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Biden Unveils Sweeping Vaccine Mandates For Millions Of Workers; GOP Governors Threatens To Sue Over Biden's Vaccine Mandates; U.S. Prepares To Mark 20th Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan here is what we're watching at this hour, Biden's new war against COVID. The President orders mandates to fight the pandemic, a decision that will affect millions of Americans. The pushback already from some.

And all is not well, a new CNN poll showing that more Americans are not happy with the job that the President is doing right now. Americans view of the direction of the country falling as well. The impact of the pandemic -- of pandemic politics on all of this.

And 20 years since 9/11, remembering the attacks that changed our nation forever. I'm going to speak with one woman who lost her husband about what it means to her.

Thank you for being here, everybody. We do begin this hour with President Biden stepping up his war against the coronavirus. More mandates, more political and legal battles ahead and also very likely, many more vaccinations because of it.

In an impassioned speech, the President's frustration with Americans still resisting getting vaccinated evident, saying, our patience is wearing thin. The President now compelling businesses with 100 or more employees to require workers be vaccinated or tested weekly.

Federal workers now must be vaccinated, no option for testing as an alternative altogether, the new measures are expected to affect about two-thirds of all U.S. employees. Some Republican governors are already threatening to sue the Biden administration over these new vaccine requirements, calling them un-American and unconstitutional.

Though, at least when it comes to the private sector, the private sector requirements aren't mandates, by definition, it still allows, as I mentioned, for weekly testing. And again, the coronavirus vaccine has been proven safe and has proven to save lives.

We also have a new CNN poll on how Americans are feeling the pain the President is doing amidst all of this. Let's begin our coverage with CNN, Jeremy Diamond. He's live at the White House this hour. Jeremy, a big speech by the President following up on it today. What are you hearing today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we heard some Republican governors coming out and calling the President's move to require businesses that employ more than 100 people to have their staff be either vaccinated or test regularly. Those governors calling this unconstitutional and an overreach and threatening legal action. This morning, we heard President Biden responding to that. Here's that reaction.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Have at it. Look, I'm so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. This is - we're playing for real here. This isn't a game.


DIAMOND: And ultimately, what the President also said was that he believes that the public is on his side. And the polling does indeed reflect that with. And when you look at even just the vaccination numbers, three quarters of American adults have now gotten at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

So, there is a movement in the direction and the some of the frustration that you heard the President talking about yesterday, as he said our patience is wearing thin and your refusal, speaking to the unvaccinated has caused all of us. The President really trying to reflect some of the frustration that is being felt in the public at large. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, Jeremy, thank you very much for that. So, President Biden's aggressive move to expand vaccine requirements comes as CNN has a new poll this morning that captures how Americans are feeling in this moment. 52% of Americans are right now saying they approve of how the president is handling his job, 48% disapprove. That numbers up several points from April.

CNN's Political Director David Chalian joins me now. Because there is much more here, David, than just approval, disapproval in these numbers. I mean, this new poll really shows Americans view on how the President is handling his job. And that view has shifted. What do you see in this poll?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, there's no doubt about that, Kate. And as you know, coronavirus is issue number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I mean, it's just like the dominant issue for Americans that the economy is second and nothing else even breaks, double digits.

And when we look at President Biden's approval of handling the coronavirus, again, you see majority support with 56% approving of the way he's handling the virus and 44% disapproving. But look at that approval number over time. This is why the President gave that speech that he gave last night. That approval number is down 10 points. In April, it was 66% approval of his handling of coronavirus.

Obviously since then, the Delta variant has been, you know, just growing across the country. We've seen a rise in cases. The frustration that you were just talking about with Jeremy among the vaccinated that he spoke to, and he clearly understood he needed to do a bit of resetting on the path forward here.


We see a decline in support among independence, a key critical voting bloc for his coalition. So, with all of that, the President seems to be aware of this rising concern that is apparent our poll on the coronavirus, on the economy, even on an issue like crime. There's just a rising level of concern of some of these top issues among Americans.

