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The Lead with Jake Tapper
White House Won't Put a Timeline on Infrastructure Progress; Biden Floats Lower Price Tag but Wants GOP Concessions; Biden Won't Create Presidential Commission on January 6 Attack; Fauci: I'm Keeping An Open Mind, COVID May Have Come From Lab Leak; W.H. Plans To Distribute 80M Plus Doses Globally By End Of June; Party Leaders Naftali Bennett And Yair Lapid Agree To Take Turns As Israeli Prime Minister. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 03, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A final one as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden hitting the road today on a ride for First Lady Joe Biden's 70th birthday. As bipartisan negotiations intensify on his infrastructure package, the President is signaling that he's open to making serious concessions to keep the talks alive, including rethinking his plan to pay for it through raising corporate taxes, which had been a non-starter for Republicans.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are a range of paths forward here and the President remains committed to his goal of signing a bill into law, historic investment infrastructure by the summer.
ZELENY (voice-over): Whether it's a path forward or the end of the road to finding a deal remains an open question. But the President has cut his original proposal nearly in half and is set to speak again Friday with Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the lead Republican negotiator.
In a Wednesday meeting with Capito, the President said he was open to imposing a minimum corporate tax of 15 percent taking aim at profitable US companies that now shortchange the federal government. He also called for beefing up IRS enforcement to collect more revenue.
PSAKI: Opposing this proposal would not -- would mean not only opposing raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans who've done extraordinarily well during the 10th pandemic, it would mean opposing the very enforcement of the 2017 tax law.
ZELENY (voice-over): The $1 trillion infrastructure plan is about more than rebuilding the nation's crumbling roads and bridges. It's a test for whether Washington can work in the Biden era. And the President is making it harder for Republicans to turn down the deal. SEN. MITCHELL MCCONNELL, (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: We're still hoping we can come to an agreement on a fully paid for and significant infrastructure package.
ZELENY (voice-over): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell must soon decide whether to accept Biden's concessions and offer some of his own. If not, Democrats will be left to try and pass the bill on their own in the narrowly divided Senate. That is why at least trying to find bipartisan consensus is far more than political theater. But a critical step in winning over moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, whose vote is essential in either case.
GINA RAIMONDO, COMMERCE SECRETARY: We're definitely not there yet. I would say there is a -- there is a gap. And so, that's our job to try to find where the common ground is.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ZELENY: Now, Republicans are expected to make a counteroffer on Friday when Senator Shelley Moore Capito meets with President Biden. I am told that it's likely to be a meeting by telephone not face-to-face like it was earlier in the week.
But the central question here, Jake, is how much Republicans are willing to commit to new spending? Of course, that is where the biggest divide here between both sides is. So, tomorrow, we will get a sense of how serious Republicans are in negotiating. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff, stick around. I want to bring Amanda Carpenter and Ashley Allison into the conversation.
Ashley, let me start with you. Give us a reality check where Democrats are right now. Do you think a legitimate deal between Democrats and Republicans is possible here on infrastructure?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would like to be more optimistic. But it doesn't seem like anything is new in terms of Republicans really wanting to compromise with Democrats. Joe Biden, this whole time on the campaign trail, talked about how he was the president that was going to unite the country. And I think he has but not on policy. And so, Democrats need to, I think at this point, he's tried, he's tried, maybe give it a week or two, but we need to push through because the economy is still hurting and people are really expecting for this president to deliver for them.
TAPPER: Jeff, if a bipartisan deal does fall apart, Democrats will have to go it alone to get anything passed. Of course they need the West Virginia moderate Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat.
A "Washington Post" opinion piece today asks this, "How many times was Democrats be led down rabbit holes in search of GOP support that never materializes before Manchin accepts that in a fundamental sense, the bipartisan possibilities he dreams of are simply gone?" I'm not sure if you agree with that. But how much of this process do you think is performative by the White House to try to convince Manchin that they've tried everything they can, they've bent over backwards, he needs to come on board to get something done.
