Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Tries to Lock in Agenda Before Foreign Trip; Pelosi Says Dems to vote on Infrastructure this Week; Biden on Road in NJ Today to Sell Agenda; Tomorrow: FDA Panel to Rule on Pfizer Vaccine for Ages 5- 11; Docs: Facebook Failed to Halt "Stop the Steel" Movement. Aired 12- 12.30p ET

Aired October 25, 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.

Democrats help this week is different, the president last hour in a New Jersey classroom. He wants an infrastructure vote and a framework of a broader spending plan submitted before he heads overseas. There are handfuls of big policy divides those still and a bit of a democratic family trust gap.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you'll have a plan before Wednesday?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: With the grace of God and goodwill and neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to plan a deal by the time you leave for COP?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's something you've -- Democrat?

BIDEN: That's my - that's my hope.


KING: Plus, the Biden pandemic chief says COVID shots for your kids may happen as soon as two weeks from now. And a new leak of insider document shows Facebook failed to keep up "Stop the steel" conspiracy spiraled on its platform. And as some Facebook staffers draw a straight line from the company's decisions about how to treat Donald Trump to the insurrection.

Up first though President Biden in New Jersey this hour to start a most consequential workweek. President heads overseas on Thursdays he has an audience with the Pope, a huddle with international leaders and a high stakes climate summit. The president hopes to carry a couple of big fresh victories onto that world stage but realizing that hope and getting agreement on a dramatic rewrite of the American social safety net requires clearing a few last hurdles. The top line though now does seem clear 1.75 trillion taxpayer dollars.

Still, though some to and fro over the policies is squeezed into that framework. A confident Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicting the week will go something like this; agreement on the big investments planned by midweek, she says and then a House vote to send a separate infrastructure measure to the president's desk.

Let's get straight up to New Jersey and MJ Lee traveling with the president; the president hoping MJ to get on the road and finish the last little public support for the last few pieces of the details?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. There is so much on the line right now for the Joe Biden Presidency as he spends the day here in New Jersey. You just saw him do a tour of a nearby elementary school.

And we saw over the weekend, the president trying to make another push to try to close the deal on his top legislative priorities hosting Senators Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for a meeting but no deal yet.

We heard him earlier today telling reporters that while the meeting was positive, that there are remain a couple of sticking points. These are sticking points that Democrats have tried to work through over the last couple of weeks, whether it is related to the climate deal, whether it has to do with the papers, how they are actually going to pay for this?

So again, no deal yet, but they do feel like they are getting closer. And increasingly, as you said that price tag is looking like it will be around the ballpark of $1.75 trillion. Now time is of the essence John, for one, they do believe that if they're able to get a deal in the next couple of days, that could give a last minute boost to Democrats who are on the ballot heading into next week, including, of course, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

And also, this is something that the president wants to try to get done before he leaves town before he leaves the country for his trip abroad certainly something that would send a message to global leaders that he has his national affairs under control, John.

KING: MJ Lee kicking us off from New Jersey. I have to say it's nice to see any American President actually had the chance to go into a classroom with children after the last year plus of our lives in COVID. MJ thanks so much!

With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Phil Mattingly "POLITICO" Rachael Bade and Josh Jamerson of "The Wall Street Journal" - it's a bit of an outside game, the president on the road. He's got some Democratic politics there with the governor's race, but mostly let's try to build more public support for this going into a classroom as smart. He met with Joe Manchin over the weekend and Chuck Schumer says they're close. Can they get there?

JOSH JAMERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's the question. Just yes, I'll answer that right now. But it's interesting what the president on the road, I think it's important to realize, like you said what he's doing. He realizes that there is so much support among the Democratic base that gave Democrats control of Washington for these priorities.

And in our reporting, a couple of my colleagues talking to more than 50 Democratic voters across the spectrum, progressives, moderates, they just want to see something get done. And so that the haggling over the scale, the size that is going on here in the beltway, the voters that Joe Biden may be interacting with in New Jersey today aren't going to have the same level of concerns. They just want to see something get done.

KING: And if you think about this, from the House side, it was $6 trillion. Then it was $3.5 trillion. Now it appears because of the centrists in the Senate be about $1.75 trillion. Speaker Pelosi with Jake Tapper yesterday says we will get there and we will get there this week.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): In terms of where we are, I have said already with 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: By the time he leaves for Europe do you think you'll have a deal by Thursday or Friday?

PELOSI: No, I think we're - we're pretty much there now.


KING: That pretty much there now 90 percent is a big deal but as we all know from prior negotiations over complicated things and we've never had one this complicated that 10 percent can throw you off the rails?


RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR: We also heard Speaker Pelosi say something similar before. I mean, she was certain that they were going to make their late September deadline on the infrastructure vote and potentially getting some sort of framework and they blew through that.

