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Happening Now: FDA Advisers Discuss J&J Booster; Nikolas Cruz to Plead Guilty to Parkland School Murders; Former President Clinton in Hospital, "On the Mend" from Infection; Capitol Officer Charged with Obstruction in case tied to Jan 6th. Aired 12-12.30p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Up and in good spirits Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized for an infection that spread into his bloodstream. A spokesman though says he's on the mend. We'll have the details just ahead.

Plus, the January 6th Committee gets aggressive. It will see criminal charges now against a top Trump advisor. And the Chairman says get this he has not ruled out a subpoena for Donald Trump himself.

And another big meeting on boosters the focus today is on J&J. This as a giant study of veteran shows that vaccine protection does weaken after six months or so. And we begin right there with your health and with an FDA advisors vaccine meeting that is happening right now.

Today's agenda is to decide whether to authorize a booster for those who receive Johnson & Johnson's one shot COVID vaccine. It's about 15 million Americans. This panel already gave the green light to Pfizer and Moderna boosters, so yes, is expected for J&J as well.

And this as a new study shows that mixing and matching vaccines and boosters between the three different vaccine brands seems to work well. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now to kick this up. So we expect a green light for J&J, Elizabeth well put this big decision into context.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We do expect a green light for J&J, John for the reasons that they gave a green light to Pfizer for reasons that this expert panel yesterday gave a green light to Moderna that boosters do seem to be effective six months after the original shots.

But for J&J, it may be especially important I had a conversation with Dr. Honorable Arnold Monto he is the Head of this expert committee that is meeting as we speak. And here's what he said to me. He said it's critical to get the J&J people more protected. They are starting at a lower level of protection. Let's take a look at the numbers to see what Dr. Monto was talking about?

You remember when Moderna and Pfizer came out, they were between 94 and 95 percent effective at keeping people from getting sick with COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson though, was only 72 percent effective, still a very effective vaccine, but not as effective as Moderna or Pfizer. And that's why Dr. Monto and others are eager to have people who got J&J get a second shot John.

KING: And Elizabeth, let's dig a little deeper. Help us now with this new study on mixing and matching. It's of course especially important for those who originally got the J&J vaccine. Tell us more.

COHEN: That's right. I think a lot of people have wondered, gee, if I got Pfizer originally do I need to get Pfizer as a booster? Can I get something else or what if I got Moderna first? So this study, it wasn't huge. It was just over 450 people; it found that actually mixing and matching work just fine and was safe.

And that actually folks who got Johnson and Johnson first, they were actually better off if they got a booster from either Pfizer or Moderna, they were actually better off if their booster was not Johnson & Johnson.

Now, this group today these FDA advisors will be talking about this study today, but they won't be doing anything about it. So we won't see mixing and matching come out of this meeting. But it's more of a start of a conversation. And in the future maybe there will be some provisions for mixing and matching John.

KING: Elizabeth Cohen thanks for kicking us off, especially grateful for the important context here. Let's bring in and continue the conversation with us to share his insights and expertise Dr. Carlos Del Rio he's Executive Associate Dean at the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System.

Dr. Del Rio grateful for your time! I just want to put up on the screen for our viewers. So the big booster question today is do you authorize a booster for Johnson & Johnson but as you just heard Elizabeth Cohen say you're familiar with the research. There's another question of should you mix and match especially for people who got the J&J vaccine the way this is being done?

The decision today, the vote today will be just on should J&J vaccine recipients get another boost of the same vaccine? Is that the right way to do it or given this study? And given understandably, maybe some confusion out there? Should they be dealing with the mix and match question immediately as well?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECTIVE ASSOCIATION DEAN, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: Well John, I think it would be really nice if they dealt with the mix and match question because their reality is that's what's going to happen in the real world, right?

People are going to - are going to read this, I'm going to say, what should I get? Why should I not get a different vaccine if I'm going to get a better response if I use an mRNA vaccine after getting Johnson & Johnson? The data would second shot Johnson & Johnson is good. I think you can get Johnson & Johnson but if it was me, I would probably take an mRNA vaccine after Johnson & Johnson.

KING: You would take it mRNA vaccine. I want to just do - the vaccine breakdown right now. This is about 8 percent of Americans who are vaccinated got J&J. So that's about 15 million people out there. So if the FDA comes out today and you're a J&J recipient, the FDA later today says you can get another J&J boost.

If you were one of those 15 million would you go today and get it or tomorrow and get it or would you wait thinking maybe in a week or two, they're going to say you can get a Pfizer or Moderna now or wait?


