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Soon: Biden Lands in Europe for High-Stakes First Trip Abroad; Biden's Goal for 1st Foreign Trip: Show Putin and China that U.S. & Europe Are "Tight." Biden to Meet with Putin After Calling Him a "Killer." WH Shifting Strategy as Infrastructure Talks Hit Major Roadblocks; Biden Shifts Strategy, Ends Infrastructure Talks with Sen. Capito; Key GOP Senators: Tax Hikes for Infrastructure Off the Table; J&J Working to Extend Shelf Life of Vaccine as Hundreds of Thousands of Doses Set to Expire; Growing Concerns Over Variant First Identified in India; Half of Those 12 and Older in U.S. Now Fully Vaccinated; At Least 29 Mass Shootings in U.S. Over Last Two Weeks; San Jose Mayor Wants Gun Owners to Foot Bill for Gun Violence; Aired 1-1:30p ET.

Aired June 9, 2021 - 13:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks so much for being with us on this busy Wednesday. The president facing a critical and tricky moment here in the U.S. and overseas. Moments from now he arrives in England and assumes his role on the world stage. This is his first foreign trip as president, and the mission is clear.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED: Strengthening (ph) the alliance, make it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight, and the T7 is going to move.


CABRERA: President Biden looking to reset relationships with U.S. allies, and take on Russian President Putin in a high-stakes meeting just days from now. But talk about timing, because back home in Washington, his domestic agenda is teetering.

Let's start with CNN's White House Correspondent, Arlette Saenz, she is in England. Arlette, what can you tell us about the president's key meetings coming up?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, President Biden is heading here to Europe with a message that America is committed to its allies. But he is also putting his adversaries on notice - countries like China and Russia culminating with that high- stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin a week from today. Now the president is on his way to the United Kingdom where we will

first speak to service members here before travelling to the Cornwall area for a series of meetings with allies. First meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and then G7 Summit meetings over the course of the next few days.

And it's very carefully choreographed - this entire trip. The president meeting with those allies to try to present a united front as they are trying to counter some of the actions taken by countries like China and Russia. The president in his sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said that he will bring up the issue of cyber attacks.

The president's also expected to challenge Putin on human rights abuses. But the White House has acknowledged while there may not be tangible results coming from this meeting, it at least sets the course for the tone of their conversations and engagements going forward. The president also looking for areas where he can agree with Russia, such as climate change.

And on top of all of this, all of the meetings will also focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. And the president has said that he will outline some type of strategy, we are expecting that the president will make an announcement when it comes to the global production of COVID-19 vaccine, but all of these issues are very challenging for this president.

Of course, Biden has been preparing for this type of summit meetings for quite some time. He was well known on the international stage as a senator and vice president, but now he's coming - travelling here to Europe in a very different position - as a leader of the United States who can set the agenda for foreign policy for America.

CABRERA: All right, day one in a weeks long visit to Europe. Thank you so much, Arlette Saenz.

With us now, General Wesley Clark, CNN Military Analyst and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. General, we're reporting President Biden views the stakes of this first trip as nothing less than democracy itself. He is on a mission to prove in the face of authoritarian threats around the globe that democracy can still work. How does he accomplish that and how challenging will that be given what's happening at home right now and in other parts of the world?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think it's a - you can't prove it in a single trip. But you do have to pull the allies together. President Trump did no good service for our NATO allies, or our friends in Europe by casting doubt on the relationship.

So President Biden's got to go out there, he's got to talk about first the U.S. economic program. We're back economically, we're going to do things for the middleclass and working-class, and we're going to show that democracy works for the people, that's number one.

Number two, that the United States is committed to Europe and we're going to stay with our NATO allies, we're going to use Europe with us to counterbalance China's drives (ph). That's second problem.

Third problem is Russia, they're the spoiler. So Russia's actually been sort of waging war on democracies for the last 10 years. They invaded Georgia, they invaded - seized Crimea, in Ukraine they've done big troop exercises, interfered in elections, hacking, colonial pipeline - on, and on, and on. So he's going to have a sit down with Putin, this is really high stakes diplomacy, because if there's a misunderstanding it could result in conflict.

