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CNN TONIGHT: Republicans Call For DOJ To Stop Protests At Justices' Homes; January 6 Committee Subpoenas McCarthy, Four Other GOP Lawmakers; Rep. Krishnamoorthi On Coronavirus Committee Report Finding Meat Companies Lied About Shortage During Pandemic. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Astronomers say the Black Hole is 4 million times more massive than our sun. And if we could see this, at night, it would appear to be the same size, as a donut, sitting on the moon. I don't even know what that means!

It took astronomers more than five years, to capture and confirm this image. And it was made possible by a team of more than 300 researchers, from 80 institutions, working with the Event Horizon Telescope. It's just amazing!

News continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: All I understood about that was a donut sitting on the moon! Very visual. But that's really what I took from that, and something about the Milky Way. So now, we're all hungry. Anderson, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

And I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

And man, to be a fly, on the walls of that conference room, at the Supreme Court, today!

The nine justices met, for the very first time, since that leak, just 10 days ago, the one that shook not only the High Court, for the unprecedented breach of protocol, but also the entire nation, because of what that leak actually revealed. A draft majority opinion that stands to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, if the final opinion looks anything like the draft that we've seen.

And now, there's another leak, also reported by "Politico." Apparently, the draft opinion that we saw that was dated February, well, not much has changed, as of May.

That same draft opinion is still the only one that is circulating inside of the High Court, meaning no justice has yet signaled that they would switch their vote, or that perhaps the conclusion has substantively changed, to now uphold Roe v. Wade. Now, CNN has not confirmed the most recent "Politico" story. But keep in mind that a majority opinion is not the only kind of opinion that could very well be forthcoming.

There is always the potential for what's called a concurring opinion, one where a justice writes separately, their own opinion that says that they have reached the very same conclusion, as the majority, but for different reasons.

There could also very well be, and given the composition of the court, one would frankly, expect a dissenting opinion. There could be drafts at each kind that are also circulating or might not even have yet has been shared, at this point, in the calendar.

But either way, the justices met alone, behind closed doors, amid all of this. And when I say, alone, I mean no clerks, no staff. Only the nine of them. So, of course, there are loads of intrigue, as to what they said to one another, and really, the tone, and how this leak might change, how they will operate, going forward.

And it comes after an investigation into the leak has already been ordered by Chief Justice John Roberts, for the Marshal of the Court to take on.

Now, some sources familiar with how SCOTUS operates, say that that probe could lead to some very uncomfortable privacy issues, which is a little bit ironic, and perhaps trigger further tension, within the court, and further erode trust. But really, it's too soon to assume that it will.

But meanwhile, the explosive reaction, by some, to the news, of the looming abortion rights decision, whatever it might be, it also raises some serious concerns about the safety of the Supreme Court justices.

Over the weekend, we saw protesters, demonstrating, outside of the homes, of justices Roberts and Alito, and also Kavanaugh. Now, that prompted the Senate, to quickly pass a bill that would expand security, for the families of justices.

And two Republican governors, in States, where the justices actually reside, in Maryland and Virginia, they're actually asking the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, to step up to the plate and investigate.

Now, the White House, the White House is not condemning the protests, at these homes, as long as they're peaceful.

And there's also some pretty mixed reaction, on Capitol Hill.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There's protests three, four times a week outside my house. That's the American way to peacefully protest.

So, as long as they are peaceful, that's OK with me.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I think it's reprehensible. Stay away from homes and families of elected officials and members of the court.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It appears this may possibly be flat-out illegal. There is a federal law on the books that criminalizes quote, "Pickets, or parades," end quote, with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or a court officer, at locations, listen to this, that include a judge's residence.


COATES: So, who's right? Let's delve deeper into all that, and more with CNN Legal Analyst, and Supreme Court Biographer, Joan Biskupic. She's the Author of "The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts." Also our Chief Legal Analyst, and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.

I'm glad you're both here, particularly tonight.

And I want to start with you, Joan, because one of the people, whose homes, they are protesting, in front of, is the Chief Justice, who I note--



COATES: --is not yet a part of that draft majority opinion. We don't really know where he might stand, on these issues. But by virtue of his position, your book, I think, is quite apropos, the life and turbulent times, shall we say.


