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Biden To Begin U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan On May 1; U.K.'s Mix And Match Vaccine Trial Expands; Defense Medical Expert: Floyd's Manner Of Death "Undetermined"; Kremlin To Study Biden's Summit Proposal; U.S. Spy Chiefs Call China An 'Unparalleled Priority'; Kerry Seeking Common Ground In Climate Talks With China. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired April 15, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM the president calling home the last remaining American troops in Afghanistan, ending the unwinnable war, 20 long years after September 11th terrorist attacks.

New world order, China and Russia now top the list as the biggest threats to the U.S. Climate change is up there, domestic extremists, all more dangerous than international terror groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

And time out: Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be off the shelves in the U.S., Europe and South Africa for a little while longer, after U.S. regulators delay a decision on safety and blood clots.


VAUSE: U.S. troops will begin leaving Afghanistan in just over two weeks, with the deadline for a total military drawdown by September 11th, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

After announcing the withdrawal, President Biden visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, known as the saddest acre of land in the United States, the final resting place for the U.S. troops killed in conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq.

The cost of America's longest running war is staggering, $2 trillion over 2 decades. With more than 2,000 American servicemen and women killed, almost 40,000 Afghans dead, and even though the Taliban is on the rise, it seems the American public lost interest in the fate of Afghanistan long ago.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have concluded that it's time to end America's longest war. We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.


VAUSE: During a telephone conversation Wednesday with U.S. president, the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, reportedly said he respects the decision to withdraw troops and would ensure a smooth transition. He also claims Afghanistan security forces are fully capable of defending the country, even though U.S. intelligence warned the government in Kabul will struggle to hold off the Taliban.

CNN's international security editor Nick Paton Walsh is in the Afghan capital, Kabul.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Words of a commander in chief who's clearly spent the last two decades studying the war in Afghanistan, leading up to this decision. Now it is his in fact to make, an uncomfortable one and certainly one that will requires a degree of courage to say that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan before 20 years hits it can in fact stop.

Almost knowing when to quit to some degree he says, he asked his military advisers for reasons why their presence here should continue. They simply weren't good enough. He kept coming back to what he called the 1 percent of Americans that actually do the serving in the armed forces, who lose lives, limbs or years of their life here in this 20 years' worth of conflict.

How if he couldn't find reason enough for them to stay then they should leave. They will, of course, be a complicated, possibly dark few months ahead here for Afghans, as they wrestle with a resurgent Taliban, increasingly in control of territory. Particularly around the bubble of the capital here, Kabul, where millions now live after billions have been invested in it by the U.S. presence here over the past 20 years.

He suggested, Joe Biden, that U.S. troops would start withdrawing on May the 1st. That may pander to the Taliban imposed deadline. They said, in fact, a morning in which he spoke that they wanted to see U.S. troops out within 16 days, entirely unrealistic, a part of their longstanding rhetoric that they demand a full withdrawal, but they have still been negotiating while demanding that as a precondition.

We may see talks, possible emerge in the months ahead, particular in Istanbul on Saturday week, where Joe Biden is hoping the Taliban will take part in his bid to form a transitional government.

But Joe Biden clear, all American troops will be out before the 20th anniversary of September the 11th, later on this year. And regardless of what conditions there are on the ground, he said the conditions are a recipe for staying in Afghanistan, frankly, forever, because there won't ever be perfect enough or good enough to say it's OK for Americans to go home. Now the hard bit, of course, happens for Afghans, who have to come to

a political accommodation or realize the Taliban will have a greater say in how they live life. That could cause greater loss of life, it could damage America's reputation because of what they've left behind.

But essentially here, a commander in chief who knows the difficult, frankly ugly decision that has to be made, that America has tried invading, it's tried losing, it's tried a surge, tried a draw down, it's tried just doing counter-terrorism and it's tried peace talks. The one thing it hasn't tried is going home.


