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CNN NEWSROOM

Migrant Surge; Biden Blasts Vladimir Putin; Trump Culpable For Capitol Riot?; AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Trial Results. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 22, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:42]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: It is Monday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being here.

We start the show today with some promising new findings about a fourth vaccine against COVID-19. AstraZeneca says its shot was found to be 79 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization. This is in a U.S.-based trial.

The company says there were no safety concerns whatsoever. Here's the but. Several European countries, though, had temporarily suspended use of AstraZeneca because of reports of blood clots in a small number of vaccinated people. But the company says an independent committee found no increased risk of blood clots.

AstraZeneca is now preparing to apply for emergency use authorization here in the U.S.

And a little bit more good news for all of us today. The number of new COVID cases is continuing to drop, and the U.S. is now averaging 1,000 deaths a day. This is down 26 percent since last week.

CNN's Alexandra Field has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A vaccine plagued by weeks of controversy now showing positive results in the U.S. Will it be enough to change its global image?

RUUD DOBBER, PRESIDENT, ASTRAZENECA U.S.: We are thrilled by the results we have disclosed this morning.

FIELD: In a U.S.-based clinical trial, AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine showed 100 percent efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization, 79 percent against symptomatic infection.

The trial identified no safety concerns and found no increased risk of blood clots, this after European regulators have been urging countries to continue their use of AstraZeneca, saying the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The World Health Organization saying there is no evidence vaccine causes clots. More than a dozen European countries had paused the rollout, some now reimplementing its use.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: It caused a lot of collateral damage, because this is one of our workhorse vaccines that we're expecting for Africa and Latin America. So, this is good news also because it's reaffirming for the vaccine's use for global health as well.

FIELD: AstraZeneca is expected to apply soon for emergency use authorization in the United States, where, if approved, it would be the fourth vaccine to enter the U.S. marketplace.

More than 17 percent of adults are not fully vaccinated here. Despite big progress doling out shots, senior White House COVID adviser Andy Slavitt is warning:

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Our challenge now is actually going to be much more focused on how do we talk to the people who are on the fence about whether they want to get vaccinated?

FIELD: With new cases still holding steady at about 54,000 daily nationwide, health experts remain divided over whether a fourth surge is coming.

HOTEZ: Well, if we can just keep it together now for the next month- and-a-half, next six weeks, I think we can end this, at least in the United States.

FIELD: Cases are increasing in 17 states. Restrictions are being eased nearly everywhere.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We're the densest state in the nation in the densest region in the nation. And we're going to -- we're going to continue to monitor and continue to be very incremental in any steps that we take.

FIELD: For the first time in the year, the nation's largest school district, New York City, is offering classes for students from kindergarten to 12 grade.

DoorDash announced today they will start same-day delivery of at home FDA approved PCR tests. And across the country, a record high streak continues for pandemic air travel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: Record high indeed, Brooke.

The TSA is saying that 1.5 million people, a little bit more than that, actually, traveled yesterday. That was Sunday. That was a pandemic era travel record. It beat the record set just a day prior. It was the 11th straight day that we saw more than a million people flying. And, Brooke, it certainly underlines the fact that people are very much in a rush to get back to normal. It also underscores why health officials keep repeatedly saying that you have got to continue to be vigilant about mask use and going to get your vaccine as soon as you become eligible -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, and where a lot of these people are heading, Miami Beach.

Alex, thank you.

I want to talk about that next, because, despite all these warnings from the CDC to continue limiting travel, it is college spring break for so many universities across the country.

[15:05:00]

And look at this. Partygoers in Miami Beach are getting together. Not a lot of masks in this crowd. Not a heck of a lot of precautions here. This is video from just last night, where authorities tried to enforce a curfew.

CNN's Randi Kaye is there.

And, Randi, these pictures.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke.

It was certainly a wild weekend here in Miami Beach, Florida. At one point, there were more than 1,000 people in the street. And police had to clear them out, had to clear out those spring breakers by using some of these pepper balls to try and clear them out.

