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First In-Person Gathering in Two Years Gets Underway Soon; Biden, Johnson Meet One-on-One Ahead of Summit; Trump Department of Justice Seized Phone Records of House Democrats; FDA Vaccine Debate Urgency of Vaccinating Kids; U.K. Struggle to Control Variants Threatening COVID Progress. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2021 - 04:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America will be the arsenal of vaccines.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a message to the world. He spoke after meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Ahead the latest on the G7 summit, both will attend here in England just a few hours from now. Hello, I'm Bianca Nobilo live in Cornwall, England.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kim Brunhuber at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to all of you watching here, in United States, Canada and around the world.

Also this hour, secret subpoenas targeting Democratic lawmakers. It's a developing story involving allegations of abuse of power by Donald Trump's Department of Justice.

Plus, COVID vaccines and kids. U.S. regulators are now considering new trials on children as young as six months.

NOBILO: The G7 summit is set to get under way here in Cornwall England in the coming hours. It's the first time in almost two years that the leaders of the world's richest democracies have talked face-to-face. This is Joe Biden's first overseas trip since taking office. It's also his first real chance to convince America's allies in-person that the Trump era is behind him.

One of his first orders of business was meeting with G7 host Boris Johnson who formally welcomed President Biden and his wife to the seaside resorts. The president and the prime minister later sat down to talk about to number of issues important to both countries. The pandemic remains a top priority and Mr. Biden says the U.S. will provide half a billion doses to the global vaccination effort. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation to save as many lives as we can. And our responsibility to our values. We value the inherent dignity of all people. In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer help and offer a helping hand. That's who we are. And when we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help as best we can.


NOBILO: CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from the summit site in it Carbis Bay. Nic, we just heard the president talking about donating vaccine doses. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ahead of the summit that it would be the greatest feet in medical history to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022. Do you think there's going to be enough tangible decisions made in this summit to make that dream a reality?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Boris Johnson has also said that the U.K. will contribute 100 million doses of vaccine across -- to poorer countries across the world. Certainly, there are critics of what the G7 appears to be working towards, which is sort of a figure of potentially a billion doses of vaccine to be given to poorer nations.

You know, there's a group of former leaders and Gordon Brown the former British Prime Minister has been something of a spokesman an advocate for their position. Which says actually if you want to vaccinate the whole world by the end of 2022 you need another 11 billion vaccines and to achieve that you need to give guarantees of funding to encourage vaccine manufacturers to increase their production capacity and capability, to increase their supply. And it's that kind of really deeply significant economic help and commitment that the critics would argue the G7 perhaps isn't going to achieve. Now, we have to wait to see what they come up with.

The aspiration is that for a fairer more equitable global economy that will be part of the discussion points of the G7 this morning, that's the White House's view. Pandemic recovery, a greener recovery is what we've heard from Downing Street. The exact metrics of what they come up with in terms of commitments of vaccine, a billion will sound like a big number, but the critics are going to say that doesn't go far enough and this group, the world's richest democracies, has the capacity to go further and I think that will be what we will be looking for later today to see if that's achieved.


NOBILO: And Nic, we've been speaking a lot about the U.S.A. and about the U.K. because a lot of focus was on that meeting between Johnson and Biden, but what about the other countries in the G7? What are their key priorities going into this summit?

ROBERTSON: We heard from the French President Emmanuel Macron speaking about some of his priorities for the meetings over the coming days, NATO as well, and, you know, he questioned some of the planning of, you know, what NATO proposes in coming years. And he seems somewhat critical of the position the United States has taken on that so far. He is also talking about providing additional vaccines, but making sure that there's -- you know, requesting that the W.H.O. and the World Trade Organization, WTO, makes sure that vaccine manufacturers and moneys paid to them doesn't stand in the way of vaccines reaching the world.

Now, is that going to be directly in keeping with what President Biden has suggested about waiving the patent rights for vaccine manufacturers? Because we know that's been a point of contention, certainly German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that that isn't the way to go, to waive -- you know, to waive essentially moneys that would be going to vaccine manufacturers. So it won't be -- it won't be everyone exactly on the same page. I think the target place -- everyone has the same target place they want to reach but there will be differences of opinion around the table for sure.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson in Carbis Bay at the summit site, thank you so much.

David Sanger is White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political and national security analyst and he joins us now from Plymouth in England. Great to have you on the program, sir. Thanks for joining us.


