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Trump Asks Supreme Court to Block Records; FDA Approves Second Anti-Viral; French Presidential Candidate Compared to Trump; Data on Americans Celebrating Christmas. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 24, 2021 - 06:30   ET




Now, the final decision in this case will have significant implications for the investigation as several key witnesses are refusing to cooperate citing executive privilege.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be watching that case closely.

Paula Reid, thanks so much.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst and managing director at "Axios."

Nice to see you this morning.

You know, as we -- as we look at this question of, you know, will they or won't they, will the court take up this case, there is a question that's surrounding that, too, is if they -- if -- what is going to be seen as more political, if the court chooses to take this on or if they choose not to?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly. Well, if this court, which is a 6-3 conservative court, three of those justices, appointees, nominees of former President Trump. If this court chooses not to take this case, it lets the lower court decision stand, and that's a big deal. It limits the former president's number of plays.

And, look, the Supreme Court, in the past, has not always supported president's executive privilege claims. Let's look at Richard Nixon. However, if they do decide to take this case, there are two things to consider. One is that, it is going to set precedent for executive privilege. This is like a fundamentally important question beyond, you know, what happens to Donald Trump in the January 6th investigation. But also it could take months. And the current majority in Congress may not have very many months left.

And so part of the former president's play, and those of others who have declined to testify or kind of taken things to court, is to try to run out the clock. And the Supreme Court may decide that they do want to weigh in with some sort of nuanced reading of exactly what is the line for executive privilege when a former president wants it and the current president says, no, I don't think that applies. But if they do decide to take it up, if they take as long as they typically do with cases, it could be June easily before they come down with a ruling.

HILL: Yes.

TALEV: So time matters. And whether or not they take the case matters.

HILL: Yes, they both do. I guess maybe this is the new parlor game for the next couple of weeks as we wait to here.

Meantime, what was really surprising, I think, to a number of people is the recent reaction we've seen from the former president about the vaccine, touting both efficacy and safety in a recent interview. I want to play that in case some folks haven't seen it. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take their vaccine. But it's still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you're protected.

Look, the results of the vaccine are very good. And if you do get it, it's a very minor form. People aren't dying when they take the vaccine.


HILL: You know, it's interesting there. He is, you know, touting the vaccine's efficacy and safety. But at the same time saying, ah, but it's still your choice. I mean still trying to have it both ways.

TALEV: Yes, Erica, for sure former President Trump trying to thread the needle there. You know, this message that vaccines work is one that public health officials, scientists, the current administration had wished for months that the former president took. They wished he had taken that position when he was the president and when so many of these public (INAUDIBLE) said that's become a huge cultural divide, right?

Right now the former president is, obviously, trying to take advantage of the fact that those vaccines were made during his presidency. He's trying to position himself as someone who saved lives. He's trying to position President Biden as being responsible for Covid deaths right now. But he's not acknowledging the role that he took for months in kind of downplaying the vaccine or downplaying the virus itself.

The other thing that's going on is that research is showing increasingly a split. And what it's showing is that people who live in counties that voted for former President Trump are much more likely, like two to three times more likely to die from deaths related to Covid-19. And so there is both a -- the former president sees a political opportunity to hurt the sitting president, but also to try to rehab his own image and reputation the way history or even the current, you know, kind of living history remembers his role or understands his role.

And the truth is that in downplaying the vaccines and the virus for many, many months, he helped set many of the patterns that have led to this bifurcation now that's making it harder to (INAUDIBLE).

HILL: Yes, and perhaps one of the best examples of that we saw earlier this week when he said he was boosted and was booed by that crowd that was there to see him.

You know, what else is fascinating to me, too, is you have this new "Axios" poll out which looks at whether people trust information from the federal government, and the drop in that number among unvaccinated individuals.


There's clearly a connection there, Margaret.

TALEV: It's very striking. Our survey found that among unvaccinated Americans, trust in the federal government dropped from 43 percent in the first half of the year to 22 (ph) percent in the second half of the year. And among white, unvaccinated Americans, the drop was even lower, down to 15 percent. Some of that is because the pool of unvaccinated is more concentratedly against the vaccine, right? I mean if you were unvaccinated in June, maybe you just weren't sure, but you finally did it. If you're unvaccinated now, you've made a coconscious choice. You are dug in. You are one of the hard resistors. But that trust level is so low.

