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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Fauci: 99.5 Percent Of COVID Deaths Are Among Those Unvaccinated; Democrats Push Infrastructure Talks Into High Gear; Biden Meets With A.G., Local Leader To Talk Reducing Gun Violence; Hunter Biden's Art Deal; Turmoil In Haiti; Texas Democrats Leave State To Block Voting Restrictions; California Drought Leaves Residents Without Access To Water; More Than 18 Million Americans Under Excessive Heat Alert. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 12, 2021 - 16:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Why are so many Americans fighting a free vaccine that is the best way to not die from a deadly virus?

THE LEAD starts right now.

New data shows 99.5 percent of all COVID deaths in the U.S. are unvaccinated people. And those unvaccinated are a reason that a mutated form of COVID is exploding in this country.

Throw another shrimp on the sand? Temperatures so high that shellfish are literally cooking on some beaches. And now the record-breaking heat wave is forcing some Americans to scramble for drinking water.

Plus, art and the deal. Hunter Biden's latest career move as an artist raising some ethics flags. And why would keeping secret the identities of those buying his works be a solution to guarding against influence peddling?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start with the health lead today and a statistic that health professionals cannot stress enough at this stage of the pandemic. Take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The data that's hitting you right between the eyes is that 99.5 percent of all the deaths to COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people.


TAPPER: Again, almost all of the COVID deaths in the U.S. are among those not vaccinated. This as COVID cases are starting to explode in the United States. Right now in the U.S., on average daily cases are up 47 percent in just one week, notably in the regions with low vaccination rates. And health experts say it is the aggressive delta variant driving that spike.

So what to do about it? Well, health experts insist stepping up vaccinations will surely help. What's not helping? Those in politics and the media still trying to score points off a pandemic as CNN's Athena Jones reports.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's progress fighting COVID-19 isn't just stalling, it's reversing. Average new daily coronavirus infections up 47 percent week over week, rising in 36 states, falling in just four. Arkansas and Missouri leading the nation in new cases per capita.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: And in places like Missouri where ICUs are packed, you're going to see a surprising amount of deaths.

JONES: As health officials stress, almost all COVID deaths are preventable. The CDC says more than 99 percent in June occurring among the unvaccinated.

REINER: The vaccines we have work really well against this variant. It doesn't need to be this way.

JONES: But the pace of vaccinations is slipping down more than 80 percent since the April peak, CDC data says. 14 states reporting less than 40 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, health experts say those being hospitalized are often younger and sicker than earlier in the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s. We're seeing some teenagers and some pediatric patients as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety-one percent of our ICU patients today are on ventilators and that's shocking to us to have that kind of number.

JONES: Arkansas's Republican governor planning to step up the state's vaccination efforts.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: We want to have our churches involved. We want to have our communities, organizations. And if it means going into a community door by door and letting them know of this, then that's okay.

JONES: This as President Biden's failure to reach his July 4th vaccination goal was celebrated at a political gathering of conservatives.

ALEX BERENSON, AMERICAN WRITER: They were hoping, the government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of population into getting vaccinated. And it isn't happening, right? There's -- younger people --


JONES: Dr. Anthony Fauci on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" dismayed.

FAUCI: It's horrifying. I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives.

JONES: And after Pfizer announced plans to seek emergency use authorization for a booster shot next month, the company is set to brief U.S. government officials this evening.

Former FD Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer's board, arguing it makes sense to get a head start on authorizing a booster in case one is needed later. But --

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think quite frankly we probably missed the window in terms of providing boosters for the delta variant.


JONES (on camera): And there is more news on the vaccine front. Federal health officials are investigating whether Johnson & Johnson's vaccine might slightly raise the risk of a rare neurological complication known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can lead to muscle weakness and tingling in the legs.


Most people fully recovered. There have been some 100 preliminary reports of this syndrome at a nearly 13 million doses of the vaccine.

The CDC stresses, even if the vaccine does raise the risk slightly, it's still better to get vaccinated -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Athena Jones, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in Dr. Megan Ranney. She's the associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University.

Dr. Ranney, what's your reaction when you see this map that shows cases going up in the same parts of the country where vaccination rates have been disappointing?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Jake, it feels like a rerun of a really bad show that I didn't like the first time and I like it even less the second. Anybody who's getting infected right now almost universally is someone who could have gotten vaccinated, who didn't have to be sick, who didn't have to be hospitalized, who didn't have to die. It is so disappointing to watch us going through another surge when we have the option for it to be a different way.

