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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Accused Of Weaponizing DOJ To Target Democratic Rivals; Interview With Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL); President Biden Meets With G7 Leaders On Day Two Of Summit; British Prime Minister: Relationship With U.S. Is "Extremely Good"; FDA Advisors Debate Urgency Of Vaccinating Kids Under 12; "Extreme" Drought Conditions In Western U.S.; First Lady Jill Biden Makes World Stage Debut At G7. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 12, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of leaders sighing in relief because it's President Biden here instead of President Trump.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I think it's great to have a U.S. president part of the club and willing to cooperate.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have a bilateral relationship that's deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I certainly think that President Putin has done things that are unconscionable.

I think what Joe Biden will be doing when he gets to see Putin will be giving some pretty tough messages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the nation remembers the 49 victims killed in a Pulse nightclub shooting five years, cities across the country are dealing with mass shootings every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers grapple with an off-duty delta flight attendant who police say was threatening to take the plane down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is the 12th U.S. president to meet Queen Elizabeth II during her reign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden is of a generation that special relationship means something.

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PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. Great to have you along with us.

Well, tonight, we have more questions than answers about an explosive Justice Department probe under Donald Trump. During his administration, the DOJ seized the metadata of dozens of accounts tied to House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee including lawmakers, staffers and family members.

Chairman Adam Schiff was one Democrats caught up in the investigation into Russia probe leaks. Congressman Eric Swalwell was another.

But Rod Rosenstein and other DOJ leaders under Trump are telling people close to them, they didn't know about Swalwell and Schiff being involved according to a person I spoke with this evening. So, that raises more questions. The Justice Department inspector general has launched a probe into the matter.

Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on former Trump attorneys general, Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, to testify.

We're joined now by another member of the House Intelligence Committee, member Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.

Thank you so much for coming on the show.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: So, we are still piecing together what happened here, Congressman. There's still clearly a lot to learn. But as we look at the facts, we look at the statements coming out, I wanted to just ask you, first off -- is it possible DOJ gave Apple a bunch of numbers, no names, so they didn't exactly know they were getting Swalwell and Schiff's info at the time, when they initially went to Apple in 2018?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know. But what I do know is that the people who ended up getting targeted were Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as staff of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as family members of staff, and members potentially, and personal office staff. It wasn't some random group of people from Congress. It was targeted at a very specific collection of people, namely Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and their staff and family members.

BROWN: If this is a case where DOJ was involving -- was doing a leak investigation involving, say, a staffer on the committee, and as part of that investigation, they were able to get this other information, involving, for example, Swalwell and Schiff. What do you think about that? Does that raise questions about leak investigations in general and the power that DOJ has to get -- to overreach, essentially?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, it's shocking and outrageous to me. This seems like these secret subpoenas sounds like things that would happen in Putin's Russia or Xi Jinping's China, not in the U.S. There's absolutely no predicate or evidence for why these investigations should have gone forward. The grand jury basically rubber-stamped whatever the DOJ prosecutors put in front of them. And I think the Justice Department has too much discretion in this

type of situation, that we should trust them anymore to use it properly. I think the days when we thought that people of honor would be running the Justice Department or be the president of the United States are gone. The last five years have taught is we can't allow this type of thing to happen again.

BROWN: I know since the revelations first came out in "New York Times", you, others members on your committee have been trying to get information from Apple and from DOJ.

[17:05:00]

What more can you tell us about what you have learned?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: My staff is trying to track it down. I've got to tell you that it's just a little bit disappointing, quite frankly, that the first we heard about this was from Apple and not Merrick Garland's Justice Department. I have high admiration for Attorney General Garland, but he and his staff should have been the ones to inform us, and now it's time for them to clean house, quite frankly.

BROWN: Do you think -- do you think that they knew -- they actually knew that there was this investigation that had information about Swalwell and Schiff? Because as you know, Bill Barr, Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, former top DOJ officials under Trump are coming out and saying we didn't have any knowledge about Swalwell and Schiff being involved.