The other really, really interesting thing that we found in the survey is that these two groups of unvaccinated Americans, Republicans and black Americans, behave very differently. Overwhelmingly, black Americans who have decided not to take the vaccine are wearing masks, do take the science seriously, are very worried about the virus, are trying to social distance. This other group of Americans who identify as Republicans, much less likely to wear masks, much less likely to social distance. Still, much more likely to say they have returned to normal life. And that presents a real, real challenge for public health officials trying to get things under control in the age of omicron.

HILL: Yes. Absolutely. And also circles back to what we were just talking about a minute ago, the interesting shift in tone from Donald Trump as we head into more elections.

Margaret, always good to see you. Thank you. Happy holidays.

TALEV: Merry Christmas. Thanks.

HILL: Coming up, a second anti-viral Covid pill gets the green light from the FDA. So just how quickly could this one make a difference.

SCIUTTO: And, later, the most powerful telescope ever built is about to launch into space. Why it could drastically change how and how far we see into our universe.



SCIUTTO: The FDA has now authorized another anti-viral pill for treatment of Covid-19 in high-risk adults who have tested positive for the virus. Merck's anti-viral pill, molnupiravir, is the second at- home treatment now available following the approval of Pfizer's anti- viral pill on Wednesday.

Joining me now to discuss, Dr. Eliav Barr. He is the senior vice president of global, medical and scientific affairs at Merck.

Dr. Barr, thanks for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, as we noted, this is for people who test positive here. How effective, and do we know already, how effective this pill is specifically against the omicron variant, which is now becoming dominant here in the U.S.?

BARR: Well, we've tested the drug on omicron virus in vitro and it looks like it's effective. It should be effective. So, we're excited. This is going to be a really important tool for patients -- including patients with omicron going forward. And -- so this is going to be a really important part of the battle against this incredible wave of infection we're seeing now.

SCIUTTO: And the idea is, you test positive. And to head off the possibility of contracting serious illness and ending up in the hospital, you take this kind of prophylactically, right, to prevent that outcome?

BARR: Well, right. So it's -- patients -- it's in patients who have tested positive for Covid, are within five days of symptom onset and have a high-risk condition. That is, they have something that would make it likely that if they get Covid they will have a bad outcome. And if there aren't any other possibilities for therapy.

So, basically, you start to have symptoms, you have to call your doctor, get tested for covid, the medicine becomes available for you. She or he will write a prescription. And then you can take it in your home.

SCIUTTO: Do you see this as, at a later stage perhaps when supplies are more -- are bigger, frankly, that it would not be just for folks in those special categories, more vulnerable categories, but could be for everyone to prevent what would even be a less likely possibility of developing severe illness?

BARR: Well, we're studying the drug in patients who -- in people who have been exposed to somebody who definitely has Covid, to try to see whether the drug can prevent them from getting Covid in the first place. So, if those studies are positive (ph), and they're in -- they're in -- being done right now, then indeed the drug would be available, not only to treat patients who have Covid, but to also prevent them from getting Covid if they, you know, spent a lot of time with somebody who has it already.

But as we stand right --

SCIUTTO: That's interesting.

BARR: Yes. Yes.

SCIUTTO: So it could be preventive, not just of getting severe illness, but you're saying, at some point, preventive of just contracting the disease?

BARR: Right. If the -- if the studies are positive, that being the case. Again, it's not a substitute for vaccines, but what it is, is that if you have inadvertently come in contact with someone who has got Covid, if possible, if the studies are positive, it may prevent you from getting the infection to begin with.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

OK, you mentioned the idea of this not being a substitute for vaccines. The advice on that has been consistent. We hear that from health officials and so on.

In the NIH guidance, though, on triaging patients, it says that the unvaccinated can receive priority access to treatments. And I wonder if you worry that that could have a negative outcome? In other words, that some folks say, hey, I don't got to vaccinate because I have this backup pill that will save me if I get sick.

BARR: Well, I think it's important for people to be both vaccinated and to have access to these medicines. Vaccination doesn't prevent people from getting the drug. And, in the same way, having the drug is not an excuse for getting vaccinated. Because, in essence, vaccination prevents you from getting serious disease from the get-go. So you don't have to actually get sick before you start to have the -- you know, become eligible for the drug.


