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Barr Says, Trump Was Detached From Reality With Fraud Claims; Senate Pushing For Final Gun Reform Bill As Soon As Possible; Ukraine Says, High-Intensity Hostilities In Key Eastern City; FDA Review: Moderna & Pfizer Vaccines Safe, Effective In Young Kids; Dow Plunges 876 Points On Fears Of Interest Rate Hike. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 13, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, damning new testimony in the January 6th hearings. Former Attorney General Bill Barr emerging as a star witness against the former president, revealing he feared Trump was, quote, detached from reality, as he pushed bogus claims of election fraud. I'll talk to a key member of the select committee this hour.
Also tonight, after yet another weekend of mass shootings and nationwide protests, senators are now racing to firm up a new bipartisan framework on gun reform. Top Democrats say they're trying to seize the momentum and hammer out a bill as soon as possible, with ten Republicans now onboard.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with a new evidence that then-President Trump was repeatedly told by some top officials and closest advisers that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen. The January 6th investigators say he didn't care.
Our Ryan Nobles has all the top lines from today's hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a lie that began on election night.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.
NOBLES: Donald Trump's false claim that he won the 2020 election before all the votes were counted, a lie he continues to peddle, one that some of his closest advisers told the January 6th committee they didn't believe, like his attorney general.
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: He's become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.
NOBLES: His campaign manager.
BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I didn't think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time. So, yes, that led to me stepping away.
NOBLES: And several top campaign lawyers.
ALEX CANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I remember telling him that I didn't believe the Dominion allegations.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: What they were proposing, I thought, was nuts. The theory was also completely nuts.
NOBLES: Trump's insistence that he won the election despite a wide range of evidence to the contrary is at the core of the committee's argument that he purposefully and potentially criminally worked to prevent the certification of the election results.
TRUMP: Thousands of votes are gathered and they're coming and they're dumped in a location, and then all of a sudden you lose elections that you think you're going to win.
NOBLES: A conspiracy that ultimately led to his supporters storming the Capitol on January 6th.
BARR: I told him that the stuff that his people were shuttling out to the public was bullshit, I mean, that the claims of fraud were bullshit, that all the early claims that I understood were completely bogus and silly.
NOBLES: Former Attorney General Bill Barr telling the committee that he made it clear to Trump the Department of Justice would not help investigate claims of fraud that were not based in fact.
BARR: The department doesn't take sides in elections. And the department is not an extension of your legal team.
NOBLES: And at one point, people like Mark Meadows and Jared Kushner claimed they were close to getting Trump to understand he lost.
BARR: He said, look, I think that he's becoming more realistic and knows that there's a limit to how far he can take this. And then Jared said, you know, yes, we're working on this. We're working on it.
NOBLES: Bill Stepien, Trump's former campaign manager, was expected to appear live, but after his wife went into labor, he bowed out. The committee playing excerpts from his explosive deposition instead with him detailing election night in the White House.
STEPIEN: It was far too early to be making any calls like that. Ballots, ballots were still being counted. Ballots were still going to be counted for days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did anybody who was a part of that conversation disagree with your message?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is that?
STEPIEN: The president disagreed with that.
NOBLES: The result was a methodical rejection of Trump's claims of fraud delivered by his campaign and White House advisers. Respected professionals who said Trump stopped talking to them.
STEPIEN: There were two groups. We called them kind of my team and Rudy's team. I didn't mind being characterized as being part of team normal.
NOBLES: And instead, trusting people like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who several Trump aides claimed was dispensing advice on election night while intoxicated, a claim his attorney denies.
STEPIEN: A few of us gathered in a room off the map room to listen to whatever Rudy presumably wanted to say to the president.
JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: And the mayor was definitely intoxicated but I do not know that his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for example.
NOBLES: Theories that to this day Giuliani has not backed away from.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: They saw a big truck bringing in 100,000 ballots in garbage cans, in waste paper baskets, in cardboard boxes and in shopping baskets. And every single one of them was for Biden.
NOBLES: The committee taking the last part of Monday's hearing to draw a line between Trump's big lie and his fundraising.