But there's opportunity for a bold move by the president, he could try to pull a Reagan, as Reagan did at Reykjavik and turn the tables on Putin and say, look, stop all this. What is the issue? Why don't you work with the world instead of fighting the world? No one's trying to invade Russia.


Come and join the world. I - President Biden's the kind of man with his experience, his gravitas - he could do this. He can stand up to a bully, and that's what he's going to show to our European friends. But more than that, he might be able to change the course of history if he handles this summit the right way.

Now, the White House is not going to say this because they want to downplay expectations, and that's very important going into this summit with Putin.

CABRERA: Well, and if you think about the words he used - and he was willing to throw down when he was asked by George Stephanopoulos previously whether he thought Putin was a killer. Let's listen.


BIDEN: He will pay a price. I - we had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well, and the conversation started off, I said, I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred (ph) then be prepared.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So you know Vladimir Putin, you think he's a killer?

BIDEN: Yes (ph), I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what price must he pay?

BIDEN: The price he's going to pay, well, you'll see shortly.


CABRERA: Those are bold words, and yet this morning some critics are questioning why he's even giving his Russian adversary a meeting at all. Our Jeff Zeleny reports even inside the West Wing the Putin summit was subject to internal debate. Do you think he should go forward with this meeting? I mean, you did outline what you would do in a meeting like this. But the bold agenda that he could try to pursue, but is it risky for him to meet with Putin at all? CLARK: There's always a risk, but there's a larger risk if you don't

meet with Putin. Look, this is not a stable situation in Europe. Putin has escalated his activities year in and year out, he's ready to make a military grab in Ukraine for - not all of Ukraine, but part of Ukraine at any time, really.

And he's weighing whether he can get away with it, what the consequences might be, whether the United States will be distracted by internal discord, or maybe focus on China. And Putin wants to reestablish the Soviet Union, and it's buffer states - he wants control in eastern Europe. And so this has to be confronted, and it's best to confront it soon whether than later.

CABRERA: General Wesley Clark, I really appreciate your time and insights. And I look forward to talking to you again, especially as we continue to cover this first foreign trip of the U.S. president.

CLARK: Thank you, Ana. Thank you.

CABRERA: Now to Washington where President Biden's agenda is stalling. CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill for us.

Where do these negotiations stand on this massive infrastructure plan, right now, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now there are bipartisan talks that are happening. But I can tell you, Democrats are just simply not sold on the idea of going down this route. While there are some Democrats who are negotiating with a handful of Republicans, a vast majority of them think this is simply the wrong way to go or that ultimately a deal that will be reached is something that they will not ultimately be able to support.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D)-GA: If we can get a bipartisan deal, that's a good thing. But no voter that I've talked to in Georgia said to me, what's most important is that we get a bipartisan deal.

SEN. BOB CASEY, (D)-PA: This is a singular moment in recent American history, and it won't come again where we can make these investments in families that have never been made before, make these investments in our infrastructure that's physical to move the country forward.


RAJU: And what these Democrats are concerned about is now (ph) talks have dragged on for weeks between Senator Shelley Moore Capito West Virginia Republican and President Biden. Ultimately those talks didn't materialize to much, they ended and they collapsed last night when Joe Biden pulled the plug on those. And now the White House is focusing on this bipartisan talk. And rather than trying to move along straight party lines.

But I did have a chance to speak with Senator Capito just earlier, and she raised concerns about this bipartisan effort essentially undercutting her ability to try to get a deal with Joe Biden.


SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, (R)-WV: Yeah, I mean, obviously I was negotiating in good faith with the president as he was with me, and when other things - other ideas come up, I'm for all ideas. But when other ideas come up that are presented to be bigger and better, that had an affect, I think, on our negotiations.


RAJU: And what the Democrats ultimately want, a vast majority of them, is to try to move along straight party lines. But to do that they need all 50 Democrats to agree with that strategy, to move along the budget process and right now they simply do not have unity which puts this key agenda item in peril.

CABRERA: And Manu, I know how to pay for these plans is one of the big sticking (ph) points on both sides. There's this new reporting all these billionaires paying next to nothing in taxes. Jeff Bezos even heeding the child tax credit, and Republicans won't touch taxes? How do they defend this?


