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Biden Unveils Vaccine Mandates; Challenges to Biden's Mandate; Fauci Comments on Vaccine for Kids; January 6th Panel Receives Documents; McCarthy Works to Prop up Incumbents; Passengers Boarding at Kabul Airport. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 09:00   ET



DR. PATRICIA GORDON, CNN HERO: We can literally save 20, 30 lives depending on the number of women we screen.

There are 8,000 women who are alive and well and able to provide for their families is honestly the most rewarding thing that I could have ever imagined in my life. I think I'm the luckiest doctor that ever lived.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And go to right now to learn Dr. Gordon's full story and to see her in action.

A lot going on today. CNN's coverage continues right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you.

Our patience is wearing thin, says the president. Sweeping, new vaccine mandates unveiled by the White House yesterday. President Biden's strongest push yet to contain the coronavirus pandemic.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message to unvaccinated Americans is this, what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?

We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.


SCIUTTO: The president's goal here, to get the pandemic under control. And now some 100 million Americans are under aggressive new vaccination rules.

So here are the facts. Federal employees and contractors to the federal government must now

get a COVID shot as well as all health care workers in settings with Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements. And finally, all private companies with more than 100 employees will have to mandate vaccinations themselves or, as an alternative, weekly testing.

These mandates certain to be the subject of legal challenges. Question as to whether they will work. Some Republican governors, they are criticizing the president. The largest union representing federal workers has also raised questions.

All of this as a new CNN poll out today shows that now 56 percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling the pandemic. But a growing number say they are concerned about COVID, the economy and crime.

Our reporters, correspondents and analysts are standing by to break down all the news this morning.

Let's begin, though, at the White House. CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, I mean this was a firmer, more aggressive step than I think a lot of folks were expecting out of this plan. Break it down. Break down what he outlined yesterday and how he plans to implement it.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question, Jim, these are very significant actions and they are actions that President Biden had previously resisted or been hesitant to actually implement. For a long time, President Biden relied on this idea that Americans would voluntarily get vaccinated and collectively get us out of this pandemic. But as this did not happen, as the delta variant spread, we are now seeing these steps from the president.

So, again, one of the most significant steps is on these private businesses of 100 or more employees, requiring them to have their employees be either vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus testing. Then, of course, there is this mandate for all federal workers and employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated with no longer having that testing option that had been in place for the last couple of months.

Also, a vaccine mandate for educators in federally funded programs like the Head Start Program, for example. And you can see some of the other steps here as well.

So a very significant list here. More action than we have seen from the president before in terms of requiring vaccination for the population.

And one of the reasons why is we saw that on -- in the president's words yesterday, that rising frustration that he and so many Americans are feeling now as we are still in this pandemic despite having this safe, effective vaccine that is widely available.

But the president didn't just lay the blame at the foot of the unvaccinated. He also talked about those elected officials who are also on that side.

Listen to those comments.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they're ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.

A distinct (ph) minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to it, are making people sick.


DIAMOND: And now we heard from some of those Republican governors who the president seems to be calling out there. They are calling this move unconstitutional rule, an assault on private businesses, among other things. But keep in mind, about three quarters of Americans have now gotten their first dose. So, clearly, the president here has a majority of the public on his side in terms of getting people vaccinated.


SCIUTTO: Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you.

Well, President Biden says that his plan is also intended to focus on strengthening the economy. For more on that, I'm joined now by CNN reporter Matt Egan.

Matt, how does the president plan to get an economic benefit out of this?


And I suppose like a big challenge here, right, is that companies are enforcing this, right? I mean how do they do that going forward?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, that's a -- it's a great question. I mean these are clearly very aggressive steps from a White House that is concerned about the direction of both the pandemic and the economy.

Now, let's start with this emergency rule from the Labor Department. It's going to require all employers with more than 100 workers to make sure that their workforce gets fully vaccinated, or that they get tested and show a negative test once a week.

Now, we know that a lot of companies have actually already rolled out some vaccine mandates, including companies like Facebook, United Airlines and Tyson Foods. But many other companies have no such mandate, and that's going to have to change because Biden officials say they are going to take enforcement actions against businesses that do not comply. And that includes fines of up to $14,000 per violation, $14,000 per violation. That's real money here. And that is an effort to get people to actually comply with the rules.