DEL RIO: Well, I think that's a very good question. Depends who I was and what the situation was. A lot of people that got J&J are actually young people. So their chances of developing severe disease are lower than if they were older individuals.

And if they're young people, I would say, wait, you're no - you're in absolutely no rush to get a booster. If you're somebody over the age of 60, who happened to have received J&J? I think I would go ahead and get the booster as soon as possible

KING: Help me understand the question I asked myself and I'm not a medical professional, of course are we having the right conversation? It is a luxury to be able to get a booster the studies do show after six months or so immunity does wane some.

But are we having a debate essentially about people who are driving on the road, those with a half tank of gas are going to fill up while those who are driving around on empty are taking a risk, if you will? We can show our viewers the rate of people initiating vaccines right now.

These are seven day booster doses administered. Look at those numbers. 364,000 people, nearly 365,000 people yesterday Dr. Del Rio, got a booster. So that is another vaccine shot. But if you look at this, the numbers of Americans initiating vaccines is way below that.

So the people who are out there on empty are not getting vaccines and the people who already have two doses or the case of J&J one, are waiting to get more. That's a problem, isn't it?

DEL RIO: It's an absolute problem, John, as I say, I tell people, the booster that I need is for the unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. That's how we're going to get out of this pandemic. And I want to emphasize to everybody that the data clearly shows that if you are vaccinated, your chances of getting infected your chance of dying and your chance of having severe disease are much lower than if you're not vaccinated.

In fact, they're in you know, 10 to 20 times higher for the vaccinated versus unvaccinated. So you're much better off being vaccinated and unvaccinated getting the unvaccinated to get a vaccine needs to be a priority.

KING: Well, we've talked about this several times. I know it's frustrating for you as a medical professional. It's frustrating for me when you look at the data and just a new number from the CDC today, unvaccinated adults face 11 times higher risk of dying from COVID then vaccinated adults.

They are six times more likely to test positive. When you talk to people when your colleagues talk to people why it is that pretty stark statistics like that are not breaking through pretty drug in vaccine hesitancy?

DEL RIO: Well John, there's several questions and several reasons why people are doing that. One of the major problems is misinformation. There's so much misinformation that people have received, that there's essentially confusion and lack of trust.

And I think what we need to work right now is on regaining people's trust, and really trying to them to understand that this is the right thing to do. But the reality is at some individuals, it's only going to be through mandates when they get vaccinated.

And that's why the White House in their plan is suggesting mandate for you know, employers that have more than 100 employees or healthcare systems for industry, entertainment industry and for many other venues because at the end of the day mandates I think is going to be the reason why most people get vaccinated.

KING: And it's obviously a political controversy about those as well. Dr. Del Rio is always grateful for your time and your insight, sir, appreciate it.

DEL RIO: Delighted to be with you.

KING: Up next for us, some important breaking news. Remember the Parkland Florida School shooting well the shooter now has a new legal strategy. Plus, a health scare for Bill Clinton the former president is hospitalized in California, but he is said to be on the mend.



KING: Some important breaking news to bring you right now. Nikolas Cruz has decided to plead guilty to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. You will remember the horrific Valentine's Day Massacre took place in Parkland, Florida, back in 2018.

CNN's Nadia Romero tracking these breaking developments for us and joins us. Nadia what have we learned here. It's a big deal.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is a big deal, John, and this is really a moment for those wounds that are left unhealed for so many people. We remember Valentine's Day back on February 14th, 2018 when Nikolas Cruz he told police he admitted that he went into his former school the school he was expelled from and he pulled a fire alarm.

And when teachers and students came out of their classrooms, he then opened fire using an AR-15. Well, Nikolas Cruz today in court, on a separate matter pled guilty to charges of assaulting a corrections officer. But his defense attorney asked the judge to reconvene on Wednesday morning at 9 am where Nikolas will then plead guilty.

Now he initially pleaded not guilty. But this is part of the defensive strategy. He will plead guilty to all charges in exchange for his life. He doesn't want the death penalty to be on the table instead, he wants to have 17 consecutive life sentences without the possibility for parole.

So that is something that we're expecting to see Wednesday at 9 am. It didn't happen today because the lead prosecutor is out of town. And there still seems to be a bit of negotiation that's happening between the defense and the prosecution.

Now what we're hearing from the prosecution is that we may hear from many witnesses, people who survive that shooting loved ones of those victims, even football coach and a 14-year-old freshman girl who was among those killed that day who may speak on Wednesday morning during that hearing, John.

