Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Reports, White House Hammering Out Details of Likely Biden- Putin Summit; India Battling Devastating COVID Wave, Thousands Dying Every Day; 2020 Census Leads to Shift in U.S. House Seats. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 27, 2021 - 10:30   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: However, the Justice Department -- excuse me, his defense attorneys are using this as an argument to keep him out of jail. Here is what they say in a court filing. They say this is just another deliberate attempt to try to keep him behind bars. They say this is a deliberate attempt to mislead this court by casting Mr. Barnett in the worst possible light in order to ensure that pretrial release is not granted.

So there you go, Jim and Poppy, Biatch, the B word.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I cannot believe you had to say that on T.V. I say this as a daughter of a toddler who loves lawyers, that is interesting lawyering. We'll see how it goes. Thank you, Whitney Wild, for that reporting.

Well, CNN learned that the White House is close to finalizing the details of what would be a European summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A significant face-to-face. Sources say the meeting could happen as soon as early summer. It would come after President Biden rolled out new rounds of sanctions on Moscow, also expelled nearly a dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S., this in retaliation for a number of things, including the SolarWinds hacks.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand has more. First of all, Natasha, a very warm welcome to you to CNN.


SCIUTTO: So on this summit, is it written in stone now? Is this likely to take place on the sidelines of the G7 or independent of that?

BERTRAND: So it is likely to take place independent of that, Jim. What we're hearing is that the White House is still hammering out details of what this summit is actually going to look like, where it's going to take place and even the exact dates.

What we do know is that this is going to take place after the president meets with G7 and E.U. officials in keeping with the administration's policy of coordinating major foreign policy national security initiatives with key allies, of course, in a break from the previous administration. President Trump had questioned the value of NATO, had asked that the Russians be allowed back into G7, et cetera.

So, right now, details are still a little bit scarce. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are pretty high still, but they have kind of settled to a low simmer as Russia has deescalated along the Ukrainian border and drawn down forces there. But the Pentagon says that they are not convinced yet that the Russians are actually going to be withdrawing all of their troops there.

So it remains to be seen whether there will be conditions for the summit to take place or whether the president just sees this as an opportunity for the Russians and the United States to hammer out, you know, their mutual interest and where they can actually work together.

HARLOW: OK. Natasha, thank you very much, and we're really glad to you have here with us at CNN. I look forward to having you on more.

Well, coming up, a coronavirus catastrophe across India, why experts say cases and deaths are going underreported.



SCIUTTO: Well, this morning, the U.S. is preparing to send aid to India as the pandemic there worsens. Right now, thousands are dying in India each day. Hospitals, they are just out of room. They're also running out of oxygen, essential to treating COVID-19 patients. Doctors in the city of Surat say 4,000 lives are right now at risk if oxygen doesn't come soon.

HARLOW: Those are horrifying images, as makeshift crematoriums now line several streets just to keep up with the ever growing number of deaths.

Our Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson is following all of this, again, for us this morning. Ivan, what can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, Poppy, you just mentioned the city of Surat. Our team on the ground just spoke with a doctor at the Asutosh Multispecialty Hospital there. And they're warning that their 430 COVID-19 patients are at risk. They only have about three hours of oxygen left. That's just one of hundreds of hospitals in that city that are facing an imminent shortage, just one city in a country of 1.4 billion people facing an acute oxygen shortage and just this massive expansion of COVID-19 infections.

The numbers on Tuesday that were published were a bit lower than -- more than 350,000 new infections reported on Monday. But we're hearing from a wide variety of experts that the official statistics for new daily infections, as well as deaths from COVID-19, are probably far, far, far lower than in actuality. Take a listen.


RAMANAN LAXMINARAYAN, DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR DISEASE DYNAMICS, ECONOMICS AND POLICY: I think it is widely known that both the case numbers and the mortality figures are undercounts. They always have been. Last year, the government estimated that only 1 in about 30 infections were being caught by testing. So the reported cases are serious underestimate of true infections.


WATSON: Let me share one other anecdote about how desperate things are right now. Our reporter, Vedika Sud, in New Delhi filming about the line of patients outside a hospital desperate for a bed inside, today, she says that one of them was begging her, a woman gasping for her breath, to help her find a hospital bed. That's in the capital, New Delhi.

Now help is on the way. The first delivery from the United Kingdom arrived. And there are pledges of assistance not only from the U.S., with the Pentagon promising to help with transport and logistics but from Australia, the European Union, France, Thailand, orders of oxygen tanks, of oxygen generators, of remdesivir, medicine and all sorts of PPE.


