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CNN This Morning

Dr. Anthony Fauci Reflects On Missteps And Successes Of U.S. Covid Response; Kim Kardashian On Five Years Since Helping To Free Alice Johnson; U.S. Soccer's New Sporting Director Joins CNN This Morning. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 26, 2023 - 07:30   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. There is a big difference, of course, in like someone -- like a doctor -- someone who is used to doing this.

In hindsight, though, when you look at this, do you think the mask mandates were a mistake?

FAUCI: You know, I don't want -- Kaitlan, I don't want to say a mistake but I think we really need to remember next time we are -- we are confronted with this that where you have a situation where there is doubt in the minds of some people about whether something works or not we better try to reach out and be a better explainer of why we feel these things are important. Because whenever -- and particularly, in our country with our free spirit, which we all embrace -- that people being told what to do very often has the opposite effect. That's what I was referring to in that interview.

COLLINS: Yes. I know you said a similar thing about vaccine requirements as well.

One last question -- something else that was at the end of your interview. You referenced the work that you did with HIV and with AIDS and the outreach that you felt changed how that response was. Your outreach to that community, specifically.

And you said, "I have always felt when people are pushing back at you, even though in many respects are often left field somewhere, there always appears to be a kernel of truth. Maybe a small kernel or a big segment of truth in what they say. One of the things that we really need to do is we need to reach out now and find out exactly what it was that made them push back." Referencing people who did have problems wearing a mask with vaccine requirements.

Who do you think should be doing that outreach before there is another pandemic if it's inevitable, as you say? FAUCI: You know, Kaitlan, I think we all should be doing it. I believe public health officials should be doing it. People are who political leaders should be doing it.

The point I was making at the end -- I felt very, very sincerely. There was a lot of opposition of do this, don't do this -- people pushing back. Those people could not all be wrong. We've got to understand what the underlying reason why they were pushing back about what looked like completely valid public health principles.

There's something wrong with that. We were not doing something completely correctly because we can't have those many people who were fundamentally good people, yet they're pushing back on things that are lifesaving. We've got to figure that out and we've got to reach out to those people and not make them the opposition. That's the point I was making.

COLLINS: Yes, all right. It's good to look back at all of this, obviously, because of the questions about what happens when there is another pandemic.

Dr. Fauci, thank you for your time this morning.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I think what's so important --

FAUCI: Good to be with you.

HARLOW: Sorry. I think what's so important about that is hearing reflection and what worked as much as they thought and what might not, and then what could be done differently given that startling report.

COLLINS: Well, because it is a question of what happens going forward. But there is also still a lot of anger and animosity --

HARLOW: Of course.

COLLINS: -- across the country and that would not surprise anyone over COVID and how it was handled, and what could be done better and, of course, how you rely on --

HARLOW: And --

COLLINS: -- institutions like the CDC and others.

HARLOW: And schools and learning loss.


HARLOW: I think every parent was tuning in for that.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: That was a great conversation.

Keeping up -- switching gears -- with the Kardashians is tough, right, for anyone -- especially keeping up with Kim Kardashian. She's a T.V. star, entrepreneur, and a criminal justice reform advocate. We may not be able to keep up but I did catch up with her yesterday and I asked her about the fight to release a prisoner that changed the trajectory of her whole life.




ALICE MARIE JOHNSON, FORMER FEDERAL PRISONER: I want to thank Kim Kardashian West, my little angel. Thank you, thank you, Kim.


HARLOW: We all remember that day. That was Alice Marie Johnson in 2018 thanking Kim Kardashian for helping her get out of prison after 21 years behind bars. Kim had lobbied then-President Trump on her behalf, convincing him to commute Johnson's sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offense.

It's a moment that Kim told me changed the entire trajectory of her life. She has become relentless in using her platform to advocate for criminal justice reform. And she says she's now pretty close to becoming a lawyer, possibly full-time -- and this shocked me -- possibly, away from the cameras that made her a star.

I had the opportunity to sit down with her yesterday at the Time 100 summit right here in New York. Here's part of that conversation.


HARLOW: You are always in the spotlight and yet, you care most about people who are never in the spotlight. You care most about people that we as a society have thrown away. And I wonder why that is.

KIM KARDASHIAN, CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM ADVOCATE, REALITY T.V. STAR: I think experience -- maybe just life experiences, positive-negative, becoming a mom. You know, life changes you. I've -- I think you get to a point where you have experiences that just change you.

And when I met Alice and I felt like it was a fairly easy experience for me when I know it shouldn't be to help get someone out. It takes 10-20 years to do what I did in six months. And I didn't realize the fight at that time. To me, that was a few phone calls. And that really struck me that however it was done it was done. I'm so grateful but, like, that -- the system -- that process has to change, you know?

