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New Day Sunday

U.S. Sees Four Straight Days Of 20,000 New COVID-19 Cases; Arkansas Sees Third Wave Of COVID-19 Cases As Vaccinations Stall; Soon: Richard Branson's Space Launch Begins; Charlottesville Removes Confederate Statues At Center Of Infamous "Unite The Right" Rally; Top House Democrat Pressures Biden To Support Filibuster Reform; Biden Pushes Putin To Act On Ransomware Attacks. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:00:59]

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul.

So, we're all counting down together here. In just a few hours, Richard Branson will board a supersonic plane that's going to launch him to the edge of space. Hear his message this morning ahead of the flight.

SANCHEZ: There is also a race to vaccinate parts of the country. What health officials are doing to reach vaccine skeptics as concerns grow over the delta variant.

PAUL: You know, the town of Charlottesville removed two Confederate statues amid cheers from onlookers. How officials hope had will close a painful chapter of the city's history.

SANCHEZ: Plus, President Biden warning there will be consequences if Russia does not do more to stop hackers from targeting the United States. But what can realistically be done to stop him?

NEW DAY starts right now.

(MUSIC)

SANCHEZ: It is Sunday, July 11. We are grateful that you are with us. We're going to get to that historic launch in a moment. But we begin with rising concerns about coronavirus.

PAUL: Yeah, the delta variant, it is really -- it's scared a lot of people at this point, Boris. I mean, it's causing this surge of new COVID-19 cases in a lot of parts of the country where people, they just aren't getting vaccinated and that's what the numbers are showing us. Friday, the U.S. did surpass 20,000 cases, and that was sort of for the fourth day in a row.

Now, the CDC says more than 9 million people live in counties where vaccination rates are lower than 40 percent.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, they're urging people to get their shots, and not just for themselves, but for everyone else around them.

In places like Missouri, some hospitals already near capacity with new and much younger patients, seeing an influx of people like they didn't last year. In Arkansas, where new cases are climbing to more than 1,000 a day, major concerns there as well.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now live from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Polo, these numbers are not a great picture for what it looks like in parts of the country with low vaccination rates.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are telling numbers, Boris, when you look at those, especially here in the Southeast. It shows that the pandemic is far from over. COVID numbers beginning to increase and vaccination figures basically stalling.

In fact, one doctor here in Little Rock, Arkansas, told me they are seeing COVID patients in their hospitals more than double from last Friday to this Friday. Get this: about 95 percent of those patients unvaccinated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): In a state where vaccination numbers are falling way behind, the race is on to fight both an emerging COVID variant and hesitancy about the vaccines that help protect against it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from science problems to life support in ten days. It was all so fast.

SANDOVAL: The state of Arkansas trying these public service announcements to get an urgent message out directly from former vaccine skeptics themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thoughts have definitely changed on the vaccine. I do believe getting vaccinated is the safest thing to do for your family.

SANDOVAL: Arkansas's vaccination rate recently stalled. Only 35 percent of the state's population is fully vaccinated. That's one of the lowest rates in the country. Making matters worse, new COVID cases recently climbed back to over 1,000 a day across the state. Some hospitals once again full with COVID patients, says Dr. Cam Patterson.

An overwhelming number of new infections associated with the highly contagious delta variant.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: Arkansas is on the upward surge of the third wave of COVID- 19 here in our state. And it is tilting towards younger people. We are also seeing breakthrough infections in individuals who are immuno- compromised. MAYOR FRANK SCOTT JR., LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS: To see a potential third

wave is disheartening and disappointing because, quite frankly, it's preventable.

[07:05:05]

SANDOVAL: Little Rock's mayor admits he too had initial concerns about the vaccines, but he also lost family to COVID earlier in the pandemic and is now urging his residents roll up their sleeve just like he did.

SCOTT: I wouldn't ask them to do anything I wasn't willing to do. So, I was able to take this test to be an example to the residents of how serious it is and to be very open and vulnerable about, you know, my frustration with having to think about taking it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just relax, okay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All done.

