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Vax Mandate Crowd Confronts Parents Walking Kids To School; Beginning Of The End? U.S. Finally Controlling COVID As Cases Drop; WSJ: U.S. Troops Secretly Training Military Forces In Taiwan. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired October 08, 2021 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAMIE HOOKS, WILDLIFE TOUR GUIDE: It's quite possible that he has deceased and, you know -- and if he has in there, there's -- you're probably -- he could have very well been consumed. But I don't know, like everybody else, if he is in there --
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
HOOKS: -- or if he's somewheres (sic) else. I know I'm giving it my effort to look in the areas that I would think that he would be at and I haven't -- I haven't even seen a trace of anybody even in there.
KEILAR: Well --
HOOKS: Uh, it's --
KEILAR: -- I think -- look, Jamie -- I mean, if anyone knows this area it's you. And so, I think it's so important to talk with you and get a sense of just what someone in there is up against.
Jamie Hooks, I want to thank you for your time this morning.
HOOKS: Thank you, ma'am.
KEILAR: Protesters confronting parents walking their kids to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Child abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mask your child, you're a child abuser.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ron DeSantis even admitted it. Look at the 1918 Spanish flu --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We're going to talk to a reporter who saw this whole thing go down, next. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And is the United States finally turning the corner in the coronavirus pandemic? We'll speak to the doctor who used to be in charge of testing.
BERMAN: So, what appeared to be several dozen angry people protesting vaccines and masks followed a large group of parents and children walking to school. This happened in Beverly Hills on National Walk and Bike to School Day. And this confrontation was caught on tape -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to be traumatized because you put that mask on him and you don't let him breathe through it. You're traumatizing him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For now. Well --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my choice. You better respect my choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Masking children is child abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mask your child, you're a child abuser.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should choose what goes on your child's face and in your child's body. This is rape. This is rape. They're trying to rape our children with this poison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And that was in front of the children.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that once the FDA grants full approval for all age groups, vaccines will be required in school. And Los Angeles is also an early adopter of vaccine mandates for all eligible schoolchildren.
Joining me now is Samuel Braslow. He's a reporter for the "Beverly Hills Courier," who filmed just that awful, awful stuff we were hearing from those protesters there. What was it like to see that?
SAMUEL BRASLOW, REPORTER, BEVERLY HILLS COURIER (via Webex by Cisco): Well, this was the second protest that has been held in front of this school, in particular -- at Hawthorne Elementary School. And it was by far the most vocal and most hostile. It was -- it was tense.
You could see that parents were trying to keep their children away from the protesters as they walked towards the school. And most parents tried not to engage, but a lot of what the protesters were saying -- as you can see in those clips -- was fairly inflammatory and sometimes fairly aggressive. And some parents did engage and there were some very heated exchanges.
BERMAN: I've got to say it just breaks my heart to see those kids -- to see those kids in the middle of it all. What was the impact on them?
BRASLOW: Yes. So, for the most part, most kids, you could tell, didn't really know what to make of what was happening. And that's what parents told me as well when a mother told me that her 5-year-old child didn't understand what was going on and was scared.
And that was the reaction of a lot of the kids. They were scared. They were -- some were visibly shaken. In one of the clips that you aired you can see a mother picking up her child and that child, I believe, was on the verge of tears. And other parents did report to us that their children were crying.
The school had a fairly elaborate plan set up. The PTA had planned for Walk to School Day -- National Walk and Bike to School Day. They had planned prizes and kind of set up some snacks and they were going to lead the kids through a workout. They had a fitness instructor to lead them through a workout outside the school. All of that had to be moved inside and some of that had to be scrapped.
And there were children who didn't want their parents to leave.
BERMAN: Yelling at families on National Walk and Bike to School Day. I hope those kids get the help that they need going forward.
Samuel Braslow, we appreciate your work and shining a light on all that happened that day.
BRASLOW: Thank you so much for having me.