COATES: What do you make of these comments that suggests that it might even be illegal, or at least reprehensible, for people to protest, in light of this draft opinion?

BISKUPIC: Well, first of all, I think that, people are right to protest, peacefully. As Chuck Schumer said, it happens all the time. And, law enforcement officers, in many of these municipalities, have said, they're not going to arrest people, if it's peaceful. Obviously, some people can feel like this is not the route to go.

But the important thing is that, we still don't know what actually is happening behind-the-scenes, and what this draft will say. I think people want to put pressure on these justices. But there's plenty of pressure already in that room, as you sketched it, Laura.

You referred to the Chief Justice. And I can tell you that he is not sitting around doing nothing, just waiting for, to see what happens, with the draft that Sam Alito has written.

I would suspect that he is privately working, on his own alternative draft. He may be privately shopping it to other justices, to see if he can possibly still peel off, one of the Conservatives, for some sort of compromise. We still have about eight weeks left. So, even though "Politico" has reported that there were no other subsequent drafts, there are many other ways that the justices are communicating.

Just so you know, once Sam Alito would have sent around that first draft, every other justice would have at least sent him a memo, saying, "I'll join it," or "I'm thinking of a concurrence," or "I'm waiting for the dissent." There's communication that immediately follows it, even if it's not an actual draft.

And then, the others are, they do tend to send memos that they would circulate to all. But my experience is, especially with the Chief, that he would work privately, sometimes. He did that, certainly with the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

And we know, in the past, with the 1973, Roe v. Wade, the 1989 abortion case that where the justices stopped short of reversing Roe, and then certainly in 1992, when the justices stopped short of reversing Roe.


BISKUPIC: Little fragments had broken off, and were working privately. So, I anticipate that some things like that are going on.

But I do want to remind you, Laura, and certainly our audience, is that the key conservative justices, who made sure that there were compromises, back in '89 and '92, are not like our current - conservatives today.

The Conservatives we have today are far to the right. And I would not expect somebody like Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and probably Amy Coney Barrett, to vote for a compromise. Brett Kavanaugh? Possibly, Laura.

COATES: The word that sticks out to me, in what you've said, today, and I think it's something that many people are pointing out, Jeffrey, is the idea of this expectation of privacy, when it comes to opinions, written by the Supreme Court, and the expectations of being able to have private deliberations, about one's personal thoughts, and beliefs, about a particular issue, and having that privacy, behind closed doors.

And for many, they look at this as very rich. Theory (ph) the Supreme Court has expectations of privacy. But if this draft opinion is to be made final, it takes away a zone of privacy, and those expectations of privacy, from women, who want to have agency, over their reproductive rights.

And so, we think about the leak, in this instance. What do you make of the focus now being really more so, in parts, on the leak itself, Jeffrey, and the protests surrounding, as opposed to the substantive draft conclusions?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think this controversy illustrates that Republicans are nervous. Because they are choosing to talk about the leak, they're choosing to talk about the protests, at the home of the justices, rather than the substance of the opinion, which if we believe the opinion polls, is unpopular.

I mean, this is an opinion that will reverse a constitutional right that women have had, in the United States, for 49 years, and lead to even more draconian restrictions, on people's rights.

This is something that the core of the Republican Party has believed in, and fought for, for many years. But it is not something that the broad majority, including most Independents, want in American life.

So, I think, that's why you see Republicans, rending their garments, over the lack of privacy, in the Supreme Court, over these really rather docile, if annoying, protests. That - they'd rather talk about that than the loss of rights that American women face.


COATES: Well, it's interesting, I want to just bring this, to everyone's attention. Because what should make nervous - and I wonder, obviously, there's some subjectivity, in the idea of what people find nerve-racking.

But if the concern is about the safety of judges? Let's just put this into context, for a second, if we can.

The U.S. Marshals Service says that federal judge - federal judges, not the Supreme Court, but federal judges, were the target of more than 4,500 threats, and other inappropriate communication - comments, just last year alone.

In fact, there was an I.G. report, back in June that found that the Marshals Office doesn't actually have the funding, it would need, to try to provide that security, of the 2,700 sitting judges.

