Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Average Gas Price Hits Another Record, Near $5 A Gallon; Justice Dept. Charges Man Near Kavanaugh's Home With Attempted Murder; Gymnasts Seek $1 Billion From FBI For Mishandling Nassar Case. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 09, 2022 - 11:30   ET



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is two doses, clinical trials for both of them show that it is safe and effective. And this is really important at the time for both of these clinical trials, Omicron was the dominant variant. And that's important because that's not true for the adult one. So it's good to hear that this vaccine did well with Omicron. So let's take a listen to Dr. Ashish Jha who talked about the success that the vaccine has had with older children.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We know that for kids over five, vaccines have made a tremendous difference. Kids who are vaccinated are far less likely to get seriously ill from COVID. They're far less likely to end up in the hospital or in the ICU. And they're far less likely to get complications of COVID like multi-system inflammatory syndrome of children.


COHEN: So, again, the rollout for these very little children could start as soon as June 20, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Elizabeth. Appreciate it. For more on this, bring -- let me bring in Dr. Paul Offit. He is a member of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee. He's also the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital Philadelphia. Dr. Offit, you and other vaccine -- FDA vaccine advisors are scheduled to be meeting very soon to discuss authorizing these vaccines for the youngest kids, what are you going to focus on in that discussion?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Well, right now, you and I are looking at the same thing, which is a press release from the companies. What we really need to do is to dig into the data. And what we'll get both from the FDA and from the company is a couple of hundred pages worth of data that we'll review next June the 15th. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices to the CDC will also review those data on the 17th and 18th.

And assuming that most importantly, number one, these vaccines are safe, and number two, that there's clear evidence of effectiveness, then it's possible that by you know, let's say June 20, June 21st, assuming we all agree that the data are convincing, then that the vaccine could be going simply need a vaccine for children. I mean, this virus is going to be with us for decades and every year, there's three and a half to 4 million children who were born in this country who were fully susceptible to the virus.

BOLDUAN: What do you think of the White House rollout plan, if you will, in trying to get the vaccines if authorized, when authorized to get them out throughout the country in a really, really quickly and in a broad way?

OFFIT: You know that's great. And I -- it's certainly really important to anticipate the fact that these vaccines will be recommended by the CDC. What worries me a little bit is if you look at sort of the 12 to 15-year-old, about 60 percent of that age group is vaccinated. If you look at the five to 11-year-old, about 30 percent of that age group is vaccinated.

And if you look probably what's going to happen with the six-month- old, the five or six-year-old, it's probably going to be less than 25 percent. So we certainly hear from a lot of parents who say they're desperate for this vaccine but I fear that the uptake is going to be, frankly, even lower than it is for the five to 11-year-old. I hope I'm wrong.

BOLDUAN: I -- because I was going to ask you -- I mean, there's one -- it's -- there's the rollout, but there's also then actually getting the shots and arms and, of course, that is talking to parents about this. And you were talking about the latest data on who's getting shots. When you look at the latest polling from April as the latest polling of parents how they feel about getting their youngest kids vaccinated for COVID, the chosen only 18 percent of parents say that they're ready to schedule for a shot right away.

I mean, yes, since April, May, that could have changed but I would be surprised if it was like a demonstrably big difference change in that number. How -- do you think anything can move the needle on that?

OFFIT: Well, I think we have to, as pediatricians, do the best we can to convince people. What's frustrating for me working at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia is we certainly see children come into our hospital who could have gotten a vaccine but who didn't.

And invariably, you know, sometimes they're seriously ill, sometimes what happens is you're watching the parents cry as we're sedating the child, bringing them up to the intensive care unit, putting a tube down into their windpipe, attaching them to a ventilator, you know, they're crying, the siblings are crying, and you know, you're thinking this all could be avoided.

Actually, if you look at these parent advocacy groups, like families fighting flu, or meningitis angels, or the national meningitis Association, all those parents tell the same story. I can't believe this happened to me until it happens to them. So the point is, not to let it happen to you. BOLDUAN: And then again, to say it over and over again, listen to pediatricians like yourself. Listen to your pediatrician. That's the best way to get to have that conversation about whatever hangups and qualms and concerns you might have for your little kiddo.

Also happening at the very same time, Dr. Offit, is Moderna just announced that they have -- they say they have very good data on an updated kind of Omicron's specific vaccine for adults. They're hoping to get approval on this ahead of the fall, even late summer. I'm going to play for you what Moderna's chief medical officer told me about this yesterday.


DR. PAUL BURTON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA: Covering Omicron as a fundamental part of our vaccine, which clearly is in this one is important because it's so far removed from the original ancestral virus that having antibodies against it not only protects against Omicron but gives you good surround sound for these new Omicron sub- variants and also variants that may come along.



