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Biden: Goal is 200 Million COVID Vaccine Shots in First 100 Days; Second Day of EU COVID-19 Summit Begins; Boulder Shooting Suspect Makes First Appearance in Court; Western Brands Like H&M, Nike Face Boycott in China; Critics Point Out Contradictions in Harry & Meghan's Tell-All. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 26, 2021 - 04:30   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The U.S. president has announced a major new goal for America's COVID vaccination drive. Joe Biden made the big announcement at his news conference on Thursday where he also praised the U.S. vaccine rollout so far.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will by my 100th day in office have administered 200 million shots in people's arms. That's right, 200 million shots in 100 days. I know it's ambitious, twice our original goal, but no other country in the world has each come close, not even close to what we are doing.


BRUNHUBER: And European leaders were to meet at this hour for the second day of their summit on COVID-19. It's taking place virtually because infection numbers keep increasing. The big talking point will be the issue of restricting vaccine exports, something the French president supports. Joe Biden spoke to EU leaders on Thursday and called for close cooperation given the common challenges.

International diplomatic editor Nick Robertson joins me now. Nic, take us through the highlights and what we can expect today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Kim, the message coming from the EU very clearly is they want to step up the vaccine rollout inside the European Union. There's a lot of pressure on them, as you say, there's a third wave coming. They have talked about proportionality. They've talked about reciprocity, that being that they should put restrictions on export into countries that don't allow free vaccine or vaccine component exports. The European Union proportionality if a country outside the EU is doing better than the European Union in terms of vaccine rollout then the EU should come first. They didn't get a supporting vote on those tough measures, but they

did say that it is important that the EU does -- EU citizens do get their fair share of the vaccine. They say that they now have transparency on what vaccine manufacturers are doing and they say in that context they will expect companies like AstraZeneca to meet their commitments to the European Union ahead of other commitments beyond the EU's borders.

There was concern in the U.K. that the measures that could be introduced could stop and limit vaccines coming to the U.K. That that could have a significant knock on effect on the U.K.'s vaccine rollout. The U.K., of course, at least three times ahead of the EU in terms of vaccine rollout.

It does seem at the moment as if the U.K. has avoided that, that the EU has not gone as far as those tough measures. Second there, as you say, it is still possible they may win a round, enough support within that leaders council meeting but it seems at the moment so far that they're going to stop short -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. All right, we'll follow that throughout the day. CNN's Nic Robertson in London. Thank you very much.

So as well as vaccinations Europe is taking other measures to stop the spread of the virus. France is banning outdoor gathering of more than six people, there are also strict measures in place in 19 regions across the country. France has about 100 departments in total.

Then across the channel, the British Prime Minister has backtracked on the idea of vaccine passports for pubs after a backlash from the hospitality industry. Let's bring in CNN's Scott McLean who is in London for us. Scott, so it got everyone talking when Boris Johnson floated those, you know, COVID passports for pubs. It seems like the ultimate carrot to get people vaccinated, but I mean, is it actually doable?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so no final decisions have been made on that. The Prime Minister kind of treading lightly on this issue at the moment but he said this week that he's been thinking quite deeply about it with the idea of making sure that you can safely go to the pub without the risk of any kind of infection.


He said yesterday that there's three ways to do that, obviously you can require someone to show a negative test, you can require them to show antibodies from a previous infection or of course, proof of vaccination, which now more than half of the adult population in this country has had at least one dose of.

As you mentioned though, there's plenty of critics of this, mostly from the pub industry, from pub owners themselves, who are expecting restrictions to be fully lifted by the end of June. And so, they don't want any kind of lingering restrictions beyond that. There are also all kinds of ethical and moral considerations to be made as well. Since not everybody wants or can actually get a vaccine as well. And so, the Prime Minister has acknowledged that those are issues that will need to be sorted out. And he said that, look, if this is to be brought in it won't be right away, it'll be once everyone has had the chance to at least be offered the vaccine. So perhaps that could serve as a bit of an incentive.

But even discussing this issue is a luxury that the U.K. has right now because the situation in France is much, much different. And I'll show you a graphic that illustrates the situation where the U.K. is seeing its case counts steadily decline for a couple months now. France, though, they are going in the opposite direction and the reason why is vaccinations. France has been able to vaccinate only about a third of the number of people that the U.K. is doing, they simply do not have the kind of supply that this country has and so instead they're resorting to the blunt instrument of new COVID restrictions.

So more regions now are going into lockdown light, nonessential stores and shops are closing, while schools are remaining open. And across the country social gatherings are being restricted to just three people.

The U.K. is going in entirely the opposite direction, pubs are set to open at least outdoors in a couple weeks from now, social gatherings are going to be loosened starting on Monday. And so, given the sort of night and day scenario you can understand why French President Emmanuel Macron is so supportive of this idea of limiting or restricting vaccine exports out of the EU to places like the U.K. where obviously the situation is much, much better -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. All right. thanks so much, Scott McLean in London. Appreciate it.

