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U.S. Capitol Police Increase Security Ahead of Planned Rightwing Rally to Support January 6th Insurrectionists; FOX News' Continued Accusations of Mental Decline against President Biden Examined. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 08:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think about Facebook's response here, which owns Instgram, basically saying, look, we're going to have the algorithm direct people to more health content. Do you trust Facebook to regulate itself and do the right thing by teenage girls?

COLT-LACAYO: I really wish that I said yes. I want -- I think if Facebook wanted to do the right thing it could. But I also believe that Facebook and Instagram have their own agenda, and their agenda is to be popular, to make money, and to make sure that kids are staying on these apps. And that doesn't inherently coincide with protecting young people's mental health, because they've seen through the past that when they use -- add things like the like buttons and add face filters that inherently promote insecurity, the app becomes more popular.

So, no, I don't think they are -- while I wish they would do things to change and I think they are capable of it, I don't believe that they are the ones that are going to ignite actual change when it comes to this issue.

KEILAR: Sylvia, I want to thank you for this conversation, so important as Facebook considers an Instagram app for kids. So I'm glad. We're going to be talking about this. Sylvia Colt-Lacayo, thank you.

COLT-LACAYO: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman. And it is Thursday, September 16th. U.S. Capitol police are asking the Pentagon for support from the National Guard ahead of a planned rightwing protest at the Capitol on Saturday. Overnight, temporary fencing around the Capitol was reinstalled around the complex. Capitol police also say that they have been in touch with the military. This is being called the justice for J6 rally, it's being thrown in support of the insurrectionists who were charged in the deadly January 6th Capitol riot.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Both chambers of Congress will be in recess, meaning far fewer lawmakers or staff will be in the area. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Democrats saying, quote, "There is a wish by some to continue the assault on the U.S. Capitol with misinformation and malice. The leadership of the Congress on a bipartisan and bicameral basis has been briefed by the Capitol Police Board on the nature of the threat and the unprecedented preparations to address another attempt to defile our national purpose."

Let's begin with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, who is live outside the Capitol. Overnight, Shimon, you've seen these fences go up, you've seen the protections go into place. Tell us about it.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, overnight as you said, John, these fences were placed really just entire -- the entire perimeter of the Capitol now fenced in with these fences. And also what they've done here, John, is they've put these barricades here, these jersey barriers, these concrete barriers in a lot of the parts of the Capitol here as well, and that is obviously to protect from vehicles. So obviously there is some concern that someone may try to drive a vehicle through here. So they've done that.

And really, John, I just want to show you, Eddie here is going to show you just the perspective of this, of how far the stretch is. It goes for blocks now. And then it turns the corner and goes around onto Independence. So really, the entire perimeter now of the Capitol now fortified because, as you said, authorities here not taking any chances. Even though people will not be here, they don't expect members of Congress here, obviously it will be a Saturday, there's recess, but they're still not taking any chances.

The other question is going to be the National Guard, and how will they be deployed? Will we see them along the perimeter again? We don't know yet. Officials have not said. Obviously last time we did see a lot of them. You're going to see a lot of Capitol police and also Washington police out here as they prepare. And certainly on the day there is going to be a heavy, heavy police presence here, John.

BERMAN: You can't take any chances. How could you take any chances after what happened on January 6th? All right, Shimon, thank you so much for being there for us.

KEILAR: And joining us now to discuss, CNN anchor and chief national affairs analyst Kasie Hunt. You know, Kasie, there's so much preparation going into this. It's a little unclear how big of a rally this is going to be, but they have to be prepared because something like this has the capacity to go out of control.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And the reality is they simply cannot afford to make the same set of mistakes again. What happened on January 6th, obviously the former president encouraged those people to come down to the Capitol. But the reality was that there wasn't a perimeter set up in advance. And that's part of what put those law enforcement officers who were defending the Capitol for all of us who were inside the complex that day, made their jobs so difficult and resulted in so many injuries.


Thankfully no law enforcement officers passed in the moment, but obviously several died as a result of what happened that day. So they just can't afford to let anything like that happen again. I think one of the central differences over the weekend is going to be we don't know that the former president is going to be urging people to go there, right. That was such a critical piece of what happened on January 6th.

KEILAR: And --

BERMAN: Sorry. Melanie Zanona was reporting on some of the bind that Republicans members of Congress find themselves in --

HUNT: It is a bind, though?

BERMAN: OK, go ahead.

HUNT: Her reporting is great. I don't want to take anything away from Melanie's reporting at all. But in terms of Republicans who are suddenly trying to grapple with this from a political perspective, I just would take them back to what they felt on that day when they were trying to barricade themselves inside their respective chambers where people showed up with zip ties. Sure, many of those Republicans perhaps didn't feel as though they specifically would have been targeted by these people because they were Donald Trump supporters.

