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CNN Poll Shows Most Support Vaccine Mandates for Everyday Activities; House Dems Unveil Key Pieces of $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill; U.S. Capitol Police Arrest Man with Bayonet, Machete Near DNC H.Q. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 13:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello and thanks for being with us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

What will it take? Dr. Anthony Fauci says many, many more vaccine mandates before we beat this pandemic. He's talking businesses, schools, maybe your future travels could be impacted.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would support that. If you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated.


CABRERA: While Republican backlash to the president's vaccine mandate push has been fierce, a new CNN poll shows most Americans are okay with it. 51 percent say it's an acceptable measure. And with more than a quarter of the eligible population still not vaccinated in this country, that's roughly 75 million people, something needs to be done.

Here to break down the numbers, CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten. Harry, it's almost an even split there, but what about when you factor in political views?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. You know, throughout this entire pandemic, both Republicans and Democrats, the majority have gotten the vaccine. But when it comes to mandates, we're seeing a large partisan split.

So, as you pointed out, right, 51 percent of Americans say it's acceptable to increase vaccinations to have a vaccine mandate, versus 49 percent who say it's an unacceptable infringement on rights. But look at the partisan breakdown. 75 percent of Democrats say it's acceptable, the mirror image of that, 76 percent of Republicans say it's not acceptable. I think we could have a real big political fight on her hands between Republican governors, Asa Hutchinson and Greg Abbott in Texas, and the president of the United States.

CABRERA: And when you zoom in on specific events, specific requirements, what do the numbers show? ENTEN: Yes. On specific events and requirements, we do see that there's more back and forth, right? So, you see it attend school in- person, 55 percent, attend sports events, concerts, 55 percent, work in-person, 54 percent. Only shop in a grocery store, minority at 41 percent, but the key thing here is look at the trend line going upwards on all these measures. Even in shop, in a grocery store, a 15- point jump. So, Americans, as the coronavirus has gotten worse, have become more in favor of vaccine mandates.

CABRERA: Okay. Let's talk about really the key question here, which is, do vaccine mandates actually work, what are we learning?

ENTEN: They do work. You know, we have some real world examples. Forget the poll. Let's look at some real world examples. We can look to the airline industry, for one. Look at this, United Airlines put in place a vaccine mandate. Now, 50 percent-plus of the unvaccinated employees are now vaccinated. Delta, employee vaccination rate increased from 74 to 78 percent. They were essentially instituting a fine. And, Tyson, look at this, employee vaccination rate increased from 45 percent to 70 percent, according to the U.S. surgeon general.

I look at polls for a living. I can tell you that the vaccine mandate so far has been the clearest winner by far to get unvaccinated Americans vaccinated and you see it in the real world.

CABRERA: And that is important to know, and that is the reason we have this new mandate. That's what the government is pointing us to.

A few months ago, Harry, when these vaccines became wildly available, people were optimistic about America's recovery. What about now?

ENTEN: Not nearly as much. The pandemic is still going on. That's what our poll tells us how Americans think. 86 percent of Americans say the pandemic's not over, 64 percent say the economic recovery hasn't started yet, and 64 percent of Americans still say they are taking extra precautions. So, even if there's a split on vaccine mandates, in terms of the overall views of where the pandemic is, Americans are generally in agreement, it's not quite over just yet.

CABRERA: Yes. I'm still wearing this thing all around the office and inside everywhere I go. Thank you. Yes, you got yours too.


CABRERA: Yes, you can't go wrong with that. Thank you, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: As the administration implements new COVID vaccine requirements, there is an ongoing debate about boosters. The White House target date for rolling out a third Pfizer dose is now just one week away, remember, the 20th. But it's something the FDA still has to green light. And now, two retiring FDA vaccine scientists are part of a group of experts who say data does not support getting booster shots right now. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohn joins us with this. Elizabeth, this is just the latest chapter in the debate over boosters. Walk us through it.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, it really is interesting. When you think about the discussion at the end of last year, about whether or not to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, there was really no debate. Everyone was on the same side. These vaccines are a great idea. There's a lot of debate about this booster shot program. And, in fact, I'm detecting some bitterness when I talk to people who were involved in this decision-making.

So, let's look at the big picture. Why would want to get a booster? You want to get a booster if the vaccine's power, if its strength has diminished over time, or diminished because the delta variant came in, and the vaccine wasn't specifically designed for the delta variant. So, there're various studies that slow whether or not a booster would be needed.

