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One-Dose Wonder; Gov. Cuomo Accused Of Sexual Harassment By Second Former Aide; DOJ Charges Man Accused Of Spraying Officers With Chemicals; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) Is Interviewed About The COVID Relief Bill; Biden Admin Set To Clarify Sanctions Against Saudi Arabia. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 28, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But in other parts and in other ways it has become yet another tool of authoritarian government control. One more sobering and unintended consequence of the great information revolution.
Thank you to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: One-dose wonder. This afternoon it's the CDC's turn to determine whether Americans can get the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The vote next hour.
Plus new allegations. A second former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly accusing him of sexual harassment. Details straight ahead.
And defending the decision. The Biden White House pushing back on criticism that they didn't do enough to punish Saudi Arabia for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Today the U.S. is expected to take a major step forward in the race to vaccinate the country. A panel of CDC advisers is set to vote in the next hour on recommendations for who should get priority access to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vote coming one day after the FDA issued emergency use authorization for the single-shot vaccine. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky could sign off on the recommendation by the end of the day.
CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard joining me now. So Jacqueline, how much closer does this new vaccine bring Americans to ending the pandemic?
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Any time a COVID-19 vaccine gets authorized, with Johnson & Johnson now being the third, it is a step forward in the fight against COVID-19.
And with the amount of vaccine doses that will be made available as soon as the CDC gives its recommendation that this vaccine can be used, we are going to see the capacity for vaccinations increase by about 25 percent with the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
But before shots start going into arms, we do need to hear from the CDC panel that you mentioned. They're meeting right now to discuss who this vaccine is best for and to recommend how it can be used.
The FDA told us, yes, it can be used with authorization, but the CDC is going to tell us how.
In the meantime, here is the rollout plan. Johnson & Johnson has 3.9 million doses expected to be available immediately, according to the company. And among those doses, they will be allocated to states and local jurisdictions, retail pharmacies, federally-qualified health centers and community vaccine centers.
So that's the rollout we'll see in the next few days. But again, we first need to hear from the CDC on who this vaccine is recommended for.
And then next we also are going to hear more discussions from the CDC today as this advisory committee panel continues around what the data tell us about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
This vaccine was tested in about 44,000 people in the United States, Latin America and South Africa. Here are some of those results.
The global trials showed us that in the United States, the vaccine was found to be 72 percent efficacious. That means it was 72 percent protective against moderate and severe COVID-19 in the trial. And then it was found to be 85 percent -- provided 85 percent protection against severe COVID-19. And no one who received the vaccine in the trial died of COVID-19. So this is, you know, what's promising here.
And, again, overall we want to hear from the CDC later today. Once we do, that gives the stamp of approval for the vaccine to go into arms.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much for that update.
All right. Joining me right now, Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease physician at the John Cochran Veterans Hospital and a member of the St. Louis City Department of Health Board. Dr. David, good to see you again.
DR. MATI HLATSHWAYO DAVIS, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, JOHN COCHRAN VETERANS HOSPITAL: Good to see you again, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. So while we're waiting to hear for this CDC advisory board to determine who this Johnson & Johnson vaccine is best for, in your view, how should it be prioritized?
DR. DAVIS: In my view this addition is fantastic news. Not great news, fantastic news, because it's another tool in our toolbox to address the vaccination efforts both in the U.S. and globally.
This vaccine is one shot. It's highly efficacious. It's easily storable.
DR. DAVIS: So it's potentially a game changer, a real game changer for our urban communities, our marginalized communities, specifically black and brown communities that you and I have spoken about many times here.
But also globally where a lot of countries, including the country I was born in, Zimbabwe, won't even see a vaccine for a year out. I think this is such great news globally.
WHITFIELD: So you and so many doctors are very excited about it but then there are some concerns out there that there might be some Americans who view the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is kind of second rate because the efficacy rate is, you know, below 70 percent compared to Pfizer and Moderna which were over 90 percent.
But listen to what Dr. Fauci had to say about that this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If I were not vaccinated now and I had a choice of getting a J&J vaccine now or waiting for another vaccine, I would take whatever vaccine would be available to me as quickly as possible for the simple reason of what I said a moment ago. We want to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Are you worried about any kind of possible new reluctance, say, because folks are going to try and compare and contrast all the vaccines and wait it out for one they better like?
