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CNN TONIGHT: FBI Affidavit With More Redacted Parts; Presidents Have No Right To Bring Classified Materials; Mar-a-Lago Search Brought Millions Of Donations To Trump; Loan Forgiveness Program Criticized By Economists; Artemis 1 Flying To The Moon; U.S. With Specific Booster Against Omicron Variant. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 26, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, welcome back to CNN TONIGHT. Don Lemon is off tonight. I'm still Laura Coates.
Who could know that the greatest legal crisis Donald Trump may ultimately face started at his administration was on the way out the door, not the January 6th insurrection, mind you, all the work of the select committee and the DOJ is not done there.
But from the move that will never be forgotten. All those boxes sent to Mar-a-Lago and all those classified documents mixed into boxes. Like the ones movers hauled off these trucks and into his resort compound, nearly a thousand miles from where they were supposed to be as the 45th president returned willingly or not to civilian life.
Scenes like this get a small mention in a 38-page affidavit written by an anonymous FBI agent to make the case to search Trump's Florida home.
Now, the agent's identity I said is anonymous is being kept confidential for their safety, of course, as the bureau, as you know, faces growing threats. But what can we now read among the many redactions shows the much larger, well, indeed grave fears about just how super-secret these documents were supposed to be and how sloppy at best the government appears to believe that they were handled by Trump and his people once the papers got to Mar-a-Lago. Now that's at best.
But the affidavit also warns there is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises.
Our Jessica Schneider has been pouring over the documents and joins me here tonight. I mean, Jessica, Jessica, what are the biggest takeaways from this affidavit? I mean, there's a lot there. We didn't -- it was going to be that much.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And we actually got a lot of new details here. Intricate details, really talking about what they found in these 15 boxes that the National Archives were retrieved back in January. This is separate and a part of course from the search warrant that was served just a few weeks ago on August 8th.
And what's notable here is that 14 of the 15 boxes they retrieved in January contained this classified information and they broke down for us the types of classified information here. So, it's broken down with 184 unique documents bearing the classification markings.
In that, it includes 67 listed as confidential, 92 marked secret, 25 marked top secret. But you know what was particularly alarming to intelligence experts who looked at this is just the markings on some of these documents indicating how highly sensitive and how specifically classified they were.
So, I'm going to run through some of them so our viewers can see these, these markings. First of all, I'll run through the top three. I mean, Orcon this is a document so sensitive that the org -- originator of this document the agency actually has to give permission to get it released.
Then you have HCS. This is particularly alarming for a lot of people knowing that this was at Mar-a-Lago in a secure -- unsecured area. This pertains to human intelligence. Information from these human sources that if anything gets out and is known, they could be in danger. They could be at risk.
Also, NOFORN. This is material that can't even be shared with foreign entities without permission. Foreign entities, even including allies. So it just shows you how highly sensitive these documents were that were in these boxes. And not only that, but the archives talked when they referred this to DOJ, just about how mismanaged these documents were.
These were 15 boxes, not only filled with classified information but all sorts of other things like records and notes.
So, this is what the archives told DOJ when they first referred this. They said that those boxes contain newspapers, magazines, printed news article. Photos, miscellaneous printouts, notes, presidential correspondence, all types of things along with a lot of classified records.
And then they said our most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly identified.
So, really, I mean, quite simply, it was just a big mess with no care taken at all to the highly sensitive information that these boxes contained.
COATES: I mean, the idea of this being treated like it's a junk drawer, right? Where you pull something out, you've got everything flying around and I want to note, one of the words you use, these are unique documents. So, we can just take away that talking point that it's all these pages of one long document. These are separate things thrown together in different ways, really, really stunning. Jessica, I know you just got a hold as well of other feature (Ph). We're going to get you later on in the program as well that were relate to when Trump is supposed to respond to the special master request that he's already made or make that motion. We'll come right back to that as well on this very notion, give a chance to actually get through it in a really good way.
And for a deeper dive analysis, I want to bring in Bradley Moss.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.