And this one that just came out -- it's not a study, actually it's an article by two FDA scientists, as well as folks from the World Health Organization and other places.


And that article says, look, we have looked at the evidence and we don't see that there's real evidence that vaccine immunity does wane, in other words, the two shots are doing just fine.

Let's look at a quote from one of the authors of this paper. So, the lead author of the paper says, taken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credibly evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination. In other words, she's saying, the point of a vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital or to keep you from dying, and it seems like two shots are doing just fine in that regard. There's no data showing otherwise.

So, the data showing the otherwise, the data showing the other side of this argument that boosters are needed, that boosters do help keep you out of the hospital, really that mainly comes from Israel. And the Israeli six weeks ago started a booster program. They have now given boosters to about a third of their population, and they say data shows it really does work, and that they have moved ahead of the United States in requiring boosters.

Let's take a listen to a conversation that I had with Dr. Ran Balicer. He is an Israeli health official.


COHEN: Up until the booster shots, Israel waited for the FDA and for the CDC to chime in, but you guys just did boosters without the FDA and CDC chiming in.

DR. RAN BALICER, CHAIR, ISRAEL COVID-19 NATIONAL ADVISORY PANEL: I think there was a different level of urgency felt in the two countries.

Decisions by the FDA have been made and we could have followed them. But in the situation that we were at, it was obvious that action was needed urgently, decisions need to be made.


COHEN: Now, all of this is going to come to a head on Friday when two Israeli scientists are expected to testify to an FDA advisory panel committee. This is a key committee. They are going to help decide whether or not Americans ought to get boosters. It will be interesting to see the debate about the science. Ana?

CABRERA: Yes, especially with these two competing factions of reliable sources. Thank you so much, Elizabeth Cohen.

Let's bring in Dr. Peter Hotez, the professor and dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, this is right up your alley, your area of expertise. What do you make of this argument now coming from two top FDA scientists on their way out the door that boosters may not be needed for most of the general population, especially as the FDA this week is going to take a look at this and give a recommendation one way or another, we expect?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes. And I know those two FDA scientists personally. They are outstanding scientists and they were outstanding civil servants at the FDA. The only I could think of is that they may have access to data in the United States that's not publicly available and maybe have come to that conclusion, certainly from the data from Israel, I come out strongly in favor of the boosters based on the way that the boosters will keep people out of the hospital, will prevent long COVID. Because if you get COVID, even you are vaccinated, you have a good chance of getting long COVID, including potentially gray matter brain degeneration, who wants to get that, and a third booster could restore interrupting asymptomatic transitions. So that, in theory, if every American can get vaccinated with three doses, it could halt the epidemic in the United States.

So on that basis, I favor it. But the problem is so much of this is based on data from company press releases, from Powerpoint slide presentation, from shareholder's meetings, it's not the way to do science. So, I'm hopeful that data will be presented in a coherent way to the FDA and to the VERPAC committee and will make a good decision.

CABRERA: And then the American people obviously want to see that data too and get some clarity on this issue. But even if the boosters do become available this month and the mandate increases vaccination rates, a big weak spot is still that kids under 12 are back in school, they cannot get vaccinated.

But a former FDA commissioner who is now on the board of Pfizer says that could change very soon. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Pfizer has said that they're going to have data before end of September. They could be ready to file within days of having that data. So, they'll file very quickly with the FDA. FDA said it's going to be a matter of weeks, not months, in terms of their evaluation of the clinical data to make a determination whether they're going to authorize vaccines ages 5 to 11. I interpret that to mean perhaps four weeks, maybe six weeks.

But I think in a best case scenario, given that timeline that I've just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children age 5 to 11 by Halloween if everything goes well.


CABRERA: That is right around the corner, Doctor. It is September 13th. Do you think this timeline is realistic? I know a lot of parents are hoping it is.

HOTEZ: Well, a lot of parents are hoping, but on the other hand, a lot of parents aren't. And it's very much where you live. So, in the northeast, where the compliance, especially among teenagers, has been excellent, over 75 percent, you're seeing a lot of parent saying, yes, I want my younger kids to get vaccinated as well and have that benefit.


But down here in the south, where parents are defiant, and we only have about 25 percent uptake by adolescents in many states, you're not going to see a lot of enthusiasm at all. I think it's warranted but hopefully the data will be there in support that these vaccines work in younger kids and they're safe.

