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Republicans Rally Around Trump After Home Search; Salman Rushdie In Critical Condition, But Expected To Survive Stabbing; FDA Pushes Ahead With New Monkeypox Vaccine Strategy Amid Concerns. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired August 15, 2022 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: With less than three months until the 2022 midterm elections, the FBI search of Donald Trump's Florida home could inject a new dose of energy, rhetoric, and uncertainty into the races.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Many Republicans are using the search to rally around the former president and deride the FBI and Justice Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): -- based on who they like and who they don't like. That is not a republic. Well, maybe it's a banana republic when that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Ron Brownstein is a senior CNN political analyst and a senior editor for "The Atlantic." And we have Doug Heye, Republican strategist and former RNC communications director.
Welcome to you both.
Doug, let me start with you and this reversal, this turnabout on the Republican Party and law enforcement.
Let me read from the Republican Party platform. Page one of the definition of what your party stands for:
"We dedicate this platform with admiration and gratitude to all who stand strong in the face of danger so that the American people may be protected against it. The men and women of our military, our law enforcement and the first responders of every community in our land and to their families.
How did Republicans now become the defund, destroy, don't trust the FBI party?
[14:35:05] DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one, it's quaint to remember that the RNC has a platform. Under Donald Trump, the platform was, whatever Donald Trump wants. And that's how we got here, is just a complete loyalty to all things Donald Trump, and then whatever else was conservative policy or whatever was fact-based came after that.
And we, Republicans, had pushed back very successfully and had a very strong message against Democrats on a lot of issues.
But Democrats pushing a "defund the police" message was something that was really palpably strong for Republicans.
And now, because of a few Republicans, enough of them who have said defund, destroy, and other things like that, they've allowed Democrats to get up off the mat on this and have some momentum as we start approaching Labor Day in the political system.
Because everything has to be for enough Republicans all about Donald.
CAMEROTA: Ron, this has to be upside-down world for you, as somebody who has studied history so much, in the 1960s, 1970s.
So to now hear Republicans be so anti-establishment, anti-police, as Doug has just said, to hear them saying destroy the FBI, it is a head- spinner.
Do you think that it does affect the midterms?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a head- spinner, Alisyn, in terms of the traditional ideological positions of the parties.
It's less confusing if you view it in the context of how Trump is transforming the Republican Party into something much more like what we have seen in Turkey or Italy, a quasi-authoritarian party that is committed, above all, to the rule of its leader.
The big lesson of this entire episode is both that Trump feels even more unconstrained by rule, law or custom on the arbitrary exercise of presidential power than he did before January 6th.
And that what we are seeing, from the Republicans in Congress, over the past week, I think, is a pretty clear signal that, if he becomes president again, they will be even less inclined than they were the first time to impose any constraints on him.
All of that is part of the transformation of the party into a vehicle of his will.
We're seeing the same thing in these primary. We're going to see it tomorrow night in Wyoming.
The voters and elected officials in the Republican Party, who believe that Trump is kind of a toxic influence in American life, have to accept the reality at this point that they are the subordinate minority in the party. And the question is, what do they do with that going forward?
BLACKWELL: Doug, let me ask you a broader question. We talk about narratives of Trump versus the establishment of the GOP. Is Trump the establishment of the GOP?
He's the former president, a front runner likely for the nomination in 2024. Every race is defined whether you were on his side or not.
And maybe, after tomorrow, eight of the 10 Congressmen who voted against him in the impeachment vote will not be returning next year, very likely.
Is he now the establishment of your party?
HEYE: Yes, there's a case, really, of "be careful what you wish for." Donald Trump is everything he said he wasn't going to be. He is the establishment now. He is the swamp. It's all of these things.
And Victor and Alisyn, I'll tell you I texted last week with one of the members who went up to visit Donald Trump last week after we found out the revelations about the FBI visit.
And I said be very careful here for your own political purposes, but also, you know, more broadly, be careful, because we know two things about Donald Trump.
One is when there's a revelation, two or three days later we find out, gosh, it's worse than we thought it was.
And the other is, politically, Donald Trump doesn't give points. He only takes them away one at a time.
And if you stood with Donald Trump on Tuesday, you better have been with him on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, because any cracks in that you'll be his next target.
CAMEROTA: Ron, I thought it was so interesting what the House Judiciary Republicans tweeted out about the -- we can call it a raid on former President Trump's home.
They said, "If they can do it to a former president, imagine what they can do to you."
Yes, if you take classified documents out of the White House --
BROWNSTEIN: Yes --
CAMEROTA: -- they can do it to regular people. We've seen that before.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Look, I mean, this is -- again, if you think about what's happening in the Republican Party, this very much fits the pattern that we've seen in examples of this abroad.
Where any kind of unearthing of misconduct or illegal behavior by the leader is immediately translated by the party into an attack on its voters.
This is an argument that Trump has made all the way through. Because he has argued that he is the human wall against all of the changes, cultural, demographic, social, and American life that the vast majority of his voters fear and dislike.
And that, any time any questions are raised about him, what it really about is silencing them.
And that, at the moment, is the dominant strain. That's the dominant faction in the Republican Party.
So we're going to see what happens if Liz Cheney loses tomorrow night, as expected. Does she go forward into the 2024 Republican presidential primary, trying to rally the one-fifth to one-fourth of Republican voters who are not on board with the Trump vision and assault on democracy?