NOBILO: So I'd love to get your thoughts on what President Biden will be thinking going into this summit. Because we speak a lot about how the U.S.A. is the most powerful player in the room in all of these discussions. So it's quite clear what the U.K., what Germany, France, Italy, Japan, et cetera, can get out of strengthening their relationship with the U.S.A., but why is it so important for the U.S.A. to strengthen their relationship with all these other countries?

SANGER: Well, Bianca, I think coming into this you saw President Biden talk about three different priorities. The first is simply to show that the United States is back, and his announcement of the new Atlantic Charter or a revived Atlantic Charter with the British Prime Minister -- Prime Minister Johnson, yesterday. I think was sort of an indication of his desire to do exactly that, be able to show that the United States and its allies have an internationalist agenda.

I think the announcement on the vaccines that you were just discussing with Nic is a second example of trying to do that, to show that there is a bigger project here as there usually have been with the major allies. And in this one, this case a humanitarian one, although I would say humanitarian one that's also got significant global political advantages for the United States, if it can, in fact, get these vaccines into a billion or so arms.

And then I think the third objective is to try to go rally the allies in what he calls this growing conflict between democracy and autocracy and by that he means mostly Russia and China.

NOBILO: And David, when we think about President Biden and Boris Johnson, the optics are very good, Biden is definitely playing ball and giving the Prime Minister everything that he could want in terms of, you know, the chumminess of the relationship and being so complimentary about the host and the host site, but what do you make about their personal chemistry? What challenges can you see in their relationship? I'm thinking particularly of Brexit and how invested President Biden is on the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process on the island of Ireland.

SANGER: Well it's interesting that during the campaign in 2019 then candidate Biden essentially accused Mr. Johnson -- who was not yet Prime Minister -- of being a clone of Donald Trump. And so I think you saw the Prime Minister yesterday at the meeting in all that he did and all that he signed, doing everything he could to move sort of toward the internationalist view of Mr. Biden. That's not entirely a false move.


I think that, you know, Boris Johnson having grown up in the atmosphere that he did in Britain was always a little uncomfortable with the America First part of the Trump agenda. But it's also not clear that a year ago he would have been willing to sign on to an agreement that called for such major moves in climate change or such an internationalist agenda. I think the two are going to be a little bit wary of each other for a while. They have to be, particularly after their differences on Northern Ireland, as you point out, and their differences on Brexit which are significant.

NOBILO: And David, the point you made before about how President Biden wants to get across that the power that the West can still have in a backdrop of increasing autocratic tendencies. They want to reaffirm the power of democracy. So I'm curious to know what you think these countries can do. When we do see a back sliding of democratic norms, whether it is, you know, in Belarus, in Hungary, in Poland, even in the U.S.A., and in many parts of the world. What can the countries who when they say democracy really mean business and it's not just something they're presenting, what can they do to combat those trends?

SANGER: Well, I think this is going to be the big point of tension. I mean, you already saw President Biden begin to back off a little bit on his opposition to Nord Stream 2 and to decline to go sanction the German companies. You can imagine why he was doing that, relationship with Germany is so critical. But at the same time if you are really going to make a point to Vladimir Putin, you're only going to do it by getting at his oil and gas revenues.

Similarly with China, China is a case where the United States feels as if it's in a truly existential struggle. Last week President Biden issued an order that actually restricts Americans from investing in Chinese companies that not only do business with the Chinese military but also that sell surveillance equipment. You have not seen the Europeans sign up to that because they recognize that it would begin to separate China as a major trading partner. And so I think this is going to be the really big challenge because

many of the Europeans are concerned that Biden's rhetoric is going to push us into cold war-like action, and they are not entirely wrong with that. I mean, I think that Biden sees this very much as a new largely digital cold war kind of environment.

NOBILO: David Sanger, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.

SANGER: Always great to be with you.

NOBILO: Well, Kim, now I'm excited to get into the nitty-gritty of the rest of the summit meetings as David Sanger outlined, the threats that are posed to these countries and try to figure out what they can do about it. We will have a lot more from you on that later today.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, it was a fascinating conversation. Thanks so much, Bianca.

It's being called an egregious and unprecedented abuse of power. CNN has learned the U.S. Department of Justice under Donald Trump subpoenaed Apple for information from the accounts of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. "The New York Times" first reported that prosecutors were hunting for sources behind stories about contacts between Russia and Trump associates. The subpoena was sent to Apple in February 2018 and included a gag order that was renewed three times before expiring this year.