BOLDUAN: Do you think variant-specific vaccines, if you will, are the way forward?

OFFIT: We certainly need to stay ahead of the game on variants. I mean, Omicron crossed the line. As distinct from say, the Alpha variant or the Delta variant, or the first variant which was D614G. Vaccines protect you well against symptomatic infection. Omicron crossed the -- crossed the line, it's an immune evasive strain. So even if you've been fully vaccinated, if you've been vaccinated and previously infected, you still could get a mild illness.

That's what -- now that's what you're seeing now, a lot of cases but not consequently a lot of hospitalizations and deaths. It's an immune- evasive strain, so you want to stay ahead of it. The question is -- and again, we're looking at one-page press releases.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

OFFIT: We will look at this data. We, the FDA Advisory Committee on June 28, we'll look at these data. And we want to see that it's clear that by seeing -- giving a booster dose with an Omicron-specific vaccine, that you clearly get a much better immune response and a protective immune response against Omicron as compared to just giving another dose of the insets refrain. That's what these companies are going to have to prove before we would agree with something like that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I'm very curious to see what that data shows and when -- what you think about it. It's good to see you, Dr. Offit. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us, gas prices are now nearing $5 a gallon on average right now. President Biden on late-night TV defending his team's moves to bring down those prices. Details in a report -- live report next.



BOLDUAN: For the 12th consecutive day, the average price of regular gas has hit a new record. AAA reports it's now $4.97 a gallon on average, but people in many states are already seeing it above the $5 mark. CNN's Gabe Cohen is tracking this. He's live in Virginia for us at this hour. Gabe, what are you seeing?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, that national average could easily hit $5 a gallon in the next few days given that the price has been rising even faster since Memorial Day. Of a quarter in just the past week, there are now 21 states where the price of gas is over $5 a gallon on average with five states joining that list overnight. The most expensive California gas there is over $6 a gallon and they're followed by Nevada, Illinois, Washington State, and Alaska as the most expensive states to buy gas.

And look, it is only getting worse, oil prices rose to a three-month high yesterday. Typically, gas prices will follow that. The folks at GasBuddy telling me don't expect any relief on these prices until at least July and also don't be surprised if we hit the $6 a gallon mark by late summer. President Biden, the administration in recent days saying that there's really little they can do at this point to bring down these prices. The president, overnight, going on television and responding to claims that his stance on drilling and energy is fueling these hikes.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For example, our oil companies -- oil companies, instead of everybody says well, Biden won't let them drill. They have 9000 drilling sites that they've already own that are there. They're not doing it. You know why? Because they make more money not drilling and buying back their own stock.


COHEN: And, Kate, that $5 a gallon mark is significant for drivers. AAA has done surveys that found 75 percent of them will change their habits when gas hits that price.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Gabe. Thank you very much. New this morning, CNN has obtained audio of Maryland police after they had arrested an armed man near Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh's house. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Units be advised (INAUDIBLE) a caller came to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He came from California, took a taxi from the airport to this location.


BOLDUAN: The FBI then raided the California home of this 26-year-old now charged with attempted murder. Police say he called emergency services on himself after pulling up atthe Kavanaughs' home. CNN's Jessica Schneider is live in Washington tracking this. It's really unbelievable, Jessica. I mean, it's sadly believable and unbelievable at the same time. What's the latest here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is, Kate. And you heard that dispatch audio and then we've learned from the criminal complaint that this suspect also confessed to the FBI that he traveled across the country specifically, in his words, to break into the home of a Supreme Court justice and kill him.

And we know now that the target was Justice Brett Kavanaugh. That's because the whole scene unfolded around one o'clock Wednesday morning just outside DC in Chevy Chase, Maryland, outside Kavanagh's home. So authorities there saying that the suspect got out of a taxi cab, he was wearing all black, he carried a backpack and suitcase, inside there was a trove of weapons and gear that included a black tactical chest rig, a Glock 17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, also pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a screwdriver, a crowbar, and duct tape.

The suspect, though, almost immediately call 91 -- 911. He turned himself in. He told the dispatcher he was having suicidal thoughts and that he had a gun. That's when the police took him into custody.


SCHNEIDER: And then the suspect when he was interviewed by the FBI, he said he was concerned about several things that brought him to Maryland. He said he was concerned about the leak of that abortion draft decision last month. He also was obsessed about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. And he thought justice Kavanaugh would ultimately vote to overturn a New York gun law and loosen restrictions in that state, that case still has to be released, Kate.

So, the suspect is in custody right now. He's charged with the attempted murder of a U.S. judge. And, Kate, that is a serious charge. It carries up to 20 years in prison.