KEILAR: There are positive signs this morning that the U.S. is starting to take control of the pandemic. Hospitalizations right now are at their lowest point since the beginning of August. The average of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is below 100,000 for the first time in two months.
Here is U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on CNN last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We're certainly cautiously optimistic. And I think whether or not we see another surge of the virus depends, in part, on what we do to really accelerate vaccination rates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let's talk about this now with former coronavirus testing czar under President Trump, Adm. Brett Giroir. Admiral, just tell us the state of things here. Are things looking up?
Could there be another surge? Could there be another variant that causes one?
ADM. BRETT GIROIR (RET.), FORMER HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, all of the things you said are true. We have certainly turned a corner.
Cases are down about 50 percent from their peak. We have passed the peak of Delta infection, and hospitalizations and deaths are trailing off. These are very, very good signs.
This was associated with an increase in vaccination rate, more testing, and about doubling of the mask-wearing. So, the American people did the right things but we are not out of the woods yet.
As the surgeon general says, there are still a lot of Americans who do not have natural immunity and who have not been vaccinated. They are still susceptible.
And as we know, vaccine immunity will wane, so we do have risks of other peaks of infections later in the year. What I expect to see is the peaks will be less and there will be fewer hospitalizations. Because although vaccine immunity wanes, you're still highly protected against hospitalization.
So, yes, we are moving in the right direction. Let's keep our pedal -- you know, our foot on the pedal and give it all the gas we can. Keep getting vaccinated, get tested -- do the right things.
KEILAR: OK, so on that front, Canada is actually mandating vaccines for air and rail travel. Do you think the U.S. should do that?
GIROIR: It's a complicated issue. I don't believe we should and the reason is this, particularly for air travel. Air travel is safe. There have been a handful of small outbreaks on airplanes. This was -- these were generally before masking and before vaccines have come up.
I think the administration is really looking at that as another lever to sort of force people to get vaccinated. It's not for the protection of the people on the plane, it's just another way to sort of force people to do their vaccines. So, I don't think that's justified and it will really hurt the industry and travel.
So, it won't help protect you on the plane. There are lots of other ways to encourage people to be vaccinated. I think you're seeing that right now.
KEILAR: So, you were the testing czar, so I know that you've seen this announcement -- you've been sort of studying it -- by the White House that they're purchasing an additional $1 billion in rapid tests. What's the significance of that?
GIROIR: It's very significant. As you know, we worked as hard as we could to develop rapid testing and the first one was really the BinaxNOW card test of that lateral flow antigen test. And we bought the entire U.S. production for many, many months.
So, these rapid tests are very good. They can be done at home. They're very inexpensive. We know that if you do them it will pick out those people who are likely to transmit the virus -- so, those people who are infectious.
And I think this is a good move by the Biden administration. What I will say, though, is the federal government can't fix this all by themselves. We need them available in stores. They need to be free at federally qualified health centers to people who cannot afford them.
And states have a lot of money. Remember, they have been allocated about $30 billion in funds for testing, so the states should pony up, too. It's not just the federal government. They're doing the right thing but it's not going to be solved just by the federal government. You need to make them available to the poor, the states need to buy them, and they need to be on the shelves.
KEILAR: Stephanie Grisham, who is the former White House press secretary and coms director under Trump, told us earlier this week about the Trump White House's COVID response. Let's listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Do you think your enabling cost lives?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY AND COMS DIRECTOR: I do. I think the way we handled COVID was tragic. I think that the president's vanity got in the way. I -- he was -- he was working for his base; he was not working for his -- this country.
I was part of that and I don't think I'll ever forgive myself with respect to COVID. I don't think I can ever redeem myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Do you agree with her assessment of how the White House handled this under Trump?
GIROIR: You know, I don't know her view. I don't remember Stephanie Grisham ever being in the Situation Room -- in the task force when we debated the issues. I know that in that Sit Room, mostly under the vice president, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci -- we were all focused on public health and there was no other thoughts than that.
She has a different view of the president because she circles with him in places that I don't. But I can just tell you from my point of view, from the task force, we let science lead. We did our best with an unknown virus and I'll leave it -- I'll just leave it at that.