ZELENY: Jake, it certainly has a lot of that. When you talk to White House officials, they say, look, this is not a waste of time. This is not an empty exercise just going through, you know, really serious motions here of trying to work in a bipartisan way.
I mean, you saw that the President is, you know, making a lot of concessions. He has cut his proposal nearly in half from the beginning. And this is a sitting president with a small majority in the House and a 50-50 Senate. So, he is coming at least partly them.
Jake, you get the sense that he is making it more complicated and difficult for Republicans to walk away. But if they do walk away, it'll be easier for Senator Manchin to support this. So, it is a bit of both. This is a critical part of the process of bringing Senator Manchin and other Democrats on board who don't talk quite as much as Senator Manchin, but they are equally concerned about this.
So, there is a hunger for a bipartisan agreement and a deal. We will see, you know, perhaps more tomorrow how possible that is. But again, if you think this is a waste of time, this is a critical part of the end objective even if they go it alone with Democrats.
TAPPER: Let me check in with one of my favorite West Virginians, Amanda Carpenter.
Amanda, give us the view of the Republican Party because it's not just Joe Manchin that's key here. The other West Virginia senator, the Republican Shelley Moore Capito, she's the one that's leading the negotiations on behalf of Senate Republicans with Biden. But we know that McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, spoke to her before the meeting and there's not going to be a deal without McConnell signing off on it, right?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, politically speaking, there's no interest on behalf of McConnell to help make President Biden's successful here. But I do think it's interesting that Capito is being deployed and that she does have some good ideas.
There's so much money just going around the system because of COVID. I think, $5 trillion has been spent between President Trump and President Biden. And so, forth idea to repurpose unused COVID cent -- COVID funds makes a lot of sense to me.
I mean, I understand the Democrats may not be getting as much as they want. But I think that's something worth working with Capito on. Take her up on that. I mean, what is the downside? Put McConnell on the spot and then you can really say, and I understand the Democratic frustration that this is performative.
But this is Washington going back to normal after Trump in a way. I think it's important for people to see the way Republicans and Democrats coming to the table together. Capito going to the White House, having them work this out. And if they can't get a deal, after all this, then by all means, Biden can go to the people and say, we're going to do this through reconciliation.
TAPPER: And sure interesting to see one state with so many key players.
CARPENTER: I know. Where's the Manchin Capito deal? I like this.
TAPPER: Jeff, I want to go back to you because you have some breaking news from the White House. So the White House just announced that President Biden is not interested in creating a presidential commission to investigate what happened on January 6. Explain to us the reason.
ZELENY: Jake, there have been some questions if President Biden would step in where Congress failed to deliver last week on approving an independent commission, a panel to investigate this. But the President has made the calculation that he is not going to do this.
And this really is not a surprise that follows a pattern of President Biden really, you know, staying away from anything having to do with the post Trump presidency, anything really, except trying to overturn his policies.
But also, you know, this, even Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill in the house, particularly, have really not been supportive of a presidential style commission. So this obviously is going to end up more in a select committee or some other type of investigation on the House side where there is a potential subpoena power. But there was not a big appetite certainly at the White House, I'm told, but even amongst some Democratic leaders to have a presidential style commission, because that, of course, would have politicize it potentially even more. And it could really drag President Biden into something that he really, you know, certainly interested in serving in the Senate for so long. What happened in the Capitol, a building he loves, on January 6, but he really does not see it as something that he needs to involve himself in with so much else on his plate.
TAPPER: It's certainly in keeping with Biden's way of handling Trump, which is to barely even mention his name. He called him the former guy once. Do you think it's the right call, Ashley?
ALLISON: I do. I think there -- it also puts the responsibility back on those senators who did not say we were there, we experienced it. And we want to find out the truth. Joe Biden is trying to get this country back on track. So, I don't think he necessarily needs to do a presidential commission. I think Democrats should continue to remind Republicans and the voters who walked away from it.