BOLDUAN: Yes. When you -- especially, when you see that list that he had with them so terrifying for the justice and his family.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, a lot.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Jessica. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. More than 90 gymnasts are seeking a billion dollars from the FBI over its gross mishandling of the Larry Nassar case. I'm going to speak with the first woman to publicly speak out and come forward about his sexual abuse. That's next.



BOLDUAN: The clock is ticking now for the FBI to either reach a settlement or fight a claim brought by more than 90 women and girls, including Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles who were all sexually assaulted by former USA gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar. The women are seeking a billion dollars in damages from the FBI for grossly mishandling their credible complaints about Nassar's abuse for months and months. The agency's failure to act in 2015 allowed Nassar to continue molesting young women.

Joining me right now is the first woman to speak publicly about Nassar's abuse, former Gymnast, now an attorney advocating for abuse survivors, Rachel Denhollander. It's good to see you again, Rachel.


BOLDUAN: So you're not, just so everyone knows -- appreciate it. You're not part of this move because of the timing of when your abuse occurred. But your story is their story. What does this big move represent?

DENHOLLANDER: Yes. This represents just what I hope will become an incredible motivation to change how our law enforcement responds to sexual abuse. When I came forward publicly, I came forward with my name and my face and all of those identifying details in 2016 because I was 100 percent confident we were going to find mishandling of abuse allegations against Larry and likely outright corruption in our law enforcement.

Because this is what survivors deal with all the time every day across the country and as soon as I filed that police report, that is exactly what we found. That in fact, the FBI was sitting on reports of sexual abuse for 15 months while Larry was in the exam room. Larry was in the exam room abusing girls the day I filed my report and he was not out until I filed my Title 9 because the FBI so grossly failed these women.

BOLDUAN: You have described this filing, this move as the only option that you have left. Explain that.

DENHOLLANDER: Yes. You know, we -- there are always two reasons you can choose to do what's right, this is what I tell my kids, you can choose to do what's right because you care about the people around you and you're motivated by love for them. And that's what we want our law enforcement to do. That's what our justice system is supposed to be.

But when they don't do that, then there have to be outside consequences that motivate reform and change because the internal motivation isn't there. And what the FBI has shown us over the last five years since we found out about their failures in 2016, is that there's going to be no accountability, there's going to be little to no transparency, and no real meaningful restitution for the hundreds of women that were sexually abused because of their gross failures and their dishonesty and their corruption. So the only option left is to pursue justice this way.

BOLDUAN: In September, four gymnasts -- four fellow survivors of Nassar's abuse. They testified before the Senate after -- about this -- about the FBI's failures. And after they spoke, the current FBI director, I want to play what he said to the committee.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I'm sorry that so many different people let you down over and over again. And I'm especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened. And we're doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.


BOLDUAN: Chris Wray was not the FBI director when all of this happened. But regardless, that apology is not enough very clearly for the over 90 women who were part of this action. What did the apology mean to you?

DENHOLLANDER: Yes, I appreciate the words that he used, I do. And I want to believe that are genuine. But when words are not accompanied by tangible action and consequences for the bad actors, the message that it sends is if we do something wrong, and there was a lot of wrongdoing at the FBI, including outright lying to the Department of Justice about what they had done for those 15 months, the message that is sent when words are not accompanied by real consequences for bad actors, and real restitution to the people that are harmed, the message is we're going to say the right things, but we're not going to do anything about it.

And that tells enablers and abusers and those who have covered up for them, that there's not going to be any real consequences for allowing a pedophile to continue abusing children. And it tells survivors don't bother speaking up because we're going to say the right things, but we're not actually going to do them. And so there's got to be tangible actions that back those words for them to have any meaning.

BOLDUAN: If they win -- if they would win even close to a billion dollars in the civil -- in a civil action, what would that mean and what would the -- and what would the reverse then mean as well, Rachel?


DENHOLLANDER: You know there is no amount of money that makes a person whole after sexual abuse but restitution is right and just because that kind of trauma is lifelong. So the first thing it means is that they will have better compensation for what they went through. For the difficulties that they're enduring to get good medical help and good therapy, and the things that they need to heal. That's the first thing it means.

The second thing it means is that there's tangible consequences for bad actors and that there is a tangible reason for the FBI to have to do it better than next time, and if that's what's going to motivate them, then that's the option that we're left with. And if that does not happen, the message that it sends to survivors is don't bother because we don't really care. And the message it sends to those who enable abusers is we're going to back you and we're going to cover for you if you mess up. This is a -- this is a watershed moment.

BOLDUAN: Rachel, thank you for your time, and thank you for speaking out as always.


BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for being here. INSIDE POLITICS with John King starts after a break.