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COVID-19 Cases Rising In All 50 States; McCarthy Meets With Trump Again As New Controversy Emerges; Death Toll Rises To 28, 117 Unaccounted For In Condo Collapse; Engineers Say Condo Collapse Photos Appear To Show Less Steel Reinforcement Than Original 1979 Design Drawings; Federal Judge Rules DACA Program Illegal; President Biden Accuses Social Media Companies Of Killing People With Vaccine Misinformation. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 17, 2021 - 18:00   ET




DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: If you are unvaccinated, the risk is incredibly high. It may be in some areas higher than it's ever been because there are not mask mandates.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Ninety nine point five percent of the deaths that occur from COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's at a level that we've not seen before. The warning signals just were alarming, but also didn't really give us enough time to adequately keep up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get vaccinated, you are less likely to get sick and wind up in the hospital.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Social media platforms and other tech platforms, we are seeing the rampant spread of misinformation, and it is costing people their lives.

QUESTION: What's your message to platforms like Facebook?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.

Well, any hope you may have had of a carefree, COVID free summer is likely history. Cases are on the rise in all 50 states, the pace of vaccinations is down and a frustrated Dr. Anthony Fauci blames rampant misinformation for the lag.


FAUCI: If we had had the pushback for vaccines the way we're seeing on certain media, I don't think it would have been possible at all to not only eradicate smallpox, we probably would still have smallpox, and we probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that's being spread how.

If we had that back decades ago, I would be certain that we'd still have polio in this country.


BROWN: Take that in. Meantime, Canada has not had the same access to vaccines as the U.S., but it now has a higher percentage of its population fully vaccinated. And as for how this pandemic got started in the first place, I've learned that several senior Biden administration officials, including the President's national security adviser believe it's just as possible the coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China as a possibility it emerged naturally in the wild, and we'll have more on that in just a few minutes.

But let's go to Los Angeles County, that's where masks are making a comeback. At midnight, an indoor mask requirement goes back into effect for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. This comes after more than 1,900 new cases were reported yesterday alone. Back in mid- June daily cases were around 200. CNN's Paul Vercammen joins me from LA.

So, Paul, you've been talking to people there. People were so happy to see these mask mandates end. How are they reacting now?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's mixed right now. And how will this play out? Will it be just sort of the status quo, go with the flow? Or more high drama? What better place to talk about it than here at Patys in Toluca Lake, look at those headshots, we're in the shadow of the movie and TV studios.

Now, the Sheriff in Los Angeles County has once again jumped on stage, if you will. He issued a statement basically saying that he will not enforce the mask mandate, instead ask for voluntary compliance and focus elsewhere.

But when you talk to people here, as I said, it's very mixed. At one table alone, the husband vaccinated, the wife, not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's good. I think it protects people, I think anything to protect people and I don't mind the inconvenience of doing it. Most of the time I'm outdoors anyway. So, when I go into a market or something, I put the mask on. I've got it in my back pocket and we go from there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like anything that's mandated. I haven't seen the evidence to show that it protects you. The virus is so small. Show me the science, not just what people -- you know what the media says.

I think if you have cold symptoms, any kind of symptoms, you should be honest and wear a mask to protect others.



VERCAMMEN: So, here inside the restaurant, the employees wear their masks. The owner mandated this for them, even without this rule that's going into effect, but then the people tonight will have masks inside. And when you look right outside, they will not be required to wear masks. This is very much a case, Pam, of people here in Los Angeles County, trying to sort out this now revamped mandate.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you.

BROWN: Yes, I understand where they have to sort it out, they've got that going on there. The C.D.C. still says if you're vaccinated, it doesn't recommend wearing a mask indoors. But with these cases rising, with so many people unvaccinated, we could be seeing more of this. We'll have to wait and see.

Paul Vercammen, thank you so much for that.