KING: Big legal change more emotions ahead. Nadia I appreciate very much the breaking news there. It's a huge development. I'm moving on to another big story now the Former President Bill Clinton described as on the mend today. Mr. Clinton's doctors say the 75-year-old now under close watch after a urinary tract infection spread into his bloodstream.

The former president was in California for a private event and is now recovering at the UC Irvine Medical Centers.


KING: CNN's Jamie Gangel broke this story last night and is here with her latest reporting. Jamie, what do we know what happened and how's he doing?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: As of this morning, the last update I got from his staff was at eight o'clock. They said there was no change in his condition. They are hoping that he will be released today. But I think they are waiting for some lab results.

That said I keep hearing that he's in a great mood. He's talking. He's on the phone, calling people. He was walking around the ICU, John so much that the doctors told him to get back in bed. So you know, the question here is, what's happening with these antibiotics? Can they move from intravenous to oral and lead them out of the hospital?

KING: I covered Bill Cohen for a long time that not surprised me at all that he's wandering around, saying hello. So can you walk us through what we know here? I mean, the staff has been very clear, not COVID, staff has been very clear on nothing to do with his history of some hard trouble. This was a urinary tract infection that spiraled into an infection?

GANGEL: Right. So I'm not a doctor, but I gather this is not uncommon in older people, you can get a urinary tract infection in older people, and it does not have the same symptoms. You don't know you're having it. Tuesday night, he felt were told, "Very fatigued".

He must have been feeling pretty bad to go to the hospital. They did the test. They discovered the UTI had become sepsis, a blood infection. That is very serious, John, I don't know if you remember. But the day after Barbara Bush died; Former President Bush 41 was actually admitted to the hospital for a similar infection. And his was very, very serious. This they seem to have caught earlier.

KING: Jamie Gangel I appreciate the reporting. And we certainly wish the Former President Mr. Clinton well and hope he is released as soon as possible. Jamie, thank you so much. Up next for us, Steve Bannon now back is the face of the Trump resistance and for that, a Congressional Committee says he should be prosecuted ASAP.



KING: Well, breaking news in this busy Friday, U.S. Capitol Police Officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges in connection to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The D.C. U.S. Attorney just announced these charges. Let's get straight to our Justice Correspondent CNN's Jessica Schneider. Jess, what do we know?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well John, this just came out a U.S. Capitol Police Officer of 25 years indicted on obstruction charges. This Capitol Police Officer wasn't actually working or at the Capitol on the day of January 6th Insurrection.

But according to this indictment, he had extensive conversations with someone who was charged in this including the allegations are that he tipped one of these rioters who was eventually charged off to the fact that he might be charged.

So the way that this is unfolding via the indictment is that this Capitol Police Officer somehow made contact on January 1st before the January 6ht Insurrection with someone who did go to the January 6th Capitol riot. And it talks about the fact that this Capitol Police Officer one day after the insurrection, contacted this person on Facebook, and this is what the Capitol Police Officer is accused of saying.

Hey, I'm a Capitol Police Officer who agrees with your political stance take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating. And everyone who was in that building is going to be charged, just looking out. So this is the core part of this charge is that this Capitol Police Officer basically instructed this person who was later charged for unlawfully entering the Capitol to take down all evidence that he had done so from his social media.

This indictment documents how this rioter had posted extensively on his social media page, putting out videos as well. And this indictment talks about the fact that the communication didn't end there. This Capitol Police Officer and this accused rioters conversed numerous times over social media and at one point, the Capitol Police Officer talked to this alleged rioter on the phone for a total of 23 minutes.

In addition to that, after all of this back and forth conversation that was happening throughout the month of January, this U.S. Capitol Police Officer eventually deleted all of these messages, presumably because he knew that the communication with this rioter tipping this writer off essentially that the FBI were investigating and that this writer might in fact be charged, realizing that this probably wasn't the right thing to do as a U.S. Capitol Police Officer.

So now this officer facing two charges of obstruction again, this is the Capitol Police Officer who has been in the Capitol Police for 25 years Michael Angelo Riley and John he is expected for an initial appearance in federal court in just the next few minutes at 1 pm today where he will face these charges.

But this is an indictment that speaks to the fact that this officer allegedly tipped off a rioter about the fact that the FBI was investigating and instructed this rioter allegedly to delete any evidence from it on his social media pages John.