The vaccines are here because of Operation Warp Speed. Much of the testing is here because we put over $6.5 billion in mobilize the community. So, we laid the foundation. The Biden team has taken the baton and are running these last legs of the race. It is a tragedy but it is also an American success story of the things we've been able to accomplish.
KEILAR: But you were in a room with people who did not put public health first. Do you think that's fair to say?
GIROIR: I don't think it's fair to say. I really don't think it's fair to say.
KEILAR: Do you think the president put public health first?
GIROIR: Um --
KEILAR: President Trump.
GIROIR: The president -- so, you know, the president was very active in the task force up until the mid-summer, and he did the things that the docs advised, right -- 15 days to slow the spread, 30 days more to slow the spread.
KEILAR: He didn't wear a mask.
GIROIR: Investing in Warp Speed.
KEILAR: He talked about bleach. He talked about --
GIROIR: He did not --
KEILAR: -- hydroxychloroquine.
GIROIR: So, yes, these are certain issues. I would have liked -- there was not much mask-wearing at the White House and we were very concerned about that. And there was not much mask-wearing at rallies even though they were made available. These were things that I wish would have been done, for sure.
Hydroxychloroquine was debated but, you know, after a period of time, everyone on the task force -- all the docs were pretty clear. And I think I remember it was a Sunday morning show when I said it was time to move on from that.
So, yes, I would say overall, the president was supportive of public health measures. But, yes, we could have done better with mask-wearing and there are a few other issues that we certainly wish would have gone different ways.
KEILAR: But --
GIROIR: I don't believe -- because I was there at the press conference -- I don't believe that the president was encouraging people to put bleach. He had just gotten briefed by a Homeland Security person about disinfection.
KEILAR: Sure, but the bigger -- the bigger issue here is you have Stephanie Grisham saying that when it came to -- we're talking messaging. We're talking about the political execution of this pandemic -- not the scientific advice that you or Dr. Birx were giving, but the end result of it.
GIROIR: So, so --
KEILAR: And she's saying -- she is saying that it --
GIROIR: You know -- well, the end --
KEILAR: Wait, hold on -- let me ask you. She is saying that it cost lives. Do you -- do you disagree with her? That's her assessment. Is she right?
GIROIR: You know, I don't what medical school or public health school that Stephanie went to. She certainly wasn't on the task force or involved.
And let me just remind you that despite vaccines, limitless supplies of testing, more people will die -- or at least as many in the first year of the Biden administration as did during the last year of the Trump administration. So, it's not as easy as saying we'll just replace the president or the president did something bad because this is a complex problem that President Biden and his administration are facing the same way that we faced.
I can tell you that the task force, particularly under the vice president, always gave what we believed was the best public health information. Sometimes that changed because the information changed, as you see the information and the data changing with the current administration. But I do believe that we provided the best evidence with some of the caveats I already said.
Mask-wearing -- clearly, that's something that we wanted to promote more, and I believe senior members of the administration could have done more for that. But pretty much, they followed the advice that we gave them.
KEILAR: Admiral Brett Giroir, thanks for coming on.
GIROIR: You're welcome.
KEILAR: Up next, the secret U.S. mission to counter the Chinese close to their home.
BERMAN: And see what a soccer player did on the field to get slapped with an attempted murder charge.
BERMAN: This morning, tensions running high in and over Taiwan. We reported China has flown more than 150 military flights near Taiwan just this month alone, and that's a higher number than usual.
And now, there's this new report in "The Wall Street Journal" that reveals a secret U.S. military mission in Taiwan.
The paper reporting, quote, "A U.S. special operations unit and a contingent of Marines have been secretly operating in Taiwan to train military forces there, U.S. officials said, part of efforts to shore up the island's defenses as concern regarding potential Chinese aggression mounts."
Joining us is Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, and president of GZERO Media. Great to see you. Great to see you in person, I should say, also.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP, PRESIDENT, GZERO MEDIA: Absolutely, John.