DR. DAVIS: These questions are coming up a lot, both with the patients I serve and from what I'm hearing as well on online platforms.
So the example I love to give here is let's talk about the flu vaccine and what impact that's had. The flu vaccine is less efficacious than all three of the vaccines that we have currently in the U.S. -- and I'm including Johnson & Johnson, which we hope we'll have soon in hand.
And look at the impact it's had. Less people sick, less deaths, and yet it's even less efficacious. So I could not agree more with Dr. Fauci when he says any vaccine that you have that has become FDA- approved, don't wait, get it. Because the more people get vaccinated, the closer we get to our new degree of normal.
Now, the variants are out there and I understand the hesitancy and the fear that people have of what if it doesn't cover it? Again, with flu we have a lot of variants that aren't captured. And even then I tell you there is exciting new research coming out from Moderna, from Pfizer, from other pharmaceutical companies who are already starting research against those variants specifically. At the end of the day, though, this vaccine is fantastic news. Whatever vaccine you have available to you, get that.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Great advice. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing death. No one who got the vaccine died of the coronavirus. Is that really the most important number that people need to hang on?
DR. DAVIS: Absolutely. This is not just about who doesn't get COVID individually. As you've seen over the year and I've spoken to you about here, hospitals have been overwhelmed. The hospitalizations, the number of ventilators that we need also adds to the disease burden and deaths.
So if we can prevent people from being in the hospitals, fantastic news. If we can prevent people from dying 100 percent of the time with this vaccine, unbelievably good news. So there is so many levels and layers to why this vaccine is so important to add to our toolbox.
WHITFIELD: The FDA's emergency use authorization applies to people over 18. Officials say the company just might begin testing its vaccine in kids 17 and under next week. How concerned or perhaps excited about that idea are you?
DR. DAVIS: It's all excited over here, Fred. And you know, that's a wonderful thing to say. A year from now we didn't even think we would see something this great on the market, let alone three different options.
You know, everything was done right here. You, of course, go the safest route and exclude more vulnerable populations. But with these trials opening up to our younger population, with these trials opening up to pregnant women, this is all great news because they, too, want to be protected.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, always good to see you. Thank you so much.
DR. DAVIS: Thanks Fred. See you soon.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
Federal officials are prepared to roll out nearly four million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as soon as the CDC director signs off.
CNN's Jean Casarez joins me now from New York. So Jean, are officials ready for what could be an influx of the vaccine?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. I think everybody is really, really excited to have another vaccine.
You know, it's a rainy, rainy day here in New York city, but the Javits Center is packed because people are coming for their COVID vaccine appointments. You do have to have that appointment, they have the Pfizer vaccine right now at the Javits Center. But it is a coveted thing to have an appointment to be able to get it. People refresh, refresh, refresh -- it's like a full-time job.
And to have Johnson & Johnson available would mean that much more vaccine is in the state of New York, in the city for people to be able to get it.
New York state just came out with some charts on the demographics of those that have had at least their first dose of the vaccine. The statistics show that statewide, 78 percent of the people that identify as white have had the vaccine. The other races are far less.
I spoke to people as they were coming out today, asking them -- excuse me -- do you have friends, do you have family that don't want to get the vaccine and why? Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to consult with your primary physician. You have to consult with all your doctors to make sure that you're in the best physical state. And you just have to have faith, you know? And do the right thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's more a question of whether or not it's accessible. So what you'll find is, again, those in my age group will go out and get the vaccine. But if you're in -- if you're in areas where it's not accessible and you happen not to have transportation, you don't want to get on the subway so there's less probability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: And governors of some states are saying they will get Johnson & Johnson vaccine by this week, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Pretty promising. Jean Casarez, thank you so much for that.
All right. Still to come this hour, a second former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly accusing him of sexual harassment. Details next.
Protests turned violent in the streets of Dublin. We'll tell you what demonstrators are demanding.
