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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

VP Harris Campaigns For McAuliffe In Virginia; Republican Rep. Kinzinger, Trump Critic, Will Not Seek Re-Election For House Seat; Warm Relationship Between The World's Most Powerful Catholics On Display As Biden And Pope Francis Meet; FDA Authorizes Pfizer's Covid Vaccine For Children 5 To 11 For Emergency Use; Covid Misinformation & Conspiracy Theories Causing Rifts In Relationships And In Some Cases Divorce; Meet The Top 10 CNN Heroes Of 2021. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 29, 2021 - 20:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: But in the meantime, she'll be free to spread misinformation?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she is and here's the big issue there, she is also still a licensed medical doctor here in California and that gives, you know undeserved credence to what she says, and let's not forget, President Trump was a fan. He retweeted some of her nonsense.

HARLOW: Right. That's how a lot of people saw it. Nick Watt, thank you for staying on this.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. AC 360 is now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: You could be able to get your kids vaccinated against COVID as early as next week. John Berman here in for Anderson.

The F.D.A. has just approved Pfizer shot for children five through 11 years old. Pending C.D.C. approval next week, parents could soon have a decision to make and we've got an expert standing by with answers.

Also the Virginia governor's race with potentially massive national implications, a dead heat between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. The former governor versus the uneasy recipient of a Trump endorsement with the former President, a wildcard in the wings. This as security ratchets up in Northern Virginia with warnings from Federal authorities about a possible terror plot. More on that breaking news shortly.

First, CNN's Arlette Saenz in Norfolk where Vice President Harris just finished speaking at a McAuliffe rally. Arlette, what's the state of play tonight? What did the Vice President have to say?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, four days out and it appears to be anyone's race as most recent polls have shown a tight competition between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe, which has caused some anxiety among some Democrats in Virginia after President Biden won here by 10 points just one year ago. Now, McAuliffe brought in a heavy hitter tonight campaigning with Vice

President Kamala Harris, who talked about the national implications of this race. Take a listen.


KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, you all know that every four years when this election happens for Governor of Virginia, it's a tight election. It's a close election. And it is a bellwether for what happens in the rest of the country.

What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022 and 2024 and on.


SAENZ: Now, McAuliffe really also ramped up the pressure on Glenn Youngkin tonight, and what's particularly interesting also about Virginia is that typically, this race goes to the party that is not in power in Washington, one exception being Terry McAuliffe in 2013. He is trying to make that happen once again this year.

BERMAN: Arlette Saenz, what is Glenn Youngkin's closing message in this race as it heads into its final days?

SAENZ: Well, Glenn Youngkin spent the day across Virginia campaigning today and really leaned into a lot of the issues that he has been talking about, things like education and taxes.

One issue that Glenn Youngkin is trying to stay away from though is former President Donald Trump. We've seen Democrats really trying to tie Youngkin to Donald Trump throughout this campaign. Trump has even signaled that he might be calling into Election Eve tell the rally with a conservative radio host.

Now Youngkin insists that he is not coming here to Virginia. And for the most part, he is really trying to stay away from talking about Trump, trying to avoid that nationalization of this race that Democrats have tried to tie him to as they're trying to connect him with the former President.

BERMAN: Arlette Saenz for us in Norfolk. Arlette, thank you very much.

Here now to talk more about this race, and especially its significance being attached to it by Democrats for what it could foretell about next year's midterms, CNN political commentator -- senior political commentator, David Axelrod. Also, with us, CNN political analyst and AXIOS Managing Editor, Margaret Talev.

David, I have to say, it's pretty stark to hear the Vice President of the United States go to Norfolk and say, what happens here next week will largely determine what happens in 2022 and 2024. That's laying it all out there. That's not playing coy.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It really is. Yes, I hope someone told her that this was being videotaped because that tape is going to be played again and again and again next Wednesday if this doesn't work out for Terry McAuliffe.

But you know, John, this is a -- this has become -- this is a very close election. It's become a turnout election, and the challenge for the incumbent party in every one of these kind of off-off year elections is how do you motivate your base and that's what she was trying to do. She was trying to raise the stakes and get across to people that it is absolutely imperative.