And, PS, if for some reason you don't want to get vaccinated, you can't get vaccinated or you're someone for whom the vaccine is not likely to work, someone who's immuno-compromised, for example, you can still wear a mask, which also protects you from these variants.

TAPPER: And what is the reason for this hesitancy? We see a lot of people very conservative Republicans, some conservatives in right-wing media out there disparaging the vaccine, even some of them, even though some of them themselves are vaccinated. Is that the driving force behind the vaccine reluctance?

RANNEY: So I think there's a couple things. There are certainly folks out there who are trying to score political points who see being anti- vaccine as a way to get followers and to gain attention. That's real. There are also people who have read misinformation or frank lies on social media and have come to believe them. Then it gets spread among friends and family in social groups. That's most of what I see in the emergency department.

You know, I worked all weekend. I had a number of discussions with patients who had heard these lies about what vaccines do to you. When I was able to sit down with them and talk to them about the truth of vaccines, about how they were tested, about how they work, they actually ended up agreeing to get shots.

So I think it's that combination. Politics plus some folks who just unfortunately have been a little hoodwinked or haven't had enough time to learn the efficacy and the safety of these shots.

TAPPER: It's tragic. You see posts on social media of people who are just spewing lies, and then a few months later, you see that person's obituary.

I want to get your take to this new investigation announced today by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration into the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, just that one vaccine, J&J. And the question about whether it might slightly raise the risk of a rare nerve condition that causes muscle weakness. It can even cause paralysis. Most people fully recover, and the risk is remote. But will you say that the concern had to be serious enough in order for the CDC and FDA to even announce this investigation?

RANNEY: So, for them to announce this investigation, means that they think that there is a plausible link. It shows once again how carefully we take the safety of vaccines in this country that when there are enough reports of a condition linked to a vaccine, we look into it. Now even if it ends up being real, it's still fewer than one in a million vaccine doses that end up with this syndrome.

And there are around 3,000 to 5,000 people that get Guillain-Barre syndrome every year with or without vaccines. But, you know, the biggest thing honestly, Jake, is, like, Johnson & Johnson, they keep getting hit with problem after problem. First it was the blood clots. Then it was the problems with manufacturing. Now it's Guillain-Barre syndrome.

I am so thankful that we have the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in this country. Would this one scare me away from getting J&J if it were my only option? Absolutely not. That one in a million is so much smaller than the risk of catching COVID itself or getting really sick. But it's yet another problem that Johnson & Johnson is now facing.

TAPPER: Pfizer, meanwhile, is pushing to get the process going on a booster shot, a third shot. And they're briefing, the Biden administration on their effort today. Take a listen to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who's now on the board of Pfizer.


GOTTLIEB: If we don't get started now, we're not going to be in a position to have boosters available should we need it come the fall. I think we probably missed the window in terms of providing boosters for the delta variant. That variant is likely to play out really over the months of August, September, maybe into October.


TAPPER: Now in Israel, they are providing boosters for very vulnerable populations. We're only three months or so away from the fall. The CDC and FDA continue to say the science is not yet there to recommend a booster. What do you think? Where do you fall in this debate about whether or not ultimately there's going to be a need for a third shot in the coming months?


RANNEY: So I think at some point down the road, we will likely need a third shot. Is that moment today? No. And when Scott Gottlieb says we missed the boat on the delta variant, you want to know where we'd missed the vote? We've missed the boat in getting the other 40 percent of Americans vaccinated, not in whether or not we've gotten them a third shot. Those two shots at Pfizer or Moderna work so well.

I appreciate Pfizer bringing it forward, but I am fully on the side of CDC and FDA here, which is every piece of data that we have right now says that a booster is not needed today. Might that change three months or six months from now? Maybe. There will be new variants. We'll have had more time. But I'm not telling people to go out and get boosters today.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so much. As always, good to see you.

President Biden focusing this week on two key issues that may not have a prayer in Congress. Can he move the needle on either of them?

And the web grows in the assassination of the Haitian president. Investigators now learning about direct ties to a Miami-based company.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, today, the U.S. Senate is back in session today. And Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is pushing an aggressive legislative agenda for the next few weeks. One source tells CNN that Schumer could put that bipartisan infrastructure bill on the floor of the Senate as soon as next week.

Let's go right to CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill for the latest.