And so, it sort of begs the question, at this point in time, as to why, is the safety of these justices, so paramount, knowing that there has been risks, to others, who have resulted, in violent threats? We've seen so far, protesting in front of these homes, people walking. No arrests. I understand they have yet to be made.

So, for people, looking at this, Joan, do you wonder why this particular issue, and these protests, are prompting this rallying around the justices? Is it sort of, it's good to be the king? It's good to be one of the Supreme Nine?

BISKUPIC: I think it's a sideshow, right now, Laura. I think the really important thing is what's going on in the building, and what will be produced with that opinion.

If you go to the court building itself, right now, there's a huge eight-foot - newly-installed eight-foot non-scalable fence ring in the whole building. There's a sign out there that says "Area Closed By Order Of The Supreme Court Marshal." They've, you know, they obviously are worried about threats. But they have all of our rights, in their hands. And, you refer to that Inspector General's report, about lower court judges, who face a lot, and are much more in the trenches--


BISKUPIC: --of the law, dealing with, with criminal and civil cases, where people, know who they are, and they can come after them. That has been a problem for many years. And the U.S. Marshals Service has beefed up security, for those--


BISKUPIC: --judges and justices. And just so you know, Laura, I know that the justices' own security had been beefed up way before this.

COATES: Well, on that - on that point--

BISKUPIC: But, again, I think that the key thing is that--

COATES: --I just want to say, and Joan, on that point?

We talk about the trenches. It must be sad, while we're having a conversation, about the safety of judges that between 1977 and 2020, there were 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 194 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities, directed at abortion providers. In fact, last year alone, a 125 percent, in reports of assault and battery, outside of clinics, as well.

So, I'm a fan, like we all are, of consistency. That has to be a part of the conversation as well.

Joan Biskupic, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

COATES: And, by the way, there's this. Five sitting members of Congress have just been subpoenaed, by the January 6 committee, including the top Republican, in the House. See there? None of them, by the way, would cooperate voluntarily.

But you wonder, will any now participate, now that they're being compelled, via subpoena, to testify? And what would their colleagues in the panel do, if, well, they don't comply?

An extraordinary discussion, in extraordinary times, up next.



COATES: So, members of Congress, are no longer asking. They're now ordering five of their own colleagues, to talk.

The January 6 Select Committee issuing subpoenas, to key Republicans, including the highest-ranking Republican, House Minority Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader is actually on that list. And so are Congressman Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and also Jim Jordan.

My next guests well, they know the stakes.

Norm Eisen, from his time, investigating Donald Trump, during his first impeachment. His book is "Overcoming Trumpery: How to Restore Ethics, the Rule of Law, and Democracy."

And Doug Heye, who was a key staffer for Eric Cantor, when the Republican was House Majority Leader.

Gentlemen, welcome. I'm so glad that you're both here.

Let me begin with you here, Norm. Because, this was a decision that some say was quite politically agonizing, not because Congress doesn't have the right, to subpoena people. But because there was a political calculus, at stake here, as well.

Tell me about what that process must be like and the considerations they would have had to make.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, AUTHOR, "OVERCOMING TRUMPERY": Laura, we went through these very tough subpoena calls, when I was working, on the Hill. Doug, the same.

Whenever you turn around, to the people, you work with, whether it's Congress, or anywhere else, and they've said no to you, and you're forced to serve them, with legal process, to force them, to come in, and testify? That's a very unusual act. And it has ramifications.

Now, will there be litigation? Will there be contempt findings? If the Republicans take control of Congress, will they turn around, and subpoena members, who they seek information from? So, this is a very tough decision.

But it's the right decision, Laura, because these five men have key information, about the Insurrection, about an assault on our country, and an attempted coup.

COATES: Now, Doug, I saw you sort of smirk a little bit, on that notion, because it wasn't a sort of a hypothetical prospective notion of if Republicans are in control, or have some power.


COATES: What would they do to try to compel testimony? I mean, you were involved in the contempt proceedings, against Eric Holder, the former Attorney General. He was not obviously a member of Congress.

But the calculus was similar, in the idea of how people were expected, to comply with a subpoena. Why are times so seemingly different now? [21:20:00]

HEYE: Well, I think, we've seen our politics change drastically, in just the past five years or six years. Donald Trump has fundamentally transformed American politics. Obviously, we can argue, if that's good or bad.

