Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Family: U.S. Marine Veteran Detained In Venezuela Has Attempted Suicide; Today: COVID Vaccinations To Begin For Children Under Five; Beyonce Drops First Single Of New Album, Sampling '90s Hits. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And late-night host Stephen Colbert addressing the arrests of members of his production team while they were filming at U.S. Capitol offices.


BERMAN: An urgent plea this morning from the family of a U.S. Marine veteran who has been detained in Venezuela for nearly two years. We are now learning that Matthew Heath has attempted suicide.

Heath was arrested in September of 2020 and is considered wrongfully detained by the State Department.

His family is pleading for his release, saying quote, "Matthew's life is in imminent danger and we don't detect any urgency at all from the White House."

Joining us now, Everett and Trudy Rutherford, the aunt and uncle of U.S. Marine veteran Matthew Heath. Thank you so much for being with us.


What can you tell us about the condition of your nephew?

EVERETT RUTHERFORD, UNCLE OF MARINE MATTHEW HEATH WHO IS DETAINED IN VENEZUELA (via Skype): We still -- we continue to struggle to get accurate and timely information out of Venezuela. However, what we do know is that Matthew is currently in stable condition. He's being held in a military hospital in Caracas under heavy guard.

We do not think he is out of the woods. This particular suicide attempt was not successful, thank goodness. We have every confidence that he will try again.

BERMAN: What exactly happened in terms of the suicide attempt? Do you have a sense of the series of events that took place?

E. RUTHERFORD: We don't have, again, an accurate account. However, one thing that we had -- did notice that starting about two weeks ago, Matthew began giving us instructions on what to do if he didn't come home. I didn't catch it. My interpretation was that he was telling us that if he gets a long prison sentence from his trial that he would likely not -- we wouldn't see him for quite some time.

Trudy caught it and she immediately interpreted it as a -- as a cautionary information as to what he had in mind -- and that was, indeed, suicide.

BERMAN: How did you find out that he attempted to take his own life?

TRUDY RUTHERFORD, AUNT OF MARINE MATTHEW HEATH WHO IS DETAINED IN VENEZUELA (via Skype): We found out from another prisoner's family who called us Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. and told us Matthew had been transported to the hospital and he had tried to commit suicide.

The prison did not notify his attorney, which they are required to do by their law to inform their attorney of any transportation -- transport of any prisoner anywhere outside of the prison, and they did not.

We contacted Matthew's attorney. We contacted the U.N. to see if they could go in and see how Matthew was. We contacted Tamber Suchey (ph) with the Consular Institute to see how Matthew was and his situation and circumstances.

BERMAN: What has your contact been with the Biden administration?

E. RUTHERFORD: We've had great success talking with SPEHA, the Special President Envoy for Hostage Affairs. We basically have an open door there. We've had good success talking to the National Security Council, all the way up to Jake Sullivan himself. Above that, it's been a black hole. We've had no communication about Sullivan. We, frankly, don't know what they're doing and what they're thinking.

BERMAN: What would you like in terms of contact? What are you looking for?

E. RUTHERFORD: What we're looking for is the opportunity to tell them to take -- to use every tool in their toolkit, to use every opportunity to talk to the Venezuelans with the objective of bringing Matthew home.

And Matthew's not alone in Venezuela. There are a number of Americans being held there. In fact, Venezuelan detainees occupy the bulk of the current U.S. hostage and wrongfully detainee population.

BERMAN: Well, Everett and Judy Rutherford, we're thinking about your nephew. We are wishing you the best. We'll check back in with you again soon.

E. RUTHERFORD: Thank you very much for having us.

T. RUTHERFORD: Thank you.

BERMAN: The State Department now apologizing to the family of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner after an opportunity to speak to her was missed. And the nation's youngest finally able to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. The U.S. surgeon general joins us live.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Beyonce giving us a first listen of her upcoming album and it's a bit of a throwback.






KEILAR: Children under 5 years old are finally eligible for COVID vaccines and later today, President Biden will address this major milestone after he and first lady Jill Biden visit vaccine clinics here in D.C.

Joining us now is the surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Sir, thank you so much for being with us on this big day.

What are we going to be hearing from the president this afternoon?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Brianna, it's good to be with you as well.

And this is a big day. We've been waiting a long time for children to have access to the vaccine. We now have every age group, six months and above, in the country which is now eligible to get protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. And I'll tell you, as a dad of a 4-year-old, this is a big deal for my family as well.

So here is what the president will be talking about -- what all of us will be talking about from the administration and doctors across the country.

Number one, we want parents to know that the vaccine is increasingly available through your pediatrician, through community health centers, through local departments of public health, and children's hospitals over the coming days.