AMANDA WICK, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATOR: The claims that the election was stolen were so successful, President Trump and his allies raised $250 million.
NOBLES: The committee finding donors were told the money would be used to fight voter fraud, fraud that didn't exist, the last email sent to donors a half hour before the Capitol was breached.
NOBLES (on camera): And today was the second stage of a seven-stage presentation where the committee hopes to show that Donald Trump was at the center of a conspiracy to prevent the certification of the election results and the peaceful transfer of power. The next stage will be on Wednesday, and that's where they hope to uncover the effort that Trump had to install a puppet attorney general at the Department of Justice with the specific goal of investigating these thin claims of fraud, which, as was demonstrated today, Wolf, even his closest campaign advisers just thought did not exist. Wolf?
BLITZER: Ryan Nobles reporting for us. Ryan, thank you very, very much.
Let's break down the explosive new testimony and evidence with CNN's Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip.
Jamie, let's talk a little bit about the former attorney general of the United States, Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr. How stunning was it to hear what he had to say?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: He was the star witness, and it was a very bad day for Donald Trump. Because while you heard, as Ryan reported, all of these people from Trump's inner circle saying that there was no election fraud and they had repeatedly told that to him, there was no one more blunt or colorful than Bill Barr. Here are some of the quotes, Wolf. He called it bogus, silly, rubbish, idiotic, crazy, and, quote, bullshit. He said that twice.
The committee had -- they knew what they were doing today with Bill Barr's videotaped testimony. It was very, very effective and maybe most effective because here we are at 6:07, and we have not heard word one from Donald Trump yet.
BLITZER: I suspect we will be hearing from him at some point one way or another.
Abby, what impact does it have to hear all these statements coming from Trump's inner, inner circle, including some family members?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think with the exception of the one person who was a journalist, the former Fox political director, every person that the committee has used to make this case against the big lie has been a Republican, has been someone -- for the most part, almost all of them, someone who worked for Donald Trump himself. They are dismantling the big lie from the inside.
These are all people who actually helped Trump perpetrate the lie in many ways, by not saying anything publicly. Bill Barr resigned from the administration because of this but didn't say anything about it until he wrote his book.
So, these are people who actually, in some ways, tried to protect Trump from being exposed for what this lie was, but they are revealing the inner workings of this White House, of his campaign, where there were clear warnings repeatedly to Trump that all of this stuff was completely baseless.
BLITZER: Yes. Let me bring in our Laura Coates for some analysis as well. Laura, were you surprised to hear the sheer number of people who actually told Trump all of his election fraud claims were false?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I was a little bit stunned to see just the volume of people who were telling him, because, of course, we have been talking about it called the big lie. We didn't realize the magnitude and the scope of the big lie. Because so many people were alerting the president of the United States that, in fact, it was not truthful.
Now, there's a difference, as you well know, between believing something and wanting it to be true. And what they laid out today and over the course of these two hearings has been that distinction of what people were telling him he wanted to be true, looking for an army of yes men to say, hey, here is the self-fulfilling prophecy that I would like to actually come true.
And it turns out that not only his top advisers, the top law enforcement officer of the land, Bill Barr, his campaign lawyers, his campaign members, those within the White House, those in his orbit were all saying this is not true, which means that you have to look towards whether he was fraudulent and deceptive and knowingly trying to obstruct an official act of Congress by trying to plant these little seeds of doubt, such that others would become an army of yes men for president of the United States.
It's very foreboding and we're just getting started. This is only day two, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Jamie, it seems like almost everyone around Trump knew and agreed based on their sworn statements in the depositions that Trump lost the election, but Trump was refusing to listen to them, refusing to accept that. Instead, he was relying heavily on Rudy Giuliani, for example. During the sworn statements, the depositions, several of these individuals were saying Giuliani was drunk.
GANGEL: Bill Barr said at one point that, and I think Jeff Rosen did in testimony, that even when they spoke to Trump, he didn't push back, but he just didn't want to know the facts. So, what did he do? He went with Rudy, he went with Jenna Ellis, he went with Sidney Powell, because they told him what he wanted to hear. He didn't want to give up. But as Bill Barr called those lawyers, quote, the clown car.
