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Rise In COVID-19 Cases For First Time In Seven Weeks; Johnson & Johnson Starts Shipping One-Dose Vaccine; Official Tells Migrants To Wait Before Traveling To U.S.; Former French President Sentenced To Prison For Corruption; Hong Kong Hearing Resumes For 47 Pro-Democracy Activists; Biden Meets With Lawmakers To Push COVID-19 Relief Bill; U.N. Chief: Pledges From Donor Conference For Yemen 'Disappointing'; Britain's Prince Philip Moved To Second London Hospital; New York Attorney General To Start Investigation Into Cuomo Harassment Allegations. Aired 12-12:45a ET
Aired March 2, 2021 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
For the past seven weeks, the daily new coronavirus cases were declining. Gradually, at first but then picking up speed to a pace that raised hopes and cautious optimism that, maybe, the worst was behind us. Now the decline has stopped, the daily case count, once again, kicking upwards.
The declines coincided with the rollout of vaccines worldwide and the head of the WHO says that the recent increase is proof vaccines, alone, are not the silver bullet to ending the pandemic. Basic public health measures, are still, crucial in a world nowhere near herd immunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This is disappointing. But not surprising. We are working to better understand the increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants and people, letting down their guard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: In the U.S., a third vaccine has now been authorized for use. A distribution of nearly 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, sent out to local health departments and pharmacies and vaccination sites nationwide.
Officials say it is a positive step forward, but they warn, unlike many others, that the crisis remains far from over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I remain deeply concerned about the potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic. The latest CDC data continuing to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This week, the U.S. saw a 2 percent increase in new cases compared to a week earlier. CNN's Nick Watt has more.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine have shipped. 3 vaccines, they're out there in the mix.
DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, CHAIR, COVID-19 HEALTH EQUITY TASK FORCE: It's all good news. All 3 vaccines are safe, highly effective and prevent we care about most, which is serious illness and death.
WATT (voice-over): Plus Johnson & Johnson's is single dose and does not need deep freeze storage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have 20 million in March and hundred million by June and hopefully by the summer, there will a lot to vaccinating all of the United States.
WATT (voice-over): But, issues remain.
JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Scheduling remains for far too many people, too frustrating. We need to make it better.
WATT (voice-over): Today, teachers and Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana are eligible for vaccination. Educators, now on the list in 31 states and Washington D.C. Not yet in Massachusetts, where, today, roller rinks and theaters reopened at half capacity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good step in the right direction, that's for sure.
WATT (voice-over): But let's hold off on the high fives.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: It is really risky to say, it is over, we are on the way out, let's pull back. Look, historically, at the late winter, early spring, of 2020. The summer of 2020 when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebound.
WATT (voice-over): Average new case counts have been falling sharply for weeks. But:
WALENSKY: Recent declines appears to be stalling. Please hear me clearly: at this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained. WATT (voice-over): On average, around 2,000 Americans are still dying
from this disease every day.
NUNEZ-SMITH: Get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you. Protect yourself, your family and your community, from COVID-19.
WATT: Monday was 11 weeks, exactly, since the first American in America got a vaccine dose.
The current situation?
About 100 million doses are being distributed across the country. About 10 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, double dosed. This single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should change the landscape -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
VAUSE: We head to Los Angeles now, Anne Rimoin is a professor of epidemiology at UCLA School of Public Health.
Thank you for being with us, it's good to see you.
OK, I want to give you a real-time example of the impact from the authorization of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, here is the governor of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): As we think we're going to get J&J this, week and because we are starting to see higher allocations of the Pfizer, we will also see these federal sites open up in 4 different parts of the state this week.
DESANTIS: I will be signing an executive order later today to expand vaccine eligibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A few things there, the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, new vaccination centers. By year's end, Johnson & Johnson is aiming to have 1 billion doses produced globally. Between now and then, at that point, when is it clear that vaccines are making a difference not only here but around the world?
What does not look like?
ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We are going to start seeing the vaccine make a difference.
When will it make a difference globally?
That is when we start seeing a large proportion of the population vaccinated. We talked about what herd immunity means before. But what do we really mean?
We need to see somewhere around 70-85 percent of the world's population to be vaccinated, before we, really, see a major difference. When we talk about what will happen here, most likely, in the United States, we are probably, over the summer, going to start to see so many people vaccinated, we are going to see a difference.
