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Shatner, Blue Origin Passengers Back on Earth After Space Flight; January 6 Committee Expected to Issue Subpoena to Former DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark; Top Conservative Lawyers Steer Clear of Trump's Legal Fight; Republicans Embrace Trump for 2024 White House Run; U.S. to Open Borders for Fully Vaccinated. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ADAM FRANK, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER: He's just an actor. But James T. Kirk, you know that he is imbibed and all the other captains, Sisko and Janeway. They're all a part of our imagination about a vibrant human future that includes space, so I think that's really the importance of James Kirk being in space today.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: What I love is the juxtaposition, Adam, of Jeff Bezos' reaction after he landed, what, back in July, popping bottles and pumping fists, and then this emotional and philosophical resonance from William Shatner. And I wonder when we watch the science of this, when the new Shepherd rocket lands, something that the shuttle mission was never able to accomplish, just the remarkable element there that this program has pulled off.

FRANK: I think the amazing thing here is that what we're seeing is the next step really in space travel and that it's more -- we will continue to explore space but now we're beginning to have a human presence in space.

Like I'm more interested in when we start having jobs in space than just tourists. I mean space tourism is important. But it's really, once we get lots of people in space, living and working, becoming part of a vibrant economy, that you'll have enough of humanity, really recognizing that the earth is the only home. Like you cannot mess with the planet.

And we have so much science denial in this country right now and climate denial that the more people can understand that there is this thin, thin veil that separates us from the cold death vacuum of space -- Kirk is right -- the faster we're going to be able to take care of the problems we have on earth.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: But just out of curiosity, what are those space jobs?

FRANK: Well, I mean, you know, you can imagine that within 20, 30, 40 years, mining asteroids to be able to build things in space, you can -- there's manufacturing that you can probably do in space that you can't do anywhere else. It's possible perhaps to generate power in space and beam it back down to earth, so really the options are almost limitless. It just really depends upon our imaginations.

And as I said, within 50 years, 60 years, I can imagine quite a human presence in space, and then, you know, the future of humanity is the solar system.

BLACKWELL: Kristen tried to get the price of those two seats from the paying customers. They said they would do it again, which means they're rich enough to do it twice.

CAMEROTA: That's right, that's what I heard.

BLACKWELL: OK, that's all we need to know. When do you expect it will come down to something that is within the range of the rest of us?

FRANK: Yes, that's an interesting question because I think, you know, when we talk about this, we should never forget the real problems of income inequality that this highlights. Right, that one guy can have his own space program now really highlights something that we shouldn't have allowed to have happen.

But still, you know, there's a way in which what Bezos and others were doing was inevitable, I think, if we take the right path. And you know, how long -- it's hard for me to say how long, I actually do think there will be jobs that people can take in space before, you know, the price of a ticket into space is the same as an airline ticket to Florida.

CAMEROTA: Professor, wasn't it just interesting to hear William Shatner at 90 years old basically experience this, I don't know, existential rebirth, I mean it sound like he had. And I know that other people who have gone into space have that life altering experience.

FRANK: Almost everyone does. If you're up there long enough and you actually see the earth for what it is, then you're changed forever. You know, as an astronomer, I'm very close to this because I have been living with it -- even though I have never seen it -- my whole life. But for people to understand really where we are, that we're on this rock, hurtling through space, that with this beautiful majesty, this intricate mechanism of life going on across the whole planet, and in some ways, we have forgotten that and forgotten at our own peril.

So, it can't be soon enough that we get people to really understand what a planet is, and what our place within the life of a planet is. Not on top of it, not its masters but woven into its fabric, that is essential for us to continue to have a civilization for the next 1,000, 2,000, 100,000 years.

BLACKWELL: We just watched this a couple of months ago but it does not get old watching the full experience. Adam Frank, thanks so much.

FRANK: My pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right, in just the last three months, nearly 100,000 COVID deaths could have been prevented by the widely available vaccine. We've got some pretty stunning analysis for you next.

