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Johnson & Johnson Single-Dose Vaccine on Way to Americans; Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) amid New Allegations of Sexual Harassment; Goya CEO Repeats Trump Election Lies Despite Company Muzzling Him. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired March 1, 2021 - 13:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I'm grateful for your time today on Inside Politics. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.

We begin with news of a third vaccine on its way to Americans nearly a year after this pandemic started. The CDC granted emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's single dose shot over the weekend and 3.9 million doses are being distributed across the country right now.

It comes just as federal officials are sounding new alarms over variants. They are warning that vaccinations alone won't prevent a fourth surge in cases.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic. The latest CDC data continued to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number.

I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.

I understand the temptation to do this. 70,000 case as day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago, but we cannot be resigned to 70,000 case a day.


KEILAR: The new vaccine is expected to be delivered as early as tomorrow morning.

And CNN's Pete Muntean is in Louisville, Kentucky, he's at UPS, which is preparing to receive and ship the new vaccine.

One of the things about this vaccine, Pete, is that it doesn't have some of the same logistical challenges as the first two. That's not to say this isn't still a huge undertaking.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, UPS actually has a lot of practice with that, Brianna. You know, the first truck carrying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine just arrived here at the UPS mega hub known as World Port. All day today, over at a McKesson distribution facility, just down the way in Shepherdsville, those boxes of the J&J vaccine were packed up. The truck brought the vaccine here.

And now begins the big sort, the process of unloading the vaccine by hand, putting it on 150 miles of conveyor belt sorting those vaccine packages in only about 13 minutes' time. Then all those vaccine packages will be loaded onto planes taking this vaccine coast to coast.

3.9 million doses in this initial part of the rollout, J&J says the goal is 20 million doses by the end of March.

UPS has been doing this for a while. They have already done this with the Pfizer vaccine. They have already done this with the Moderna vaccine. Tens of millions of doses of that already out there.

UPS also has a lot of practice in tracking these packages, which is especially critical during this time of the year in the wintertime. World Port had actually to close down operations for an entire day, the first time in history, because of bad weather during that massive snowstorm last month.

UPS said each individual package carried a broadcaster, a transmitter, that was able to show its position in real-time, which helped alleviate delays in those deliveries and getting them back moving smoothly.

So this is a massive operation here, Brianna, and it all begins right here in Kentucky with the delivery starting tomorrow.

KEILAR: It is fascinating and everyone is watching where these are going. So thank you for showing us, Pete, I appreciate it.

Johnson & Johnson's work is far from over. The CEO tells CNN that it is working on a booster to help deal with these variants. The next task will be finding out how effective its new vaccine is in children.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more on the company's next testing phases.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the FDA has authorized Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, and the company says that they're going to be doing additional study of its vaccine in certain groups. Let's take a look.

The vaccine has not been authorized for anyone under the age 18. So, Johnson & Johnson will be studying that group starting with teens first and that work is expected to begin very, very soon.

They will also be testing it more in pregnant women who are in their second and third trimester, and also people who are immune- compromised. And that work is expected to begin in the come months.

Now, while people who are under the age of 18 cannot get it right now, pregnant women can, and so can people who are immune-compromised. Brianna?

KEILAR: Elizabeth, thank you.

Now, CPAC, the annual conference that has morphed from colorful conservatism into candy for conspiracy theorists, headlined this past weekend by the everlasting gob stopper of lies himself, former President Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's just getting started. And in the end, we will win. We will win.


We've been doing a lot of winning.


KEILAR: That is verifiably false. It is a straight up lie. And, quite frankly, it's an insult to scorekeepers and shot clock operators everywhere. Republicans lost the presidential election. They lost control of the Senate. They still don't control the House. Donald Trump lost the popular vote twice. The House impeached him twice, though he was acquitted both times in the Senate.

Twitter and Facebook banned him after he incited the insurrection January 6th. He and his allies lost nearly 60 court cases challenging the election results.

Many Republicans actively cover for at least two lawmakers in Congress who have sympathized or pushed QAnon conspiracy theories, despite the futile protests of the head of the Republican National Committee who said this on Sunday.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We will denounce extreme elements that pretend to be Republican and say we do not want you in our party.


KEILAR: Back in the day when Donald Trump used to talk about winning, he would always cite the Supreme Court, which includes three of his picks. But now --


TRUMP: This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it. They didn't have the courage, the Supreme Court. They didn't have the courage to act, but instead used process and lack of standing. They rejected it. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to our country. They didn't have the guts or the courage to make the right decision.


KEILAR: Well, that certainly doesn't play like someone who is worried about inciting another insurrection. Maybe because he got away with it the first time and still has a political future ahead of him and big plans to settle some scores, which brings us to the part of Trump's speech that sounded like a mob boss reading his enemies list.


