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Judge: Friday Deadline For Trump To Refine Special Master Request; NYT: FDA Plans To Authorize New COVID Boosters By Labor Day. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 24, 2022 - 11:30   ET



JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For soon debt relief. So the way they've come out is $10,000 of relief, not the $50,000 that many people on the left had been asking for, but 10,000 of relief per borrower if you make under $125,000 a year. They're trying to limit it, the benefits for the highest income. But up to $20,000 if you've received a Pell grant.

That's designed to get some of those lower and middle-income families covered there. So complicated setting, you've got a midterm election coming up, they're extending the student loan pause through the end of the year, so people aren't getting a new bill just before midterm elections. And that's how they tried to balance the various political and economic interests here, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Rahel, talk to me more about kind of the inflation criticism that is coming at the White House because it is real -- it is real. I mean, Larry Summers, for once, is very concerned about the impact on inflation, especially the extension of the pause on payments is what he seems particularly concerned about. He wrote this, in part, the worst idea would be a continuation of the current moratorium that benefits among others, highly paid surgeons, lawyers, and investment bankers. But talk to me more about this concern with inflation here, and what it really could mean for the economy.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the big concern here is what this policy would do for consumer demand and consumer spending, as John pointed out, so more consumer spending would add to inflation. So let's take, for example, the average student loan payment before the moratorium, of course, it was about $300 a month. Well, suddenly, if you have to start paying back $300 a month, let's say starting next month, that's $300 less that you have to spend in the economy that stimulates sort of growth and demand.

The counterargument, however, is that this moratorium has been in effect for two years. Household budgets have already been set. This is not new money that's being generated. This is not a new stimulus that's being added. And so that's why you're seeing such fierce debate among economists about whether this is net positive, net negative, or net neutral, which, by the way, one economist, Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's telling me just a few hours ago that look, he's not crazy about this policy, as we understand it, either. But that you may or may not like this policy, but that should not be

based on the impact it will have on the economy and inflation because when combined with the end of the moratorium when that comes, it's an economic wash.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. And, John, I mean, the NAACP is also not happy. I mean, saying that the plan doesn't go far enough. I know you're getting at this as well. The quote from the NAACP is this is not how you treat black voters. Are these concerns being heard at the White House?

HARWOOD: Absolutely. They've got a tough midterm coming up. They're trying to hold the House, they're trying to hold control of the Senate, both of those are going to be difficult, even as the political environment has improved for Democrats lately. And they need an energetic turnout of African Americans. And I think what they're counting on is that they have weighed the balance of interest by adding the extra loan for -- the extra debt relief for Pell Grant recipients. They've sort of dealt with that issue, as well as the 10,000 for everybody under 125,000. But it's not easy. And you know Democrats have gotten a lot of people to try to turn out to vote.

The one thing just to add to what Rahel was saying and what Mark Zandi was saying is, it's kind of like the Inflation Reduction Act. That wasn't really about inflation and is only going to have a marginal impact on reducing inflation if it has any at all. The same is true in reverse of student debt relief, it's not going to have a dramatic increase in inflation, but it moves in the wrong direction so you've got small movements in either direction and Joe Biden's trying to balance them.

BOLDUAN: And regardless, I just will state again, it is a band-aid over the real problem, which is at its most basic, the skyrocketing and insane costs of higher education today no matter what the details are in this announcement. It's great to see you guys, thank you so much.

Coming up for us. A judge gives Trump's legal team until Friday, what the court wants to hear from the former president's lawyers by then? That's next.



BOLDUAN: A federal judge has set a deadline for Friday. That is when former President Trump and his legal team have to clarify their lawsuit against the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago home. The judge asking essentially why he is asking for a special master to oversee the evidence gathered and also questioning why they brought the lawsuit to her court. CNN's Katelyn Polantz has more on this for us. Katelyn, talk to me about this Friday deadline.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Right. Well, Kate, this essentially is a do-over for Trump's legal team. They asked for this special master earlier in the week and the judge is signaling that what they wrote in court is inadequate so far, so the judge is asking Trump's attorneys to clarify a few things.

First and foremost, she wants them to write more about the precise relief sought. So that is essentially a judge saying I don't know what you're asking for, please clarify. She also wants them to say why the court has jurisdiction, what legal standards apply, so that's, please explain a little bit more about what the law is here.

She also wants to know whether Trump is seeking immediate relief. So when Trump filed for this special master, he didn't do the things that you need to do to get a judge to do something on an emergency basis. So there -- that she's asking for a little bit more explanation there. Also, this question has Trump actually told the Justice Department he's asking for a special master. Let them know that this is in court now, so all of that explanation is supposed to be coming in Friday as a supplement. We should see it now even before Friday on Thursday.


