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Pence: May Never See "Eye To Eye" With Trump On Jan. 6; Now: FDA Panel Meeting On Need For Boosters; 12,500-Plus Migrants Living Under Bridge At U.S.-Mexico Border. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 17, 2021 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: But what I'm also told is this expansion of his political team opening up a new office space just last month here in Washington D.C. for his non-profit group. All of this criss- crossing across the country making plans to visit Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, all a part of this effort where Mike Pence is not trying to patch things up with the former president. He's going to be making his decision independent of all that.

I spoke with somebody close to Mike Pence earlier this week and this is what this person told me. Mike is going to look at this and say, where am I being called to serve? That's not going to be thwarted by any man or woman.

This person continue to say if he, Mike Pence, feels called to do this, it's not going to be because of who else is in the race. So a lot of Republicans are waiting back, waiting to see what happens with Donald Trump for that question somewhere even saying if Trump runs I won't run. Mike Pence is taking a different tack.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Help me, help me. What's the lane? What's the lane, you're, you know, Washington White House reporter now but you have considerable experience in Iowa. Mike Pence again, if you set Donald Trump out of the equation for a minute guy from Indiana, evangelical Christian, fiscal conservative, not a bad candidate for Iowa except Donald J. Trump says you're a traitor because you wouldn't support the big lie.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I mean, I think the big question on is who is calling Pence to do this right now? I mean if you look at Iowa, New Hampshire in early states, and you think about lanes, the Trump supporting Republicans aren't interested. Moderate Republicans probably aren't interested and evangelicals who would be his most sort of natural audience have a lot of options right now.

I mean, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo we're in Iowa this summer. You've seen a lot of activity from other Republicans seeking this. So, I think it's a real struggle for Pence right now to have a natural constituency.

KING: And we know, the biggest tension between them was the post- election where Donald Trump yet again today, promoting the big lie in the letter to the Georgia Secretary of State, wanted Pence, who is the President of the Senate, as the Vice President to somehow get in the way throws off in front of the train of the electoral college. Pence looked into this, there's even indications he was trying to find a way to do it decided he could not. This is Pence a couple months ago explaining the break with the President.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: January 6th was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we have accomplished for the American people over the last four years.


KING: They will never see eye to eye on a day that Trump says it's defining. Trump says it's defining. So again, I guess preparing to run for President possibly hoping the world we live in today is somehow wiped away by a year or so from now.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: And I think what he's hoping is that he says the right things to get back in President Trump's good graces. You know, he even doesn't say he's not critical of them being split on how to handle January 6th.

He's saying, you know, yes, we disagreed that day but look at all the other great stuff we did together. And I think it's clear in his messaging, and that's other Republican leaders doing the same. They don't want to make President Trump mad at them but they kind of can't avoid it because President Trump wants one thing and that's the overturn the election. If he doesn't feel that fellow Republicans are with him on that he says, I'm not your friend.

KING: Again, here's what would have to change. I just can't see it, the cloud of Trump over the ambitions of Mike Pence. We just asked this question in our poll. Should Donald Trump be the leader of the Republican Party? Six-three percent of Republicans say yes, 37 percent say no. So the bulk of the Republican Party is with Trump.

Again, things can change. But if you're Mike Pence today, I guess you make all these preparations hoping, just hoping that we live politically in a world 180 degrees from where we are today by the time he is going to Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina with consequence.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, NATIONAL SECURITY & PENTAGON REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, this is kind of like what we're talking about in the last block. The Republican Party cares about personalities and cares about who it is at the top of the party, not what it is the party is doing. Pence's comments that he made about like, look at all the good stuff we did. That's a very, like, look at the policy. Nobody is looking at the policy right now. So yes, somebody could come along and just be, you know, a come from out of nowhere. I don't know if the GOP can find its Obama type figure, right? But that's the what you'd have to do to basically eclipse the Trump glow right now even though it's a tarnished glow because half -- the party is in a, you know, trying to figure out if they actually can fully support him or their factions of them that think that what he stood for toward the end of his presidency is reprehensible.

KING: If the party wants Trump every indication is that Trump will be available to the party. At least that's what he says today, if the party doesn't want Trump, it's hard to see them going to his Vice President. But again, we'll see. Politics, things change, things change. We shall see. Michael great reporting, appreciate it.


Up next for us, FDA advisors are meeting right now to decide whether to green light COVID booster vaccine shots. There's a big debate and a number of possible outcomes.


KING: Government experts on a day-long meeting right now debating a giant COVID question. Does the science back authorizing a third vaccine dose of COVID booster shot? Today's FDA advisory meeting is focused on the Pfizer vaccine. Boosters many of you know already authorized for those who are immunocompromised.