The suspect in the Boulder supermarket shooting has been moved from the county jail. Officials tell CNN that other inmates were asking about him and making threats. In court Thursday his attorney asked that the next hearing be delayed so that the defense can assess what she called her client's mental illness. CNN's Kyung Lah has details.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Handcuffed and in a wheelchair from a gunshot wound to his right thigh, Ahmad Alissa appeared for the first time as defendant. The 21-year-old sat alert as the judge read his rights in the courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, do you understand those rights as I've explained them to you this morning? We need you to answer out loud please.


LAH (voice-over): That was the only time he spoke in his 10-minute hearing. He is charged with 10 counts of murder for the 10 innocent lives lost at the store. Prosecutors also filed an 11th charge of attempted first-degree murder for Officer Richard Steidell. Officer Steidell, one of the first responding officers to King Soopers store described being shot at by the gunman in the arrest affidavit as he saw fellow Officer Eric Talley fatally wounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be filing additional charges in the next couple of weeks.

LAH (voice-over): The Boulder County District Attorney says those charges will come after investigators still at the scene today, finished collecting all the evidence. The public defender indicated a possible future defense.

KATHRYN HEROLD, PUBLIC DEFENDER: We cannot begin to assess the nature and depth of Mr. Alissa's mental illness until we have the discovery from the government.

LAH (voice-over): Mental illness and school years filled with being bullied for being Muslim according to Alissa's brother who saw him growing increasingly paranoid. His attorneys today did not discuss his current mental state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What sort of state is he in right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no comment.

LAH (voice-over): A law enforcement source tells CNN investigators are scrubbing through his social media presence, among them posts like this one where he complained, "If these racist Islamophobic people would stop hacking my phone and let me have a normal life, I probably could."

Across Boulder, memorials to remember the victims and 10 families unable to grasp the loss, including the sister of Officer Talley.

KRISTIN BROOKS, SISTER OF FALLEN OFFICER: My mother called me, and she was just screaming, and she said his daughter had called her -- his young daughter. And said, Nana, daddy -- daddy is dead. This is not OK. It's not OK that I am burying my brother.

LAH (voice-over): In an act to mark the end of Officer Talley's watch, the Boulder Police Department used the fallen officer's handcuffs to formally place the shooting suspect into custody, tweeting this: Though this was a small gesture, we hope it is the start of the healing process that so many of us need at this time.


LAH: The Boulder Police Department announced that the funeral for Officer Talley will be on Tuesday morning, it will be live streamed so the public can also take part in watching.

As far as the suspect, did he not enter a plea in court. The prosecutor already warning the public here that it is going to be a lengthy court process.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: All right, we'll have much more news to come here on CNN, including some big name western brands facing a boycott in China after speaking out about how some Chinese cotton is produced. That's ahead.


BRUNHUBER: Some popular Western brands are facing a boycott in China. A few big names including H&M and Nike have expressed concerns about claims that forced labor is used to produce cotton in China's western Xinjiang Province. Those companies are now facing a firestorm on Chinese social media. Beijing dismisses the allegations.


HUA CHUNYING, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Allegation of forced labor in Xinjiang is lies fabricate by anti-China forces to smear China and disrupt Xinjiang's security and stability and contain China's development.


BRUNHUBER: All right, let's bring in our Kristie Lu Stout. She's standing by in Hong Kong. This really seems to be exploding online in China. What's the latest here?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exploding in a big way. In fact, the associated #ISupportXinjiangCotton has been read some 4.8 billion times in China. I mean this is huge. And it all started when earlier this week, the Communist Youth League -- this is the youth movement of the ruling Chinese Communist Party -- dug up an old statement from H&M and posted on Weibo -- a popular social media platform in China.


In this statement H&M said that it expressed deep concern over reports over the alleged use of forced labor in the production of cotton in Xinjiang. When that was post it went viral and this huge torrent of fury was unleashed directed at H&M with that hashtag, as I mentioned, being read some 4.8 billion times. This is huge as you can imagine, H&M has been hit hard. The world's second largest clothing retailer from Sweden has been taken off and de-platformed from major e-commerce sites in China. There are reports it has been scrubbed off of online maps in China. It's no longer seen on ride hailing services in China, celebrities have cut their ties with the retailer. H&M insists it has continued to be committed to the China market.

As you just mentioned, Kim, it's not just H&M, it's Nike, it's Adidas, it's Burberry, it's a host of other big Western brand names. I want you to listen to these angry Chinese consumers in Beijing and how they support the boycott. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We should boycott them and let them know that China is not a country to be trifled with. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I will resist any brand that has any bad comments about our motherland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is our country. They should get out of China. We can choose not to use it, not to wear it. It is just not necessary for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think you should respect our country. They won't have a future, here if they try to smear China.


