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Punitive Phase Underway in Alex Jones Defamation Trial; WH Declares Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency; Dr. Anthony Fauci Discusses Monkeypox; Trump Lawyers in Talks with DOJ about 1/6 Probe; One on One with GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: A jury in Texas deciding whether right-wing conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, must pay punitive damages to the parents of a child who was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

This, on the heels of a judgment yesterday from that jury, Jones ordered to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages.

Now they are deciding if his false claims that the murder of those 26 people was a hoax, deciding whether those amount to reckless or outrageous behavior.

CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is joining us now.

So, Drew, what have jurors heard so far today?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: They are now discussing whether or not there will be further punishment and how much it should be.

What they heard is from the plaintiff's attorney -- this is the side suing Jones, so the parents of a dead 6-year-old -- put up an economist who tried to go through the forensics of Alex Jones' money.

And again, this is from the plaintiff's side. They don't have all the records because Jones wouldn't give them to them.

But this economist puts Jones' value at between $135 million and $270 million for media empire.

And economist also said that deplatforming when Jones was kicked off of social media, it didn't hurt him. And, in fact, COVID may have been a boost for his fear-driven supplement business.

This economist also says that Jones, last year, when he -- the year that he knew that he was going to lose these lawsuits, withdrew $62 million from his companies. And by the way, Erica, the companies, there are many of these

companies. The money seems to be going back and forth and every which way.

And what the economist tried to say is, don't look at all of these various companies individually. Look at them because they are all controlled by one guy.

HILL: That is a lot on the screen there that we are seeing. Learning a lot.

So they are deliberating now. Do we have any sense of how long it will take? They just started, right?

GRIFFIN: Yes, they just started. Yesterday, they took the full day. They went in around 8:30. They came back I think around 4:20 Texas time. So they took the whole day.

Now it is Friday afternoon. I've covered many trials. Magically, things happen quicker on a Friday afternoon, but we'll have to see.

HILL: I was thinking the same. Drew, we know that you'll be following it closely. Appreciate it.

And be sure to watch Drew's special report the Alex Jones Story, "MEGAPHONE FOR CONSPIRACY." It airs tonight right here on CNN 11:00 p.m. Eastern.


So is the White House doing enough to contain monkeypox? The administration just declared it a national health emergency as cases climb. Many folks are still struggling to find a vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us next.



HILL: Three months after the first U.S. case was detected, the Biden Administration is declaring monkeypox a public health emergency.

Joining me now, the director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, good to see you today.

The WHO declared a global health emergency almost two weeks ago. A half dozen or so states and cities declared a health emergency in the past week in the United States.

What took the federal government so long?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, Erica, I don't think that it took so long because a lot of the things that were being implemented were being implemented anyway without the declaration.

The declaration, what it does, it expedites a lot of the things that might bureaucratically or logistically get in the way of moving things smoothly.

For example, here at the NIH, when we do review of projects and grants and contracts, it cuts through some of the paperwork.

But I think, for my own self, from my strong relationship with the community, I think that it is important as, you know, there are practical reasons and advantages to it.

But it also, I think, is really a symbolic signal that all hands are on deck on this. And we're taking this very, very seriously.

And as you know, several things came very closely related to each other. One, the declaration of a public health emergency.

But also the appointment of a White House coordinator for monkeypox, Bob Fenton, and a deputy coordinator, Demetre Daskalakis, who has extensive experience particularly in dealing at the community level.


So I think all those things took a few days to get together in a sequential manner. But I believe, right now, that all things are running smoothly.

We just have to make sure that we get the countermeasures in the forms of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines expeditiously to the people who need them as quickly as responsible. That is really the critical issue.

HILL: So start on those. Let's look at diagnostics. Testing is getting better.

But CNN reporting this week found that technicians at two of the largest commercial labs have been refusing to draw blood for those who might have monkeypox.

So that is understandably raising concerns about the stigma potentially surrounding the disease.

Take a quick listen.


DAVID HARVEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COALITION OF STD DIRECTORS: The fact that this is happening is an echo of the earliest days of HIV. I thought we had come a lot further. This is a grave dereliction of duty.


HILL: And now Lab Corp's president of diagnostics told CNN last week that the virus is, quote, "new." Saying, "Nobody knew what is was -- some nurses and doctors are scared of it. Some of our phlebotomists have been scared -- appropriately -- of it."

He said the company is working on a new policy.

Was there's a missed opportunity here for the CDC on messaging if we have doctors and lab technicians who are saying that they are scared of this virus?

FAUCI: Well, to be frank with you, Erica, I'm not sure what the communication was between the CDC and the companies. I'm sure that they took into account and communicated what needs to be done.