I think that this J&J vaccine, it's just a wonderful thing. We have 3 vaccines now and we have good news coming our way. This vaccine doesn't need to be stored at very cold temperatures, it is a one dose shot.
It will be able to be used globally, in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I've spent my career working, where it will be very difficult to get people to come back, in rural areas, here in the United States, where it will difficult to get people to come back. We have lots of very good news here.
VAUSE: One thing which has been interesting, there's been a focusing on the efficacy of the J&J vaccine, between Moderna and Pfizer. It's being overblown because they share one crucial number, which is zero. No one died, no one sent to hospital, during the COVID trials.
RIMOIN: You are absolutely right. Here's the thing about these vaccines. What we know is that they are all, really, great. What is very interesting about the J&J vaccine is we had zero deaths, we know that that is the biggest part, the hospitalizations and the deaths. That's that zero number.
The other thing about the J&J vaccine, it was tested when these new variants of concern were circulating, tested in South Africa and Brazil where they were circulating at great speed.
That's the thing with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, we were testing them in the time period. It's quite possible these vaccines could be very similar, when it comes down to true, real world, effectiveness.
VAUSE: It's not really apples and apples, it's an apples and oranges comparison.
Once you do get vaccinated, then the big question, can I take part in the national doorknob licking contest. Here's Dr. Anthony Fauci, more on what you can do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Small gatherings, in of the home, of people, I think, clearly, you can feel that the relative risk is low, you would not have to wear a mask. You could have a good social gathering within the home.
Beyond that, it will be based on a combination of data, a combination of modeling and a combination of good, clinical, common sense. The CDC is working on that, right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: The big issue remains asymptomatic patients, not showing symptoms but they've been vaccinated. They may be able to continue to spread the virus. That is not known but, anecdotally, I guess the evidence is pointing to promising news on that, especially with Johnson & Johnson.
RIMOIN: We just need to be cautious, when we do not have data. This virus has surprised us many times. The entire idea, it is very possible, you could get infected, if you are vaccinated, have an asymptomatic infection and spread it.
But the data bears out, that may not be very common. We are still waiting to know, for sure and we, as epidemiologists, are always cautious in that. I do agree with Dr. Fauci I think, when more and more people are vaccinated, we will start to be able to get back to some normal life.
I would say that the doorknob licking contests that you just mentioned, no longer on the menu of things to be doing. But I think life will be getting back to normal. But we still do not have enough people vaccinated here in the United States, anywhere, in the world.
So we must still be quite cautious. This virus is still circulating at a very high number, 65,000, 75,000 cases per day, 2,000 deaths per day, it is not acceptable in terms of numbers.
So doing all of the right things, wearing masks, social distancing, not sharing air with other people, will save lives. We still have lots of lives to be saved.
VAUSE: There is a big mutated asterisks to all of this, right?
The vaccine programs are racing against the variants, especially the one first detected in the U.K. We are also competing against our own collective stupidity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALENSKY: Really, I am worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.
WALENSKY: I understand the temptation to do this; 70,000 cases, per day, seems good compared to where we were months ago. But we cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases per day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This time, one year ago, the daily case count was 16. As the CDC boss said, we could lose all of our gains, if we are not careful.
RIMOIN: I think it is this issue, that you start to get used to this level of cases. We have this terrible surge and were seeing numbers that were, quite frankly, insane. Now we are on the downslope and we think, hey, 60,000, not so bad.
It reminds me of the situation like a post apocalyptic movie. Watching "The Walking Dead," for example. You think, hey, it isn't that bad. But that's really when things aren't in complete and total chaos. But it's just not OK.
What we really need to do is we need to get these numbers down, to a very low number. Last summer, we were still stressed and upset, about where we were. Now it seems like nothing.
So I think we need to heed the CDC director's guidance. We are not out of the woods and we have lives to save, by doing all of the right things. We should be doing this with plenty of hope and plenty of enthusiasm, because this is going to end.
We will get on the other side of it. There will be more vaccines available soon. If we can all do the right thing now, every life we save is going to matter and it's really important.
VAUSE: We decide how this ends at this point. Professor, thank you so much, appreciate it.
RIMOIN: My pleasure.
VAUSE: The U.S. says, for now, it will not share its COVID vaccine supply with Mexico. But it isn't until every American is actually vaccinated and then the U.S. will reconsider. During a virtual meeting with his Mexican counterpart, President Joe Biden said he wants to work with Mexico to get the pandemic under control. Also, to address other challenges, like border security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, this is what I know. The United States and Mexico are stronger when we stand together. There is a long and complicated history with our nations. They haven't always been perfect neighbors with one another.