SANDOVAL: Across town, Oscar Martinez is finally getting his shot. Local church leaders teamed with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to assist in efforts to vaccinate Arkansas's Hispanics.

Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis tracks vaccination efforts among the state's communities of color. She is deeply concerned that by her estimates, only 15 to 20 percent of the roughly 210,000 Hispanics in the state are vaccinated.

DR. GLORIA RICHARD-DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UAMS DIVISION OF DIVERSITY: You have to remember, Arkansas is very rural. So, a large portion of our Hispanic population are very much in rural areas, too. And so again we are trying to get outside of the urban areas, but getting into those communities.

SANDOVAL: Richard-Davis, Dr. Robert Hopkins, also chairs the National Vaccine Advisory Committee that's crucial in submitting recommendations to the CDC about the vaccines. He anticipates once the current vaccine options from J&J, Pfizer and Moderna get full versus emergency FDA approval that it may give the hesitant one less reason to avoid their shot.

HOPKINS: I am hopeful we can get that full approval fairly soon. I know that there has been regular communication between the Pfizer, the Moderna, and the Johnson & Johnson folks and the FDA. I think that would help with a part of our population that has been hesitant to know that this vaccine has full approval.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): That was actually Dr. Hopkins who told us that about 95 percent of the patients he has seen in the hospital were not vaccinated. Now, this is also bringing back the conversation about mask-wearing.

Arkansas state legislature actually voted to not bring back a mask mandate. However, we have heard from local, from hospital officials here, Boris and Christi, who are pleading with people, even if you are vaccinated, to wear a mask, especially indoors given the low vaccination numbers of this part of the country.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, any step at this point is going to help the situation. Polo Sandoval from Little Rock, Arkansas, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Polo.

So the world is watching. We are all together here, whether we are in small towns or whether we are in truth or consequences, New Mexico, where it's all happening.

Just hours from now, British billionaire Richard Branson is expected to take a trip to the edge of space.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, the launch of Virgin Galactic's Unity rocket plane will mark the company's first test mission beyond Earth's atmosphere to carry a full compliment of space travelers.

The voyage has been a long time coming. Nearly two decades in the making. The rocket-powered space plane will fly from New Mexico to the edge of space at 2,400 miles an hour. In a video just released this morning, Branson says he hopes it will usher in a new era of space tourism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BRANSON, BRITISH BILLIONAIRE: My mission statement is to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Today, in fact, that was what he just released this morning, so you probably haven't seen in until now. They are getting a chance to see the earth as so few have before, from the edge of space there.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, there are no thrills quite like it. A former astronaut, many former astronauts describe it as a life-changing experience. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: It's a dangerous, complicated, very technical experience, but at its real core it's a human experience. To be able to get up above the dawn sky here out in the desert and to get up into the blackness of the rest of the universe and to be able to then see the world from a whole new perspective, be able to look at the curve of the world, that's the real essence of it.

LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: The first time I flew into space I looked at the earth and was awestruck. I mean, the colors are more bright and vivid than I imagined. And then I saw that the blue -- the sunlight passing through the atmosphere, these beautiful shades of blue, and so he is in for quite an experience even though it's only a few mincing minutes long. He will remember that experience forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So, Allison Chinchar is with us here from the CNN Weather Center because we do have to let you know that there was a bit of a weather delay. It is happening, but just a little bit later than expected.

What's going on there, Allison?

PAUL: Yeah, we talk about timing. Had this been set to go even as little as a few hours ago, it may not have happened because we had this line of thunderstorms kind of sliding from northern New Mexico down into the southern half.

[07:10:09]

You can see truth or consequences right here as that line moved through overnight, bringing with it some showers, very gusty winds, and even some lightning. But it was the gusty winds that really triggered that delay because they weren't able to get it out of the hangar at the time that they had wanted to.