Look, there are more Democrats than Republicans in Virginia. Now, a separate problem is Youngkin is winning, if you look at "The Washington Post" poll today, Youngkin is winning Independents by a large margin. Joe Biden carried them by a similar margin, it was 18 points in 2020. That's a separate issue.


She is trying to get Democrats to come out and vote on the theory that Republicans may be more motivated. So yes, she is invoking the stakes but there's a downside to it. Because if you say this is going to tell us what's going to happen in '22 and '24, if the results come back badly on Tuesday, well, you've written the story.

BERMAN: Fact is Margaret, President Biden won this state by 10 points. What does it say about the political environment that it is neck and neck?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, it's so true, how you go from a 10-point margin of victory to a dead heat says a lot about the fact that Joe Biden is the President now and guess what? There is still a pandemic and the economy is in bad shape, and Democrats haven't passed their infrastructure plan.

And, you know, the pandemic didn't help Donald Trump in his final months as president and now the enduring pandemic isn't helping Joe Biden. He is underwater. McAuliffe feels like that's pulling him down.

There's a couple of groups that are going to be really, really important when we talk about turnout on Tuesday. One is black voters. That's why you see Kamala Harris campaigning, the Democrats are bringing in Jim Clyburn to see if he can play the closer role the same way he helped Joe Biden in the presidential election. But it's also white suburban women, are they going to turn out and who are they going to vote for?

And so it's these sort of dual turnout and messaging initiatives in the closing days that are going to be really, really important for Terry McAuliffe. And you know, Youngkin is this interesting figure. He kind of has the Mitt Romney vibe, and he is keeping a distance from Trump kind of, according to Trump voters and throwing out a lot of chum in the water about transgender issues, and like, you know, all this sort of cultural stuff.

You know, he's really a candidate, but he has tried to keep it distance from Trump here, because Trump is not the President and not currently a candidate for office. I think as we move into the midterm season, and Trump either does or doesn't assert himself more, even if Youngkin doesn't win, I just think it will be -- Republicans will be emboldened by it.

But I think the challenge of that kind of messaging, keeping your distance while courting that base, is probably going to become increasingly difficult.

BERMAN: David, let's talk about what Glenn Youngkin is doing because he has specifically targeted the issue of education, what he calls critical race theory, even though it's not taught in Virginia schools, but saying that parents should have much more control over what their kids are taught in school. And I think capitalizing off of a lot of the anxiety that existed among parents after COVID and all the issues with masks in schools and whatnot.

What does that mean for Democrats? If this is successful for Glenn Youngkin? What does that mean for Democrats going forward?

AXELROD: Well, there's a big caveat here, which is that Terry McAuliffe sort of handed him this bludgeon in a debate when he said I don't think parents should tell teachers what they should teach. And that there was a big backlash to that, and the Youngkin campaign jumped on it. Education has become a much larger issue because they've sent -- they've they focused on it in the last few weeks. And yes, they've done it in a way that that that raises cultural issues, as Margaret mentioned, not just the issues that you raised, but also transgender. There was an incident involving a transgender student that they've raised as part of this campaign.

So, he is trying to invoke Trump like themes while behaving unlike Trump, in terms of tone and demeanor, and staying away from Trump. We'll see. I think Republicans are going to be watching closely. You know, Trump -- I mean, I think one of the things that's so hilarious is that like the Youngkin campaign has like drones and radar up to make sure that Trump doesn't cross the state line between now and Tuesday, because they know he is terribly unpopular. In this "Post" poll today of people who thought -- said that Trump's endorsement would make a difference, 37 percent said negative and seven percent said positive. Trump is not a plus.

But you know, Trump, he -- if he wants to claim a piece of this victory if it happens, and so he is going to try and find a way to put his imprint on this between now and Tuesday, or highly likely he will. That's not good for Youngkin.

BERMAN: What about that, Margaret? Trump may be calling into this pre-election rally. He can't seem to stay away. You know, clearly he's got people who tell him, it may be better for Youngkin if you do stay away, but Trump seems to desperately want to get in.