But, in Congress? Congress usually believes in its own primacy, meaning what it asks for, it gets. And that's true, whether it's an administration of the same, or opposing party. And now, with this very unprecedented step, of subpoenaing members of Congress, we'll see what happens with that.

Typically, that only happens when there's an ethics investigation. And as we so often see, in ethics investigations, Congress doesn't like to penalize, or really do anything, to its own members, unless they've really egregiously violated an ethics rule.

The question I have in this decision that they've made today is, what is the plan moving forward?

I've been so impressed with how this committee has not had any leaks, how they've moved forward together, as a team, which you don't often see. Part of that is, I think, the mistake that Republicans made, in not ensuring that it was either an independent commission, or that there were more Republican members on it. But if these members say no, what is Congress prepared to do?

And I was on Capitol Hill, today. And really, the conversation was that the members of the committee, they don't really know yet. And there's still discussion, and dissension, within the committee of what happens if these members, one or, all of them, say no to a subpoena?

COATES: Now, of course, it begs the question, Norm, of how can that be? I mean, obviously, this is not a novelty that people have essentially thumbed their nose, at a congressional subpoena, within the last year, let alone six months, let alone four years.

And so, is the plan that they don't know? Or, is the plan that look, you've got this Sword of Damocles, of a clock, called the midterm calendar, an election that might very well change the time - the course of history, in the future.

EISEN: It is a clock that is running. But it's running in a context. We've had a federal judge, absolutely extraordinary, say that Donald Trump likely committed federal crimes, with co-conspirators. And the allegations about some of these members of Congress were that they may have been involved in those acts.

COATES: But Norm, so why - Norm? Norm? Why isn't Trump--

EISEN: You've got to get the information.

COATES: Then why isn't Trump subpoenaed yet?

EISEN: Well, that's - I think that that ultimate decision, about Trump and Pence, is coming, Laura. Again, that is one that we confronted in the first impeachment. And we ultimately decided to invite the former President to testify.

But they're getting to the hearings, now. They're getting to the end game. Because it's a tough call. They've approached that moment now, when you've got to subpoena these members, because of the seriousness, of these criminal allegations, and findings, by a federal judge.

COATES: Norm Eisen, Doug Heye, I got to tell you, one of the things that we've seen? And Doug, you know this, well, from your work on the RNC as well. You got to imagine there's a lot of fundraising, just by the notion of the subpoenas being issued alone. So, we're all going to wait and see, what this all looks like.

Thank you, gentlemen.

HEYE: Thank you.

COATES: Always a pleasure to speak with you both.

EISEN: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: We're also watching this story that's impacting so many families, who are trying to feed their babies, when there's so little formula, at times, none, to go around. And the response, from the White House, today, well, it may not do much to reassure you, let alone any of the parents looking for that formula. But we'll also look at what not to do, in order to keep your infant fed.

One of the nation's top pediatricians, will join me, next.



COATES: Look, there is no good answer, for desperate parents, tonight. What there is, are too many store shelves that sit empty, and too many babies that are going hungry.

Across the country, parents are left fearing, the absolute worst.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very stressful. It gets very stressful.

COURTNEY HOUSTON, MOTHER: Terrifying. It's terrifying, when that's the only true source of nutrition that your baby gets.

JENNIFER WALL, MOTHER: Really scary, wondering for next meal, am I not going to have the formula I need?


COATES: And, at the White House, today, the Biden administration couldn't answer what parents should do.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We would certainly encourage any parent, who has concerns about their child's health, or wellbeing, to call their doctor or pediatrician.


COATES: I'm not sure that's satisfying, although I'm not sure what else they would say.

But let's talk with the former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Lee Savio Beers, I'm glad you're here. Thank you, doctor.

Doctor, I have to tell you, that I'm a mother myself.


COATES: Thank you. I'm a mother myself. And I remember being very scared, when I had my first one, trying to figure out, how to keep weight on a newborn, trying to make sure that they had the nutritional values, going to what seemed like a thousand doctors' appointments, every single week, to track their milestones.