CABRERA: So, once the authorization happens, do you see more school districts adding it to their list of mandatory vaccines?

HOTEZ: That's been slow. So far, we have not seen a lot of COVID vaccine mandates even for the teenagers for middle schools and high schools. I think that's going to be the next step. It's going to have to happen if we're going to get kids through the school year. The problem there, again, is this is not -- this is beyond the reach of the federal government. This is done at the state level, and states and, you know, in places like Texas, are fiercely opposed to vaccine mandates in the schools where there will probably be a lot of a enthusiasm up in the northeast and in California.

CABRERA: Dr. Peter Hotez, I appreciate your time and your expertise and all you do. Thank you.

Part of the calculation behind the Biden vaccine policy is that more vaccinations make for a faster economic recovery. But the other major piece of Biden's economic agenda is also in limbo. That sweeping $3.5 trillion package with everything from investments in early childhood education to climate initiatives, House Democrats have now unveiled the key tax proposals and the pay-fors setting up a big fight, not just with Republicans but within the Democratic Party. And CNN's Jessica Dean is live at the Capitol. Jessica, this plan includes a reversal of the Trump tax cuts for businesses and wealthy individuals. Walk us through this.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. We're just getting some of these details. And, again, Ana, let's put a big asterisk next to it, because these could all change as we see lobbying and negotiating taking place over the next several days. Democrats on a very tight time constraint, they're hoping to get this all sewn up by Wednesday. It's Monday. That's a very, very truncated amount of time.

So here is what they have floated in terms of how to pay for this massive package that would really expand the social safety within the United States. Some items that they have floated is increasing the individual tax rate up to the highest being now 39.6 percent. That would come up from 37 percent. That would apply to individuals making 400,000 or more or couples making $450,000 or more. It would raise the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent. That's up from 21 percent for businesses making more than $5 million annually. It would raise capital gains tax up to 25 percent from 20 percent. It would overhaul prescription drug prices.

So, Ana, a lot of things here that they could do that they are floating out there. But the key is, remember, they need every Democrat on board in the Senate and they have a three-vote margin in the House. Any Democrat -- we have heard Senator Joe Manchin say that he has issues with some of this. Any Democrat right now could throw a big wrench in this.

So, they have a lot to hash out before they get to the finish line on this. Ana?

CABRERA: And in the next few days, it could all really have major movement. Jessica Dean, thank you for staying on it.

A man with a machete and bayonet and swastikas on his truck arrested near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., this morning. It comes days ahead of a far-right rally that will celebrate the January 6th insurrectionists.

Plus, it's the first major public hearing on the fall of Afghanistan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to face lawmakers today and many tough questions just minutes from now. What to expect, just ahead.



CABRERA: An early morning arrest raising some serious questions in our nation's Capitol. Capitol Police arresting a California man with a bayonet and a machete in his truck. He was near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. And his arrest comes days before a far-right rally expected to draw hundreds to Washington.

CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz is with us now. Shimon, what more are you learning about this arrest?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. This certainly underscores the concern that authorities here have in anticipation of this rally that's supposed to take place on Saturday. Capitol Police pulling over this individual. They identified him as-- police have identified him as 44-year-old Daniel Craighead.

And what they say is that they found a bayonet and machete inside his pickup truck. They also asked him some questions. He said he was out here on patrol. He was talking about white supremacist ideology, other information that really gave concern to authorities. They arrested him. He's now awaiting his court hearing.

Now, as you said, he's from California. It's not entirely clear what he was doing here. But police believe he drove all the way here from California. As you said, they arrested him just after midnight, and he's now awaiting that court hearing.

CABRERA: It's so disturbing to see the swastikas, the symbols on his truck. Shimon, thank you for that update.

Joining us now, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, he's former D.C. Police chief, also served as police commissioner in Philadelphia.

Chief Ramsey, intel officials have already warned of increased violent rhetoric leading up to this rally scheduled for this coming weekend. How concerned are you about this?


CHARLES RAMSEY, SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'm very concerned. I mean, the Capitol Police will be prepared, Metropolitan Police will be prepared and so forth, but this is a dangerous environment we find ourselves in. The person arrested last night is a good example of that. These violent extremists are attracted to things like this. It's not about the number of people that show up for a rally, it's the kind of people that show up. You just get a half dozen extremists to show up and you could have serious problem.