And you know, I want to just say like about it, you know, Capito coming to the White House, this is how getting back to the normal Washington. But the reality is, the normal Washington still was in this gridlock, even before Trump, where Republicans and Democrats could not align on policy. So, I think we're at a point where we can try bipartisanship, we can try again. But at the third time, we have to focus on the people.
And we know, overwhelmingly, the people support these type of deals that President Biden is pushing. It's those 50 senators, and maybe a couple that have these by their name, that are not moving and working for the people.
TAPPER: I will just say I'm old enough to remember when the transportation infrastructure bill was like the fattest piece of legislation. And everybody voted for it because it meant millions for their home districts. So, go back a little bit further.
TAPPER: Amanda, let me ask you, you are a Republican who was horrified by what happened in January 6. What does Pelosi need to do if she did goes the way of a select committee to make it so it is a credible select committee and not just something that will be easy for Republicans to dismiss as partisan, which they'll try to do anyway. But what's the best way as substantively to avoid that?
CARPENTER: Make Liz Cheney co-chair of it. Put all the Republicans, the 35 Republicans that voted in favor of having that bipartisan commission, find them spots to help. Because those Republicans put their necks out to say we want to do this. It is important for the country to see Republicans and Democrats unite on the issue of protecting our democracy even if Senate Republicans do not.
So, bring in Kinzinger, bring in Cheney, bring in Capito, bring them all into the fold to find out why and how this attack happened.
TAPPER: Jeff, what do you think is the most realistic option moving forward for this type of investigation? Democrats do have some choices to make.
ZELENY: They do have choices to make. But the reality here is that, you know, the die has been cast. This is likely to be now viewed as a partisan exercise. I guess it would not be quite as much so if those Republicans who had dimension were engaged in this.
But it is also, you know, it's tempting for Democrats to, you know, really spend a lot of time on this, and they certainly want to get to the bottom of this. And their, you know, intentions may be good. But they also, you know, are trying to look ahead.
This is not going to be an issue in which they win or lose the election on. So, have a fair process, you know, bring investigators on, who are -- you know, if Republicans aren't interested, they can bring people from the outside who are very credible to try and get to the bottom of this here. But their hands are tied in some respect. It's one of the reasons the White House, again, really wanted nothing to do with it.
TAPPER: I like that Carpenter. I'm going to call it the "Carpenter Gambit."
CARPENTER: Hey, the Carpenter commission, how about that?
TAPPER: The Carpenter commission, Liz Cheney and someone else co- chairs, equal representation --
CARPENTER: I love it.
TAPPER: -- that's good. The Carpenter commission. I don't know.
CARPENTER: No, not that one.
TAPPER: Carpenter gambits is better.
Jeff Zeleny, Amanda Carpenter, Ashley Allison, thanks to one and all of you. Appreciate it.
The Republican congressman already facing a sex crimes probe is now even more hot water.
Also, a Capitol Police Officer speaking to CNN says he heard the rioters yell "Trump sent us" on January 6. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Time for Florida man coverage. In our politics lead, embattled Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz can add obstruction to the laundry list of potential, potential charges he could be facing in an ongoing federal sex crimes investigation. Sources telling CNN that federal investigators have been concerned about Gaetz possibly attempting to obstruct their investigation since at least fall 2020.
Gaetz, of course, is accused of having had sex with a minor among many other crimes, though he denies any wrongdoing.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now. What is this obstruction charge?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, look, this represents an expansion of the investigation and potential legal jeopardy for the congressman. And what we're told that investigators are looking at is that back in October there was some discussion that investigators now know of involving the congressman and an associate talking about going to see an ex-girlfriend of the congressman to, again, to have some discussions about what went on. And the question is, you know, we don't know whether the meeting actually took place. But the question is, did that represent an effort to align stories? Did that represents an attempt to try to obstruct the investigation.
