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Will Republicans Oust Liz Cheney From Leadership Position?; Biden's New Vaccine Goals. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 4, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:01]

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Making that anyone who wants to have a walk-in appointment can go ahead and do so. These things are really important for access.

The one piece that he did not really address, or at least I didn't hear it, is the group that's now dug in and saying that they're not going to get vaccinated.

And we know who that is. We have four independent news polls now from "PBS NewsHour," from Kaiser, from Monmouth University, from Quinnipiac, and it's 40 to 50 percent of people who identify as Republicans.

And so it's the conservative lobby now listening to the anti-vaccine rants that are now a regular occurrence on FOX News every night. We have to figure out a way to reach that group if we really want to halt transmission. And I know it's tough, but that's going to be the tough part to get to that last mile.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: What I heard him saying, Dr. Hotez, about that group was basically that he is optimistic.

I mean, he's just sort of slow and steady with him wins the day, and that he's optimistic that, as more of their friends and neighbors and relatives and grandchildren get vaccinated, that it will somehow have the effect of winning over that group.

I mean, I even he, I think, was sort of saying he doesn't know that that's true, but that sounds like what the strategy is going to be.

HOTEZ: Well, I think it is partly true. And I do think some of that will happen.

But you don't want to rely on that as your major strategy. So what needs to happen is, he needs to -- and, hopefully, there's some quiet discussions going on right now. He needs to identify some key conservative champions that he can reach out to and enlist to help him in that.

And that's going to have to be a priority. I'll tell you, there's a couple of other things to think about that he didn't mention. We have to help Canada, because there's still -- the epidemic is still raging there. Only 3 percent of the population has gotten two doses.

To think that we can haul virus transmission in Detroit and not do anything about going across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario, or to go to the other side of the Peace Bridge from Buffalo, that -- he's got to consider that. He's got to consider what we're going to do about Mexico.

So there are other leavers that are going to be needed to pull and push. So, I welcome the remarks. They're incomplete. But what he did say is important.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: He did talk about sending some doses to Canada and Mexico, the stock of AstraZeneca doses.

Let's go into the numbers here. Right now, 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Over the next 60 days, the White House wants to increase that by 55 -- 65 million, I should -- no, 55 million to 160 million.

Once we reach 160 million fully vaccinated, I mean, the question is, how will normal life, regular life for most people be impacted by reaching that number, reaching that percentage of the adult population, at least, fully vaccinated?

HOTEZ: Well, here's what we have seen from experience. Only one country so far has truly vaccinated its way out of out of the epidemic. And that, of course, is Israel.

And to get to the point where they really saw transmission go way down and opening things up, they had to hit a benchmark of 60 percent getting a single dose and 50 percent getting two doses. And now we're starting to get that -- get to that point in some of the New England states, not quite there yet, and transmission is going down.

So, those are the kinds of numbers, at a minimum, that we have to reach to begin seeing the slowing, and then likely getting to roughly 70, 75 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

So, I think we can get there. The good news is, if we can, I think our life can resemble something that looked pre-pandemic, something that looked like 2019, which is terrific news. But the last mile is going to be quite a challenge.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Hotez, he also talked about how he spoke to Prime Minister Modi. We all know the catastrophe that's unfolding in India. And he said that he vowed to send more ingredients, vaccine ingredients to India.

But, of course, India is a huge producer of vaccines. What has gone wrong in India, and, as you just brought up, Canada? Why aren't more people getting vaccinated in these countries?

HOTEZ: Well, in Canada, there's not the supply. There's -- they didn't handle the contracts as well as they could have. And so now they're short on supply.

And my argument on Canada is, if we were to help vaccinate the entire population of Canada, it would be in our own enlightened self- interest. We're talking about another 10 percent add-on to our population. There's about 37 million people in Canada. That's very doable.

And we need to look at Mexico as well. I think we need to do that. And we have to do more to help India. I mean, there was an announcement last weekend. I think it was something like 25 million PPE -- I'm sorry -- 25 million 95 respirators and that sort of thing. It is very modest.

And we have to remember the scope here. India has over a billion people. We're going to have to vaccinate 800 million people in India, two doses each for most of the vaccines. We're talking 1.6 billion doses of vaccines.

[15:05:10]

And that's going to require all hands on deck. That means fully opening the supply chains to the big companies, the Serum Institute of India to make the AstraZeneca vaccine, Biological E that's making our vaccine, as well as the J&J vaccine, Bharat.