WHITFIELD: "The New York Times" is reporting a second former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has come forward accusing him of sexual harassment. The former aide, Charlotte Bennett, tells "The Times" the alleged incidents happened late last spring during the height of the state's fight against coronavirus.
And now there is a growing fight over who should investigate the harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo.
CNN's Brynn Gingras is following this story for us and joins us now. So Brynn -- what more do we know about these allegations, the status of the investigation and how the governor is responding.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let's start with the status there, Fred.
The governor's office is now saying it's going to cooperate fully with an investigation. And says it has asked the attorney general and the chief judge in the state's highest court to pick an independent private lawyer to conduct that probe.
Here's the thing though. We're already hearing from sources and lawmakers that that's really not enough. And the issue is what the governor's office is proposing doesn't allow subpoena power for the investigation, meaning they wouldn't be able to compel witnesses, they might not get their hands on certain documents.
One Democratic state senator is already saying he plans to introduce a bill tomorrow that would get rid of the current law which says the attorney general's office needs an official referral from the governor to conduct an investigation. So it's a bit messy there.
But let's back up a minute and this is where it all started. It's coming from a former aide, Charlotte Bennett, as you mentioned. She spoke to "The New York Times".
And she said she had a number of interactions with Governor Cuomo during her time in the administration last year, feeling like he was actually a mentor initially but that changed.
And she particularly recalled one incident from last June. The 25- year-old telling "The Times" she was alone with Cuomo in his office and he asked her a number of personal questions, like if she had ever been with an older man, and that he said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.
And she interpreted these questions as clear overtures to a sexual relationship, according to this report. She also apparently was just comforted (ph) by conversations which she had about her own past experience with sexual harassment. "The Times" also says that she provided text messages to support these claims.
Now Cuomo released a statement and here is what it said in full. "Ms. Bennett was a hard-working and value member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out. When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her in her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful.
Ms. Bennett's initial impression was right, I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.
This cannot and should not be resolved in the press. I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I'm directing all state employees to comply with that effort.
I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgments. I'll have no further comments until the review has concluded."
Now, we reached out to Bennett for further comment on her allegations but she didn't respond. Again, this is now the second person this week to accuse the governor of inappropriate behavior.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan said in a Medium post earlier this week that Cuomo gave her an unwanted kiss on her lips when she worked with him in 2018.
The governor recently denied those allegations and also did months ago when Boylan first came forward. Boylan also didn't comment further to CNN.
All of this, though, more bad headlines, Fred, for the governor and his administration who had really, if you remember, soaring popularity during the pandemic but has really been taking a lot of criticism recently for his handling of nursing home death data during the pandemic.
So now it looks like Cuomo, Fred, will be facing two different investigations. One for the harassment allegations, one that's in the early stages by the DOJ and FBI in regards to the nursing home data, though that probe is not really clear just yet if it's the governor or just members of his administration that are being investigated. But a lot going on in that administration.
WHITFIELD: A lot indeed. All right. Brynn, keep us posted. Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. CNN political director David Chalian is joining me right now. David, the New York attorney general says she's just waiting for a referral from Cuomo's office to begin an investigation into the accusations against the governor and many Democratic lawmakers support that move.
WHITFIELD: The governor's office instead wants the AG and a judge to select an independent investigator after Governor Cuomo came under criticism for initially hand-picking his own investigator.
So, is it likely political pressure will force Cuomo to let the New York AG investigate this matter. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's certainly likely Fred that the political pressure is going to continue to mount.
I mean we've seen this from the New York congressional delegation, from members of the state assembly and the state senate, from candidates for New York City mayor.
This is not a Democratic Party right now in New York that is rallying around its governor in a moment of political crisis here. This is a Democratic Party in New York that is demanding accountability and responsibility by calling for a thoroughly independent investigation.
And look, the governor's office as you just noted and has been reported has already moved on this from where they were just yesterday.
I mean they had initially said they were picking their own investigator, a former federal judge, and they were going to make sure to have that investigation -- have the results of it be public.
I mean we're just hours from that and they're already saying, no, no, ok, fine, that may not be above reproach, perhaps it should be the attorney general and the chief judge.
This is moving into --
WHITFIELD: Right. Obviously, it's the response -- it's the response.
