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At This Hour

Biden Meets with World Leaders at First G7 Summit as President; First Lady, Princess Kate Meet at UK Event Today; Princess Kate: "I Can't Wait" to Meet New-Born Niece Lilibet; Trump's DOJ Secretly Subpoenaed Data From Hous Dems, Their Families; Pelosi: Trump's DOJ Targeting of Dems "Egregious Assault;" Trump's DOJ Weaponized Power to Target Sitting Members of Congress; FDA Adviser Warns Against Vaccinating Young Kids Right Now; FDA Advisers Discuss Urgency of Vaccinating Kids Against COVID; Non-Profit "Eye for Eye" Helps Kids with Learning Differences. Aired 11:30a-12p ET.

Aired June 11, 2021 - 11:30   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think former President Trump's name certainly comes up a lot on television and in political circles. It's probably not coming up very much in that room where these leaders are meeting right now without aides or without cameras. They are talking about their way forward.

So as Nic was just saying, I mean, the words from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was a Trump ally - we have to remember that - he said of President Biden it's a breath of fresh air, so that is the sense you get here. Not much tension here.

Now the question is what actually will come of this in a substantive way. There are sustentative differences between these countries, but for now at least I think just the fact that, you know, there's not somewhere here trying to stir things up and be essentially a bowl in a china shop if you will. That is, you know, certainly much more diplomatic, and we also are learning this morning that the White House is inviting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington next month for her visit there, so that certainly is one more indication here about President Biden continues to reach out and tick through these world leaders.

He's been on the world stage much of his professional life in the Senate and as the vice president, but never been in the room like this as part of this club. Erica -

ERICA HILL, CNN AT THIS HOUR HOST: Jeff Zeleny and Nic Robertson, appreciate it. Thank you both. Also today, First Lady Jill Biden meeting the Duchess of Cambridge for the first time. Their visit today, could it be a practice run of sorts? The Bidens getting ready for a visit with the Queen over the weekend. CNN's Kate Bennett joining me now. So Kate, step one, looks like everything went well at school there this morning for Dr. Biden and for the Duchess?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Exactly. I mean, Dr. Biden couldn't be more at home than she is in a classroom. She's been a teacher for many decades, so this was a nice place for her to land for her first official meeting with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

They visited the school. They went outside. There were bunnies. There was a, you know, bowl of carrots. It's very bucolic English countryside visit, and they had a really good time. The First Lady just tweeted actually that they could have talked for hours about early childhood education, about the role that elementary school plays and then going through to community college where Dr. Biden is a professor to this day. So certainly a lot in common and a good run-up to the meeting with the Queen.

You know, it's interesting, though, everyone top of mind has new baby Lilibet, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new baby, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was actually asked today whether or not she'd met the baby yet or facetimed it. Let's see what she says.


KATE MIDDLETON, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE: I wish her all the very best. I can't wait to meet her because we haven't yet met her yet, so hopefully that will be soon.


BENNETT: So not even a video meet and greet just yet, but everyone is very excited about that new baby, and of course Dr. Biden is friends - very good friends with Prince Harry. They met way back in 2012. She's been to a number of his Invictus Games events and vice versa. So she's familiar with Harry, but the Queen is going to be something different for her.

HILL: It will be. You know, there's been a lot made, too. I know here at home we talk a lot about President Biden, the loss that he has gone through in his life. That's been such a connection point for him with the people (ph), the consoler-in-chief. He brought up the late Prince Phillip when he was announcing the vaccine initiative yesterday, marking what would have been his 100th birthday.

You know, how much is being made is your sense about what that connection could be between President Biden and the Queen given this recent loss?

BENNETT: I think it's going to be very strong, and you make an excellent point here. The Bidens really do connect with people a lot of time over grief, and clearly the Queen is experiencing that. This was, you know, her husband for decades, and it was her birthday the other day, and she's at Windsor Castle, which was a favorite place that they would go. So certainly the Bidens are going to be sensitive to that. I believe they will offer a formal condolence in person. This, again, is going to be a visit for them that, you know, through their years as Vice President and Second Lady have had similar experiences, but now that they're in the spotlight and now that they're the primary ambassadors if you will of the United States, certainly meeting a Queen who has met in during her reign as Queen 12 former Presidents of the United States - she's an old hat at this - this will be something new for the Bidens, and I think you're right. There's an empathetic moment that the two parties can share. We'll look forward to seeing that on Sunday.