KING: Jessica Schneider I appreciate the hustle with on the breaking news story. With me to share the reporting and their insights Catherine Lucy of "The Wall Street Journal" CNN's Manu Raju Jackie Kucinich of to "The Daily Beast" and CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams.


KING: Elliot let me start with you. You heard what Jess went through we're all sitting here reading this indictment. Pretty stunning that any police officer any law enforcement official, but a 25 year veteran of the Capitol Police force would be essentially instructing somebody in how to destroy evidence and urging them to destroy evidence about their breach of the Capitol during the insurrection.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: John, it's cases like this that make me wish I were still a prosecutor, because you just don't get evidence like this in cases where literally someone is saying in email conceal the evidence, what the statute of the criminal judge obstruction statute is it makes it a crime to conceal evidence.

And when you're telling somebody to take this thing that you know, because he even says they are investigating everyone. He knows what he's doing. This is lock stock and barrel, great evidence in a meritorious case. KING: And there's a scary part to this. Manu this has been a conversation since January 6th, their internal investigations of the Capitol Police Force trying to find out number one, did they miss clues that they should have been staffed up and beefed up that day?

But also questions about where some of them sort of like, you know it political like-minded politically didn't think it were going to turn into violence. I'm not saying they wanted people to be hurt, but thought we agree with these Trump people.

He says in these alleged communications, that I agree with your political views, police officers, they're entitled to their political views, but they're supposed to leave them at home when they come to work and put the uniform on?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And there's been a lot of suspicion that there were some of those police officers. This person was not Michael Riley, this officer of the Capitol Police was not in the Capitol on January 6th, but there were others who were who appeared sympathetic to the riders.

Now, I'd be careful, though, you know, a vast majority of the police that were there were defending the Capitol fighting the insurrection is that day the rioters a lot of them got severely injured through the course of this one, Brian Sicknick, of course, lost his life over this as well.

But there had been a lot of concerns that the Capitol Police had not done enough to essentially investigate its own ranks. They did say that they had taken some disciplinary action against a handful of them. The question is what else is out there?

KING: Right. And Jackie Kucinich as these investigations play out again, I'm just reading this entire list of 25 year veteran of the Capitol Police Force who is alleged to have done this "On January 20th 2021, Riley deleted all of his Facebook direct messages to and from person one". A 25 year veteran of the police thanks to because you delete them they disappear. Hello?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, that's like a, not an understanding of social media. But I think what this points to what these allegations points to be just how much we don't know yet. How much is still out there when you talk about January 6th, and that goes to this committee?

But also the investigations that are ongoing, both internally inside the Capitol Police Force and on Capitol Hill. And you know, at the end of the day, the American people deserve to know what happened everything that happened on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House in the Capitol. What happened that day, so it can never happen again?

KING: And so as we are going to watch some of this will play out in court. The people who charged for entering the Capitol now this police officer charged with obstruction of justice essentially tried to help somebody who invaded the Capitol on that day. And then there is the January 6th Committee and Steve Bannon is about to become the test case for that committee, which of course says it wants to get to the truth about before the day of and immediately after the January 6th Insurrection.

The members will meet next week to vote on recommending longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon be prosecuted for criminal contempt because he refuses to provide documents the testimony to the committee. The contempt vote is meant to send a stern message to Bannon and others refusing to cooperate. But any decision to prosecute would ultimately rest at the Justice Department.

And Catherine Lucey on that point I want you to listen here. This is Jamie Raskin, a Democratic Member of the Committee, who says, you know that it is very time that the Congress says he get a backbone so that it be taken seriously listen.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Steve Bannon is clearly still under the spell of Donald Trump, who travels with an army of lawyers. These people think they're above and beyond the law, we expect and we demand that people comply with our orders.


KING: He expects and demands but in Trump world, the history of the impeachment says if we string this out, if we lawyer up if we go to court, months and months go by and we're never held accountable.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: We're right on both points John. The House Democrats really they do want to send a strong message they're being - they're being very aggressive here. They really want to make clear that they want people to testify, and they're trying to really pursue their legal options.

But yes, the Former President Trump and his allies have shown very little interest in complying in any way with this. So there's no evidence that Steve Bannon is suddenly going to change course. And I think they're moving now this is really to test through the Democrats' ability and powers here.

Now they're moving into a space where there isn't a lot of precedent for how this referral or this process will go. You know, we haven't heard from the Department of Justice yet. It's not exactly clear what the next steps will be. So we have to see how this is going to play out?

KING: And to that Elliot, you were just saying you want to be a prosecutor again because of the case against the Capitol Police Officer and the evidence laid out.