CHALIAN: -- a place where more and more accountability is going to be demanded.
WHITFIELD: Right. It's the response to the criticism --
CHALIAN: Yes, without a doubt.
WHITFIELD: -- the change of the posture of how the governor is welcoming the investigation.
So New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, he's also calling on the state legislature to revoke now Cuomo's emergency powers that overruled local control. And Cuomo is under fire from both Democrats and Republicans.
Can he continue to lead the state during this critical time in this pandemic without a whole lot of support and while there are so many who are then saying that, you know, his powers should be -- some of his powers should be removed?
CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, he can continue to lead the state, but it's going to require a whole different kind of approach than when he was sort of riding high with public support.
Even recent polls, not since the latest allegations, but even recent polls when the Cuomo administration was on the deep end showed he did still have some well of support with New Yorkers across the Empire State. But to your point about what the legislature is now calling for and what de Blasio, who of course, has never had a friendly relationship really, with Andrew Cuomo here is calling for is this removal of these emergency powers that have been in place since the COVID crisis hit?
And we have seen this again from his fellow Democrats in Albany who are looking to strip him of this. So yes, could he still govern? He can. But it's going to require him to build so many bridges that have now sort of fallen apart within his Democratic party in Albany that it's a whole new kind of governing for him to build back from where he is at the moment.
WHITFIELD: Wow. What an incredible change of events from just a few months ago in terms of the endorsement and the popularity that he was enjoying.
David Chalian, thank you so much for that.
All right. Tonight on CNN, when Abraham Lincoln was elected, the southern states began to secede from the union. See how President Elect Lincoln had to navigate this unprecedented time before taking office. "LINCOLN DIVIDED WE STAND", a CNN original series continues tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern only right here on CNN.
New charges today in the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol. The Justice Department saying it's charging Daniel Caldwell of Texas who was allegedly caught on video attacking dozens of police officers with chemical spray. According to prosecutors, hours after the riot, suspect Caldwell talked about what happened in a video that was posted on the far right social media site Parler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably 10 minutes after we started a big fight broke out (INAUDIBLE) some girl got hit in the neck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They started shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then the fight started and they drugged (ph) their guys and somebody grabbed her and they took off. We just kept staying there and they sprayed us with pepper spray and we're like, dude, do it again and we'll spray you back. They did and we sprayed back. Got like 15 of them and that's when they shot the big cannon with rubber bullets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We kept doing (INAUDIBLE) thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We appreciate you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan joins us right now. He chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Capitol police. Congressman, good to see you.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Thanks.
WHITFIELD: So you're investigating the events of that day. Roughly 300 arrested or facing charges. Are you satisfied that those responsible are being adequately held accountable?
RYAN: I am. I think law enforcement is doing a great job. I mean it takes some time, obviously. There are 2,000 cameras around Capitol Hill, hours and hours and hours of footage that they are, as we can see from today's events, they're going through very methodically.
And this is happening with people who came to the Capitol but live all over the country. So it's going to take some time, but as you can see, it's still unfolding and those folks are going to be prosecuted.
WHITFIELD: Here it's a month and a half later and threats remain. I mean this week acting chief of Capitol Police had this to say about security concerns ahead of President Biden's State of the Union address.
WHITFIELD: I mean, this week, acting chief of Capitol Police had this to say about security concerns ahead of President Biden's State of the Union Address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOGANANDA PITTMAN, ACTING CHIEF OF CAPITOL POLICE: We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with the direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So what are your concerns about safety ahead of the State of the Union, and how about this week, too, March 4th, when some Trump supporters claim that he will somehow return to the presidency? And that was similarly touted for January 6, and see what happened.
So what are your concerns?
RYAN: Well, it's very troubling to think that American citizens are talking this way about their own Capitol, their own government, their own elected officials. It's troubling.
But that's why we have kept the fence up that was put up after January 6th and for the inauguration. That fence is still in place. We still have thousands of National Guard that are on the Capitol. This is why.
And as we begin to rebuild the security apparatus in the Capitol, make it more robust, harden the Capitol, more officers, more ability to respond in a timely manner, and all of these things that General Honore is taking and really putting together for us.