That's what investigators are looking at. And it's clear that they've been looking at it now, at least since last year during the Trump administration, when Bill Barr was the head of the Justice Department. This is not a new development that has occurred under the Biden administration.
And one of the things, again, that is important here is that this is not the underage girl that the congressman is accused of, perhaps having some kind of sexual relationship with. The girl is now -- she's now 21 years old. But it occurs around the same time. There's some -- around the same time that he is alleged to have had some interaction with this underage girl is about the same time he also is having a relationship with this former girlfriend.
And so, again, what this represents is an expansion of this investigation. Of course, as you said, Congressman Gaetz denies that any of this occurred, says that he's never paid for sex, never certainly had any inappropriate relationship with an underage girl.
And we have a statement from his spokesman who says, "Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he doesn't obstruct it. After two months, there's not a single on record accusation of misconduct. And now the story is changing again."
And of course, this is not a change in the story. This just means an expansion of this investigation.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, look, they have a point that an investigation is not a charge and a charge is not a conviction.
TAPPER: So, I take their point on that, and that's important to emphasize. But if he were to be federally charged with obstruction, how serious the charge is that?
PEREZ: Well, you know, this represents another crime potentially, and it adds leverage for prosecutors if you're trying to bring a case against the Congressman. Another five years is what obstruction represents in prison if, again, if convicted.
And again, one of the things that happens in these cases, Jake, is that when you're bringing together -- putting together a case, you bring a number, any number of cases, any number of charges, rather, that you can bring against the defendant, and that adds to the leverage of prosecutors believe they can -- they can bring to bear.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
A Capitol Police officer and Iraq War veteran attacked and called a traitor by Trump supporters at the Capitol riot. That officers sharing the horrors of that day with CNN. That's next.
TAPPER: In our national lead today, we are learning the two Senate committees are set to release new reports next week on the multiple security failures surrounding the January 6 rampage. But they're leaving out Trump's role in inciting that riot. A lack of answers, the continued whitewashing of the brutality is insulting to many who defended the Nation's Capital that day including two officers who spoke with CNN in an exclusive sit down that they thought they wouldn't escape a live and heard firsthand the attackers saying Trump sent us.
CNN's Whitney Wild sat down with those Capitol Police officers. Shared for the first time vivid details of one of the country's darkest days.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What was the worst thing they called you?
SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: Traitor.
WILD: Why was that the worst thing?
GONELL: Because I served my country. I want to see to protect our homeland from foreign threat threats. But yet here I am battling them in our own Capitol.
WILD (voice-over): United States Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. at 12 years old in 1991. Deployed to Iraq in 2003, and then joined Capitol Police in 2008. He's speaking publicly for the first time about January 6 when he fought rioters trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden's presidency.
GONELL: I got hurt. I got hurt. I would do it again if I have to. It's my job.
WILD (voice-over): Search Sergeant Gonell led members of the department's Civil Disturbance Unit. For hours they battled insurrectionists attacking the Capitol. This video shows his fight on the west front.
GONELL: They kept saying, Trump send me. We won't listen to you. We are here to take over the Capitol. We're here to hang Mike Pence.
They thought we were there for them. And we weren't. So they turn against us.
It was very scary, because I thought I was going to lose my life by them.
WILD (voice-over): Some of the most horrific video shows Sergeant Gonell steps from Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges caught in a doorway.
GONELL: I could hear my fellow officer screaming the agony in some of them. All I could think was we can't let these people in. There's going to be a slaughter inside.
WILD (voice-over): Rioters beat Sergeant Gonell so badly. They cut his hand and he needed foot surgery.
While he fended off the attack outside, Officer Byron Evans locked down areas inside the Capitol and evacuated senators.
(On camera): Did you ever think this might be a life or death situation for you? OFC. BYRON EVANS, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: I remember specifically thinking it when I was on the floor. I remember thinking all this stuff like, Byron, this is the day. All those times you've given thought on what you would do, you're doing it.