WALSH: That is going to do in a matter of months and we will see quite whether that changes the dynamic here on the ground in a favorable way or simply makes the sad inevitability of an increased Taliban role in the country come to fruition. But a historic date certainly and an eloquent emotional speech from the commander in chief, who clearly feels the conviction behind what he's decided -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


VAUSE: Talks on the Iran nuclear deal are set to resume in the coming hours in Vienna. The meeting will take place against the backdrop of Iran preparing to boost uranium enrichment levels to 60 percent, raising concerns in the U.S. and Europe.

Saudi Arabia is calling on Iran to de-escalate and says 60 percent cannot be for peaceful purposes. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports, Iran remains furious over an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility which it says was carried out by Israel.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The incident that took place at the Natanz nuclear facility is calling a very defiant reaction in Iran but also already having a big effect on the negotiations to try and salvage the Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani confirmed that Iran now wanting to upgrade its uranium enrichment. They want to now enrich uranium 60 percent purity, that is in direct correlation and direct result of what he called, the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility.

Of course Iran is pointing the finger of blame at Israel, the Israelis have so far not said whether or not they were indeed behind it. But the Iranians are saying that Natanz will continue to operate, that they are going to use some of the most advanced centrifuges to bring uranium up to a grade of 60 percent. The U.S. are very concerned about all this.

A spokesman for the White House, Jen Psaki, she came out and she said that Iran wanting to upgrade its uranium enrichment, really calls into question, as she put, it Iran's sincerity in negotiations trying to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement. Both the U.S. and Iran have said that they want to salvage the

agreement, the negotiations that are going on are very much indirect in nature, nevertheless it does seem as they are going to move forward. The next set of negotiations set to begin on Thursday -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.



VAUSE: The use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will remain on hold for a little longer, after a CDC advisory committee needed more time to research a possible link to rare blood clots and determine who may be more susceptible to the clots. So far, there at least 6 reported cases of blood clots in adult women, under 48 years old, who received the J&J vaccine. That could lead to changes in who is actually eligible to receive the vaccine.

In the meantime, in Britain, researchers are looking into whether people can be fully vaccinated, using 2 different types of vaccines. E.U. regulators expect to issue the recommendation on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week but for now they still say the benefits outweigh the risks. Sweden and Spain have both received the vaccine but are not administering it at the moment.

However, France is. French health officials say they have 200,000 J&J doses on hand, and intend to use them CNN's Jim Bittermann in Paris with details.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: The question of which vaccine to use is dividing Europe and no doubt confusing Europeans. While the French government spokesman says his country will go ahead and use the 200,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is already received, the manufacturer itself, has put distribution of its vaccine on hold.

In Denmark, the government said it hasn't made a decision about Johnson & Johnson vaccinations but one step beyond halting entirely the distribution of AstraZeneca vaccines after that vaccine too, was blamed for a small number of blood clots.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency is weighed in on Johnson & Johnson, saying it remains in the view that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks and side effects. And it said it would rule definitively on Johnson & Johnson use after more study.

All of it will no doubt add to the vaccine hesitancy when COVID cases are at a high level and ICU venues for COVID patients is as high as it's been in nearly a year, at a time when the government would like to get as many people vaccinated as possible -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: One way researchers hope to increase vaccine availability is by mixing and matching. For example, the Oxford vaccine group in Britain is trialing one dose of AstraZeneca with one dose of Pfizer. On Wednesday it announced it's expanding the state to include 2 more vaccines. As Cyril Vanier explained from London, mixing and matching vaccines could give patients even better protection.



CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a world first, it's a study that could end up having a big impact on vaccine rollouts across the globe. A major trial is underway here in the U.K. to determine whether you can mix and match COVID-19 vaccines.

For instance, get a first dose of Pfizer BioNTech, followed by a second dose of AstraZeneca or the other way around and the study has been expanded, to include Moderna and Novavax.

So multiple combinations are going to be trialed. Results of the study could be available by summer. There is no hard evidence yet as to the impact that mixing vaccines might have on immunity or safety. For now, the American Centers for Disease Control say that people should take the full series in a single brand.

The CDC's chief medical officer warning, quote, "We don't want people to start mixing and matching whatever is easiest to get."