And joining me now with more is Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, nice to see you. So do you share Dr. Fauci's belief that we'd still be battling smallpox and polio if we've had the same level of disinformation around when we were fighting those diseases?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE IN THE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think Dr. Fauci had a great insight. You know, at the time when we were vaccinating against smallpox, children and adults all came forward to be vaccinated.

When polio virus vaccine first was available, the line stretched down the block of parents and children coming in to be vaccinated. And there was not this kind of pushback, and grousing, and hesitancy, and concern, and we would still have measles, we would have tetanus, we would have German measles, we would have mumps.

All of these illnesses have disappeared, because we universally have vaccinated our children. And as adults have come forward to be vaccinated. We can get COVID virus under control. But we all have to come in together and do this. We all have to roll up our sleeves and get that shot.

BROWN: Just to put this into perspective a little bit more, if you saw the unvaccinated rate for these other diseases from years ago -- polio, measles, and so forth. What would life be like now if there was the same amount of disinformation and hesitancy to get the vaccine on these other serious diseases? How would our life be different now? I just want to put that in perspective. SCHAFFNER: Well, just let me give you a local example. We have a

wonderful large modern Children's Hospital. Vanderbilt used to be a leader years ago in the care of a certain disease, and had a ward dedicated to it.

But when we built the new hospital, we didn't have to put in that ward. Why not? Because it was the Polio Ward. We have no more polio. We don't have to do that anymore. And the doctors, the nurses, the technicians can devote themselves to the care of children with other diseases.

We eliminated polio. We could profoundly reduce COVID if everyone were vaccinated.

BROWN: So given the reality of the situation right now, do more states or counties need to bring back mask mandates, like we're seeing in LA?

SCHAFFNER: Well, what's happening is local health authorities are looking at their local circumstances, and if they see transmission increasing, with more cases, more hospitalizations, here and there, they're going to ask people to put back on their masks and go into much more serious social distancing. Those decisions will be made at a local level.

BROWN: Should the C.D.C. reconsider its mask guidance for vaccinated people indoors? I mean, this guidance is for across the board, but given the high unvaccinated rate in parts of this country, do you think that guidance should be amended?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think the C.D.C. is looking at this literally on a daily basis and watching it closely. I'm not going to make a recommendation to the C.D.C. sitting here, but they're watching this very closely, and cases are going up around the country.

BROWN: Quick question on what we should do for vaccinated given all these breakthrough cases we're seeing. We just saw with these Texas lawmakers visiting Washington, they tested positive for COVID even though they've been vaccinated. How routinely should we be getting tested if we're vaccinated, and should we quarantine if we're showing symptoms and we're vaccinated?

SCHAFFNER: Sure. Remember, the vaccines are keeping people out of the hospital with serious disease. We are reducing the likelihood of transmission, but we can't get it down to zero. So, even vaccinated people -- and remember the vaccines are 95 percent effective -- even vaccinated people could still get mild cases.

So, if you develop symptoms, please get tested. And yes, if you're positive, stay home.


BROWN: Right. That's important advice especially some new parents, like myself are wondering about this because I have two young children at home under the age of 12, who aren't eligible for a vaccine. So I think a lot of parents are just wondering, what do we do? Dr. William Schaffner, thank you for helping us along in this and

giving us the guidance that we need. Thanks so much.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you.

BROWN: And this just in from Texas. Dozens of people who went to escape the heat at a water park instead needed decontamination showers after a chemical leak.

At least 34 people have minor irritation on their skin or problems with their breathing. This is happening at the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splash Town near Houston. The Fire Marshal's Office says the incident is confined to one attraction at that park. Temperatures there today are in the 90s.

And still ahead on this Saturday, new details in the search for the origin of the coronavirus. As my CNN colleagues and I learned, several senior Biden administration officials now believe the lab leak theory is as credible as the idea that the virus emerged from nature.

Plus, I'll talk to an Arkansas nurse on a mission to get more people vaccinated after her own mother passed away from the virus. Her message to people who haven't gotten the shot.