WILD (voice-over): For hours, Evans and the senators watched the riot on T.V. from a secured location.
EVANS: I just remember the anger I felt when I saw those images that busted windows, climbing the walls and stuff like that. It was it was an audible gasp in the room.
WILD (voice-over): Around six, the riot had calmed enough that Sergeant Gonell could finally tell his wife he'd survived.
GONELL: I started texting my wife. And all I said to her, I'm OK. See you whenever.
WILD (voice-over): Congress resumed certifying the Electoral College votes that night. Sergeant Gonell arrived back home around 3:00 a.m. January 7, but found little relief.
GONELL: When I came in, she wanted to hug me. And I thought no, because I was caught. I was covered in pepper spray. My hands were bleeding, still And I even -- I couldn't even sleep because when I took a shower, and instead of helping that re inflamed the chemicals in.
WILD (on camera): And it (INAUDIBLE) your clothes?
GONELL: Yes. Took a bath of milk, that helped.
WILD (voice-over): Just hours later both he, Officer Evans and hundreds more officers still reeling from the worst attack and two centuries headed back to work.
GONELL: I did give my wife a hug as I cry.
WILD (on camera): Why?
GONELL: It didn't happen. And I think I wouldn't be able to see them. I went to my son's bed and give him a hug. He was sleep still, give him a big kiss. And I used to cry. Like five, 10 minutes hug which I just cry
She kept telling me it's going to be OK. And I know I got to go back to work. I got to go back to work.
WILD (voice-over): For him, the riot is hardly in the rear view.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is not agreed to.
WILD (voice-over): The failure of a bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes of the insurrection left him devastated but gave him a reason to speak out.
GONELL: Personally, the country that I love, they came in, that I have sacrificed so much don't care about us. They don't.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WILD: The day the bill was voted down, Sergeant Gonell came forward on his own, not on behalf of the Department, telling us he could no longer stay silent. Jake.
TAPPER: It's powerful, powerful interviews from a couple of very brave officers.
Whitney Wild, thank you so much for bringing us that report. Really, really moving and upsetting. Thanks so much.
A vulnerable part of the American population may already need a third COVID shot. That's next.
TAPPER: In our health lead, Dr. Anthony Fauci weighing in on the origins of the coronavirus, telling CNN this morning, he would like the United States to investigate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, BIDEN CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to human. But I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: An open mind as to the lab leak hypothesis. But Fauci also emphasized that he still thinks the idea of a deliberate lab leak is, quote, quite far-fetched. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, who we should know, has been with CNN for 30 years as of today, and we're so grateful for her hard work. Elizabeth joins us now. Elizabeth, what do you make of Fauci's comments?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, thank you. And as far as Fauci's comments go, I think we have to sort of break this apart a little bit.
There's this theory that this virus was man made in a lab and the Chinese intentionally leaked and sort of this conspiracy theory, then you can also look at there's another theory that it was made in nature and the lab was working with it to, if labs do, and that it was intentionally again leaked out, or that it was made in nature, and that it was accidentally leaked out. That one is not at all far- fetched. There have been documented lab leaks, many, many over the decades.
Let's take a look at just three of them. For example, in the U.K., there was a documented lab leak of smallpox in 1978 and actually people became ill. In China, there was a lab leak of SARS in 2004. Again, people became ill. In U.S., anthrax in 2014, nobody that we know of became ill, but there was enough concern about exposure that people were treated prophylactically. So I think that's important to know that if this was an accidental lab leak, well, that's happened in various countries over the decades. Jake?
TAPPER: Elizabeth, there are also tens of millions of Americans who have been vaccinated, who still might be potentially unprotected. Tell us about these people and what can be done for them.
COHEN: Yes, it's interesting. I think when these vaccines came out, there was as there should have been jubilation these incredibly effective, 95 percent effective vaccines were out there for all of us to take. But it turns out that tens of millions of Americans, well, it may not be working so well for them. That's because their immune compromised often because of drugs that they have to take. So these drugs are great and are really helping them but it may have blunted the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine.