Never once understanding that, of course, right now, where it would be, where there's no formula for people, on the shelves. I mean, what are people supposed to do, when they're faced with the prospect that there's no formula?

What are they supposed to be doing, right now? Is it rationing formula? Is it finding alternate means to feed the child, if there are any? What is it?

SAVIO BEERS: Well, I mean, you ask such great questions. And you really point out the difficult position that many families are in, worrying about where to find formula, for their babies.

I think there's a couple of important things. We're seeing that the lack of formula supplies is not evenly distributed across stores and communities.

So first, some things that parents can do? And I know this is so frustrating, especially when you have a little one, and you know, or you don't have great transportation. But one of the things you can do is really check a lot of different stores. We're finding that some of the smaller stores actually may not have sold out quite as quickly. So that's one thing.

I think, another thing, and this is important, you can check with your pediatrician, if you have questions. But for many, many babies, there are only - there are certain formulas that are out of stock, but others, where there are - where it is in stock. And so, for most babies, you can actually substitute another formula, and do just fine, in the meantime. So, those are a couple things you can do. There are special circumstances, where you do need to talk to your doctor, about that.


What I would say - I absolutely don't recommend doing it, and I know this is hard. But sometimes, parents say, "Well, could I water-down the formula? Could I make it more diluted?" And we don't recommend that. It's actually not safe, and can actually cause serious problems, for babies.

COATES: Now, that's so important, of the, what not to do. Because, obviously there's that phrase, "Desperate times call for desperate measures." But there are certain acts of desperation that could be very harmful, to your child, even more so than what seems like a deprivation of nutrition.

But how about trying to find alternate sources? You mentioned the idea of availability of other formulas.

I remember, my babies, I was able to breastfeed, both of my children, and I supplemented late in, in this stage, about that. But my kids didn't take every type. I mean, when it came to formula, they vomited some kinds out. It was powder. Had to be ready-made liquid, if you even gave it to them.

What are parents to do, in terms of acclimating their children, possibly, or a baby, to figuring out, whether it's actually a medical risk, and them vomiting it up, or that they're just trying to acclimate to the new product?

SAVIO BEERS: Right. No, it's a great question. And the first thing I would say is, if you have - if you do have questions, if your baby's not tolerating it, don't hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician.

But, I think, some of the things that parents can do, to acclimate, if you - for one, if you have a little bit of the old formula, you could mix up both formulas, and then mix them a little bit. So that your baby, sometimes the taste is a little bit different, and the baby can get used to the taste.

Making sure that when you do feed your baby, let them drink just little bits, at a time, take a second or two break, then a little bit more, so that they're drinking it slowly, and getting used to it.

And also, just being reassured that nutritionally, most of these formulas, are very similar, very much the same. And so, medically, it's great, for your baby, it's perfectly fine, to switch formulas. And sometimes, it just takes a little getting used to

COATES: You mean those that are on the shelf that obviously, you're talking about that not going online, maybe per se, and there's some concerns about going outside of the country to get formula. But I know you're talking about those that are recommended that are asking a pediatrician about these issues. I do wonder, in this issue about it, how long, for many parents, you're talking about - and one woman said that she was concerned about how long she could sustain.

When I think about how important nutrition is, to a developing baby's mind, hitting the milestones, long-term consequences of malnutrition, things you should not expect to have happen, in an economy or nation such as this, what are the long-term consequences? And is there a sort of a moment, when it becomes so critical that this must be resolved?

SAVIO BEERS: Well, it will - I mean, first of all, I want to say, I mean, absolutely, we want to make sure that every baby has the formula they need, when they need it. And we are in a difficult time, right now, where some families, and some communities, are having trouble accessing that formula in a timely way.

And so, I think, the first thing is we really do have to be working together, as communities, to try to make sure, we get the formula, where it needs to be, for families. Because we don't want babies to go without nutrition.

And I think you do point out, it's also really worth emphasizing that there are risks, to babies, for these alternate feeding methods too, where diluting formula, or a homemade formula, there can be immediate consequences, to that alternate feeding, where babies can have immediate consequences, of getting quite ill, sometimes having seizures or, or even occasionally babies will suffer death, from that.