RAJU: They're arguing that they're not going to agree to tax increases, including those senators who are in that group, who are trying to cut a bipartisan deal. In fact, they are saying that is simply not even being discussed among the handful of senators from both sides. Senators Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, Jon Tester all confirming to me this morning they're all part of those talks saying that they are not going to be discussing tax increases.

Republicans simply say that is a red line, they argue it'll stymie the economic recovery right now, and Democrats are - who are negotiating say that they can be amenable, potentially to looking at other ways to pay for this massive infrastructure package, but presumably repurposing existing money that had been enacted through the COVID relief law, but the White House and the Senate Democratic leaders have thrown cold water on that. So getting a deal here, very difficult.

CABRERA: It's just so hard to understand, when you have these big corporations saying yes, we should be paying more - we're willing to pay more and Republicans are saying no, no - no, no we're not going to do that to you. It's hard to make sense of it.

Manu Raju, you're doing great on the Capitol Hill reporting. There are so many moving parts, I appreciate you joining us.

Turning to some concerning news now about the pandemic. They're potentially lifesaving, but going unused and on the verge of expiring. Ahead, the race to save hundreds of thousands of COVID vaccine doses before they end up in the trash.

Plus, two weeks after a deadly mass shooting in his city, a California mayor has a controversial new gun control plan making gun owners pay for gun violence. We talk to him.

And nothing is safe from the cicadas, even the president of the United States.



CABRERA: Right now a COVID vaccine supplier is scrambling to prevent a large number of doses from going to waste. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Johnson & Johnson shots are about to expire, and the drug maker is now racing to extend their shelf life.

Joining us now is CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. And doctor, we know the J&J vaccine can be stored for up to three months at refrigerator temperatures - right now more than 21 million J&J doses have been delivered, only 11 million have been administered. And when I think of all the countries that are just desperate for vaccines, are you concerned that all these doses could go to waste?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yeah, I really am. The pause (ph) that the FDA and (inaudible) took on the vaccine this spring when there were concerns about clotting (ph), I think really hurt the uptake for this vaccine.

When this vaccine was released the data was really good, and we thought the convenience of a single dose would appeal to a lot of people, but I think the publicity surrounding the very rare clotting episodes really hurt the availability of this vaccine for a lot of people.

CABRERA: There is a growing concern right now about this new Delta variant - the variant first identified in India that it could become the dominant variant here in the U.S. The experts even think that this variant is more transmissible, and even the variant first identified in the U.K., it could also cause more severe illness. How effective are the current authorized vaccines against this variant?

REINER: The current vaccines are very effective against the variant, particularly the RNA vaccines when given in both doses. But the concern with this variant is not for the folks who've been vaccinated in this country, it's for the still large numbers of people in this country who have not been vaccinated.

There was some interesting data a couple of weeks ago published in "The Washington Post," that looked at the people in this country who have not been vaccinated. And those people are still getting this virus, most people are still dying at rates similar to the rate in sort of the darkest parts of January.

So my suggestion to the folks in this country who are hesitant is to get vaccinated. This Delta variant is much easier to transmit, and does appear to be more lethal.

CABRERA: Wow. Let's whip (ph) through a couple other headlines here. We now know more than 50 percent of those 12 years and older who are fully vaccinated - more than 50 percent, according to the CDC. It has been less than a month since that younger age group was even authorized for the vaccine. What do you make of that number?

REINER: I think that's great. I want to see 100 percent. You know, the problem is we know that at least 25 percent of parents are not planning on vaccinating their kids, and it tracks the parent's own vaccine hesitancy. We know that this vaccine can make kids sick, and we also know that these vaccines are nearly 100 percent effective in preventing serious illness in adolescence. So I really implore parents, get your kids vaccinated. Protect them.

CABRERA: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, it's good to see you. Thank you so much for being here, and for all you do.

REINER: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Now, to another epidemic in the U.S. - gun violence. And one mayor's controversial new plan to make all gun owners pay up after a deadly mass shooting. He joins us next.