Along with House intelligence members and staff, records of family members, including at least one minor, were also collected. One of those targeted was Adam Schiff, the now chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who ultimately led the prosecution in Trump's first impeachment. He says it all shows an incredible abuse of power by the former president. Listen to this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It certainly looks like they were going after records of the committee, including my own. What they were looking for I still don't know. Apparently they didn't find anything, but when they wanted to close down the investigation Barr wouldn't let them. And it's just another terrible abuse of the rule of law, the Department of Justice and so many norms were broken in connection with this.

The norm of a president not involving himself in specific cases. Here you have the president calling on his opponents to be investigated. The norm of the president seeking records from a member of Congress and staff and doing so on a partisan basis. Going after a committee that was investigating him. You know, one guardrail after another just smashed by this unethical former president.



BRUNHUBER: Schiff is now calling for an investigation into the DOJ's actions, a move which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports.

In a statement she said, the news about the politicization of the Trump administration Justice Department is harrowing. These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president.

CNN spoke with former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe and CNN legal analyst Norman Eisen about the Department of Justice's hunt for leaks and how it reflects on former Attorney General William Barr.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR: 21 years in law enforcement I served at every level you can possibly serve at as an agent in the FBI and I have never seen activity like this on the part dictated by the Department of Justice. I think that William Barr will go down in history as the person most responsible for undermining the Justice Department and using it as a political weapon. More so than anyone who has sat in that chair in the entire history of this department. It's an absolute disgrace what he did to that institution.

NOMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is completely without precedent. It's groundbreaking and earth shaking and there are going to be consequences. They even went after the child of one of these targets on The Hill to get information about a child's account from Apple. And then there's the question of Bill Barr, as Andy says. We've already had two judges criticize him for a cover up in connection with protecting Trump from obstruction charges. Now people are going to be looking at his law license a fresh. So expect a lot of legal fallout from this.


BRUNHUBER: A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators say they've reached a deal on infrastructure spending. A $1.2 trillion deal, in fact. The spending is said to be focused on core physical infrastructure, but it still faces obstacles from both parties. The five Republican and five Democratic Senators say they worked in good faith to form a realistic framework to modernize the country's infrastructure. Now, they didn't offer specifics, but several sources tell CNN the package includes a total of $1.2 trillion of spending over eight years at a cost of $974 billion in the first five years and $579 billion in new spending. The plan includes no tax increases.

With so many Americans 12 and up at least partially vaccinated against COVID, what does that mean for younger kids? We will see where the vaccine authorization process stands next.

Also coming up, the leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom hold their own mini summit ahead of the G7. Boris Johnson said speaking with Joe Biden was, quote, a breath of fresh air. Stay with us.


President Joe Biden announced a massive effort to help vaccinate the world against coronavirus while here in the U.S. FDA vaccine advisers discuss what it will take to green light COVID-19 shots for children 12 and under. CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Half a billion shots heading to nearly 100 countries around the globe.

BIDEN: This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can.

HILL (voice-over): The first doses set to ship in August. Back home a focus on children as an FDA advisory panel decides what should be considered before authorizing the vaccine for kids 11 and younger.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, FORMER CDC DISEASE DETECTIVE: What they are talking about today is the nitty-gritty, the logistics and practicalities of doing clinical trials in children as young as five or even as young as six months of age.

HILL: Moderna just filed for Emergency Use Authorization of its vaccine for 12- to 17-year-olds. Pfizer's EUA was expanded for 12- to 15-year-olds late last month, about a quarter of that age group has now had at least one shot.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: If everybody else gets vaccinated percentagewise, children are going to be the most susceptible section of our population to get COVID. So we need to protect them first and foremost. --

HILL (voice-over): More than half the residents in these eight states are now fully vaccinated. Nationwide it's just over 42 percent.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We knew it was going to get harder as this effort went on but one thing that we have learned more clearly than anything else is that this vaccination effort will moved at the speed of trust.

HILL (voice-over): Trust with dose of incentive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark, you won the million dollars. How are you guys doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty surreal, you know, from the moment we looked out and we saw you on our doorstep.

HILL (voice-over): If cash isn't enough to encourage more Americans to roll up their sleeves, officials hope their warnings about the fast spreading Delta variant may do the trick.

MURTHY: This variant is even more transmissible than the U.K. variant, which was more transmissible than the version of the virus we were dealing with last year. And there's also some concern that it may be more dangerous as well.

