Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

CDC Endorses Moderna And Johnson & Johnson Boosters; 1/6 Committee Probes Financing Behind "Stop The Steal" Rally; DOJ Considers Contempt Charges Against Trump Ally, Steve Bannon; Benton Harbor, Michigan, Declares State Of Emergency Over Water Crisis. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The CDC officially approving Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, paving the way for millions of more Americans to get the extra dose.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says data strongly suggests the boosters could help reduce the rate of transmission but more research is needed.

At this point, more Americans are getting boosters each day than receiving their first dose of the vaccine.

CNN's Alexandra Field has latest on the roll out.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This is really great news because we now have a booster plan for all three of the COVID 19 vaccines.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) : More protection for millions of more Americans. Moderna and J&J boosters joining Pfizer now going into arms.

Dr. Fauci says, soon, even more people could be eligible for booster shots.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would be rather confident that as we get further and further over the next weeks to months, that the age limit of it is going to be lowered.

FIELD: And the CDC chief said people could choose which booster shot they get.

WALENSKY: Some people may prefer to get the vaccine they originally got but the CDC now will allow new recommendations to mix and match and we do not indicate a preference.

FIELD: The CDC also appealing to pregnant and nursing women to get vaccinated and to get boosters when eligible. [14:35:00]

WALENSKY: We have relatively low rates of vaccination for pregnant women in general.

FIELD: All eyes on the plan to vaccinate children as young as five. FDA advisers meet next week. They'll review new data from Pfizer, posted today, showing they are 91 percent effective against symptomatic COVID among 5-to-11-year-olds.

And that vaccine appeared safe. And there were no instances of myocarditis in the trial.


FIELD: The White House is already laying the groundwork to get the smaller doses into smaller arms.

WALENSKY: The administration is working really hard to make sure that the vaccine is in the field so we can get started vaccinating immediately.

FIELD: As for still unvaccinated adults, President Biden forcefully backing vaccine mandates sweeping the nation in a CNN town hall.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR & PRESIDENTIAL TOWN HALL HOST: Should police officers and emergency responders be mandated to get vaccines? And if not, should they stay home and be let go?



BIDEN: By the way, I waited until July to talk about mandating. Because I tried everything else possible. The mandates are working.

FIELD: But the pushback continues. More than 130 municipal workers in Chicago now filing a lawsuit, claiming the city and state vaccine policies are unconstitutional.


FIELD: And Alisyn, some new information on the Delta variant this afternoon.

We have, for months, been talking about the fact that it is considered a more transmissible variant. But we're learning, based on a new CDC study, that the outcomes are not more severe.

This is based on an analysis of hospitalized patients who were in the hospital both before the variant became predominant and after.

However, we should point out that this study does not include pregnant women. So we can't speak to their outcome when it comes to this point.

CAMEROTA: OK. Thanks for all of the developments, Alexadra Field. Great to see you.

FIELD: You, too.

CAMEROTA: OK, Steve Bannon's fate now lies with the Justice Department after the House voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress. What will the attorney general do now?

And a lot is going on today. Here is what else to watch.



CAMEROTA: New developments on the investigation into the January 6th capitol riot. CNN had learned the Select Committee is zeroing in on the money behind the pro-Trump rally that day.

And that's just one of the areas that they're scrutinizing.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill.

What are they looking at, Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, we've learned that the committee has essentially broken up their investigation groups into teams with specific areas of focus.

And one of those areas is what they're calling the Green Team, which is specifically looking into the money trail.

And I caught up with Congressman Jaime Raskin, a member of the committee, and asked him why it was so important for the committee to follow the money.


REP. JAIME RASKIN (D-MD): You don't knock over the U.S. capitol spontaneously. You don't attack Congress in the counting of Electoral College votes with no organizing and no planning. That is not how it happened.

There was a lot of money raised and a lot of money given. Millions of dollars in play to pay for the buses and the hotels and the meals and the accommodation of all of these people.

And you know, a lot of staffing of it came from people who used to work for Donald Trump.


NOBLES: And in addition to learning how this team has been established in the committee, we've also learned that some of the witnesses that have come before the committee have been asked specific questions.

About where the funding came from for the funding of some of the rallies and events that took place around the days of January 6th and on January 6th specifically.

And one of the things that they want to know is, where did the money come from and does is it have any specific tie to the Trump campaign on the former president himself?

It just shows, Alisyn and Victor, where this line of investigation is headed.

CAMEROTA: Ryan Nobles, thank you for that.

Thomas Spulak is a former general counsel to the House Rules Committee and now a partner at King & Spalding law firm.

Thomas Spulak, thank you for being here.

Do you agree that the "follow the money trail" is the best place for the committee to start figuring out what happened on January 6th?

THOMAS SPULAK, PARTNER, KING & SPALDING & FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE: I certainly think this is at least as important as any other issue, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And that's because, if they could figure out who paid for travel and who paid to organize the folks who showed up at that pro- Trump rally, that will tell them what?

SPULAK: Well, I think one thing it could tell them is that this was not a spontaneous event. But it is one that was planned and organized. And I would imagine that the committee wants to know who did the planning and who did the organizing.