So, tomorrow, we are expecting the Justice Department to file under seal so confidentially not available to the public, their proposed redactions for the affidavit the explanation of their investigation. And we still are learning more things by the day about how that investigation took place, including that there was concern early on in the federal government that there were classified documents in the hundreds found at Mar-a-Lago, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Katelyn, thank you so much. Joining me now for more on this is CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers and CNN national security analyst Shawn Turner. It's good to see you, guys.

So, Jennifer, on the judge's response to the Trump filing, what do you make of her response and what she is asking them to clarify as Katelyn laid out?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as Katelyn said, Kate, it was technically inadequate in many ways and it was inadequate in the sense of, you know, we don't know what you want us to do here, what are you asking for, and what is the basis for your request? That's what a judge really needs to know in order to determine, first of all, where it's going to go. Is Judge Reinhart, who has the search warrant going to hear this request for a special master, or will it go to another judge, possibly a district judge, instead of Judge Reinhart, who's a magistrate judge?

And then what is the basis for relief? If you don't submit an affidavit, then there are no facts that backup what you're asking for, so they need to do that. So once they get the parameters of what's actually being requested, they can get it to the right judge, and then that judge will set a schedule for hearing it.

BOLDUAN: And it seems that Judge Aileen Cannon also hits on this in her response. But what impact could this or does this will this have on the other judge who is preparing to decide what to do about releasing the affidavit related to the FBI search? He hits on like, did you tell the Justice Department that you were even getting at this? RODGERS: Well, it doesn't impact Judge Reinhart's decision on whether to release parts of the affidavit. It would be more efficient for Judge Reinhart to hear it. He's already familiar with the search warrant and its support. So I think it makes sense to put it before the judge, but it doesn't really impact the other thing that he's handling. So technically, it doesn't have to go before him.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Shawn, there is also this new detail that Katelyn was hitting out on the sheer volume of classified documents retrieved from Trump's Florida State. In a letter from the National Archives, it's a one -- they -- it's a -- in a -- in the January kind of retrieval of boxes, it was a hundred classified documents totaling more than 700 pages. And also in that letter, it explains what the Justice Department, the reason they were part of what they're writing about, the justice department wanted to conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take any necessary remedial steps.

What is behind that? Is it the sheer volume of classified documents that they found in his possession or was it the level of classification, do you think?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Well, you know, Kate, I have to say at the outset that it just defies logic that one of President Trump's you know supporters would reveal the existence of this letter, which as we now know, tells us a lot about the volume and the nature of those documents. Now, direct your question, what's behind that request for an investigation, request to look into the potential damage that could be caused is a reference in the letter to Special Access Programs.

Now we haven't talked a lot about this. Everyone's known that there has been top secret SCI information or Sensitive Compartmented Information in those documents. But one of the things we've been waiting to understand is whether or not there was a sapper -- Special Access Program information in these documents. What we're talking about here, and it's really important for people to understand is we're talking about a level of classification that goes beyond SCI.

SAP programs are restricted to a very small number of people. And these programs deal with things like black programs, they deal with ongoing operations. They even deal with sources that are so sensitive, that if those sources were revealed, it would be catastrophic to our intelligence collection efforts. And so that's one of the reasons why there was such a sense of urgency to understand what was in this trove of documents because if there's information there that people have access to that could get back to our adversaries around the world, then it could have a significant impact on our ability to continue to conduct our intelligence mission.

BOLDUAN: And, Shawn, I want to play for you what the former -- one of Trump's former acting Chiefs of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, what he said about the sheer volume and the type of classification that was picked up in this kind of round in this retrieval. Let me play this for you. He spoke with us yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: You could easily throw a bunch of stuff in a box of documents and there might be classified materials in there and classification covers a large, broad sort of variety of documents. So a large number of documents doesn't necessarily get my attention. Again, it is the small number of TS/SCI and special access documents that has me scratching my head.



BOLDUAN: I think you recently -- I think you agree with only some of that, but what do you think what he said?

TURNER: Yes. Well, look, you know, it certainly is the case that those of us who have had a security clearance for a long time. Occasionally you doubt do have a situation where someone inadvertently takes a classified document home. And there is a process for dealing with that. Now, the idea that you would throw multiple documents -- you know classified documents into a box, especially -- particularly at this volume, and take those out of the White House and then be asked for those documents to be returned and resist that request, you know, that sort of defies logic.