CABRERA: Should all gun owners have to pay for the damages of gun violence? It has been two weeks since a gunman killed nine coworkers in San Jose. Since that massacre, the U.S. has suffered at least 29 mass shootings that have killed 25 people, this is according to a tally by the Gun Violence Archive. Now, that is more than two mass shootings per day. No other peer nation on Earth experiences anything remotely approaching that.


Now, the mayor of San Jose, California is trying to make gun owners foot part of the bill for that staggering toll with gun insurance and fees. The proposal would require San Jose gun owners to obtain liability insurance for their weapons and pay a fee to cover the public cost of gun violence.

Other measures introduced include a requirement to videotape gun and ammo sales, and improved information sharing on high-risk individuals. And San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is joining us now.

Mayor, it's great to have you with us. Explain how this works.

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO, (D)-SAN JOSE, CA: Well, thank you, Ana. The insurance and fee requirements would really be very straightforward. We would require that every gun owner pay a fee when they do so they'll get a form from the city, and then they'll be able to fill out that form indicating that it got an insurance policy.

Almost all homeowners and renters' policies will cover gun ownership, that way our victims of unintentional shootings will at least have some way to pay for the hospital bills and other serious kinds of costs that they have to incur. And equally importantly, our taxpayers won't be footing the bill for gun violence as they do today. We know that Second Amendment protects everyone's right to own a gun, it does not require the taxpayers subsidize that.

CABRERA: But would the money then go to insurance companies?

LICCARDO: No, the fees would go directly to the city and potentially to the county as well - we're talking to them as well about the costs that they pay for in the emergency rooms and so forth. So the fees simply pay for the public cost of responding to gun violence in the form of emergency medical response, and police, and all the other things that cities have to do throughout the country to respond to this scourge (ph) of gun violence.

CABRERA: But why do gun owners - the majority of whom are responsible gun owners, deserve to have this extra financial burden? Why is it fair?

LICCARDO: Well, first of all the insurance requirement is something that we're all very used to in automobiles, right? We know that it's important that injured victims be compensated. And we know that insurance can be a mechanism to make us drive more safely, right? We have lower premiums for safe driving, insurance companies have been very helpful in insuring that technological advances in braking, and airbags, and so forth have saved literally hundreds of thousands of lives in this country.

And so we think insurance can be a mechanism for insuring that gun owners get gun safes, and trigger locks, and all the other things gun safety classes - that can make us safer. And right now we have 4.6 million children in this country that live in homes where a gun is loaded and unlocked.

So we know insurance is a way that we can all be safer, even in a country with 300 million guns. And similarly, fees, the reality is the public taxpayers are footing the bill for those who choose to own guns. It's appropriate that if gun owners believe in the importance of this right then they pay for the cost that guns incur on the public.

CABRERA: Every life saved is worth it, right, if it saves one life? But I know, your city has had at least eight shootings in the last two weeks, you said. So basically since the mass shooting that claimed lives at the rail yard there - how would this law have prevented those?

LICCARDO: Well, there are different aspects of proposals that we are pushing, for example, around gun violence restraining orders that will be really critically helpful for incidents like this where coworkers and family members may have suspicions that somebody is not quite safe, and they know that they have access to guns. And so, being able to get gun violence restraining orders - particularly for those with mental health episodes will be really critical for us.

But with regard to insurance and fees, there's a lot of different harms that are associated with guns. There are 500 deaths by unintentional shooting every year, there are more than 26,000 injuries by unintentional shooting. That's where insurance can play a great role in ensuring that we are all being safer with how it is we own guns, and store guns, and train ourselves to be appropriately handling guns.

CABRERA: So how much are we talking here? What is - what would be the fee? And how often would people have to pay for insurance, for example?

LICCARDO: Yes, the insurance is often free. It's usually included in the homeowner's and rental policies. Occasionally there will be a small cost for a writer (ph), so that won't cost much of anything at all, and probably nothing. What will cost something is the annual fee, every year typically probably $20, $25 something along those lines.

We have experts that are providing us with the actual cost per gun in the city of San Jose, that analysis is underway now, but the number is much, much higher than $25, I can assure you. And so, the likely fee is not even going to compensate the public for the full cost.