And days after meeting with the Vice President and Members of Congress, a group of Texas Democratic lawmakers face a COVID scare, as I mentioned earlier, I'm going to talk to one of them coming up on the show.

Plus is there any future for the Republican Party that does not include former President Trump? This week, the House Minority Leader sat down with the former President again. Former G.O.P. Congressman Denver Riggleman will join me live to talk about it. Coming up. Stay with us.




ALFRE WOODARD, ACTIVIST AND ACTRESS: For the United States of America, I christen thee, John Lewis. May God bless this ship and all who sail in her.


BROWN: And with that, the late Congressman John Lewis's name will go on one year after the Civil Rights icon's death after us and activist Alfre Woodard joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Diego today to christen the U.S. Navy ship. It's the first in the class of vessels to carry his name.

Lewis of course helped lead the 1965 Selma March where he was nearly beaten to death by State Troopers with batons. His family today urge Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a message echoed by President Biden.

While Republicans battle with Democrats on issues like voting rights, the chaos within the party, driven by its de facto leader, Donald Trump continues to overshadow the party's future. With me here in Washington is former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia.

Thanks so much for coming on.


BROWN: So, there's so much to discuss. But I want to start with the most powerful Republican in the House. So, that would be of course Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy once again, meeting with former President Trump, what many would call kissing the ring. He says, they're talking about fundraising, special elections, and targeting vulnerable Democrats. Yet they met just hours after that explosive tell-all about Trump that came out by these two "Washington Post" reporters.

They say that the Joint Chiefs Chairman feared that Trump would attempt a coup after losing and that he saw parallels between Trump's lies about the election and rhetoric from Hitler.

I mean, how much more can Republicans simply ignore in the name of staying on Trump's good side because it's good for them politically?

RIGGLEMAN: I think it's really difficult to ignore because I think they are looking at polling and fundraising. Remember, you know, when I was in RCC looking at the polling for me, and people say, hey, Denver, you know, these aren't doing very well, maybe you should hit this messaging points.

I think even anecdotally, in my district, you're seeing individuals that are still believing in Stop the Steal. There are still some anti- vaxx pushback and things like that. But when you're looking at the polling and the fundraising that you saw this quarter, I think Kevin has a political calculation and has to go to Mar-a-Lago or he has to go to Bedminster, wherever former President Trump is, he has to go there, because that's how they're going to win these districts.

And, you know, looking at some of these, you know, R plus five or R plus 10 districts or above, this is where they think the winning message is and right now, sort of proving out with the fundraising, with the polling, and with the excitement you see in the Republican base, I think they're making that political calculation that it is going to carry them to the midterms in 2022.

BROWN: But isn't that also, I mean, by supporting Trump, and obviously his big message that the election was stolen, which we know wasn't true, and other lies, isn't that also then endorsing those lies by supporting him?

RIGGLEMAN: Yes. You know, when you look at Stop the Steal, I mean, you think about -- you know, we talk about conspiracy theories in this broad way. But I think stop the steel is baked in, Pam. I think that's here to stay, and I think you're going to see a lot of people sort of nesting Stop the Steal underneath election integrity as sort of a cover term, if I can use an Intelligence term, but it's sort of a cover term.

And you know, we can't even have a real serious discussion about election integrity right now. I think the Stop the Steal has metastasized digitally throughout the country. I think people believe it. I think the election was actually stolen.

And I think if you go to even my district in the fifth, you go there and in certain counties, you're going to see, well more than half -- I would say, well more than half believe that the election was stolen. They believe that there's some type of socialist takeover happening right now. And that sort of hyperbolic messaging is working for the GOP.

BROWN: So, say you were still in office and you wanted to stay in office, stay in power as a Republican.

RIGGLEMAN: I would be SOL right now.

BROWN: How would you be able to do that, and deal with constituents who overwhelmingly support Trump and this lie? How do you do that?

RIGGLEMAN: Oh, they've leaned forward into me. I mean, when I was -- you've got to remember I've only been out six months. You know, when we were going through this, I remember people saying listen, you know, you are a traitor. You are evil, right?