COATES: A national security lawyer, John Wood, former U.S. attorney and senior investigator for the January 6th committee, and Phil Mudd, a former CIA counterterrorism official.
Nice to have you all here, gentlemen.
I mean, you just heard Jessica talk about just that alphabet soup and the idea of this being stuffed in different places like it's almost like a junk drawer.
I mean, Phil, when you hear about the classifications, the markings, some at these levels that are supposed to not even go to our allies, let alone just be put with a post-it note somewhere in a box somewhere down in Florida, what is your reaction?
MUDD: There's a couple things, mostly chaos and the chaos of an administration that didn't want to accept the election loss. When I saw the stories about the numbers of boxes, 15 boxes with documents, 14 of those boxes had classified documents. My takeaway was the president didn't want to accept the election results, obviously.
And in the final days of his presidency, someone went around the White House including maybe the old office and said everything from pronounce, as you just heard to other documents, unclassified documents went in the box along with classified stuff.
Total chaos that reflects a transition where the president said, I don't want to go. Then you go to the other end at Mar-a-Lago. And what I learned, one of the things I learned from the report today was how this stuff was stored. I assumed it was in one room that was at least decently secured. That wasn't the takeaway I had from the report today.
Multiple rooms, lack of security. So, the chaos of a transition where the president wanted to deny the election and then the lack of interest, I don't even think there's a strategy here. The lack of interest at Mar-a-Lago saying I just don't care. That's what I take away, Laura.
COATES: I mean, in that, in that notion, Brad, I mean, you are attorney that specialize in security clearance law. I mean, you know, these classifications, like the back of your hand, I'm assuming, and I know is the case.
The fact that this would be so carelessly handled. I mean, first of all, a lot is made about the different levels, the laws that might be implicated the mere possession is likely to be enough in some respects to talk about it. But what would it be like in the average person who would have this sort of, you know, jambalaya of a junk drawer happening? What would be the consequences and what would you view fear for those clients?
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Yes. So, I'll say for a normal individual who's held a security clearance they wouldn't get 18 months to return things. They wouldn't have all these accommodations made for them. Their clearances have been yanked.
Look, Donald Trump never held a security clearance. He never got proper training on how to handle classified documents. The only time he had access when he was -- when he became president and he got told, you can do whatever you want with them. You're the president, you can classify or declassify whatever you want. You can handle them however you want.
So, he never had to care about any of these rules that the rest of us have had to comply with.
COATES: Well, wait, Brad, does that mean then if he was -- he never was ever known and he may have been ignorant to the fact, does that somehow protect him?
MOSS: No. The I'm too dumb to realize how this worked is not going to be a defense for him. And what is critical here and why this became a criminal matter is not just that he took the documents to Mar-a-Lago and they were sitting there. If that's all it was and then he returned it all without a fight there would never have been a criminal matter here. It would've been no harm. No foul.
Why this became a problem was that he had the documents. He got told more than once you can't have them there. He -- they had to keep fighting with him to get it to turnover. And then he started relocating them according to the affidavit, they're finding these documents in his personal residence, in his personal office, he was relocating these records. He could not do that. That's why he's in potential trouble.
COATES: At that point, John, I mean, first of all, some were in his office, they called it the 45 office at Mar-a-Lago. Initially when this all came out that there had been a search, there was a conversation around the idea they've gotten, they've broken different things. They may have a privilege issue. They're looking at everything.
We learned now from the affidavit that there was actually a privilege team, an attorney-client privilege team who was separate from the investigative unit to make sure when they searched the office they could anticipate and hopefully undermine any claims that they were hurting those privilege if there was something there.
But one of the things I'm most curious about it and you have raised this you and I on our conversations, which it's not really -- it's not really addressed in the affidavit is why, what is the motivation? Why did he have him? Why do they think he had them?
I mean, going back and forth in all these ways, why do you still want what they told you can't have.