TALEV: Yes, for sure. And I think, you know, in this case, you don't know what's going to happen until it happens or it doesn't happen. But I think what's really interesting about it is, again, if Youngkin is successful, it's going to be a boon for Republicans and a horror show for Democrats, but I'm just not sure it's going to be good for Donald Trump.

In fact, it could have kind of a counterintuitive effect that it shows a different roadmap that keeping a distance is a successful roadmap in certain states and that would be complicated messaging for Trump. So I think that's part of what's going on here.


AXELROD: Well, who's going to be -- who is going to be the person who tells Trump that he can't go places because he's not popular? That's a difficult message to deliver. One that he's not -- it is not the sort of thing that he would take well, and yes, I think this can become complicated for Republican candidates. He's great in primaries, and Youngkin took advantage of that. But he's not great in general elections in competitive environments.

BERMAN: David Axelrod and Margaret Talev, thank you very much, just a few days left to go.

Now to the breaking news, which can only raise tensions in one of the Commonwealth's most densely populated areas and home to so many Washington lawmakers, policymakers, and Federal workers. CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid joins us now with the latest details of the ratcheted up law enforcement presence in Northern Virginia.

Paula, what are local officials saying tonight and has the F.B.I. weighed in?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, John. Well, authorities in Northern Virginia announced an increased police presence in the region Friday amid warnings from Federal authorities about a possible terror plot.

Now, authorities are still determining the validity of a threat. But as a precaution, Federal and local law enforcement are investigating and taking steps to ensure that potential targets are safeguarded against an attack.

Now, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security briefed state and local law enforcement officials in Maryland, Washington, and Virginia on a possible terror plot in the region in the coming days.

Now Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press briefing Friday that the Fairfax County Police Department had received information concerning "potential public safety impacts to malls and shopping centers across the region." Now, Davis declined to provide any specifics on the threat, but called it a regional matter. And to his knowledge, no individuals had been identified in connection to the threat.

Now as for the F.B.I., the Washington Field Office declined to comment on the situation but said that, of course, the F.B.I. takes all potential threats to public safety seriously and will take all appropriate steps to determine the credibility of the information they receive. BERMAN: So, I have to imagine this causes particular concern on a

weekend when a lot of people will be shopping or celebrating Halloween. I mean, how worried should residents be?

REID: It's a great question, but law enforcement say that they believe an announcement like this has a public safety value. They want to make sure that the community, people have their eyes and their ears open for any suspicious activity.

And of course, this threat warning comes as U.S. officials have raised concerns about domestic and foreign terror threats. For example, at an Intelligence and National Security event on Thursday, Homeland Security Intelligence Chief John Cohen said the threat environment in the U.S., John is more volatile, dynamic, and complex than at any time in recent memory.

BERMAN: Paula Reid, thank you so much for this report.

Next, another anti-Trump Republican lawmaker decides not to seek re- election. What Congressman Adam Kinzinger's departure means for the future of his party and the grip the former President has on it?

And later, a live report from Rome where President Biden, only the second Catholic President ever to meet with the Pope ever to be President -- met with Pope Francis today.



BERMAN: One of the former president's fiercest Republican critics is retiring from Congress, meaning the already few just got fewer. Adam Kinzinger announced that he would not seek another term in the nearly five minute video which he decried the politics of a certain someone without ever naming that certain someone.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We've allowed leaders to reach power selling the false premise that strength comes from degrading others. As a country, we've fallen for those lies and now, we face a poisoned country filled with outrage blinding our ability to achieve real strength.

It has become increasingly obvious to me that as a country, we must unplug from the mistruths we've been fed.


BERMAN: For his part, that leading purveyor of those mistruths remained true to form. He put out a statement today referring to the 10 Republicans, Congressman Kinzinger, included who voted to impeach him. It says "Two down, eight to go." And that's all it says.

Perspective now from former Congressman and former Republican Scott Rigell, he left the party after the insurrection saying he could not stand seeing his former colleagues, quote, "Hold on to the proven falsehood that the election was stolen." Also with a CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Scott Jennings.

