courts. We're now in the appellate courts here in the state and many of these cases we expect will be before the state Supreme Court in the next few weeks.

And we're hopeful that with counties across the state, cities across the state, parent groups, student groups and school districts all banding together to fight against the governor's overreach that the courts are going to do the right thing and ran the governor in.

COOPER: Christian Menefee, appreciate your time. Thanks.

MENEFEE: Thank you Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, why William Shatner was and always will be a rocket man.



COOPER: Any hour that sourcing ends with William Shatner is a good one we think these days, so the end of the day that saw him rocket into space. Here's his rendition way back when of Elton John's Rocket Man.


WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: She packed my bags last night pre flight, zero hour, 9:00 a.m. and I'm going to be high as a kite by then. Oh, miss the earth so much. I miss my wife slowly (INAUDIBLE).

I think it's going to be a long, long time. So touchdown brings me around again to find, I'm not the man. I think I am at home. Oh, no, no, no. I'm a rocket man. Rocketman burning out his fuse up here alone. I think it's going to be a long, long time. Till touchdown brings me around again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home. Oh no, no, no, I am a rocket man. Rocket man. Burning out his fuse up here alone.

And I think it's going to be a long, long time. And I think it's going to be a long, long time. And I think it's going to be long, long time. And I think it's going to be a long, long time. And I think it's going to be long, long time.



COOPER: Saturn Awards 1978. What can I say.

The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.