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At This Hour

IRS Leak, America's Wealthiest Pay Little to No Income Taxes; U.S. Moving Toward Normalcy, But Not There Yet; Harry and Meghan Deny Not Asking Queen to Use Name Lilibet. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 09, 2021 - 11:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN AT THIS HOUR: The revelation after an anonymous source sent the publication years of tax returns from thousands of the wealthiest Americans, among them, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When it's time to pay taxes, new reporting from ProPublica says the nation's top 25 richest people pay little to nothing at all. The revelation after an anonymous source sent the publication years of tax returns from thousands of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to work for months on this to get it into a shape where we were satisfied that it was accurate and it was saying something clear.

ROMANS: Take a look at Amazon Founder and CEO Bezos. According to ProPublica's reporting, back in 2007, his wealth increased $3.8 billion and paid nothing in federal income taxes, neither did Tesla Foender Elon Musk in 2018 and not a penny from George Soros for the years between 2016 and 2018.

And it's all legal, thanks to U.S. tax codes, which focus more on wages as opposed to investments which are usually taxed at lower rates. That's something billionaires like Bezos can take advantage of, along with complicated tax loopholes and write-offs.

ProPublica says while the now world's richest men in the world's wealth grew $99 billion between 2014 and 2018, he only paid $973 million in taxes, at a rate of less than 1 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you're like Jeff Bezos and you're sitting on top of this wealth and you're getting richer by the day, that doesn't get transformed to income. You don't have to put that on your tax return until you sell your stock, generally.

ROMANS: And for Buffett who has said in the past he favors raising taxes for the rich, his wealth grew by $24 billion between 2014 and 2018. And the amount of taxes paid, $23.7 million or just 0.1 percent of his wealth. Buffet telling ProPublica tax codes should be changed substantially and huge dynastic wealth is not desirable for our society.

According to ProPublica's analysis, the 25 richest Americans were worth $1.1 trillion by the end of 2018. It would take 14.3 million ordinary American wage earners to make that same amount of wealth. The IRS and the FBI are now investigating this leak and the Biden administration it's looking into the situation.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information by a person with access is illegal, and we take this very seriously.

ROMANS: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki emphasized President Biden's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to help finance his spending plans.

PSAKI: We know that there is more to be done to ensure that corporations, individuals who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share.


HILL: No comment to ProPublica from Bezos or Musk. Musk replied to the non-profit publication with a question mark but didn't reply to detailed questions.

A spokesperson for Soros telling ProPublica between 2016 and 2018, George Soros lost money on his investments and, therefore, didn't owe federal income taxes in those years. Mr. Soros has long supported higher taxes for wealthy Americans.

Up next, two threats, AIDS and COVID, one doctor on the frontlines fighting both. Up next, Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses both those battles with me and why the new delta variant is such a threat to the progress being made against COVID.



HILL: Right now, by practically every metric, the U.S. is doing really well in the fight against COVID. The country saw an average of fewer than 14,000 for daily infections and 427 daily deaths over the last seven days. That's according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Those are the lowest figure since late March of 2020.

Some 42 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated. Nearly 52 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. But there are threats that can't be ignored. One of those, the highly contagious delta variant.

Joining me now with more is Dr. Anthony Fauci, he's director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser. Dr. Fauci, always good to have you with us.

When we talk about this delta variant, I know you are especially concerned about it based on what you're seeing happening in the U.K. This delta variant is the one that was first identified in India and it's here. We know it's here in the U.S. It's peaking among young people, you said, in the U.K. What is it right now that has you most concerned about its impact on the U.S.?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, the issue is that even though we're doing very well by the numbers that you mentioned, Erica, which are quite true, that the numbers of cases are coming down, the vaccinations have gone up. We've done very well with vaccination. We cannot declare victory prematurely because there is still a substantial portion of people who have not been vaccinated. And the situation in the U.K. is that they had as the dominant variant, the alpha, the B117.