The mayor says that it was such a scene that it was really overwhelming. He said, at one point, there was a bit of a stampede. He said that there was gunfire. Somebody fired a weapon into the air. There was some rioting, he said.

And you have to look at this video of people dancing on a car even after police had enforced the new 8:00 p.m. curfew. No doubt, spring breakers came to party. They have -- are really treating this like it is the pre-pandemic, maybe partying like it's 2019.

But the police want no part of that. So that's why they are getting very strict about clearing the streets. The city has now put into place a state of emergency and a curfew, which begins Thursday through Sunday. And that's at 8:00 p.m. for the streets here. They will close, Ocean Drive here behind me, which is the entertainment district.

You can't be on those streets after 8:00 p.m. unless you're a resident or you need to get to one of your hotels or you're working at a business here. The causeways from the mainland over to this area, those will be closing at 10:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and everything will reopen at 6:00 p.m. That's when the state of emergency and the -- 6:00 a.m., I should say. That is when the state of emergency and the curfew is lifted. But the mayor here of Miami Beach has said, look, if you're coming here to my city to get crazy, we don't want you. Go somewhere else. Here's what else he told CNN:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN GELBER (D), MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, it feels in some ways like our city is the tinder right now. We're one of the few destinations open. And so people are flocking here in huge numbers.

And it's not just about not wearing masks and physical distancing. It's also some of the folks that are coming are coming with bad intentions. So, there's been brawls and even gunplay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: We're also learning that, since February 3, there have been more than 1,000 arrests here in Miami Beach.

And we have been told that more than 50 percent of those arrests are people from out of state. So, that's why there's such a concern about people coming here to Florida.

The other concern, of course, is the U.K. variant. Florida has the most cases of the U.K. variant. There's a lot of concern among officials that we could see a surge related to that variant and that some of these spring breakers who are coming in from out of state will then come into contact with that variant, get on airplanes, travel through the airport with that variant and bring it home to their home state.

So, Brooke, lots of concern here in Miami Beach -- back to you.

BALDWIN: Yes, which is the last thing any of us wants.

Randi in Miami Beach.

Randi, thank you very much.

Let's talk about all of this with CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She's also the former health commissioner of Baltimore.

And, Dr. Wen, we will talk about Miami Beach in just a second. But the other huge piece of news today about AstraZeneca, 79 percent effective overall, 100 percent against severe cases. How much of a difference could a fourth vaccine in this country make?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think that the AstraZeneca vaccine will make a big difference around the world.

And that's the key, because even we saw last week that there were some questions about maybe are there some side effects associated with this vaccine? Well, the data that are going to be released from AstraZeneca, when they apply for FDA authorization here, will really clarify that and I think make clear once and for all the safety of this vaccine.

This is a vaccine that's inexpensive. It can be stored at refrigerator temperatures, transported at that kind of temperature and be stable for six months. And so it really is the workhorse that we expect to be really effective around the world. And I think that certainly makes a difference to have in our arsenal of vaccines.

BALDWIN: You mentioned we're waiting for the clarity, because the issue is, like, there were some concerns that of Europe that the AstraZeneca vaccine was causing blood clots.

But we're hearing from senior European officials who are shooting that down. What's the truth? Do you know?

WEN: Well, what we know so far is that there are going to be incidents of people having all kinds of health issues at the same time that they get the vaccine that's totally unrelated to the vaccine.

When you give something, whether it's a vaccine or a therapy, to millions of millions of people, life happens to these individuals. And the key is to see, is the vaccine the cause of that or is this just happening, that's totally a coincidence?

And so far it looks like it's coincidental. Of note, in the U.S. study, that AstraZeneca is -- has talked about today, it seems that there were no cases of blood clots in those receiving the vaccine. So I think that should be very reassuring.

[15:10:12]

BALDWIN: Great.

And just lastly, Miami Beach. What?

WEN: Right.

I mean, I think it is obvious that people are not heeding public health guidance, that people are not listening when we say, don't party, don't travel. I mean, the CDC is saying, no nonessential travel. But, obviously, people are not listening. We're having an all- time high when it comes to air traffic since the beginning of the pandemic.