HARLOW: I think you're selling yourself short, though, because Van Jones, one of your biggest cheerleaders and a good friend of ours at CNN, told me this about you. "There is nobody like Kim. She is in a category of her own. She takes every case so seriously. She'll have read the file with more care than the attorneys. She will know the case backwards and forwards in every meeting."

[07:40:03] Do you think this will be our life's most meaningful work ahead?

KARDASHIAN: I hope so. I hope so. I always joke with my mom, who is my manager. I say Kim K. is retiring and I'm just going to be an attorney.

HARLOW: Kim esquire.

KARDASHIAN: Yes. So I was like, so, you can go help my siblings. So --

HARLOW: Are you --


KARDASHIAN: So you can still have a job.

HARLOW: She's like what about my 10 percent or --

KARDASHIAN: Yes, so I'm giving her the heads up.

HARLOW: Are you -- would you ever consider a life without the cameras?

KARDASHIAN: Yes, absolutely.


KARDASHIAN: I do feel like I have a -- there's a lot that's always on T.V. and a lot that's always out there. But I think my friends and my family know we really cherish a lot of our private times and I would be just as happy being an attorney full-time and doing that. The journey just really opened up my eyes to so much that I just -- it gets overwhelming because there's so much to be done.

And I just -- you know, I brought my sister Khloe to a prison for the first time last week --

HARLOW: Yes, I saw that.

KARDASHIAN: -- and that was really eye-opening for her. And I just -- I would totally spend more time doing that, cameras-no cameras.

HARLOW: I don't think -- we know your success stories with Alice Marie Johnson, for example, but what not everyone knows is that you've also had efforts where you haven't been able to help that person get off death row. You were the last phone call for one inmate who was being executed. I mean, I remember seeing you in tears, so shaken because of that.

What is that like to feel when you can put all your weight behind something and you still lose them?

KARDASHIAN: It's such an -- I don't even know the word for it, but it's just -- it's like a really emotional experience. And so, with that Brandon Bernard case that you're speaking of, who he

was executed, it was really important for him to allow me to tell his story. And I think that my role in all of this is to story tell and to explain people's stories and their histories. And I really think people would understand.

And, you know, President Trump did understand once he started to hear these stories instead of just seeing their cases. And he went in being so pro-death penalty and really hard on crime to opening up his heart and realizing that so many people are inside that don't deserve to be and have completely rehabilitated themselves. And he passed a bill, the First Step Act, and I think almost 30,000 people have been let out because of the storytelling of one woman that changed his mind.

So I think storytelling -- and I think that's what my role is -- is to like really explain what people have been through to hopefully, change the bigger picture.

HARLOW: Have you talked to --



HARLOW: Have you talked to President Biden about this?

KARDASHIAN: We have reached out. He has not done any commutations.

There's actually -- Van and I were talking about a situation of a guy who got out and they're actually trying to put them back in. So --

HARLOW: Is it fair to say you'd like a meeting in the Oval Office?

KARDASHIAN: I would love one. I would love one.

HARLOW: Well, he's running again --


HARLOW: -- if you haven't heard. He announced this morning.

KARDASHIAN: I heard. I heard.

HARLOW: To the victims' families -- you know, there are victims' families who say no, they don't support the work you're doing. What do you say to them?

KARDASHIAN: I completely understand that as well and I -- my empathy and belief in rehabilitation doesn't take away my compassion for what they've gone through as a family. And I do -- and the people that I'm helping feel the same exact way. And we've had conversations about that.

So I completely understand when someone reaches out because the families do reach out sometimes. And I completely empathize with them as well. So they're not wrong and that everyone has their own journey. And I think I just have to focus on what I think is the right thing and I will always believe that people are deserving of second chances.


HARLOW: It was remarkable to hear from her and to watch and really see what she is doing with this platform and what she's dedicating her life to.

Let's talk about it with someone you heard about in that conversation, CNN political commentator and former special adviser to President Obama, Van Jones. He continues to work closely with Kim Kardashian on all of these fronts. Good morning, Van.



HARLOW: You call it, to me -- we talked a lot --


HARLOW: -- before this interview --


HARLOW: -- the Kim Kardashian effect.

JONES: Yes. That's the Kim I know. All the flash and the stuff that people talk about, how sober she was, how seriously she takes this, and it is really, truly amazing. She's not wrong. Lawyers like myself -- you will spend 10 years, 20 years on a case and sometimes lose.

When someone like Kim Kardashian -- she has more Instagram followers than some countries have people, OK? So when she reaches out to a governor or a senator, or a president, they return the call. And sometimes that's all you need is just for someone to focus on the case.