So let's take a look at some of these drugs. For example, people with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis take a drug called methotrexate. People with lupus and other diseases take Cellcept. People with cancer and other diseases take rituximab, and there have been studies that show that these might blunt the response of the vaccine. In fact, some people have had their antibodies checked, and they have no detectable antibodies even after receiving two doses of the vaccine. Now, that doesn't mean that they are completely vulnerable to COVID-19, it could be possible that something besides their antibodies like their T-cells might step in and help fight. But still, to have no antibodies after two doses of the vaccine is obviously not good.
TAPPER: So, what would stop one of these patients from maybe going out and getting a third dose of the vaccine? Would that be a good idea?
COHEN: You know, it's interesting, nothing would stop them from doing that. The doctors that I talked to say, I would never recommend that to my patients. We don't know if it would work, probably wouldn't hurt them, but we don't know if it would work. But still, we wouldn't want people to go out and do that. So nothing would stop them from doing that.
Now, I did talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci who we just heard talking about the, at time, the lab leak, about this situation, about what these people could do if they find that they don't have any antibodies. Let's take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: We need to know, what is the best approach to these people to temporarily suspend their immunosuppressive therapy when we vaccinate them or to give them additional boosters? We're not quite sure, but we have to address those problems because there are a substantial number of people in the United States and worldwide who do not have an adequate immune response.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: So Fauci told me that the NIH is setting out to study this to recruit people who are immunocompromised and see what would happen if we gave them another booster. What would happen if we told them if you can, let's modify your immune suppressants and see if perhaps the vaccine would work then.
TAPPER: All the more reason for everyone to get vaccinated to protect these people.
TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen --
COHEN: That's exactly right. Thanks
TAPPER: Thank you so much.
Let's discuss this all with Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So Dr. Besser, let's start with these immunocompromised individuals. Do you think a third booster shot would help make the vaccine more effective for them?
DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, you know, that's a question that science can answer. But the point you raised at the end there is critically important and it's something we talked about in pediatrics all the time, is that we vaccinate children to protect those children, but also to protect those around them who may not be able to get vaccinated or don't have a response to the vaccine. And that's always the case. You'll have someone who's being treated for cancer, who may have had antibodies before, but because of the drugs they're on, they're now at risk.
It's one of those things that can sometimes motivate somebody who doesn't really care about their own risk very much. They think, wow, if I get this infection, it's not going to be a big deal. But if they live with someone who's at a greater risk, or they're part of a community where people are at risk, sometimes that's enough to push somebody to say, you know what, I'm going to get vaccinated to protect those I love.
TAPPER: The average daily pace of vaccines administered in the U.S. is now below, below 1 million doses a day for the first time since January. Do you think we're on pace to meet the goal that's President Biden said 70 percent of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by the Fourth of July?
BESSER: You know, I don't know but to me, that goal is not really the critical goal. Because even if we hit 70 percent across the nation, what really matters is, what's the vaccine coverage rate in the community in which you're in. And there are a lot of communities in America that are around 30 percent, 40 percent. And we need to look there and say, what is it going to take to increase the numbers in those communities that are really, really low. I think there's a false sense that if we hit 70 percent, we've reached this concept of herd immunity. And herd immunity, your protection by community coverage occurs at the level of the small community, those you're interacting with. And if they're (ph) pockets, Black Americans, Latino Americans, young Americans, Conservative Americans who aren't getting vaccinated, that number 70 is an elusive false target.
TAPPER: There are 12 states that have reached the 70 percent of adults in those states have gotten at least one dose. All 12 of those states went for Joe Biden last November. Do you think that's a coincidence?
BESSER: I don't think it's a coincidence. I've never seen a public health crisis that has been more politicized, where the response is more developed -- more divided by politics. It is important to note that the majority of people who are conservative are getting vaccinated. So it's not that that all conservatives are saying, well, I'm not going to do this. But even in a state like mine in New Jersey, where it went very heavily for Joe Biden, I live in Princeton, New Jersey, which is a predominantly white community, something like 66 percent of people in my town are fully vaccinated.