CAMEROTA: Plus, more Republicans in Congress are cheering on a possible Donald Trump presidential bid in 2024, all while appearing to whitewash the insurrection.



BLACKWELL: Well, here's a sobering number, 90,000 lives could have been spared by the COVID-19 vaccine. That's according to the Kaiser Family Foundation which looked at data from the past three months and found the overwhelming majority of those who died from the virus were unvaccinated.

CAMEROTA: CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard joins us now. So, Jacqueline, how did they come up with that number?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It is a sobering number. And how they came up with it, researchers, like you said, Victor, they did look at death rates, but specifically deaths caused by COVID-19 from June to September, and they took into account the effectiveness of the vaccine.

So, when they did that that's how they were able to estimate that out of more than 104,000 people who died of COVID, 90,000 of them could have been saved by vaccines.

And also, here's a look at the leading causes of death that emerged in their data analysis. Like I said, they looked at the last three months but in the month of September alone, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death. The only other disease, heart disease, caused more deaths last month than COVID, but COVID came in number two as you saw there. So that was really surprising in these data.

But the main take away message here is that when you look at the numbers is that vaccines work, vaccines can save lives but obviously there's still some people here in the United States who are vaccine hesitant.


And it's interesting that the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have some advice on how to speak with someone who might be vaccine hesitant. They put out this report and they recommend to stress what is new about vaccines. When you do so, it helps people think of themselves as good decision makers, and they're kind of digesting that information that you share to make a decision themselves.

So, for instance, the report says that in effect you can say this, you can say this is something you could not have known at the time but that you would want to take into account now as any good decision maker like you would, and then go into what the new information is.

It could be that the Delta variant is more transmissible and vaccines can help with that, or it could be that the FDA approved vaccines in August, whatever that new information is, that can be helpful in conversations.

CAMEROTA: Makes sense. Jacqueline Howard, thank you.

HOWARD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, another Trump ally is expected to be subpoenaed by the January 6th Select Committee, and we have the new details on this breaking news next.


CAMEROTA: The January 6th Select Committee is expected to issue yet another subpoena for a Trump ally. This is former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. Sources also tell us that former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen who served during the final days of the Trump administration did speak with committee members today.

BLACKWELL: And as the investigation into the insurrection continues, this includes former President Trump's role on the January 6th. It closes in now on a number of high-powered people, these layers, who have represented him in the past, they're not getting involved this time.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is part of the team breaking the story. Katelyn, tell us about this new reporting?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, right now what we're seeing around former President Donald Trump is a very disjointed legal team gearing up for what we believe to be a possible court battle that could be very drawn out in the House as the House continues to investigate, subpoena witnesses and seek documents from the Trump presidency.

Now what we know so far is that he does have some lawyers who have worked in the White House for him before, worked on the campaign, sending letters to witnesses, advising what his position is as far as what he wants to protect from his presidency and also talking to the national archives.

But that's really not the sort of thing that you would see at this sort of stage when there is the former president having to deal with big questions of the power of his presidency, and what should be kept confidential. He does get a say in that sort of thing, and so that is a continued discussion they're having where it's not really being led by anyone in particular.

Now, with this complicated legal battle coming along as we see in the future, potentially, we do know that in past presidencies and even with Trump, there were many more lawyers that were sort of taking control, taking a central role and stepping up to direct traffic, essentially, between witnesses, documents, and all sorts of things that you would see in an investigation.

[15:45:00] That group has shrunk considerably, especially after January 6th and Trump pushing election fraud claims that were unfounded in court. A lot of lawyers are steering clear now from what we have learned.

CAMEROTA: We remember some of the more colorful characters on that team. I mean the Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, is President Trump trying to get them back together again?

