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Biden Defiant about Afghanistan Withdrawal; Top Vaccine Officials Quit; Ivermectin in High Demand Despite Warnings; Capitol Riot Suspect to Plead Guilty. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That President Biden needed to show humility over the last few weeks, acknowledge mistakes. He's doing the opposite in general right now. This seemed to be an intentional choice of words there.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was intentional, John, because I think what we saw from the president was that he's angry about the criticism that he's gotten. He is convinced that he's right not only on the decision to leave Iraq, but on how he responded to adversity when that happened. That the -- his belief is that the fundamental cause of the chaos and panic and desperation that we saw was the collapse of the Afghan government and security forces.

People say, well, why didn't you anticipate that? As he indicated in the speech, his view was, even had he anticipated that it would happen that quickly, they thought it would happen later. Anything he could have done in response would simply have accelerated it and created the same situation at an earlier point on the calendar. He believes that they responded by getting control of the airport and running a successful operation to get all but about 100 Americans who wanted to leave out of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans.

It was marred by the tragic suicide bombing. That was a nightmarish result for the president. Nevertheless, he thinks his critics are wrong and that he is right. And their attacks on him for accusing him of being incompetent, of being somebody who was wrong -- is traditionally wrong on foreign policy, that he wasn't showing empathy to people, he thinks all of that was wrong. He added, the criticism was ferocious and he was ferocious in response to it.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, John, he also said he, quote, respectfully disagrees with those who have said that he should have started those mass evacuations sooner so -- and some of those we should note were Democrats.


COLLINS: But, John, I want to ask you about something else because "The Washington Post" is reporting that another lawmaker has tried to enter Afghanistan. This one failed. And that he threatened a U.S. embassy official in Tajikistan for not helping him. What do we know? Who is this lawmaker? And what happened and why did he ultimately not actually get into Afghanistan?

HARWOOD: It was Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. He is not a military veteran unlike Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, who tried this a couple -- more than a week ago.

Look, this is a case where individual members of Congress are freelancing and trying to make things happen on their own or duck into the country and inspect the situation at an extremely dangerous time.

Markwayne Mullin is not part of the military operation, was not a part of the military operation. He's not the president. He's not part of the administration. And I've got to say, the -- when you see the reaction from the embassy, we are not going to help you do this, that seems a rational response to an endeavor by a congressman that was pretty dangerous.

BERMAN: This is a statement that we have from Markwayne Mullin's office. It says, Congressman Mullin has been and is currently completely safe. He and the office of Oklahoma's second district will continue to do anything in our power to bring home all Americans from the war zone that President Biden abandoned. The safety and security of the American people will always be his top priority.

Again, that's a statement from Congressman Mullin's office.

John Harwood, great to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

HARWOOD: You bet.

BERMAN: Two senior FDA officials stepping down at a crucial time for the agency. We have new details about what drove them out the door.

COLLINS: Plus, the head coach of the Jaguars is admitting that vaccination status played a role in the team's roster cuts. How is the league responding? That's next.



COLLINS: Officials within the FDA are stunned this morning after two of the agency's top vaccine regulators announce they are going to leave the agency this fall. Their departure obviously comes at a critical period where the FDA is going to be making some big decisions about booster shots and vaccines for children.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, what have we heard about why these officials are stepping down? It's such a critical period for the FDA.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, so these two officials have more than 35 years' experience between them at the FDA. It's Dr. Marion Gruber, who's the head of the Office of Vaccine Research, she's a microbiologist, and also Dr. Phil Krause, the deputy director, he's a physician. And we don't know why they're leaving. They haven't said. We have

obtained a letter from the -- an FDA official, you know, saying that they're leaving, announcing that they're leaving, but it doesn't explain why.

A source does tell CNN that in general the FDA, folks there have not been too pleased that the White House has, sort of in their view, been getting ahead about boosters. That the White House has even named a date, September 20th, when we'll start doing boosters in the United States, and that boosters haven't even gotten a thumbs up yet from the FDA. The FDA hasn't said they're OK. They haven't said, you know, oh, we'll give boosters to people, you know, x months, you know, this many months after their second shot.

So, some unhappiness at the FDA. We don't know if that's behind why these two officials left.


COLLINS: And we know this comes at a time when the FDA still does not have a permanent commissioner either. Instead, they are acting on an operating --

COHEN: Right.

COLLINS: Or operating on an acting basis, we should note.

But, Elizabeth, I am also told that you have some new reporting about a sea change within the CDC when it comes to releasing data. Something that we know that they faced a lot of criticism over when it comes to the pandemic.

What's going on?

COHEN: That's right, Kaitlan. The CDC, during the pandemic, and actually even before, faced criticism.


These are, obviously, very smart people. They are very careful. They're very precise. And some have said they are very slow. That they wait for data to be published before they announce it to the public and, importantly, before they formulate guidance based on that data. Guidance about vaccination let's say or guidance about masks. Well, now, in the past two months, several times the CDC has released information to the public before it's been published. Sometimes just a few days. Sometimes more like weeks. That doesn't sound like much, but that is a sea change. That is what one expert told us. That's a sea change for this agency.