The delta variant, the one you just mentioned that was particularly problematic in India, the 617 has taken over as the dominant infection in the U.K. About 60 percent now are having this particular variant, and it's been predominant among young individuals from 12 to 20.

That variant is here in the United States. The data we have from the U.K. study is that the vaccines that are used, particularly the mRNA vaccines that are used here in the United States, but also likely the J&J too. But we have more data with the mRNA are doing very well at being able to protect against the 617, a slight to modest diminution, but nothing significant, which means that since this variant is here, about 6 percent of the isolates in the United States are this troublesome variant.

You don't want to give it the opportunity to take over as the dominant variant. And we have within our power to do that by getting people vaccinated, because we have very, very good vaccines. And that's the reason why I've been saying we don't want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the U.K. where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant, which has made it a very difficult situation in the U.K. We don't want to be there. We want to prevent that. And the way you prevent it is by continuing to get people vaccinated and not declare victory before we're there.

HILL: Another couple points on vaccinations. I know there's a real focus on this, 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by July 4th. You said yesterday that's not the end date as vaccinations are slowing. There's some concern that what we're seeing when it comes to these J&J doses that are set to expire, not be used. Is there anything that can be done at this point to move those around, to make sure that they're not wasted, whether it's going to other states or even other countries, maybe Canada?

FAUCI: Well, the FDA is looking into that right now, trying to determine if, in fact, the date can be extended or not, and if so, can we get them properly utilized, whether it's utilized in the United States or elsewhere, just as you say. But this is something that the FDA is very much on and looking at it very, very carefully.

HILL: Real quickly, before we move on to AIDS, because I do want to talk about that, 40 years of your work. As we're waiting for kids 11 and under, as they're waiting for the vaccine, in a conversation with a colleague this morning, we were talking about the fact that kids are different sizes, right? If you give a kid Tylenol, you look at not just their age but their weight. How much does that come into play? I say this as the mother of an 11-year-old who some days can be mistaken for a 12 or 13-year-old.

FAUC: Right. So when you do studies in children, you do what's called both an age de-escalation and a dose de-escalation study. So that when you have children, you go from maybe 12 to 9, 9 to 6, 6 to 2 and then six months to two years.

But also, when you get down to the low ones, as we've seen with Pfizer, they're dealing with a dose that's considerably less. They started off with 30. They're going down to ten and then maybe even three micrograms in the very, very young children. So there is a dose de-escalation. So by the time we get to the late fall and possibly early winter when we can have enough information to vaccinate children of any age, you will know that the dose will be suited to the age and size of the child. So you're not going to give a very young child the same dose you would give an adult.

HILL: That's great information for so many parents. For the last 40 years -- so we just marked the anniversary of the first case of what is now known as AIDS here in the U.S. 40 years ago it was identified. You have dedicated so much of your career, and I would venture to say so much of what you've invested personally because I know how important this fight has been for you.

As you look back at the last 40 years and where we are today, is this where you thought we would be in the fight against AIDS?

FAUCI: In some respects yes, and in some respects no. Because, as you have any kind of an outbreak, as it evolves, you learn things that you did not know in the beginning. So, I mean, it's been an extraordinary journey. I happen to be one of the few people who are still around active who were actually there from the very first days.

I remember it so, so clearly, the first five cases from Los Angeles, curiously, of gay men. We didn't know what it was. Some of us thought it was a fluke. And then a month later, in July of '81, when we had the 26 cases, now, again, curiously, all gay men, not only with a strange pneumonia but with other opportunistic infections and a strange cancer called kaposi sarcoma, that we knew we were dealing with a brand new infection. It transformed and changed my entire career and my entire life.

But from that, we went to the early years, which was dark years, Erica, where you took care of people. You had no intervention. Because we didn't even know what the cause of this was. Then when we found the cause, we were able to do research to start developing drugs. And for the first few years, when you had no drugs and then one drug and two drug, and then finally when we had the combination of drugs, several years later, 1996 when we had the transformation of the treatment of persons with HIV. And we went from something that was my dark years, the dark years of so many of us, where all of our patients died, to spectacularly successful therapy.