The good news is, fast forward to now, we really don't have much in the way of any activity weather-wise that's going to be of concern when they now want to do the launch, which is 10:30 Eastern Time, or about 8:30 Mountain Time. At that time, 10:30 Eastern Time, it should be 78 degrees, sunshine and very light winds. So, again much more ideal conditions for when the launch is now set to be rather than what it was even just simply a few hours ago.

Again even afterwards, even after the launch, 11:00 a.m., 12:00, we are not really anticipating the weather to change all that much. So, that's also good news because you really don't want weather on either side of that window before the launch or even right after the launch. So that's good news that we will be relatively have pretty much clear skies all throughout that window and surrounding it and the winds, again, staying relatively light because that's going to be a concern.

Again this is what this satellite looked like just a few hours ago with some very gusty winds associated, Boris and Christi, with that cell of thunderstorms that kind of moved through earlier today, thus, postponing it by just a few hours.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, not often that you get rain in the desert, sort of timely. But as indicated, it is apparently going to happen.

Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for that update.

Stay with CNN throughout the day for live coverage of Richard Branson's historic flight to the edge of space.

PAUL: And also still ahead, confederate statues have come down in Charlottesville, Virginia. Where do they go now? And what does this mean for Confederate statues and monuments in other cities?

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[07:16:05]

PAUL: Fifteen minutes past the hour right knew.

Later this morning, we do expect to see billionaire Richard Branson lift off from New Mexico for this flight to space. That's if the weather cooperates.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And while Branson is hoping this flight could usher in a new era of space tourism. A lot of people have questions about why space tourism is so important.

Last hour, we spoke to Janet Ivey, the president of Explore Mars Incorporated, and she explained the significance of traveling to space. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET IVEY, PRESIDENT, EXPLORE MARS, INC.: Today I'm just excited that this moment is finally happening and, you know, we're celebrating 60 years of suborbital flight. I know a lot of people are going, why is that important? But, you know, 60 years ago, the first human, Yuri Gagarin, went up. Sixty years ago, you know, Alan Shepard went up.

But I want to remind everybody, it's like I hear all the proponents say, but, Janet, it's like there is so many problems here on earth. But we can solve a lot of problems. We can do a lot of science experiments.

And I just want to point everybody's attention to some of the things that we have learned and we've got better GPS technology. There is better breast cancer test imaging. Even an artificial heart pump that is based on the design of some of NASA's space shuttle main engines.

So we have some great science that can happen up there, you know, on the International Space Station, and companies are going to be vying to get on these flights.

So, today, mainly, I'm wishing them all the best and a big successful flight. Lots of fun to see, as astronauts call it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Let's talk to Dr. Mae Jemison. She's a former NASA astronaut and the first African American woman in space. We have her via phone.

Dr. Jemison, thank you so much for being with us.

DR. MAE JEMISON, FORMER ASTRONAUT: Oh, you're very welcome.

PAUL: I don't know what you haven't done in your life. You're an astronaut, you are a doctor, and I am sure you are watching this very heavily. There is a picture of Dr. Jemison there at work there. It's so fascinating to all of us to think that for a moment maybe we

will be able to do what we see you doing, obviously, on a much smaller scale in a civil capacity as opposed to astronauts. But I want to ask you, this rocket today, we understand, is going to go for a 2,400- mile-per-hour ride at the end of the day.

What are the physical effects of a ride like that? I mean, when they are in space, they are going to have these few minutes of weightlessness. Describe for us what that's like. Is it essentially kind of falling back to earth?

JEMISON: So there are a bunch of things in there. So what's interesting about the Virgin Galactic vehicle is that it gets into space very differently than the shuttle sore some of the other vehicles, which is it starts off from a plane. So the acceleration is a little bit different. But the profile basically that's three times your weight is being pushed against you is when you talk about going up, you know, mach 3 or that's the kind of feel that you have.

But it's -- when you get in weightlessness for the three to four minutes that we are there, I think that everybody is going to are this incredible feeling of awe, but it's not the weightless. I think it's more the view because my understanding is that Unity turns around so that people can actually see the arc of the earth. And from that height you can start to see the arc of the earth.