HILL: Yes. Absolutely. Kate Bennett, always good to see you. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, this bombshell report about the Trump Justice Department's secret subpoenas of Democratic lawmakers and in some cases their family members. I'm going to speak with a member of the House Intelligence Committee about what should happen next.



HILL: Returning to our top story, bombshell reporting about the Trump Justice Department revealing just how far the administration was willing to go to take down perceived enemies, including seizing the data records of prominent Democrats, their staff, even their families in an attempt to find Russia-related leaks.

Joining me now to discuss Democratic Congressman, Peter Welch. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and also the Oversight and Reform Committee. Sir, good to have you with us today. First of all, do you have any reason to believe that you or anyone on your staff was targeted with subpoena?


REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I don't, but it really is less important whether I was targeted than that anyone doing their officials job as a member of Congress in fact was targeted. That's the issue.

HILL: That being the issue, what's the action plan?

WELCH: Well first of all why is it significant? You have the president who was attacking the press, getting subpoenas against press who were doing their job. The press is essential to the wellbeing of the democracy and it was a follow up on the president's attack on the press that was relentless, the fake news and so on.

Secondly, he then took this into what appears to be a vendetta obviously against Adam Schiff, the Chair, where the members of the committee, himself very much among them, we're doing their job of oversight. And then third, he weaponized the Justice Department with his compliant Attorney General, William Barr, who himself brought into the Justice Department trusted aides who had no experience in this but were essentially a separate unit to deal with things that were of personal interest to the president.

So it's very, very, threatening Democratic principles of, A, a free press, and B, and independent legislative branch of government coequal with the executive.

HILL: So you lay out there the threat, but then what do you do about that? Based on everything that you just laid out what would you like to see happen moving forward both in Congress and at the DOJ?

WELCH: Chairman Schiff's suggestion that the independent investigator, the inspector general do an investigation and a report I think is the right way to go because this I not about him individually or whoever among the committee members was targeted or even among the press members. It's really about the principle of the independence of legislative branch. It's about the independence of the press, and it's also about the rule of law.

Can a President of the United States essentially weaponizes the Justice Department to go after perceived political enemies? That's really the question that has been raised here. So the best way to proceed is not to have it be in a political atmosphere but to have the inspector general do the job, a full investigation and a full report, and proceed from there.

HILL: Do you want to hear from Merrick Garland?

WELCH: I don't know this. No, I wan to hear from the inspector general first. That's what I think is the way to go, and Merrick Garland was not serving in this capacity at the time this happened 2017, 2018 and onward.

HILL: So you're not as concerned with, you know, what's happening now because there - you know, there is some concern and, you know, we've heard certainly throughout the morning and since this story broke last night there is concern about who is still at DOJ.

WELCH: Well no, that's a good point and I am concerned about that because many of those special appointees by then Attorney General Barr were essentially assigned to do the dirty work of the president, to essentially implement his attack on the independence of the legislative branch.

So I am concerned about that and that would be an issue with Merrick Garland, but the real question here is what did the - what did then President Trump do? What did Attorney General Barr do?

It is just pretty astonishing and I think unprecedented that there are subpoenas for the records of independent members of the legislative branch and apparently the family members of the - of the members of Congress. So that is a breach of norms that is unprecedented even in the Nixon years. HILL: Have you heard from any of your Republican colleagues? Have you spoken with nay of them about this?

WELCH: I haven't, but I look forward to talking to them. You know, it's a really good point you're making with that question, and that is that it could be Adam Schiff today but it could be Devin Nunes tomorrow if you don't have some norms that are abided by whether it's a Republican or Democratic president. So this is really about the members of Congress having to act to protect the independents and the authority of this separate and equal branch of government. That was under attack by President Trump as was the freedom of press.

HILL: Congressman Welch, appreciate your time today. Thank you.

WELCH: Thank you.

HILL: Just ahead, can kids 11 and younger not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine, but just how soon could that change? And what do experts say we need to now first?



HILL: Children are at the forefront of the discussion about COVID vaccines today as the focus turns to kids 11-years-old and younger. And FDA advisory panel meeting to decide what data they'll need to see from clinical trials if and when drug makers apply for emergency use authorization. And we're learning from that long meeting yesterday that not all committee members agree young children should get the vaccine.

Joining me now is Dr. Monica Gandhi. She's Professor of Medicine and Associate Chief of Infectious Diseases at the UCSF School of Medicine. Doctor, good to have you with us. So in particular I know the comments from Dr. Meissner yesterday really stood out to a lot of people.