JOHN WOOD, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY & JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Yes, it's really bizarre. And that is a big question that's not answered in the unredacted parts of the affidavit, but I would love to know whether the FBI has any evidence of why Donald Trump did this in the first place. Was he just being sloppy? Is he a PAC rat or did he want to do something with these documents? And if so, what? It's -- there's really no good explanation for why he would have these documents.
COATES: Phil, when you see this and look at this and again, there's -- and there is -- we have not yet seen the aspect and there's a lot of things that are redacted still. Maybe they are aware or they're following a particular thread. But when you see this, I mean, everyone is focusing on the general umbrella term classification. I'm curious --
COATES: -- as to never having seen Donald Trump during his presidency carry documents around, carry bags, carry suitcases, carry boxes. Do you have questions about who may have been assisting him to get and acquire and maintain this? Is the focus simply on Donald Trump do you think as to why he had them where why he was able to collect and retain.
MUDD: Heck no. My focus is on the people around him. I don't think the president will be prosecuted if you want my bottom line from the Muds university of law, which I wouldn't suggest going to.
I do think that people around him have -- have got to have some good lawyers. Number one, who is the lawyer who signed the document that says there's nothing left here. Did you either not know there were documents there? In other words, you just signed a document and said whatever, or did you know when you lied?
So, there's questions about who covered this up. And then you recollect that the FBI is asked for the videos from Mar-a-Lago who had access and took documents in or out, including especially people who had access who were not cleared.
I think there's a lot of vulnerability for the people around the president, especially people who either lied about knowing whether their documents there or gave people access when people weren't cleared for accents -- access. Really basic questions, Laura.
COATES: You know, one of the acronyms we haven't talked about here tonight, gentlemen, among all the classification is CYA. And I think about that when I think about sources who was able to provide information, what were they concerned with and how did the investigators have their basis for probable cause? What were people afraid of?
Were they people who had a hand who were fearful that they might be accused? There's a lot of questions and I suspect it's under these black lines we'll see.
Bradley Moss, John Wood, Phil Mudd, thank you so much.
I want to go back to Jessica Schneider right now with that new information on another legal front in this investigation. Jessica, what's going on?
SCHNEIDER: So, coming in just moments ago, we finally got that response from the Trump team that had been directed by a district court judge in the Southern District of Florida. Now, remember it was just earlier this week that Trump's team filed in Florida federal court for a special master.
Basically, they hadn't acted in two weeks on anything regarding the search warrant that was served at Mar-a-Lago, but what they did act on two weeks later was that they wanted a special master, a third party appointed to sift through these documents that presumably the FBI has already been sifting through for two plus weeks, and sort of separate some of the materials over concerns of attorney-client privilege, executive privilege.
That was a little muddy because it wasn't even clear that there was even any materials that would've pertained to executive privilege since most of these documents pertain to national defense information classified material.
COATES: Because the theory is if you see it, you can't unwring the bell. I can't be unseen.
SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right.
COATES: So, have a separate team go and prevent it.
SCHNEIDER: Right. So that was what the Trump team wanted. When they filed their initial paperwork though in court the judge was pretty biting and saying that you didn't do this remotely right. She said, first of all, look on the court's web site. It will show you how to properly file this.
She even said, I'm not even sure what you were asking for. Can you give me some of the legal basis for this? Why didn't you file it with the magistrate judge that is dealing with this search warrant?
So, tonight, Trump's team has come back with this filing explaining a bit more to the judge exactly the basis for their request. However, Laura, you're an attorney, I'm an attorney.
I do not practice in the Southern District of Florida. I don't -- I'm not good with motions practice, but I'm pretty sure that this actually does not satisfy what the judge was asking for. This doesn't really cure the deficiencies procedurally that this judge had talked about.
This is still just a motion. Whereas, they should have filed it either in connection with the search warrant or they should have filed something completely different, maybe trying to get an injunction or something to that effect.
This is a lengthy document where they do lay out some of their arguments. I'm still not sure that this is going to do the trick for the judge. One note, however, it was noted that two of the lawyers previously hadn't gone through the right admission procedures in Florida. It does however seem that they -- they corrected that, they've -- they're now admitted in Florida pro hac vice.