But we have seen, over and over again, the power and the purpose when we cooperate. And we are safer when we work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and editor for "The Atlantic" and also in Los Angeles. Great for being with us.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: The White House readout that made no mention of vaccines. The 2 leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on the pandemic response, including public health care abilities, information sharing and border policies. But it seems that Russia and China, are now filling that demand. Axios said at least 10 Latin American countries will take Russia's Sputnik vaccine or expect to soon, 10 more expecting doses from China's Sinovac or Sinopharm. This seems to be another significant example of Russia and China filling the void left by U.S. In totality, it says a lot about where global relations are right, now and where they are heading, even with the new U.S. president.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, obviously, look, Joe Biden comes from the internationalist tradition predating Trump. His instinct is to reassert American leadership of the Western alliance, which he sees as a concept and a valuable one to nurture.
I think the politics of the pandemic are such that, with many Americans, still frustrated and waiting for vaccines, really, it is quite unlikely and politically impossible for any president to be talking about assisting other countries, even though, before all Americans can get it.
Even though all experts will tell you, it will not be fully under control until the other countries that are less affluent around the world get access to the vaccine.
VAUSE: During this whole vaccine thing, it barely came up. With many concerns for Joe Biden, trying to roll back some Trump era immigration policies. The new Secretary of Homeland Security had a message for a growing number of asylum seekers and migrants on the southern border. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We need individuals to wait, we are not saying do not come, we are saying do not come now. Because, we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them, as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: After that flurry of executive orders on week 2 of Biden 's administration, how much has actually been done in undoing those policies and putting in place a new system, which doesn't end up putting kids in cages?
BROWNSTEIN: As you point out, there are big legislative proposals on one side. They mostly have to do with legalizing people or providing legal status for people who are already here, whether it is DREAMers, whether it is essential workers, agriculture workers.
And Democrats are trying to find a path forward to do that in the House and the Senate, that would've evade an almost certain Republican filibuster. There's another side of the ledger, which is the enforcement at the border.
And they are -- the problems are very knotty. Many in -- Mexico is critical to trying to get control of the flow of undocumented people coming through the border, especially unaccompanied kids. Trump's relationship with the Mexican president had to be one of the
most surprising. The left-wing populist president in Mexico who was thought to be a severe antagonist, calling out Trump for his nativism, racism, instead became a staunch partner and was actually praising him by all accounts in the post-election meetings with Biden.
So exactly how that relationship unfolds, exactly what Mexico is and not willing to do as Biden tries to sand down the roughest edges of the Trump policies, that really remains to be seen, even after today by all counts.
VAUSE: The clock is ticking; this reporting from "The Washington Post," the Biden administration is on pace to receive even more unaccompanied minors in the coming months. More than the 2019 crisis when numbers of Central American children and families overwhelmed Trump officials.
He said a lot of these last-minute officials and policy changes by the Trump administration have made a bad situation worse. Listen to this example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYORKAS: One day before the new administration was to commence an agreement with the union of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that the union must approve any policy changes in the immigration arena, I have been in government for almost 20 years now. Now I've never seen a contract like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You, know on the surface at least there can only be one reason, only one purpose that could serve.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, the union is a very conservative institution and was very supportive of the hardest line Trump measures. Obviously, Biden is trying to set a different direction, while also maintaining control of the border.
It's a myth that Biden or any of the Democrats talked about completely -- talked about completely open borders. He is trying to find a way that offers kind of a humane path for people who genuinely have a need to seek asylum, who are coming from untenable situations in their home countries, which is now, of course, more Central America than Mexico.
And at the same time, prevent just an all-out flood on the border. It's going to take time, there are going to be hiccups without a doubt. There is not a straight line toward threading that needle.
But as he tries to unwind the Trump policies for example, requiring refugees, asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in these squalid camps, it's going to be a challenge for him and the union is not going to help.
Plus as you saw on Sunday, Trump is going to be out there hectoring from the bleachers and putting pressure on Republicans to impose what he is trying to do. So it is a very narrow pathway on the border, just as it is a very narrow pathway on the other side of the ledger, which are the legislative attempts to try and create some kind of legal status for some portion of the, roughly undocumented 11 million in the U.S.