But there's also the long-term consequences of poor nutrition, from the alternate formulas, either, as well. So, I think it's important point that you bring up. And so, the most important thing is for us to be working together, to get families, the formula they need.

We really do ask families not to hoard formula. It's important to plan in advance, a little bit. But also, not to buy up more than about 10 days to 14 days of formula, for your child, to make sure that everybody has access, to the formula, they need, while we can get these issues corrected.

COATES: It's a difficult prospect. Dr. Lee Savio Beers, thank you.

And I note, of course that Abbott, by the way, is still telling everyone that they're waiting on FDA approval, to restart their plant. And it could take up to 10 weeks, to get its product even back on the shelf. So, the question of how much longer?

And I just keep going in my mind, this is - these are women, who carried, during a Pandemic, thinking now they have to deal with this issue of a supply chain shortage, of formula, for their children.

Doctor, thank you.

And, by the way, also, very concerning, is this mysterious hepatitis outbreak, among children, in at least 25 States now. Several young children have even died, and dozens of others hospitalized. And there is no clear cause of what has caused any of this. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, take us inside one family's battle. That's next.



COATES: As if a formula shortage wasn't scary enough, for parents, the CDC is investigating more than 100 cases of severe hepatitis in children. The government doesn't know what's behind the outbreaks. But the symptoms range from upset stomach to liver inflammation.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta met with parents, of a 2-year-old, who contracted hepatitis, and needed a liver transplant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is this? Can I take it?


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first thing Kelsea Schwab wanted to show me was that her 2-year-old daughter Baelyn had always been fiercely independent.

KELSEA SCHWAB, BAELYN SCHWAB'S MOTHER, MOTHER OF 2-YEAR-OLD PEDIATRIC HEPATITIS PATIENT: Baelyn is Baelyn. She just kind of toots her own drum, and does her own thing.

GUPTA (voice-over): But on April 22nd, everything changed, and a true medical mystery began.

K. SCHWAB: We woke up, and she had hives, all over her body. So, I took her to the doctor. And they did give her epinephrine, and then sent us over to the ER, to be monitored. Everything was fine. She went home.

The next day, we woke up, and I was like, "Her eyes look a little bit yellow." Yes.

GUPTA (on camera): She wasn't acting any different?

K. SCHWAB: No. And her eyes were just a little bit yellow. It was just a little bit of jaundice. Couple hours later, we got a call back, saying "You need to get to the hospital now, and they're going to fly you there."


DR. HELI BHATT, PEDIATRIC HEPATOLOGIST, M HEALTH FAIRVIEW MASONIC CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Over next couple of days, Baelyn's numbers didn't improve. Normal liver numbers are in 30s. I think, at one point, it was 7,000.

GUPTA (on camera): Wow! GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Heli Bhatt is a pediatric hepatologist. That's a doctor, who specializes in the liver. She was one of the first doctors, to treat Baelyn, after she was airlifted, to the University of Minnesota's Masonic Children's Hospital.

GUPTA (on camera): In your career, have you seen something like this before?

BHATT: No. I think, I have definitely seen multiple cases of acute hepatitis and acute liver failure. But the fact that there are so many, in such less time, to have not seen an outbreak, like this, in my career?

GUPTA (voice-over): What happened to Baelyn is extremely rare. But at least 109 times, over the past few months, it's been the same story. A relatively healthy child, whose eyes, start to turn yellow, loses their appetite. And within days, their livers severely inflamed.

According to the CDC, at least 98 children, in this hepatitis outbreak, had been hospitalized. 15 had liver transplants. Five have died. And there is no clear explanation why.

BHATT: What is striking about this, is the number of cases, in the period of time, and kind of all over the world, and also following this huge Pandemic.

GUPTA (on camera): Do you draw a connection then between the Pandemic, and what is happening with these kids' hepatitis?

BHATT: One of the things that I question is, did these kids ever have COVID, you know? Kids can go asymptomatic with COVID, but then have all these inflammatory side effects.

GUPTA (on camera): Should that be part of the diagnostic testing? Should these kids be getting tested, for their antibodies, to COVID?

BHATT: I do think that is something we should be testing, so that we can - we can know, whether it is related to that or not.

GUPTA (voice-over): Baelyn did have COVID. But, for many others, we don't know.