COATES: To be able to actually be in front of that court. And for the audience, I mean, thinking about a motion, it's asking the court to moving the court, one thing to move, to do something. And part of the procedural deficiencies before where they were saying, you know, as part of their news release and press release, they were saying these, these documents were violative or the search of the fourth amendment on reasonable search and seizure.
COATES: And normally, you have to say that you want things to be suppressed, or you're only a defendant before that happens.
COATES: Keep looking. We'll have to figure out if it even meets any of the criteria. We'll have to see. Thank you. It was due at midnight. It's here about a couple hours early. Thank you, Jessica.
We're also going to look at what Republicans are saying about this affidavit as Trump considers capitalizing politically on the search by maybe launching a 2024 bid. Is that really next? Well, we'll see, next.
COATES: The redacted affidavit shaking the legal and political world has most of us maybe seeing black. It has Donald Trump maybe seeing red. And President Biden he probably thought he'd seen it all until he heard Trump claim that he declassified all those documents at Mar-a- Lago.
Today, President Biden offered his most expansive comments and mocking ones yet on the topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: President Trump that he declassified all these documents. Could he have just declassified them all?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I just want to know if you classified everything in the world. I'm president, I can do it. Come on.
UNKNOWN: Without a specialized area in which you can view classified documents, is it ever appropriate for a president to bring classified documents home with them?
BIDEN: It depends on the documents and it depends on how secure they bring it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Time to talk about it now with former Democratic Senator Doug Jones, Alice Stewart, who worked for a GOP Senator Ted Cruz, and Ramesh Ponnuru from the National Review.
Let me start with you, Ramesh because you've said before you don't think that he likely should have engaged in this way, President Biden, because frankly, it might inure to the benefit whether you like it or not to Donald Trump.
I want to just point to one thing. Trump has actually raised millions. Millions off of the FBI search and the contributions actually topped a million dollars in the days after the search. And just so at comparison point, they were up from $200,000 a day to $300 -- $300,000 a day and his political committee has raised over a hundred million broadly since he left office.
So, is that part of the reason why you would've thought Biden, shh, this is not for you?
RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think that the more important thing is to restore the norm, which was part of the problem of the Trump administration that it eroded that we don't get the presidents involved in these day-to-day investigations. The things that investigations that are pending.
But there's no question, I think that this has strengthened Trump's hand within the Republican Party. Ever since the raid happened or the search, depending on which term you prefer, it has helped his -- boost his standing within the Republican Party.
COATES: That's a good point. The raid, the search that's part of the talking point, right?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I think I just got another ding from a PAC that wanting more, fundraising money for --
DOUG JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm getting the Democrat, it's OK.
STEWART: But look, I -- look, you got to give President Biden and the administration credit for having plausible deniability on this from the very beginning, claiming and saying, and I believe they didn't know that this raid was going on and that's the good place to be. As the president of the United States when the former president is under such intense scrutiny.
Like, but the key is moving forward to maintain that level of distance. You don't take the bait when reporters ask you about it, you don't answer questions. You don't say I'm going to declassify everything. You just refer every question to the DOJ and the FBI and keep --
COATES: Is it realistic? I mean, I mean, damned if you do, damned if you don't. Right? If he had been quiet, just to be fair, they would've said, I wonder why Biden is not saying anything. There must be something there. I mean, the same reason you hear about talking points. What's redacted, what's underneath the black line.
It reminds you of what that movie "Se7en," what's in the box, what's in the box from Brad Pitt, like what's underneath it, right? That was a horrible impression but it's Friday night. And Brad Pitt can't be done, -- I mean, but Brad Pitt. Doug Jones, what do you think?
JONES: You know, I agree with Alice. I think it would -- it would've really been better for the president not to say anything. He has made such a point. And I think the American people appreciate that. And everybody does. That he is staying away from this. He's not getting involved.