Ryan, are there ten Republicans and 50 Democrats who support this bill? Can it pass?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Jake, there isn't. There is not 60 votes in the United States Senate that are firm enough to pass this bipartisan infrastructure package. You mentioned the Republicans.

Right now, there are ten Republicans that have signed on, but that's before the legislation has even been authored and they've had the chance to go through it. And also before the large reconciliation package has been put in front of them and the two right now of course are tied together.

The bigger problem, though, could be Democrats. There are not 50 Democrats that have signed onto this bipartisan piece of legislation. And so, this is a heavy lift for both Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell if they want to see this get over the finish line here in the senate, and then, of course, it could run into some road blocks in the House as well. So there is a lot of work that still needs to be done on the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

TAPPER: Yeah, we don't even know that Mitch McConnell supports it, for that matter.

So, Democrats also want to pass this reconciliation bill. It's a larger budget bill that is introduced through a process that will only require 50 votes. It would be much, much bigger than the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Do we know how much bigger, how big is it going to be? Bernie Sanders, the Budget Committee chairman, was talking about 6 trillion?

NOBLES: The numbers are eye-popping, frankly, Jake. And at this point, we don't know exactly the number that they are going to settle in. Moderates are shooting for $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion.

As you mentioned, Sanders just this weekend insisting that the package be as much as $6 trillion. And that's a lot of money. And also when you take into account that it is directly tied to this bipartisan infrastructure package, because many house progressives and even the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they won't pass the bipartisan bill unless they get the reconciliation bill at the same time. That's why everything is so tenuous right now.

We could see that final number, the number that the Senate Democrats are focused on by the end of this week. But even that is a moving target as the House will have a chance to take a look at this legislation and offer up their own number. There's a lot of work to be done over the next month, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's discuss with my august panel.

Nia, let me start with you.

So, the August 6th recess just a little bit more than three weeks from today, the Senate would need to write up that infrastructure bill, get it scored by the Congressional Budget Office and then find enough Republican support, at least ten votes if not more depending on how many liberals and progressives they lose. Is Schumer being realistic on the time line to get this voted on by August 6th?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's an incredibly ambitious timeline. He has said he is willing to hold the Senate in session and stave off the recess in order to get this done. But they have had -- they have to have a flawless performance for this to actually get done by this date that Schumer has pointed out.

As you mentioned, all of that has to get done. They've got to find these Republicans. They've got to keep the caucus on the Democratic side as well. I think the takeaway for all of this is Democrats want to get something done.

Is it going to be sort of the perfect bipartisan bill and the reconciliation bill? Maybe not. But I think they will end up getting something done. They need something to run on in 2022. They want to tangibly deliver something to these voters they're going to need in 2022 to stave off a Republican wave.

So I think all things sort of being looked at, the sort of politics of it, and the timing of it is likely that they will get some sort of bill passed. Also if you're Biden, this is your one big shot, right? If you think about Obama, he got Obamacare. That was the big legacy thing he was able to. Trump was able to get tax reform. And this is Biden's big shot to get something done, because the window starts to close the closer you get to 2022.

TAPPER: Meanwhile, Biden -- President Biden today, Laura, is meeting with a bunch of mayors on a strategy on reducing gun crime, presumably that means gun restrictions as well.

Tomorrow, he's going to Philly to address voting rights. Those are two issues that I don't really sense a huge groundswell of support in the House and Senate -- in the Senate, in the House, he has, I do, but in the Senate for -- do you think that Biden is going to be able to move the needle, get any action on either of those issues, further gun laws or addressing crime and voting rights?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Realistically, no. But what the White House is saying is that with these speeches, with these meetings, with these remarks, that he's elevating the issues and that that is his way of partnering with Congress with trying to direct the spotlight onto Congress.

[16:20:08] But on the issue of voting rights as well, this is something that the White House is talking about in extremely dire terms. The president is supposed to tomorrow in his speech say that these voting restriction laws passed in GOP-led states are an authoritarian threat. And, at the same time, lawmakers in Congress are saying they want him to start working with him more and get in the nitty-gritty and help them find a way for these bills through congress.

TAPPER: But let's talk about this for one second because without question a lot of these bills in Georgia and Texas and other places are further restricting and making it tougher to vote.

But, still, in those states like Georgia and Texas, it's still easier to vote there than it is in several Democratic-led states like Delaware, where Biden has been from for the last 65 years or whatever -- whenever his family moved there. New York -- I mean, it's not as though it's super easy to vote all over the country. Some states are better than others. Colorado, Minnesota.