But given that there's this issue that you brought up, and it is an understandable issue, we certainly got to take care of it immediately.

Because you don't want any of that inkling of stigma that the person that you just had on the film there -- there's a very good point there, we don't want that to creep into what should be a smooth and expeditious response to getting people diagnosed.

So if it is an issue, it should be taken care of immediately.

I was unaware of it. Now that you bring it up, that person is absolutely justified in being concerned that we can't smoothly get diagnostic tests done because of any degree of concern.

If there's a concern, then the proper protective equipment needs to be made available for the people who are drawing the blood.

HILL: But can you ever -- I think the hard part, too, for a lot of people to wrap their heads around would be somebody in this day and age when we know so much refusing to even take a blood sample.

FAUCI: I find that's unacceptable. I mean, there's no doubt -- I mean, everybody knows how I feel about that. I take care of people who have these diseases. So I know exactly what one needs to do and not to do to be able to give them the proper care that they deserve.

HILL: Let's take a look at vaccines, too, because, as we know, there has been an issue with a vaccine shortage. The FDA is considering splitting doses to stretch the supply. Do you agree with that approach?

FAUCI: Oh, yes, I think, if you can show -- and there are studies that do show that -- that if you administer it in a different way, for example inter-dermal versus subcutaneous, that you can get a comparable response at maybe one-fifth of the dose.

So obviously, you have to go through the appropriate tests to show -- studies have been reported from 2015 when we were doing studies not only with the delusional dose of the Sub Q, but also with the different modality of administration.

So I think that it is something worth pursuing. Whether they actually will be able to do that, I'll leave that up to the FDA. But to approach that as an alternative way, I very much am in favor of.

HILL: I also want to get your take -- listen, it has been a tough two and a half years, I think, for you on a number of levels.

A West Virginia man was sentenced yesterday to three years in federal prison after he sent threatening emails threatening to kill you and your family because of your work fighting COVID.

I'm curious your reaction to that sentence.

FAUCI: Well, I mean, I believe that law enforcement did what law enforcement was supposed to do. I don't really want to make any comment about that particular individual.

But I mean obviously and unfortunately, other health officials, me, because I'm such a very visible person, have received everything from harassments, myself and my family and my children, which is the thing that bothers me the most.


But what you heard about the person getting arrested was a credible threat, death threat, to me and my family. And so that is illegal to do that.

The proper approach was taken by law enforcement authorities and the person has been sentenced. So that is all I can say about that,


HILL: Dr. Anthony Fauci, good to have you with us. Thank you.

FAUCI: Thank you very much for having me. A pleasure.

HILL: A fourth election denier set to secure a major nomination in Arizona. CNN projects Kari Lake will win the Republican primary for governor. Donald Trump stumped for her last month while Mike Pence backed her opponent.

Lake made Trump's debunked claims of election fraud the centerpiece of her campaign. She will now face Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has defended Arizona's 2020 election results.

And as Republicans position more election deniers for office, CNN has learned the former president's attorneys have warned him his effort to overturn the 2020 election could bring indictments.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder believes that it will happen and will probably include Trump.


ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA (voice- over): My guess is that by the end of this process, you are going to see indictments involving high-level people in the White House.

You will see indictments against people outside the White House who were advising them with regard to the attempt to steal the election.

And I think that ultimately you will probably see the president, former president of the United States indicted as well.


HILL: Will that prediction come? CNN has learned that, for the first time, Trump's legal team is in direct talks with the Department of Justice about executive privilege.

More signs investigators are focusing on Trump's actions on January 6th and the lead up to it.

The Justice Department's investigation, of course, is separate from the January 6th committee's probe.

The top Republican on that panel, though, says, if there's evidence the former president committed crimes, the Justice Department has to act.

Here is part of Casey Hunt's exclusive interview with Congresswoman Liz Cheney.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR & CNN NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Do you think that the Biden Justice Department is going to stop him from becoming president again?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think that the Justice Department will follow the facts and the evidence.

I think that they have clearly seen significant activity in terms of, you know, the individuals that they now have testifying in front of the grand jury in D.C. And I think that they are taking their obligation seriously.

I think that we've certainly seen in our hearings, when you have the former attorney general, former White House counsel, former acting attorney general, former deputy attorney general.

When you have individuals who served Donald Trump, who were nominated by him and who served at the highest levels, you know, who have testified in front of the committee, and made clear, for example, as did Pat Cipollone, that President Trump didn't want people to leave the capitol.

Now, Mr. Cipollone made that point trying to protect executive privilege, but I don't think that anybody had any doubt what he was saying.

And so I think that the Justice Department is, from what I can tell from the outside, committed to following the facts and following the evidence and they are taking it seriously.