But on the other hand, many of them aren't necessarily known. And the more we learn about this when these cases are ongoing through our criminal justice system, the more we learn, the scarier it all turns out to be. And the reality is I understand, I cover the politics these people are dealing with back in their home districts, but that doesn't change the simple morality of the situation when people's safety and lives are potentially at stake.

BERMAN: Totally. There should be no bind. I agree with you 10,000 percent there. What's interesting, though, is the situation inside the Republican Party where the facts just don't matter anymore. This new CNN poll shows that 78 percent of Republicans believe that Biden didn't get enough votes to win the election, 78 percent. And 54 percent say there's evidence that exist to back it up, which there isn't. Now, that's among people we polled. And part of the reason is because even if these members of Congress aren't going to show up at the rally, they've been fanning these flames since January.

HUNT: They have, they have. You're absolutely right. And part of it, too, is that, and if you look at it from the other side, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, there are not that many leaders who are willing to step up. So on the one hand you have a handful who are out there actually saying this is a lie. You have others who are out there actively saying that it's not a lie. They're actively defending and arguing that the former president actually did win the election.

But you've got this great big middle as well of people who are simply too afraid to stand up and challenge the assertions that the former president is making. We've been talking about Chris Christie and how he was willing to go to the Reagan Library and make statements about how the Republican Party is losing all credibility, needs to actually start recognizing what the truth is. But, of course, even he didn't say Donald Trump's name out loud because they're all so afraid of being attacked by the former president. And all of those things are problems here.

Now, if one of these Republican members actually shows up at this rally, which is, of course, billed as a justice for January 6th. Remember, all these people have been arrested and charged for either committing violent acts for illegally entering the Capitol. This is not a situation where these people have been held for reasons that don't actually hold up. Our justice system is working the way it's supposed to in these cases. But there is so much tension already inside the Capitol over what happened on the 6th. Members of Congress don't trust each other. If some of these people show up at this rally, I think the repercussions for how our government works and for those tensions inside the building itself are really going to ratchet up. It's already a problem, and this would make it so, so much worse.

KEILAR: Mel was reporting that two congressional candidates are going to be at this event. Imagine if they win, and then you're a member of Congress sitting next to someone in the House chamber who was at a rally supporting the people who broke into and were legitimately charged and potentially prosecuted in that.

Lastly, Kasie, I want to talk to you about sort of a, let's call it a tangential covid story, shall we, but it's gotten a lot of attention. And that is that rapper Nicki Minaj was not invited to the White House. She claimed this in a tween. She was actually offered an opportunity to speak to a doctor who could answer any questions that she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, because she got, look, the crux -- let's just say the crux of what she was saying online was that she hasn't gotten vaccinated and she wants to do more research. What did you think about that reaction from the White House?

HUNT: First of all, I appreciate your very careful rhetorical handling of that question, Brianna, because I don't want to say it either.


KEILAR: What are you talking about?


HUNT: Absolutely nothing. I think you captured it exactly right.

The White House is in a difficult position here with the way that social media obviously has given so many people these giant platforms to talk to their fans, to their supporters. And the Biden administration needs people to trust these vaccines if they are going to combat this pandemic. That's the beginning, middle, and end of it. And because they're in charge of governing the country, they have to figure out a way to push back against these issues. And I certainly think that allowing access to White House doctors is a

good step. I think the challenge with an invitation, it's a delicate thing, right. You don't want to have an invitation, have those pictures, the person coming in and lending them legitimacy, lending her position legitimacy.

On the other hand, maybe that's a better way to actually convince her, and she comes out at the end and tells people, hey, actually, here's what I think now after having seen the evidence and speaking with doctors, et cetera. So I get the bind that the White House is in at the end of the day. Governing is really, really tough, and this is a really thorny challenge for them to have to deal with.

BERMAN: And maybe it's worth the risk if you can convince Nicki Minaj to tweet some truth instead of cousin's friend's --

HUNT: If it saves a couple lives, it's probably worth it.

KEILAR: Cousin's friend's, what?

BERMAN: Cousin's swollen friend's testicle gate is I think the official name of the scandal at this point. Kasie Hunt, thank you.

HUNT: I have no comment, John Berman.

BERMAN: Kasie, thank you for being with us.

HUNT: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: I was teasing you. You went there.

BERMAN: It needs to be said.