TAPPER: But it's not as though the Texas law is more restrictive than what's going on in Delaware.

HENDERSON: Right, there are patchworks in this country. And that's the way Republicans want it to be. And you've got Democrats coming in and saying they want the federal government to sort of regulate this, and Republicans are saying no, that is not what they want.

I think it's going to be hard for Biden to move the needle on this. You're seeing them try, the DOJ, for instance, suing Georgia. That's not likely to go anywhere. We know where the Supreme Court stands on voting rights.

They're trying to spend money, $25 million I think they announced for voter education efforts and voter registration efforts. That's actually not a lot of money if you think about how big the country is.

So, listen. This is an issue that Democrats, they like the issue, they think it sort of gins up their base. But in terms of actually moving the needle on this and changing some of these laws that are already on the books that will affect the 2022 election it's not likely that they're going to be able to move the needle.

TAPPER: And a lot of the stuff that Biden wants to get through the Senate just cannot get through the Senate as long as the filibuster rule is there and respected.

Joe Biden, President Biden has talked about changing it in a way, so requiring if you're going to filibuster that you actually filibuster, you stay standing on the Senate floor.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told "Politico", where you work, that he's calling for President Biden to support amending it, says that Biden could, quote, pick up a phone and call and tell Joe Manchin, the West Virginia moderate Democrat, hey, we should do a carve out. I just don't care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone, just do it.

Specifically there's this call to do it for a voting rights bill.


TAPPER: Do you think that Manchin will ever support any reforms to the filibuster?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yeah. So, Clyburn said that to me --

TAPPER: Oh, to you? OK, sorry.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Last week.

TAPPER: I was on vacation, I read the story.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It's okay, Jake, I forgive you. I forgive you.

TAPPER: I skipped the byline. Of course he said it to you. Of course.

BARRON-LOPEZ: So, he said it to me.

When I talked to Clyburn, what he said was that he's talked to Manchin directly about this, they had a one-on-one meeting in the last month or so. And that he left the meeting because Manchin didn't say no and he didn't say yes. So because of that Clyburn who met with Manchin and their two staff, hopeful that they can get to some kind of agreement on this.

He also -- he hasn't directly -- Clyburn has not directly brought this up with Biden. But he argues that he's brought this up with everyone around Biden, with Cedric Richmond, who is one of his advisers, with Steve Ricchetti, who is another White House counselor, and also with Vice President Harris herself. So he says that they know how he feels.

Today the White House, again, said Biden's position hasn't changed, that this is on Congress. But the reason, part of the reason that Clyburn is bringing this up isn't necessarily even because he thinks that Biden endorsing will necessary -- this moment would necessarily convince Manchin, but that a lot of Democrats want to see Biden do everything he possibly can do and they don't feel as though he is at this point.

TAPPER: Yeah. And I think for Manchin, a lot of it is who is more sincere about wanting to work in a bipartisan way? And my guess is whatever happens with the infrastructure deal might have an influence on Manchin. I mean, if Republicans just don't do anything to help it --

BARRON-LOPEZ: Potentially, yeah.

TAPPER: -- he might, his views might change a little bit.

Thank you so much. Good to see both of you. And, of course, the story was written by you. Sorry, I'm an idiot.

Doing a Texas two-step into another time zone. Why Democratic leaders are fleeing the Lone Star State today.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, the majority of Texas House Democrats are planning to leave the Lone Star State today and head to Washington, D.C. This is an effort to prevent further action on Republican election reform bills that would add new restrictions to the voting process in many ways.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins me now from Dulles International Airport outside D.C.

Dianne, this is a very unusual move for legislators to basically just boycott the political process.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unusual, but this is the second time in as many months that the Texas Democrats in the House there have done this.


Now, you may remember the first time was the last few hours of the regular session back in May, where they simply walked out of the building. This time, they are flying out of the state.

The majority of the Texas House Democrats are going to be getting on these private planes and flying to Washington, D.C., where they should be landing sometime tonight. Now, they said that they did this after these committee hearings over the weekend when, one of them, almost 24 hours, and they felt that the Republicans were simply not going to work in good faith with them.

Now, I spoke to one of the representatives, Representative Trey Martinez Fischer. He said in a statement: "Democracy is in jeopardy. We must do whatever it takes to save this country."