And you know, I've known Joe Biden for a long time and I was an off the cuff and you know, it deep down, he's wanting to say a hell of a lot more about this, but he's doing that. And that just came out. I just, I think it -- you won't see that happen. And not that it's that big a deal, but I totally agree that this is something he should just let go, and let the Department of Justice Do their job and let the chips fall where they're going to fall and let Donald Trump raise money off of it.
Democrats are raising money off of all this stuff too. Make no mistake, it is a political issue for everybody. So, we -- we're -- that's just a world we're living in today. It's unfortunate.
COATES: I mean, it is true that, I mean, this is not just a singular issue of who's able to capitalize off of the news of the day. But when you think about it, now that he has said something, he has said something and we are 70 something days away from the midterm elections.
Trump's not on the ballot in name, of course his shadow and his endorsements are, and his policies in many respects are. But you have Republicans who are not wanting to engage perhaps as well, who are thinking, let me try to distance myself but have a very difficult needle to thread.
I cannot, I mean, the election lies are one thing. Now it's -- I have to agree the FBI search was a problematic raid. Otherwise, I've got problems. JONES: Right?
STEWART: Well, look, a lot of people got way ahead of their skis on this and automatically assume this was an overreach. This was a witch hunt.
STEWART: This was prosecutorial overreach. Now we're seeing more and finding out more and we're seeing maybe not so much. I think --
COATES: You don't have people coming back. They're not changing their tune.
STEWART: There's a lot of Republicans are --
PONNURU: There's a lot of new cycles available.
STEWART: A lot of Republicans are keeping their cards a little closer to the vest these days and not weighing in because they really want to see what is there to be seen. They were a little disappointed with the affidavit that came out today with so much of it being redacted, understanding that the methods and sources need to be protected, but they wish there was a little bit more transparency, a little more answers to come out.
And maybe we'll see this, you know, when we saw the Trump's -- putting out the appeal for the special master. We should get more information out of that.
PONNURU: I think it was -- I think it was fair for Republicans to say that the bar has to have been high and that they needed to have real evidence.
PONNURU: And that they were going to adopt a wait and see posture with that high bar to clear. Obviously, a lot of them felt disincentive to go way further than just saying that.
On the redactions. One thing that's kind of interesting there. That is one of the lines we're hearing from a lot of Republicans, especially Trump's top supporters, but it's interesting as part of this sluggish legal response that Trump's team had. They didn't even really ask for the unsealing of this affidavit.
The most they did was to agree with the Justice Department when, excuse me, the warrant, the original warrant.
PONNURU: That then they've just been sluggish at every stage. JONES: And remember that the redactions are not just the Department
of Justice. Those were suggestions by the Department of Justice. This is the court's redactions.
JONES: This is the independent branch of government that redacted this. At the end of the day, all the DOJ was charged to do and that's all they did, was make suggestions. At the judge's order they made suggestions. And it's the judge who redacted this thing. And I do think that as we go forward, Democrats have to keep talking about this. They have to keep reminding and they keep need to challenge their opponents. What is your position on this now? How has it changed?
And by the way, do you think he -- do you think Donald Trump violated his constitutional duties before, during and after January 6th, and tie all this a little bit together, even though clearly, the one thing that hadn't been talked about very much here, Laura, is that the Florida case seems to be standing on its own. And a really important thing is said that is in his early stages. So, I think that is essentially --
COATES: Not just early, we're in the -- this is a probable cause base.
COATES: And we still don't yet know what is in the documents. We have the categories, but what's in them that's the meat on the bone truly.
Doug Jones, Alice Stewart, Ramesh Ponnuru, thank you so much.
And coming up, you've heard from the left and you've heard from the right on the president's student loan forgiveness plan. But Catherine Rampell joins with an expert look at the numbers and what they mean for all of us taxpayers.
Plus, the rough ride on Wall Street, down more than now a thousand today. We're coming right back.