VAUSE: The former president made a bunch of incorrect and blatantly untruthful statements over the weekend. It's why we didn't play them.
Thank you, Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles.
Well, the first time in France's history, former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to prison. But he won't see the inside of a jail cell. That's unlikely. The corruption charges mean a stunning fall from grace for Sarkozy and likely dashes any hopes he had in next year's election, CNN's Cyril Vanier has a report from Paris.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a remarkable moment, France's former head of state found guilty of corruption, along with his lawyer and one of France's top magistrates. The judge ruled that the trio have formed a corruption pact to gain secret information into an investigation that targeted Mr. Sarkozy.
He was handed a three year jail sentence, two were suspended meaning no jail time and one year he would have to serve under house arrest, wearing a electronic bracelet. But the former president said to his lawyer that he would appeal this ruling. So there will be a new trial and he will be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Still this all but rules him out for next year's presidential election.
VANIER: Until now he was still considered by some possible savior for the conservatives in 2022. But it's hard to see how he could campaign, much less win while appealing a guilty verdict. From the very beginning, this case was nothing short of remarkable.
It was a collision of two different investigations that gave rise to this. Trial Sarkozy's phones were tapped late 2013 to early 2014, as part of a separate probe into alleged illegal campaign finance.
Those intercepts revealed that he was using a secret line to communicate with his lawyer, a burner phone, if you will. The former president and one of Paris' star criminal lawyers, caught discussing how to obtain information on an ongoing investigation that could be potentially damaging to Mr. Sarkozy.
Sarkozy's lawyer is projecting confidence, saying she's seen plenty of guilty verdicts overturned. Still it's hard to see how Mr. Sarkozy's political career could recover from this. The former president, normally very combatant, left the courtroom room without saying a word -- Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.
VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, growing urgency to end the violence in Myanmar after the deadliest crackdown yet on protesters since last month's military coup.
Plus dozens of protesters in Hong Kong back in court for a landmark hearing, a live report of what we can expect.
VAUSE: Corporate proceedings for almost 50 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have resumed after four of the accused fainted and were treated in hospital. They've been charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under the strict national security law. Live to Hong Kong and CNN's Will Ripley standing by.
This is another example of the security law being controversial?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean their crime is wanting to stand in a primary election, John, so they can get, votes because they won an overwhelming majority last. Time and get a controlling majority in the Hong Kong legislative council which would then give them the ability to push back, to potentially block bills like the budget.
That is being called a conspiracy to paralyze the government. Getting people in Hong Kong to vote for you, so you can get a seat in government. Essentially what we're seeing here is the not so slow painful death of democracy here in Hong Kong.
According to many activists who are now in exile or in jail facing charges. The conditions these people are being forced to endure in the courthouse, is appalling. According to anyone who cares about human rights, to have to sit in court for so many hours that, after 2 am, four people, healthy people faint, having to go to the hospital.
Then for them to be told by the judge hand selected by the pro Beijing chief executive.
RIPLEY: So the deck already stacked against their case here, that their bail is denied and prosecutors need 3 months to go through their phones and get enough evidence to actually build this case, that there was a conspiracy to paralyze the government. It just makes a lot of people here wonder, what's next?
They are now either been put in jail or scared into exile, every pro democracy activist, politician, is it academics they're going to go after next?
People the Chinese government doesn't agree with, by extension its handpicked Hong Kong government? Or will they start going after journalists?
They've already started with the Hong Kong media mogul, who's also in court on unrelated charges but is still being held pending national security law charges as well, John. It is extraordinary how quickly this has happened.
We are less than a year from the passage of this national security law but the effects being felt. The battle is not happening in the streets anymore, John, the showdowns are happening in court. And the pro- democracy camp is losing at the stage.
VAUSE: As I said, another example of national security law inaction and, as you say, it's extraordinary. Will thank, you Will Ripley live in Hong Kong.
The growing calls for a stronger response to the military coup in Myanmar and the increasingly violent conflict between the security forces and protesters. Southeast Asian nations will hold a meeting of foreign ministers in the coming hours. CNN's Ivan Watson in Hong Kong for us, with details everything that's happening there.
This is just going from bad to worse in terms of the violence on the streets.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're hearing more reports of people detained, journalists being detained by the military. One video emerging of a photographer with security forces picking him up at night.
It does seem to be under cover of darkness that this is taking place, the most with that organization, AAPP, saying that they estimate more than 1,200 people have been detained and charged or sentenced since the coup on February 1.