The drug maker Pfizer though says it studies show waning immunity and is asking the FDA to approve boosters for all adults, 16 and up six months after you received your second dose. Remember, the White House went on the record backing boosters weeks ago and one prominent member of that FDA committee meeting today is among those who say that was getting way out ahead of the science and out ahead of the process.


This is from Dr. Paul Offit. This is a big decision and I don't understand why it had to be rushed. That Dr. Offit telling CNN this morning, I don't understand why we can't spend more time looking at data.

Here to share his expertise and his insights is Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University, grateful to see you in person, Dr. Reiner.


KING: From what you have seen --


KING: -- does the science support boosters for all adults now?

REINER: No. I think eventually all adults will end up getting a booster. What the science supports now, very likely is a booster probably for Americans -- all Americans over the age of 60. And most of that data comes from Israel but there is emergent data in the United States. If you look at the fully vaccinated people in the United States who were hospitalized, 70 percent of those are over the age of 60.

If you look at the rare but still present deaths in fully vaccinated people, 87 percent of those are over the age of 65. So, there is a data set that strongly supports the notion that the risk for waning immunity and there's no question that the vaccines efficacy wanes, is highest in the elderly. And my strong guess is that the VRBPAC, the committee that is looking at this today will approve boosters for people over the age of probably 60 who've been vaccinated more than six months ago.

KING: Well, so then there are a lot of people out there, we can put up on the screen the vaccine doses administered in the United States so far, 57 percent of them are from Pfizer. So this affects, you know, if they do Pfizer, we assume that in the line, they'll come back and do more data and J&J. But right now they're focusing on Pfizer.

If they do 16 over, they're going to have a whole lot of people out there who are eligible, who listened to the White House a couple of weeks ago, say we're going to have boosters and we're going to roll them out next week.


KING: And boosters will be available for everybody who are going to say, what's going on here? Did the Biden White House get way out ahead of itself here? And can you make the case at a time they saw the cases rising with a Delta variant that they did something they promised not to do maybe put politics ahead of science?

REINER: I think you can make that argument and I think the messaging, maybe even since Andy Slavitt left the administration has really been muddle. Andy, I think was a voice of reason and calm and he very clearly articulated administrative -- administration policy. But what the administration has done basically is tell the public that Delta is bad, which it is bad, that our vaccine efficacy is waning, and then we're going to boost everyone.

And what's happened actually is that a lot of people have gone out and have done that. The administration was touting the fact that vaccines were rising over the last month, a lot of that I think, are people getting boosted, maybe not all immunocompromised folks.

KING: To that point, I'm sorry to interrupt, but you tweeted this on Thursday. Every patient I saw in the clinic yesterday who is over the age of 60 had already received a booster.


KING: That's not authorized.

REINER: It's not authorized. KING: So it's not a wild west out there?

REINER: Yes, it is. Well, I practice in D.C., you know, a large part of my practice with people that really, you know, pay attention to science and the media and they listened. And the message they heard was if they were vaccinated more than six months ago, it may not be as effective. They see people getting COVID and they don't want to get sick and they've gone to the pharmacy and most pharmacies don't care. If you've registered for third shot, they just give it to you.

KING: I think they're helping you.

REINER: Right.

KING: So, I want to put up on the screen. They're talking today about booster shots. But let's show the map of eligible population in the United States fully vaccinated, at 63.5 percent of residents in United States over the age of 12 have been vaccinated. But at the White House briefing, Jeff Zients, the White House Coordinator on this just said there's 70 million Americans, 70 million Americans who are eligible to get a vaccine who have not even had one shot.

So we're having a debate about boosters today. The biggest priority, the biggest urgency if you want to tame Delta if you want to make the country safer is that 70 million people, right?

REINER: It is. And the way to do that is to mandate them broadly. Look at United Airlines. The United Airlines CEO just this week on the air here basically said that the number of employees who have quit rather than get vaccinated is in the single digits for that large airline.

We've seen the United States military show that their vaccine acceptance has gone from in the low 70's to over 80 percent now since the military mandated. So I think we can dramatically increase the number of Americans who get vaccinated by basically forcing them to get vaccinated.

Twenty five, 24 percent now of adults over the age of 18 are still unvaccinated. There's a hardcore group of maybe 10 to 15 percent who just state they will never get vaccinated but the balance I think with the right set of incentives and prodding I think will end up getting vaccinated and it's crucial for public health to do that. We're not going to attain any sense of broad community immunity without getting probably 50 of those 70 million people vaccinated.