Scott Jennings to you, what does it say that someone like Adam Kinzinger, a military veteran, a lifelong conservative has concluded he has no place in the House Republican caucus?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR Well, he was obviously been one of the most visible anti-Trump voices and obviously had fallen under the gaze of Donald Trump, and it would have made it difficult for him to win a primary. What made it even more difficult, of course, is what the Democrats did to him in Illinois, they gerrymandered the State of Illinois to the point where they did it to him once before and he survived a primary a few years ago. And this time around, they threw him in with another Member of Congress.

So it was a case where Donald Trump hating Adam Kinzinger and Democrats gerrymandering the map converged to run Kinzinger out. Now, he is 43. I think he's got a long future ahead of him. He's obviously a courageous guy, speaks what's on his mind, and that is, I think, to be applauded, that authenticity is to be applauded in our politics and he has got a long future ahead of him.

I don't know what he's going to do, but I think we need more people, not fewer, frankly, in politics who are willing to say exactly what's on their mind, even if it's not what's in vogue within their own party at that moment.

BERMAN: Congressman, you and Adam Kinzinger were freshmen in the House together in 2011 and I mentioned that since then, you've gone so far as to actually leave the Republican Party altogether. So what does this move say to you, beyond just maybe you know he felt like redistricting was hurting him.

I mean, what does it say about what he thinks about the party?


SCOTT RIGELL, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I had the privilege to serve with Adam for six years in the House of Representatives. He was widely respected then. His credentials as a conservative are impeccable. But he did cross the line of crossing the line of Donald Trump, and I'm so disappointed to see him leave, because I really think it will -- I think it hurts the House. I think it's a loss for Illinois and I think it's a loss for our country.

We need more men and women who are courageous, like Adam is, and I encourage every American to watch the video that he put out, it really gives insight as to where our country is right now and what we need to do to get on a better track.

BERMAN: Scott Jennings, you know, you know this. Adam Kinzinger is often referred to by the likes of President Trump as a RINO, Republican in name only, or a moderate in shorthand there. But you know, he is conservative. His voting record, you know, he rarely broke the ranks here. So, on policy matters, you know, he is as Republican as you can get. His only crime in the mind of Trump is crossing Trump.

JENNINGS: Yes, I mean, that's what Donald Trump defines a good Republican as, it is loyalty to him, and in some cases, you have people who are quite loyal to Trump, who are also conservatives and in Adam Kinzinger's case, you have someone who is quite loyal to the -- you know, the traditional platform of the party and broke with Trump on his personal conduct and personal behavior. That's just not acceptable to the former President. He sees that activist loyalty is weakening the Republican Party.

I think the party needs to be a big enough tent to have more people in it, not fewer. The politics of addition are always smarter than the politics of subtraction. But it's the people like Adam Kinzinger, who fled the Republican Party in 2018 and 2020 in these suburban communities cost us in the midterms in '18, and obviously calls Donald Trump the White House.

The party is trying to regain those kinds of voters in this Virginia governor's race on a new issue set, but it is that Adam Kinzinger's style suburban sort of Republican that really went from loyal Republicans over to the Democrats, and to win in 2024, we're going to have to have all the people Trump brought and all the kinds of people that would, unlike an Adam Kinzinger, and being divided, I think is a is a very real recipe for losing the White House again.

BERMAN: Congressman, the former President's response was "Two down, eight to go." I mean, is that a sustainable model?

RIGELL: No, he's just mocking those of us who hold a different view. You know, I think a member could have cast a principled vote against impeachment, but I'm convinced that so many Members of Congress of my own former party suppress their conscience and their better judgment out of fear and I think submission to Donald Trump. This is not good for our country, wherever one is on the political spectrum. And I'm just sorry to see Donald Trump go after Adam. I'm not surprised that he did, but it's not good for our country.

BERMAN: And Congressman, do you wish you had stayed? Do you wish Kinzinger had stayed?

RIGELL: Well, I think he would have had a tough time, as Scott had mentioned because of redistricting. I mean, it would have been an uphill battle. But there's no question that the center of the House of Representatives has evaporated. To get 218 votes, which is needed to pass legislation, members of the party in power, the leaders of that party really can't count or even look for a coalition across the aisle. They have to get 218 votes in their own caucus or conference and that leads to extreme a hard right legislation, and now with Pelosi with extreme hard left legislation, it's not good for our country.