That doesn't -- that doesn't make it -- that doesn't give them an excuse. DOJ should know the information they're getting, particularly from members of Congress, and anyone having to do with congress, but is that an option for you to think about, that maybe the Biden DOJ didn't know?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, first of all, with regard to Sessions and Barr, I'd like to see them come to Congress and testify under oath that they had no idea what was going on. I think that their line prosecutors in the National Security Division, from Mr. Benvenuto on down -- by the way, Mr. Benvenuto was a gangland prosecutor, who's brought to investigate members of the House Intelligence Committee on the Democratic side.

They need to come before Congress and testify as to what happened. I think really people need to be held accountable and guardrails need to be put in place to prevent this from happening again. As to whether Mr. Garland and his Justice Department knew about these investigations -- well, gosh, I think they need to get to the bottom of what's going on in their own Justice Department, because if they don't know about what's going on in this investigation, what else do they not know about?

BROWN: It certainly raises a lot of questions. And we have been trying to get answers to those questions tonight.

Is there anything else you would like to add about this, Congressman? And is the IG investigation sufficient for you? Or would you like to see more done?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think the IG investigation is a good start, but there really needs to be a thorough accounting for what's happening at the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, what we saw is that Donald Trump, and Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions not only politicized DOJ, they weaponized it. They weaponized it against their political opponents, and that's very dangerous.

BROWN: And we do know the facts that Donald Trump publicly and privately had pushed DOJ to investigate his political rivals. And we know that -- that has happened, regardless of why the DOJ was able to get this information, regardless of why they opened up these investigations. We do have that information.

So, certainty, there were some unprecedented moves from DOJ under Donald Trump, and many more questions lingering tonight.

Congressman, thank you so much for coming on.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much, Pamela.

BROWN: And coming up, joining me to discuss is former U.S. attorney and CNN legal analyst, Preet Bharara.

Preet, you heard our discussion. What is your reaction to what we know so far?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, on certain grounds, I'm on the same page as the congressman. I think there are lot of questions that need answering. The inspector general report, I also agree is a good first start. It happened very quickly.

That tells you something about the seriousness of -- with which people are taking the questions that have arisen. Sometimes inspector general investigations don't commence for some time until there's a gathering of more evidence, this happened quite quickly, but that's going to take months and months, potentially. Those are very rigorous time- consuming, laborious investigations.

What I think is interesting, and you alluded to it in your interview with the congressman is that not only the deputy attorney general, the prior Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but it's also been reported this week that the former attorney general, Bill Barr, claimed they did not know that these subpoenas reached the electronic devices and communications, of metadata at least, of two sitting U.S. congressmen on the intelligence committee. That has to be explained.

It seems to be at odd with some of the specific reporting we got from the "New York Times." And if you take them at their word they didn't know, the question is, was it innocent? Was someone going rogue? Was there overreached by someone else in the department, or are they not telling the truth? Or are they forgetful to a degree you wouldn't expect in officials of that position.

So, lots and lots of questions, too early to say if anyone is to blame or held accountable criminally. I don't think that seems like a viable possibility or probability, but you don't know.

[17:10:01]

And so, the most important thing is for the department to figure out a way that is appropriate and consistent with grand jury secrecy rules to explain what happened.

BROWN: The bottom line is Apple was the one to let Schiff and Swalwell know that the metadata was handed over to DOJ. If that happens, if DOJ has the metadata of two sitting members of Congress, shouldn't the top officials, shouldn't the attorney general know about that?

BHARARA: Yeah, that's why I'm saying there's a lot of questions how that could be. You sketched out a scenario a few moments ago that some people have been talking about. I just don't know if it's plausible or not, that the metadata was sought or other data was sought with the expected communications by a lower-level staffer based on some predication that maybe that person leaked sensitive information or confidential information.

Then in a sweep of that junior staffer's phones or devices brought into the end of that were Swalwell's and Schiff's, and then somebody without briefing anyone else, did some further inquiries and further issuances of subpoenas?

I don't know, I guess that's possible. But it seems to be doing something as sensitive as this, particularly against the back drop of the sitting president of the United States saying he wants particular investigation against people and those people are who, there are political adversaries who are critics of his, the whole thing just doesn't look right. You would expect people in a high position to know about it. And if they didn't, we need to know why they didn't know about it.