For now, the CDC isn't currently recommending testing, for COVID antibodies, in these children. And instead, focusing on adenovirus, a virus that is usually linked to the common cold, and more than half the children, have tested positive for.

Dr. Bhatt isn't so sure, because while Baelyn did test positive, for adenovirus, in her blood, there wasn't any evidence of it, in her liver.

BHATT: So, this is adenoviral staining. This is a control. And this is Baelyn's liver. So, it did not stain at all.

GUPTA (on camera): But you weren't seeing it in her liver?

BHATT: In her liver, yes.

K. SCHWAB: She would start shaking, and she would, you know, had a hard time sitting up, and like she couldn't hold her head up. And just like watching her go through that was like, "This is not my kid!"

GUPTA (voice-over): Even though her doctors struggled to understand how this all happened, it was clear, what needed to be done, to save her. A transplant. And within two weeks of Baelyn, first breaking out in hives, remarkably, she had a donor, a 16-year-old, who was a match.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My happiest day is their saddest day. And that's been one of the biggest struggles, for us, I guess, is trying to come to terms with like tragedy is going to happen, whether we need the liver or not.

GUPTA (voice-over): Simply fitting the lobes, from a 16-year-old's liver, into Baelyn, was a challenge. But the seven-hour operation a success.

GUPTA (on camera): How quickly, did her numbers, after the transplant, return to normal? Does it happen immediately?

BHATT: Yes, it happens within days. So, within hours to days.

GUPTA (on camera): How is Baelyn doing now?

K. SCHWAB: She's playing with Play-Doh, and starting to talk a little bit more. And she's asking for food and asking for juice. So, we're slowly getting back to Baelyn. But I'm not very patient.


COATES: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.

Sanjay, that was so difficult, to think about the timespan. Within two weeks of having hives, a little girl has a liver transplant? How is she doing today, Little Baelyn?

GUPTA: Yes, it is a remarkably fast thing. And that's been one of the things, about this outbreak, is that these are mostly healthy kids, sort of average age two, and they can progress very quickly.

She's doing well, Laura. I mean, that's maybe - you saw her at the end there. She's sort of bossing the nurses around, very spirited, young girl. And it's remarkable, how quickly she's recovered.

This operation - this big operation was just about a week ago. So, from that standpoint, she's doing well. But she's got a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs, constant monitoring, and still trying to figure out exactly what happened here.

COATES: And I'm so glad that you inquired about the idea of the correlation between COVID and, of course, other viruses, and trying to rule out, or figure out, what happened, for so many other parents.

GUPTA: Right. COATES: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta, I have to ask you, I mean, this is - a horrible milestone was reached, today. The 1 millionth person, in the U.S., to have died from COVID-19. And what a grim milestone! And one, I think--


COATES: --many people think that COVID seems to be over. But you're talking about the 1 millionth person, today alone.

GUPTA: Sorry.

COATES: Sanjay, I was going to say--

GUPTA: I seem to have lost you there. But--

COATES: Yes. I mean, just the idea of that grim milestone.

GUPTA: Yes, you--

COATES: What do you make of the fact that people think oftentimes that COVID is done? It's not. You still have people dying.

GUPTA: Right.

COATES: And the 1 millionth person today?


GUPTA: I know. It's a - and there's hundreds of people, still dying, every day, Laura. That's the thing. I think, people understandably want to look at this, in the rearview mirror. But it is a grim milestone.

I think what really strikes me the most is that some 700,000 people have died, since the vaccines were first authorized. That's the thing. We know how protective these vaccines can be, against people getting severely ill and dying. And yet, more people have died, since the authorization, because there's still so many people, who haven't gotten that immunity, from these.

COATES: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that in and of itself is grim! Thank you so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COATES: And yet, another surprising story about health and the Pandemic. The question is, did the biggest names, in the meat industry, lie about the threat of supply shortages, just to keep their plants running, no matter the risk to their workers?

We've got a key lawmaker, here, to take us through the findings, up next.



COATES: An outrageous new report, from a congressional committee, reveals just how far the nation's top meat producers, went, to deceive the public skirting COVID restrictions, and putting the country, possibly, at risk.