Moving on, if you can't beat them, say they're crazy or senile or losing a step. Rightwing media has this long going fixation with Joe Biden and his mental health that, frankly, ignores the past four years. John Avlon with the Reality Check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In response to revelations in the upcoming book "Panic" that General Mark Milley was, quote, certain, that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, ex-president Trump responded last night by calling his handpicked chairman of the Joint Chiefs a complete nutjob.

This neatly encapsulates Trump's reflexive project and deflect defense, also known by its schoolyard name, I'm rubber, you're glue. It's been a signature move since the two-time popular vote loser entered politics with a talent for deflecting his problems on opponents, like lying Ted and crooked Hillary.

But we're in uncharted territory when it comes to a president who, by the accounts of the people who worked closely with him, had become all but manic and untethered to reality as well as the Constitution when he screamed about conspiracy theories and attempted to overturn an election. Now, there is something known as the Goldwater rule that bars diagnosis of a candidate's or president's mental health by professionals or otherwise. Armchair diagnosis can be dangerous and misleading because it often reflects the partisan bias of the self- appointed analysts.

But that doesn't mean we should ignore evidence provided by the people closest to the president, like his former chief of staff who called Trump unhinged, a moron, according to his former secretary of state. A chief strategist reportedly compared him to an 11-year-old child who lost a step, a madman according to his former communications director, and an idiot surrounded by clowns according to his chief economic adviser.

This is just a very few examples. And I'm not even talking about Trump's awkward celebration of passing a cognitive assessment test designed to detect signs of dementia.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He'll go, person, woman, man, camera, TV.


AVLON: But given all of this, it's perhaps inevitable that Trump and his ally in rightwing talk TV would attempt to project and deflect questions about the ex-president's mental stability by running a relentless campaign to raise similar questions about the current president.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes, he looks weak, frail, and seems to be struggling cognitively.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden is not the Joe Biden of eight years ago.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The man obviously had lost his train of thought and couldn't recover it.

HANNITY: What's on the note card, Joe?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a big question as to what is going on with Joe Biden's mental acuity.

RAYMOND ARROYO, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He tends to latch onto one idea or phrase and then repeats t.

HUME: And stammer around for a little while.

ARROYO: This is called perseveration. It's a medical term. It can be a sign of cognitive trouble.

HUME: These are signs of senility.

(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: Curious about the pervasiveness of the attack beyond that mashup, we ran some of the key terms through LexisNexis and found that FOX News has described Biden as senile 47 times over the past two years, invoked cognitive decline 48 times, raised the specter of dementia 22 times, and used the euphemism "confused" 157 times. So much for the Goldwater rule.

But this isn't subtle, and these are just some of the phrases that could be picked to make the same point.


And LexisNexis doesn't keep transcripts for all Fox News shows. But the theme is clear and consistent with the Russian disinformation campaign deployed against Biden in 2020.

Look, Biden and Trump are America's two oldest presidents, that's a fact. But there is a fundamental difference between opponents making accusations and a president's own aides and appointees repeatedly warning of a dangerously unstable and unfit man in the office, a president who represented a threat to national security.

What is striking is how Trump's hard core supporters believe they know their man better than the people who actually know him. They seem willing to follow him past facts to the point of idolatry. This has real implications for our democracy as a new CNN poll shows a 54 percent of Republicans believe there is solid evidence Biden did not legitimately win the election. There is, in fact, no evidence to that effect as more than 60 court cases have established.

But they have bought into the baseless big lie hook, line and sinker. Look, all the what-aboutism in the world cannot deflect from the fact Donald Trump tried to overturn an election, tried to destroy our democracy just to soothe his own fragile wounded ego. And the reason isn't just awful history, it's that he seems to be his party's front runner in the next election, and that's why this can't be ignored. And that's your reality check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely the front runner at this moment, and absolutely true according to this book "Peril", that the CIA director Gina Haspel said he was like a six-year-old with a tantrum.

AVLON: You want to give power to that particular bed (ph) with hammer, let's see.

BERMAN: John Avalon, thank you very much.

Up next, a new twist in the debate over booster shots. What one drug maker now reveals about its vaccine.

BRIANNA KEILAR: Plus, testimony from top U.S. gymnasts who say the FBI botched the abuse case against their team doctor.

And new mysteries surround the South Carolina lawyer accused of trying to stage his own murder. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: Tomorrow, FDA vaccine advisers will meet to discuss whether booster shots are necessary for fully vaccinated Americans. Local health departments across the country scrambling for a potential COVID-19 booster rollout as soon as next week, but there still does appear to be some confusion.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Is there a clear answer to whether or not a booster is necessary?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: There is not, which is why we're having this public discussion on Friday with all of the data out there that everybody can look at. You know, if we were an authoritarian country, we would have just told you the answer and that would have been that, but that's not how we do things.