BROWN: Right. Because the heart of that is people's trust in these institutions, and the institution of DOJ that is going to be independent from the White House. It's going to be all about the rule of law and not politics. But that raises the question, what you just said about leaks investigations in general, and whether they should be reined in at all.

I mean, is there a proper way for the DOJ to investigate leaks of classified information from within Congress without gathering information from sitting lawmakers?

BHARARA: Look, you know, that -- let me say something about leak investigations generally. They're very difficult. They're very sensitive, not just when it comes to members of Congress, when you talk about Intelligence Committee data, but by definition, a leak is almost always in the context of someone who has information that is classified or otherwise confidential and secret and shares it with a member of the press.

And so, where you mostly find these debates and arguments and discussions, both, you now, inside and outside of Congress and inside and outside of the Department of Justice, is the degree to which it's appropriate for prosecutors to subpoena reporters' records.

And the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, has said he wants to take a step back from doing that kind of thing, but it also remains true as a legal matter, leaking certain sensitive, confidential and classified information remains a violation of law. And so, this is an age-old problem in the balance between a free press, the independence of Congress, and also the violation of law.

I don't -- I don't have an easy answer to that, but, you know, clearly from the way the people have been acting, the aggressiveness of the way that these prosecutors seem to have gotten the metadata of two sitting congressmen who are critics of the president, all of this should be looked at I think anew.

BROWN: All right. Preet Bharara, thanks for offering all of your perspective and experience in this important topic. We hope we can learn more very soon. We appreciate your time.

BHARARA: Good to be with you, Pamela. Thank you.

BROWN: And coming up tonight, Austin police identified two suspects in a mass shooting that left 14 people injured. We're going to speak to Mayor Steve Adler live.

Also tonight -- crew and passengers grapple with an off-duty Delta flight attendant, after he allegedly said he wanted to take down the plane.

Also ahead, two doctors debate the emergency use of COVID vaccines for children under 12. So, we're going to have a big discussion about that.

And then Jill Biden steals the show as the first lady makes her mark on the world stage.

And no one wields a sword like the queen, especially when there's a cake involved.

But, first, our Clarissa Ward is in the U.K. putting the British prime minister on the spot.

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He also famously referred to you as a physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump. I just wonder how you responded to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: You'll hear Boris Johnson's answer, when we come back.

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BROWN: After four years of insults, tension and Trumpism, world leaders traumatized from dealing with a former president have given a very warm welcome to Joe Biden at the G7 summit. He's been sending the message loud and clear -- America is back. The big focus today, how to better compete with China in the aftermath of the pandemic.

After the G7, President Biden heads to Brussels for the NATO summit, then it's on to Geneva for his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia is not part of the G7, but its presence is looming large. And there are new comments from the Russian president himself.

Vladimir Putin told NBC that the U.S./Russia relationship is at its lowest points in years. He also had praise for former President Trump, but for Biden, not so much.

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PUTIN: Even now, I believe that former U.S. president, Mr. Trump, is an extraordinary individual, talented individual. Otherwise, he would not have become U.S. president.

President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He's spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate. A different kind of person.

And it is my great hope that, yes, there is some advantages, some disadvantages. But there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president.

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[17:20:06]

BROWN: Our Phil Mattingly is live in Falmouth, England, and so is our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward. She has been speaking with the British prime minister.

Great to see you both.

Phil, let's start with you.

The White House has tried to temper any page breakthroughs during the Putin talks. Is Russia also saying don't expect much?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think the short answer is yes, but not necessarily because of any particular message, more that just the relationship is at a level right now where the toxicity is such that any major breakthrough seems completely out of the question. And I don't necessarily think, when you talk to White House officials, that's why they wanted to have the president sit down with President Putin.

Their goal is stability. Their goal is predictability. Their goal isn't some grand outcome that welcome Russia back into the international fold. And I think while they've made clear, President Biden will be firm

with the U.S. objections to Russian actions, whether it relates to cyberattacks, whether it relates to political opposition leaders, whether it relates to aggression related to Ukraine, they also plan, and the president also plans to look for areas of agreement, look for areas where the two countries can work together. I think that's probably the biggest thing that U.S. officials are keyed in on right now.

They want to let President Putin know where President Biden believes there are redlines. They want President Putin to be aware how the U.S. will respond if those lines are crossed.