BERMAN: Well, row represented by the Scott caucus tonight. All right, Congressman Scott Rigell, Scott Jennings, I thank you both very much for being with us.

RIGELL: Thank you. JENNINGS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Next, what Pope Francis and President Biden talked about today and what the Pope's message says to American Catholics who are doing battle over abortion.



BERMAN: The world's two most powerful members of the Catholic faith met today. President Biden and Pope Francis exchanged warm greetings in public during the President's private audience. The pontiff apparently weighed in on the debate raging in the American church about whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be denied communion.

President Biden told reporters the Pope had called him quote, "A good Catholic" and said that he should continue receiving the sacrament. CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Rome for us tonight. Phil, this was obviously not just a historic meeting in terms of geopolitics, but really a personal one, for a President of deep, deep faith. What details have you learned about this meeting?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a great point. It's deeply personal because of the relationship the President has with Pope Francis, the relationship the President has with his faith. John, as you know well, the President doesn't talk much about his faith.

When you talk to the President's advisers about his Catholic faith, they make very clear, it is very personal to him. He doesn't view it through a political prism. I think that was kind of the undergirding of the meeting is his respect, I think, and faith in Pope Francis, in the faith itself. I think that's what drove what aides are calling a deeply personal meeting and a deeply long meeting.

One senior administration official who was in the group of aides that was waiting outside of the one-on-one meeting said at one point, actually at several points, the Cardinals were making clear how exceedingly unusual it was that the meeting had gone past 30 minutes, and then 40 minutes, and then 50 minutes and continued to go 75 minutes, one-on-one, another 15 minutes exchanging gifts.

And I think it just all underscores that one, these two men know one another. They've communicated since Pope Francis became Pope back in 2013, and his visit to the United States back in 2015. And obviously, they've been in contact since the President became the President of the United States.

But also I think more broadly on the issues themselves, when it comes to the pandemic, when it comes to refugees, when it comes to inequality. These are issues the President obviously has made central to his presidency, and the Pope has made central to his papacy and those were all issues that were discussed during these meetings -- John. BERMAN: You know, based on what we saw, you know, and we can't really

know what happened behind closed doors, but based on what we saw, they seem to enjoy each other's company.


Phil Mattingly stay right there. I want to bring in CNN political commentator, a former Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy.

Congressman, President Biden obviously only the second Catholic President in U.S. history. The first was your great uncle President John F. Kennedy. So what do you make of the report that the two men, the pontiff and the president seem to have one point the presidents had God love you to the Holy Father?

JOE KENNEDY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well like it's a good thing to say to the Holy Father, I think that's true. Right.

So, I think so look, I think fill it out right on, this is a, obviously a deeply consequential meeting for any president, all the more so for somebody who is a devoted Catholic, Catholic as President Biden is. Someone who I think, John, as you know, I think as everybody knows, has seen more than his fair share of tragedy in his life, and in those trying times turned to his face, to get them through it. And I think when even political opponents of President Biden will say he is a good and decent man, and is that decency that I think you saw come through today that you saw kind of connects the Holy Father and the President of United States.

Remember the Holy Father when he visited the United States back in 2013, he visited prison. He washed prisoner's feet. He went back to those transit, Franciscan divisions that the name that he claimed when he became Pope, about service and about sacrifice. And I think those values go right through the eyes of Joe Biden's life and his public service.