HUNT: Some have expressed concern that prosecuting former President Trump would turn him into a martyr and potentially add to his political strength with a base that follows him pretty rabidly.

Do you share that concern, do you have any concern that prosecution would strengthen Donald Trump's political hand?

CHENEY: I don't think that it is appropriate to think about it that way because the question for us is, are we a nation of laws. Are we a country where no one is above the law? And what do the facts and the evidence show?

And certainly, I've been very clear I think that he is guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation's history.

You've had a federal judge in California say that it is more likely than not that he and John Eastman committed two crimes.

So, you know, I think that we're going to continue to follow the facts. I think that the Department of Justice will do that.

But they have to make decisions about prosecution understanding what it means, if the facts and the evidence are there and they decide not to prosecute, how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws. I think that that is a very serious balancing.

HUNT: It sounds like you think that the evidence is there. And that if they don't follow that evidence, that is a dereliction of duty on their part.

CHENEY: Well, the committee has been I think very thorough in laying out much of what we know. There's much more that we have not yet shared in hearings. And that we anticipate we will share in the fall.

But -- and we will also make decisions about criminal referrals. And ultimately, the decision about prosecution is up to the Justice Department, but I would anticipate that the committee will have an opinion on that.


HUNT: CNN is reporting that the Pentagon texts from January 6th are missing. And this is after the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service lost texts.

Do you think there was malicious intent behind the Pentagon's deletion of text messages that day?

CHENEY: I don't know that that's the case. I haven't seen evidence of malicious intent.

I do think, though, that it's concerning that you have text messages, apparently -- and this is based on the news reporting -- but text messages, apparently, of some of the senior officials, people like Kash Patel, apparently not available.

Now, certainly, as a committee, we'll get to the bottom of that. We've been working with Secret Service. And the situation has been reported where text messages are not available or were erased off of phones.

But we've received hundreds of thousands of documents from the Secret Service and significant information from them that the committee is going through and will use in our investigation and as we conduct interviews of additional Secret Service agents.

HUNT: How much would you say you have learned that was unexpected? You obviously have a lot more information than the general public does in your head about what happened that day.

But when you started these hearings earlier this year, did you have any idea how much you would know by this point?

CHENEY: It's been more information and a more sophisticated and broader-reaching effort than I understood coming into it.

I think all of us on the committee have had that same reaction, which is that there's so much -- there was so much more that was happening in multiple different areas, whether it was the pressure on state officials or the pressure on the Justice Department or the attempt to pressure the vice president himself.

So I think there's a volume of information has been more than I expected. And certainly, I obviously came into this very concerned and the information itself has not lessened my concern at all.

HUNT: Are you in contact with the former vice president, Mike Pence, as you're learning this information?

CHENEY: No. We had discussions with his counsel, obviously, about his interactions with the committee, but not with him personally.

HUNT: What's your assessment of how he's handling potentially running for president? He's out there opposing the former president, but unlike you, he's not out there criticizing former President Trump?

CHENEY: You know, what I would say is that Vice President Pence was a hero on January 6th. And that it's very clear that there was tremendous pressure from a number of different places on him, and he did his duty and he didn't succumb to that pressure.

And if he had succumbed to that pressure, things would have been very different.

So I think that we owe him gratitude for how he conducted himself and for his refusal to do what Donald Trump wanted him to do, which would have been illegal and unconstitutional.

HUNT: Do you think he would be an ally in the fight to keep Trump out of the Oval Office?

CHENEY: Let me just leave it where I did. I think that his actions on January 6th are ones for which the nation should be grateful.

HUNT: There's been a lot of speculation about how the committee is or isn't making an impact with the American people, especially when it comes to this question of whether Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee and potentially president of the United States again.

Do you think the committee's work is moving the needle politically?

CHENEY: Again, I don't think about it that way. I think about it more -- because I think it's important that the committee's work not be viewed through a political lens. And that's not how I think about that.

I think about it in terms of whether or not we're reaching people who understand how serious the threat was and continues to be. And I think in that regard we have done a job that I'm proud of.

HUNT: Do you think there are enough people out there in the country who share these concerns that you have, and that many people who were also at the capitol on that day have?

Are there enough Americans out there to move the needle?

CHENEY: I think that the vast majority of Americans understand how important it is that we have peaceful transitions of power. And that sort of at the heart of who we are as Americans and at the heart of our republic is a peaceful transition of power.


And no matter what your party affiliation is, you have to have a president who will guarantee that, and Donald Trump did not.

And so I do think that as more and more facts become known, people are paying attention and understanding how serious the threat is.


HILL: Our thanks to Kasie Hunt there for that interview with Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

And thanks to all of you for joining me this hour. I'm Erica Hill. Enjoy your weekend.

The news continues right after this.