He said at one point, quote, "the burden of disease is so small and the risks are just not clear. He said he basically he wants more time. He wants to learn a little bit more. Just to be clear through, no one is saying kinds under 11 should start getting a shot tomorrow.


DR. MONICA GANDHI, PROF. OF MEDICINE & ASSOCIATE CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, USCSF: Right, so there's two things going. Those trials are still ongoing for 11 and younger, and then the 12 to 15 EUA is out, emergency use authorization for Pfizer and Moderna's applied for the 12 to 17-year-old.

And one other thing that came out of the meting yesterday was these concerning reports of a higher than expect rate of myocarditis in young people, mostly young males, which ahs been seen in Israel as well. So all of that data coming together I think the focus on safety in children and then we'll decide on the benefits is very paramount. HILL: So what was happening in that meeting yesterday was that they were talking about what is the data that they need, right, to see that it's safe. They're not ultimately going to make a decision as to whether an EUA is granted, but how much weight do their comments have?

GANDHI: I mean, it's - you know, we're often doing things before things even happen.


HILL: Right.

GANDHI: We're making comments. So if - nothing's happened yet. In the sense that the Pfizer and the Moderna trials are about 6,000 to 7,000 children between six months and 11 years. Importantly, Pfizer decided last week to decrease the dose for what we're going to be giving to young children based on some of these myocarditis episodes that we saw in older children.

It's the same dose we use for a 12-year-old as we use for a 40-year- old, and it could be that the doses need to be changed. So they changed their doses to 3 micrograms and 10 micrograms, which is really small. 30 micrograms is what we use for adults, and everyone needs to be looking at the safety benefit in those 6-month to 11-year-olds -


HILL: Yes.

GANDHI: -- which won't be out until October probably before we deicide if we're going to go ahead and vaccinate children. So it's almost - I think what was happening yesterday in the meeting, it was a prophylactic discussion to say safety is more paramount in a way for a disease that is less likely to affect that age group. That's completely fair. That's completely indicated.

HILL: You know, one of the concerns I've heard from parents, and I'm a parent myself - I have a 14 and an 11-year-old - is that especially when it comes to younger children these are often parents who have already been vaccinated themselves. They believe in science and vaccinations, but there's some concern because this mRNA technology feels so new. There's concern about a developing, growing child. How real are those concerns?

GANDHI: You know, I am not so worried about anything to do with growth and development in the sense that the mRNA once it gets into the body, you make a protein, and then that mRNA goes away, so it can't stay nearby.

What I'm more concerned about with these cases of myocarditis in young people is kind of a massive inflammatory response that can occur in children because they are just - have a wonderful immune system and they can have really massive inflammation. Do we need to space out the dose more for kids? Do we need a lower dose? Do we need just one dose for children? These are the three questions that are coming up for me, not in terms of ultimate growth and development because there are vaccines - this is really important - that are live that could later go on and revert and cause very rare complications. These vaccines are not alive and the genetic material absolutely goes away.

HILL: Dr. Monica Gandhi, great to have you with us this morning. Thank you.

GANDHI: Thank you.

HILL: Stay with us. We'll be right back.



HILL: One in five children in the U.S. has a learning difference, and kids who face these challenges are more likely to be suspended, drop out, or even end up in the juvenile justice system. This CNN Hero sure (ph) understands all of that because he's lived it.

David Flink was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at age 11 and struggled throughout school. Now as an adult he's working to make sure that kids like him don't fall through the cracks of the education system. His nonprofit, Eye to Eye, pairs college and high school students with learning differences with middle schoolers who have similar differences, unleashing confident, successful partners and learners in the process.


DAVID FLINK, FOUNDER, EYE TO EYE: Eye to Eye provides a safe space that's constructed around what's right with kids so they can talk about their experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you get scared during tests or like nervous or no?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have anxiety and like I shake a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That happens to me (ph) sometimes.

FLINK: People's hearts sing when they're seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My masterpiece!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really cool. I like how you used the duct tape as a handle.

FLINK: My moment that I am wishing for is when the problem of stigmatizing kids because they learn differently goes away. I want them to know that their brains are beautiful. I want them feeling like they know how to ask for what they need and that they can do it, and that's what we give them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Daniel (ph)!


HILL: People's hearts sing when they're seen. To learn David's full story and some of the magic that happens when children are seen and understood, log onto right now. While you're there you can nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.

Thanks for joining me on this Friday. I'm Erica Hill in for Kate Bolduan today. John King picks up our coverage right now.