You have turned your back on God, things like that and, you know, it's just very interesting to me that I don't -- when I would go into some of these meetings where I would meet with people, I would tell them the truth and the facts.


RIGGLEMAN: Now, listen, I had to brief Generals. I've been yelled at a lot and my wife yells at me a lot. So, I'm used to it.

But I think the issue that you have is that you have to be unafraid to spout facts on a level with a smile, maybe politely confrontational. But if you're that fearful, if your career is that important where facts don't matter anymore, I really don't have a whole lot to say to you politically.

And I think me not having a political background, Pam, allowed me to spout facts when I had to, but it hurt me. And people should not be afraid to lose if we're going to push the Republican forward, I would say after 2024.

I think the G.O.P. is really strong through 2024. I think you'll see a slide after 2028, but right now, I think people are afraid to spout facts, because they will lose their primaries. It's that simple.

BROWN: So, let's talk about this evolution we've seen. The misinformation around the big lie. And now we're seeing all of this misinformation around vaccines, and it seems to have -- it seems to be divided politically, right?

I mean, you look at the number of people who are still unvaxxed and how it is split politically between Democrats and Republicans. You look at how many Republicans believe the election lie? What do you make of that?

RIGGLEMAN: Well, Pam, you know, not only is it -- we talk about Stop the Steal being baked in, but I think this anti-vaxx message is baked in. I think a lot of it's this good against evil, apocalyptic theory that socialism is being injected, no pun intended, but, you know, being injected into the populace.

And I think when you're looking at social media, this digital virus is exacerbating the real virus and that is what scares the hell out of me. I mean, as we go forward, I mean, if I have -- if I'm losing friends and family over this in a way that's not -- I would say it's not delicate, right? It's forceful.

And you have individuals that aren't afraid to spout this type of nonsense for money or grift. If people are looking this as a money- making venture, it is working. And that's what I've been trying to tell people is that there's a follow the money element to this. There's an evangelical element to this.

There's a stop socialism element to this. There's a hyperbolic element to this. There's N.S.A. and F.B.I. looking in on everybody's files. There's people who don't understand how this works.

And when all of that -- you get this whole mesh, this umbrella of crap, right, that you're throwing at the wall. Some people think it is chocolate, you know, and that's a scary thing for people. And that's the issue that I have with it.

BROWN: It is so interesting hearing Dr. Schaffner, say, you know, people were lining up to get the polio vaccine, the measles vaccine. The only difference between then and now really is the misinformation on the internet that is so easily accessible.

But you mentioned that you personally have dealt with this. You've had family members and friends who have different points of view, should we say?

RIGGLEMAN: Yes. Very different.

BROWN: What has your experience been?

RIGGLEMAN: Well, you know, initially, I thought it would be sort of -- or something where we could have that discussion, right? Well, you know, we could over a beer, over whiskey, or over coffee, I could have that discussion, say, hey, here's the facts, here's the data. But what's happened is, it is that it's immediately emotional and I've turned against either the family. I'm a traitor to the country. I'm being paid by George Soros. I'm a Democratic operative. Right? I'm a secret Democrat.

I was always sort of a Trojan horse that was coming to the Republican Party. I was trying to change the sexual orientation of children. I mean, it's -- you know, and those things, you know, I'm a pedophile, because, you know, I'm against QAnon. What do I have hidden in my closet? How grotesque is that? Right?

And so this is the pushback that I get, Pam. It's not like, oh, it's okay, Denver, we just don't agree with you. It's like, you're going to hell. You know, and that's an interesting thing. And, you know, I take a drink and like, well, I don't know, right? You know, I hope not.

And you know, if do, well, you know, it's going to be hot.

BROWN: You can't reason with them is what you're saying? And it seems to have a religious --

RIGGLEMAN: Yes, there is -- yes, and when you have that sort of religious bend to it, and I was raised very religiously. I'm sort of scratching my head, because I had somebody say, well, God will heal me. I'm like, well, isn't science from God? And that makes people angry. Right?