LU STOUT (on camera): Now, Xinjiang is of course a major point of friction between China and Western powers. It was in December when the United States announced that it would ban the import of cotton from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns. In the past week we've seen the EU, the U.K. and the United States put sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses in relation to Xinjiang and China has retaliated, slapping its own set of sanctions against, not just EU, but U.K., individuals and entities accusing them of, quote, maliciously spreading lies and disinformation, unquote -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Coming up, critics of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pointing out contradictions in the things they told Oprah Winfrey. We'll tell you what that's all about. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex grabbed headlines around the world with a series of surprising claims in their interview a few weeks ago with Oprah Winfrey. But now critics are picking apart the royal couple's story as Max Foster reports, they say it was full of inconsistencies.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Whether or not you are team Sussex, it is hard to argue against the profound issue raised by the Oprah Winfrey interview. Especially around suicide prevention and confronting racism. Wherever it may live.

But critics of the couple are pointing to in consistencies in the tell-all interview. Starting, with their choice of platform. A major U.S. network, with the most established interview were on the planet, when the previously pledged to engage with grassroots media organizations, and young, up incoming journalists. Then, there was this line --

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: No, I've never looked up my husband online. FOSTER (voice-over): Twitter blew up with genuine disbelief, especially in light with what former best friend, Ninaki Priddy, told the Daily Mail.

She was always fascinated by the royal family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0.

OPRAH WINFREY, OPRAH SHOW HOST: But you are certainly aware of the royals.

MARKLE: Of course.

FOSTER (voice-over): And what about critic's claims that Meghan lied about when they were married?

MARKLE: You know, three days before our wedding, we got married.

No one knows that, the vows that we have framed in our room, just the two of us in our backyard with Archbishop Canterbury.

FOSTER (voice-over): "The Sun" getting hold of a copy of the marriage license, showing the legally-binding wedding was in the church, not the backyard. A spokesperson clarified.

The couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May the 19th.

The couple are known for their distrust in the tabloid media, and they voice their frustration with how the palace tries to apiece certain titles.

MARKLE: I think there is a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace. They are hosted by the palace. The tabloids are. You know, there is a construct that is at play there.

FOSTER (voice-over): But tabloids reporters say they have no memory of such parties. Russel Myers, royal editor of the "Daily Mirror" tweeting, Meghan has just claimed Buckingham palace throw holiday parties for the U.K. tabloids. And now, I am wondering, why I never got a ticket.

WINFREY: Were you silent, or were you silenced?

FOSTER (voice-over): Oprah's question here has been the subject of countless memes. But the answer has been deconstructed too.

MARKLE: I've advocated for so long for women to use their voice. And then, I was silent.

FOSTER (voice-over): Is that true? Palace insiders will point to many occasions that show that Meghan was allowed the voice, they say. Particularity, on feminist issues.

MARKLE: Right now, in the climate that we are seeing with so many campaigns, I mean, Me Too, and Times Up, there is no better time than now to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them.

FOSTER (voice-over): Insiders will also tell you, they showed full support it Meghan. A junior member of her staff who has now left the palace told CNN, they've bent over backwards, as far as I can see. I think there was complete hospitality, and kindness, and grace. Everyone wanted to make it a success. A current royal source added --

The queen's senior team were directed to avail themselves to ensure she had all the support needed.

MARKLE: Unlike what you are seeing the movies. There is no class on how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal. There's none of that trend. That might exist for other members of the family that was not something that was offered.


FOSTER (voice-over): But CNN has been told, the queen dispatched here closest aide to Kensington Palace. Lady waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, and dressers Angela Kelly, to offer advice, guidance, and tutelage, to the duchess. Royal aides say this was an unprecedented gesture of support for a new member of the family. And that every department of the queen's household was open to Meghan. Then, there is a question of titles.

MARKLE: They we're saying they didn't want him to be a prince, or a princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol.

FOSTER (voice-over): The protocol the duchess referred to was issue by King George V. And it limits princely titles to children and grandchildren of the serving monarch. As well as the first born child of the Prince of Wales. None of which applies to Archie. Though he will automatically become a prince when Charles becomes King.

Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.


BRUNHUBER: And finally the Olympic flame has been lit in Japan. The torch rally began in Fukushima Thursday ten years after the deadly tsunami. Athletes will carry the torch across Japan before reaching Tokyo for the opening ceremony on July 23rd.

Now of course, the games were delayed a year due to the pandemic and there won't be any international spectators of the summer games because of ongoing concerns but hope springs eternal. Japan's famous cherry blossoms have bloomed early so I guess there's always something to be happy about.

And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "EARLY START" is next.