More ominous, the loss of life and we caught up with the family of one of the victims of the spasm of violence on Sunday.
WATSON (voice-over): Shock and grief after the deadliest day since Myanmar's month-old military coup. This 53-year old and his mother mourned the sudden loss of his twin brother. He was one of the victims of Sunday's burst of bloody violence.
KO KO AUNG HTET NAING, VICTIMS BROTHER: And then we go to the road, then we fight for our democracy. But they shot my brother.
Ko Ko says the twins attended many protests against the military dictatorship after the February 1st military coup.
NAING: We are against the military coup and we really want democracy.
WATSON (voice-over): On the night of Saturday, February 27th, Naing posted what would be his final message on Facebook, #howmanydeadbodiesunneedtotakeaction? On Sunday morning the twins were part of this crowd in front of Yangon's number 5 business education high school. A half hour earlier, police had fired tear gas down the street, sending protesters running. But at 9:20 am, after a brief lull in detention (ph) this was him crumpled in front of the school gate.
Amid more gunfire, by bystanders struggled to drag him to safety. The brothers have been separated in the panic, Ko Ko only learned that his brother was fatally wounded with a bullet to the stomach after he repeatedly called his twin's phone.
NAING: I called my brother again and again, he took my phone and he said, you're brother had been shot by the military.
WATSON (voice-over): The spasm of violence erupted across Myanmar Sunday, claiming victims in at least 6 cities, according to the United Nations human rights office. The U.N. secretary general and U.S. secretary of state both condemned security forces for attacking peaceful protesters.
CNN has tried to reach the military for comment but it has not responded. The military-controlled media insist, police only used tear gas and stun grenades against what they described as rioting protesters.
On Monday, protesters were back out on the streets of Yangon, rebuilding their barricades. Sunday's killings have only angered the anti military movement, this activist says --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even today, after many people got killed yesterday, even today we see a lot of people out on the streets. They resist in the same scale. So nothing can eventually stop us. That's what the military needs to be convinced about that.
WATSON (voice-over): There is a memorial on the street where Ne Ne (ph) bled, Koko (ph) hopes his brother's death will not be in vain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please help us, the Myanmar people. Please reject our military, because they are not our leaders. They are not our government. They are not our future.
WATSON: Now John, you have this appeal for assistance. The U.S., as I mentioned, the U.N. secretary general, European governments have condemned the military coup and the subsequent crackdown.
China, one of Myanmar's neighbors, has effectively said that this is Myanmar's internal affairs. But Beijing has also gone on to endorse the work of the U.N. special envoy to Myanmar. That's Christine Burgener.
She spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour and said that a condition for her to go to Myanmar to try to mediate would be to be granted access to the detained, former de facto leader of the government, Aung San Suu Kyi, who hasn't really been heard of -- heard from since she was detained on February 1.
And she says that she has spoken several times with the deputy commander in chief, who has said that that access will not be granted at this time and that there need to be two conditions met first. One is to stop the disobedience movement, and the other is to continue the interrogation of Aung San Suu Kyi -- John.
VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, live for us in Hong Kong.
We'll take a short break. When we come back, military aid for Yemen is falling far short of what is needed. Ahead, the U.N. warns it could be a death sentence for millions.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
Well, the U.S. president has less than two weeks to win support from the Senate for its almost $2 trillion relief package. That's the deadline when many financial relief measures will expire.
Biden promised Americans financial help during the campaign, but as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, it appears another promises was made to be broken.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House, President Biden intensifying his efforts to bring his signature COVID relief bill through yet another hurdle in Congress.
After returning from a weekend at his home in Delaware, the president meeting virtually with nine Democratic senators whose votes he needs, along with all Senate Democrats, to pass the $1.9 trillion package.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We reserved time in his schedule to ensure that he can be engaged, roll up his sleeves, and be personally involved in making phone calls, having more Zoom meetings, potentially, having people here to the Oval Office to get this across the finish line.
ZELENY: With some benefits to Americans expiring on March 14, the clock is ticking for Biden to make good on his pledge. There is no room for error in the closely-divided Senate after the House narrowly passed a measure over the weekend, with no Republican votes.
Progressives are seething over the $15 federal minimum wage law being stripped out of the Senate version after the parliamentarian ruled it does not meet the strict requirements to be included in a budget bill.