BERMAN: Look, first, I want a sense of what is new in terms of Taiwan between the United States and China. China clearly has flown a very large number of flights this month alone. We are learning about this U.S. operation in Taiwan, which has been going on for some time. It's not brand-new (ph) --
BREMMER: For about a year, yes.
BERMAN: -- but it's been going on. These are both different situations.
BREMMER: Yes. I mean, it is, at the edges, nibbling away at the status quo from both sides.
The fact is that the Chinese have run many sorties through the Air Defense Identification Zone, which is not Taiwanese airspace but still, they're supposed to give a heads-up in advance -- they didn't. That happened over the course of the last weekend. And the Americans have been running this small but real secret training program on the ground with some two dozen special forces and Marines.
There's no question that the United States is showing the Chinese that this is not Afghanistan, it is not Ukraine. The Americans are committed both to this region and to Taiwan, specifically. And the Chinese continue to prod, showing these are redlines for the Chinese (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: And the risk is what, an accident? The immediate risk, I should say, is something going wrong with this.
BREMMER: The risk is an accident. The risk is what we saw yesterday an American nuclear sub operating in the South China Sea that hit something going at speed -- the American sub -- and you've got a dozen American sailors that are injured.
The risk is that after an accident the two sides don't trust each other at all and escalation comes out of control. When you have all that much military material in regular operation in very busy areas -- airspace and seas -- there are greater risks of accidents.
BERMAN: And that's the immediate risk that we're talking about, as everyone is engaged in all this activity at once. Longer-term, what direction do you see this headed, though?
BREMMER: Longer-term, I'm probably a little less concerned about Taiwan than the headlines have been putting about there because I think both sides really do understand the level of commitment and therefore, know the risk of what military confrontation would mean.
I mean, under Trump, under Biden, the quad -- as American-European allies are saying, we don't know if the Americans are really committed to us. The Asian allies are -- absolutely understand American commitment. And you've got the Indians, the Australians, the Japanese that are working with the Americans to significantly balance the rise of Chinese power.
In fact, the single biggest thing that Biden has done in terms of international leadership to date has been the Americans providing vaccines; the Japanese financing; the Australians, logistics; and the Indians, vaccine production capability. It's going to be hundreds of millions of vaccines every month by the end of the year.
Why are they all doing that? To counter the rise of China and Chinese vaccine, now.
BERMAN: When you hear the Taiwanese defense minister say by 2025, China will be able to do this, basically without repercussions -- basically, sounding the alarm making it sound as if this may be inevitable -- do you think that is a reality?
BREMMER: I think that the Taiwanese are trying to raise alarms to not only ensure continued American commitment given, say, Afghanistan, but also because they want the Americans to do more. And the Americans are doing more.
The situation on the ground after the defense pact with the Australians and the U.K. -- that future -- it annoyed the French -- don't get me wrong -- but it really antagonized the Chinese. And that's, of course, who it was directed at. It wouldn't have happened if it were not for such bad relations between China and our allies in the region.
If you think that the Chinese are seen badly in the United States, go to Delhi, go to Canberra, go to Tokyo. And actually, that's where the anti-Chinese sentiment has grown much, much more greatly. That's true in Taipei as well.
BERMAN: And President Biden and Xi speaking this year, albeit virtually, I know you think that tensions may be defusing somewhat. We will see. We will see.
BREMMER: I wouldn't say it like that. It's basically like when Biden met with Putin in Geneva. There's no trust -- it's not a good relationship -- but he doesn't want a crisis. That's what he accomplished there and that's what Jake Sullivan accomplished in Zurich with a constructive meeting with his Chinese counterpart just a couple of days ago.
BERMAN: Ian Bremmer, great to see you.
BREMMER: Thank you.
BERMAN: Thank you so much for helping us understand this.
So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what does that image of Joe Biden -- sorry, Joe Manchin there say about the state of Congress? Jake Tapper joins us just ahead.
KEILAR: And an NHL player accused of submitting a fake vaccine card.