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AstraZeneca's Vaccine in U.S.; Manchin Calls for Bipartisanship; Chip Bergh is Interviewed about Restrictive Voting Measures. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 9, 2021 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: AstraZeneca has yet to request Emergency Use Authorization here in the United States, but new this morning, federal government advisers tell CNN they actually don't foresee AstraZeneca's vaccine even being used here.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: That's remarkable. And they say that even if it were available, they, themselves, wouldn't take it. That's quite an alarming lack of endorsement.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is here with us for more.

Elizabeth, several European countries have authorized this. Many rely on this as their principal vaccine. Tell us what these advisers are saying and why they're skeptical.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. The advisers say the U.S. is in a delicate situation. First, the good news here is that Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, those vaccines are excellent vaccines with great efficacy and great safety records. And the advisers, these are folks who served to advise government agencies in the U.S. about vaccines, they say, why would we want to muddy the waters? Why would we want to? Things are going well. Why would we want to introduce a vaccine that has this blood clot safety question. It muddies the waters. Americans will say, wait a minute, why are you trying to give this to us? Things are going well now. Why mess it up?

So if and when AstraZeneca does apply, the FDA is then in a delicate situation. Do they say no? Well, the whole world watches the FDA. It's considered the gold standard. More than 70 countries have already authorized this vaccine. If the FDA says no, that does not look good. And if the FDA says yes and it just never gets used, that doesn't look good either. So that has really put them in a difficult situation and AstraZeneca has said, look, we stand by our vaccine. Our clinical trials show that it is safe and effective.

Poppy. Jim.

HARLOW: Why is it, Elizabeth, specifically, that the advisers say they wouldn't take it, even if it were approved? COHEN: Right. Poppy, so the advisers I talked to said, look, we don't

think AstraZeneca's vaccine is terrible --

HARLOW: Right.

COHEN: It's just that there's been some questions about the efficacy data and also there's this safety issue, the possible link to blood clots. So they said, if I had a link between Pfizer, Moderna, J&J or AstraZeneca, why would I take AstraZeneca? I would take the other three. But they all did say, look, if AstraZeneca were the only thing offered to me, I would take it. It's better than getting COVID for sure by far. But they said, look, if I had a choice, I would not take AstraZeneca.

SCIUTTO: All right. Impactful words. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

Coming up, he has become the most powerful man in Congress. We're going to bring you CNN's exclusive interview with Senator Joe Manchin by our colleague Lauren Fox. Here why the Democrat says the January 6th Capitol insurrection changed his perspective on his role in Congress.



SCIUTTO: West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, has extraordinary influence in Washington right now, effectively holding veto power over the fate of President Biden's agenda.

HARLOW: The moderate Democrat becoming a central political figure with the Senate evenly split 50-50 and he hopes to use that power to bring lawmakers together.

He sat down for an exclusive interview with our Lauren Fox.



LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The other Joe who holds the power in Washington, clear and unequivocal tonight.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm not killing the filibuster.

FOX: The reason, Senator Manchin tells CNN the insurrection at the Capitol.

MANCHIN: January 6th changed me. I was very clear with everybody. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books, to where our form of government had been attacked at our seat of government, which is Washington, D.C., at our Capitol, by our own people.

Now, the British did it, but not Americans. So something told me, wait a minute. Pause. Hit the pause button. Something's wrong. You can't have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other.

FOX: Insisting the only way to move past the animosity is by working together.

MANCHIN: I think we can find a pathway forward. I really do. I'm going to be sitting down with both sides and understanding where everybody's coming from. We should have an open, fair and secure election. If we have to put guard rails on, we can put guard rails on so people can't take advantage of people. And I believe there are Republicans that feel exactly like I feel.

FOX: How does that affect his relationship with the White House?

MANCHIN: They've been very, very kind in talking. We do talk. We have communications.

FOX (on camera): How often?

MANCHIN: As often as I would like, as often as they would like. I'm always -- you know, the president, whenever --

FOX: The president directly?

MANCHIN: Whenever he calls me, he calls me and we have a good conversation. We've had a good friendship and relationship for a long time. We understand each other.

FOX (voice over): And he has a warning for fellow Democrats, slow down on thoughts of ramming through legislation like voting rights.

FOX (on camera): Some progressives think that you're standing in the way of significant changes the president could make on voting rights, because you don't want to get rid of the filibuster, other changes that they could make on gun reforms because you have problems --

MANCHIN: They can make all these changes if they try to work towards the middle. You can't work in the fringes. You just cannot work in the fringes. We want fair, open, secured elections. And what Georgia has done some things which I thought were just atrocious, OK? But I've also been a secretary of state and I've also been a governor and I know the Tenth Amendment. I know my rights as far as states' rights and I don't think there should be an overreaching, if you will, federal elections.

