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Vice President Harris with Guatemalan President to Tackle Migration Crisis; FDA Approves Controversial Alzheimer's Treatment; U.S. on Track to Fall Short of Biden's July 4 Vaccine Goal. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired June 7, 2021 - 13:00   ET

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


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JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for sharing your Monday with us. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Monday, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And happening today, critical meetings for an administration facing some major crises, first, the nation's crumbling infrastructure. President Biden speaking with the Republicans top Senate negotiator today as hopes for a bipartisan deal and the time left to strike one ran out. The other crisis at the southern border, migrant crossings spiking as Vice President Harris faces a key test on the world stage, her first meetings with foreign leaders now under way right now in Central America.

And we begin this hour with CNN Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union co-Anchor Dana Bash. Dana, President Biden, he already rejected Senator Capito's latest counteroffer that came Friday, they'll speak again today, but they're still miles apart on new spending, right? The White House wants $1 trillion. Republicans only want $300 billion. So let's talk about what this means to people watching at home.

Here is what they agree on, money for bridges, roads, water, rail, airports, but we now know Democrats are expanding what they see as, quote, infrastructure. Talk to us about that, because that's a problem for Republicans.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's so true. And, listen, Ana, we in Washington talk a lot about the sausage being made and we are so knee deep in that part of this process right now. So it is important to remind people of how it affects them. And when it comes to infrastructure, it really does. I mean, it affects people's -- how they drive and other things that affect their neighborhoods, things like that. The question at this point, despite the differences over money and those are important differences, is kind of a macro idea and a notion of the scope and what exactly is the definition of infrastructure. We remember back when the president came to Congress and gave his big speech, one of the things that he really emphasized is, again, that he wants to change the way the government addresses two fundamental problems, or challenges, that every American has at one point or another. One is child care and another is elderly care. He wants and other Democrats want that to be part of this bill. They call it human infrastructure.

Republicans say that might be worth discussing, but it doesn't belong in infrastructure because this should be about roads, bridges, things of that nature.

CABRERA: So that's just one agenda item that's hit this stall point. It wasn't a big surprise, I guess, but it's what a lot of people are talking about. Today, Joe Manchin slamming the door again on the filibuster and the voter suppression fight. Manchin writing this over the weekend, I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.

So walk us through what Manchin is thinking here because it's not as cut and dry as people think.

BASH: Right. There are two pieces of legislation that Democrats are talking about here. One is what you just talked about, that Senator Joe Manchin says he opposes, and it's really broad. It was passed by the House.

There's a version of it in the Senate, which does set federal guidelines for elections, which would be a direct sort of answer to all of these different bills that are being passed in states. But it does a lot of other things. It deals with so-called gerrymandering, how the House districts are made, campaign finance laws. So it's really broad. And it is part of the Democrats' big, bold agenda. That's something that Joe Manchin is saying, I'm not going there.

But there's something else that's known as the John Lewis Act, and this is much more targeted, much more specific, and it is a way to answer a Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that did away with the big part of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. And, Ana, why this matters is because that did away with the federal government, specifically the Justice Department's ability to get more involved in some of these statewide election rules. And this would, if it passes, restore some of that, not all of it, but some of that. That, Joe Manchin supports.

So that is kind of a big deal that might have not been understood because there's so much discussion here in Washington about voting. The question that we don't know the answer to, Ana, though is even though he supports that, how is he going to help get that passed, because you still have the question about the filibuster.

CABRERA: And whether Republicans will work with Democrats on anything given just last month --

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BASH: Exactly.

CABRERA: Mitch McConnell was saying his focus, 100 percent focus on stopping the Biden administration.

But let's move on to Congresswoman Liz Cheney, because she's out of leadership, she's not backing down from using her megaphone to take on her own party. Let's listen.

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REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY) (voice over): There was no question who was responsible then. But then, of course, Kevin McCarthy decided to go to Mar-a-Lago at the end of January. And I think that, that was a real moment where it became clear we weren't going to be able to move forward and focus on substance and policy because we had leaders who were embracing the president who had just been impeached.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: She was extremely critical of McCarthy in that interview. She went on to call his trip down in Mar-a-Lago inexcusable.