I do think he's right about just the idea that it is a head-scratcher. We still don't know why the president would want to retain these documents, particularly if they were spayed -- they relate to Special Access Programs. But it's critically important that we understand why.

As I said before, Kate, if these documents were about the president and one of his investigations, I could potentially understand that. But if we're talking about sat programs, those are not the president -- about the president. Those are about serious intelligence collection efforts, and we need to understand why he took those documents.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thank you both very much.

Coming up for us. Millions of Americans are waiting for updated COVID booster shots and that wait could soon be over. Details on how quickly the FDA could be authorizing them, next.



BOLDUAN: The Biden administration, making plans now to roll out an updated version of COVID booster shots to people 12 and older. The New York Times is reporting it could happen soon after Labor Day, actually. Both Pfizer and Moderna have developed booster shots that combine the original vaccine with one specifically designed to target the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants. The CDC says BA.5 now accounts for nearly 90 percent of all new COVID cases in the United States. Joining me right now for more on this is Dr. Eric Topol. He's the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Service -- Institute. It's good to see you again, Doctor Topol, I really appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: What is your reaction to kind of this plan to roll this out as soon as possible? And also what it could mean? I mean, are we going do you think with this new vaccine -- these new vaccines, we will see less infections?

TOPOL: Well, that's a good question. We just don't know. As you pointed out, Kate, with 90 percent of the cases BA.5, this is going to be a vaccine directed to that for the first time. It's the first updated vaccine since the beginning of the whole pandemic. So in that respect, it's good, it shows the FDA is quite agile, but a lot of uncertainties. The only data we have for this specific vaccine so far is in mice. That's what's used for flu shots, updating them from year to year. But this is a different virus. The hope is it's going to reduce infections and transmission, as you just alluded to, but we just don't know that yet.

BOLDUAN: You know, the New York Times is reporting about this. The FDA is going to decide whether to authorize the new boosters without seeking a recommendation from the panel of outside experts, which is its normal procedure.

TOPOL: Right.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of that?

TOPOL: Well, they are going to have a CDC Advisory Committee review.


TOPOL: So that may be at least some external review, but it is a bit surprising, and they're not going to entertain the FDA Advisory Committee's input.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You also wrote recently about something that I don't think gets enough attention and why would very looking -- very much looking forward to speaking with you, which is about long COVID. A recent study indicated that one in eight people who have COVID experience prolonged symptoms over many months yet, this -- it's still a condition that is largely mysterious. What do you think people need to be aware of right now? What is our better understanding of long COVID at this moment?

TOPOL: Well, I'm really glad that you're on it, Kate. This is a really big problem that doesn't get adequate recognition. And it's really the main reason we have to avoid COVID infections or reinfections because it's a cumulative hit of having second or third infections. We are starting to get a better handle on the underpinnings, there seems to be inflammation of the nervous system, which is why we see some of these impacts on the -- on the brain, nervous system, even out to two years. And we are really way behind on getting treatments.

There are many different treatments that are out there dangling with small trials, but we don't have commitments to big trials to nail this down. So right now, our best tech is prevention. And there's just not enough people being COVID cautious right now to prevent those infections, the only way we know to prevent long COVID right now.

BOLDUAN: I want to read for everyone a bit of -- a bit of the op-ed that you wrote in the LA Times about this. You wrote, as we eventually emerged from this pandemic, long COVID will be the enduring major public health complication that we failed to address in a timely and aggressive manner. It's not too late to invest in understanding and combating it. What is that going to take?

TOPOL: Yes. Well, it hasn't been ever taken as seriously and as aggressively as we needed. We've got well over 10 million Americans suffering from long COVID right now, you know, tenfold what we've seen in fatalities. And we have -- we're over 4 million who are out of work. So this requires really intensive efforts. We have an NIH budget, which is substantial, over a billion dollars towards long COVID but it isn't into these trials of treatments. And we've got to get these people better.


They're suffering. And I think it's been denied. Also, the risk of it are just not out there. But it's really the main thing that's going to be the -- overtime when we look back. It's going to be the one thing that we haven't pushed on hard enough.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's -- the way you put it, I think was -- I think it really -- it made me think of it a different way and like this is going to be the long tail of COVID even when this pandemic is long gone, is long COVID. Dr. Topol, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate it.

TOPOL: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, President Biden, he will announce his student loan forgiveness plan in the two o'clock hour from the White House, just got that announcement. We will bring that to you when it begins live. Until then, thanks so much for being here AT THIS HOUR, I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after this break.