The thing that will happen now is what does this mean? He was told repeatedly there was no fraud. I'm told the committee, the next place they're taking it is he was told that if he continued down this road, there could be violence and that leads to January 6th.
BLITZER: Abby, is the committee trying to build a legal case potentially against Trump by following the so-called money trail?
PHILLIP: I think that they're trying to collect all the evidence, put it out in the public sphere, and we know that they are planning to turn over what they have to the Justice Department. The committee members, including Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who was here earlier, they're being very careful to say, we don't know what the criminality element of all this is, but there is certainly a grift element of it, where people were making money off this lie, the Trump family and those connected to him. And I do think that there is, especially for the individuals who we now know are knowingly perpetrating the big lie in part through their silence but also by -- you know, we have got the campaign manager of the Trump campaign who is ultimately responsible for what goes out, these emails, dozens of them, hundreds of them going out, collecting money from unsuspecting followers on this lie. Is that criminal? I think that's a big question going down the road.
BLITZER: Let me get some legal analysis from Laura. How likely is it, Laura, that any of this is going to result in criminal charges against Trump?
COATES: Well, it's looking increasingly likely given that they're trying to methodically lay out a case to really talk to the DOJ. But, remember, their audience is not just a criminal jury or a jury of Merrick Garland but also of the electorate. Part of what they have made very clear is that they are hoping people understand about the ongoing threat, of a threat to our democracy and perhaps not a republic we can keep. They're laying out that particular case.
Remember day one. They spoke about the idea of having cooperating witnesses that the DOJ had. So, they may actually have their own independent investigation that we may not yet know about that's wholly independent of whatever this committee puts forth for the American people.
BLITZER: Laura Coates, thank you. Jamie Gangel, Abby Phillip, thanks to you as well.
Important note, Laura will have more on the hearings when she anchors CNN Tonight later tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern.
Just ahead, the select committee says it has evidence that Trump and his family personally benefitted from phony claims of election fraud, including Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle. We'll break it down with a key member of the committee. That's next.
BLITZER: More now on our top story, the January 6th select committee laying out extensive evidence former President Trump was repeatedly told by some of his closest advisers that his claims of election fraud were bogus.
Let's discuss with a key member of the committee, Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.
Your committee today presented witness after witness who totally debunked former President Trump's election lies and conspiracies to his face. What do you believe that says about Trump's culpability?
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): What you saw was people in Trump's inner circle, his campaign managers, his lawyers, all telling him that he had lost the election and that there wasn't a path for there to be a different outcome. And yet, still, he went to the American people, he went to his supporters and sold them a big lie. He said that he hadn't lost, that there was fraud, that there was a way for him to still turn the outcome around. But he knew that that wasn't true.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, your colleague, calls these election lies a grift and says Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee, was paid $60,000 to speak at the January 6th rally. How widespread was this in Trump's orbit and was it illegal?
MURPHY: Well, as you saw in the hearing, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, his foundation also received money, the Trump Hotel collection also received money. The real point of the matter is that he sold his supporters a lie in order to get money from them and then used it for a purpose other than his own election, or advocating to make changes to the election. Basically, Trump supporters were economically and emotionally swindled.
BLITZER: The attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, says he and other prosecutors are closely following your committee's hearings. When will the Justice Department and the public, for that matter, see the full transcripts of all these taped witness interviews?
MURPHY: We will be releasing some of the depositions as the chairman has announced in the committee along with the hearings as we go along. Then I imagine sometime this fall, we'll have a complete report completed with legislative recommendations as well as the full set of findings. What we're seeing in these hearings is just part of the entire story.
BLITZER: There's a lot more to come, I'm sure. These upcoming hearings, I understand, will focus on the Trump pressure campaign on the U.S. Justice Department and on former Vice President Mike Pence. What can we expect, Congresswoman?
MURPHY: Having been told by his campaign staff as well as his lawyers that he had lost the race, he got increasingly desperate and began to pressure people at a lot of different levels to see if he could get them in on the con. And so we will be laying out much as we have in previous hearings with first person testimonies or depositions or text message and data we have collected the narrative of what happened in all of those efforts to pressure people into doing something that wasn't right.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, thank you so much for joining us.