And all of that makes a difference because in the case of many of these patients, the oxygen supply can result in whether somebody survives or not. It can come down to a matter of minutes or hours. Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: It absolutely can. Ivan, thank you for being on top of all of this reporting for us.

Our next guest is calling on President Biden to do more for India. Joining me next is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California, also the vice chair of the Congressional India Caucus.

Congressman, thank you for being with me.

Of course, you are the vice chair of the India Caucus, but this is also really personal for you. You and your wife have family members, loved ones, in India right now. Are they OK, and what do they need from us?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Poppy, thanks for asking. They are safe. But I also represent a district with thousands of Indian Americans. And if you talk to them, the situation in India is just horrific and dire. Almost everyone knows a family that has been touched by this. The hospitals are being overrun. They don't have oxygen. And as the reporter commented, the numbers are far, far worse than what is being reported, both the deaths and the cases.

I applaud President Biden for making a commitment to get oxygen. That is the most urgent need, to get PPE, to get medical help. But we also ultimately need to get vaccines to India. The president has said that he will release the AstraZeneca, which Americans are not going to use after it's deemed safe. But more important is Pfizer and Moderna need to license the vaccine recipe to allow India and other countries to manufacture it.

HARLOW: OK. I want to get to the intellectual property in a point. It's a very important point you make. But just the question about the Biden administration, if they're doing enough at this point in time, according to the White House yesterday, it could be up to two months before those 60 million AstraZeneca doses are released to other countries. That would include India. Can India wait that long? Because you're calling for the U.S. to send military support in.

KHANNA: Well, I think what is most urgent is military support to help the patients who are sick, and that is oxygen, that is PPE. Secretary Blinken has done a tremendous job. He had a call yesterday with over 100 tech leaders, talking about mobilizing Google, a lot of the philanthropists, of how we get aid in most quickly. So, that is the most immediate need. I do think the administration is on top of it.

The longer-term issue, though, is how we get vaccines and vaccine development and that gets to the intellectual property issue.

HARLOW: And the CEO of Google will join us on the show tomorrow to talk about exactly that point.

But to your point on intellectual property sharing, six months ago, India asked the World Trade Organization to waive basically the protection of intellectual property when it comes to COVID vaccines. All of the companies that you mentioned here in the United States producing them have opposed that waiver, as has, to this point, the Biden administration has not voted to support waiving intellectual property protection on this.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate, writes, any delay in ensuring the greatest availability of vaccine and therapeutics is morally wrong and foolish. Is he right and is President Biden wrong not to push to end that I.P. protection?

KHANNA: Poppy, thank you for raising this. Joseph Stiglitz is absolutely right. The pope is right. This is a humanitarian issue.

Let's just look at the facts. The United States government gave a $2 billion guarantee to Pfizer to purchase vaccines. If it weren't for that Pfizer, they would have never been able to do what they did. Our NIH gave the I.P. that allowed Moderna to develop the vaccine.

What we're now saying is that they should share the vaccine recipe with over 100 countries who want to do the manufacturing. They're willing to do the manufacturing themselves, they need to have contract manufacturing. Pfizer would still get paid. Moderna would still get paid. But it is just wrong, morally wrong, strategically wrong for them not to share the vaccine recipe, which was developed with U.S. taxpayer support.

HARLOW: Have you talked to the White House? Do you know why the Biden administration is not supportive of that at this point? KHANNA: I do know there are very senior people in the administration who are supportive of it. We are making the case to the White House. And my hope is that the president would at least call the Pfizer CEO and say, look, your long-term strategy in India, a huge market, just in your economic interest, at least waive it for six months or a year. Allow India to develop that vaccine and this is good in your own long- term interests. It's good for the United States and our interests with the role with India and the rest of the world.

HARLOW: As you know, Bill Gates was asked about this in an interview yesterday. And he said his concern, he doesn't think it's a good idea to share that I.P. And his concern is safety. He brought up safety concerns and he said, you have to do a trial, every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way.


You responded to him with a proposed solution on Twitter. Could you share that with our viewers?

KHANNA: I rarely think Bill Gates is wrong, but this is a case I hope he will engage. And the point that Bill Gates made about manufacturing capacity being restricted is absolutely correct. But what I said is why not have a global fund, $25 billion, to help with manufacturing capacity and then allow the vaccine recipes to be shared?

And you're not going to have a lack of quality control. I think it is patronizing to say that 100 other nations can't have a regulatory process to make sure that manufacturing is safe. They can and the World Health Organization can.