But the chief investigator in this medical trial, which is carried out by the Oxford vaccine group, said on BBC radio 4 that there are hints from studies done in mice, that the combinations of vaccines might actually give a better immune response overall.

He also said the logistical advances of mixing and masking, that having flexibility and which to give for the second dose could give, quote, "massively increase the flexibility and resilience of the immunization program."

And the fact is that mixing and matching is going to happen in at least some parts of the world after the AstraZeneca vaccine was ruled out for under 55s in France, over fears of a rare but serious blood clots.

The French health authority announced last week that the people who are under 55 and have already received a first dose of AstraZeneca will be offered an alternative vaccine for their second dose -- Cyril Vanier, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Joining us now, Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine.

Good to see you again.


VAUSE: Right now this mix and match study, they've been talking about this for a while, what do you see on this, that there could be serious tangible benefits here?

And how does this increase the pool of vaccine availability?

TOPOL: It's a bit surprising that we're jumping to the mix and match this quickly John, to extrapolate from mice and then go right into people seems a bit of a reach.

Ideally, we would stick with the protocols that were so successful in clinical trials. We have such an extraordinary array of highly effective vaccines. If we get to a situation where we really have to do this out of desperation, OK, or if we have proof that it provides a really strong immune response, I'm not so worried about the safety of it but just to get the strong immune response would be good to validate before we adopt a policy.

VAUSE: The other issue obviously is the ongoing issue with the Johnson & Johnson and blood clots and there is this investigation which is underway. Clearly there is a need to get this right.

On the other hand, the longer this goes on, taking this pause and taking it out for another couple of days, is it likely to essentially cause damage if you like, to the public's confidence in the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

This is kind of what happened to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe.

TOPOL: Right, I'm with you, John. I was very disappointed to see the CDC advisory committee say they need another 7 to 10 days to review more data. We have enough data. There is 7 million people who've had the vaccine. We know the incident, we also know about the AstraZeneca, because it is a shared issue.

It's the adenoviral vector that is the common thread. We know the incidence is somewhere into the 100,000 to 200,000 to 1 in a million. We know the vaccines, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca are very effective.

We should just move ahead with the caveat and perhaps, of course, restricting the demographics. But to wait another week or 10 days just promotes the chance that the vaccine could go on a path of stigmatization, which is something we really need to avoid.

VAUSE: Yes, because right now, Denmark, for example, stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine completely. As you say, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the AstraZeneca are a specific type; Moderna and Pfizer are different. Here's the head of the CDC explaining why and what the issues are, here we are.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines both use an adenovirus vector. These vaccines are different from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are mRNA based vaccines.

To be very clear, these types of reactions, blood clots in combination with a low platelets, are not being seen with the authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.


VAUSE: So at this, point is there sort of a plausible theory as to why the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are the ones that are likely having this issue with blood clots and the others are not?

TOPOL: The mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, case of these rare blood clots with the very low platelets.


TOPOL: So we know it isn't an issue, that gets down to it has to be the adenovirus itself, that vector, like the Trojan horse. It brings in the message for the body to mount this immune response.

Now precisely what it is about the viral vector, it is still being explored, John. But the incidence here, of the frequency is so incredibly low, we don't want to get that in the way of progress and hopefully will get through this just as we know the AstraZeneca has gone ahead in most places, so should the J&J.

VAUSE: But there is a domino effect right, that comes within hours of the U.S. announcement of a pause for the J&J vaccine?

Many other companies followed suit, here's the health minister.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on their advice, we've determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until we establish the relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in sufficient detailed data.


VAUSE: Question is, can countries like South Africa, which is struggling with the virus -- and they've already suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine, now Johnson & Johnson, a good alternative, do they have the luxury of the time to wait for this?

TOPOL: Every day counts here and we know the J&J vaccine worked exceedingly well in South Africa, with the variant, which is the one that is of most concern for immune evasion property, the B.1.351. So I think it's part of the story today, that the committee here in deliberating has to think about not just the U.S. but its worldwide impact.

I hope South Africa and others use these vaccines because the efficacy is overwhelming. It's with a very low frequency of these rare blood clots.