The second thing we want parents to know is that there were rigorous studies that were done of these vaccines to look at whether they were safe and effective for our kids. And the resounding answer on both fronts was yes, they are safe and they are effective. That's why the FDA and CDC advisory bodies voted unanimously to recommend them, and it's why the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending them as well.

And finally, this is why I'm going to be taking my 4-year-old to get vaccinated as soon as possible. So, we've seen time and time again Brianna that the vaccines are the most effective tool at preventing severe disease, from keeping you out of the hospital, and saving your life -- and, of course, we want that protection for our kids.


KEILAR: Yes. Look, I am the mother of a 4-year-old who was a 2-year- old when the pandemic started. I know a lot of people like that. I know you do, too. And they wonder why it took so long to get to this point. There are some folks who their little ones just came down with COVID and they got to this point and they're wishing that they'd had the vaccine sooner.

Why did it take so long?

MURTHY: Well, Brianna, let me just say first of all, for those parents out there who feel like they've been waiting for a long time and as children do get sick, I can certainly understand their concerns and their worry. I -- my child also got sick with COVID in February and thankfully, she made it OK.

But what the FDA has to wait for before it authorizes a vaccine for children -- it has to wait for the companies to complete the trials and submit the data. And only when it has that data can it move quickly then to evaluate it and then to -- can we get vaccines out there into the market and into pediatricians' offices for kids.

As soon as that data was submitted from the company, the FDA moved quickly to ensure that a thorough evaluation was done. But these trials did take longer for the companies to complete, effectively, than the adult trials did. The good news is that we have these vaccines available now and we want to make sure that people use them.

One thing I am worried about Brianna, though, is what we've seen in the past when vaccines are rolled out for kids, which is that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation that typically flows in the days after these kind of announcements. So I just want to warn parents about that and caution them against taking advice from people who may not be necessarily credible, whether it's online or elsewhere.

Please talk to your doctor and look to your department of health and your children's hospital, look to the CDC and FDA. Look to credible sources for your information because nothing is more important, again, than our kids' health. I want to make sure people have accurate information on which to make their decisions.

KEILAR: Yes. One concern that some parents have, the adults -- some adults experienced side effects; many did not. They want to know if their kids -- if they should be expecting that their little kids might be seeing side effects from the shot. What do you say to that?

MURTHY: So, it's a really good question and I'm glad you asked. And the side effects are typically seen in the trial where typical side effects are used to seeing in their kids when they get vaccines. So, soreness in the arm, fever, irritability, fatigue. And these typically last about 24 hours and they are resolved.

My daughter, for example, just about a month ago went to get another set of routine vaccines. She experienced some of those symptoms and then they went away after 24 hours.

So, many parents are used to this. You may see that with these vaccines as well. But once those temporary symptoms resolve, what your child is left with is protection against COVID, and that's really what we want.

KEILAR: It's interesting. There are a lot of -- when you look at the polls -- parents who aren't going to rush to get these for their kids. They do have concerns.

What kind of safety concerns can you address as they are hesitant to get their kids the shot?

MURTHY: Well, Brianna, let me just say that first of all, this is not surprising that people may have questions. We've actually seen this throughout the vaccination effort that -- even with adults and with older children.

And initially, the numbers of people who said that they were going to rush out and get vaccinated was lower, but then it increased over time as people did one of several things. One is they saw their family and friends get vaccinated as they had a chance to talk to their pediatricians or their own doctors. And as they also had a chance to digest some of the assessment from the FDA and the CDC. And so, I anticipate this will happen as well.

But look, some parents are going to go out there and get their child vaccinated right away. Others are going to have questions and want to have some conversations with their pediatricians, and that's OK. We want people to get their questions answered. We just want people to be able to do it from credible sources and we want people to be able to get that information as quickly as they can.

Because what we've seen is that we're -- the pandemic is not over. We still have a number of cases each day. And I should also mention very clearly that COVID is not the flu in our children. That we have had nearly 500 children hospitalized for COVID -- or, sorry, who have passed away from COVID over the course of this pandemic. Over 30,000 kids under five who have actually been hospitalized because of COVID.

So we want to give our kids protection knowing that it's hard to predict which kids run into trouble. About half of these kids who have run into trouble with COVID have not had underlying symptoms. So that's why every child deserves protection and we want parents to consider this vaccine strongly.

KEILAR: Yes, 30,000 hospitalized. That's a big number.

Before I let you go, sir, I do want to ask you when it comes to a fourth shot for adults under the age of 60 without major health considerations, when is that recommendation coming?