Trenton, New Jersey, which is 14 miles away, which is predominantly Black and Latino, the coverage rate is about 33 percent. So, you know, you have to look down at the micro level to really make sense of these numbers.
TAPPER: Right. It's not just politics, but it's lots of different factors. Before you go, Biden announced today he's going to be distributing 80 million doses of vaccine for other countries. The administration in recent weeks under a lot of pressure to share unused doses, especially of vaccines that are not approved for the use in the U.S., do you like this plan? Is 80 million enough?
BESSER: 80 million isn't enough but it's a great start. You know, your comment at the beginning that we're below 1 million doses a day here in the United States really says that we've got some supply that could be made use around the world. And whether you support it for humanitarian or ethical reasons, or for self interest, because transmission anywhere could allow for variants to develop that put everyone at risk, it is the right thing to do. It's a really good start. And I hope over the course of the next several months, we see that number going way, way up.
TAPPER: Dr. Richard Besser, thanks so much. Good to see you as always.
Coming up, a new era or more of the same? We're going to look at what the almost but not quite shakeup in Israel means for the Biden administration, as well as for hopes for Mideast peace. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, the likely changing of the guard in Israel is raising plenty of questions about what is ahead for the United States important ally in the Middle East. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be on his way out after a coalition of opposition parties announced a deal to form a new government. Netanyahu's opponents still need to win a vote of confidence in the Israeli parliament, which is called the Knesset.
We're joined now by CNN Global Affairs Analyst and Veteran Middle East Negotiator Aaron David Miller. Aaron, thanks for joining us. Is Netanyahu really going to lose power after 12 straight years as Prime Minister?
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, the next 10 days, Jake, is an attorney in Israeli politics. You have a huge campaign by Netanyahu and his supporters to pressure members of the coalition to defect particularly Bennett's own party Yamina. I think there's at least one that is already seem to be very close to bolting from the coalition and in a 60 plus one situation. You know, if you could hermetically seal this coalition, block out all cell phones, TikToks, all the rest of it, I think the odds would go up. But I think it's still a long way from next Wednesday or Thursday when the government might be inaugurated.
TAPPER: So if they've lost one, how many do they have in this coalition as of right this minute?
MILLER: Well, it depends. There are -- there's interesting indications from some of the Arab parties that are not members of the coalition, that they might support the government from the outside in the event of confidence or no confidence vote. All of this is up in the air, Jake, and I'm telling you, it's head spinning to think that two weeks ago, Israel and Hamas were involved in a major confrontation. We had the worst communal violence in Israel in the last 20 years and yet you now are on the verge of creating an Israeli government without Netanyahu and bringing in for the first time in the history of the State of Israel, an Arab party, led by Mansour Abbas with his four seats in the actual government is extraordinary. So I'm really reluctant to predict what's going to happen in next week or 10 days.
TAPPER: Probably wise. Tell us about Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, who were the party leaders set to take turns being Prime Minister. Should this coalition win that confidence vote?
MILLER: I mean, there have been rotational arrangements. Israel's had six national unity governments, 184 to 88 actually, went to (INAUDIBLE) four years, that was Peres and Shamir and a rotation, Shamir and Peres.
This much trickier. Naftali Bennett is going to -- he'll be first signed up for two years until 2023. It's hard to believe that Yair Lapid is going to be able to actually become Prime Minister two years from now because the odds that this government is going to survive, I think are pretty low. I mean, Bennett is a sort of unique figure. I mean, the first Orthodox Jew, the modern Orthodox Jew, the first wear of yarmulka (ph) and the kippah to become Prime Minister, a Israeli commando from the same unit that Benjamin Netanyahu was from. A startup guy with American parents who immigrated to Israel, sold his company for $145 million. Hard-liner, very hard-liner on paradoxically to the right of Netanyahu.