COATES: There's trouble on Wall Street. The Dow plunging more than a thousand points today after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said he expects continued rate hikes to tame inflation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD: While higher interest rates, slower growth and software labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Joining me now CNN economic commentator, Catherine Rampell. Catherine, when you hear that and know most people hear that some pain, they wonder what does he mean? So, what will this mean for America's pocket books?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: I think what the chair of the Federal Reserve was trying to tell markets was that the Fed is laser-focused, completely committed to getting inflation down, even if it is painful. And the reason why he wants to hammer home that message is that he doesn't want markets to think the Fed will lose its nerve. Right?
If there is a plunge in the stock market, as there was today, the Fed is not going to get spooked and say, maybe we're tightening too quickly. One month of data, which was something else he referenced this morning. One month of relatively good or encouraging inflation data won't be enough to get them to stop their laser-focused on getting inflation down.
And it's really important for them to credibly convince markets that that's what they're doing because otherwise, there is a fear that people will continue to expect high inflation and that, that expectation will become sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, they really want to convince markets that they are tough on this, they're hawkish. And maybe, that in and of itself will mean that they don't have to be quite as tough going forward.
COATES: I got a thing. All people heard was they're going to be some pain. You know, just thinking about the nuance of that as people --
RAMPELL: There may be --
COATES: They hear that there may be some pain, but you know what, some people didn't anticipate it might be a painful reaction by some when it came to student debt relief.
And I want to go there because this has been a big debate around the country, as you well know about student debt and the forgiveness plan laid out by President Biden. And many are hailing it as something that's going to be very beneficial and it'll be great for so many people and it likely will be.
But you argue that, it kind of slow down a little bit. What's your thought?
RAMPELL: Yes. So, my basic thought on this is that there are a lot of Americans who are struggling under the very difficult burden of student loans. They are people, for example, who were defrauded by fly-by-night for-profit universities, or they enrolled in some sort of post-secondary program and they took on debt, but they never got their degree. So, they never got the payoff of that debt. Or they got a degree that is considered basically worthless by the
labor market. They're never going to earn enough to be able to pay back their loans. Those are definitely people we should be helping.
However, the way that this plan is structured involves helping a lot of other people who probably don't need assistance. I'm thinking people like a recently graduated MBA who, the last couple of years didn't have much earnings, but is about to start an investment banking job. That person is going to get 10 grand wiped off of his or her debt.
Somebody who looks like they're relatively modest earners right now. Someone who's like in a plastic surgery residency may be making $60,000, $70,000 but in a couple of years will make $400,000. That person, however, you know, beneficial their work is to the world, however much they might deserve that salary probably doesn't need this same level of help. And so, my --
COATES: Well, on that notion though, on that notion, Catherine, you know, I can hear the retorts coming right now. And the idea of, OK, well, if it's about entitlement and who really deserves to benefit and who might have a windfall, look at corporate America. I mean, all the time they're getting benefits when they don't especially need it compared to the little guy. How do you respond?
RAMPELL: Just because there's a wasteful use of money in one part of government policy doesn't justify in another part of government policy. Look, resources are finite. If we have learned nothing from the last couple of years, it's that the government can't just spend exponentially and we should expect no consequences for the economy, right?
I mean, a tax dollar spent on one thing is a tax dollar that cannot be spent on something else. I know people don't always think that way, but that is how it works in the long run. In the long run this will have to be paid for by someone. It is essentially a transfer to people who went to college by people who didn't go to college.
So, it's a transfer to about 30 million Americans from about 300 million Americans. And again, some of them are really struggling, but not all of them are. And I just wish that this plan were much more targeted than it actually is. And it could have been much less expensive in fact, than it is.
I mean, the ballpark estimates from places like the Penn Wharton budget model are about 600 billion if there's no behavioral change, and possibly a trillion dollars if people end up taking on more debt, as they're likely to do because of the way this plan is structured.
COATES: Well, we will see what the impacts will be. The arguments on both sides are coming in, but remember, obviously, even debt holders are also taxpayers. Catherine Rampell, thank you so much.
RAMPELL: Thank you. COATES: Well, NASA is getting ready to party like it's 1969. Sorry
about that. But it is kind of funny. The space agency is about to launch its first flight to the moon in decades. And the excitement is building. I'll talk with a retired astronaut about the new era for space travel and the prospect of humans going back up there, next.