HILL (voice-over): Good news for J&J's single dose vaccine, the FDA just said it can be stored for four and a half months, that's six weeks longer than previously allowed. The news comes days after Ohio warned some 200,000 J&J shots would soon expire.

HILL: One other note on that Johnson & Johnson vaccine, former FDA commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan who's on the board at J&J telling CNN the reason they don't know exactly how long she is doses will last is simply because everything has happened so quickly as part of the emergency, but says those studies are ongoing.

In New York, Erica Hill, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: The U.K. is struggling to curb the spread of more transmissible COVID variants. There are growing concerns that hot spots linked to these strains could jeopardize plans to further lift COVID restrictions.


CNN's Phil Black joins me from Essex County in England. Boris Johnson facing some pressure to put the brakes on the plan to ease COVID restrictions. You've been looking into the facts find the growing alarm there. What can you tell us?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Kim, it is frustrating timing just as the U.K. was prepared to move beyond the pandemic, throw off remaining restrictions, these cases and infections are now spiking because of a new highly transmissible variant. Scientists agree a new wave is building, but they can't be sure what it's going to look like in a country where the vaccine program is advanced but not yet complete. So it does mean Boris Johnson, the government, facing difficult political decisions in the coming days.


BLACK (voice-over): In this corner of Northwest England, coronavirus anxiety is peeking again. Here, British army soldiers walk the streets handing out information and test kits. Mobile vaccination teams work to get doses to all willing adults. And masks are still everywhere, even outside, a rare sight in the U.K.

BLACK: You worried about what's happening around here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yeah, definitely. If you're not, there's something wrong with you then.

BLACK (voice-over): The big signs explain why. The town of Bolton is the U.K.'s leading hot spot for a highly contagious coronavirus variant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know a lot more people who have had it in the last three weeks than I did the last four weeks compared to last 12 months. It's a lot of people have caught it.

BLACK (voice-over): First discovered during India's recent devastating wave, also known as the Delta variant, it has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K. The British government says the data so far suggests it is about 40 percent more transmissible than the U.K.'s previous dominant variant.

An early analysis conducted by Public Health England shows it is twice as likely to result in hospitalization. It's also driven an increase in school outbreaks since children haven't been vaccinated. Eight- year-old Moi Sjolund (ph) lives in nearby Blackburn, a community where cases of the variant are growing rapidly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CHILD: I don't know how I caught it.

BLACK: Why was he tested?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No temperature, no headache, nothing of them --

BLACK: It was just a routine test?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, routine test, yes.

ADAM FINN, MEMBER, U.K.'S JOINT COMMITTEE ON VACCINATION AND IMMUNIZATION: The trends suggest that we should be alarmed.

BLACK (voice-over): Adam Finn is a professor of pediatrics advises the British government fixing policy.

FINN: Because children tend to get this infection less than tend to transmit the last time than adults do. So, certainly seeing cases amongst children is another canary in the mind, if you like. It's another sign if it goes on going up that we are dealing with a highly infectious variant.

BLACK (voice-over): The U.K.'s vaccine program has made huge progress with more than 50 percent of all adults now fully vaccinated and around another quarter of the adult population covered by a first dose. But some scientists fear this new variant could tear through the remaining unprotected population in a wave of cases that would once again place huge pressure on the health system.

The government had hoped to lift all remaining social restrictions and reopen society on June 21st. Whether to proceed with that plan is looming as one of the most difficult decisions of Britain's pandemic experience.

FINN: Opening up and having the big further wave and having to shut down again would be worse for everyone.

BLACK (voice-over): The government is blamed by critics for moving too slowly to stop travel from India, allowing the variant to take hold here. The government says that assessment is unfair. But what it does next will be fiercely scrutinized in a country that has sacrificed much and is desperate to move on.


BLACK (on camera): So the government will announce on Monday if it's going to proceed with its plan to reopen society. The key test is what's happening in hospitals. Do lots of infections still mean lots of people falling seriously ill and being admitted for treatment or are the vaccines already doing their job, disrupting the connection between those two things. Many scientists believe it's simply too early to tell. They think the situation is finally balanced and they're urging the government to be cautious and move slowly -- Kim.

CHURCH: All right, we'll be following that story. Interesting report. Thanks so much Phil Black in Essex.

A linchpin of the special connection between the U.S. and the U.K. now updated for the 21st century. The U.S. President and U.K. Prime Minister sign their names to a new Atlantic Charter. We'll have those details when we come. Stay with us.