BARR: Who wants to get sick? You should get vaccinated and prevent that from happening

SCIUTTO: For sure.

OK, so how soon will this be widely available?

BARR: Well, we've already, with hundreds of thousands of courses that are available in the next couple of days.


And then, within the next few weeks, a million courses. And we've got 10 million courses in the factory getting ready to be packaged. So, the drugs are going to be available very quickly. Again, for higher risk patients. And we look forward to being part of the solution to this omicron wave.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll be watching it. Some good news in the fight against all this.

Dr. Eliav Barr, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

BARR: My pleasure.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, vice president or an afterthought. Brand new reporting on concerns that Vice President Kamala Harris is being sidelined in this administration.

HILL: Plus.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

ERIC ZEMMOUR, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): They're thieves, assassins, rapists. That's all they are.


HILL: The populist candidate now being called the Donald Trump of France.


HILL: A polarizing far-right TV personality is electrifying France's presidential race. His controversial views on immigration and Islam drawing close parallels to those of a certain former U.S. president.

CNN's Cyril Vanier has more.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The political force shaking up France's presidential campaign. Eric Zemmour, anti-immigration, anti- Islam ideolog delivering his first official speech as a candidate.


ERIC ZEMMOUR, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Obviously, I'm not a racist. You're not a racist. All you want is to defend your country, our homeland, the heritage of our ancestors.

VANIER (on camera): He promised zero immigration and singled out French Muslims. This is the reaction he's been getting.

VANIER (voice over): Moments later, his campaign marred by violence. This is how Zemmour supporters responded to an anti-racism protest.

Convicted twice, found guilty of inciting racial and religious hatred, and fined. Zemmour has also drawn comparisons to another fire- breathing populist. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They're bringing drugs. They're

bringing crime. They're rapists.

ZEMMOUR: They're thieves, assassins, rapists. That's all they are.

TRUMP: They can try to steal the election from us.

ZEMMOUR: Don't let them steal the election from you.

VANIER: Zemmour and Trump, the parallels however imprecise, are hard to miss. Political outsiders who capitalized on their TV fame to launch an unlikely presidential bid. Their promise --

TRUMP: We will make America great again.

VANIER: Bring the country back to an imagined former glory.

The France of Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle says Zemmour in his campaign announcement. He draws inspiration from Donald Trump, explains his biographer. He loved that Trump never backed down. Whatever he was asked, he would just respond, build the wall. That's exactly how Zemmour wants to run, he says.

So, Zemmour, la French Trump? Almost. The former TV personality, still a long-shot candidate, is one part Trump and one part Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: How precisely is diversity or strength?

He's not from this country in that sense.

VANIER: Zemmour, the now ex-opinion journalist, is a facsimile of the Fox News star. Same debating styles, same cable news platform, same enviable ratings, and the same obsession with culture wars.

ZEMMOUR: We must choose names from the calendar, the names of Christian saints.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My name's Hapsato (ph).

ZEMMOUR: Well, your mother was wrong.

VANIER: And, like Carlson, Zemmour never had interest in running for office, until he did.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


HILL: Fascinating.

Hundreds of flights grounded just ahead of Christmas. What the airlines are now asking from the CDC to help ease staffing shortages.

SCIUTTO: And how many Americans celebrate Christmas with a real tree?



SCIUTTO: I just saw that movie the other day.

Harry Enten has the tree data.



SCIUTTO: Families across the country set to gather today for the holiday weekend. Before they headed out for the holiday, John Berman and Harry Enten broke down the data on the celebration of Christmas.

Take a look.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Christmas Eve and many Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, whether it's wrapping last-minute gifts, or trimming a tree, or taking out their favorite movie. Here to run through what Americans say they're doing is senior data reporter Harry Enten.


BERMAN: You're looking the season, my friend.

ENTEN: I'm looking the season. And you know why I'm looking the season? Because it's Christmas season.

And, you know what, it's probably one of the holidays that most -- the most Americans celebrate.

Look at this, do you celebrate Christmas? Ninety-two percent of all Americans do, 96 percent of Christians. Even 81 percent of non- Christians celebrate it. It's pretty much now -- you know, it's a religious holiday but it's also a secular holiday. Pretty much most businesses are closed at this point except for maybe the local Jewish deli and the Chinese food shop (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Harry Enten, I have to tell you, of all the statistics that you've ever shown me, this next one is the most surprising to me, and it has to do about Christmas trees.