But more than that, they want President Putin to understand that the president, the new president, President Biden and his administration, want to figure out if there are ways to communicate better, to bring the relationship at least to a better spot than it's in right now, and perhaps work together on issues like Iran or Afghanistan, and find a pathway not necessarily to a great relationship, but to one that's at least workable over the course of the next months and years. Whether that can actually happen, of course, is an open question.

And I would note, U.S. officials have made it clear they won't have a joint conference. That is by design. They don't want it viewed as President Putin being on the same level as President Biden, they do want that sit-down however, Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Phil, Mattingly, I know we'll be covering that closely, watching it all play out. Thanks so much.

Meantime, the British prime minister is also speaking out about President Putin, saying he's done, quote, unconscionable things.

Boris Johnson spoke with our Clarissa Ward.

And Clarissa joins me now from Cornwall.

So, what did he say, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we talked about several issues. We started out by discussing the change in the dynamic here at the G7 with President Biden leading the U.S. delegation as opposed to President Trump leading the U.S. delegation.

Perhaps understandably Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn't want to be drawn into too much on the subject of talking about President Trump. He was much keener to talk about President Biden, praising the president, saying how many shared interest they have.

We did, of course, ask him about comments that President Biden made a couple years ago, calling Boris Johnson a clone of Donald Trump. It's no secret that President Biden did not support the Brexit movement.

Take a listen to some of the things we discussed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARD: He also famously referred to you as a physical and emotional clone of President Trump. I just wonder how you responded to that and whether the relationship is in a better place now.

JOHNSON: The relationship is in extremely good order, and I think that the premise of the U.K. and the -- has a job to do to get on with whoever is the president of the United States. That's what we do, but in this particular case, I want you to know that the relationship is extremely good. It's getting better all the time.

WARD: Was it fair to call you a clone?

JOHNSON: Yeah, look, I mean, I'm not going to -- people say all sorts of things about me. I think if I spent time, you know, disputing this or that, we wouldn't get a lot done.

We're getting a huge lot done --

WARD: OK.

JOHNSON: -- here at the G7. It's going well. It's beautiful weather. It's fantastic to see President Biden, the first lady --

WARD: So, can we just talk about next week quickly?

JOHNSON: Yes.

WARD: President Putin.

JOHNSON: Yes.

WARD: Biden will be meeting with President Putin.

JOHNSON: Yes.

WARD: President Biden famously said that he thought President Putin is a killer. Do you believe President Putin is a killer?

JOHNSON: I -- I certainly think that President Putin has done things that are unconscionable.

I think that what Joe Biden will be doing when he gets to see Putin will be giving some pretty tough messages, and that's -- that's something I'd wholly approve of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: And Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he had delivered a similar message to president Putin the last time he had spoken with him and that he was not interested in the normalization of relations between the U.K. and Russia until there is a shift in Russia's behavior. But as you just were discussing with Phil, Pamela, that is a very tall order. Expectations are definitely being kept measured for this upcoming summit.

BROWN: All right. Clarissa Ward, thanks so much. Well, tonight, there is a passionate debate tonight about whether the

FDA should approve vaccinating children under 12 against coronavirus.

[17:25:04]

When we come back, we're going to talk about the risks with two doctors on opposite sites of this debate.

Stay with us.

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BROWN: Well, should we or shouldn't we push to green light COVID vaccines for young children? That is a debate playing out in Washington and across the country.

As of now, only people 12 and older can get the vaccine in the U.S. and vaccine advisers to the FDA are torn. Some say it's too soon to rush the use of these shots.

[17:30:00]

COVID-19 can and does kill children, but generally they're at low risk.

A big question now in this debate is, what if there's a resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter? What would parents do when it comes to their young children?

Joining me to talk about the pros and cons, Dr. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts Hospital, and a member of the committee that advises the FDA on vaccine decisions.

Also with me, CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leana Wen. She's a former Baltimore health commissioner.

Thank you both so much for coming on.

I want to start with this. On Thursday, Dr. Meissner, you spoke out strongly against the emergency use authorization for children under 12. What are your key concerns?

DR. CODY MEISSNER, DIRECTOR OF PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES, TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to talk with you and Dr. Wen this afternoon.