And you look -- and these cases -- some of them are just horrible. You can't believe somebody's going to do life for a non-violent drug offense, or somebody -- even the people who testified against them have recounted 15 years ago and said they were lying and that person still might be put to death, but you can't get any attention. Kim picks up the call -- the phone and suddenly, people are paying attention.

And as I've said many times, she's often more prepared than the lawyers. She's often read --


JONES: -- more of the cases -- the background stuff.

So she's just an extraordinary advocate. I love seeing criminal justice reform advocate under her name, not celebrity because that's who she's becoming.

COLLINS: Interesting to me to hear her say she wants a meeting with President Biden.

JONES: Sure.

COLLINS: Obviously, the president's time is precious. She did note he hasn't commuted anyone's sentence. That is obviously something the president has the power to do -- pardons and commutations.

What's your sense of what she would bring up to President Biden? What would be on her agenda if she did get the chance to sit down with him?

JONES: Well, I think what she's been successful is in two areas.

One is moving forward with cases where you're looking for clemency, where you're looking for people who are wrongfully convicted, or just have ridiculous sentences to give them a chance to come home earlier. She was very effective with that with President Trump and she's been effective with governors. But I think she would probably focus on that. She's got an incredible expertise in that area.

But she also played a big role behind the scenes with getting the First Step Act passed. And there is the Equal Act, which is a very important bill which would balance the treatment of crack versus powder cocaine and would let more people who have been in jail forever come home.

And so, she's a very effective advocate when it comes to legislature -- legislation, when it comes to litigation. She's just -- she's our secret weapon for justice. She really, really is.

HARLOW: Yes. She's -- we spoke about the current death inmate Richard Glossip --


HARLOW: -- who is set to be executed on May 18 this week. She publicly called for a full pardon for him, which the attorney general of Oklahoma is taking steps no attorney general there has ever taken before, trying to get him a new trial.


HARLOW: Do you think she could be impactful knowing the system in Oklahoma and knowing that the appeals court unanimously denied that request?

JONES: You know, it's tough but miracles are always possible when the truth is on your side. That's the thing that we learned over and over again. It's really -- I think we have a criminal justice system that's much more broken than people know.

Many more people -- literally, if you just had a different lawyer, or lived in a different zip code, or a different skin color, or just more money to pay for one more investigator, you would be home with your kids. But instead, you're sitting there on death row or you're sitting there in solitary confinement for decades. And so, you can be a difference-maker.

And by the way, it's not just a celebrity like a Kim Kardashian. She'll tell you anybody -- if you step outside of that lane -- if you -- if you care about an issue, whether it's criminal justice, whether it's underprivileged kids -- whatever it is -- you can make a much bigger difference on an issue than you know.

She had no idea she could do this stuff and there are people who are watching this who could make a tremendous difference in their own area, in their own life, in their own neighborhood. It's just -- the great thing about Kim is that she stepped outside of the norm and she found a whole different role for herself. That's not just true for Kim Kardashian; that's true for all of us.

HARLOW: That's a call to action --

JONES: A call to action.

HARLOW: -- for a lot of us, Van. I'll never forget the famous New Yorker cartoon that says well, how much justice can you afford?

JONES: Exactly.

HARLOW: Remember that?


HARLOW: It's a real question of --


HARLOW: -- disparity on so many fronts.

Van, thank you.

JONES: Yes, it really is.

And I appreciate you being interested in these issues. Whether it's Kim or other people you're always there. I think CNN has done a great job of lifting up these issues and I hope you keep doing it. And I was very, very proud to see Kim yesterday.

HARLOW: Following your lead. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks, Van.

JONES: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. In less than three months, the U.S. Women's soccer team is going to look to defend its back-to-back World Cup championships. All of this as the U.S. Soccer program is also going under -- undergoing major leadership changes, including finding a coach for the men's team. We're going to get answers and ask some questions on the future of U.S. Soccer from the new sporting director, Matt Crocker. He'll join us here on set.



COLLINS: U.S. Soccer has finally named a new sporting director and for many, it could not have come at a more pivotal moment.

The federation was rocked by a scandal following the 2022 Men's World Cup in Qatar. Accounts surfaced then of an incident that had happened more than 30 years before in which the coach, Gregg Berhalter, assaulted his then-girlfriend and now his wife. Two longtime friends of his reported the incident to U.S. Soccer officials but their apparent motivation was dissatisfaction that their son, who was the star midfielder, was not getting enough playing time.

An independent investigation into the matter cleared the coach, we should note, but it did raise concerns about the organization's policies around parental conduct, how they communicate with staff, and other issues as well.