And so that starts to work on your perspective. That's what makes you, I think, feel that you are in space even more so than the zero g feeling of weightlessness.

PAUL: What did you feel when you first saw that view?

JEMISON: So the first thing I saw when I was in space, believe it or not, was my hometown of Chicago, believe it or not, because I launched on the mid deck.

[07:20:07]

And when I got up to the flight deck, I looked outside and I thought this is incredible. And so for me, the feeling was one of connectedness while I was there. Very much so. Very much so about being connected not just to the Earth, but the universe at large, and that we have a right to participate.

I heard the whole idea about why space tourism is involved or is important, why space exploration is important. Yes, there are experiments. Yes, there is science. There is an incredible impact space has had on our world, space exploration has had on our world from physically being there.

But I think the other impact has been that it allows us to push for something bigger than we are. It allows us to put our energy and enthusiasm into things that are greater than we are and that's really important because it spreads not just from space, but that big audacious feeling spreads to other areas of our lives and it says that we're capable of so much. PAUL: Well, it's so interesting when I ask you about your view. It was

emotional. It's not just, oh, my gosh, this is where I am, and it's not from a technical standpoint. It's emotional.

So it's so interesting to have you bring that up because there are people who are so fascinated with this and they want to be on the next plane to do this. So talk to us about the realistic expectations of average people like myself and the people, you know, that don't have millions of dollars to pay for a ticket. But what is the realistic expectation that at some point we will be able to do this as tourists?

JEMISON: So, you know, certainly, it will happen. I don't know how soon it will happen because that depends on the -- who is actually putting things together. But I would add that when we're looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars for a ride, or millions of dollars, depending which vehicle you are going on and where you are staying, it's out of the reach of so many of us right now.

However, I would like to add that we have, as taxpayers, as a Americans, have really funded the basis of what's going on right now, that we're connected because Virgin Galactic, Blue Origins, SpaceX, all of them are actually building on what taxpayers, what the government works through from the 1960s forward. So we know how to get into low Earth orbit.

It's going to take a while to get the cost down so that people can go regular. I don't have a good figure on that. 10 to 20 years before you could get the cost down where you can make it happen like a regular vacation. It means that the vehicle reliability has to increase. The ability to actually reuse the vehicle very rapidly has to increase in order to bring these costs down. So there are a number of things that would have to happen.

PAUL: Well, I appreciate your point that this is so emotional and it -- when you are looking at the view that you've got to see and I have heard from other astronauts say it's much more vibrant than we can visualize what it is in the pictures that we see. But that it does kind of connect all of us and we can certainly use a lot of that right now.

Dr. Mae Jemison, an astronaut, it has been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for sharing with us.

JEMISON: You are very welcome. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, onlookers cheering as Confederate statues were pulled town in Charlottesville, Virginia, yesterday. City officials hoping it will close a painful chapter in the city's history. CNN was there as the statues came down. We'll show you what it was like when NEW DAY returns.

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[07:28:36] PAUL: Well, after nearly four years of failed attempts to remove symbols of racial division in Charlottesville, Virginia, Confederate statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are down.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro was there as they were taken away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three hours on a Saturday morning, Charlottesville has wanted for years. A monument to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson on its way to storage. The notorious statue of General Robert E. Lee which overlooked the park that held the deadly Unite the Right rally also hoisted away.

ZYAHNA BRYANT, ACTIVIST: It's only a moment for people who aren't affected.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: For Zyahna Bryant who kicked off the effort to remove these statues with a petition drive back in 2016 when she was in ninth grade, it was the end of an effort that brought the world to her doorstep.

Looking back to that horrible day in August of 2017 when people were on this very park where we are now fighting over these statues, someone eventually died, at a moment like that, did you think we've ever see a day like today when the statues actually came down?

BRYANT: No, I wasn't going to believe until I saw it. So, when it was finally lifted off of its pedestal today, that's when I was able to have my moment and fully process it was happening.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Bryant convinced Charlottesville, the world outside took longer. In early 2017, the city council voted to remove the monuments but groups who defend the confederate legacy took Charlottesville to court.