COATES: The countdown is on. This is what NASA's massive Artemis rocket on the launchpad right now looks like at the Kennedy Space Center. Ready to blast off towards the moon this coming Monday. The unmanned test mission is the one giant leap for NASA's plan to put Americans back on the moon for the first time in half a century.
And joining me now to discuss, retired NASA astronaut, Leland Melvin. So nice to see you. I'm glad you're here. What an exciting time for so many people, can you just put this into perspective, Leland, what this might mean,
LELAND MELVIN, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Laura, thanks for letting me come on and talk about this really incredible historical moment, because the last time that someone walked in a moon was in 1972, December 14th, Gene Cernan.
And now we're going back to the moon launching 8.8 million pounds of thrust, the largest rocket ever made going around the moon for 42 days. And we're going to have Artemis 1, which is a first uncrewed test mission. Artemis 2 and Artemis 3, which is going to get maybe the first person of color and the first woman walking on the Martian surface one day.
So, this is really something that I think all kids and from all zip codes can think about themselves being part of this Artemis generation.
COATES: It's amazing. And just for the record, audience, even though we have matching colors on, I am not the black woman who might be on the moon at all someday, but tell me a little bit --
MELVIN: You never know, you never know, Laura.
COATES: Well, you know, are you asking? I might do it. I don't know. I trained enough to do it, but you know what. I wonder for people, how, why is this so important? Why is it that this is such a critical part of our general exploration, and why has it taken so long to get to where we are now since the last time someone was on the moon?
MELVIN: You know, that's a good question. It's so important because we as human beings in our DNA we are wired to be explorers. When we're little kids we look at the night sky and we say, what's up there. We have this curiosity. And I think as we continue to explore past our home planet, it helps us take care of our home planet. We come up with new technologies, we're looking at ways to mitigate radiation. And that radiation could, you know, come down on our planet one day if, you know, things go awry with climate change and other things. And so, it's a way that we can take care of our home planet by continuing to explore off the planet.
It's taken so long really because, you know, there was a war in Vietnam that's going on, so we shut down that program but then we kicked up the, you know, the program with sending people to the International Space Station to do research up there. And we're continuing that probably until 2030, but exploration is passed in our home planet to the moon. And then maybe one day to the Mars. And living and working on another planet.
And we've seen these images from the James Webb Space Telescope for trying to understand, you know, what happened to that Big Bang 13 billion years ago, you know, what was that, what was that like? And so, the more we explore the more we learn about ourselves. And I think that's critically important.
COATES: Well, Leland, the way you describe it, it makes me so excited to think about it. I mean, the charisma, it's what we all think about in terms of what is up there and what will we find out about this? And you know, every person young at heart and somebody who's not just thinking about all the different ways of what it could mean.
I mean, just thinking about those images we've seen from the web telescope versus this, are we expecting to have a sort of a turnaround and what we might learn? Is there a timeline for what we might be able to glean from these journeys?
MELVIN: Definitely, Laura. You know, when you -- when you go past your comfort zone, you find ways to solve problems that you would've probably never have figured out if you didn't go past that comfort zone.
So, living and working on another celestial body the moon, say, you have to figure out how to build a habitat. You have to figure out how to harvest water from the lunar soil. How do you keep yourself warm and how do you keep yourself cool. All these things we have to solve.
We have these mannequins on the vehicle that are, you know, learning how to mitigate radiation. They're -- they have sensors that outfit it. And so, we test with dummies first and then we send, you know, our astronauts have to solve some of these other problems.
And so, I think that's the critical part of, and getting your kids excited. Think about that. I mean, you might have one of your little ones saying, hey, mommy, I'm going to go to the moon one day or I'm going to Mars one day.
And to light that curiosity in our children, all of our children to say that this is mission possible for them. I think that's another critical piece of what we do when we explore. COATES: That's so important. Although if my kids don't start making
up their beds, I might send them to the moon regardless of what happens next. I'm tell you that right now after watching, you know what I'm talking about.