MURPHY: Great to be with you.
BLITZER: Coming up, amid growing outrage over mass shootings, will Congress finally turn a new tentative agreement on gun reform into law? We'll have the latest on the talks and the timing when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Tonight, the Senate is hammering out details on what could, could become the first major gun reform law here in the U.S. in more than 25 years.
Let's get an update from CNN's Lauren Fox. She's up on Capitol Hill. Lauren, walk us through this framework deal and the ten Republicans who are tentatively onboard.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Wolf, a big caveat here tonight, of course, is the fact that lawmakers are just getting back into town so we're getting a better sense of exactly where that support stands. Many lawmakers telling us that they need to take a closer look at the details. But this framework includes several changes in the country's gun laws, more money for mental health services, more money for school security as well as incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws.
There's also a change in the way that there would be a more rigorous review for people between the ages of 18 and 21 who go to buy a gun like an AR-15. This framework also makes a substantial change in that it closes the so-called boyfriend loophole. That would mean that people who are convicted of domestic violence offenses, even if they don't live with their partner, Wolf, they would not be able to go and purchase a weapon.
Of course, there's a lot of details to be filled in here. Aides on both sides telling me that, yes, tentatively, folks are optimistic about where things stand but a lot of questions remain.
BLITZER: We certainly do. What kind of pressure are these ten Republican senators now facing?
FOX: Well, that's exactly why there's a huge question mark about whether or not this support is going to stay firm. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, who is leading these negotiations, he said those ten Republicans, that support is rock solid, but, again, a lot of details remain to be written.
And you saw a blast today from Gun Owners of America, that's a conservative group a little bit more to the right than even the National Rifle Association, and they were urging their supporters to call senators' offices, to call those ten senators and make it clear they do not support this legislation. Their argument, that if you kick just one of those Republicans off the list of supporters for a framework or bill like this, you could filibuster this piece of legislation. You could essentially block it in the U.S. Senate.
So, it's a huge question of how quickly they can move right now. Senator John Cornyn, again, the leader of this group, saying that his hope is to write this legislation this week and be able to put it on the floor next week for a vote. Wolf?
BLITZER: Let's see if they can do that. All right, Lauren, thank you very much, Lauren Fox up on Capitol Hill.
Let's discuss this with two guests, Nicole Hockley, the co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. We're also joined by Dave Cullen, he's the author of the book, Parkland, the Birth of a Movement.
Nicole, I know and I'm so sad to have to tell our viewers you lost your six-year-old son Dylan in the Sandy Hook shooting. Does this deal based on what you have heard go far enough?
NICOLE HOCKLEY, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, SANDY HOOK PROMISE FOUNDATION: Well, you know, it's going to go too far for some people and not far enough for others. What I'm focused on is that this is the biggest progress we have had in over 25 years. And anything that takes measures to save lives and start to look after the people, I am all for that.
BLITZER: Dave, I know you have been covering these mass shootings here in the United States for decades. Do you see specifics in this proposed deal that will meaningfully reduce gun violence in the United States?
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, PARKLAND: BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT: I think it will reduce some. You know, the word -- it's a tough word, meaningful. It will have an impact on some, save some lives. It doesn't go nearly far enough. It's not sort of like the biggest ticket items.
I think The New York Times really, their analysis today hit it just right.
It said that it's a lot less than Democrats were hoping for or pushed for or passed in the House, but more than they expected. It is more than I expected, frankly, and not nearly enough.
I think the big thing here, the big question will be, is it a first step? And what the gun safety side needs desperately is some momentum. I was talking to a major pollster for the gun safety side last night who said the despair and the feeling -- after these things has really helped back. So they need a win, and this may help.
BLITZER: Nicole, Congress, as you well know, failed to act after Sandy Hook. What's your message to the senators now who can make or break this proposed deal?