BOLDUAN: Do the numbers, cross tabs, whatever you're looking at, David, does it reveal, give you a sense of why Americans are less confident and the President's handling of the pandemic?

CHALIAN: Well, with it is this increased worry about the virus in their community. Right now, we have seven in 10 Americans in this poll, 70% saying they are very or somewhat worried about the coronavirus in their own community. That is up 10 points from a year ago. So, think about where we were a year ago.

And now we see an increase in worry and concern. I think that sentiment is driving why his overall approval on handling the virus is down a little bit. And exactly those worries and concerns that the President is aiming to address last night today at the school when you see him talking about this now.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and the numbers nationally, you know, 400,000 were dead when he took -- people that died from COVID when he took office, 250,000 people have died since he has been in office. That's the national numbers. And then as you saying when you look at down to people's communities, what they're seeing in their communities, that's what's impacting, understandably, all of this and also impacting why the President is taking this aggressive push now.

It's good to see you, David, thank you for bringing us that information.

CHALIAN: You too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Dr. Lena Wen, CNN Medical Analyst, former Health Commissioner for the city of Baltimore, Maryland, also with a CNN Chief Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.

Doctor Wen, I want to get your overall reaction to the President's, you know, new war on COVID, this new push that he's making. This six- point plan, were you happy with what you've heard?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's about time for the President to hit reset, and to really put the blame where it should be, which is on the unvaccinated. Right now, and so many people who are vaccinated are thinking, well, we've been doing the right thing, we've been acting responsibly.

But we still feel like it's not safe to go out and do all the things that we did in pre-pandemic times. And that's because of the one in four adults in America who have yet to receive even one dose of the vaccine. And so, for the President now saying, OK, education, outreach, asking nicely, even pleading, it's not working, we're going to do vaccine mandates.

I think that was the right step. It was a bit late for my taste. And I also think that the President should have gone even further, because one thing that I hope he did was to look at what France and the cities of New York and San Francisco have done, which is to tie vaccination to privileges that people really want, going to bars, restaurants, gyms, traveling.

I wish the President had said, look, if you choose to be unvaccinated, that's fine. But now you can't go out in public and do all these things that you want to do. I hope that he can still make this step and also go further to do vaccine to really do a proof of vaccination. But at least yesterday was a very good step in the right direction.

BOLDUAN: You know, Jeffrey, a major component of this push is new vaccine requirements as Dr. Wen is laying out, and then in the private sector realm, you've got all businesses with 100 or more employees now needing to require and ensure workers are vaccinated or tested regularly, like once a week. Is that on sound legal footing?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's going to be the heart of the controversy. There's no doubt that the President has the authority to order federal workers to be vaccinated, but this order to the companies, which hasn't come out yet, and obviously we have to see the regulation itself before we evaluate whether it is illegal or not.

But there are going to be a lot of questions and legitimate questions. Is this something the President can do without going to Congress first, without a law? Is he following the correct procedure? There are rules about regulation, there is something called notice and comment rulemaking, which takes longer, will we have to do that?

All of these are going to be part of the challenges from the Republican governors and others who will certainly sue as soon as the regulation comes out.

But the important point to remember is that of the say, 80 million people who are covered by this, millions and millions are going to comply.


TOOBIN: Even with the legal questions, and that's the important part is that there are going to be millions more people vaccinated and that's why they are taking this step out of the frustration of the moment where we are. [11:10:06]

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and Jeffrey, I mean to the point about what Republican governors are saying, Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling the mandates an assault on private businesses, saying the state's already working to hold this power grab. Wyoming's governor saying that he's asked the State's Attorney General to stand prepared to take all actions to oppose this administration's unconstitutional overreach of executive power.

The President responding just in the last, you know, within the last hour saying, "have at it." I mean, what do these challenges again, we have to wait to the Labor Department put this stuff out. But what are these challenges look like?

TOOBIN: Well, it's a simple question of presidential authority is like, does the President have the right under the Constitution and under the laws of the Labor Department and OSHA? Does he have the authority to impose this requirement? That is an unsettled question, that is -- this has never come up before.