So, Cheney is hardly going away. What kind of impact do you think her message is having?

BASH: Well, the fact that she is basically a household name, but she is able to go on a podcast with a man who's now our colleague, but he helped Barack Obama get elected, was one of his top advisers at the beginning of his administration, it means that she is not just has the platform and the megaphone but she's willing to use it to continue to fight the fight, not just for the Republican Party and the way that she says over and over again and especially in this podcast again has just kind of gone off the rails and not, you know, being -- standing for what it's supposed to, which is conservative philosophies, but also, because she understands the power of that megaphone. She's in the minority. I mean, that is very clear. She is in the minority of her party.

But she said when she got ousted from leadership she was going to continue to speak out, and she is. And she's going to continue to do that. And it means that that -- even though it's small, that small wing of the GOP is not going away, even though there are other news organizations, other conservative outlets that are determined to drown it out.

CABRERA: Yes. And that was the reason that they pulled her from leadership too because she wasn't speaking with a united voice and the same that everybody else was. Dana Bash, always good to have you with us. Thank you.

BASH: You too. Good to see you, Ana.

CABRERA: I really appreciate.

To a critical test now for Vice President Kamala Harris. She is meeting moments ago with the president of Guatemala. She looks to take on the migration crisis here at home.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is traveling with the V.P., he joins us live in Guatemala City. And, Jeremy, what can you tell us about this meeting that just took place?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Vice President Kamala Harris made very clear that she is here primarily to address the root causes of migration. That is the central task here and it is the task that involves many issues, everything from poverty and hunger, to climate change and crime.

Corruption, of course, will be also -- is also one of those root causes, at least as far as the vice president's team sees things. That will be one of the more dicey issues for the vice president to address here as she is meeting with the Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei.

They have very different visions of this issue. The Guatemalan government has been part of the effort to kind of roll back a lot of the efforts to fight against corruption here in Guatemala, and so the vice president is very much trying to come out with something here to show that there is progress on that issue.

All of this, of course, is coming against the backdrop of intensifying political pressure back at home as we are seeing these record numbers of migrants presenting themselves at the U.S.-Mexico border. In April, it was a two-decade high in terms of the numbers of migrants apprehended at the border.

What's very clear is that the vice president isn't just looking for quick solutions here. These are long-term issues and her team very much recognizes that. But one that I think that is clear is the vice president in deciding to come here to Guatemala as her first foreign trip, sending a very clear message that this issue of migration from Central America and through Central America to the United States is a top priority for her and for the Biden administration. Ana?

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond traveling with the vice president in Guatemala, thank you for your report.

I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. Congressman, it's great to have with us.

You represent border communities. In April alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 178,000 migrants at the southern border. 44 percent of whom were from Central America. So, as Guatemala's president is meeting with the vice president, he's described here as someone who doesn't hold back and he admits they don't necessarily see eye-to-eye on how to solve this issue. What do you hope she's able to accomplish and walk away with after this trip to stem the surge of migrants in the U.S.? REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Well, first of all, just the fact that she's showing up is a win for all of us to make sure that Central America understands that the United States is paying attention to Central America.

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Second of all, she needs to show some sort of progress. I mean, there are some very difficult, uncomfortable issues that have to be address but, nevertheless, we're not going to solve everything on this particular trip but we have to show some sort of progress that will be long-term and short-term in nature.

CABRERA: What does progress look like?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, there are some things that we need to address. Look, we've been working on this since 2014. We put in moneys. I sat on the appropriations, we were the first ones to add, you know, $750 million, and, in fact, the administration, the current administration, they still have hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that we added back in December, and in the appropriations, we are requesting more money.

So they have to show that they can, one, stop some of the flow from coming in because if we look at the root problems, to address the root problems corruption, crime and all that, that's going to take years in many ways. But we still have to show -- we have to show a way that we can slow down the number of people coming in from Central America. If we don't do this, I can tell you that the areas that I represent, the border communities, they're frustrated. I'm telling you, they are frustrated. There are pull factors and push factors that we need to address as soon as possible.