[07:30:00]

They succeeded in getting the removal delayed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are a people! We will not be replaced!

(CHEERS)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Then white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups joined the cause.

In August 2017, a woman was killed and several other people injured as white supremacists and other far right groups fought with counterprotesters at a rally about the statues. That made the monuments a national cause and the driver of a dark moment in recent American political history.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Very fine people on both sides.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That created a national movement. JOE BIDEN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No president, sitting

president ever said anything like that and I realize that things weren't going to change stretch with this president.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But in Charlottesville, the statues still stood. The removal still tied up in court, the city council voted to shroud them in black just days after the august protest. In October 2017 a judge ruled again that they couldn't remove the statues.

And in 2018, a judge ordered that those coverings be removed.

But Charlottesville never changed its mind. The city kept fighting in court. This April, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in its favor. Then came Saturday.

MAYOR NIKUYAH WALKER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: What happened, we have the ability to remove the statues today. It has stood for 104 years and it doesn't need to stay a moment longer.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The end of a long and bloody battle for one city grappling with how to tell our nation's story.

ZYAHNA BRYANT, ACTIVIST: I am trying to find a way as a black woman who has been on the forefront of this issue to celebrate the small wins as they woman. That is important and I think this work is long and hard. It's not the end. It's not the beginning. It is a win.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Evan.

As Republican lawmakers pass restrictive voting laws across the country, President Biden is facing pressure to promote access to the ballot box, including from one of his top allies in Congress. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn telling "Politico" he thinks Biden should support an exception to the filibuster for bills related to constitutional rights. That would make it easier for Democrats to pass voting rights legislation.

The top Democrat says he raised this issue directly with the White House, including with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Joining us now is the journalist who spoke with Clyburn this week, CNN political analyst, Laura Barron-Lopez. She's also a White House correspondent for "Politico".

Laura, great to have you on.

This seems like a big deal. Biden's campaign was on the ropes until Clyburn endorsed him in the South Carolina primary. But I am curious how far Clyburn's influence goes in the White House.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. It's hard to say right now. As you noted, Boris, Clyburn was very important in Biden's campaign, and Clyburn also marks a shift among Democrats meaning that not just progressives now are pushing Biden to try to advocate for endorse publicly and also lean on resistant senators to some kind of change to the filibuster. Clyburn is the third top Democrat in the House.

And I also spoke to other Democrats on House Judiciary who said they would like Biden to speak out more publicly on this issue. And another lawmaker backed up Clyburn, Madeline Dean of Pennsylvania, saying that she thinks Biden should also endorse the carve-out.

Clyburn told me that he has brought this up, as you mentioned, with top people in the White House, but they haven't said anything to him about whether or not Biden backs a carve out to the filibuster. So right now -- and the White House didn't provide any real response to Clyburn's comments. So, right now, we don't know whether or not Biden is even considering something like this.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. So, Biden has met with civil rights groups. He is going to make different stops across the country to promote the issue of voting rights. Clyburn framing this not only as a civil rights issue, but one of survival for Democrats in the next election.

Should we anticipate a more forceful message from the White House on a carve-out for the filibuster going forward?

BARRON-LOPEZ: On a carve-out, we don't have the answer to that. Right now, the White House is saying that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are going to be talking about this issue in urgent terms. Biden has talked about voting rights, has talked about the threat to democracy that he thinks the GOP law is being passed in certain states present not only to Democrats as a party, but to democracy writ large.

And so, on Tuesday, we're going to see the president go to Philadelphia and talk about that in a speech about voting rights and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that this speech is going to be about the moral obligation to protect voting rights.

[07:35:06]

But she notably also said that the president is not going to get into any of the legislative process in that speech.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And I'm wondering if there is something that the White House can do beyond pressuring Congress because the Supreme Court, as we saw in the last couple of weeks, has essentially emboldened Republican lawmakers in many states to pass voting restrictions on access to the ballot box, right?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yeah, that's right. The Supreme Court's decision just a few weeks ago really limits the DOJ, and the DOJ, the Justice Department, was already limited in the kind of lawsuit they could bring because of the Supreme Court's decision, prior decision in 2013, which gutted key sections of the Voting Rights Act.