And so we have to really help India vaccinate itself. And then we have another problem, unfortunately, because the whole global plan for vaccinating the world dependent a lot on India making vaccines for the world. And all of that right now is being embargoed to export.

So there's a domino effect. So what does that mean? What that means is we don't really -- we're not really seeing a coherent foreign policy or for vaccine diplomacy coming out of the Biden administration. We're getting kind of bits and pieces. All of it's good, but it's not being integrated into a coherent framework for how we can help India help itself and then the rest of the world.

And that's going to have to be the next version 2.0 of this.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Hotez, so helpful in helping us all understand it. Thank you very much.

HOTEZ: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to Capitol Hill and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a warning that her days are numbered.

BLACKWELL: That's according to a senior House Republican member who tell CNN that -- quote -- "Liz is gone. Just a question of how and when."

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, could hold a vote to remove her from her leadership position as soon as next week, all because she refuses to bend a knee to the former president and his lie about 2020 election fraud that he lost, but McCarthy claims it's about more than that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There's no concern about how she voted on impeachment. That decision has been made. I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message.

We all need to be working as one. Haven't heard members concerned about her vote on impeachment. It's more concerned about the job, ability to do, and what's our best step forward, that we could all work together, instead of attacking one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Liz Cheney is drawing her own line in the sand, her team issuing this statement in response just a short time ago.

Here it is: "This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue."

CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill.

So, Ryan, tell us what the latest is. This seems to change by the hour. What's happening with a possible vote?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the quickest route for this to happen, for the Republican Party here on Capitol Hill to move on from this controversy involving Liz Cheney, would be for the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to call a snap vote on her status during their caucus meeting next week.

And we believe that meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. McCarthy has the power to do that. It could happen, it would be over with, and then they could move on to whoever they want to put in that number three role.

The question that we still don't have a firm answer to, is McCarthy ready to take that step? It seems pretty clear that he no longer wants to offer the strong rock-ribbed support that he gave for Cheney when she was facing similar questions like this at the beginning of the year.

And in many ways, McCarthy seems like he just doesn't want to talk about it. This is what happened during an event earlier today in Atlanta when he was asked about the controversy involving Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Will you call for a vote to seek the removal of Liz Cheney from her leadership position?

MCCARTHY: The conference decides on that. We're here to talk about small business, and we're talking about solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So, even though he didn't get into the details regarding Cheney, what he did say was important. He said it was up for the conference to decide.

That's not how he was talking at the beginning of the year. He was very strong in his support for Cheney, saying that he wanted to keep her in that number three post. And, essentially, what we're dealing with here, Victor and Alisyn, is a Republican leader, in Kevin McCarthy, who is choosing the former President Donald Trump and his big lie about the election results in 2020 over a conservative Republican.

This isn't someone that has policy differences that are separate from the rest of the conference. She's pretty much in line with everything the Republican Party is pushing. But the one thing they cannot agree on is challenging Donald Trump about what happened in November.

And, as a result, it looks as though she is on the road to losing her leadership post.

BLACKWELL: Ryan Nobles for us on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's talk now with CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip. She's also host of "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY."

Abby, good to have you.

It's been, what, three months since the last vote on her leadership post. And she won that by a huge margin. What's happened in the last three months, specifically with Kevin McCarthy, that has now flipped him and potentially the rest of the conference?

[15:10:05]

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

I was thinking as I was listening to Ryan that this is not so much about Liz Cheney, because Liz Cheney is the person who has been pretty consistent throughout this whole thing. This is about what's happening to the Republican Party, from Kevin McCarthy on down.

And, specifically, McCarthy actually made his flip toward Trump pretty soon after January 6. After he said that Trump deserved some blame for what happened on January 6, he proceeded to then go down to Mar-a- Lago, and beg for the donor list and sort of prostrate himself in front of former President Trump.

But also, within the Republican Caucus, moderate members now have changed their tune. They don't want to be forced to pick sides between the big lie and the truth. And that is what is causing Liz Cheney to be on the ropes here. It's not just Kevin McCarthy. It's also that there's probably any number of moderate Republicans, maybe dozens at this point, who don't want to make that choice. And that is -- I mean, frankly, it's a profile in cowardice,

considering what we're talking about is a violent insurrection on the United States Capitol.

CAMEROTA: Abby, you're so right. I mean, there's a lot of political intrigue about what's going to happen next with Liz Cheney, but this is about democracy.