No one asking Pfizer to manufacturing these vaccines, no one is saying they need to do it for free. It's important to understand, they will get paid. They will be able to sell it. The reason they're not doing it would be pure greed. It would be that they want to distribute everything and make it seem profits. That is going to hurt Americans, because as the vaccine spreads around the world, it puts us at risk in this country.

HARLOW: Very quickly, "The Washington Post" Editorial Board is calling out the Modi government in India for forcing or trying to force companies, including Facebook and Twitter, to take down critical posts of their handling of the pandemic. And I wonder if you believe the Biden administration should speak out on that to the Indian government at this point. Because "The Washington Post" Editorial Board says it is India's attempt to suppress speech, they cannot be ignored and is dangerous to public health.

KHANNA: "The Washington Post" editorial is exactly right. I don't think Mark Zuckerberg and Dorsey, frankly, should comply in taking down speech. I get criticized every time on Twitter. I mean, probably after this interview, there are 50 critical tweets, should I go complaining to Mark Zuckerberg to take it down? That is absurd. It's a violation of speech. And we should raise that as a universal human right. People should have a right to criticize their government. HARLOW: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you, and we're thinking about all of your family members and everyone over there suffering in this tragedy across India. Thank you for your time.

KHANNA: Thank you, Poppy, for covering this.

HARLOW: Of course.


SCIUTTO: Up next, the winners and losers of the 2020 census, big changes are coming to Congress for some big states.

And just a reminder, President Biden's first joint address to Congress is tomorrow night. Live coverage of his speech begins at 8:00 right here on CNN.



HARLOW: So, the numbers have been counted. There are roughly 331 million people living in the United States. This is according to the latest census that just came out. What is notable is this is the second slowest population growth rate in U.S. history.

SCIUTTO: What's also noticeable is the move south, six of the ten biggest states will lose a House seat, though others, particularly in the south, like Texas and Florida, gain representation.

CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes, she joins us now from Washington. So, Kristen, which state, which party appears to be the winner here and a big winner or kind of at the margins?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a big winner, we'll get to that. I want to start with what you mention, because I think this is the most important takeaway from the census, which is that political power in this country is shifting. It is shifting away from the northeast, away from the Rust Belt and towards the south and west.

I mean, take a look here of the map of winners and losers. Purples here is losers, winners are in green. Look at just their locations. You see big gains all across the west other than California, which was a loss, and the south. And all of those losers there are up in the northeast, those important Rust Belt states.

Take a look at just who gained, because I want to go through these states and why they're important. Texas, two seats, that was the biggest gain. You also had have Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, all gaining one seat. Three of those are major powerhouses. Florida, Texas, North Carolina, all three states that went for Trump, so something to keep in mind there.

Now, in the loser category, if you will, you have, again, northeast, Rust Belt states, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and then, again, California. And, Jim, I think this is very, very important to anyone who thinks that the census wasn't that important to take or to participate in. We heard from the Census Bureau that if just 89 more people had been counted in New York out of the millions of people who are in New York that they would not have lost a congressional seat. Poppy, to me, that number is just crazy.


SCIUTTO: You can find 89 in a single will bar on Third Avenue, right?

HOLMES: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: That would be a congressional seat.

HOLMES: My God, it just makes me think how long it's been since I went to a bar.

Kristen, before you go, explain how these numbers do though fully impact. I mean, yes, the shift of power that you explained is important, but is it on the margins, as Jim mentioned, or it is bigger here?

HOLMES: Well, this not really does favor Republicans, and they know it. Democrats that I've spoken say that they are bracing for this.

A couple things to keep in mind, the full data that we're going to use to redistrict each state is going to use isn't going to be out until the fall. But that wheeling and dealing is already happening. I talked to multiple source across the country, they're already having these conversations.

And here is why this favors Republican so heavily. When you look at the states that gained, we talked about this, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, all political powerhouses, all states that went for Trump. That is a total of four new seats. That is the entirety of the number of electoral votes that Hawaii has in total, a Democratic leaning states. So that gives that you that there.

The other big thing here is that Republicans, data shows, they control that 18 states in full in redistricting.


Democrats only control about seven. A lot of this goes to the legislature. And that we just showed that you graphic there, that shows that you Republicans are really in control of a lot of this redistricting. And as I said, Democrats are already bracing for this.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Kristen Holmes, thanks for following it.

HARLOW: And thanks to all of you for being with us today. We'll see you tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan will start right after a short break.