Let me make a few introductory points. First of all, the availability of the vaccines that are present throughout the United States and other parts of the world are truly remarkable. We are so fortunate to have access to these vaccines.

As you know, the rates of COVID-19 cases, the rates of hospitalization, the rates of deaths are plummeting. That's in very large part to the remarkable safety and efficacy of these vaccines.

There's no question, no discussion that adults should avail themselves of these vaccines. That is not in discussion. And I don't think anyone disputes that.

The issue comes when we look at disease rates in children who are under 18, and even among adolescents until 24 years of age.

If you look at the most recent data from the CDC -- and anyone can access it on COVID.net -- it shows that the rates of hospitalizations, as of the week starting June 2nd, are four hospitalizations per million people under 18 years of age.

So the hospitalization rate or the illness rate is minuscule among young children.

I think no one will dispute the fact that we need a vaccine for adolescents and children. However, we want to be very certain that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the side effects of the vaccine.

And we are --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Let me let Dr. Wen in so we can make sure we're having a fulsome discussion.

Dr. Wen, you disagree with Dr. Meissner's point of view on this. How so?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I agree on many parts.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: You do agree on the first part. I want to make that clear, yes, exactly.

WEN: -- on the benefit of the vaccine.

Also, I agree we need to have a safe vaccine. I'm the mom of two young kids, a 1-year-old and almost 4-year-old. I definitely want to make sure whatever we give or kids is proven to be safe and effective.

Here's the thing, I disagree with Dr. Meissner about the risk to young children.

When we look at the numbers, we see, since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately four million children have been diagnosed with more than 300 children have died. COVID came from nowhere to become one of the top-10 leading causes of death among children.

Thousands of children have been diagnosed with this multi-system pulmonary syndrome that may cause long-term effects. Tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized since the beginning of the pandemic due to COVID.

When I look at this in totality, yes, some may say the risk to children is lower than the risk to adults. That is true.

But when I think about my children, if I have the opportunity to reduce a low risk of something terrible to essentially zero with a vaccine, I would want to do that.

I guess, my point here is I just want to make sure we are really prioritizing research in vaccine for children.

I want to make sure there's emergency use authorizations available and on the path for these vaccines.

So parents like me, who are really concerned about the risk to our children, are able to avail ourselves of the opportunity to get this vaccine for our kids.

BROWN: When we talk about the research, what we know, Dr. Meissner, you mentioned side effects, but what can you tell us about what we actually know about any side effects attached to the vaccine that comes to children?

MEISSNER: First, I'd like to respond to Dr. Wen's comments.

[17:35:00]

She is describing hospitalization rates and death that has occurred over the last 18 months, during the pandemic. It has been a devastating time. There's absolutely no question about that.

But this pandemic is going away. If you look at the rates of disease, the rates of hospitalization -- because that's really what's important. Not the number of cases.

The CDC defines a case as a person who has a positive test, so-called PCR test, which is not really a case. They include anyone who has a positive test. That is not a good definition of a case.

But even if you accept that, the number of cases are way down. They're lower than they have been for more than a year.

So I don't think we should make decisions based on what's happened in the past. We have to make our decisions based on what's been going on the in the last month or two.

The fact is most people have aquiver some degrees of immunity. Perhaps 20 percent have immunity from an illness. And about 50 percent, much the adults, people over 18 in the United States, have received two doses.

So we are getting very close to Dr. Fauci's estimate of 70 percent to 80 percent herd immunity that's necessary to begin to control this pandemic.

We have over 70 percent now between those who have been immunized and those who have had the disease.

So we can't make a decision about vaccinating adolescents and children based on what's happened in the past 18 months.

And there's a clear --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Let's make sure we get Dr. Wen in, Dr. Meissner, as I look at the time.

Go ahead and finish what you were going to say.

And then, Dr. Wen, I'll go to you.

Doctor, go ahead, yes.

MEISSNER: Yes, and I'm sorry if I'm saying too much here.

But if we look at the data regarding the safety of these vaccines, there have been 475 cases of myocarditis that have been reported to the CDC. Myocarditis is not a trivial disease.