BERMAN: So Phil, I know the President said that Pope Francis told him that he should continue receiving Communion and that he is, quote, a good Catholic. What more do we know about that? And what more do we know about whether the controversial issues such as abortion came up during the meeting, because as we know, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is sought to rebuke the President for his stance on abortion rights.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So the President said that abortion did not specifically come up. A senior Administration official who spoke with the president after the meeting told me that the President said the same thing to that official that the issue of abortion did not come up. But the President in terms of what he relayed that the Pope told him, those are very significant comments was a very significant comments, because the Pope knows very well, what's going on in the United States, in particular right now in terms of a very heated battle inside the faith between the conservative side of Catholicism. And I think to be frank, more aligned with where President Biden is, in terms of I don't want to say he's Jesuits are aligned necessarily with being for abortion rights, but where the President is in terms of how he views his faith. And I think the Pope being willing to say not only does he believe President Biden's a good Catholic, but that he should keep receiving Communion directly relates to what you're talking about, the U.S. Conference of Bishops meeting next month, weighing how whether or not they can kind of try and push forward to say that any politician that supports abortion rights, can no longer receive Communion.

The Pope has been on the record saying he didn't believe that that was necessarily the route to go, didn't believe that people should be judging others. However, this makes pretty clear on an issue that has come up repeatedly in the first nine or 10 months of President Biden's term, that the fight that might be happening in the United States and the Catholic Church doesn't necessarily extend to the Vatican.

BERMAN: Congressman, this is obviously something your great uncle dealt with back when he was running for president. But for Catholic politicians today, he has evolved into something I think, very different. So how do you countenance the struggle between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the type of Catholic and the type of politician that you want to be?

KENNEDY: Well, this has been an issue obviously, that's been a live one for a while. I think what Phil articulated is, is also right here, you've got an issue that, for a series of reasons has become for a set of believers in the conference of bishops in the United States, has become essentially the most hot button and almost not quite a litmus test, but close to it.

What you've also seen from the Holy Father is a focus on a broad array of values, particularly social justice doctrine that I think is prevalent to different system, part of the Catholic Church to the Jesuit part of the Catholic churches, as Phil indicated, about service. The Pope has leaned heavily into refugees into climate change and the impact of climate into poverty and social justice issues. And those are areas that Biden administration has leaned into strongly as well.

And so, I think what you see from both is a recognition that the Holy Father's position on this is very, very clear. That's not going to change. But there's a wide variety of values that unite President Biden in his interpretation of the faith and that of the Holy Father and that we could focus on those rather than others that that seek to divide.

BERMAN: By the way that the Holy Father stands on who should receive Communion also very contest -- consistent hasn't changed one bit he feels very strongly at all should be able to receive it.


Phil Mattingly, Joe Kennedy Congressman, thank you both so much.

KENNEDY: Thank you

BERMAN: More now on two traditions, the one established by John F. Kennedy and the other far older one perpetuated by Joe Biden.

CNN's Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the first Catholic president met Pope Paul the Sixth tension was rife. The Italians loved John Kennedy, while conservatives back home wondered if he would bow to religious tradition and kiss the pontiffs ring. Kennedy shook hands and the potential clash vanished.

U.S. presidents have been meeting Pope's for just over a century, each encounter closely watched for friendship and friction. When Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon discuss the Vietnam War in separate meetings with Pope Paul, the conversations reportedly grew heated. John Paul the Second was the first part of visit the White House where he and Jimmy Carter a devout Protestant found common ground.

JIMMY CARTER, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We share a belief that the church was to no way be confused with a political community, no bound to any political system.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Ronald Reagan talked about arms control and summon vigorous praise for the pontiff.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: In your travels, you've inspired millions people of all races and all faiths.

FOREMAN (voice-over): George W. Bush did the same.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second has championed the cause of the poor.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Only to be criticized for looking too casual when he met John Paul's successor, Pope Benedict. Some meetings have been relatively short some surprisingly long. But all are unique, such as when Barack Obama noted Pope Francis is not merely a great man of peace, but also a funny one.

BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Why can't share all his jokes. They were all clean.


FOREMAN: So it is that these meetings are always a peculiar blend of piety and politics between two of the most influential souls on the planet with both knowing the whole world is watching. John.

BERMAN: And this time, they just -- they seem to have a comfort level that you're not used to say, by leaders of this ilk.

Tom Foreman, thank you very much. Coming up the FDA grants emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids ages five to 11 but more steps are needed before any child can get the shot. I'm going to talk it over with Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst doctor and parent, next.