TRUMP: Democrats don't have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, Little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey. And in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez, that's another beauty, Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Beutler, Peter Meijer, John Katko, David Valadao, and, of course, the warmonger, the person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?

The good news is, in her state, she's been censured, and in her state her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I have ever seen. So, hopefully, they will get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.


KEILAR: Not so breaking news, Florida man lets others fight his fights. That's been Trump's way from Vietnam to Capitol Hill. He knows what he's doing when he singles out Republicans who put their country before him. He did it on January 6th. Trump told his followers where to go, lying to them that he would be there with them, and then he turned the opposite direction and retired to the comfort of the White House to watch it all go down on T.V. The only difference is this time he is returning to the confident of Mar-a-Lago.

Joining me now is CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. And, Gloria, you see the Trump's enemies list that he is out with now, he knows this is dangerous and he's doing it anyway.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's his -- Donald Trump's hit list. It is a disgrace. I am old enough to remember when people voted for political candidates not because of idolatry, but because of ideas. And what he is saying is that the idea that he wants people to focus on is grievance, and the grievance is that these people had the temerity to say that he caused an insurrection, that he should have been impeached, or that the election should have been certified.

I mean, this man is so consumed with himself. And, you know, he's only been out of office, what, five weeks? And he looks smaller and smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. And what he did was stand up there and not talk about the future, unless it was his future, but what he did -- or the country's future. He just talked about grievance. He just talked about the past, himself, how he had been wronged and how people need to right the wrongs and get revenge. I mean that's -- that's an odd kind of leadership.

KEILAR: He does look smaller. He's --

BORGER: Teeny.

KEILAR: He's also looming very large though over the Republican Party right now.



KEILAR: And you think of how Republicans are trying to navigate this. Nikki Haley, for instance, she had been somewhat critical of him. But then she tried to make amends. She blamed the media for stoking a Republican civil war.

You listen to what he says there, I mean, there is no question about who is stoking a civil war here.

BORGER: Right. But she learned when you touch the stove, you get burned. And so she did that. She complained in an interview about Donald Trump and now she's been excommunicated. And so, you know, now she's not on anyone's high list. You know, Donald Trump is not saying wonderful things about her. So she's been all over the place.

I mean, it's quite remarkable what people do when they criticize Trump and they see what happens as these people, these 17 people have seen, and then they are not coming back in the fold. But Nikki Haley is looking for a way to get back in Donald Trump's good graces because she wants to be the next president.

KEILAR: Gloria, thank you so much, Gloria Borger live with us.

Despite his company barring her from pushing conspiracy theories, the CEO of Goya got up on the CPAC and falsely called the election illegitimate. So what is going to happen now?

Plus, another woman accusing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, hear his response.

And a plastic surgeon being investigated after he Zoom calls into traffic court during a surgery.



KEILAR: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is under fire and now apologizing for what he calls inappropriate and insensitive comments. His apology comes after a second former aide has come forward with detailed allegations of sexual harassment. Charlotte Bennett, who is 25, told The New York Times, the governor asked her explicit questions about her sex life. CNN has not been able to corroborate the allegations and has reached out to her for comment. She has not yet responded.

But The Times reporter who broke the story tells CNN he had multiple lengthy conversations with her.


JESSE MCKINLEY, ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: She shared, as you pointed out, text messages contemporaneous to her experiences, which lent credence to what she was talking about. And as you pointed out, these are very serious allegations that she levied. Things like asking if she had slept with older men, her positions on monogamy, and the governor indicating a willingness to sleep with women in their 20s, Charlotte herself is 25. All of that in todo (ph) basically sent a message to Charlotte that the governor was essentially propositioning her for sexual advance.


KEILAR: Governor Cuomo denies that he touched anyone or made inappropriate or unwanted overtures, but he did release a statement that says, in part, I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal, and that some of comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.

John Campbell is the New York State Team Editor for USA Today network and he's with us now. John, if you just read this on its face, there is a lot that the governor objects to in these characterizations by two accusers now, but at the same time, I wonder if you have ever seen him go so far as to apologize even in this limited way for anything?

JOHN CAMPBELL, NEW YORK STATE TEAM EDITOR, USA TODAY NETWORK: Well, apologies and contrition is not usually the Andrew Cuomo way. So it was extraordinary in that sense, and that the governor apologized for anything. Usually, he does not, usually, he is aggressive in pushing back, even for the nursing home scandal that has been happening at the same time as this sexual harassment scandal, he hasn't offered an apology even when given a chance to do so. So it was surprising from that sense.

That said a lot of lawmakers and some sexual harassment groups are not pleased with the apology because it seems to put some onus on the accuser rather than the accused because it says, you know, if my comments were misinterpreted, I apologize.