So, that's one of the bills that Democrats are trying to pass through Congress and get to Biden's desk, which would reauthorize this provision that makes it so states have to get pre-approval from the federal government if they are going to change election laws that could be considered racially discriminatory.

And so, right now, the DOJ is severely limited. Biden himself, there is not much he can to through executive order. The White House says he is using his bully pulpit. That's where Democrats are increasingly cornering Biden saying the only route here forward may be to change the filibuster.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. We'll watch and see how President Biden addresses Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to try to potentially pressure them into moving in that direction.

Laura Barron-Lopez, always great to have you. Thanks so much.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

PAUL: So, President Biden made a very important phone call to Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday as Boris was talking about. It reminded him the U.S. is ready to respond to some cyberattacks here. The question is, what is Russian President Putin going to do? We'll talk about it.

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[07:41:43]

SANCHEZ: So, President Biden says he made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a call on Friday that the United States expects him to take action against krill ransomware groups operating in Russia that had been attacking American companies. Biden says the two world leaders established a more direct line of communication. He reiterated that there will be consequences for the recent attacks.

What exactly does that mean? How does the Biden administration plan to deal with Russia's growing aggression?

Here with me is White House and national security correspondent for "The New York Times", David Sanger.

David, thank you for joining us this morning.

You reported that Biden's warning on Friday was his starkest yet. Administration officials telling you that these hacks are going to be treated as threats to national security. Do you have any indication what deterrence or retaliation might look like at this point?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's a fascinating question, Boris. And we got a little bit of a sense of this from the president himself when he was asked, as he was on his way to Delaware, might you attack the servers, the computer servers that the ransomware groups use to launch their attacks? And he said, yes. Now, sounds simple. In fact, a little bit complicated because it's the

nature of cyber that you can launch attacks from servers all around the world. In fact, some of the Russian attacks we have seen have been launched from servers here in the United States. They just rented space on Amazon or Go Daddy.

So it's going to be a complex issue, and it's made all the harder by the fact that these ransomware groups, by the administration's own admission, are private criminal groups. It's more like dealing with drug cartels or with terrorist groups that are holding somebody for ransom than it is a direct government attack.

SANCHEZ: Right. And that's part of the challenge that the Kremlin hasn't directly gone after these groups. It's a frustration from the White House. So, this call on Friday coming right after the latest cyberattack, it was dubbed the largest of its kind in history.

And according to your reporting, it was a way for President Biden to see how willing Putin is willing to act to crack down on these hackers. How confident are people that you are speaking with that Putin is actually going to make an earnest effort?

SANGER: Not very confident at all. You know, this was the major subject of the conversation in Geneva three weeks ago when President Biden met President Putin for the first time since Mr. Biden became president. And it was fascinating because basically these used to all be at the subtext of nuclear weapons and now for the first time, we saw cyber weapons sort of begin to play the central role.

But what Biden is trying to do here is set some guardrails, like in the early days of the nuclear age, and say this is what's in limits, this is what is out of limits, and get Putin to agree, and then get him to crack down within his own country. Now, that doesn't address the activities that are done by Russian intelligence.

[07:45:04]

But the fascinating question here is, will Putin agree to go after these criminal groups within his own country, some of which are used on occasion, we believe, by Russian intelligence when they are in need of some special hacking talent?

SANCHEZ: Yeah, it's sort of unchartered waters that we're treading right now.

When I have spoken to cyber security experts they have reiterated that protecting online interests in the United States is as much about the way that the federal government conducts business as it is about private companies responding to attacks. I'm curious how much pressure you think the White House is going to put on the private sector to do things like updating technology and sharing critical details about attacks.

Do you have a sense of that right now?