HOCKLEY: Well, my message to all of the senators is definitely support this. Agree the detail, get this to a vote, and I would like to see more than ten Republican senators sign on to this. I think it's important. I think everyone sees the writing on the wall here. The American people are not prepared to let this violence continue. And I do believe this is a first step and I think this is how our Congress can show they can work together and put constituents' lives ahead of their political careers.
BLITZER: Dave, it's not just the latest mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. Just look at the wave of shootings over this past weekend here in the U.S. Has the seemingly never ending daily gun violence in America created the conditions for Congress actually to do something? What do you think?
CULLEN: I think it may have. You know, I have been researching a very big magazine piece about the history of this movement and where it sort of faltered and had difficulty. And there's been a big change in the polling over the last ten years, which is that most Americans have been very frustrated with things like background checks in the '90s, most of these measures passing in the '70s, '80s, and '90s (INAUDIBLE).
And about ten years ago, the focus group and a lot of work they were doing showed people were sad and depressed about it. Actually, it really changed to anger in the last three to five years. And anger has also become focused where people typically, ten years ago, were holding the NRA responsible and they felt like they're the villains here, they're the ones standing in the way of what most of America wants.
In the last ten years, that's changed dramatically, that people are also seeing their legislators, especially Congress, becoming the villains, as like they're the ones not doing anything. And I think that's why you'll see something.
I really was interested -- I thought it was interesting that Susan Collins, her quote in The Times today, was she went back to her district, or her state in Maine, which is, you know, pretty middle of the road state when they elected her. They keep electing her and everyone is saying that we have to do something, people on both sides, even gun owners. It's a very big gun owning state, we have to do something.
And I think some Republicans who have been for 50 years or however long their career, just like we're not giving an inch on anything, are hearing from their constituents that that's not going to fly anymore, that they want to do something and holding them responsible.
So, I think that's why you're seeing some of the push, some of the Republicans realizing it's no longer a safe vote for them to vote (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: It's a dramatic moment indeed. Dave Cullen and Nicole Hockley , thanks to both of you for joining us. Let's see what happens down the road.
Just ahead, we'll an update from the war zone in Ukraine where President Zelenskyy now says the battle for the Donbas region is one of the most brutal in all of Europe.
BLITZER: Tonight, Ukraine says it's fighting to repel Russian troops in the key city of Severodonetsk, where high intensity hostilities are now under way.
Our Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is joining us from the war zone. Ben, President Zelenskyy is calling the battle for Eastern Ukraine, and I'm quoting him now, one of the most brutal in Europe. Give us the latest.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a pretty fair description, Wolf. He also -- President Zelenskyy also said that the Ukrainians are facing or having to confront Russia's significant advantage when it comes to artillery. In fact, that advantage is about 15 to 1, according to some estimates.
And, in fact, this afternoon, we were speaking with a Ukrainian commander who said that the artillery barrages the Russians are conducting in the area of Severodonetsks are reminiscent of what we saw in World War II.
Now, as far as the situation in Severodonetsk goes, where we're really seeing that intense artillery bombardment, there were three bridges going from Ukrainian-controlled territory into Severodonetsk. One was destroyed a few weeks ago. One was destroyed over the weekend. There's only one bridge left. That bridge is severely destroyed and can be hit or is often hit by Russian artillery. And there are also Russian snipers there.
So, it's now very difficult for the Ukrainian army to send in reinforcements to the perhaps 20 percent of the city they still control, as well as supplies and equally, it's just as difficult for several hundred civilians still left in that city to leave.
Now, today, we were present during an exercise by the Ukrainian military using newly supplied U.S. small arms. Now, the soldiers we spoke to said they're very appreciative to get these very new weapons, but they said yet again, stressing yet again that what they really need is long-range artillery, which, of course, they don't have.
BLITZER: Not yet. We'll see if they get it. CNN's Ben Wedeman, thank you very, very much. Stay safe over there in the war zone.