I mean, it is certainly true that vaccine requirements are legal in many circumstances, the military has vaccine requirements. Virtually every school in the United States has vaccine requirements. But we have never had the federal government offer this kind of coercion, you could call it or requirement or incentive to mandate private workers in this way.

It's new and, you know, these are not frivolous concerns on the part of these Republican governors, but it's not also clear that they're going to win. It's an unsettled legal question, and I assume that the Supreme Court will get it sooner rather than later.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Wen, so the federal government we have seen since the pandemic set in, has had authority over air travel, and rail -- air and rail when putting in requirements for wearing masks now for what, more than a year, we've seen. They're not making a vaccine requirement for air travel or train travel in this announcement from the president. Do you think there should be that requirement? And how big of a difference do you think that would make?

WEN: I absolutely think we should have that requirement. I think it was a major oversight on the part of the Biden administration to not issue this yesterday. And we have to talk about the reason, the reason isn't so much that we need to keep our train travel and plane travel even safer, they are pretty safe.

Although I definitely think that having a vaccine requirement would make it even safer, and probably encourage many people who are vaccinated or who have young kids and want to protect them. Maybe it'll help to encourage those people to start traveling again.

But there's an even bigger reason to which is, I think we really need to make it clear that there are privileges associated with being an American, that if you wish to have these privileges, you need to get vaccinated, traveling and having the right to travel in our state, it's not a constitutional right as far as I'm -- as far as I know, to board a plane. And so, saying that if you want to stay unvaccinated, that's your choice. But if you want to travel, you better go get that vaccine.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Wen, Jeffrey, thanks so much. I appreciate it guys.

Coming up for us, America prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, how the threat of terror has changed since then, next.



BOLDUAN: 20 years ago tomorrow nearly, 3000 Americans were killed in coordinated attacks in New York City at the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks that changed our country and our world forever. President Biden will be visiting all three sites tomorrow to honor the victims and heroes of that tragic day.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins me now live in New York, at the side of the 9/11 Memorial. Shimon, how is the President planning to honor the day?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, certainly it's going to be a very busy day for him. He will be here at ground zero at the World Trade Center site, which family members with other dignitaries, former presidents, first responders all will be gathered here tomorrow. So, he will be here. He will also then go to Pennsylvania and then he will also wind up ending his day over at the Pentagon.

All of these, the sites of the various attacks and where one of those planes went down. Of course, you know, it's going to be a very solemn day here. 20 years, most people remember where they were on this day, 20 years ago. And now so many remembering leading up to this, you know, I was down at the reflection pools before I came up here for this live shot.

You could already start to feel some of the sadness and some of the solemn, the quiet around the pools, the reflection pools where many of the names are etched in stone along the pool, families a gathering there already and some of the first responders. So, no doubt it's going to be a very solemn day here tomorrow and a day to remember what happened 20 years ago.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, thanks for that.

And just this past month, the U.S. ended the long war that began in the ashes of 9/11. America's longest war in Afghanistan. But the war on terrorism is far from over. Let's go there. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Kabul for us this hour and he joins me now.

Nic, you were showing some video, you were in Afghanistan on 9/11 as America was under attack, how much has the terror threat changed in the 20 years since?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's changed, because it's become much greater, more diverse, more spread around the globe. It's changed because counterterrorism officials know that it's out there, have recognized that governments are listening for their counterterrorism officials.

And they've put in place mechanisms to, you know, to counter that, for example, we just heard from the British head of MI5 today saying that in the past six years, Britain has 431, serious active threats from terrorism. Pre-9/11 governments in the United States, the U.K. just weren't as stepped up and ready to take on that threat.

So, what is happening here in Afghanistan, there are more and different groups of jihadists, more extreme than al Qaeda, ISIS-K is here, they like nothing better than to attack the United States and attack United States on U.S. soil. You have al Qaeda here, who promised not to attack the United States from Afghanistan, they remain an active threat.