But I will say, you know, we're hearing from sources that this is different on two levels. The first one is that the White House posture has changed quite a bit. Back in late September, I was hearing from very senior House Democrats that you know, while President Biden was doing a lot of listening sessions with progressive and moderates, they weren't really moving the ball and he wasn't leaning in enough.

Now they're saying, you know, he's actually haggling. They're looking at numbers. They've got, you know, some language done. She was saying 90 percent. The other piece of this is, is just the specifics. They've actually ironed out a lot of things so far, and so they're a lot closer than they were in September.

So will they get there this week? Who knows? They're definitely going to get there at some point it looks like.

KING: I want to come to the specifics in a second. But to that point about sort of the arc of the negotiations, the president was very patient early on a lot of progressives in the House wanted to get involved earlier, and start twisting arms in the Senate.

He said, no, I want to listen, I want to listen, and he was more of a Senator, if you will. This foreign trip, he seems that - you have several members have said he looks me right in the eye and says I need this. So has he flipped?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's been a total pivot. It started last week and it started last week when he was meeting with House Democrats inside the Oval Office and was making very clear one specific, as you noted which the president had not been weighing in on.

He had been talking about the broader merits of the bill, why he was interested in it, the meaning both for the country in the United States and how it was used on the world stage? We're talking numbers of specific proposals, and most importantly, particularly with progressives talking about how much they were going to have to scale back to get this across the finish line.

And progressives were on board with that fact. He obviously followed that up with a CNN Town Hall where he was making news literally every 30 seconds, which is wonderful to watch. But it's also the posture that White House officials have taken in these negotiations behind the scenes; they are driving towards a deadline.

And while the White House for the better part of the last several months has never said we want it on X date. We want it on Y date. The president made explicit this morning. He wants it before he leaves that is further than anybody in his administration to set it and underscores what Democrats in both the House and the Senate had been pushing towards.

They want to deal they want an outcome they want it now that 10 percent is difficult, but they think they can get it done.

KING: And the drama within the family, the debate over the price tag the shuttle diplomacy, there is understandably at times focus on the process because A, process is important and B there's a lot of drama in the process.

But what is significant? Let's just show what's in what's out and what is TBD? This would be an incredibly dramatic rewrite of the American social safety net and the government's role in your life. In still Universal Pre-K, Obamacare subsidies, child care, tax credit extension, affordable housing funds out a clean electricity program, they're trying to rewrite the climate aspect of this.

Free community college appears to be out Medicare coverage for dental which was important to Bernie Sanders appears to be out, although maybe a voucher program. We'll come back to that in a minute. Here's the TBDs though, what Medicare expansions do you have for vision or for hearing?

What about the paid leave proposals? How are you going to pay for this? What are the revenue and will you let the government negotiate the price of prescription drugs? Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker can say we're 90 percent there, those TBDs are giant issues.

MATTINGLY: They're enormous. And they are - they line up exactly with the issues that Senator Joe Manchin is raised and the issues that Senator Kyrsten Sinema has raised on the kind of economic policy side, that's where Manchin comes in on the revenue side, that's where Senator Sinema comes in. And they are extremely thorny issues.

And I think it's important to note, each one of those issues where it is standalone bill would be a massive undertaking in and of itself. They're trying to do them all at once. And then when you start to figure out and knit together different pieces of this, you need to make sure they fit when you're doing something this expensive. And I think all of that is happening right now.

So it's not just getting a deal on one specific issue on one specific number. It's making sure that that tracks with the revenue side of things that that tracks with how things from paid leave will work in the States with the revenue with the Pre-K program, all of that needs to be looped in together and quilted together and that's complex.

KING: And the process has been perhaps understandably messy, maybe some days more messy than it needed to be other days, maybe not so. But the priority for Democrats now is to view called use the term pivot is to turn the page and the debate chapter get to the legislation chapter so they can do what you just saw the president doing.

In a classroom standing in a place where their trains behind him trying to get to the point, OK, maybe didn't like how we got here. But now that we got this, it is going to change your life.

JAMERSON: Exactly. And a lot of what is still in the bill is popular with voters. And there are some Democrats I've talked to in Virginia, even some Republicans, I talked in Virginia who say, the voters that that race is going to hang on the more moderate to centrist leaning Republicans in Northern Virginia, they really are paying attention to see what if Democrats can govern? And answering that question sometime soon would be helpful in these races, for sure.

BADE: It'll be interesting, one thing we haven't heard a lot from the Squad I mean, you know, we've seen progressives out there negotiating Bernie Sanders, Pramila Jayapal her profile has really skyrocketed in recent months.

But we - one thing I'm going to be watching this week is how people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes are going to sort of react to this? It's interesting we have reported in Playbook a couple weeks ago that you know, Ilhan Omar who is a member of the Squad a senior member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus she's not been invited to any of these meetings and they haven't had Squad members in a lot of these conversations.