And so, while all of this is happening, and there are still these kind of cultural wedge issues that come up on cable stations every night, quietly, GOP-led state legislatures are passing, one after another, voting restrictions.

And I think we have a graphic of, just since the 2020, election, all of these different voting bills that have been signed into law that makes it harder on some level for certain people to vote. And that's what's happening behind the scenes.

PHILLIP: Yes, it is all part of an effort to repackage the blatant election lies that were peddled by former President Trump into something that all across the country Republicans are claiming is about election security.

But we know that it's not about election security, because their opposition to mail-in voting, their opposition to ballot drop boxes, those are all things that are -- that come directly from former President Trump.

Trump was the person who decided that those things were bad for him and bad for the Republican Party. And that has nothing to do with there being any evidence to suggest that they are, in fact, things that lead to more fraud. They didn't lead to more fraud in the last election.

So you have this entire party from coast to coast really buying into the big lie-lite in the form of these voting restriction bills.

BLACKWELL: Earliest possible vote on Liz Cheney's future is May 12, a week from tomorrow.

If she is out a week from today, what does that portend for 2022, if the president can say, you, out, and the speaker says--

PHILLIP: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- whatever you like? And what does it portend for 2024, as a new crop, potentially, if the former president doesn't run again, of hopefuls for the leadership of the party and the nomination?

PHILLIP: You know, there's -- we have been asking, what is the future of the Republican Party post-Trump?

And I think the answer is, it's not really post-Trump. We're still in the Trump era in the Republican Party. And if Liz Cheney is in fact ousted in a week, that really solidifies it. That tells us pretty clearly where the party is, where they believe the energy is, where they believe the money is.

I think people overlook the part of this that is about just sheer dollars and cents. This is a political party where they want to be able to raise grassroots dollars. The people raising the most money are the most Trumpy of the Trump candidates in some cases.

And so Republicans will be making clear what direction their party is going in based on how they deal with Liz Cheney and deal with dissent in their ranks.

The question is, can they be a big tent party, where people can have different viewpoints about what role former President Trump should play? I think the answer will be -- will be given if and when the Republican Caucus votes on Liz Cheney's future.

And it seems to me very clear that, from the leadership on down, there's absolutely no desire to push back on what I would actually say is an escalating -- President Trump is escalating his lies as it relates to the big lie, and the Republican Party is standing behind him on that.

BLACKWELL: Abby Phillip, thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: OK.

So, next: Facebook is set to decide whether Donald Trump will be making a comeback to your News Feed. We have details on that decision just ahead.

[15:15:00]

Plus: A photo surfaces of a juror in the Derek Chauvin trial wearing a T-shirt that appears to be in support of George Floyd months before the trial started.

What he's saying now and what this could mean for that conviction.

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CAMEROTA: One more big day before a big decision on whether former President Trump will be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook's over board -- Oversight Board is set to make this announcement tomorrow morning. Now, you will remember, they suspended Trump's accounts indefinitely on January 7, the day after the Capitol riot.

[15:20:11]

BLACKWELL: But even with the future of his social media accounts uncertain, the former president continues to spread the lie. Just this week, he repeated his false claims of election fraud in an e-mail statement.

CNN's business correspondent, Donie O'Sullivan and CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, are with us. Brian, first to you. Also, the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," I should say that, 11:00 on Saturdays -- on Sundays.

Donie, what are we expecting from the Facebook decision?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Yes, I mean, this is pretty much as big a decision that Facebook is going to face.

They are putting it out to their Oversight Board, which is this new -- it's essentially a Supreme Court for Facebook, which has been set up in the past few months. It is made up of human rights experts, free expression experts, the former editor of "The Guardian" in London.

And they are going to make this decision to say, is what Facebook did on the 7th of January, deciding to suspend Trump indefinitely, was that the correct decision or not? If they say he should be let back on, Facebook says it's going to do what the board says, and will let him back on.

Obviously, if they do leave him back on, that is going to have enormous consequences, not just for Silicon Valley, but also, of course, for the Republican Party and for the continued perpetuation of the big lie.

CAMEROTA: Brian, President Trump's laws led to a bloody, deadly insurrection. Why would they ever let him back on to peddle more of the crap?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of members of this board that are free speech advocates, First Amendment absolutist in some cases, that are going to make an argument that these platforms should not be in the position of making these choices at all.