The Capitol and the White House are the only federal buildings in Washington. And the more you do to harden one target, the more others start to look a little bit more appealing. And I would argue that that goes beyond just Washington, D.C. We find ourselves in a very difficult situation in this country right now where these extremists feel very comfortable coming out in the open.

CABRERA: And the rally this weekend is meant to celebrate the insurrectionists, a rally in support of those people who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the riot at the Capitol. The police chief, U.S. Capitol Police chief Tom Manager, said today that a fence will go up around the Capitol this week a day or two before this rally. It will hopefully come down very soon after. Will that be enough? RAMSEY: Well, I mean, Capitol will be fine. They will protect it. It

makes a lot of tense to put the fencing back up. Cops should not have to be in hand-to-hand combat, should it come to that. And the fencing will go a long way to help.

But, again, that doesn't mean that the issues and the problems that we're facing will just suddenly go away. The topic of the rally itself, calling the January 6th insurrection as somehow their martyrs, I mean, these are terrorists. That's what they are. But now they're being treated that way. Imagine what speeches will sound like, and how it will get people revved up, not just in Washington but around the country. We have a serious problem here, and I think law enforcement is starting to really focus on it now.

CABRERA: Back to the security lapses that happened on January 6th, the Capitol Police Union says senior leaders need to be held accountable for January 6, saying, quote, if our leaders had done their job, there would have been no breach of the Capitol that day, end quote. Do you think the right people have been held accountable?

RAMSEY: Well, Listen, I don't have the investigative file but anyone should be held accountable if, through their actions, it caused a breakdown and what you saw on January 6th. Clearly, they weren't prepared. So there were breakdowns in leadership. There were breakdowns in intelligence and communication. There was a breakdown in the Capitol Police board, who has to approve all these actions. You have a different board that Tom Manager is working with, not the one who was in place on January 6th.

So, there are a lot of people who own a piece of what happened on January 6th and they need to all be held accountable. They're right.

CABRERA: We also learned from the Capitol Police but there are six disciplinary cases against officers following the internal investigations into the January 6th Capitol riot. They include three cases for conduct unbecoming, one for failure to comply with directives, one for improper remarks and one for improper dissemination of information.

Now, we don't have other specifics. What's your reaction?

RAMSEY: Well, first of all, I'm not surprised that they would find something somewhere. I mean, that's a large police department. And to have a couple of police officers that perhaps are not doing what they should be doing is really not a surprise. I haven't seen the case file. I don't know if that's six officers, if it's a fewer officers but with multiple sustained cases, charges against them. I really don't know that. But one is too many. One is too many.

So, I don't know what they found, it's nothing apparently that rises to criminal level. But that doesn't mean that perhaps it should be some strong consideration being given as to whether or not they should remain members of that police force. CABRERA: Charles Ramsey, thank you so much for being with us.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

CABRERA: We're also getting new details about what was happening inside the White House the day rioters stormed the Capitol. Sources telling CNN that First Lady Melania Trump was given the chance to call for peace but she said no.

CNN White House Reporter Kate Bennett is here with more details. So this all is detailed apparently in new a book by Stephanie Grisham, who was Melania's Trump's top aide at the time. What else are you learning?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's interesting that this is another book from a Trump administration official, Stephanie Grisham, being one of the longest Trump loyalists, if you will, worked for Donald Trump and Melania Trump for more than five years, we're told.

This is not so much of a surprise that Melania Trump said no. We reported at the time that she was photographing a carpet inside the White House on the day of the insurrection and telling never once stopped to cancel the photo shoot or to take to Twitter, as Stephanie Grisham now confirms having -- telling her, hey, this is an opportunity for your husband's followers to listen to you as this insurrection is happening, call for peace, and she simply didn't want to do that.


As we're looking here, Stephanie Grisham even offered a substantive tweet that the first lady could just simply post, and it really wasn't good enough.

I think it speaks to the first lady's mindset at the time, which was essentially checked out of Washington, checked out of the job, really disinterested in saying anything publicly to calm or to sort of placate the mood in the country, which, as we remember, was very tumultuous. It still is because of the big lie. But, certainly, Melania Trump was not interested that day in interrupting her photo shoot, telling her chief of staff, no, I don't want to tweet.

CABRERA: And that's just one of the bomb shells apparently in this new book. We'll see what else comes of it. Thank you, Kate Bennett.

Bracing for a tense day on Capitol Hill, minutes from now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will face questions from lawmakers about the chaotic end to America's involvement in Afghanistan. A member asking questions today joins us next.