CABRERA: And right now, while the increase in migrants crossing the border has slowed down in the last couple of months and since peak, that really jump that we saw in February, I mean, it's still going up and these numbers are far and above what we've seen past few years. Guatemala's president, he wants American lawmakers, like yourself, to toughen federal laws against traffickers. Is that something the vice president should agree to? And do you think that's part of the solution?

CUELLAR: Well, actually, it is something that we should do. We should go after the traffickers, number one. We need to follow the money because there are -- if you look at it, many of those dollars, the billions of dollars that they gained are coming from the United States. So we have to be able to track the moneys to do that, so increase penalties, and certainly track the money.

Because, again, what motivates these people is not the goodness of bringing people over to the United States, it's just pure greed and profit that's motivating these bad people on moving people to the United States.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about voting rights because V.P. Harris was also tasked with safeguarding voting rights. And this weekend, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, he came out with an op-ed saying he won't back the For the People Act, which you voted for in the House.

He calls it too partisan. He did say he supported the passage of a narrower bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But still, your fellow, Democratic congressman, Mondaire Jones, he tweeted this in response. Manchin's op-ed might as well be titled, why I'll vote to preserve Jim Crow. Is Congressman Jones right?

CUELLAR: Look, I'm a moderate, like Senator Manchin, and he's looking at this from his perspective. And, again, look, you have a piece of legislation that I supported, that I agree with 100 percent, no. The legislative process is very simple. You can look at it, make some amendments to it, to make it palatable so we can get it passed. I want to see it passed. But I hope that we can do the old legislative process, and that is you make amendments so you can get the support to get it done on that.

But, again, you know, calling people names, with all due respect, is not very useful. I've learned that what you do is you sit down, work out the differences and get the job done. And I hope that Senator Manchin can figure out a way that he can support HR-1 with -- by making some changes to it.

CABRERA: He's saying he's just against it, period. But that being said, you talk about not calling names, that you can empathize with Senator Manchin given the political landscape where he comes from, do you think he's being unfairly targeted?

CUELLAR: Well, listen, look, we got extremes on the left, we've got extremes to the right. You know, there's a way that we can sit down with Senator Joe Manchin. I had him down here at the border, and when I had him, you know, when he was down here with me, he talked about doing full comprehensive immigration reform, so there are ways that we can have civil discussion within our own party, not only in a bipartisan way but within our own party.

And, certainly, I think Senator Manchin is one that you can sit down and work things out. So I encourage our parties within the party not to attack each other but to sit down and try to find way to move forward on these issues that are important for our country and our communities.

CABRERA: Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, I appreciate your time today, thanks for joining us.

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CUELLAR: Thank you.

CABRERA: New hope for Alzheimer's patients, the FDA today approving a controversial new treatment. Patient advocates say it's promising but critics have serious concerns.

Plus, found him. After a dramatic game of hide and seek, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell finally serves his Republican colleague Mo Brooks with an insurrection lawsuit, but Brooks says Swalwell's team committed a crime in the process. And it happened again, homophobic slurs, full water bottles thrown at players, a spectator running onto the field in another wild display of fans behaving badly.

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CABRERA: There could finally be a ray of hope for people suffering from Alzheimer's, the FDA today approving a controversial new treatment for people in the earliest stages of the devastating disease. It is the first Alzheimer's drug approved in 20 years, but serious questions are being raised about the drug's effectiveness.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. So why are there questions over whether this drug actually works and yet it's already approved now by the FDA?

ELIZABET COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Ana, when you hear about a new drug for Alzheimer's, there's such hope, right? Everybody knows someone with Alzheimer's, it's a terrible, terrible, destructive disease. And so the hope is, oh, my loved one can take this drug and I will get them back again. That is not what this drug is. Let's be clear. It is for use in very, very early stages of Alzheimer's. Even the researchers themselves have said if I had an advanced stage patient, I would not give this drug to them.