The investigation finds companies, like Smithfield and Tyson, lobbied the Trump administration, to keep their plants open, through the height of the Pandemic, in 2020.

How? By misrepresenting the health risks to its workers, and warning about a meat shortage that wasn't, it seemed, actually happening. Tyson even took out a full page ad, in several newspapers, calling their company quote, "As essential as healthcare."

Well, by the end of that same year, at least 269 meatpacking workers, would die of COVID, and nearly 60,000 would contract the virus.

Joining me now is Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He is a member of the COVID Select Committee that's issued today's report.

Congressman, I'm glad you're here. I know, there's a lot of focus on the committees, involving January 6. But to me, this is a ginormous story. It's one in which you have to really think about what was at stake and the calculated risks that were taken on behalf of employees of industries that we know, as a nation, we rely on.

But could it really be that we were duped into thinking that there were going to be shortages, as a way, to just keep the plants open?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, it seems that way.

Basically what happened was, the meat industry claimed that there was a shortage of meat, for domestic consumption. But, at the same time, they were saying that, the CEOs of these companies, were saying there was more than enough meat, to export to other countries. And, of course, those two statements can't be reconciled very well.

But you're absolutely right. Meat industry executives also knew that there was a huge risk of outbreaks of infections in their factories.

Secondly, the USDA knew about this as well, and they've turned a blind eye.

And then third, and this is perhaps the most shocking thing, they were able to get the Trump administration, to issue an executive order, to shield them, from any oversight, especially from what industry executives called, pesky local and state health authorities, who were slowly trying to provide more oversight of these outbreaks.

And they were able to get workers, to stay on the job, and to shield themselves, from any liability, associated with worker conditions.

COATES: I think that last part is so important, the idea of anticipating that there would likely be infections, and deaths, and the way to shield from liability. But I do wonder, thinking about the Trump administration, in particular, in any administration, you're going to be relying, on those, who have the expertise, and in whose wheelhouse, these areas fall.

So, was the Trump administration somehow wrong to rely on what was being said? Or was it the actual companies, and corporations, and their legal teams, who misled the Trump administration, into believing that this was an executive order that needed to be actually implemented?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, actually, what they ended up doing was that these industry executives, were able to go to the political appointees, at the Trump administration, in this - in the agency, with jurisdiction, namely the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, and essentially get them to override and sideline the career public health officials, who would otherwise make decisions, about worker safety.

Ironically enough, the Undersecretary for Worker Safety, at the USDA, was precisely the person, who tried to shield these companies, from liability, and oversight, with regard to worker conditions.

COATES: And on the workers' conditions, I mean, we're talking about, in these meatpacking processing plants, the definition, many times, of a super-spreading event. The idea of close proximity--


COATES: --the idea of rates of infection, the transmissibility factors, all there.

I remember, back in April of 2020, when many people were, going out, trying to get as much meat as they could, or things that could freeze, if they had the capacity, to do so, dry goods. Because there was an expectation, much like maybe toilet paper, or Clorox wipes, and the like, and hand sanitizer, it was going to be gone, and then what do you do?

And so, if there really was never going to be a shortage there, I wonder, Congressman, what can be done about it? Because if they've gone to great lengths, to try to shield, from liability, what is the intention now that a congressional committee is going to do something about this?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, we're continuing the investigation. And if there any violations of the law, we're going to refer them, to the proper authorities, to prosecute.


But there's another aspect of this that I wanted to just bring to your attention, which is we've also started a separate investigation, with regard to the prices that have gone up, and up, with regard to meat.

Basically, meat prices have gone up, by double-digits, upwards of 20 percent, in many cases, for most consumers. And yet, although input costs, or the cost of doing business, for these meatpacking companies has gone up somewhat, they have enjoyed net income growth of 500 percent, over the last couple of years.

And so, basically, the bottom line is, they were ignoring worker safety conditions. They were making all these false claims, about a shortage of meat, and so forth, in the pursuit of profits.

And those profits were huge. And it's partly an outgrowth, of their influence, with the Trump administration, but also their market power, given that basically four companies control the vast majority--


KRISHNAMOORTHI: --of the meat processing industry.

COATES: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you. We'll follow this.

We'll be right back.


COATES: Unbelievable!


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