And you have many smaller groups who've also attacked the United States, TTP Pakistani Taliban. Their threat here is going up rapidly as well.

BOLDUAN: Nic, thank you so much for that reporting. So, 20 years after that horrific day, the Secretary of Homeland Security says today the most serious threat to America in this moment is not from overseas, though it is from within, it is from inside the United States. Here he was this morning on Good Morning America.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The greatest terrorism related threat to the homeland is the threat of domestic terrorism. Individuals who are prone to violence by reason of an ideology of hate, or false narratives that we see spread on social media or other online platforms.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now is Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI, now a CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst. Andy, what does it say to you that 20 years after 9/11, the greatest terrorist threat to the United States is not from outside, but from within?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Kate, it's really a sobering moment. You know, I think one of the things that enabled the country to rally together after the attacks on September 11, with the fact that we had been attacked from outside, right?

From a foreign enemy, and to have 20 years later, excuse me to have to wake up to the fact that the greatest threats we face today are from our own brothers and sister Americans right here in the homeland. I think the Secretary is absolutely right, the director of the FBI has made similar comments in the last year, you only have to look at the headlines to see the violence and the kind of the anti-government sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment, that is just kind of pouring forth from those nodes of domestic violent extremism. So that's certainly where we need to focus our attention in our counterterrorism efforts today.

BOLDUAN: And to that point, I mean, so much of the focus is on tomorrow as it should be. But you are also very worried, I would say more worried now about a potential threat coming next week from inside the United States, you know, with the another right wing rally that is planned around the Capitol. We know that the Capitol Complex is preparing for it, but kind of what is learned from 9/11? What is learned from January 6 that everyone needs to kind of wake up to?

MCCABE: Well, I can tell you from decades working in counterterrorism and the FBI and running the FBI counterterrorism program for a while, the work of countering terrorism never stopped. So you get really ramped up when a particular event is on the horizon like this, the upcoming rally on the 18th, or when a particular anniversary, a significant anniversary is upon us like the anniversary of 9/11 any events that could be triggering or could cause extremists to maybe want to mark those events with acts of violence, you get focused on those, but you immediately have to then turn your focus to the next threat stream, the next problem because the threat from terrorism never goes away.

And just while we're very focused and appropriately so on domestic violent extremists these days, we can't completely take our eye off the threats that we face from overseas. Al Qaeda is still there. They're diminished somewhat, but they are still out there. They still want to attack us, AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

And it is possible now that there is a lack of a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, that they may have recovered more ungoverned space from which to reconstitute. So, counterterrorism work never stops and the professionals who do it every day should have our support and admiration.


BOLDUAN: And looking back overseas, Andy, there's this, you know, there is a real concern with the United States out of Afghanistan. Not only will the terror threat reemerge, but that we now lack the intelligence resources once again there to have a clear eye on how serious the threat is. How real is that fear for you?

MCCABE: It's very real. It's very real. I mean, look, let's be honest, we are far more advanced and sophisticated in our ability to track terrorists to monitor their activities and their recruiting efforts on social media. We have our elements of the military are far more advanced than they were certainly on 9/11. However, physical presence makes a difference.

So being having to conduct this counter terrorist watch from far away when we used to be able to do it right in the heart of Afghanistan makes a very big difference. Al Qaeda put out, you know, their propaganda wolves of Manhattan just last year.

In July, AQAP returned to publishing their infamous terrorist inspiration magazine called Inspire. So those threats are still there, they're still targeting United States, and we now have put ourselves into a bit of a tougher position to keep track of them and to respond to them overseas.

BOLDUAN: Andy, thanks for being here. I appreciate it.

MCCABE: Sure thing.

BOLDUAN: A programming note for everyone, and you can join CNN for special coverage of the 9/11 Anniversary all day that is tomorrow. That, of course, begins though, tomorrow morning. And on Sunday, a new special report from CNN's Jake Tapper. It's called, America's Longest War: What went wrong in Afghanistan. That airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. Eastern, we'll be right back.