Until we get that in place, we've got to keep what we have now, so I feel the security is still in good shape.
But, again, you know, the fact that American citizens -- these are American citizens who are saying this stuff about our country. This is not a foreign enemy. This isn't a foreign terrorist group. These are Americans saying this to us.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, and so you feel like this is the best and only recourse -- you know, keeping the fencing up, reinforcements of the added security there on Capitol Hill, that really is the best protection against these threats of another episode of unrest?
RYAN: In the short term. I mean, this is not a long-term solution. We want people to be able to come to the Capitol, exercise their First Amendment rights, interact with their government, continue to be the model of democracy around the world.
But, you know, in the short term because of what we're facing, we've got to keep that in place. But, remember, there are still people being prosecuted. Law enforcement is continuing to go out to prosecute these people who are saying and doing these kinds of things. So that's still happening there.
But until we get a new game plan, we've got to keep what we have in place. I don't like it, either, nobody likes it, but it's necessary now and we've got to do the right thing to keep the Capitol safe, even if it's a little bit inconvenient for everybody in the short term.
WHITFIELD: How about the possible enemies within? I mean, barring the words of house speaker Pelosi, federal prosecutors are investigating whether some of your fellow lawmakers may have given tours which helped rioters gain inside intel, kind of reconnaissance, you know, before the attack.
Do you walk around yourself sometimes suspicious of some of your colleagues especially what happened -- after what happened January 6th?
RYAN: Well, you know, when they continue to be supportive of some of the things that are being said and done, they're continuing to perpetuate the big lie around the election, and make no mistake about what happened on January 6th through the Congress, through what they were trying to do, elected officials were trying to do, they were trying to disenfranchise millions and millions of people, a lot of African-American votes in the process, they were trying to get rid of those votes.
And so, that in and of itself is egregious, and now worrying about these security threats. But as you mentioned, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. is looking into those tours that could have potentially been given to people who then the next day actually were part of the insurrection that happened in the Capitol. So that's being looked into.
And we're concerned about that. That's why we have metal detectors before we go onto the House floor now, because of the rhetoric and the heated environment that unfortunately we're all living in now.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, and to that point of suppressing the vote, there are ongoing efforts right now to suppress the vote, make it harder for people to vote in any upcoming elections.
So let's talk about what the House just voted on. You were among those who supported the COVID relief bill. President Biden said if the Senate acts quickly, the economy can get moving again.
Where is aid most needed in your state of Ohio?
RYAN: Well, right to the individuals. The extension of unemployment has been a savior for so many families and for the economy. It's unfortunate that many states have not been able to get that money out the door. There's been so many hurdles for so many people to even get unemployment or get the stimulus, the check -- $1,400 check or the $1,200 or $600 check, a lot of people still haven't gotten those. So, that's unfortunate.
But it's the unemployment benefits, it's the new check that's coming for $1,400 which hits people who are working, they're not unemployed, they're waitresses and waiters and others who are working the same amount they've been working but are getting about half the pay because they can't turn tables over, there are not people drinking at the bars like they used to. So, that's where that $1,400 check is really helpful for them.
And then the state and local money that's going to -- you know, the local people at the local governments, they need that to reinvest back into their communities. And the other piece of it, I think is key, is the rent, the support for rent, utilities, because we don't want people losing their homes or losing their -- where they live, their apartments. And so that's going to be huge, too.
Basically, we want to keep people afloat until the economy can get back up and running. We don't want people filing bankruptcy. We don't want people destroying their credit. We want everybody to be able to come out of this in a secure financial position. That's how we'll get the economy going moving forward, and that's what
this package does. It's pretty straightforward. It's really bread and butter stuff. Nothing fancy here.
WHITFIELD: So, I also want to ask you about what you tweeted just the other day that you are now looking seriously at a Senate run. What makes you the candidate for Ohio?
RYAN: Well, we are looking very, very closely at it. We're all excited in Ohio about the opportunity with Senator Portman saying he's not going to run again, and to me, you know, another working-class voice in the United States Senate would be huge.