MURTHY: Well, right now, what the CDC has recommended is that people who are 50 and above -- you know, that they -- if they're four months out from their last booster shot that they have a chance to get another vaccine. And we want them to do that because we've seen, again, that when you're up-to-date with your vaccine that's when you have the greatest protection, particularly against hospitalization and death.


MURTHY: We are certainly looking at the possibility of a booster shot in the fall for the broader population, and that's actively under discussion. The FDA's advisory committee, also known as VRPAC, will be meeting to discuss that in the coming days, later this month.

But what's also very important is that we ensure that we have the funds available to get that vaccine to people -- to procure the vaccine if and when it is needed. And that's actually where I have some worry Brianna because we do not, at this point, have funds from Congress to make sure that every American who may need a vaccine in the fall will have one.

And other countries have already moved ahead with their purchases. We were able to reallocate some funds to at least get in line. But unless we get those funds for purchasing vaccines for everyone in the fall, I worry that people may be unnecessarily at risk if there's another fall wave.

KEILAR: All right, we will keep on that story.

Dr. Murthy, we appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you.

MURTHY: Of course. Thanks so much, Brianna. Good to be with you, too.

KEILAR: Great to have you.

We continue to follow the developments out of Uvalde, Texas. New images that are shedding light on the police response to the school shooting, next.

BERMAN: We have new details on the January 6 Committee's plan to show how former President Trump pressured state officials to overturn certified election results. John Dean joins us live.




BEYONCE: Singing "Break My Soul."


KEILAR: Queen Bey giving fans a first taste of her upcoming album "Renaissance." Beyonce releasing the single called "Break My Soul" late last night along with this lyric video. It's the first single from her much-anticipated seventh studio album.

And joining us now is CNN senior entertainment reporter Lisa France. Something was missing in my life and it may be this. What do you think of it?

LISA FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: I was dancing while you were playing it. It's the summer anthem that we did not even know that we needed. It's a hot dance track.

And it -- I mean, "Break My Soul" has basically broken the internet. People have been crazy. She released it early on her husband's streaming service Tidal and people have been playing it all night long. And by people, I mean me.

KEILAR: By people, I mean me.

OK. And so, some of the merch for the album -- it's already sold out, right? Fans don't know -- I think they don't know what the t-shirt or the box set looks like, right?

FRANCE: They don't. They don't. They don't know and they don't care. And it comes with a booklet, a C.D., a t-shirt. They do not care at all what is included in this box set, they just want it, which is why you can no longer get it right now.

So, I mean, the excitement for this "Renaissance" album is so hyped. It's going to be her first full-length album since "Lemonade" came out in 2016, so we absolutely cannot wait for it. Keep playing.

KEILAR: What does this -- what does this evoke? So what are doing this summer is you're kind of rocking to this.

FRANCE: Yes, outside.

KEILAR: Totally, right?

FRANCE: This is a song that says hey y'all, we are back outside.

KEILAR: Yes, we're outside. I think maybe we're dancing. Maybe an outdoor dance floor. Maybe the beach. Maybe it's like a bonfire with your friends.

FRANCE: It's whatever you want it to be when you move. It's just good vibes. What means good vibes to you, that's what this song is all about.

KEILAR: I love it.

Lisa France, thank you so much.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

FRANCE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, June 21. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And developing this morning, new details about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that, of course, left 11 students -- sorry, 19 students and two teachers dead. Images we have not seen before that raise questions about whether police had the firepower to confront the shooter there long (audio gap).

An image obtained by the Austin American-Statesman which shows an officer with a ballistic shield there. There appear to be at least two rifles there as well. This picture was taken at 11:52 a.m. This, 19 minutes after the gunman first entered the school (audio gap) -- before law enforcement took him out.

KEILAR: And then, there's another picture obtained by The Texas Tribune and it shows officers here armed with long guns. They have rifles, they have ballistic shields (plural), and they have an ax-like tool, most of which were reportedly never deployed.

We have to note that we do not know at what point in the standoff this particular image was taken but you can see that police were well- equipped to storm that room where the gunman was.

Earlier on NEW DAY, Jose Flores Sr., whose 10-year-old son was murdered that morning, had this reaction to the new reporting.


JOSE FLORES SR., FATHER OF UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM, JOSE FLORES JR.: I'm full of anger. I mean, that's not right -- cowards. They let our kids down and they're supposed to be -- I mean, trained professionals, bulletproof vests, heavy automatic weapons in their cars. I don't understand the reason why they stood back that long for them to go back in. I mean, somebody has to pay for it.


KEILAR: We are also learning that some officers who were on the scene questioned the plan as confusion delayed the breaching of the classroom with kids still inside.