So, I think, at this point, we need to pivot our strategy. Instead of telling people not to do something -- clearly, that's not working -- we need to say, how can we reduce harm? Make sure, for example, that you're outdoors more than you're indoors. Mask-wearing is a form of reducing harm too.

And I think also telling people, if you did engage in risky behavior, when you return to your home community, make sure that you quarantine and test. And, ideally, you don't go in the first place, but at least wait until you're vaccinated, because that in itself, getting the vaccine, is a form of harm reduction as well.

BALDWIN: Let's hope, if people aren't maybe heeding the warnings while they're partying, they will do so on the back end when they are home.

Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much.

Also, please don't miss this unprecedented event with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, when medical leaders in the war on COVID break their silence. We're calling it a "CNN SPECIAL REPORT: COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out." It begins Sunday night at 9:00 here on CNN.

Former President Donald Trump may be on the hook criminally for the deadly riot on Capitol Hill. That is according to the former top prosecutor in the case. We have news on that.

Also, President Biden called Vladimir Putin a killer. We will discuss that with a key Kremlin critic, who, by the way, claims that he just made the list from Vladimir Putin, his new kill list. Is he scared?

And Republican Congressman Tom Reed apologizes, says he will not run for reelection, after a lobbyist, a woman reportedly claims he unhooked her bra at a bar a couple years ago. Why aren't Republicans calling on him to step down?

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:52]

BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Former President Donald Trump could be culpable for the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. That is according to the former federal prosecutor who until days ago had been leading the investigation into that riot.

Here is Michael Sherwin doing an interview on CBS "60 Minutes" from just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SHERWIN, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: It's unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?

We have soccer moms from Ohio that were arrested, saying, well, I did this because my president said I have to take back our house. That moves the needle towards that direction. Maybe the president is culpable for those actions, but also you see in the public record too militia members saying, you know what, we did this because Trump just talks a big game. He's just all talk.

QUESTION: In short, you have investigators looking into the president's role?

SHERWIN: We have people looking at everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is in Washington following the story.

And I think one had assumed that the DOJ would be looking into former President Trump, but now it's like, bam, on the page, in the interview that they are.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

And this is actually the second time that Michael Sherwin has said this, Brooke. It was previously in a phone call with reporters. But he said they are looking into the actions of everyone associated with the Capitol attack on January 6. And, of course, that includes former President Trump.

And from my reporting, I also know that the Washington, D.C., attorney general's investigators, they are also looking at what would be needed to charge the president on the D.C. side of things, sort of the local side of things, and doing that in coordination with the U.S. attorney's office, looking possibly at an incitement to riot charge.

But, of course, this would be a big, difficult charge to bring. It will be a difficult one to prove, since, of course, there are free speech considerations here. And the former president has repeatedly denied that he incited any violence.

But aside all that, it is notable that Michael Sherwin, the outgoing acting U.S. attorney, he said it's something still being considered. And then he pointed to what you heard there, that these defendants in court, including those Ohio soccer moms that he referenced, they're basically saying, Trump made me do it and that, but for Trump's rhetoric, Sherwin says that people never would have come to Washington on January 6, we likely never would have had the Capitol attack.

So it is that question that prosecutors are asking and looking into.

BALDWIN: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: Is the former president here culpable, Brooke?

BALDWIN: We will follow the investigation, right along with you.

Jess, thank you very much.

Senior Biden administration officials are traveling to Mexico today for talks on how to manage the ongoing surge of migrants into the United States. Right now, thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are in U.S. custody.

And, today, we are now getting this new look of what's it like inside of these border facilities. You are looking right along with me at these photos. This is released by Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar's office. They show an overflow border facility in Donna, Texas. This is from just this past weekend, children and adults crowded together in tight conditions. [15:20:08]

CNN has learned that, as of Sunday, there are almost 4,900 unaccompanied minors being held in Border Patrol facilities. More than 800 of those children have been in custody for more than 10 days, much, much longer than the 72 hours allowed under U.S. law.