Twenty-three congressional Democrats sent a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, urging them to override the decision and keep their campaign promise of raising the minimum wage. The White House says it's committed to doing so but not in the COVID bill.
(on camera): Progressives don't understand this. In some respect, they're like why not fight for this? So why is the White House not more aggressively challenging that and sending the vice president to try and potentially overrule that?
PSAKI: The decision for the vice president to vote to overrule, or to take a step to overrule is not a simple decision. The president and the vice president both respect the history of the Senate. They are both -- formally served in the Senate. And that's not an action we intend to take.
ZELENY (voice-over): It's the first legislative test for the White House: maintain support for moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who do not support the $15 federal minimum wage without alienating other Democrats who do.
The White House also still reconciling Biden's tough talk on the campaign trail with his decision as president to stop well short of punishing the Saudi crown prince for his role in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to, in fact, make them pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.
ZELENY (on camera): How does this come anywhere close to his pledge to Americans in November of 2019 at that debate?
PSAKI: The president has been clear to his team, and he's been clear publicly, that the relationship is not going to look like what it's looked like in the past.
ZELENY (voice-over): The White House insisted the relationship with Saudi Arabia would be recalibrated. But the move underscored how Biden's advisors see the partnership with a key Arab ally as too critical to break.
Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: The fiancee of slain Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi is calling for the kingdom's crown prince to be held accountable. Here's part of a statement she released on Monday.
"It is essential that the Crown Prince, who ordered the brutal murder of a blameless and innocent person, should be punished without delay. This will not only bring the justice we have been seeking for Jamal, but it could also prevent similar acts from occurring in the future."
Well, the U.N. was hoping to raise nearly $4 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen, but in a virtual donor conference on Monday, countries pledged less than 2 billion. The secretary-general called the effort to avoid a large-scale famine disappointing.
CNN's Richard Roth has this report.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Yemen remains the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Countries gathered to try to donate money to alleviate the pain and suffering some 20 million people in Yemen are going through.
Nevertheless, after the results were announced, the secretary-general said he was disappointed, and that it's really a death sentence for the people of Yemen.
Aid activists, relief organizations wanted some $4 billion in pledges. They got about 1.7 billion.
Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council told CNN's Becky Anderson, Monday, what the impact will be.
JAN EGELAND, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: The shortfall will be measured in lives lost, in children's lives lost. The children and the youth, the women, the most vulnerable, whom we all must agree have nothing to do with this senseless conflict.
ROTH: There was criticism of Gulf states and western countries for failing to pledge as much as they gave even a couple of years ago. Saudi Arabia donated the most in its pledge commitment, about 430 million. The United States offered 191 million.
NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Our message to the region, to the international community more broadly, is that, collectively, we must raise our ambition. Collectively, we have to do all we can to ensure the alleviation of the people of Yemen.
ROTH: This was the fifth so-called pledging conference for Yemen. The secretary-general said, when it was over, he fully expected a sixth one next year, unless the war ends.
Richard Roth, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: You're watching CNN. We'll take a short break. Back in a moment.
VAUSE: Britain's Prince Philip has been moved to another London hospital, undergoing heart tests, along with treatment for an earlier infection.
The 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth has been in hospital since February 17th. More details now from CNN's Anna Stewart.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's already been the longest hospital stay that Prince Philip's ever had, and it's getting longer.
After 13 nights staying in a small private hospital in central London, the 99-year-old was moved by ambulance to this much bigger facility. St. Bart's is an internationally recognized hospital, and Britain's National Health Service say it has the largest specialized cardiovascular service in Europe.
The palace say the Duke of Edinburgh is now undergoing testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. That's in addition to being treating for an infection.
In 2011, we know the duke received stent treatment for a blocked coronary artery. But it's unclear whether the two are related.
The palace say the duke remains comfortable, but he's likely to remain here until at least the end of the week, a much longer stay than anticipated, and particularly concerning, given the duke is just months shy of his 100th birthday.
Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
VAUSE: Well, we have this just in to CNN. A Nigerian official says 279 schoolgirls, kidnapped on Friday in the country's northwest, have all been rescued and are now safe.
The government raided the state-run school in Zamfara -- Zamfara state, I should say, on Friday. A local governor says the earlier reports of 317 girls had been taken were inaccurate. He did not say whether a ransom had been paid. It was the region's second school kidnapping in a week.
More details on that when we get them.
Meantime, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after a break. In the meantime, I'm John Vause, and I'll see you at the top of the hour.