Now, at the same time, the White House is stepping up emergency loans to small businesses that have been hurt by the pandemic. President Biden says that those new emergency loans are going to be up to $2 million. That compares with $500 -- $500,000 currently. These are low- interest long-term loans. They don't need to be repaid for two years. The money can be used to keep workers, hire new workers, buy inventory or pay down debt that they've racked up during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, we're hearing from more big business that are delaying their return to the office, including Microsoft and American Express.

Jim, I think all of this shows why President Biden is taking these new vaccine steps. He clearly wants to protect workers from COVID, but he also wants to boost an economic recovery that has lost some steam because of COVID.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Exactly. Those two issues very much connected.

Matt Egan, thanks very much.

Well, President Biden's clear frustration with those who are not yet vaccinated was evident yesterday. Is this plan, though, going to pass legal muster and legal challenges expected now?

CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig joins me, along with CNN political commentator Errol Louis.

So, Elie, you already have, not surprisingly, some Republican governors saying that they're going to challenge this in court. Do they have a challenge? How will this work out in court?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, certainly they have the power to make a challenge in court. But I think those challenges are unlikely to succeed on balance.

Going back to the founding of this country, one of the fundamental powers of government is to regulate public health, public safety. The Supreme Court, various times, over centuries, has told us that governments do have the power, in certain circumstances, to require vaccines. And this law doesn't even go quite that far.

Courts are going to be looking at two things. One, is there a reasonable, medical need when you look at the spread of the delta variant. When you look at the effectiveness of vaccines, I think that's an easy case to make. Two, is there an undue burden put on these businesses? I think the argument there will be, well, they're not even requiring vaccines. There's also this option of getting testing. So I think the Biden administration will argue there's not an undue burden. SO that's how I see the balance of factors playing out here in court.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly, while those challenges are playing out in court, is the policy stayed, as it were? In other words, those requirements taken a way, or does it go into effect even while the challenges are underway? HONIG: So, first, we have to wait for the actual specific policy to be

issued, which we're told will happen soon. And then, yes, people are going to run into court and say, judge, you need to stay this, you need to pause this.


HONIG: So look for those decisions to come very quickly.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

OK, Errol Louis, the president is clearly nervous here, right, about the delta variant, about a resurgence in the virus, but also the effect on the economy. Those two things key to his approval rating. One reason we've seen his approval rating drop over time here. First question to you, do you think he gets it right here by going to mandates now in response to this?


And, look, the president was reflecting a rising anger in parts of the population that doesn't get a lot of news attention. When he says, our patience is running thin, he wasn't just talking about himself and his cabinet. He's talking about a lot of people who watch thousands and thousands of people die.

And, you know, you remember here in New York, we lost 30,000 people in a matter of weeks, friends, neighbors, you know, relatives. It's a bitter pill to swallow to see that there are millions of Americans who have just decided they choose to disregard the science, don't particularly care about their neighbors, and we're starting to see 1,500 deaths a day on average and ICUs being overrun state after state.


LOUIS: So the president gets it right. He's got to sort of be the leader that this country needs. And that includes, frankly, a face- saving measure. It's important to keep this in mind, Jim, that there are people who you wish they would follow the science, you wish they would have some compassion for their neighbors and their friends and family.


But, in the end, the only reason that they're going to do what's responsible is that the government told them to? Fine, we'll take that, too.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I get that.

Just on the president's approval ratings, new CNN poll out today, on handling of COVID, 56 percent approval. His overall approval rating, 52 percent. But interesting, Errol, over the course of the polling by CNN, which took place over a number of weeks here, his approval was coming down, right? And you've seen that in other polls, too, even where you have him down in the 40s.

Do you see that bottoming out here or is the president in real danger?

LOUIS: Well, it possibly bottoms out. And, frankly, if you're going to take a dip in your approval ratings, it's the year before the elections, before the midterm elections that you want to do it.


LOUIS: So even if he's planning to take a hit, this would be the time to do it.