So in the arena of therapy, that has been an amazing success story, not only in the treatment of persons with HIV, but in the prevention by pre-exposure prophylaxis, which has been very challenging, has been a vaccine, because the body doesn't make a very good immune response against HIV. And for that reason, it's been very, very difficult to develop a safe and effective vaccine. And that's the remaining scientific challenge.

But there's another challenge we have with HIV, and that is the implementation of the tools that we already have. We have spectacular therapy, very good pre-exposure prophylaxis. We've got to get that equitably implemented in this country and worldwide. The PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, started by President George W. Bush, was a major step together with the global fund in getting some degree of equity globally by getting people in the developing world do have access to therapy. So there have been some spectacular successes, but still some challenges ahead.

So we cannot just say, well, we're finished with HIV. We have the capability of really putting an end to that outbreak, that pandemic, which is still ongoing right now. And I believe we can do it if we put the effort into it.

HILL: Well, we know you're certainly putting the effort into it and there's so much appreciation for all the work that you've already put in over the last 40 years. But as you point out, we are far from done, still much more to do, and that includes keeping it in the conversation. Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you, as always, good to see you.

FAUCI: Thank you very much, Erica, good to be with you.

HILL: Trillions of cicadas have emerged from the earth after a 17- year wait underground. Now, supposedly come in peace, but I've got to be honest, the latest evidence, not in their favor.



HILL: Yet another vicious attack caught on live T.V. this morning. A Brood X cicada found crawling on President Joe Biden's neck, the president confirming it just seconds minutes later.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Watch out for the cicadas. I just got one. It got me. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: CNN Aviation Correspondent Pete Muntean joining us now because not only did the cicada go after Joe Biden, Pete, but a swarm of them delayed the press plane following the president to go overseas. In all seriousness, what is going on here? Are cicadas a real threat to travel at this point?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Erica, luckily, these cicadas don't bite but they clearly can keep an airliner from taking off. This chartered flight from Delta Airlines filled with the press going to the G7 Summit was delayed, was scheduled to take off late last night, instead took off early this morning because Delta says cicadas overcame the plane's auxiliary power unit. That's a tiny little jet engine in the tail of the airplane.

It is very critical for a flight like this. You can't do a transatlantic flight without it, because if there's any sort of catastrophic failure, you need this little jet engine in the back in order repower the critical systems of the airplane. It's redundant, it is safe, so Delta brought in another A3300 like this one.

Bugs can pose a bit of a problem to airplanes. They can clog tiny instruments, they can clog little sensors. Typically, though, not catastrophic problems, just a lot of buzz around the story, Erica.

HILL: Oh, you did. You went there. Pete Muntean, I appreciate you, as always, my friend. Thank you.

Just ahead, more drama for the royal family, and does not include cicadas though. That's next.



HILL: At This Hour, Britain's royal family dealing with yet another controversy. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle coming out to deny a BBC report claiming the couple did not ask the queen for permission to name their new-born daughter Lilibet after the queen.

CNN's Max Foster joining us now with the details. Okay, the queen could clear this up pretty quickly, so what is Buckingham Palace saying?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Okay. So the report appeared in the BBC effectively saying that Harry did not have discussion and ask permission to use the queen's name for his daughter. Lilibet is a nickname, the queen's nickname.

This has been a bit of a debate over the past week and it sort of blew up today with this BBC report. The palace is not denying it, which is why people are seeing it as a true story. There's only the BBC source on this but the palace aren't coming out to say it's untrue.

That, therefore, prompted Harry and Meghan's team to come out with a statement very early this morning in response, saying, the duke spoke with his family in advance of the announcement about the name. In fact, his grandmother was the first family member he called. During that conversation, he shared their hope of naming their daughter Lilibet in her honor.


She had not been -- had she not been supportive, they would not have used the name.

So, was there permission, wasn't there permission, depends.