Turning now to the Kremlin's latest efforts to try to justify this conflict to the Russian public, our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen has more from Moscow.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A display of patriotism on Russia Day. Russian President Vladimir Putin handing out medals just days after he likened himself to Peter the Great, claiming like Czar Peter 300 years ago, in Ukraine, Russia is taking back land that is rightfully Russia's.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: He went there to take it back and strengthen it. That's what he was doing. Well, it seems it has also fallen to us to take back and strengthen territories. And if we take these basic values as fundamental to our existence, we will prevail in solving the issues we are facing.
PLEITGEN: After stating at the start of the war that Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine, Kremlin T.V. now is amplifying the new slogan, taking back and strengthening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all need to explain to the Ukrainians that we are not playing. We, as our president said, are taking back what's supposed to be ours and strengthening it.
PLEITGEN: Take back and strengthen, those words also start the show of the man known as Putin's chief propagandist, then showing images of people in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine receiving Russian passports and pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine's Donbas region firing at Ukrainian forces with a clear message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this is Russian territory, Russian land. They had been separating us for centuries. But the center of Ukraine and the southeast, those are all Russian people.
PLEITGEN: At the same time, the Russians are making clear the current sanctions won't make them change course. The country's economy has stabilized and this weekend, a Russian company reopened several restaurants formerly owned by McDonald's, under the new brand name, Tasty, and That's It.
Some at the grand opening wearing Z embroidered clothes, the symbol of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as they ate American-style fast food.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Food and politics have nothing in common. Like, come on, man, keep things separate.
PLEITGEN: A big run on burgers in Moscow while the war in Ukraine drags on, and Vladimir Putin is far from finished with what he sees as his mission.
PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Wolf, some of the U.S.'s northern and northeastern NATO allies very concerned about some of the things that they're hearing there from the Kremlin. Certainly, if you look at Estonia, for instance, they have a significant ethnic Russian population. Lithuania, there's currently a motion in Russian parliament by one parliamentarian to essentially try and get rid of the independence of Lithuania or Russia recognizing that independence. And then Finland, which, of course, is looking to join NATO, they also have a very large ethnic Russian population and seems as though Vladimir Putin was saying, any lands that the Russians consider to have been Russian at some point are up for grabs. So, certainly, one of the things that are being asked is where does Vladimir Putin plan to stop. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, it's so, so disturbing. Fred Pleitgen reporting from Moscow, thank you very much. Coming up, are America's youngest children finally, finally on the verge of getting COVID vaccines? We have new data on the Pfizer and Moderna COVID shots. We'll share that with you right after the break.
BLITZER: Very important news tonight on the COVID vaccine front. An FDA review found the shots from Moderna and Pfizer are both, both safe and effective in the youngest children.
Let's get reaction from CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
Dr. Wen, thanks for joining us.
Walk us through what exactly this new data shows.
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, wolf, this is monumental for parents like me, parents of young children who have been waiting. It's been a year and a half since adults have first been able to get the COVID vaccine. It's really important that the independent FDA analysis found that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective.
So, let's go through the data. The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose vaccine. It is one-tenth of the adult dose and there are three doses. The first two doses are given three weeks apart. The third dose is given about eight weeks after the first two.
And they found that these three doses are about 80 percent effective in this younger age group. The Moderna vaccine is a little bit less effective, between 37 percent to 51 percent effective against protecting against symptomatic infection, but it's a two-dose vaccine, that's about a quarter of the dose of the adult dose, and they're given four weeks apart.
So, the good news, the takeaway from all this is both seem to be safe and very effective and I am very optimistic about the FDA and CDC reviews of these data this week. I hope they will find that both of these vaccines will be authorized and recommended, which means we could see shots going into arms as early as next week.
BLITZER: As early as next week. That's pretty impressive.
If health officials give the green light to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for this youngest age group, kids under 5, how should parents decide which vaccine to go with?
WEN: Well, I think a lot of parents are going to choose based on convenience, as in parents trust their pediatrician, whichever vaccine the pediatrician's office has is probably the one they're going to go with.
[18:50:12] Some other parents might say, well, the Pfizer vaccine based on this preliminary analysis looks like it's more effectiveness overall, so may be they'll choose that. But other parents might say, well, I don't want to wait the additional month to see get the third dose, I'd rather go with the two doses of Moderna vaccine, because at least you'll have more effective protection sooner, they might go with the Moderna vaccine.