More likely, though, I would suspect that the ratings will turn around. That there are going to be a lot of people who approve of somebody actually stepping up and acting like an adult and saying to the conspiracy theorists and the irresponsible pandering governors that we have a country to get back on track and this is a White House that wants to do it.

SCIUTTO: All right. We'll be watching closely.

Elie Honig, Errol Louis, always good to have you both on.

LOUIS: Thanks.

HONIG: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, some good news, nice to hear. Dr. Fauci says that Moderna will likely submit new data on COVID vaccinations for children to the FDA by late October or early November. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen here with more.

And, listen, this has been what a lot of folks have been waiting for, particularly parents, is when will kids younger than 12 get approval for vaccination.

What does this mean for that timeline?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jim, as you said, this is so important. I mean I have so many friends with children that age. I think you have children that age. That it's scary to send your children to school and out in the world unvaccinated. So this is a bit of good news Dr. Fauci was talking to our Anderson Cooper last night. So let's sort of summarize what he said.

He said that Pfizer will have data for the FDA, to the FDA, by the end of September, beginning of October, on the safety and efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine for ages five to 11. It would then take a few weeks for the FDA to make a determination whether they can authorize the vaccine or not. And Moderna is a few weeks behind Pfizer.

If you do that math, you could say, kind of look at it and say, we could have a vaccine for children ages five to 11 mid to late October- ish, with an emphasis on the ish, because as we have seen, predicting things is always a bit of a funny business during a pandemic. But if that timeline from Dr. Fauci holds out, that's about when perhaps we could expect it.


SCIUTTO: Well, you're talking about Emergency Use Authorization possibly by mid-October.

COHEN: Possibly. But, you know what, we don't want to hold our breath and wait for that moment. It could be November. Things happen. And you know what's interesting, Jim, you want things to happen in some ways. It is good if the FDA says, you know what, we want this piece of information. We want that piece of information.


COHEN: You know, vaccines are trickier in children. They come in a variety of sizes. You want to be very careful. If it's going to be a few more weeks, so be it. Better to be safe.

SCIUTTO: Understood. And, listen, they're following the science here, right, and they want to dot their i's and cross their t's.

COHEN: Right.

SCIUTTO: Which can only add to confidence.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, we will speak to a doctor in Mississippi on the front lines of a COVID crisis, particularly in a state with a low vaccination rate. The doctor says they're seeing an exodus of qualified nurses as the hospitals there are simply overwhelmed.

Plus, the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection says they just got thousands of pages of documents. Details on what those documents could show.

And the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, is bucking Donald Trump and helping five Republicans who voted to impeach the former president. Interesting.



SCIUTTO: The select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection says it is working to keep the flow of information going after receiving thousands of pages of documents ahead of last night's deadline. As part of its investigation into the riot at the Capitol, the committee requested that social media and telecom companies preserve the records of several hundred people, including members of Congress, as well as some members of former President Trump's family.

CNN's Lauren Fox joins us now from Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, what documents in particular have they gotten so far? LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Jim, the

committee is really remaining pretty vague about exactly what they've received. What they are telling us is that this deadline was met with thousands of documents being received by the committee.

They also said they're in conversations with the National Archive about presidential records. Of course, that is a separate process from this.

But I think one thing to keep in mind here is that they had asked for 35 telecommunication and social media companies to retain records and preserve them. That's important because as they move forward with their investigation, they may have things that they want to come back to. That's not a formal records request for those individual documents, but, instead, it really gives you a sense of the direction that they're going.

They also asked some of these social media and telecommunication companies, excuse me, to make clear exactly what their social media and extremism policies are. And I think that that gives you a sense of the kind of documents they may have received. But, again, the committee is remaining very vague.

And all of this is happening among the backdrop of House Republicans who have been very defiant in saying that these communications should not be given over to the select committee, and that this is a political process.


Remember, Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican, said it could be a violation of the law for these phone companies to participate with the committee's request.

So, Jim, there's a lot of political rhetoric circling as the committee is trying to do its work. But this is really early at this point. And there are many documents that the committee is still going to look forward toward. And there are some that they may even have to subpoena and go to court for.


SCIUTTO: So, to be clear, do we know if some of those documents are phone records or we just don't know yet?