The special session is 30 days, Jake. So they have got to sit out the remainder of that session to deny quorum. I asked them how long they plan to do that, because, look, the governor can simply call another special session, as many as he wants to. Martinez Fischer told me: "We are going to take every ounce to fight this, whether it's one session or 10 sessions."

Jake, I do want to say that Governor Abbott did just send out a statement acknowledging this quorum break that is being planned. He said the Democrats must put aside partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do. House Democrats from Texas plan to talk to Democrats here in Washington, D.C., to try and convince them to pass federal voter rights protection.

TAPPER: All right, Dianne, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Turning to our world lead: There is a chance that U.S. troops may head

to Haiti, the White House not ruling out that possibility following last week's assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

A U.S. delegation just returned from Haiti and briefed President Biden earlier today. Meanwhile, Haitian police say that they caught one of the men responsible for planning the assassination, bringing the total number of suspects who have been caught to 21.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for us.

And, Matt, a Haitian official says they have caught a key figure behind the assassination. Tell us more.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, it was a couple of days here before we got a new update. It was Sunday night that we heard from Haitian authorities about the arrest of this 63- year-old man born here in Haiti.

His name is Christian Emmanuel Sanon. And, according to authorities, he is a central figure in this assassination. He -- working with a Venezuelan security firm that operates out of South Florida, he was playing a part, according to Haitian authorities, in not only recruiting these 26 alleged Colombian mercenaries and two Haitian Americans that authorities actually carried out this assassination, but he actually helped organize those men here on the island in the weeks and days and months leading up to this assassination.

We know that authorities raided Sanon's house here in Port-au-Prince. They found things like boxes of ammunition, targets for shooting practice, things like holsters for pistols and rifles. That's some of the evidence they presented.

However, this is not where this ends at all. There still is a ton of questions that remain. We don't know what Sanon is charged with. We haven't been able to get in touch with him. We don't know if he has legal representation. There are a lot of people on this island, Jake, who think that this investigation certainly doesn't end with him.

In fact, it might just begin to pull more and more strings here in Haiti.

TAPPER: All right, Matt Rivers in Port-au-Prince Haiti, thank you so much.

Hunter Biden is drawing concern from ethicists over his new hobby and how it could leave President Biden theoretically vulnerable to bribery.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with conflict of interest watch. And ethics experts sounding the alarm over a new deal involving President Biden's son Hunter. The president's son embarking on a new career as an artist, a painter. And he is set to start selling his work in September for prices that the gallery in SoHo has said ranging from $75,000 a piece to half-a-million dollars apiece. That's quite a lot for art.

The White House says Hunter Biden has the right to have a job and make money. Sources say the Biden administration was involved in creating a plan to try to address any ethics concerns, where the art gallery owner will set the prices of Hunter Biden's work. He will keep the names of the buyers private, and thus keep away any idea that this is influence peddling.

He also -- the art gallery owner will keep away any buyers who seem suspicious, they say. We should note there's no real clear process in place to ensure that these guidelines are followed, to make sure the purchasers won't on their own let the Bidens know that they're the ones who paid the hefty fees for the paintings.

Joining us now to discuss, former White House ethics czar under President Obama Walter Shaub.

So, Walter, thanks for being here.

And Hunter Biden, we should note, he's far from the first son or daughter to hold a job while their parent is in the White House. And the White House is right. He has every right to make a living. So what's the difference between this and, say, NBC hiring Jenna Bush?

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: So I think what we have to do is just look at this in the abstract, rather than comparing to others.

Sure, there have been bad things that were done before in history. We just lived through a four-year period with ethics failure after ethics failure.

But there's no way to look at this and believe for a second that Hunter Biden is not trying to profit off of his father's public service by selling art at these extraordinary prices, when he hasn't even juried into a community art fair before. And the White House intervening to ensure this secrecy of the sales is both naive and disingenuous.


On the one hand, it's naive, because there's no way this information is going to stay secret. You don't spend half-a-million dollars on the president's son's piece of art to keep that a secret.

And, second, it sends a message that the White House is blessing this. They gave a quote to "The Washington Post" that seemed to suggest that if they opted for transparency and let the public monitor whether these individuals were getting preferential treatment after paying for this art, that it might restrict interest, was the phrase they said, which I read as meaning he might not make as much money.

So, unfortunately, that puts a White House stamp of approval on this profiting off of the father's job.