KEILAR: It is not a full apology but it is pretty unusual, as you mentioned, for Governor Cuomo.

He did refer this investigation over to two state officials to choose someone for an independent review, this includes the state A.G. involved in this. But that didn't happen until after he got backlash for initially handpicking a non-elected former federal judge to conduct the investigation, someone who he had a personal connection to. How is this investigation now going to be carried out?

CAMPBELL: Well, like you said, originally, the governor was going to pick a judge, Barbara Jones, a former federal judge, who was going to conduct this investigation. Lawmakers and the state attorney general, Letitia James, said, no way, no how. You have to refer this to the attorney general, who is independently elected in New York, which is very important in this.

Then the governor said, okay, well, I will refer to the attorney general and the chief judge who he appointed and they can jointly pick someone to investigate. Letitia James, the attorney general, stood up and said, no way, no how.

And, finally, by the end of yesterday, you saw the governor say he will give a referral to the attorney general and the attorney general will then pick someone in private practice to investigate. Because it was, I think, feared there was an evident to politicize the investigation.


And he should know, when he was attorney general back in 2007, 2008, 2009, he was tasked with investigating governors and he used that to his advantage.

KEILAR: And I wonder -- we have talked recently a bit, and it wasn't about this. We have talked about this other crisis that he is facing, which, of course, is the nursing home death count and the fact that the A.G., who you just mentioned, wrote up in a report that those numbers had been undercounted by the state, following that there were accusations of bullying from a Democratic state lawmaker, and now two women accusing him of sexual harassment. Can he survive this?

CAMPBELL: Well, he's in more political peril than he has ever been in his more than ten years in office. There is no doubt about it. There are some who are calling for his impeachment, some who are calling for his resignation. But, you know, at the very, very least, he's up for re-election next year. And, you know, he's got a very difficult sell for re-election.

KEILAR: Yes. John, we will be seeing you again soon, I am sure. John Campbell with USA Today Network, thank you.

CAMPBELL: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: His company punished him and forbade him from saying polarizing things in public. Well, now, the Goya Ceo is out and about saying that Joe Biden isn't the legitimate president.

Plus, a Fox host reveals what he says real Americans are talking about. We will roll the tape.

And Prince Harry opening up about his split from the royal family, including why he was afraid of history repeating itself.



KEILAR: Just a little over a month after the board of Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. took steps to limit the polarizing political remarks of its CEO, Robert Unanue, is once again coming under fire after pushing the big lie over the weekend at CPAC that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.


ROBERT UNANUE, CEO, GOYA FOODS: It is just an honor to be here. But my biggest honor today is going to be that I think we are going to be on the same stage as, in my opinion, the real, the legitimate and the still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


KEILAR: Anna Navarro is with us. She's a CNN Political Commentator. And Linette Lopez is joining us as well. She is a Columnist with Business Insider.

Anna, your reaction.

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, I thought, wait, I just read that the board of Goya Foods told this guy to shut the hell up. So I guess, somehow, like Houdini, he must have managed to get himself out of the straitjacket and get on the stage at CPAC to spread this big lie. He has become the My Pillow guy of Frijoles Negros. It is an embarrassment.

And, look, here is the reason why it upsets people like me. The reason Robert Unanue, who, much like Trump, inherited the company and inherited a lot of the wealth, it was his grandfather who started the company, the reason he's got this platform is because he's got this very successful company. The reason the company is so successful is because of people like me, a lot of Latinos around the United States and others, but mostly Latinos who have been buying those products.

And so for him to go on stage and use the platform that we, his clients and consumers, have given him, to spread a conspiracy lie is offensive and he has every right as an American citizens, I guess, to say whatever he wants, and I have every right as an American citizen to boycott his Frijoles. Fortunately, there is a hell of a lot of Latin brands can I choose from.

KEILAR: And to that point, the boycott, Linette, Goya faced a boycott last summer after the CEO praised Trump at a White House appearance. What kind of financial hit did the company take with that? What kind of fallout is the company bracing for following these comments?

LINETTE LOPEZ, COLUMNIST, BUSINESS INSIDER: We don't actually know because Goya is a privately-held family company. But we do know that it bothered the board enough to censure their own CEO, which is a very difficult thing to do in the United States. Corporate CEOs are allowed a lot of latitude to do what they want.

And we know that at least some research has indicated that it cost the company about $47 million worth of bad press after the boycott came out. And you would think that the CEO would say, you know, I am going to take a step back, I am going to be quiet, maybe I will keep these comments to myself and not go to the conference where there is a golden statue of Donald Trump. But, unfortunately, that P.R. nightmare is what the people at Goya are dealing with right now.

It is unclear what the board will be able to do to continue to punish him.