POLANTZ: Well, we do know that he has reached out to four attorneys that are very high profile in conservative legal circles who had been advising previous people around the president. One of them is Bill Burke. Bill Burke was asked multiple times to help Trump at this juncture, and he has said no. We learned from a source that Burke was uncomfortable with what happened to Trump, and what Trump was doing after January 6th in court.

There are three others, really big names in Washington, Mark Phillip, Chuck Cooper, Paul Clement, all former very high-ranking Justice Department officials that were approached and had turned Trump down. And we also know that previous central coordinators, like Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, names you might remember from the Mueller investigation, from the previous impeachments of the president, those people are stepping back, they are not involved right now in this effort.

And we did ask Trump for a comment on this, and he said that he never asked Bill Burke and the others to get involved right now. He doesn't even know who they are he said, they are just looking to get publicity, and that he pointed us to the lawyers that he has helping him behind the scenes, coming from the campaign, and from the White House Counsel's office who are doing little things to support his legal effort. Back to you.

CAMEROTA: Katelyn Polantz, thank you for all of that reporting.

BLACKWELL: All right, with us now, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent, he's a former Republican Congressman.

Gloria, first to you, this breaking news on both the former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen speaking with the January 6th Select Committee and the potential subpoena for Jeffrey Clark, former acting head of the Civil Division of DOJ. If you're going to get to the bottom of the big lie and its influence and who was involved with the insurrection you would expect you have to get both of those people on record?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, Jeffrey Rosen is immensely important because he's the one who said to Donald Trump one way or another, I am not going to do what you want me to do. I am not going to try and fix this election. I am not going to come out and say there's election fraud when we did an investigation and we did not find any.

And as for Mr. Clark, you have to talk to him because he was in that meeting, that now infamous meeting in the Oval Office in which he was, you know, trying to push all kinds of ways that you could say, well, you know, this election was rigged, et cetera, et cetera.

And, you know, I think you have to talk to him as well. And I think that Rosen can give you the story about what was going on inside the Justice Department when you had a President of the United States who was trying to put such immense pressure on the Department to say something it did not believe to be true.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, it's interesting to hear what the Select Committee is doing about January 6th. And obviously they're trying to figure out what Donald Trump's role in it was and how to stop something like that. But I think that it is equally important for us to focus on what Republicans in battle ground states are doing including President Trump's inner circle, which is enabling and trying to install secretaries of state in those vital positions.

They were the guardrails, Republican secretaries of state in battle grounds were some of the guardrails that kept the election being free and fair.

And for 2024, you already see lots of President Trump's enablers and cronies getting -- trying to get some of those positions. Here are just some. These are four in the states of Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan, these are people who are election deniers, these are the big lie spreaders. And if they get installed, Charlie, I mean, I don't think we can say it strongly enough what that means for democracy.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think you're right, Alisyn. In fact, in some states, by way, the secretaries of states are appointed by their governor like in Pennsylvania, others they are elected.

But I have found that these secretaries of state, they don't want problems. They simply want to run fair and clean elections. And the same goes for those at the county level too, whether they're Republican or Democrat. They just try to run clean elections. They're really not the partisan types, even though they might have an R or D behind their names.

But this is the most chilling thing I have seen in terms of the impact on our democratic system, if we're actually going to go to that level to go to the election officials who administer elections and try to put people in there who have real agendas, and don't believe in the constitutional -- or don't believe in the rule of law, well, then that is probably the greatest threat to democracy I could ever think of.


BLACKWELL: Gloria, the people who are expected to stand up and defend the democracy, a lot of them Republican members of Congress who now say they're on board if Trump runs in 2024, even after the insurrection. We hear from a representative, Loudermilk there in Georgia. Where he says Trump didn't have going to do with the January 6th. I think that's a far-fetched idea.

Jason Smith of Missouri, to see where our country is right now, I miss him. Absolutely miss him, and I would support him. You know, they see what Chuck Grassley saw. Just how popular the president is with the base and I guess looks like the president might run, they're on board.

BORGER: Yes, I mean did you ever have an etch-a-sketch when you were a kid?