ENTEN: It has to do about Christmas trees. OK, do you have a Christmas tree in your home? Twenty-two percent say no, ergo, me. But, look at this, 55 percent say, yes, but it is artificial. It is artificial. Just 22 percent say, yes, and it's real.

BERMAN: I've always been in the northeast. This is shocking to me. But I guess a lot of the country you don't have the opportunity to get a real Christmas tree.

ENTEN: You're one of those northeastern coastal elitists, I would say.

BERMAN: Yes, who has the real tree.

All right, favorite Christmas movie.

ENTEN: Yes, you know, "Die Hard" is not on here, so --

BERMAN: Well, that's the crime. That's the thing here. This is just wrong. These stats are wrong.

ENTEN: These stats are apparently wrong. What I really don't -- "Elf" at 6 percent? I didn't realize "Elf" was this popular. "It's a Wonderful Life," look, that's a classic, at 9 percent. "A Christmas Story" is 7 percent. I mean you can't go anywhere without watching it, right? It's on pretty much all day.

Even, look at this, I think a lot of people would agree with this, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." You know, perhaps I'll be like Clark Griswold and get up there and, you know, actually put up the decorations.

BERMAN: Unpopular opinion, "A Christmas Story" is actually kind of sad. I always look and I don't really laugh. I think it's kind of sad.

Anyway, holiday, there's a lot of stress around the holidays here.

ENTEN: There's a lot of stress around holidays. What causes the most amount of stress? Maybe this segment for me.

No, I'm just kidding.

Look at this, finding the right gifts, at 28 percent. Traveling, 24 percent. Getting from one place to another, especially if you're in "Home Alone" or "Home Alone 2," that really does seem to cause a lot of stress. Being with family, yes, 17 percent. Nothing. No stress. Good for you, folks, 16 percent. Cooking, I don't know how to do that, 9 percent. Just go to the Chinese restaurant.

BERMAN: When are people done with their shopping?

ENTEN: Look, if you're still shopping up to this minute, you've got a lot of people in your company. Look at that, in the last ten days before Christmas, 36 percent. Oh, good for you, that 32 percent done by December 15th, 22 percent done by December 1st. My God, you folks are really amazing. No holiday shopping, again, because I'm cheap, 7 percent. I probably fall into that pocket (ph).

BERMAN: Harry, what do you want for the holidays?

ENTEN: What do I want for the holidays? Look at this, my Bills are playing your Patriots.


ENTEN: It's a rematch. All I need is a win. Just one. Please! I'm begging. I'm begging, please. BERMAN: You -- you know your problem, Bill Belichick's the Grinch.


BERMAN: If there's one guy who's the Grinch, it's Bill Belichick before his heart grows.

ENTEN: With his real Christmas tree in New England.

BERMAN: You got it.

Harry Enten, happy holidays to you.

ENTEN: Happy holidays for you, my friend.


HILL: The dynamic duo right there.


HILL: So, Jim, real tree, fake tree, what have you got?

SCIUTTO: Oh, definitely real tree.

HILL: Same.

SCIUTTO: I don't do the fake tree.

HILL: Also --

SCIUTTO: I cut it down myself, actually.

HILL: Oh, I love that. We did that growing up. Now I'm lazy.

SCIUTTO: But I did it in your yard, Erica, I'm sorry. I didn't ask for anything.

HILL: That explains -- that explains the missing tree.

Also, favorite -- favorite movie? I think "Daddy's Home 2" was missing from that list.

SCIUTTO: No, it's got to be "It's a Wonderful Life." There's nothing that contends with that. It's the best Christmas movie ever.

HILL: All right. I don't know. How about "Miracle on 34th Street," the black and white version? Maybe.

SCIUTTO: Good, too.

HILL: Yes. All right. We'll continue this discussion in the break.

Meantime, NEW DAY continues right now.

SCIUTTO: And welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, December 24th, Christmas Eve. I'm Jim Sciutto. John and Brianna are off and Erica Hill joins me.

Good to have you, Erica.

HILL: Good morning.

SCIUTTO: A lot of holiday travel plans could be disrupted by the omicron surge. Hundreds of pre-Christmas flights have now been canceled because of a jump in Covid cases among flight crews.


The airline industry is pushing the CDC to shorten the required isolation time for airline workers who.