Joining us now is U.S. Soccer's new sporting director, Matt Crocker. Thank you so much for being here this morning.


COLLINS: There are a lot of questions and we want to get into what that is going to look like with the search for the new coach. But you also have some really exciting things that are happening going forward when it comes to the women's team and what that's going to look like over the next several months.

What are you most excited about right now?

CROCKER: Yes. I mean, you've got some key tournaments coming up. So, the World Cup in the summer for the women's team in Australia and New Zealand is, I guess, a fantastic opportunity for us to defend and stay world's number one. The team has been world's number one for 12 of the last 13 years and our objective is to make sure we keep pushing forward and leading the way in women's soccer.

HARLOW: Women's soccer -- U.S. Women's Soccer has -- they've been champions for a long time -- multiple times. What do you think is ahead for them not only in the World Cup but beyond?

CROCKER: Yes. I mean, the difficulty is the chasing pack is coming quick, so a lot of Europe. Now there's been a huge amount of investment in --

HARLOW: Women.

CROCKER: -- women's soccer across the board and more professional teams in Europe. There's more leagues, which means that the women are fitter, stronger, and training full-time. They're more tactically and technically aware in the gap, I guess, between world's best. They're really chasing hard. So we've got a real challenge to stay on top but we think we know the competitive advantages is and we're working hard behind the scenes to make sure we stay on top.

COLLINS: Yes, so what has it changed -- you know, when you are closing that gap and it does change the nature of how you are preparing for something like with in Australia? What does it -- how does it change things behind the scenes? What are you doing differently?

CROCKER: Yes. I guess it's easy just to look at beyond-the-field stuff, but the off-the-field stuff is equally important. So the culture around the team -- you know, making sure psychologically we stay ahead. The mental side is a really massive important part of the game so it's not just -- it's not just the technical or the tactical stuff that takes place on the field. There's so much that goes in behind the performance element to make sure that the women are in a great shape to make sure they're successful on the -- on the field.



HARLOW: So let's talk about the search for a new men's coach.


HARLOW: We noted -- we explained the Gregg Berhalter situation in the intro. We noted that he's been cleared. I just want to read part of his statement that -- he said, "The lesson learned from that night over three decades ago became the foundation of a loving, devoted, and supportive relationship."

Given that happened -- given he was cleared, is he still a candidate for the job?

CROCKER: I guess my job now is to look at the process that we're going to be leading going forward. So there's a number of key things when you appoint a national head coach and the big challenge is not coaching every day on the field with the players because you only get the players between six and eight times a year. So you've got to -- you've got to have a coach who is equally adept at working behind the scenes, following and tracking the players when they're away on international duty, planning for the events.

So a big part of being a head coach is around leadership, really, so we're really looking for a strong leader to lead the program going forward. So my job is to identify the process and make sure we get the behaviors right of the coach in terms of what style of play we want to play. But more importantly, make sure we've got the right leader to lead the team and the staff into some key World Cup events going forward into 2026.

COLLINS: And you have such a big role in that. I mean, obviously, there's a board as well but you, yourself, helping lead that search. You know, what is -- what does that look like to you? What are your standards for whoever is going to be the next coach?

CROCKER: Of course. I think I mentioned about there's a certain style that we want to promote -- soccer style. So what you would have seen in the 2022 World Cup was a team that was fearless, fast, technically very, very strong, so we want to continue to build on those elements.

So we can use data to identify some coaches that really align to our style of play and then clearly, there's some leadership and some cultural elements that we want to breed (PH). We want to make sure that we produce young men and women in both our teams that take ownership and responsibility and that can be future role models.

So it's not just responsibility on the pitch; there's a massive responsibility off the pitch as well.

HARLOW: Yes, and just to follow up on that -- to the point you just praised the 2022 team. That was Gregg Berhalter's team. So does that mean he's still a candidate?

CROCKER: Yes, of course. So --


CROCKER: -- we want to make sure that we identify the right candidate to take us forward into 2026.

HARLOW: Right.

CROCKER: And my job is to make sure we've got a really robust process to choose the right head coach going forward.

COLLINS: Well, you've got a big job ahead of you.

So --

CROCKER: I'm looking forward to it.

COLLINS: -- thanks for taking the time to join us on set this morning.

CROCKER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Yes, Matt Crocker, appreciate it.

HARLOW: Nice to have you.

All right, this just in. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping. What it could mean for Russia's war in Ukraine.

COLLINS: That's incredibly significant news. We'll have more on that in a moment.

Also, a manhunt underway here for four inmates who escaped a jail in Mississippi -- one of them allegedly killing a man along that escape route. We have the latest on the investigation ahead. (COMMERCIAL)