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White House Discussed Including Travel Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People in CDC Guidance But Decided Against; CDC: Women More Likely to Report Vaccine Side Effects Than Men; How Dr. Suess Allowed Biden to Pass COVID Relief Bill; Biden's Dogs Sent to Delaware Home after Aggressive Incident; Bush & Clinton Portraits Back Up at White House after Trump Took Them Down; FOX & GOP Slam Biden's Checks to Prisoners After Supporting Under Trump; Queen "Saddened" in 1st Response on Harry & Meghan Interview. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 9, 2021 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I can't even imagine that, you know. I'm trying not to think about it --


KEILAR: -- because then I'm going to be excited and then I'm going to be mad that I can't do it.

OK. So the CDC doesn't say much about other activities, things like going to the restaurant or the gym. What about those settings, a viewer asks.

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. For restaurants and gyms and places like that, it's the same as it is for unvaccinated people.

Getting vaccinated doesn't change the CDC's guidance. Let's take a look at what that guidance is. It's been around quite a while now.

They say, if you're at a restaurant or gym, vaccinated or unvaccinated, you should be wearing a mask, you should be maintaining social distancing, avoid crowds, avoid poorly vented spaces, and wash your hands.

Same rules as it is for unvaccinated people.

KEILAR: Many of those who received vaccinations are seniors. Where do those vaccination numbers stand?

COHEN: Those are chugging along. Those numbers are looking better and better.

CNN did an analysis of the data, and here's what we found. We found when you're looking at seniors, 65 ages and older, 60 percent have received at least one dose, 30 percent are fully vaccinated. And Florida, interestingly enough, just to give you an example of one state, they're about at 56 percent vaccinated -- I'm sorry, with just one dose. So they're moving down to 60-year-olds starting next week.

So Florida lowering its age next week from 65 to 60.

KEILAR: It's great to see the progress. We still have far to go but it's wonderful to see those numbers.


KEILAR: Elizabeth, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

KEILAR: The benefits of getting a COVID vaccine far outweigh of risks of getting sick with the virus. But the vaccines can have side effects. And we're learning those side effects are more likely to strike women than men.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard has been looking into this.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Brianna, we first saw signs of more women than men reporting adverse side effects early on in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

So from mid-December to mid-January, more than 13 million doses of the vaccine were administered. Among those, almost 7,000 reports of adverse events came in.

Here's what the CDC study found on those reports, about 79 percent were reported in women, even though only about 61 percent of vaccine doses were given to women.

Most of the symptoms reported were headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

But, Brianna, the CDC told me just today that, overall, more women than men have been vaccinated and more women are included in the safety and monitoring of the vaccine. That's something experts are continuing to watch.

Regardless, there might be some biological differences here as well -- Brianna?


KEILAR: Jacqueline, thank you.

Coming up, the House set to vote tomorrow morning to give final passage to President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. And my next guest says, we have the Dr. Seuss controversy to thank for it.



KEILAR: The COVID relief bill is about to be law and so the treasury will have to withdraw $1.9 trillion -- not billion, no million -- $1.9 trillion. And that is a lot.

To have great effects to write lots of checks, $1,400 checks that's what the Dems got. The Republicans said no, unanimous no go. Too much, too fast, too good for Joe.

But a good day for stocks and good day for FOX, which filled its blocks with Seuss book shocks. Some GOP cried Seuss got canceled, even though the racism was fairly substantial.

And the game for suits was quite substantial. The distraction of it all was circumstantial.

The COVID bill went unseen. That was the point of Ron Brownstein, who joins us now.


KEILAR: Ron, you say this was made by FOX and some Republicans on these six Seuss books, actually pulled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, but that effectively captured more attention from conservatives than this gigantic spending bill.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's an extraordinary moment. And it's an extraordinary poem. So congratulations, first of all --

KEILAR: Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: -- on your Seuss imitation.

Look, what we saw in this COVID fight, COVID relief bill, in some ways the most important thing was, as in the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Dog that Didn't Bark," Republicans were unable to ignite any serious grassroots backlash against a bill that spent $1.9 trillion, more than double the Obama stimulus, and vastly more than Clinton's plan in 1983.

And I think that reflects both the popularity of the bill, 70 percent support today in a poll, including 40 percent Republicans.

But even more importantly, Brianna, it reflects the extent to which the Republican coalition is animated and mobilized primarily by issues of cultural and racial grievance rather than the size of government.

And that could have big implications in encouraging Democratic moderates and Democratic centrists to be comfortable not only with this plan but what might be coming next, a very large infrastructure proposal.

KEILAR: And fiscal conservatism is this thing that's always just been a part of our political system. It's been a tension usually only in the Democratic rings. And now you have conservatives who are really not motivated by that in

such a big way that we haven't seen.