BADE: And so, you know, are they going to be on board? A lot of them look to Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is going to be except this deal. They'll probably go along with it. But technically, you know, they haven't really been in the room and so it'll be interesting to watch. Do they say OK, it's time to put the fight away? We're going to sell this thing and sell it to the base and turn out voters or do they have more problems with this?

KING: Ambassador Sanders might come into play.

BADE: Yes.

KING: Might come into play this week as we go out everybody stay put more to discuss. Up next for us, decision time for the government. COVID vaccines for children's ages 5 to 11 up for a vote and a green light means millions could be fully vaccinated ahead of the holiday season.



KING: More evidence today that millions of children could soon be lining up for COVID vaccines. The Drug Maker Moderna today reports its vaccine generates a robust immune response and children's age six through 11. And the company says it will soon ask the government for authorization.

Pfizer already is seeking that green light for children ages five through 11. The FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee meets tomorrow on the Pfizer request, and the president's top medical adviser has 28 million children could be eligible within a week or two.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation for the CDC. It's entirely possible if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November.


KING: We bring in to share his insights and expertise Dr. Carlos Del Rio Executive Associate Dean at the Emory University of Medicine at Grady Health System. Dr. Oreo, grateful for your time on this day! So you're here Dr. Fauci the Pfizer is tomorrow looks like Moderna will come in closely behind them. How important is it for the 28 million children in the 5 to 11 group if they are eligible for vaccines? What does that do to the trajectory of this pandemic?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTESM: Well John, we're in a very good point right now in the pandemic, you know, cases are coming down hospitalizations are coming down, deaths are coming down, but we still have a pretty high rate of mortality and hospitalizations, and many of them are young, younger individuals, not children, but young adults.

I think it's very important to vaccinate kids as we go into the holidays as we think about you know, Thanksgiving, Christmas getting families together. Kids being vaccinated are going to be a way to protect the kids and also protect the other people in the family.

KING: Amen to that. Dr. Walensky, for example, says you should - children should feel safe as long as they're careful to go trick or treating. But you mentioned where we are right now. If you look where we are right now, a Sunday, the seven day average is now below 73,000 - 72,843 new COVID infections reported Sunday.

Down 58 percent from the September high, which is 172,000 plus. So I want to go back to a year ago, we were at 69 so just shy of 70,000 new COVID infections on average a year ago, we are just around 70,000 a little above it. Now the big difference is vaccines were not widely available as we went into the horrors of last winter, where we got as high as 250,000 new COVID infections a day.

Dr. Del Rio, if more people get vaccinated, including these younger children, does that guarantee this number stays down 70,000 or below? Or is that still an open question?

DEL RIO: I think John, that it may, you know, depends what happens with variants. And what happens with the pandemic? It depends how many people stay on vaccinated. I think cases may continue to be on the high side, I want to see hospitalizations and deaths come down.

I think that we can get hospitalizations below five people hospitalized per 100,000 populations. And if we can get deaths below 100 deaths per day, we would be in a much, much better shape than we are right now.

KING: It's important that you focus on those metrics because hospitalizations are down 50 percent from the September high. But there are still 52,460 of our fellow Americans hospitalized with COVID. That's a high number.

You mentioned the children hospitalized down about 46 percent from the September high, which was 2500 a little higher than 2500. But still nearly 1400 children right now hospitalized with COVID. When children are hospitalized, how are those cases different than adults?

DEL RIO: Well, children tend to do better their mortality is lower. And we know that the biggest, you know driver on mortality of severe disease is age. The older you are, the worse it is. But children get hospitalized and we are seeing deaths in children and I think you know one death and children are in my mind way too many deaths.

KING: We're about to go through another cycle, if you will, in the sense that once these younger children ages 5 to 11 are vaccinated, we will see parents I'm one of them, taking their kids out as soon as possible to get them vaccinated.

But we will also see again, the pockets of hesitancy and resistance if you will. If you look right now, the rate of people getting fully vaccinated is down 205,000 as of Sunday, down 50 percent from the September high.

And Dr. Del Rio, if you look at the map, there are still four States West Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming and Alabama, where fewer than 45 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. You're in Georgia that's at 48 Mississippi's at 45. We still have you see the lighter green and much of the country. What are we going to see when you have new eligibility for younger children in places where there are - states that are still way behind the curve?

DEL RIO: Well John, I really again, I think we need to get more people vaccinated. The reality is during this past Delta wave, we had about 180,000 Americans die of COVID so far, and you know if we had vaccinated people, if those people had been vaccinated, we would have cut that mortality by about 150,000.

So we can save lives by vaccinating people. And I think you know, again, I want to remind people this is about staying alive. This is about taking advantage of a vaccine that is incredibly effective in preventing severe disease the death hospitalization and also preventing you from getting infected in transmitting to others.