FOX: What changes --

MANCHIN: I think the guy -- you know, well, I'll tell you, the one they did, which is unbelievable to me, they took away the powers of the election -- secretary of state's office and put it in the hands of the Congress, I mean, in their legislature. Now you have no one person that you can hold accountable for it. You have a whole legislature of 100 people or more.


That's crazy. FOX (voice over): And gun control.

MANCHIN: I support what the president did today, from what I heard, OK, what he's doing on executive order. Now, there's an awful lot of other things he talked about, but the executive order says ghost guns should not be allowed to be legally made or sold or used. It's illegal. Because they're making them off of printers and you can't detect them.

FOX (on camera): But you still can't support the House-passed background check bill --

MANCHIN: Not the way the House bill is, but they're -- you know, that's negotiations.

FOX: Have there been any negotiations over this recess?

MANCHIN: We haven't gotten the bill yet. We haven't gotten the bill yet. No, we haven't.

FOX: So --

MANCHIN: And I'm happy -- I'm happy to work with them. I'll sit down and I think that just -- we call it common gun sense. And if you come from a gun culture such as I do in West Virginia, I don't think there's a person -- I don't know a person that doesn't have a gun, OK. It's different -- different background. I'm anxious to work with them and try to do something in a most constructive way.

FOX (voice over): What does he think of his newfound role as rainmaker?

FOX (on camera): Some of your colleagues joke that you're the president of the Senate now. I've heard them in the hallways remark that to you. Do you like this role?


FOX: How does it feel?

MANCHIN: Let me tell you about -- and I've said this before and I'll say it again, I've watched people that had power and abused it. I've watched people that sought power and destroyed themselves. And I've watched people that had a moment of time to make a difference and change things and used it. I would like to be that third.

FOX (voice over): And while he may not like the role he's been given, he says he knows he has a real friend in the other Joe.

MANCHIN: I'm so pleased to understand that we have a person sitting in the White House that understands legislating, understands how Congress works and should work and understands that basically we've got to represent the people who we represent. And I'm representing West Virginia in the best of my ability. And I'm trying to speak for my state.


FOX: And, of course, Jim and Poppy, you see there where Manchin is coming from, arguing that when he is from the state of West Virginia, bipartisanship has to be his way forward. But, of course, he's really a linchpin in the president's legislative ability to get things done, whether it's voting rights, guns, this huge infrastructure package that the White House is rolling out. And I think there are a lot of questions, what are they going to have to do to satisfy Manchin? But, of course, this wide-ranging interview, him really explaining why he is coming from the place that he is.

Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, what an interview at the perfect moment, Lauren Fox. Leave it to you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Nicely done.

Well, this just in. Southwest, American and United Airlines are removing some of their 737 Max airplanes from service after Boeing, the manufacturer, announced air carriers must make an electrical fix. Combined, the three airliners are going to temporarily take 63 planes out of service. The FAA says the issue involves a backup power control unit. Southwest says it has not experienced any problems related to the issue. Disruptions to its operations, it says as well, should be minimal.

This is, we should note, the latest issue for an airplane the FAA administrator called the most heavily scrutinized in history. An emergency order grounded all Max jets for nearly two years after two crashes of those jets killed nearly 350 people.


All right, next on the show, CEO of the iconic American company Levi's says new laws restricting voting are not only a step back for democracy but he says they're outright racist. He'll be here.



HARLOW: Well, a new restrictive voting law is already in place in Georgia, but corporate America is working to prevent more states from passing similar ones. Legislative measures limiting ballot access are now moving through 47 state houses right now. The CEO of Levi's, an iconic American company, it's been around for nearly 170 years, existing through slavery and Jim Crow, now releasing a statement saying these bills aren't only racist, they represent a significant step backward for us here in the United States.

With me now is Chip Bergh, the president and CEO of Levi Strauss and Company.

Chip, good morning and thank you.


HARLOW: You say that these bills and what we just saw pass in Georgia are racist. I wonder this morning what your message is to Mitch McConnell, Governor Kemp, who say they're anything but that. What do you say?

BERGH: Well, you know, I'm very concerned about our democracy right now, Poppy. And voting is a hard-one or hard-fought and hard-won right for all Americans. And I think what we're seeing is a backlash to the record voter turnout in 2020 and the baseless, false narrative of voter fraud. And these moves in the 47 states that are considering these legislations and the legislation that just passed in Georgia are trying to restrict voters' access to the polls, and it is disproportionately hurting black and brown communities.

HARLOW: The question then becomes, as you, someone with a big platform, a lot of money as a corporation that you can put to use, what you're going to do about it. I mean you've got big operations in Texas. You've got operations in all of these states. And you've said, we know we have to do more. What are you going to do?