FOX: What we know is that they had asked for the preservation of records. They hadn't asked directly for specific phone records.


FOX: So I think a lot of these documents are dealing with the social media policies of some of these companies that they had asked for those preservation records for, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Understood. And I know there's a long way to go.

Lauren Fox on The Hill, thanks very much.

Well, ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team are quietly helping some Republican incumbents who are being attacked, targeted by former President Trump. But the move has put McCarthy, who is aiming to flip the House and become speaker, in the crosshairs of Trump's base.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona for more.

This is interesting, right, because the president is very public in going after anybody who crossed him, particularly those who voted for impeachment and endorsing folks on the other side of those races. So this is a -- this is a not too subtle pushback from the House minority leader.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, Kevin McCarthy does not cross Donald Trump very often. But in this case there's a very specific reason. And that's because the House majority is potentially on the line.

Some of these impeachment Republicans who Trump has either already endorsed against or could endorse against represent key swing districts, and so there's a lot of concern in the GOP right now that a Trump-backed primary challenger could go on to lose in the general election. So, McCarthy and his leadership team have been working behind the scenes to prevent that from happening.

McCarthy has helped raise $100,000 each for at least five of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. He also privately has asked Trump to layoff two of them, David Valadao of California, John Katko of New York, who both could be vulnerable and are also both very close to McCarthy.

And NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer has actually been a special guest at a fundraiser for Jaime Herrera-Beutler in Washington state.

But, look, this whole effort is obviously putting them at odds with Trump and is also firing up the base. I interviewed Joe Kent, the Republican who is challenging Jamie Herrera-Beutler and is endorsed by Trump, and he told me that McCarthy is part of the GOP grift, that the base is fed up with him, and that he would not support McCarthy for speaker. So you can see why this is becoming such a huge headache and a risk for Kevin McCarthy.

SCIUTTO: OK, so '22 midterms, they're still a little more than a year away, and then three years to 2024. But, heck, we're already talking about it. And Chris Christie, he's -- he's weighing in on the future of the party with some veiled comments about Trump?

ZANONA: Yes, some very interesting comments from Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, one-time presidential candidate and a former Trump adviser.

Just take a listen to what he had to say yesterday at the Ronald Reagan Library.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: No man, no woman, no matter what office they've held or wealth they've acquired, are worthy of blind faith or obedience. That's not who I am, and that's not who we are as Republicans, no matter who is demanding that we tie our future to a pile of lies. See, we deserve much better than to be misled by those trying to acquire or hold on to power.


ZANONA: So clearly taking a veiled shot at Trump and his supporters who continue to push lies about the election. It's clear that Chris Christie sees himself as a bit of a truth teller. He's distanced himself from Trump since January 6th. But, notably, he did not call Trump out directly by name, an indication that, you know, Trump is still in charge of this party.

SCIUTTO: Well, that phrase, a pile of lies, tying the party to a pile of lies, pretty strong words from a Republican.


SCIUTTO: Melanie Zanona, thanks very much.

ZANONA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, the White House approves a new plan to work with outside groups to help get Americans and others out of Afghanistan.

Plus, 20 years after 9/11, the remains of a woman killed that day have only now just been identified. Coming up, hear what her daughter shared with CNN about what this anniversary will be like for her.



SCIUTTO: Well, this morning, there is new video showing people boarding what is the second commercial flight to be departing Kabul since the U.S. Military airlift ended last month. It comes after a Qatar airways passenger flight transported more than 100 foreign nationals, including Americans, out of the country yesterday. Sources tell CNN that the White House is now approved a plan for the State Department to coordinate with outside groups, many of them veterans, working still to evacuate at-risk U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.

CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood joins me now from the State Department.

And I've talked to a lot of these groups and, you know, it's often the combination of current and former government officials, military, et cetera, they've been working hard. They've been having some success. This is -- this is a step. If -- if the State Department is going to be working with them hand in hand.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will be a step. And I think that this sort of makes it official, right.



ATWOOD: There have been conversations between these private groups, these private individuals and the State Department, but there was also frustration on behalf of these private groups, that the State Department wasn't paying them enough attention, that they felt slighted.