BLACKWELL: Sure did.

BORGER: Where you kind of shake it and it's a clean slate and then you can do your drawing again? That's what's happening. They've got it. They are erasing history. They're trying to erase history. The further and further we get from January 6th.

And they are saying, you know, that wasn't so bad. And actually, you know, I miss him. I miss him. Because we were, you know, we were a better country when he was president. And seem to conveniently forget about what happened during COVID, et cetera, et cetera.

So, you have members of Congress who believe that Donald Trump, obviously, and they are correct about this, is very popular in the Republican Party. And that running against him, they believe, is a fool's errand. That they would lose.

So instead of standing up and saying, you know what, I don't think we can forget January 6th, they are, instead, making excuses and saying that it's a witch hunt and Democrats are just going after him and actually, all things considered, he was a great president. So, they're just trying to clear the slate and hoping that the public will agree with them.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, what is the answer? What's the answer for people who see what's happening to democracy, feel that it's in peril?

DENT: I've been saying for a few years what elected Republicans need to do is stop being silent. They need to speak up, speak loudly. Create an alternative narrative.

As long as Trump is out there making noise, and everybody else is silent. Silence hasn't worked by the way, if everybody else is silent, all they hear is Trump.

But you know, there's polling out there that's showing one-third of Republicans don't want anything to do with Trump. Over half don't want him to run again. Somebody needs to carry the banner for that population. They need it.

Now Trump, he's dominant right now. You were just talking about how, you know, these members are saying they want Trump to run again. Well, you ought to talk to the Republican members in swing districts. I'll tell you what, they do not want Trump anywhere near the agenda. He is anathema to them in their general election.

CAMEROTA: But they're not saying that.

DENT: Yes, but these members that you're talking about that, they are the ones that were just referenced, they're in very safe seats. It's all about their primaries. It's all about fear of their voters, fear of primaries, fear of losing power. That's what this is about. BORGER: So, you know, 63 percent of Republicans believe that Trump

should be the leader of the party. But they are split about whether he should actually be the Republican nominee for president because they understand that that comes with a real downside as in motivating Democrats to get out and vote.

And I think that's a problem for Republicans because the more Trump talks about running, the more Democrats see this as a threat to democracy and bringing back Donald Trump, even in 2022.

BLACKWELL: All right, Gloria Borger, Charlie Dent, thank you.

A major milestone in the pandemic. After 18 months locked down, the U.S. is about to reopen its Canada and Mexico borders.



CAMEROTA: In another sign that the country is climbing out of the pandemic, the U.S. will open its borders to Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated travelers. This move comes after almost 19 months of closure.

BLACKWELL: Phase 1 starts early next month and by early January, all foreign visitors, both essential and nonessential, will be admitted.

CNN's Paula Newton is in Ottawa and she has more.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of relief here in Canada with the Biden administration finally relenting and opening its land borders to Canadians.

And I have to tell you, it isn't just here in Canada, but in all of those cross-border communities from Washington State to Maine, those cities and towns that relied on that cross-border traffic, they are also breathing easier today.

Now Canadians will be allowed in in early November, but there is the issue of having to be fully vaccinated. And the issue is what does that constitute for Canadians? Many Canadians, more than 1 in 10, either have AstraZeneca or have a mixed dose. They might have AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna. They are still awaiting news from the CDC as to whether or not those Canadians will be considered fully vaccinated.

But there is still a great sense of anticipation now that the border will be open both sides. Americans were already let into Canada through its land border in August.

Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLACKWELL: All right, Paula, thank you. And of course, this is great news for those businesses along the border towns that have been missing out on millions of dollars in business for the stretch that it was closed.

CAMEROTA: Yes, a lot of people say it's overdue.


CAMEROTA: I mean as she was saying Americans were crossing but we weren't allowing Canadians and Mexicans in. So, obviously, that's big news and has just changed.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thanks for being with us this afternoon. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.