Again, the hope is to get the data out there so the guidance can be written and given out to the American people. There is -- the agency is facing some criticism, though, that when you do that, some folks who think COVID isn't real, who don't trust the CDC, they can say, aha, see, they're putting out guidance when they haven't even published the research. Hopefully the CDC will start to communicate, you know what, this is provisional at this moment, but it's so important we're putting it out now and we'll be publishing it soon.


COLLINS: Right, because otherwise if those critics -- they also say if they don't put the data out, well then they put out new guidance, they say, well, we want to see the data. So, of course, a complicated situation.

COHEN: That's right.

COLLINS: But, Elizabeth, thank you for that.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: So, COVID and sports, a huge intersection there. Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that a player's vaccination status has influenced the team's decision on its final roster cuts.


URBAN MEYER, HEAD COACH, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Everyone was considered that was part of the production. Let's, you know, let's start talking about this and then also was he vaccinated or not. Can I say that that was a decision maker? It was certainly in consideration.


BERMAN: A spokesman for the NFL Player's Union tells ESPN, after hearing Meyer's comments, they've opened an investigation.

Look, this has to do mostly with players on the bubble here. The NFL has some extremely restrictive COVID rules where if an unvaccinated player tests positive or has a close contact, they're going to miss games. So if you're a player who may not have made the roster anyway or right on that line and you're not vaccinated, it makes sense for a team to use that in the decision-making process.

COLLINS: Yes, and he said it's not the end -- it's not the sole reason why they were cut, but it certainly was something that they considered. And if you are going to risk not being able to have a player that you need that week, week to week, given how much this varies with injuries and whatnot, you want to know that everyone is there on your team.

And, of course, we should note, this comes as Cam Newton was just cut. So --

BERMAN: Which, by the way, by the way, we both wanted to be the lead of the broadcast today. The biggest news story in my life is that Mac Jones, a 22-year-old Alabama quarterback, is going to be starting game one for the Patriots. Sorry, I did not mean to interrupt.

COLLINS: No. Oh, no, no, no. I mean, obviously, welcome news for both of us given, of course, I'm an Alabama alumni, we are big Mac Jones fans over here. And I think this is going to be amazing. But I think also we should look at how this played a role in how good

Cam -- how good Mac Jones has been while Cam Newton was not able to be there. It really helped him get more reps. He was really stand out and I don't think that that's something that could be ignored.

BERMAN: Cam Newton not vaccinated. He had COVID last year. Missed some games last year. And this summer he missed some games because of the COVID restrictions and testing things during that time. Mac Jones, 22 years old, 15th pick in the NFL draft out of Alabama, had some great reps at QB in practice and then in the preseason.

Look, the bottom line here is that Mac Jones looked better than Cam Newton in the preseason. And what I need to know from you, because you are an expert on Alabama football, is how good is he going to be?

COLLINS: He's going to be really good. I mean he is -- you can never predict these things, of course. This is really up in the air when it comes to watching how they're going to actually be in the season. Things can change. But he has looked so good in the preseason, consistently everyday he's really been stand out. And so I don't think it's that surprising. I think you could -- he's a safe bet for you.

BERMAN: I'm willing to --

COLLINS: And I don't think I've ever led you wrong on this.

BERMAN: You've never led me wrong on Alabama football. I mean, here's the thing, is I'm willing to fall in love. I just want you to, you know, to tell me if I'm going to -- you know, if I'm going to regret this. I -- you know, I can only deal with so much pain.

COLLINS: Some heartbreak is ahead?


COLLINS: No, no, I think Alabama players are normally a safe bet.

BERMAN: All right. And, by the way, Kaitlan Collins will be here every week to assess Mac Jones' performance for the New England Patriots, which, again, is one of the most important things going on right now.

COLLINS: Obviously.

BERMAN: Demand surging for a horse deworming drug to treat coronavirus even though there is no evidence it works.


Plus, more on our breaking news. Roe versus Wade is in serious jeopardy this morning after Texas has effectively banned abortion in the whole state.

All of those breaking details are coming up next.



BERMAN: Overnight, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued a new warning telling people not to take the horse deworming drug Ivermectin as demand surges even though there is no evidence that it works to fight COVID.

CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us now.

You know, Kristen, again, any time I read about this story, you know, you had me at horse deworming drug.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, that's right. And I want to point out here, it's not just that there's no evidence that it works, it's actually failed multiple times in clinical trials to help people with coronavirus-19. But as you said, this is still surging, the demand here.

Look at these recent numbers from the CDC. Prescriptions before the pandemic, they were about 3,600 prescriptions per week. As of last month, that number was up to 88,000. That is a 2,344 percent increase.


Now, with that increase has also come a huge increase in calls to poison control about this drug. Three times the amount of calls are coming in now about this drug than before the pandemic.

On top of that, we are starting to hear reports of pharmacists that are running out of this drug, which is causing a huge problem because people are then going to livestock supply centers. Why would this drug be at a livestock supply center? Well, as you mentioned, it is usually used to treat livestock. The problem here is that if people are taking dosages that are meant for a horse or a cow and you are a human being, this is incredibly dangerous. So, a lot of issues here.