DEL RIO: So using the vaccine more you know getting more people vaccinated continues to be our number one priority.

KING: Dr. Del Rio as always so grateful for your time and your insights I appreciate it.

DEL RIO: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you. Up next for us Facebook, hate and violence internal documents paint a damning picture of how the social media giant handled the big lie, and the January 6th insurrection?



KING: Tens of thousands of newly leaked documents from inside Facebook paint a damning portrait of inaction, as the platform was used by those pushing Donald Trump's big lie, and the organizers of the so called "Stop the steel rally". Ultimately, that rally of course morphed into the January 6th insurrection. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is covering the Facebook paper scandal for us. Donie what are we learning?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey John. Yes, look, a few days after the insurrection, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Executive came out and she tried to downplay the role that the company had played in fueling the interaction. And she was essentially denying reality.

I mean, we were all able to see how quickly the "Stop the steel" movement, which really helped fuel the insurrection spread on Facebook. I mean, I myself, we went to a "Stop the steel event" on the day the election called for Biden and there was Proud Boys there. There were armed members.

This was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the people we spoke to at that event, said, where did you hear about the event organized on Facebook. And Facebook's own internal researchers based on these new leaked documents, and many new leaked documents, said, admitted that Facebook was too slow to respond to "Stop to steal".

In fact, their efforts to crack down on it were piecemeal. They also said that they observed a big overlap between hate groups and the "Stop the steel group". And I just want to show you one thing, finally John on January 6th, when Facebook executives were condemning the attack one person, a Facebook staffer, commented, and he - and they said, we detect - he actually talked about how this went back to 2015?

The video of Trump calling for a ban on Muslims, he said Facebook determined that it was - it violated our policies and yet we explicitly overrode the policy and didn't take this video down. There's a straight line that can be drawn from that day to today, history will not judge us kindly, which I think is a really, really important point here, John, is that Facebook seemingly did so much to play - Trump for years, they wouldn't fact check politicians.

They let him run that video. They let him keep up that post about looting will lead to shooting and as their Facebook employee reference himself there is a straight line there. This didn't come out of nowhere. And there's receipts, Francis Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower has tens of thousands of receipts that we're sifting through right now.

KING: And Donie these documents are going through, then there's the question of what will be done about it? Will they just be outraged and do reporting or will the Congress actually do anything?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, well, one is there going to be any regulation, everybody says they want regulation, even Facebook says they want regulation. But whether we'll see that happening in a bipartisan fashion, Washington D.C. is one thing?

I think very interesting and very important here though, is something that is actionable here is that Facebook has a lot of information about how January 6th was organized? You know, we saw on these documents that Facebook was able to observe the overlap of hate groups and stop to steal. That is the sort of information that the January 6th House Select Committee should be very interested in. KING: I suspect some of it may show up in court cases as well. Donie O'Sullivan as always grateful, very important issue I appreciate the reporting.

Trump, of course, no longer welcome on Facebook, but his lies still go largely unchallenged in many places like Republican Party leadership Missouri Senator Roy Blunt Sunday refusing to disavow Trump's defense of the deadly insurrection.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): The best thing that President Trump could do to help us win majorities in 2022 is talking about the future. And he can be an important part of that this 22 effort.


KING: That not only did he DACA direct answer, remember that part of the end, Senator Blunt says a man who keeps telling dangerous lies can be an important part of the Republican Party in 2022. And so then, what if you keep flying all the way into 2024?


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: If he doesn't concede the election, would you support him in 2024?

BLUNT: Well, the election for 2020 is over. I'm focused on 2022. And it's a long time between now and 2024.


KING: Not exactly a profile in courage.

BADE: Yes, this is not a topic that Republicans want to be talking about obviously, it's embarrassing for them they think it's going to cause some problems in 2022 and so what they do is whenever they're asked about this, they change the subject, they try to send a message to Trump and tell him what they want him to talk about.

Look, I think the Republicans, the midterms are shaping up to be, you know, a bit of deja vu. It's like Georgia all over again. You had a situation in early 2020, where Republicans felt they had a winning message. You know, Biden had just won the White House, you know, the Senate was in the balance, they could have run on a platform of look, let's keep the Senate and Republicans hands so we can check a Democratic administration?

But Trump would not let go of his big lie and that ended up drowning everything out. Same thing is happening now they want to talk about inflation. They want to talk about COVID. They want to talk about the border. Inflation in the border are among the top issues voters want to hear more about and yet, Trump was --

KING: That they will not say if he keeps lying we want no part of him. If he keeps lying we do not want him raising money for us. They refuse to say those two one would think simple things because power, correct? They're worried that Trump's voters wouldn't show up and they wouldn't win.

MATTINGLY: Well, yes. I mean I think a lot of Republicans realize that Trump voters are their voters that those are the people that they're going to need to win elections.