SANGER: Well, we've already seen a fair bit of action in that regard even before these latest attacks came along. The White House adopted some new rules. If you want to sell to the federal government, you have to meet certain cybersecurity standards. Your software needs to be tested and so forth.

And the idea is that anybody who didn't meet the federal government's standards and couldn't sell to the federal government would have a hard time selling to the private sector. So, it was a way to put that pressure on.

The next big pressure, I think, this is going to come on the use of cryptocurrencies. Right now, they are pretty unregulated. We could have a cryptocurrency exchange and keep it completely hidden. I think you are beginning to see the government move to sort of the know your customer rules that we have seen for the banking industry, and whether they can do that would make a very big difference because these ransomware actors get paid in cryptocurrency. So they want to be able to seize or stop those payments.

There is a little bit of success of that in the colonial pipeline attack a few months ago. So these are all steps that the Biden administration is considering or trying to take. Some of them will probably require acts of Congress.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. David Sanger, any time you want t send me cryptocurrency, I'd be happy. I prefer dogecoin, but whichever one you choose, it's up to you.

SANGER: Just send your ID over here, just coming your way.

SANCHEZ: David Sanger, thank you so much. Appreciate you being on.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

PAUL: We have to split that, you know, Boris.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: So the launch of Virgin Galactic's space plane, it's been delayed about 90 minutes because of weather. It's expected to take off around 10:30 Eastern Time today. Coming up, what the crew, that includes Richard Branson, of course, can expect from this trip to space.

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[07:52:29]

PAUL: So, Richard Branson is set to take off in that space plane built by his company, Virgin Galactic. If successful, he's going to be the first billionaire to travel into space aboard a vehicle he helped fund.

SANCHEZ: And while Branson will hold much of the spotlight today, experts say there's a lot of technological and economic substance behind today's launch. CNN spoke to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He says this trip is a pathway for the future of space tourism and the birth of a new industry.

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NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: There's no intended science mission for this. But there's a lot of engineering that is being put on display. All right? A rocket plane, a plane that is deployed from another plane. It's not from a launch pad as we saw from videos. That goes to high altitude and then comes back and lands like a regular plane. So, it spends a small amount of time in what we say suborbital.

Billionaires have big egos, why wouldn't they? It's their money. So -- and like I said, it is at least advancing an engineering frontier. Those are some funky looking plane designs. That's interesting to watch that unfold and how the designs might change once they learn what this involves.

And we all know that there is surely a future in space tourism. There's no doubt about it. Look at the waiting list that exists for those seats right now, and you make the seats a little cheaper, the list grows. It's a highly elastic demand ready to feed that.

So, I think what's historic is that we are seeing the beginning of an entire industry. And I'm delighted for them. I'm delighted for the engineers and for the future of that economy.

And I will add that they are launching from New Mexico, spaceport, OK? That word feels weird. Is it weirder than the first people who heard the word airport? OK? Just think about that. Spaceport. Airport.

So, it could be as routine, what time does the train leave? What time does the plane leave? What time does your rocket leave in the future?

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PAUL: And, listen, stay with CNN throughout the day. We have live coverage for you, of Richard Branson's historic flight.

And thank you so much for spending the morning with us. We hope you make good memories today.

SANCHEZ: And great to see you always, Christi.

PAUL: You too.

SANCHEZ: And don't go anywhere.

"INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Abby Phillip is up next.

[07:55:00]

But, first, quick preview of CNN's brand new original series that premieres tonight, "History of the Sitcom."

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You come home, turn on that television, what do you want? You want comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you go. Situation comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laughter opens you up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about, Willis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get to know these sitcom characters. They are your friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Woo-hoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all share these experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laughter is a great way to deal with a tricky world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discussing race in a sitcom you're able to take in new ideas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi, neighbor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hope that you'll have those kinds of relationships in your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was revolutionary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laugh out loud funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the great accomplishments of the modern age.

ANNOUNCER: The stories behind the moments we shared, "History of the Sitcom" premieres tonight at 9:00 on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out.

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