And I just want to be very certain that the benefit of the vaccine exceeds the risks from the vaccine.

If we say that there are four hospitalizations per million people under 18, I want to be very sure that the risk of an adverse event is lower than four per million.

Otherwise, the vaccine is causing more disease than we're seeing from an actual infection. We don't know that yet.

BROWN: I think you both can agree you want this to be low risk for kids.

There has been a lot of talk about whether any side effects are attached to the vaccine or if they are naturally occurring illnesses that happens routinely, and it just so happens coincidentally that it came about after the vaccine.

What do we know about that, Dr. --

(CROSSTALK)

MEISSNER: Pamela?

BROWN: Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

MEISSNER: We're past that stage. There's no question --

(CROSSTALK)

WEN: Can I --

(CROSSTALK)

MEISSNER: There's no question there's an association with the vaccine.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: OK. I want to get to Dr. Wen.

OK, that's good. She'll give us her opinion on this.

Go ahead, Dr. Wen.

WEN: Let me first say there's not been a case of polio in the United States in children since the 1970s. Yet, we vaccinate our children against polio.

I don't think it's really appropriate to look at the numbers of infections as the only measure of what we're trying to do. The whole point of vaccination to prevent people from getting a particular illness.

By the way, I do not think the pandemic is over.

I don't agree with the assessment that Dr. Meissner gave, respectfully, about us having reached herd immunity here. I don't think we are there.

I'm really concerned about what's going to happen in the months to come when we were more contagious variance, when there are hot spots raging around the world, and when we have seen substantial portions of the United States with low vaccinate rates.

Again, I really worry about the risk to unvaccinated people. Vaccinated people are well protected. But unvaccinated people, including children, are at higher risk, because there are people around us unmasked, unvaccinated, potentially spreading COVID to others.

Also, it's important that we calculate the number of people who are asymptomatic carriers. Those individuals are also reservoirs for infection. The CDC estimates that 50 percent of infections are from asymptomatic people.

[17:40:06]

I'm sure none of us want our children to be reservoirs for disease that will then infect other people and our extended family and community.

So, again, I would agree with Dr. Meissner, though, we should look at the side effects. We absolutely want to be totally transparent and careful in our investigation.

The CDC is meeting later this week, or next week, rather, in five days, in order to -- or on Friday in order to look at the instances of myocarditis. We should definitely look at those side effects.

But we also have to consider the cost of not doing something, the cost of having a vaccine that could prevent severe illness and even death in our children and not deploying it.

BROWN: OK. Thank you so much. I think it's important we heard both of your perspectives. As parents -- you know, I'm a parent.

Dr. Wen, I know you are.

Dr. Meissner, I don't know about you.

But we all care about our kids and what's best for them. The more information, the better.

Thank you both for coming on the show and offering your perspectives.

MEISSNER: Thank you very much, Pamela.

And thank you, Dr. Wen.

BROWN: Thank you.

WEN: Thank you, Dr. Meissner.

Thank you.

BROWN: A significant portion of the western U.S. is facing drought conditions with no rain in sight. When we come back, a live record from our Paul Vercammen in California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:45:37]

BROWN: With summer barely a week away, more than half of the western U.S. is facing extreme and exception appear drought conditions. The U.S. drought monitor says the percentages are at the highest point in two decades.

California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada are in complete drought conditions, with no rain expected in the hardest hit areas this coming week.

In Arizona, the massive Telegraph Wildfire is now in its second week, burning more than 87,000 acres.

The drought has prompted officials in a California hot zone to take dramatic steps.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is with us from the Angeles National Forest.

Paul, what can you tell us?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chief Robert Garcia, of the Angeles National Forest, telling me, on Wednesday they're going to raise the danger level for fires to very high. That is unprecedented. He doesn't ever recall doing it this early.

He says, usually, very high danger level for fires is reserved for after the Fourth of July into August. But right now, those trees, the vegetation behind me in the forest is

so absolutely dry that the fire threat is just becoming critical. He called it alarming.

He's telling homeowners to be extra careful, especially the ones living in the foothill communities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GARCIA, FIRE CHIEF, ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST: We reach a point across multiple western states where, no matter how many we have, there's not enough fire engines.