TAPPER: So what's the solution to this? Do you think it's just complete transparency, he can sell the paintings, he can make a living, he's -- he has kids, but it all has to just be out in the open, so we in the public and ethics czars can keep an eye on it? Is that the way to do it?

SHAUB: So I think, ideally, we wouldn't even be in this situation because Hunter Biden can do any job he wants.

But he ought to do it in a way where he's not clearly profiting off of his father's job. If they can't talk him into voluntarily not going through at this art sale, then there is something that's completely within their control to do, which is to commit that if they ever learn the name of any of these buyers, they will immediately notify the public and share that information and commit that if that buyer ever has a phone call, e-mail exchange, or meeting with an administration appointee, they will also disclose that to the public.

TAPPER: Do you think that this is actually going to be used as a way to curry favor with President Biden?

I mean, nobody needs to curry favor with Hunter Biden. He's just living his life in Los Angeles. But you think somebody will pay a lot of money to Hunter Biden, and somehow that will engender goodwill with President Biden?

SHAUB: You know, personally, I believe that Joe Biden is a person of good character who's not going to let himself be bribed.

But my subjective belief doesn't matter. And there are plenty of people in this country who didn't vote for him who don't like him and don't want to just blindly trust him. And he needs to be the president of all Americans, and not have it come down to just trusting his good character, but instead saying transparency is the way to show you that we're not giving preferential treatment.

It's no way to run an ethics program to say, we're just going to have people blindly trust in the good character of a politician.

TAPPER: And you think this is a bad signal for the world?

SHAUB: I think it's a terrible signal for the world.

After what we have just gone through and four years of disastrous ethical failure, now the world is looking to see if America is truly ready to step forward into much stronger ethics. And what do they see on the news? They see the president's son cashing in, selling art at these ridiculous prices, and the White House actively defending it.

That is very damaging to our reputation as much so as what happened before, only because the world is looking to see if we can come back from that. And this doesn't tell the world we can. TAPPER: I'm not an art critic. Neither are you. You don't think it's

possible that somebody would want to spend $75,000 to $500,000 to buy a Hunter Biden painting based on the quality of the work?

SHAUB: You know, "The Washington Post" interviewed a few art experts, and I think we will be seeing a lot of shows covering this interviewing art experts.

I will leave that to them. Just common sense tells me a guy who has never once even juried into a community art show isn't going to be selling art at Picasso prices.

TAPPER: All right, Walter Shaub, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you again.

An insane heat wave drying up lakes reservoirs, wells, forcing people in one town to scramble for clean water. That's next.



TAPPER: In our Earth Matters series, 18 million Americans on the West Coast are under excessive heat warnings right now. Temperatures in the triple digits across the region. The oppressive heat mixed with an ongoing drought is also leaving some in California without running water. Wells now high and dry. People are unable to shower, brush their teeth or cook -- as CNN's Stephanie Elam reports.


LAUREL BOYLAN, FAMILY'S WELL RAN DRY: There are seven of us living in the house and we've had no water for a month now.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Boylan family, the drought is hitting home.

BOYLAN: We still walk over to brush our teeth and turn on the faucet. And then you realize, oh, yeah, there's no water.

ELAM: The lack of running water makes the simplest of routines challenging, especially as temperatures rise above 100 degrees.

BOYLAN: Our neighbor who has a house across the street with no one living in it said we could use his hose out front to fill our water bucket.

ELAM: All this because the well at their Clovis, California, home, literally ran dry. The result of years of underwhelming precipitation in the region.

BOYLAN: It went from being sufficient to being gone overnight.

Now, you can move those because there's no water in it.

ELAM: By a stroke of luck, the Boylans came across Self-Help Enterprises which helps residents get the water they need.

MARLIE DIAZ, WATER SUSTAINABILITY MANAGER, SELF-HELP ENTERPRISES: It's a 2,500-gallon tank and then we haul weekly, and they can resume normal household activities.

ELAM: The Boylans aren't the only ones in this predicament. Across the state's Central Valley, wells are drying out, drawing up demand.


The family is on a nine-month waiting list to drill a new deeper well.

How early during the year did the calls start to come in for the need for water?

DIAZ: Forty percent more calls in March, and then April, we were pretty much full.

ELAM: In fact, California just recorded its lowest rainfall year since records began in 1895. And it's not just homeowners. Even towns are being forced to drill deeper to find water.