VAUSE: Very quickly, the coronavirus caused more blood clots in patients than these vaccines did, right?

TOPOL: Yes. Absolutely. The coronavirus, COVID will cause strokes, all sorts of blood clots throughout the body. It's a far greater risk, as you're pointing. Out The risk of these rare blood clots so called cerebral vein thromboses and other areas of the body. This is so rare. That we have to keep in mind.

VAUSE: Doctor, thank you so much, good to see you.

TOPOL: Thank you.

VAUSE: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, experts say the world cannot prevent climate change without China's help. America's climate envoy is in Shanghai to try and get a united effort.

Also, a defense medical expert says George Floyd died from heart disease, not from Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck. His testimony straight ahead.





VAUSE: Protesters faced off with law enforcement in Minnesota for a fourth night. That's as tensions continue to rise over the shooting of Daunte Wright. As the curfew drew near, demonstrators threw bottles while police used flashbangs and rubber bullets.

The ex-officer involved has been charged with second degree manslaughter. More than 3,000 National Guard members have been activated across the Twin Cities area.

Just 10 miles away, the murder trial of Derek Chauvin is underway. The former police officer is charged with the death of George Floyd. Wednesday a medical expert testifying for the defense pushed a series of alternative theories for how Floyd died, including car exhaust. Details from Sara Sidner.


DR. DAVID FOWLER, FORMER CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, M.D. DEPT. OF HEALTH: So there are multiple, multiple entities all acting together and adding to each other and taking away from a different part of the amount -- ability to get oxygen into his heart.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Derek Chauvin's defense put on former Maryland chief medical examiner Dr. David Fowler, who testified as to what killed George Floyd in his opinion.

FOWLER: In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrhythmia due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease or you can write that down multiple different ways, during his restraint and subdual by the police or restrained by the police.

SIDNER: He blamed everything but Derek Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck for Floyd's death.

Floyd's slightly enlarged heart, his heart disease, the methamphetamine and fentanyl found in his system and potentially the exhaust from the squad cars tailpipe Floyd's face was near as police press down on him.

FOWLER: In the area close to an exhaust, you're going to have a much higher level of carbon monoxide than you would if you three, four feet away. SIDNER: In cross examination, the prosecutor challenged the witness to see if he could give him any evidence that that was a contributor influence death.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You haven't seen any data or test results that showed Mr. Floyd had a single injury from carbon monoxide. Is that true?

FOWLER: That is correct because it was never sent.

BLACKWELL: I asked you whether it was true, sir. Yes or no?

FOWLER: It's true.

SIDNER: Fowler is currently being sued in his medical examiner role in Maryland for allegedly helping cover up the police's role in the 2018 death of a black 19-year-old named Anton Black.

Before the jury even arrived, the judge heard a motion to acquit.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And for that reason, we would ask the state to -- or excuse me ask the court to grant the motion for judgment of acquittal.

SIDNER: The state vehemently disagreed.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: The defendant is guilty of all charges.

SIDNER: And the judge ruled in the prosecution's favor. The case continues.

PETER CAHILL, JUDGE: I'm going to deny the defense motion for judgment of acquittal. Even when they're in consistencies major or minor, between witnesses, the jury is free to believe some and not the others.


VAUSE: Our thanks to Sara Sidner for that report.

We will take a short break. When we come back, the annual U.S. Threat Assessment is out, a new number one on the list. Find out when we come back.

Also ahead, the U.S. wants to sit down with Russia for a summit. We will tell you how the Kremlin responded to that proposal from the U.S. President Joe Biden.





VAUSE: Former senior U.S. officials met with Taiwan's president in Taipei on Wednesday. U.S. President Joe Biden sent a delegation in a show of support for Taiwan. After China's recent military exercises in the region.

Taiwan said the visit marks a deepening partnership with the U.S. Beijing, though, not surprisingly says it poses any form of official exchange between the 2 sides. The White House is describing the call between President Joe Biden and the Russian president Vladimir Putin as constructive.