But if the government is actually inaugurated, Jake, you got a mutually assured destruction mechanism. Because they all know that if they confront a controversial issue, and they're not prepared to compromise, one of two things is going to happen. There's going to be a fifth election, which nobody wants or Benjamin Netanyahu is not going to in Israeli Mar-a-Lago is going to be head of the thrilly (ph) opposition, and he is going to be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces, if in fact, this government fall. So they do have a stake in keeping him out, which could mean it'll last for some time.
TAPPER: I would guess a lot would be the Florida of Israel. Tell us about Yair Lapid.
MILLER: You know, if there was someone last five years who has demonstrated a degree of maturity, judgment and selflessness, it's Lapid. A journalist to centrist moderate, a son of Tommy Lapid, a veteran Israeli pal. He's made some sacrifices. He let Bennett go first. He's been incredibly restrained in his public rhetoric. And it may well be when all dust settles on this and the Tik and Tok is all done that Lapid may well emerge in the eyes of many Israelis as a prime ministerial figure who could actually lead the country.
TAPPER: Aaron David Miller, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
3 percent of the country is vaccinated. And a COVID explosion going on right now with 50 days until the Japan Olympics. Is this Olympics really going to happen? We're going to go there live, next.
TAPPER: In our sports league today, the 50-day countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is on but it will not be all fun and games. The country's top COVID expert says holding the games and the circumstances is, quote, not normal. And look at this, terrifying fourth spike in cases there right now, only 3 percent of the population of Japan is vaccinated. But preparations are clearly underway. Today, organizers unveiled medals and podiums for the ceremonies.
CNN's Selina Wang joins us now live from Tokyo. And Selina, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said quote, it is impossible to postpone it again. Do officials in Japan think that banning international spectators will be enough to curb an outbreak?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they do. With these Japanese Olympic officials have been doubling down on this narrative that these games can be held safely this summer and in Olympic bubble with athletes regularly tested, contact traced and socially distanced. But, Jake, even without foreign spectators, these games still involve some 90,000 people flying in to Tokyo from more than 200 countries. While Pfizer and BioNTech have also offered to donate vaccines to Olympic athletes, this does not ensure they'll all get them in time with more than 100 countries struggling with vaccine authorization and distribution.
And meanwhile, growing calls from the medical community to call off these games, including from a medical association representing 6,000 doctors in Tokyo, even the head of Japan's COVID-19 Prevention Task Force team has called for sounding the alarm. Now, in addition to this with just 3 percent of the Japanese public fully vaccinated, many public health experts say here that there is still a risk that these games could not only further spread COVID-19 variants throughout Japan, but around the world when these participants return to their home countries, Jake.
TAPPER: And Olympic organizers say thousands of volunteers have pulled out. They still have tens of thousands more but they a lot have pulled out. What is the committee going to do without those key volunteers?
WANG: Well, Japanese Olympic officials say they do not think this is going to impact operations since these games have already been scaled down because of the pandemic. But 10,000 Olympic volunteers pulling out, out of 80,000 is significant. And a major concern among these volunteers is the health risk. Right now, there are no plans to vaccinate these volunteers to regularly test them and they'll be traveling to and from Olympic venues on public transportation.
I spoke to one Olympic volunteer who told me that little measures have been made to keep them safe. Take a listen to what she said here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: Do you think the Olympics should be held this year?
BARBARA HOLTHUS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, GERMAN INSTITUTE JAPANESE STUDIES, TOKYO: No. No, absolutely no. No. It's too dangerous. And I think it's absolutely the wrong message at a time when the world is suffering, at a time when the virus is still going rampant in many countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: Her frustrations are echoed by many residents I speak to here in Tokyo who feel that money and politics and sport are being put ahead of people's lives, Jake.
TAPPER: Selina Wang in Tokyo, thanks so much.
Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. Thanks for watching.