BERGH: Well, we're going to primarily focus on doing everything that we can to ensure that our employees and our stakeholders, particularly in the states where we have our largest operations, Texas, Florida, Kentucky in particular, that we're going to do everything that we can to work with the legislatures to make sure that these restrictive laws don't go into place.

We put our money where our mouth is as well.


In 2020 we donated over $3 million from the Levi Strauss Foundation to different states. More than 10 percent of that went to Georgia specifically to work with non-profit organizations that were committed to ensuring fair and equal access to the polls and ensuring that voters could get out and vote. And we're going to continue to do the same thing as we move forward.

HARLOW: I think this whole debate really raises the key question of what's the role of a CEO, right? What's your job beyond your company's bottom line and profit? And you've always lived by the M.O., it's always -- always do the harder right, not the easier wrong.

When you stood up on guns and took a stand on trying to end gun violence, you got death threats. And there were police outside of your family home escorting your child to school. I can't imagine that as a parent.

When you hear Mitch McConnell say there will be consequences for companies that take a stand on the voting issues, what do you say? I mean what is the responsibility of a CEO today, Chip?

BERGH: Well, I've been a CEO now for about ten years. And I can tell you that over that ten-year period of time the role has changed dramatically. You know, the business roundtable talked about stakeholder management and ensuring that we are driving value for all stakeholders. I've got a large employee base globally. I've got communities where we work and where we serve the communities. So we've got a broad range of stakeholders.

And I really do believe, and especially at Levi's, that I've got a platform and we are committed to making change. This company has been around for 180 years. And a big part of the reason I believe we've been around for 180 years is we've not been afraid to take a position on issues that are really, really important and not been afraid to stick our neck out on these tough issues.

You know, when it comes to gun control, gun violence is ripping this country apart. And it's almost every single day you're hearing about another incident. And so this is important to us as a country. And I served the U.S. Army. I -- we're not trying to repeal the Second Amendment. We are just calling for legislation that will make our world a safer place.

HARLOW: If I could ask you, Chip, about one of those really crucial, key issues and sticking your neck out on them, I want to ask you about China because you do have operations in China. Obviously, your products are sold in China. And the State Department now says that the Chinese government is carrying out genocide in Xinjiang, China.

In the '90s, Levi's pulled out of China for a number of years because of human rights violations. What is your threshold today, Chip, for enough is enough given what is happening to the Uighurs Muslim minority population there?

BERGH: So this is a very complex situation, Poppy. And what I can say definitively, we've had terms of engagement that goes back more than 30 years, which is kind of our rules of conduct, if you will, with our suppliers. And in that there are some important aspects to it. We will not tolerate and we do not tolerate any forced labor. And we also insist on the ability to audit our suppliers and be able to do that unannounced. And those two conditions have kept us out of Xinjiang Province for more than a decade. And we don't -- we don't produce any product in Xinjiang Province. We don't buy any materials from Xinjiang Province. We -- and China is actually now a relatively small supplier to Levi's on a global basis.

Our commercial business in China is still very small. It's only about 3 percent of our total business. And we're trying to thread the needle to maintain a commercial business there while standing up for what we know is right with respect to the human rights violations of China.

HARLOW: I appreciate that, Chip.

Two quick questions before you go. On infrastructure, you like the Biden infrastructure plan. It's expensive, $2.2 trillion. Do you support -- does Levi's support a 28 percent corporate tax rate, a hike, to pay for it?

BERGH: Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we support a 28 percent tax hike at this point. Let's let the legislation land and give the lawmakers an opportunity to decide whether there are tradeoffs to be made.

But I think it's fair to say that we would be willing to pay our fair share, if you will. We think that this will be really good. It will put Americans to work. It will be good for the economy.

HARLOW: Right.

BERGH: It will be good for our business and -- and we definitely need infrastructure improvements. We're willing to pay our fair share. I think 28 percent pushes the threshold that a lot of businesses are going to find very difficult to swallow.


HARLOW: OK. We're out of time, but I -- next time you come on, we're going to talk about parental leave because Levi's instituted a parental leave policy last year, a family leave policy, that I think a lot of corporations should look at in terms of mandating it for folks and it cost you a fraction of what you expected. So we'll talk about that next time, Chip. I'm sorry we ran out of time. But thank you for coming on today.

BERGH: Thank you, Poppy.



SCIUTTO: Important conversation to hear from those CEOs, very public on these political issues.

SCIUTTO: Well, in moments, the final day of week two of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial will begin. We're going to bring it to you the moment it starts. We'= are expecting to hear from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd and we're going to bring that to you live.



SCIUTTO: Very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

Minutes from now, a pivotal moment taking shape in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.