The two leaders talked by phone on Tuesday, when Mr. Biden proposed a summit in the coming months. The Kremlin says it will study the proposal but it's too soon to talk. Nic Robertson has more from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Kremlin is saying that it is considering President Biden's proposal to President Putin, that the pair of them should have a face to face summit in a third country some time within the next couple of months.

The spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, says that the topics were under consideration, that it was being examined, that they would be looked at through diplomatic channels. And at the same time in Moscow, senior foreign policy adviser to the Kremlin invited the U.S. ambassador in Moscow to come in for a conversation.

Not clear this was part of the diplomatic process of the Kremlin examining what could be the topics of conversation at any potential summit but an indication perhaps that a diplomatic offramp of sorts could be being built to head off some of the tensions around Russia's true buildup along the border with Ukraine.

Also heard from a Russian Security Council member that they had to ramp up their forces' presence in the Black Sea, essentially responding to U.S. and NATO activities in the Black Sea. That is something the Russian foreign minister has mentioned in the last few days. w

While there's been criticism of Russia building its forces on the border with Ukraine, he is pointing to the U.S. Navy operating in the Black Sea. Now we are hearing from Russian officials that Russia is forced now to take countermeasures, if you will, to what the United States is doing in the Black Sea. However, the big picture does seem to be there is a door opening for

diplomacy; not clear yet if there's any light on the other side of it -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: According to an Annual Threat Assessment by the U.S. intelligence Committee, Russia presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States. The report names China as the number one global threat to the U.S. and Beijing and Moscow are trying to exploit the pandemic.

To increase their geopolitical influence, both seek to gain an advantage through vaccine diplomacy. Beijing using its global health assistance efforts to export its surveillance tools and technologies.

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, the director of the CIA also warned a Russian troop buildup on the Ukraine border and in Crimea reached the level of being able to carry out a limited incursion.


BILL BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: I think Russian military buildup in Crimea along southern border of the Donbas is a serious concern, signaling a way of trying to intimidate the Ukrainian leadership signals to the U.S.

Also the buildup has reached the point where we could provide the basis for limited military incursions as well. It's something not only the United States but our allies have to take seriously.


VAUSE: For more on the annual threat report, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin is with us. He's a "Washington Post" columnist and author of "Chaos under Heaven: Trump, Xi and the Battle for the 21st Century."

Josh, it's been a while, welcome back.


VAUSE: OK, there were some jaw-dropping moments during Wednesday's Senate intelligence hearing and one came during the testimony from the head of the FBI, regarding the threat posed by Beijing, here's part of it.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I don't think there is any country that presents a more severe threat to our innovation, our economic security, and our democratic ideas.

We have now over 2,000 investigations that tie back to the Chinese government. And on the economic espionage investigation side alone, it's about a 1,300 percent increase over the last several years. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: That was surprising in the sense that, for the past few years, it's been Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. But the much bigger concern, obviously, is China. And the FBI director added the point that the bureau is now opening a new investigation into China every 10 hours, just staggering.

ROGIN: Right. This is something that insiders in the U.S. national security and intelligence communities have been saying for a long time. But it's rare that they say this clearly and this publicly. And that is what everyone on the inside of the government is saying, is that the scope and the scale of the Chinese espionage interference and influence activity on a range of fronts is just astronomically expanding by the day, if not by the hour.

Now, you know, this is Christopher Wray's pitch. It's not necessarily agreed to by everyone in the intelligence community. But what we see broadly is that the United States is refocusing all of its national security and intelligence assets and resources away from Russia and towards China for a lot of really understandable and good reasons.

And of course, the Russians don't like that, and that's why, I think, you see a lot of the mischief that Vladimir Putin is up today. It's a battle for the attention of the United States, and they're both testing the Biden ministration in different ways. And that's the challenge is. How do you keep tabs on one while not ignoring the other?

VAUSE: There's an opinion piece on the website for China global television network. In part, they write China is not seen as a threat, because it invades and occupies other nations, not because it refuses to cooperate with multilateral organizations like the U.N. or the World Trade Organization.

It goes on to write, "China is seen as a threat, because it's upsetting Americans' deeply-held sense of superiority and entitlement to treat the entire world as its backyard."