FRANK GALAVIZ, TEVISTON RESIDENT & COMMUNITY SERVICE DISTRICT BOARD MEMBER: We all just expect to go up to the faucet, turn it on and there's water. But when there isn't, it's just a shock.

ELAM: Frank Galaviz lives in Teviston. He says in early June, 700 or so residents were left high and dry for about two weeks after the town's well failed. Now they are relying on these four massive above- ground tanks that get refilled daily. Each holds 10,000 gallons of crucial H20, in a district where only one of three wells is now functional.

A quarter of America's food is produced here in the Central Valley with 80 percent of California's water supply going to agriculture. So with the lack of rain, growers are relying heavily on groundwater pumped from across the region to irrigate their crops. While some worry that increased pumping could impact smaller wells, Galaviz says the giant agriculture machine is a necessity.

GALAVIZ: We have to have food. We have to have the work for our farm workers.

ELAM: And this much dryness so early in the summer doesn't bode well.

KAYLA VANDER SCHUUR, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST, SELP-HELP ENTERPRISES: We expect a lot more wells to go dry, both for communities and both for private wells.

ELAM: As for Laurel Boylan, she was awash with emotions as the plumbers finally arrived with their tanks.

BOYLAN: The tank installer called this morning, I busted out bawling. You're telling me I'm going to have it today was a little overwhelming.

ELAM: What does that sound like to you?

BOYLAN: It sounds like heaven. I can't even imagine we're actually going to be able to shower tonight.

You take running water for granted. I'll never take it for granted again.


ELAM (on camera): You cannot blame her for that excitement about getting water. And what is really important here is that the Boylan family and the residents of Teviston are not in the clear. They still have to boil the water coming out of these above ground tanks because they are sitting in the sun. And so, any time they cook or get a glass of water, they have to make sure the water is clean.

And it's still going to take time to drill new wells. And then when they do, hopefully, they'll be able to find water when you look at all of the demand for the groundwater that is being used in the Central Valley right now, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Stephanie, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Tom Sater. He joins me with more on the West Coast heat wave.

Tom, it's been so hot in parts of the Pacific Northwest that mussels and clams are cooking themselves on the beach.

When do we expect temperatures to cool down and how much can we definitively say that this is part of climate change?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think, you know, that's not even a debate right now. I mean, it's still staggering. And to put it this way, Jake, this is going to kind of blow your mind. We are going to cool down this week. We're going to see temperatures get better. But they will still be in record-setting territory.

I mean, Death Valley hit 130 this weekend, modern-day record, fifth time it's ever done that. But the average high temperature of this week has been 122. And the average low has been 96.5 degrees.

Vegas hit 117, all-time record. St. George, Utah, not only a record for St. George, but that is a state record now, the hottest temperature ever for the state of Utah. And when you look at the warnings they are still in effect from border to border this heat dome. The second one, of course, we had the one in Western Canada and Pacific Northwest and it's just going to move around.

Sure, 108 is better than 112. You know, 110 is better than 117. But we still will see records broken even as it gets better toward the middle of the week. Notice it breaking down the colors are blue.

But this heat dome is just moving. It's not going to be West Central Canada, the northern tier states. And even though the temperatures drop in Vegas, it's the nighttime lows that stay above that 85-degree mark. This is the next big story, for these numbers here, these are the average water levels right now in major reservoirs. They are below 40 percent.

Every day, the temperatures are this hot, we lose millions of gallons a day just from evaporation. The story's not going away.

TAPPER: Not going away, unfortunately. Tom Sater, thanks so much, appreciate it.

Calling for freedom, calling for food. Rage in Cuba reaching historic levels as well. And now, President Biden is weighing in.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, coronavirus ripping through unvaccinated communities and overwhelming some hospitals, again. I'll talk to a doctor in one of these hot spots. Why are so many of his patients refusing to get vaccinated?

Plus, CNN live in Kabul as the top U.S. general in Afghanistan hands over control. What Afghans are now facing ahead.

And leading this hour, President Biden pushing his embattled agenda. He begins this week with a focus on two issues important to him and the country, both with little likelihood of any significant movement in Washington, gun violence and voting rights. Tomorrow, Biden will deliver a speech on voting rights in Philadelphia.

But first, he convened a meeting with local leaders and Attorney General Merrick Garland to try to confront the rise of violence in America's cities. Biden's plan includes allowing states and cities to use leftover COVID relief funds to hire more police officers.