KING: Let's hope that the message breaks through whether it's by persuasion of a friend or a mandate. Dr. Reiner, grateful, thanks for coming in --

REINER: My pleasure.

KING: -- in person.

This quick programming now joining us, Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with scientists about the origins of COVID-19, this new CNN special report begins Sunday night, 8 o'clock eastern, right here on CNN.

And up next for us, more than 12,000 migrants, look at these pictures, huddled under a bridge. We go live to Del Rio, Texas, next.



KING: Texas border town today dealing with an immigration crisis, the mayor calls overwhelming. Take a look. More than 1,200 migrants, more than 1,200 migrants now camped out under a bridge in the town of Del Rio. And the crowd continues to grow as Border Patrol agents wait to process the influx of mainly Haitian migrants.

The mayor says the community is struggling to deal with this surge and the Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he's sending additional resources to the border to help deter illegal crossings. CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us in Del Rio Texas. Rosa those pictures are wow.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I just talked to one migrant family who says that they spent two days under this bridge. They were sleeping on the dirt. This family says that they explained what was happening to their four-year-old son by saying that they were camping, that they were playing with toys just to make sure that their child was not traumatized after this experience.

Now this humanitarian crisis is happening beyond these gates. And if you take a close look, you'll see that there is law enforcement activity. But we were able to get an aerial view of this area by Texas DPS. From the sky, I can tell you that the pictures are shocking.

The humanitarian crisis here shows thousands of people living under a bridge. We also saw people crossing the Rio Grande into the United States then taking dirt paths towards that international bridge. An official say that most of these individuals are Haitians. We've also talked to a person from Africa, another person from Venezuela, and official say that it's going to take up to two weeks for these individuals to get processed.

Now, signs that people are starting to live under this bridge are very clear from the sky, you can see the tents are going up, people are drying their clothes on fences, now this, as Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday that he was planning to close seven points of entry. Now one of the things to point out is that these migrants are not coming in through the points of entry. I saw it from the sky. They're crossing across the Rio Grande River.

Now, Governor Abbott blaming the Biden administration saying that agents are overwhelmed and then also going as far as saying that Customs and Border Protection was the one who was asking Texas to assist in closing these points of entry. Well, DHS firing back yesterday, John, saying that that was not true and that if Texas closed a point of entry by itself that that would be a violation of federal law. So what's happening here on the ground right now are local officials asking the federal government to step in and fix the problem. John? KING: Rosa Flores on the scene for us. It is a stunning scene and yes, the government has to figure out but they're also human beings who need help at the moment. Rosa, thank you so much for that live reporting, we know you'll stay on top of the story.


Coming up for us, we're hearing directly from General Mark Milley for the first time about the calls he made to China during the chaotic final months of the Trump administration. His defense, next.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, the top U.S. Military officers defending the calls he made to his Chinese counterpart back in the last month of the Trump administration. General Mark Milley telling the Associated Press his actions were quote routine, and quote perfectly within the duties and the responsibilities of his job.

Senator Marco Rubio is calling for Milley to resign after a book revealed General Milley called China to reassure officials the United States was not on the verge of launching a sudden attack. Those calls are detailed by the journalist Bob Woodward and Bob Costa in their upcoming book "Peril".

The candidates for Virginia Governor squaring off in their first debate last night. The big issue, how to fight the coronavirus. Democrat Terry McAuliffe wants mandates, Republican Glenn Youngkin does not.


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA), GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: So I am for requiring mandated vaccinations, he is not. He likes to do PSA's. PSA's aren't going to get anything. I want everybody to be vaccinated here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA), GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: And here we go again. My opponent wants to mandate. I respect your ability to make decisions because that's what leaders do.


KING: That race begins today. Election Day is November 2nd.

An investigation into the origins of the Trump Russia investigation is winding down after only two cases in more than two years. The latest case, a lawyer Michael Sussmann was indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI's General Counsel. The other case last year was against a former FBI lawyer who was accused of making false statements.

That probe began back in 2019 when the Trump Attorney General Bill Barr appointed Prosecutor John Durham to look into whether the FBI committed wrongdoing during the Mueller investigation. The Durham investigation has now lasted longer than the Mueller probe did and turned up only those two charges.

Justice Clarence Thomas has a warning for judges who weigh in on controversial issues, stay in your lane. Thomas says judges who veer into legislative or executive lanes are asking for trouble.


JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous.


KING: That lecture comes as the Supreme Court is set to begin a new term.


Appreciate your time today in Inside Politics. Have a great weekend. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.