That -- that's been the line from Beijing for a while now, but it seems a much harder sell when China is working to double the size of its nuclear stockpile and dramatically modernizing and updating its military.

ROGIN: Well, that's right, and it's never been true that the Chinese government doesn't interfere in countries all over the world. And, you know, it's never been true that -- you know, that the countries around the world haven't perceived this threat.

What's different now in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic is that more and more governments are willing to speak up about it. And that's because of the way that China has used the pandemic to spread its power and influence and, you know, abuse its control over information and vaccines and masks, to punish or coerce, or bribe governments in Europe and Asia and Latin America egregiously. And these country don't tend to like that very much. So yes, this will continue to be the Chinese propaganda line, that

somehow the world is trying to keep China down. But increasingly, it's not really a spat between American and China. It's an international response to China's actions as it rises.

And all the pandemic was -- did was to bring a lot of those problems that were discussed quietly in hushed terms to light, and now are being discussed in a very public way, as we saw today.

VAUSE: We don't have the terror groups -- al-Qaeda, ISIS -- making the headlines here like they did before. Does that mean the threat they pose has dramatically decreased, or is the threat from China and Russia much greater than it was before? Or is it a combination of both?

ROGIN: Well, there's a realization that our 20-year focus on the Middle East, and southwest Asia and Afghanistan may have been an over- appropriation of our limited resources and that were resources and time and attention of our leadership needs to be pointed towards that great power competition. That's kind of a seesaw that goes back and forth over the years.

But if you saw President Biden announce the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan today, that's part and parcel of what we're talking about. And it's a realization that we only have so many dollars, and it's a realization that we only have so many dollars, and we only have so many troops, and we only have so many ships.

And we have to address the problems of the future, not the problems of the past. And that doesn't minimize the ISIS threat is gone. It just means that we have to realize we have to walk and chew gum at the same time and that ISIS will be around forever. Meanwhile, the China threat is growing and growing.

VAUSE: Very quickly, there was also talk on Wednesday about the threat from domestic terrorism. Listen to this.


AVRIL HAINES, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Domestically, lone actors and small cells with a broad range of ideological motivations, pose a greater immediate threat. We see this threat manifest itself in individuals who are inspired by al-Qaeda and ISIS, also called homegrown violent extremism.

And those who commit terrorist acts for ideological goals, stemming from other influences, such as racial bias and anti-governmental sentiment, which we referred to as domestic violent extremism, or DVE. And DVE is an increasingly complex threat that is growing in the United States.


VAUSE: And that's the thing. In this post-Trump era, it seems like that threat has only grown, and there's more grievance and more conspiracy theories than before. [00:35:03]

ROGIN: Right. And you can see a common theme through all of these disclosures. It's things that you don't really need a top-secret clearance to know about. Because we know the domestic violent extremism is on the rise, because they stormed the Capitol on January 6, and five people died, including a Capitol police officer.

So it's pretty obvious that that threat is growing, and I'm glad to see that the U.S. intelligence community is acknowledging that, because it means that they might do more to stop it, because frankly, under the Trump administration, that particular part of the threat matrix was totally ignored. That's why you had what we had here January 6.

So yes, if not just the violent extremism coming from Muslims, it's the violent extremism coming from disenfranchised white Americans, who were made promises under Trump that never came true.

And so that's a -- you know, a complex picture, and the intelligence community has got its hands full. And the Biden administration has to really ramp up its activity on all of these issues, while trying to get its people into place. And in the middle of a pandemic. So they just inherited a really dangerous world.

VAUSE: Yes. Good point to finish on. Josh, thanks. Josh Rogin there. Appreciate it.

ROGIN: Anytime.

VAUSE: And the Biden ministration could be set to announce the expulsion of up to a dozen Russian diplomats, as well as sanctions targeting Russian individuals and entities allegedly involved in the SolarWind cyber intrusion and interference in U.S. elections.

The U.S. president is expected to sign executive orders on Thursday. One source adds the U.S. is coordinating with European allies.