In either case, I'm really thrilled to have the option for parents. Hopefully, both the FDA and CDC will sign off and I really trust they will go through a really thorough, deliberate regulatory process and I know I will be eager to get both of my kids vaccinated as soon as possible.
BLITZER: So what's your bottom line message to parents who are hesitant?
WEN: I would say look at the vaccines and the track record thus far for all the other age groups. They are safe and so effective.
I would also say that yes, it's true, it's rare that children will become severely ill but if it's up to me, I want to reduce the chance of something awful and rare to as low as possible and that's why I'm so eager to get my kids the optimal protection that so many other people, all the people over age five have been able to enjoy.
BLITZER: Dr. Leana Wen, always providing excellent advice, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
We're also following right now some bad economic news here in the United States, Dow Jones plunging nearly 900 points today on fears that soaring inflation could soon prompt the Federal Reserve to drastically raise interest rates. Record gasoline prices are a major reason behind the surging costs for consumers. The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. now stands at more than $5.
Just ahead, an alleged white nationalist plot disrupted in Idaho after police arrest 31 people who they say had plan to see riot at a pride parade.
BLITZER: Authorities in Idaho say they've disrupted a white nationalist plot to riot at a pride parade.
CNN's Brian Todd is tracking the story for us.
Brian, more than, what, two dozen people affiliated with the so-called Patriot Front extremist group have now been arrested. Give us the latest.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this occurred in the city of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The police chief there just said that law enforcement has executed a search warrant on a U-Haul and other vehicles that were seized during the arrest of these men, who the chief says at a minimum, were about to spark mayhem when they were caught.
TODD (voice-over): Kneeling, zip tied and arrest, 31 men who authorities believe are linked to a white nationalist group who plotted to riot at a pride event on Saturday in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The men, all wearing similar clothing -- masks, blue shirts, khakis and ball caps and police say all affiliated with the same group called Patriot Front.
CHIEF LEE WHITE, COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO, POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have never seen that type of activity in this area in my eight years working for this police department.
TODD: Coeur D'Alene Police Chief Lee White says it was a 911 caller that tipped police off on Saturday, that they saw about 20 people piling into a U-Haul at a hotel, people who the caller said, quote, looked like a little army. The chief says they were equipped with at least one smoke grenade, plus shields, shin guards and other riot gear, and paper work with an operational plan.
The chief says he and his force were surprised with the level of preparation.
WHITE: It was very clear to us immediately, it was a riotous group that had prepared in advance to come downtown and disrupt either the pride event or the prayer in the park event, or just riot downtown in Sherman, we didn't know at that point but it was clear to all of us, there was ill intent there.
TODD: The Anti-Defamation League which tracks Patriot Front says the group's leader, Thomas Ryan Rousseau who is among those arrested in Coeur D'Alene on Saturday, had led people from Texas as part of the white supremacist group Vanguard America at the violent United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The ADL says after Charlottesville, Thomas Rousseau led a group which broke off from Vanguard America and created Patriot Front which has some specific and disturbing believes.
OREN SEGAL, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Patriot front is a racist, anti- Semitic, hate-fueled organization that believes this country was given to them or belongs to them because of the ethnic and cultural origins.
TODD: CNN has reached out to Thomas Rousseau's attorney but has not heard back. The ADL's Oren Segal says Patriot Front is known more for created propaganda, showing up at certain events to intimidate and grab photo ops more than flat-out violence but he says the situation in Coeur D'Alene could have escalated if these men hadn't been caught before-hand.
SEGAL: Of course, there's always a possibility for violence. That's why when you have 31 individuals dressed the way they are, piled up in a U-Haul in front of a pride event, yeah, that's intended to intimidate and you never know how it's going to end. Do you?
TODD (on camera): Coeur D'Alene Police Chief Lee White says that since those arrests on Saturday, he and other members of his force have been receiving threats including death threats, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very disturbing indeed. Our Brian Todd, reporting for us -- thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thank you for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram, @WolfBlitzer, twee the show @CNNSitRoom.
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