So, let's go to CNN Priscilla Alvarez. She is live in Dallas.

And, Priscilla, just what is the Biden administration going to do about it?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Brooke, here in Dallas is one of the solutions.

So, this convention center, one of the largest in the country, part of it has been transformed into an emergency intake site, so that the administration can begin to transfer those children who are in Border Patrol facilities to this site. Here, they're provided medical services, meals. They're provided an area where they can call family either domestically or internationally and work with case managers to relocate with relatives in the United States.

So, this is one of the solutions as the administration is trying to catch up with the sheer number of children in Border Patrol custody. Earlier today, we heard from the White House press secretary about the photos you mentioned. And here's what she had to say:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, these photos show what we have long been saying, which is that these Border Patrol facilities are not places made for children.

They are not places that we want children to be staying for an extended period of time. Our alternative is to send children back on this treacherous journey. That is not, in our view, the right choice to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALVAREZ: This is the urgent issue the administration is facing. They have thousands of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone, coming into Border Patrol facility, and the administration scrambling to find shelter space that is suitable for them, for them to stay and continue through their process, Brooke.

So, until that happens, as you mentioned, 4,900 children in those facilities, the administration popping up these sites like here at the convention center to start to accommodate them -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let's see what happens is in the wake of this trip to Mexico.

Priscilla, thank you very much in Dallas. More tough talk from Russia, after President Biden took a tougher stance against Vladimir Putin. We will discuss with the man who says that he is now officially on Putin's new kill list.

Plus: a Republican congressman accused of sexual misconduct. But Tom Reed's response to these allegations has been a bit different than other politicians who faced similar claims. He is taking responsibility.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:27:13]

BALDWIN: Secretary of State Tony Blinken is traveling to Brussels today for NATO meetings. And this trip comes as U.S. tensions with China and Russia are on the rise.

On Thursday, top U.S. and Chinese diplomats had this public spat in front of reporters, in front of cameras in Alaska, right? We talked about that then. And Russia recalled its U.S. ambassador after President Biden said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So, you know Vladimir Putin. You think he's a killer?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mm-hmm. I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Joining me now is renowned Putin critic and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, Bill Browder.

Bill, welcome back.

Listen, it's no secret you are a longtime critic of Vladimir Putin's. And so I saw your tweet that Putin has this new kill list, and you're on it?

BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Well, so I read an article in "The Daily Mirror," a British newspaper, on Saturday that said that there's a new kill list. There are six people on this kill list. And I was just reading through it and there was my name.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: And you thought?

BROWDER: Well, I thought, uh-oh.

Now, I should point out that -- I mean, when you hear this, this might sound crazy, but I have been an enemy of the Putin regime since 2010, when I started lobbying for the Magnitsky Act, which -- which imposes sanctions on Vladimir Putin and his regime and freezes their assets. And when it was passed in 2012, he's been going crazy. And I'm sort of

one of his biggest targets. I have been threatened with death, with kidnapping. They tried to have me arrested through Interpol eight times. I live in London, and they have come to the British government for my extradition like nearly a dozen times.

So, this is not new to me that they're angry. But it's never nice to see your name on a kill list.

BALDWIN: Now, I appreciate your coming off as cool as a cucumber. People watching and thinking, if it were my name in the same sentence with Vladimir Putin and kill, I may not be as calm.

Tell me why you are not more frightened.

BROWDER: Well, I have been dealing with this for 10 years. And I'm not saying I'm not frightened. I mean, I just don't spend my life living in fear.

BALDWIN: Sure.

BROWDER: You just can't physically do that over a 10-year period.

And so I'm not taking it lightly. I'm -- I take very serious precautions. I'm not exposing myself in ways that I think will give it -- give them an easy opportunity to kill me.

But I'm not going to tone down my rhetoric. I'm not going to stop my campaign for more Magnitsky Acts around the world. The whole -- my whole story with Vladimir Putin stems from the murder of my lawyer. They murdered my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky 11 years ago.