BERMAN: That's the director of the National Institutes for Health. And this is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, look, the FDA has a ton on its plate. This discussion over boosters tomorrow will be fascinating to watch. And there have been a series of new studies that just came out in regards to this. It's hard for the layman to parse through it. Explain what these studies show.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, you're going to see why this is a bit of a muddy issue here. Unlike last year when the vaccine were being authorized, the data was pretty -- very, very clear then.

But let me show you here. This is some data coming out of Israel ministry of health. I think this bar graph makes the case. I hope you can see this well enough. Basically this is broken down by month.

People got vaccinated in January at the left, February, March, April. You see those graphs there. What you'd expect if the vaccine effective nets is waning is that january would be the lowest, right. It would have the lowest effectiveness. Higher in February, then March, then April.

When you look at this graph, March actually has the most vaccine effectiveness. April actually goes down. Why would that be, right, if this is a question of the vaccine waning over time. April should be the highest and it's not. You see that there.

Also those black lines in the middle, those represent something known as confidence intervals, how confident are you in the number there. You can see that the confidence intervals overlap a lot which means that the data is pretty muddy there. And I think that's what the FDA, you know, panel is going to have to sort of sift through. Quickly, there was a study that came out of the New England Journal of

Medicine. Now that boosters were given in Israel, how well do they work? What they found was 12 days, starting 12 days after, they seem to reduce the rate of confirmed infections by 11.3 times, rate of severe illness by close to 20 times.

But again, 12 days after, is that enough time to really see if these boosters are going to have long-term benefit or not? Many critics have suggested no. So, this isn't necessarily a question of equity. We should be sending the vaccines elsewhere.

This is really a question, do we need them or not. And if we use these -- if we're using antibodies, for example, as the metric, then does that mean every six months we would get another booster. I don't think the evidence is at all clear on that yet.

KEILAR: So, last month, President Biden made this announcement that there is going to be a booster, and then you're seeing this kind of staggered ability to even do it when it comes to Pfizer or Moderna, and certainly Johnson & Johnson.

What sort of data are we getting from Pfizer and Moderna?

GUPTA: Yeah, well, let me show you the Pfizer data and preface by saying it is Pfizer data. It is from Pfizer.

But basically what they are showing is roughly every six weeks you're getting a drop of efficacy against any kind of symptomatic illness. So, you know, people may come in with very minor symptoms, all the way to severe symptoms. And you see this sort of -- this downward trajectory of the overall effectiveness.

But, again, when you look at the data more carefully as we've done, if the question is how well does this protect you against severe illness, overall it stays very stable at around 96.7 percent.

So, the good news in all this is that for people who have been vaccinated, the vaccines continue to work really well. This is really a question of should some people, probably not the entire population -- again, according to the data we're looking at, should some people also receive a booster shot.


And that's what the FDA is going to way in on. As I've said since the beginning, we've traded emails about this. This is not a slam dunk. Scientists are providing compelling reasoning on both sides of this argument.

BERMAN: Sanjay, what are you going to be looking for tomorrow as they have this discussion?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, I want to see if there is any new data being presented that we haven't seen because as Dr. Collins said, this is an open discussion still. But at the same time, the White House did come out a few weeks ago and say, hey, this is happening. And, in fact, they even put a date on it. This is happening starting September 20th.

They seem very convinced of the need for boosters. And we've looked at the data that's out there and I've just presented some of it to you. It's still muddy. Is there something new out there? If they do recommend boosters, are they going to recommend it for a specific population, people over the age of 65 or 65, for example? Maybe you can make the case a little more strongly.

Let me show you one more thing if I can. Israel, because we've often looked at Israel as a living lab for what's happening here, and a lot of the data that's being presented is from Israel. You know, Israel is a very vaccinated country, 63 percent of the country is vaccinated. They've been doing boosting for sometime now. And the case rates right now are higher than they've ever been.

My point is that if may not be appropriate to say, hey, look, the boosters are going to bring down case rates or bring down breakthrough infections. Vaccines prevent people from getting sick. That's the bottom line, and they do a really good job of that.

KEILAR: Yeah, and from dying, right? It's incredible, incredible the effect of these vaccines.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much for that.

Just ahead, the Biden administration standing behind the top general who made secret, allegedly secret phone calls to China about Donald Trump.

BERMAN: And next, star gymnasts sounding off about the FBI.


MCKAYLA MARONEY, OLYMPIC GYMNAST: For ignoring my initial report, for lying about my initial report, and for covering up for a child molester.


BERMAN: Dominique Dawes joins us next.