Is that kind of, that poll, that fiscal, conservative side, is that just gone?

BROWNSTEIN: We don't know if it's completely gone. And that's one of the things Biden will find out in the next two years when they come back with another economic plan that could be $2 trillion or more over a 10-year period.

But there's no question, even if it's not completely gone, it is tremendously attenuated.

People focus on the fact no Republicans voted for this in either chamber. And that's true. But virtually all of the Democratic centrists in both chambers voted for it with much less teeth -- one said to me there was no teeth gnashing, no pearl clutching.


The changes John Manchin demanded for his support were really minor by historic standards, compared to Obama or Clinton or Bush's '01 tax cut.

And I think what you're seeing is the capacity -- while Republicans are distracted by trying to light these cultural wars constantly, that is leaving a lot of room for Biden to move forward on his economic agenda and hold Democrats who, in the past, might have been somewhat leery of being tagged with that big-government label.

KEILAR: What does this spell? I mean, I hear you saying it's actually giving Democrats opportunity, but clearly, Republicans see opportunity in this culture war stuff.


KEILAR: What does that ultimately spell for the agenda of the GOP?

BROWNSTEIN: So I do think, you know, it's an open question whether trying to run entirely on culture war, the Democrats are trying to erase America as we know it, is a winning strategy for Republicans in 2022 and 2024.

There's an audience for that message. It is the driving, kind of animating concern of the GOP.

One poll by the Conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, 90 percent of Republicans said Christianity in America is under assault. And 75 percent of Republicans in another poll say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as bias against minorities.

Those are the issues that move the GOP coalition.

But two things. One, while they're focused on that in practical terms between now and 2022, I think this means the Democratic moderates are going to feel much more comfortable supporting Biden on a very aggressive economic agenda and be less fearful of being tagged with big government.

And, second, one thing we know from past generations, this is not the majority agenda. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections. It's never happened before in the modern party systems since 1828.

And you see by what's going in the states, that you've been reporting on, that rather than trying to craft a majority agenda, they're looking for ways to make it tougher for that majority to vote.

And that's why, beyond COVID, clearly, the biggest decisions Democrats face is whether they will pass H.R.-1, the democracy reform and a new Voting Rights Act, which will require them to curtail the filibuster.

Again, another issue that those last few Democratic moderates will be critical in determining.

KEILAR: Definitely. Always fascinating.

Ron, thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you. I wish I had a poem back for you.

KEILAR: We'll work on it later.

Up next, The White House says President Biden's rescue dogs will come back to D.C. despite being sent to Delaware after an aggressive incident. We'll talk about what we know that happened.

Plus, two historic portraits are back in the White House after former President Trump took them down.



KEILAR: The two German shepherds belonging to President Joe Biden and first lady are now back at the Biden family home in Delaware.

Sources say Major, who was adopted by the president a couple of years ago from a shelter, recently showed aggressive behavior at the White House.

For more on this, let's bring in Kate Bennett.

Kate, this honestly, this is the story that I am most interested in today. What more do we know about what happened here? And we do understand, right, they're going to be back?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is something that I reported on late last night. This is an incident that happened with Major, who got excited, who had been a bit on the unruly side, my sources tell me, at the White House. He's the dog that sort of charges, barks, puts a little more fear in terms of control into some of the staff.

And there was an incident that press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, just confirmed during the briefing that happened last Monday.

She said this person walked into a room and Major was surprised by an unfamiliar face and that there was an incident that resulted in an injury. The person was treated by the White House medical unit and did not need further treatment.

But it was enough, Brianna, that the dogs were taken back to Delaware. The people I spoke to said this incident prompted that removal.

Jen Psaki said today it was a preplanned trip back to Delaware because Dr. Biden is away on the west coast for a couple of days, until Wednesday, on a work trip.

However, you know, as a dog person, you know, dogs are -- they can be sketchy in new places. This is a new house. This is new staff members. These are security agents standing around.

Even on the South Lawn, if they're out there roaming, you never know who's going to pop up during their rounds, maintenance workers.

Certainly, it can be a surprising and stressful situation for our K-9 friends. And Major, he's a young pup, and this is something that happened.

KEILAR: I think a lot of people relate to this, so I think that's why they're so curious about it, right?


KEILAR: When you have pets, sometimes they're unpredictable here.

I do want to ask you about some changes Biden is making at the White House by bringing back some of the presidential portraits that Trump had taken down. Tell us about this.

BENNETT: My colleague, Kevin Liptak, reported on this. During Trump's administration last summer, he had removed two officials portraits, one of Bill Clinton and one of President George W. Bush.