And what does that mean? Is there a path forward? Clearly, right now, the Trump critics are losing almost all of these key races in Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, et cetera.
The question is, can they be organized into a force that exerts any influence in the party?
Because everything right now is pointing in the other direction towards continued transformation into something much more like what we have seen in places like Turkey or Italy where the party is an extension of the will of the strong man.
BLACKWELL: Ron Brownstein, Doug Heye, thank you.
HEYE: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We have an update on the condition of famed author, Salman Rushdie, after he was stabbed on stage in New York. We'll hear from an eyewitness who was also injured in the attack.
CAMEROTA: Author Salman Rushdie is off of a ventilator but remains in critical condition after being stabbed on Friday, just before giving a talk in Chautauqua, New York. Rushdie is expected to survive.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has been following the story.
Polo, what have we learned about Rushdie's condition and anything about the suspect?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, as some of the more hardline conservative newspapers in Iran are celebrating the attack, when you hear from the family, it seems the 75-year-old celebrated author is healing, recovering from his injuries here as authorities are saying that he did suffer some life-changing injuries, but nonetheless, does continue to recover here.
The big question of a possible motive, that's what investigators right now are trying to piece together, trying to see if the decade-old fatwa that was issued by the Iranian government, basically a death threat, could relate to the stabbing itself. That's something that police will have to determine.
We're also hearing from the other man who was injured on Friday, the moderator, Henry Reese.
He spoke to our colleague, Brian Stelter, over the weekend, not just reflecting on the irony of it all, but the conversation that was about to happen was about offering protections and support to writers living in exile.
But also talking about what he hopes will be a positive outcome from this horrible attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY REESE, INJURED DURING ATTACK ON RUSHDIE: Hopefully, one of the positive things that will come from this is we can begin to identify and work with other cities and individuals in those cities to add new cities of asylum and protect more writers so that this happens to fewer writers around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Henry Reese with some injuries that are clearly visible. He's facing his own recovery, Victor and Alisyn.
As for the suspect, Hadi Matar, this 24-year-old man from New Jersey, investigators right now are digging deep into his background to see what, if any sort of contact he may have had from Iran.
That is something that will be part of this investigation as this celebrated writer is off the ventilator, breathing on his own and, we're told, speaking to his family tonight -- guys?
CAMEROTA: OK. Polo Sandoval, thank you very much for the update.
BLACKWELL: The FDA is pushing ahead with a new vaccine strategy for people at high risk for contracting monkeypox. But some local health officials are concerned about this new plan. We'll talk about it next.
CAMEROTA: The FDA is defending its strategy of giving smaller doses of a monkeypox vaccine between the layers of the skin in order to stretch out the supply. The vaccine is in short supply as cases increase.
BLACKWELL: The FDA issued emergency use authorization for this new injection strategy for people at high risk. But the manufacturer's CEO has expressed concern that he says the safety data available is limited.
Dr. Saju Mathew is a primary care physician and public health specialist.
Doctor, good to see you.
I want to know -- I know that you're concerned about this switch to giving a fifth of the dose that was initially given out. Why? Does it come down to technique?
DR. SAJU MATHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: I think it comes down to actually both, both technique and the fact that you can get few side effects.
For instance, this is the small needle, as said in the introduction, that is used intradermally, underneath the skin, like you would get if you went into your doctor's office to be screened for T.B.
So this is a skill that my nurses have at the office. But, Victor, not everybody at the vaccination clinic will have this skill. It's something you have to learn. It took me a few weeks. It's not that difficult.
But if you're not going to give it the right way and if you give it subcutaneously, how we normally give the injection, you are going to underdose the patient. The patient will get one-fifth of the dose.
And that was my concern when I got my vaccine this past weekend.
CAMEROTA: But, Doctor, isn't under dosing better than no dosing? Since it's in such short supply, is a little bit better than nothing?
MATHEW: You know, I don't agree with that, Alisyn. Because you want to be well protected against monkeypox.
Remember, you're not even well protected until you get two doses. And then you have to wait two weeks after that, kind of like the vaccines for COVID.
So if you are under protected, that could be dangerous. Because then you could still get monkeypox and have all of the effects, the adverse effects of having the disease.
I think if this is given the correct way, which is intradermal, I absolutely have no issue with it. But I think that all the people at the clinic administering this must be trained properly. That's all.
If it's done, there are studies to show that it does actually work pretty effectively.
BLACKWELL: Are you concerned about the schools and grade schools and colleges returning? They are either back in session or will be. And people will be so close in proximity to one another.
MATHEW: I am. I think it's really important for me, as part of the LGBTQ community to say, number one, monkeypox is not a gay person disease. It has more to do with your social network than your sexuality. That's important for all of us to understand.
It doesn't always have to be transmitted sexually. You can get it through non-intimate contact of skin-to-skin prolonged contact, and you can also get it from respiratory droplets.
We already have spill into women and kids and now in college dormitories. I'm concerned as lots of kids get together in dorms or sorority and fraternity parties, they absolutely can be at increased risk, if only one person should have monkeypox in that group.
BLACKWELL: Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you.
CAMEROTA: The FBI search of Donald Trump's estate is fueling an unprecedented number of threats against law enforcement. And the threats include everything from a dirty bomb to calls for civil war.