But it is so important. It's important to see you in the position that you're in to be able to be that really ambassador of the exploration for people to really see it and to get excited in what we're seeing. I mean, this is really exploration in real time, and I'm so excited of this coming Monday.
Are you going to be watching? Where are you going to be? What's your watch party going to be like?
MELVIN: I'm going to be talking to some -- another person like yourself during that 7.30 to 2.30 hours. So, I will be a talking head like this. But I'm going to be so excited when this thing lifts off because I'm going to think about, you know, maybe one day I may get another chance. Maybe we'll go together. You know, we've been our blue suits and we'll hand off to the moon maybe one day.
COATES: I mean, I'll do it. I like astronaut ice cream. I'll do the whole thing. Former astronaut Leland Melvin, thank you so much. A pleasure to speak with you in particular.
MELVIN: Likewise, Laura. Thank you.
COATES: And we'll go from a rocket to a booster. The next COVID booster that is, could be days away from authorization. Will it do anything to curb the rebound cases we're seeing and, how effects -- effective is Paxlovid? Paxlovid, excuse me. We'll get insight next.
COATES: In a matter of days, a coronavirus booster targeting the Omicron variant could be authorized for Americans within days. The FDA says the decision is expected next week. So, what does this mean for you?
Let's talk about with epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm. He's also the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Osterholm, thank you for being here.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICIES: Thank you.
COATES: Tell me how much protection will this give people.
OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, we have to understand that there's a big difference between having a vaccine and a vaccination. And so, it should be obvious to everyone, but right now, the highest risk for having serious illness and dying is actually in those over age 65, second those 50 to 64.
And yet, in those two age groups, only about 25 percent of those over 65 have received two booster doses to date. Only 11 percent of those 50 to 64. So, this new vaccine, which surely can be helpful is not going to do much. If we can't get the rate of vaccination increased substantially. And that's been a big challenge.
COATES: Tell me about Paxlovid. We're hearing a lot more about it and the idea of rebound cases.
COATES: What is the correlation?
OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, this, we really have, I think, not fully understood the role that Paxlovid plays because all we talked about is if you have taken Paxlovid, do you have a rebound or do you get in a sense, a second set of symptoms some days after appearing to recover.
Well, you're right. It is happening. But there's been two recent studies that actually show that about 30 percent of people who don't ever take Paxlovid also have rebounds, meaning that they have that same clinical picture. So, to say that Paxlovid is causing that I think is a real stretch right now.
And we do know that Paxlovid can be very effective in those particularly over age 65 in keeping you out of the hospital, keeping you from getting serious illness and dying. So, it's really important that we do continue to recommend Paxlovid and don't be distracted by this rebound issue because in fact, it may not even be part of the Paxlovid picture.
COATES: It could be incidental in some way. Fascinating to think about that. Finally, I have to ask you, as many parents are having their kids go back to school and some already have, there was an elementary student in Georgia who tested positive for monkeypox. And I'm wondering this is traditionally impacting adults. How concerned should parents be, and really the general population of people be?
OSTERHOLM: The cases of monkeypox will continue to be primarily occurring among men who have sex with men with multiple partners, anonymous partners. Occasionally, rarely we'll see contact occurring between someone's arms and a child or bedsheets or a towel where you may have transmission, but it'll be very, very rare. And I actually think within the next several weeks you're going to see a major reduction in monkeypox even here in the United States among all groups, including men who have sex with men.
COATES: I certainly hope so for the effect of everyone thinking about all of the different things that are happening right now. And it's important to think about how what's ahead, we're going into obviously another fall season, flu season, discussions about flu shots, as you said so eloquently at the very beginning. The difference between having a vaccine, and vaccination things are only as good as if you're actually taking them. And of course, following along the science.
Dr. Osterholm, thank you so much.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you. Thank you, Laura.
COATES: And hey, everyone, thank you for watching. I want you to stay tuned for Never Again. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum tour with Wolf Blitzer. That's next here on CNN.