CAMEROTA: I don't know if you've heard the podcast that Steve Bannon did the day before. But he sure seemed to know that something was going to happen the next day.

He seemed, you know -- I mean, it was almost a promo he was giving on his podcast for, buckle up, stay tuned, this is doing to be much different than what you think it is. He seemed to be telegraphing that he knew something.

I understand that you could see both sides of whether the attorney general should prosecute Steve Bannon for contempt because he's not cooperating with the committee.


So give me both arguments of whether he should be prosecuted and not prosecuted.

SPULAK: Alisyn, when the attorney general and his staff make the decision, they're going to look at a number of factors.

Remember, in a way, this is derivative. The House has worked up this case. They've already researched it. They've already had reports. We've had floor statements. And so this isn't a case where DOJ, on its own, is initially deciding

to whether to take some action. So it is informed by everything that the House has already done.

We have to remember there are very serious constitutional principles that are involved here, way beyond the politics.

The decisions that could come out of this case will affect not only this administration, for its remainder, but for every presidential administration that comes thereafter.

And to date --

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to interrupt. But I just don't understand.

If you and I didn't cooperate -- if we were subpoenaed and we didn't cooperate, there would be consequences.

What is the argument for not having accountability for Steve Bannon?

SPULAK: Well, the argument is based on the Constitution. He has made a claim of executive privilege. Now, whether he has executive privilege or not is a question for courts to decide.

But he is making that claim. And the attorney general is going to decide whether that is a valid claim, whether they could win the case.

If they lose the case -- I don't think they would -- but if they were to lose the case, the White House, the executive branch would have lost some standing, if you will, in its ongoing battle between Congress and the executive over information.

So, yes, I mean, we could hear anecdotally, we can here in a sort nonlegal, non-constitutional sense that he's making certain claims.

But, again, ultimately a court will have to decide whether his involvement is protected by executive privilege, which he is claiming that it is.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But to be clear, you think that they would win against Steve Bannon?

SPULAK: Well let me say this. He's claiming absolute executive privilege. No court has ultimately ruled that that exists. Executive privilege is nuanced. It does exist. There are some instances where it does stand. And there are other instances where it doesn't.

And so by not participating at all, and by just claiming executive privilege, in a way, that is a big gamble.

Because typically what happens is there are sort of a negotiation. You find out maybe what you want to say and give a little on that. The other part you say, no this is protected.

And it is that kind of negotiation, quite frankly, that typically happens and that courts encourage. By just saying no, it is absolutely -- I'm absolutely privileged, you

sort of paint yourself in a corner.

CAMEROTA: OK. Thomas Spulak, thank you for the expertise.

SPULAK: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Yet another water crisis in Michigan. This time in Benton Harbor. High levels of lead contamination prompting a state of emergency. So we have a live update from there, next.



CAMEROTA: Right now, in a small predominantly black community in Michigan, residents are living under a state of emergency because of lead contamination in the water.

A watermain break last week forced Benton Harbor to shut down water to its residents. Officials say that issue is now fixed. But the water has still not been fully and safely restored.

The town's mayor made a personal plea to Congress for help.


MAYOR MARCUS MUHAMMAD (D-BENTON HARBOR): To the Senate, to the House, you know, the city of Benton Harbor is a perfect example where real lives and real people are impacted. So I plead with Washington, get us an infrastructure bill because Benton Harbor needs it, and we need it now.


CAMEROTA: CNN's Miguel Marquez is on the ground in Benton Harbor.

Miguel, what have you learned there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, there's a lot of frustration here. Not only do they have this ongoing emergency for the last three years over lead in the water but to have the watermain go out.

This was an old water main. This is just coincidental, but it really underscores the need and fragility of water systems like in places like Benton Harbor.

Over the last three years, they have been dealing with a lead situation here.

They've done several samples across town over the last several years. And they found that the lead levels in the drinking water was over the federal government limit, which is 15 parts per billion gallons of water. Not a huge amount over, but enough over to raise concerns for people

who live here. Especially people who have kids because lead can cause very, very serious problems in younger people.

Here's how one pastor, who is leading a community effort to deal with the situation, puts it.

REV. EDWARD PINKNEY, PRESIDENT & CEO, BENTON HARBOR COMMUNITY WATER COUNCIL: Nobody, nobody should have water that they can't drink and have to pay for it. Nobody should have contaminated water, you know.

You shouldn't have to tell people not to brush your teeth, not to drink the water, not to cook with it, not to bathe with, not to make baby formula with the water.

Not here in America. You say, this is America? This should not be happening to any community.

MARQUEZ: And unfortunately, it does happen in far too many communities. And there are still lots of lead pipes out there.


The governor of Michigan -- clearly this is a state very sensitive to this because of the Flint crisis many years ago that has raised concerns.

There are other towns right now that are also finding lead in their water still.

She has asked the state legislature for more money. They think it costs $30 million to replace the lead pipes in Benton Harbor.

And so far, the legislature, which is Republican, has responded by opening an investigation into her role in the water crisis here in Benton Harbor.

Not raising a lot of confidence for people who live here -- Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Understood. Understood.

Miguel Marquez, thank you for the reporting.

Tragedy on this movie set after Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun during a scene killing the film's cinematographer. We have new details on whether anyone will face charges.