That were in the entry of the grand foyer of the White House. You could see them right when you come down from the executive residence.

He removed them and put them in an room a lot of people don't go in. Biden's have returned the portraits to their rightful place in the grand foyer.

KEILAR: All right. And I bet a lot of people didn't even know they were gone.


KEILAR: This is incredibly interesting.


Kate, thank you so much. Kate Bennett.

As the final vote on President Biden's historic relief bill is expected tomorrow, there's some hypocrisy blooming on Capitol Hill.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton is complaining that some of the relief money will go to prisoners. Tweeting that, "Under the plan, two of the nation's most infamous mass murderers, the Boston bomber and Charleston church killer, will get money."

Which is something that was echoed online by FOX News. Its headline emphasized that the funds come right from taxpayer pockets.

Here's more from the Senator from Arkansas.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): They had a chance on Saturday morning to stop checks from going to prisoners, from going to the Boston bomber, for instance, and on that vote they declined. Every single Democrat wanted to continue the practice of sending checks to prisoners.

UNIDENTIFIED FOX CO-HOST: Is that true that Dylann Roof, the guy who walked into that church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed all of those people, he is going to get a check?

COTTON: Every prisoner in the United States, if they have any tax forms filed, is eligible for a check under this bill.

The Democrats had a chance to stop that from happening Saturday morning and they voted it down. I suspect you'll be hearing more of that next year on the campaign trail.


KEILAR: This sounds awful but we've learned it's not so simple and that the Senator has a double standard because he was silent when the Trump administration did the same thing.

President Trump also approved of sending COVID relief money to, yes, prisoners.

CNN's Daniel Dale is here to further explain to us.

Daniel, the Senator points out that Democrats could have changed the rule to ban prisoners from these checks, but they did not. I think a lot of people would wonder why not.

Tell us, first, what the Republicans did under President Trump. Perhaps that will inform this.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Both relief bills passed by the Republican- controlled Senate in 2020 and signed in 2020 by Republican President Donald Trump included checks for prisoners. This is not new.

Brianna, let me walk through the timeline because it's clarifying.

In March, the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passed the CARES Act, including 1,200 checks. President Trump sign that had bill. Nothing in that bill prohibited prisoners from receiving those checks.

Now, after the signing, the IRS came out and said no prisoners allowed. Prisoners can't get checks. Prisoners said, hey, wait a minute, that's not in the law. They filed a class-action lawsuit. And in October, a judge sided with them.

Now Senator Cotton tweeted this week that the only reason prisoners got money under this bill was because of a liberal judge.

No, the reason prisoners got money was because there was no prohibition on prisoners getting money in the bill.

So that was March. And then we go to October and then we're in December.

Republicans still control the Senate. They put forward a second COVID relief bill for up to $600 checks. Nothing in that bill prohibited prisoners from getting money so prisoners did get money.

Senator Cotton's office told me that that was an up-or-down Senate vote so there was no chance on the Senate floor to offer an amendment to ban prisoners.

That's true. However, Republican leaders could have written that language into the bill before it got to the floor. They didn't so.

Go March, October, December, and now in this year, President Biden is in office with a Democratic-controlled Senate and another bill with up to $1,400 checks.

This time, Senator Cotton and a fellow Republican put forward an amendment to ban prisoners from receiving checks. Democrats did reject that amendment. They voted to keep allowing prisoners to receive the money.

Senator Cotton's office says it makes it acceptable for him to attack Democrats for sending money because this was the first time there was a specific vote explicitly on the issue of prisoners getting money.

OK, that's fair. But I still think it's deceptive for him to wage this attack on Democrats alone without even mentioning that his own votes, his own party, and his own previous president approved money for prisoners themselves -- Brianna?

KEILAR: It's very interesting as you lay it out like that. You can see there's a lot of nuance.

Reasonable people, I would expect, would say, why is someone like Dylann Roof getting taxpayer money?

What is the argument for giving relief checks to regular prisoners?

DALE: Prisoner advocates say, look, they are not all Dylann Roof in prison. A lot of people are serving short-term sentences and will get out soon and need to support themselves. It's hard to get a job during the pandemic.

And there's many costs prisoners face, including phone calls, text messages to loved ones and medical co-pays. And they need to pay these. And their loved ones often have to bear the burden. So this relieves people on the outside as well.

KEILAR: Interesting.

Daniel Dale, thank you so much for taking us through that.


We're staying on our breaking new. The queen has finally weighed in on Meghan Markle's explosive allegations of racism in her sit-down interview with Oprah. Hear how the royals plan to handle it.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.


Queen Elizabeth breaking her silence today over that bombshell interview from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle where they accused the royal family of racism and yanking their security protection.