So let's look at how this drug did even in early stage patients, because the controversy is there as well. There was a study done that showed it didn't work, that it had no effectiveness. And then there was another study that showed that it led to a 22 percent -- or was associated with a 22 percent reduction in cognitive development. In other words, it improved things by 22 percent. And so that's good. But 22 percent, would a patient even notice that? Does that really translate to any kind of sort of changes in that patient's life?

So, the FDA did two very unusual things here. One, their advisory committee months ago said, essentially, we don't think you should approve this drug, we don't see it as effective. They went against the advice of their advisers, which hardly ever happens.

The second thing is the agency said, you know what, we're going to approve it. Because when you look at studies, you can see that it reduces the amount of amyloid plaques. Those are the plaques and tangles in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's. They said, you can see this so it's reasonable to think it would help these patients. And so they approved it on that kind of sort of jump there.

Now, lots of criticism, people saying super -- could be a super expensive drug that might not do very much. Ana?

CABRERA: Oh, but what an amazing thing it would be if it does do something and I think so many families are praying that this does work and it gives them some new hope. Thank you, Elizabeth Cohen, for your reporting. President Biden has made good on his promise to have 100 million Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 in his first 100 days in office but new numbers suggest we may fall short of another big goal of the president's of having 70 percent of U.S. adults get at least one vaccine shot by July 4th. Right now, nearly 300 million vaccine doses have been administered across the U.S. but vaccination rates are falling off from their highs back in April.

And CNN's Harry Enten has been tracking all of this for us for weeks now. How far are we from hitting this goal, Harry?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. If you asked me -- in fact, I was on with you a few weeks ago and I thought we were going to reach the 70 percent. But look at what's happened with the rate in which we are giving new -- folks their first dose.

Today, we're at 63.5. If the current rate holds, we'll be at 67 by July 4th, which is well short of 70 percent. And you can see why here on the screen, right, it was that we were gaining, say, 20 points more folks were getting their first dose among adults, say, back from three months ago to two months ago but look at the last month to today.

Look at that, it's just a 6.5 point gain and even within the last week it was 0.9 points that we gained. So when we project that out, we're looking at just 67 percent. Something is really going to have to shift if, in fact, we're going to reach the 70 percent goal.

CABRERA: And I know you're seeing divides growing in certain states. Explain.

ENTEN: Sure. So, look, here's the deal. If we were just looking at the states that Joe Biden won back in 2020, then we would reach that 70 percent mark because here, this is so important to look at. What we see here is that the average in the Biden state so far, 69.5 percent of those as of June 6th have received their first dose. In the Trump- won states, it's just 54.6.

If you look back two months ago, there really wasn't much of a divide. But as we've gone through all these different incarnations, what we've seen is that that gap between the red states and the blue states have certainly widened.

And if we look at the states in particular, right, what we see here is 70 percent-plus, 13 Biden states have reached that, zero Trump states, 65 to 69.9 percent, seven Biden states. So I think we'll get to around 20 Biden states by the end of this by July 4th with at least 70 percent-plus, but all 25 Trump states that he won are 65 percent or less. I'm not sure a sickle one of those, in fact, will reach the 70 percent mark.

One good piece of news, though, I will point out is we've been saying through the this entire process that the people of color were not getting their first dose at nearly the same levels as white folks were. And what do we see here? Overall, white folks, 61 percent of those who have received the first dose are white, but in the last two weeks, that's down to 45 percent. [13:25:07]

We've seen major jumps, particularly among black and especially Hispanic folk, in the last two weeks, their percentage of the first dosage over the last two weeks, very, very high. So I do think, even if the partisan gap is widening, the race and ethnicity gap has certainly been shrinking, and that's good news.

CABRERA: Yes. I'm glad you ended on good news. Hopefully it will serve as positive reinforcement for people to keep going and maybe we will hit that goal. Thank you.

ENTEN: Keep going, keep going. These shots are great. They allow you to live your life.

CABRERA: It does. It makes a world of difference. My biggest side effect was a feeling of relief and joy after receiving my vaccines. Thank you, Harry Enten.

And just a quick programming note, President Obama joins Anderson Cooper tonight for a rare one-on-one about his life, post-presidency. It's an Anderson Cooper 360 special, Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy. That's tonight at 8:00 Eastern here on CNN.

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