It's an eye-opening statistic that those 90 percent are largely preventable.

As you enjoy the national forests, be extremely careful with barbecues and the use of fire, but also be extremely alert. These things happen fast.

We've seen many exampling of recreationists, hikers, campers being caught off-guard, no way out, those kinds of scenarios.

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VERCAMMEN: Last year, when the Bobcat fire menaced this area, you may have seen some hikers and campers racing out of here. That burned 115,000 acres. They do not want a repeat of that this year.

They are bracing by calling for that very high fire danger level, among other things that severely restricts where one can set a campfire.

Reporting from Sierra Madre, I'm Paul Vercammen.

Now back to you -- Pam?

BROWN: Thanks so much for bringing us the latest there from California, Paul.

It happens all the time. Just when you need to cut that cake, there's no knife. That's not a problem for Queen Elizabeth. Bring on the sword.

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BROWN: She's one that isn't one of the leaders at the G7, but Queen Elizabeth still met with them for a group photo. And she prompted some chuckles with this moment.

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QUEEN ELIZABETH: Are you supposed to be looking as if you're enjoying it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have been enjoying ourselves in spite of appearances.

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BROWN: Don't you love that.

The 95-year-old British monarch decided she would cut a cake, but with a sword.

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QUEEN ELIZABETH: I didn't think this was going to work. Two.

(CROSSTALK)

QUEEN ELIZABETH: What?

CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: There is a knife --

(CROSSTALK)

QUEEN ELIZABETH: I know there is.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEEN ELIZABETH: This is more unusual.

(LAUGHTER)

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BROWN: My goodness.

After struggling and a helping hand, as you see in this video from Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, she finally cut the cake. Love the queen.

As President Biden meets with world leaders at the G7 summit, first lady, Jill Biden, is making her debut.

Her busy schedule includes preparing children for a post-pandemic future. Yesterday, she met with the duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, for a roundtable discussion on early childhood education.

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JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Early childhood education is so important, to lay the foundation for all of our students.

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BROWN: CNN's Kate Bennett joins me now to discuss on set.

Kate, great to have you here.

What does this trip reveal about the kind of first lady, Jill Biden, wants to be?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what we're seeing with Jill Biden, she has an independent streak, maybe not like her predecessor, but certainly for her.

She's set up events outside outside of the G7 spouse events. She's set up cultural things. She went on one this morning with other spouses of leaders.

But what she has also done is held events, like with Kate Middleton, where she was talking about something she believes in, education. She's a lifelong educator, kids, importance of early development and well-being, mental health. Those are all things that Kate Middleton believes, too.

I think we're seeing she's taking advantage of being finally first lady, not second lady on these foreign trips.

And really setting herself apart by saying, I don't need to do this other stuff so much anymore. I am a great help for my husband, here to support him, but I will also be doing other things on the side and talk about what I am interested in.

[17:55:06]

I think that's what's setting her apart this time.

BROWN: What's interesting, as she meets with the royal family, she's been good friends with Prince Harry for years.

BENNETT: Right.

We saw her with the duchess of Cornwall. They never met in person. She hadn't met the queen before last night.

She's good friends of Prince Harry. They met in 2012 at an event in Washington, D.C., became fast friends. Bonded when he set up his Invictus Games for wounded warriors. Because she had joining forces. Her program helping military families.

The two of them really created a bond. They're quite close.

I asked her about it. She said they're "close friends," her words.

Today, she did an event with a group of wounded warriors related to Prince Harry. It's interesting she's in his home country. She's still giving a nod to her buddy, royalty pal.

And she will do another solo event after the queen again with military.

She's really sort of becoming independent on this trip. The Jill Biden we have seen for decades in the political spotlight is sort of setting her own agenda as first lady.

BROWN: She is not second lady anymore. She's now first lady. We are learning a lot more about what kind of first lady she wants to be.

BROWN: Thanks so much, Kate.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BROWN: Tonight, we have some breaking news. Police have just told CNN they made an arrest after a mass shooting in Austin, Texas, that left 14 people injured. Austin mayor, Steve Adler, joins us next.

Plus, crew and passengers grapple with an off-duty Delta flight attendant after he allegedly said he wanted to take the plane down.

We'll be right back.

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