Now, where is all this hysteria coming from? Well, unsurprisingly, a lot of it is still coming from social media. People are targeting people who just simply don't want to get sick, who are scared of coronavirus. In fact, it's become such a large issue that the FDA actually had to put out a tweet. I think they summed it up pretty well here. They said, you are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all, stop it.

And, John, for anybody who needs to hear this, and clearly there are quite a few people who do, health officials, researchers, doctors, nurses all agree that the best way to combat COVID is to get the vaccine.

BERMAN: And not the horse deworming drug? It's shocking.

HOLMES: And not the horse deworming drug.

BERMAN: Listen, very quickly, you've got some new reporting about a potential oxygen shortage in the south.

HOLMES: That's right. So we talked to hospitals over the weekend in the southeast who are increase -- seeing an increase in cases. They are also experiencing shortages in oxygen, raising alarm bells. We now know that the Biden administration is looking into this carefully. They are talking to health officials, they're talking to trade organizations, different industry groups to try and figure out what exactly is going on here. As there is an increase in cases, we have seen an increase in demand of oxygen, which is the preferred treatment, and these hospitals are scared they are going to run out.

I also want to note that the Compressed Gas Association, which is a trade group, is now actually reallocating gas and oxygen that is meant to go to the industrial sector, to the healthcare sector to help with this. Also, some of these large suppliers are moving the oxygen from regions that don't need it as much to those regions that are having that uptick in cases, that uptick in demand.

One thing to note here is that some state officials are worried about that, that reallocation of the oxygen, because if there's later a spike in those regions where they're moving oxygen out of, this could become an even bigger concern. So something we're monitoring very closely, John.

BERMAN: Kristen Holmes, thank you for that reporting.

A man charged with beating police officers during the Capitol riot reportedly preparing to plead guilty. His lawyer joins us next to explain his change of heart.

COLLINS: Plus, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening companies who may comply with the January 6th investigation. Is he trying to hide something?



COLLINS: As the FBI continues its investigation into the January 6th attack on the Capitol, a Florida man, seen here wearing an American flag jacket, is expected to plead guilty as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The Justice Department says Robert Scott Palmer used a fire extinguisher to attack police officers.

Joining us now to tell us about his client's change of heart is Palmer's attorney, Bjorn Brunvand.

Bjorn, let's start off with your client. He was arrested and indicted on three charges including assault, obstruction of law enforcement, and knowingly trespassing in a restricted building. He pled not guilty to all of the counts in May, but we are hearing that he's changed his mind.

BJORN BRUNVAND, ATTORNEY FOR CAPITOL RIOT DEFENDANT ROBERT SCOTT PALMER: Yes, we are going to enter a guilty plea on October 4th, pursuant to a plea agreement. We're entering a plea to assault of law enforcement, a felony count, count three.

COLLINS: So he is going to plead guilty as part of this plea deal in October, you're saying?

BRUNVAND: Absolutely. The -- you know, he -- first of all, you know, the story started with indicating that he was beating law enforcement. He never actually beat law enforcement. There was never any physical contact. He did assault law enforcement with -- by throwing the fire extinguisher and throwing a board towards law enforcement.

Fortunately, no one was ever injured. He's very remorseful. And we're hoping for some mercy from the court.

COLLINS: OK. No one was injured, but is that because he did not actually hit them with it or what you saying happened there?

BRUNVAND: That -- that's -- both. There was never any contact with law enforcement. So, as you see in the video, the fire extinguisher is thrown towards law enforcement. They're barricaded. There's no contact and there's no one -- no one's actually injured during the incident.

COLLINS: OK. So, because they protected themselves. Because an FBI special agent says that Palmer can be seen spraying the contents of the fire extinguisher at police and then throwing the fire extinguisher at them. Security footage shows that he picks up the fire extinguisher from the ground and throws it at the officers for a second time.

So you said he wants to accept responsibility for what he did. Has he explained to you why he did that?

BRUNVAND: You know, what he's explained is that he's -- he's sorry about being there. He's sorry that he was at the Capitol on January 6th. He wishes he had never gone there. He did not go there with the intention of doing any of the things that you see him doing on the video. Unfortunately, it happened, as we all know from watching the video. And he turned himself in at an early stage. He's cooperated with the authorities and provided the information that he has, which is not a lot, but that's all he can do is he can -- he can indicate to them that he's sorry. There's another side of Mr. Palmer that's a good father, a good man. And hopefully the court can see that what happened during those few seconds on the Capitol January 6th is not a reflection of who he truly is.

COLLINS: Your client told "The Huffington Post" several months ago that the Biden administration was trying to, quote, vilify the patriots. Does he now understand that that is not patriotic behavior?

BRUNVAND: You know, it's -- unfortunately he understands that what he did and how he got involved in this is not appropriate behavior. His opinions about politics, which, you know, we have different opinions on politics, doesn't really matter. What matters is that regardless of your opinion, what happened on the Capitol that day is not appropriate.


He recognizes that. He's sorry about being involved in those activities. And he accepts responsibility.