BERMAN: A major development of the fight against COVID, Pfizer can start shipping vaccine doses for children ages five to 11 now that the FDA has granted emergency use authorization. Two more steps are needed before children in that age group can get the shots, first CDC advisors will meet Tuesday to give their take on the vaccine, then the CDC director needs to give the green light. It seems that that is likely to happen still a few days from now.

Joining us with more is CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, Baltimore's former health commissioner and author of Lifelines A Doctor's Journey In The Fight For Public Health.

Dr. Wen, CNN's Elizabeth Cohen talk about this development with key -- the key Pfizer executive overseeing vaccine research and I want to play a clip of that interview, let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ability to vaccinate children frees them up to attend school with reduced risk of outbreaks that limit in person learning. I think for many children's school is a safe space, as well as obviously the important role that it plays in their education. So -- and in for many children's actually placed where they get meals. So, this has really a profound effect beyond the important prevention of COVID-19.


BERMAN: A profound effect he says. As a former public health official and as a parent, and after more than a year and a half of living in this pandemic, how much of a game changer is this?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's a total game changer for parents and families. There are so many parents who've been worried about going to work because we're afraid of bringing back COVID to our unvaccinated children. We also worry about our kids going to school, maybe we're surrounded by others who are not masked and may not be taking the same precautions in their homes.

And so, I think this will change things so much. And also there needs to be a conversation to be had in time to about what is the layer of protection that vaccination can replace, as in at some point if all the other kids in a class are vaccinated can we get rid of masks, especially if we have testing and are able to lower the level of COVID in the community.

BERMAN: What do you think about that? WEN: I think we should have that kind of conversation now in fact about when what is the off ramp for masking. I think that will also be a powerful incentive for vaccination for example, if an entire soccer team is vaccinated, they don't need to be wearing masks around one another. If one entire class is vaccinated, they don't need to be wearing masks anymore. That will also give a strong incentive for parents who aren't really sure about vaccination.

BERMAN: So when CDC advisors meet on Tuesday, what exactly is it that they will be deciding?

WEN: Yes, so this is the third out of a four step process. The FDA advisors met earlier this week, the FDA has now signed off, the next step is that the CDC advisors are going to be meeting and then the CDC director has to sign off. So four steps, I think we should all be very reassured that our regulatory agencies are working as they should that they're following this very rigorous process. They'll be discussing, I think a key question, which is, are they going to be making a recommendation for all kids five to 11 to be getting the vaccine? Or are they going to be saying some kids those who are at high risk should be getting the vaccine and other kids may get the vaccine, they're eligible to get the vaccine.

We'll see what they say. But I do think that by Wednesday as early as next Wednesday, we should be able to see children five to 11 be eligible to getting and unable to get shots in arms.

BERMAN: As soon as Wednesday. As a parent of older children when my kids got vaccinated, it changed my life. It just did. So I know parents of younger children will soon feel that way as well, you among them.

Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much for being with us.


Up next, more on COVID, see how vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories are taking a toll on some marriages even bringing them to the breaking point.


BERMAN: More now on COVID. Conspiracy theories from the anti vaccine movement tearing couples apart.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan with a stunning story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I truly have been through hell and back fighting this damn cancer for the past two and a half years. And he just acts like I should obey his wishes and not get the vaccine and throw everything to the wayside and go against my oncologists' recommendation. Well I say, screw him, and I got three over 3,000 likes on that. DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): COVID-19 conspiracy theories are complicating relationships. We spoke to one breast cancer patient whose oncologist recommended she get the vaccine. But she says her husband told her no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was downright rude to me and said that if you get the vaccine, I'll file for divorce. We will no longer be together and it's like well OK.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Now, she's the one filing for divorce. She asked her remain anonymous and fear of retaliation until it's finalized.

(on-camera): So at the start of COVID, he was very careful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, he washed his hands, he'd sanitize his hands. He'd, you know, put on a new mask every time. He was fanatical about it. But then he went from one extreme to the other.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Why didn't he want you to get vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had heard with all his research that the vaccine will shed to him if he hangs around people who have been vaccinated, and that it will change his DNA.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): CNN has reviewed dozens of her husband's social media posts where he shared baseless conspiracy theories regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the Facebook posts include lies that the vaccine is spreading the virus that it alters people's DNA, and that it's being used to depopulate the world.