I mean, we have huge issues here in the state around income inequality. Globalization has not been good to the large swaths of the state where companies have outsourced jobs over the last 20 or 30 years. So we need to rebuild the manufacturing base, we need to plug Ohio into the new economy, and that Senate seat is really going to be key to being able to do that, bringing back the federal resources necessary to be able to rebuild the economy here and rebuild the middle class.
Look, when I say rebuild our working-class people, I'm talking about white people, black people, brown people, gay people, straight people. We've got to focus on the economy in the United States. That's what Joe Biden is doing and that's what the next senator in Ohio is going to have to do, which is why we're looking closely at it. We think that's the voice that needs to be in the United States Senate.
WHITFIELD: Looking closely or have you already made a decision?
RYAN: We're looking closely. We're not going to break any news here today, sad to say.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, let us know when you're ready for that.
RYAN: I sure will.
WHITFIELD: Congressman Tim Ryan, good to see you. Thank you so much. All the best.
RYAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: The Biden administration says it will offer more details tomorrow on its sanctions against Saudi Arabia following the release of an intelligence report last week which stated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Biden has been under fire after the administration announced sanctions against dozens of Saudi groups and individuals connected with the killing, but didn't single out the crown prince.
Arlette Saenz is with the president too, is in Wilmington, Delaware. And international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is joining us from London.
So, Arlette, from you first. What is expected tomorrow from the White House in terms of an announcement in how to proceed with Saudi Arabia?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the White House says there will be more details offered from the State Department relating their approach to Saudi Arabia after that explosive report found that the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for approving the brutal murder of that "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Now, the White House has defended the president's decision not to directly sanction the crown prince despite that report and despite past comments he had made as a candidate.
And take a listen to a moment this morning where White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talked about this a bit more after our colleague Dana Bash pressed her multiple times on the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe there is more effective ways to make sure this doesn't happen again, and to also be able to leave room to work with the Saudis on areas where there is mutual agreement, where there is national interests for the United States. That is what diplomacy looks like, that is what the complicated global engagement looks like, and we have made no secret and been clear we are going to hold them accountable and on the global stage and in with direct actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: Now, the State Department on Friday announced visa restrictions against about 76 people from Saudi Arabia, and there were also some sanctions from the Treasury, but nothing that directly affected the crown prince. Even as the president, while he was a candidate, said that Saudi Arabia should be treated as a pariah and senior leaders should be punished for this -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Uh-huh. Arlette, in fact, I want to ask Nic about that, you know, and remind people what candidate Biden said about Saudi Arabia during a presidential debate.
That was in 2019. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBATE MODERATOR: President Trump has not punished senior Saudi leaders. Would you? JOE BIDEN (D), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I would make it very
clear, we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them. We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are. They have to be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Nic, is Biden taking a different tone now that he is in the White House, or is tomorrow going to be the day in which we see he delivers on those words while he was stumping?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I -- the moment I sort of suspect not. I think we're going to hear tough language on not tolerating human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia when setting certain standards and conditions on that, but President Biden really here has, as the White House has said, a very complicated international picture of diplomacy to look at. Saudi Arabia has been a key ally on counterterrorism, foiled countless al Qaeda operations that saved American lives on a number of occasions.
So it's been a valuable player there. It's hugely influential in the Gulf. It's a powerful country in the Gulf. It's the seat of one of the biggest religions, Islam, in the world.
And the thought that if President Biden pushes too hard on the crown prince and on Saudi Arabia that the Saudis can look elsewhere for their defense, which is what they rely on the United States for, missile systems and other things. They could perhaps turn to China.
China does not care, will not care the same way about human rights abuses that President Biden does and want to set a high standard on that with transactions between the two countries.
President Biden has to look at the really big picture which is a rising China globally, willing to exert its influence globally, getting ready to sort of overtake the United States economically in the upcoming decade or so. Letting China gain a bigger influence in the Middle East is not a long-term U.S. strategic interest, and these are the things that President Biden has to balance. It's not just about today and tomorrow, it's not just about his presidency, it's looking beyond that.