Coming up, the U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry in Shanghai, trying to convince China to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. What are his chances? The very latest in a live report from Beijing. Stay with us.


VAUSE: Well, the man who ran the world's largest financial fraud in history has died in prison. Bernie Madoff was serving a 150-year-long sentence for masterminding a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme that ruined thousands of lives.

He was arrested in 2008 after a justice demanded he redeem $7 billion that he did not have. A judge denied Madoff's request last year for an early release because of terminal illness. He called Madoff's fraud one of the most egregious financial crimes of our time.

He was 82. He's dead. Right now, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is trying to find common ground with one of the world's biggest carbon emitters over climate change.

Kerry's goal is to convince China to cut back emissions and roll back coal-based power plants. In 2018, China produced twice the amount of greenhouse gases compared to the United States. That's according to Climate Watch.

And back in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make China carbon-neutral by 2060.

Kerry's visit to China comes with heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Let's go live down to Beijing. Steven Jiang is standing by.

So Steven, this is one of those areas, I think, in which the U.S. is hoping there is common ground, there is common interest and, therefore, they can find a common solution to this problem. How will these other areas impact this effort on climate change?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, it's interesting that he is in Shanghai, not here in Beijing, you know, the political seat of this very centralized government. This fact already illustrates the delicate nature of this visit.

Because the Chinese probably want to put Kerry in a more politically neutral setting and not having to worry about whether or not Xi Jinping, who has been trying to present himself as a global leader on this issue, will have to meet him.

But of course, you know, as you mentioned the two sides are trying to find common ground. But they're also trying to manage expectations, because these climate talks are taking place at a time when the political climate between the two countries is mentioned simply cannot get any worse.

So in state media here, you already see editorials and the commentaries emphasizing that these talks have to be conducted based on the two parties being equal, not on U.S. terms, and that China is not going to make any unilateral concessions or sacrifices to help advance the Biden administration's agenda to resume the U.S. global leadership role on this issue.

And also, of course, they have pointed out, probably rightly so, that it's difficult and challenging to carve out a single niche area that could have potential cooperation when the rest of the relationship is in a freefall.

Now, from Washington's perspective, of course, Kerry is in Shanghai because he himself has said repeatedly this issue -- this issue simply cannot be resolved without trying to be at the table. So he is meeting his Chinese counterpart to talk about all these potential areas for cooperation. But one area he probably is going to remind the Chinese is the gap

between the pledges made by Xi Jinping that China is going to peak its emissions by 2030 to become carbon neutral by 2060. And the reality, which of course, is the fact that the country has been expanding the use of coal in the past few years. Between 2015 and 2019, they actually added 360 new coal-fired power plants in this country.

And last year, in 2020, China is the only major economy actually showing rising greenhouse gas emissions in the world. So all these issues, John, are likely to come up in their talks, but very few people are expecting any major breakthrough at this point -- John.

VAUSE: There's also the fact that, even if there is some kind of agreement reached between the United States and China and the rest of the world, I guess, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions, then there is the reality of enforcement and actually making that stick.

Because it's anything but a done deal. Because the reality is in China, you can agree to anything in Beijing but out in the -- out in the countryside, it just goes as sort of business as usual. It's unenforced.

JIANG: That's very true. Now, one of the obstacles they have running to, you know, and realizing their very ambitious climate-saving goals, of course, is these powerful interest groups, including coal industry groups that have been long arguing that coal has remained a cornerstone of the country's energy mix to ensure stable power supply.

Now then, of course, there are local authorities very much worried about the potential loss of millions of coal-related jobs.

So and the other fact, of course, the government has been arguing these newer coal power plants are cleaner and more efficient. But even so, opponents and actors have said they are going to have a major negative impact on this country's climate-saving goals.

So all of these, of course, is going to present many challenges for President Xi Jinping, as well as for the U.S. when now they're trying to work with China on this, John.

VAUSE: Negative impact on China's climate reduction, or greenhouse gas emission reduction means a negative impact on the rest the world. Steven, thank you. Steven jiang in Beijing.

I'm John Vause. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. In the meantime, stay with us, please. WORLD SPORT is up next, after a short break.