(on-camera): I mean, those beliefs that sort of delusion is that the man you married.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I don't even know who the hell he is anymore. He's not the same person. He just it -- it's like a switch that flipped.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): She's not alone, others have taken to social media to express concerns about their marriages because of COVID-19 misinformation.

JESSELYN COOK, SENIOR REPORTER, HUFFPOST: I've spoken to about half a dozen couples who their relationships have kind of fallen apart under the way of viral anti-vaxx disinformation. Some are getting divorced.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jesselyn Cook covers tech, misinformation and conspiracy theories for Huff Post. She's currently writing a book about the human toll of misinformation.

COOK: And a lot of their spouses really didn't even buy into conspiracy theories or any misinformation before the pandemic. It's incredibly heartbreaking. And for many of the couples I spoke with, vaccines have been a breaking point. O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): I mean, ultimately, do you think you'd be getting a divorce of a woman for misinformation, COVID the vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we wouldn't. I don't think so. I don't think we'd be getting a divorce. You know, there were -- there's other things too, you know, no, marriage is perfect. But, you know, that was the driving force.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Troubling (ph) revelations about Facebook --

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Companies like YouTube and Facebook had been criticized for allowing COVID-19 misinformation to spread on their platforms. YouTube says it has banned misleading videos about any approved vaccine. And Facebook says it prohibits misinformation about the COVID vaccine, but many of her husband's posts still remain on Facebook.

(on-camera): How did it feel to watch the man who married, the man you love go down this rabbit hole?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was sad. It was really sad. But and I thought, well, I got to you know, pull them out of this. But you can't. It's not something that I think -- it's got to be up to that person.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What's your message those people that --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the makers of those?

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes, the makers of the people who are pushing all this disinformation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get a life and just, you know, you guys need this to stop this nonsense because it's harming people. It's actually harming people.


O'SULLIVAN: And John, we learned this week from the leaked Facebook documents that companies like Facebook don't really have as much of a handle on COVID misinformation as they might project publicly. But important to point out here that that woman said that her soon to be ex-husband, it wasn't just Facebook and online where he was getting this vaccine disinformation and misinformation, it was from outlets like OAN as well. So, it's a very, very toxic misinformation landscape.

BERMAN: It's come to this. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much.


BERMAN: Up next, meet the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021 COVID-19.


[20:58:10] BERMAN: Here at CNN we're proud to salute our CNN Heroes who make the world a better and safer place. Here's Anderson with the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): From Philadelphia pediatric surgeon Ala Stanford saw COVID-19 ravaging communities of color. So she built trust and brought testing and vaccinations to more than 75,000 people.

From San Francisco, David Flink is building understanding and confidence using his journey with ADHD and dyslexia to help kids with learning differences across America thrive.

In New York City, Hector Guadalupe uses fitness training to help formerly incarcerated men and women like himself get family sustaining jobs and build careers.

From Cartagena, Colombia, Jennifer Colpas brings eco friendly energy, safe water and sanitation to struggling Colombians living in remote areas.

Lynda Doughty of Phippsburg, Maine, monitors 2,500 miles of coastline, providing life saving support and medical care to thousands of marine animals.

From Bali, Indonesia, exchanging plastic waste for rice. Restaurant owner Made Janu Yasa has sent tons of plastic for recycling and provided food to thousands of families during the pandemic.

And in Simi Valley, California, Michele Neff Hernandez has turned her profound grief into sustaining support for the widow.

Oncologist Patricia Gordon walked away from her Beverly Hills private practice to save women around the world from dying of preventable and treatable cervical cancer.

On L.A. skid row, Shirley Raines brings dignity and respect to thousands of homeless people every week, rain or shine.


And in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Zannah Mustapha, educates orphaned children from both sides of a violent extremist conflict, providing support more than 2,000 boys and girls a year.


BERMAN: Ten amazing people and you can help decide which one of them will become CNN Hero of the Year, go to and vote up to 10 times a day every day for the hero that inspires you the most.

The news continues. So let's head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME," live from Rome.