If Trump is brought back on Facebook, it'll likely be for those reasons. But a lot of this has to do with the memory hole, right, the riot going down the memory hole. That's what FOX and right-wing media has been trying to do.

And I worry that this may be another result of that.

BLACKWELL: You know, I went back and read the statement from the FOX (sic) board back on January 21, when they decided to make that suspension indefinite.

And they said that the reason was, the president was actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power.

Just yesterday, he tweeted out that the new big lie is that the current president, the duly elected president, was indeed elected with enough legitimate votes.

So what has changed that would lead them to any real substantial difference in their position? Brian, to you.

STELTER: I think it's that they have this board, which is a group of outsiders naked, and they can then say, it's not our call anymore. It's not Mark Zuckerberg making the decision. It's this outside board, and they are the ones reviewing the evidence.

And, of course, whatever they do with Trump, it's going to set a precedent for other world leaders and former world leaders and potential future world leaders. So, there's an immense amount of pressure on this board, even though it's ultimately Facebook that is deciding to shove this content moderation problem over to the board.

It ultimately is still Facebook's call. Is that a fair assessment, Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, I mean, look, this is sort of a stroke of genius by Facebook in some ways, because it set up this board. And it's trying to let Zuckerberg off the hook here.

And I think a lot of people would say, look, Facebook's trying to do the right thing. It's better to have experts making these decisions than Zuckerberg alone. But at the end of the day, I mean, this still is Mark Zuckerberg platform, and he is ultimately responsible.

CAMEROTA: But, Donie, I mean, you have done so much reporting about what happens when disinformation gets into the bloodstream, be it through FOX, be it through social media. I mean, obviously, it's dangerous.

We saw a deadly insurrection. But every day, you interview people who also are just getting fed complete disinformation and making bad choices as a result about their health.

I mean, here's just a few examples.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know anything about how the vaccination can change your DNA?

QUESTION: It's not going to change my DNA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think so? You have proof of it that it won't?

QUESTION: Do you have any proof that it will?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I trust what I have heard from other people that are educated in that field over somebody like you.

QUESTION: Are you not afraid of getting sick?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I'm afraid of getting sick. But I don't think that's the way. Everything I have read about it, it's -- I mean, the chances of me getting it are slim to none. And the chances of me surviving it are 99 percent.

So, I don't know what to tell you.

QUESTION: Who's a source of news that you trust?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I trust?

QUESTION: Yes, like, is there a person, an organization that you trust?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Tucker is pretty trustworthy so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Not according to his lawyers, he's not, Donie.

As you know, they argued in court that no, like, sane person should ever trust Tucker Carlson, because everybody should know that he's not actually using facts.

[15:25:05]

O'SULLIVAN: Yes.

And, look, I mean, what you heard there as well in that piece about the DNA, the stats about the vaccine, about COVID and the dangers of it, I mean, that's misinformation, right?

And, oftentimes, when I'm out speaking to people who have -- who are anti-vaccine, they're not just vaccine-hesitant. There's people who are anti-vaccine. And I can scroll through my Facebook feed. I can scroll through different parts of the Internet. I can see the misinformation.

And I can almost predict, I know precisely what conspiracy theory people are going to bring up. They're going to say, oh, this vaccine is going to change my DNA, or there's a microchip from Bill Gates in the vaccine, I mean, really, really crazy stuff.

But you're seeing how it's directly going from people's Facebook feeds and elsewhere on the Internet, on YouTube, and right into their consciousness and into informing how they make their decisions about something as important as a vaccine.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And, Brian, go ahead.

STELTER: And let me just add, it leads to the big lie.

It's the same poisoned information in the ecosystem that causes Liz Cheney to be an outcast in her own party. It's the same poisoned environment that leads people to believe lies about the vaccine over the truth about the vaccine.

These right-wing media outlets and these social platforms are both a megaphone and a mirror. They are blasting out and amplifying misinformation. And then they are reflecting those views back to the people and causing people to believe in an echo chamber that that is the truth.

It is a -- it's the same problem, I think, in both the conversation you had earlier about the big lie and this conversation about vaccines.

BLACKWELL: It is dangerous.

Brian Stelter, Donie O'Sullivan, thank you both.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, so, next: Months before the Chauvin trial started, one of the jurors attended a march on Washington wearing a T- shirt that read, "Get your knee off our necks."

That's how -- that's now raised questions about whether he was totally forthcoming in a jury questionnaire. You're going to hear how he explains it ahead.

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