But I have to say at the moment the Saudis are expressing a lot of concern and anger about the way the report has been presented, and they're being backed up by their Gulf allies, and it's creating some instability in the region that's being added by Iranian-backed Houthis firing missiles into the capital Riyadh, and claiming that. The Saudis see this as an escalation.
So, I think when you look at the Middle East picture right now, since having moved on just two days from Friday, it's a lot more wobbly, particularly about what the president is going to say Monday.
WHITFIELD: Right. Well, the U.S. had had that report for a couple years, but it's only now that it's being revealed publicly.
Nic Robertson, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much. Appreciate you both.
We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: A sweeping police reform bill could get a vote as soon as this week after Congresswoman Karen Bass reintroduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Clearly, we have got to do something that holds police officers accountable. Qualified immunity and lowering the standard for prosecution are two of the most effective ways to do this. I think the stage is set for real reform to hit the president's desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Josh Campbell has more on how police departments are reckoning with bias and police violence after a tumultuous year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A simulated arrest spinning out of control. Mock gunfire, a suspect down. This is an exercise in what not to do, say instructors at this Washington State Police Academy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaving their vehicles and rushing up to the vehicle.
CAMPBELL: It's all part of an alternative way of training officers, emphasizing de-escalation over force.
SEAN HENDRICKSON, WASHINGTON STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE TRAINING COMMISSION: Keeping back, staying behind cover, slowing down, taking a deep breath when you can to control yourself, communicating with the people that we're dealing with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walk back slowly to the sound of my voice.
CAMPBELL: Tactics that instructions say fit a new policing model and perhaps a new administration.
After a summer of protests over controversial police use of force, President Biden Joe Biden is pledging reform, including improved oversight and accountability and creating a model use of force standard.
Washington State's Police Academy claims to be on that track, streamlining training for 300 police agencies from across the state and with a modern twist. Signs of the, quote, philosophers, not warriors.
SUE RAHR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE TRAINING COMMISSION: That's moving away from the military model of training police officers like you train soldiers. The mission is different. We train soldiers to conquer. We train police officers to protect and to keep peace.
CAMPBELL: Rahr agrees this culture shift will be the biggest challenge if the Biden administration pursues a similar model.
Take the Brianna Taylor case, a flash point during campaign, after police who fired dozens of bullets in the Taylor's apartment were not charged directly in her death. How are students said this academy being trained to react to gunfire?
HENDRICKSON: They're approaching the house and the shot is fired from the inside, with no more information, is to actually back away from that house and think about improving your position and communicating with each other and with everybody else.
CAMPBELL: They understand there will be detractors, or worse, says Director Rahr, if progressive policing tactics turned partisan in Congress.
RAHR: That causes it to become like kryptonite.
CAMPBELL: President Biden says he also wants to create a National Police Oversight Commission, stop the transfer of American vehicles to local police and ban chokeholds. Both Democratic and Republican reform bills failed in Congress during 2020, and the former administration's executive orders lacked teeth. The Democratic-controlled Senate should make it easier for Biden as should control of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division.
CHRISTY LOPEZ, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: And that division will be really back in business in a way that it just hasn't been allowed to be over the past four years. And that's going to -- that's going to have repercussions throughout policing.
CAMPBELL: Biden not only faces pushback from Congress but also from America's police unions and trade organizations.
ROSA BROOKS, GEORGETWON UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: We have literally thousands of different law enforcement agencies in this country. They don't all do the same thing. They don't talk to each other, necessarily.
CAMPBELL: Take the chokehold now banned in many places like Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed and statewide in California.
But some officers believe banning all forms of neck restraint could lead to more shootings.
BRIAN MARVEL, PRESIDENT, PEACE OFFICERS RESEARCH ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA: You're actually using the carotid restraint instead of lethal force, so you're saving that person's life by not having to go to your firearm.
CAMPBELL: Back in Washington state, they don't claim to have all the answers, just a head start on a solution.
Do you think policing is broken right now?
HENDRICKSON: I think that the relationship with the community is broken, fractured at the very least. But I do believe it's the responsibility of all parties to try to fix it.
CAMPBELL: Josh Campbell, CNN, Seattle.
WHITFIELD: And at any moment, a panel of CDC advisers will vote on emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Stay with us.