So, I have to be incredibly careful how I actually sort of present these arguments, because if you use too much humor, they feel like they're mocking you. If you're not forceful enough, they feel like you're sort of wishy-washy. If you're too forceful, they want to fight, right?

And so, it's finding the sort of a compassionate way to do it. But yes, my friends and family, it has been pretty brutal. And I mean, you know, you lose sleep, especially with really close family members. It almost shocking and it is like somebody throw punches at you about every day when that happens.

BROWN: Wow. Well, I'm sorry you've had to go through that for just standing up for facts. Basic truths and reality.

RIGGLEMAN: It's okay, I understand reason.

BROWN: All right, former Congressman Denver Riggleman. Thanks for coming on the show. Good to see you here in person.

RIGGLEMAN: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Appreciate it. We are more than a year and a half later, we still don't know how the coronavirus started, but senior Biden officials believe the lab leak theory is as credible as the natural explanation. That story, next.



BROWN: Dramatic shift on the genesis of the coronavirus pandemic. I've learned along with my team members and colleagues here at CNN that senior Biden officials, including National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, now believe that the theory the virus accidentally leaked out of a lab is just as credible as the theory it was transmitted through nature.

This is a jaw-dropping reversal frankly from a year ago when many Democrats scoffed at the lab leak theory as the former President was politicizing the virus -- former President Trump.

I want to bring back Dr. William Shatner, a Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Division of Infectious Diseases; and Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist.

Josh is also the author of "Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century."


Thank you, gentlemen, for coming on the show to discuss this.

Dr. Schaffner, let's start with you. This afternoon on CNN, we heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's point man on the pandemic. Here's what he had to say. Let's listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Together with many highly qualified vaccinologists, including, and virologist, I mean, including a recent paper by 21 internationally renowned virologists and evolutionary biologists from all over the world indicate that although we keep an open mind that it is possible that it could be as they say a lab leak, that the most likely explanation is a natural evolution from an animal reservoir to a human.


BROWN: Dr. Schaffner, what are your thoughts on the origin?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Yes. Well, we don't have definitive information, but if I tilt on the natural evolution side of the equation, but it's really annoying that the Chinese government has kept much of this information secret, doesn't allow a complete international investigation of this. You have to wonder what it is, if anything, they're hiding. And that casts a pall of suspicion over all of this.

We don't know definitively and like Dr. Fauci, my mind is open. I'd like more information.

BROWN: And Josh, when you look back how much this has been politicized, I mean, Democrats largely downplayed even dismissed the lab leak theory and then you had President Trump and other Republicans embracing it. Of course, there was a conflation. There's a difference between having a sample in a lab and actually leaking out versus engineering something. How much did politics, in your view, contaminate such an important discussion?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it was politics and confusion and a lot of other things that caused us to get into these teams about the lab leak theory. But the lab leak theory is not a political question, it's not even really a scientific question.

It's a forensic question. That's why they're doing the investigation. That's why you're reporting from the inside of the Biden ministration was so important, Pamela, because what they're looking at is more than what Dr. Schaffner or even Anthony Fauci looking at.

They're looking at not just the virus, they're looking at intercepts, intelligence, data, the parts of the lab that they didn't tell us about, the research that they were doing that they didn't tell us about. So they have a larger body of information than any of us are dealing with. And if they're looking at that larger body of information and they're saying, hey, it kind of looks like the lab leak theory is getting more and more credible, we should take that seriously because that means that whatever you thought last year, more information keeps coming in.

And so we're going to have to wait to see what they come out within 90 days and then we're going to have to continue the investigation after that and press the Chinese for access. And I would just say to what Dr. Fauci just said is that for every 21 scientists that leaned toward the natural origin, I can find you 21 scientists that lean towards the lab leak, amongst them Robert Redfield, the Head of the CDC, a virologist who saw the intelligence, David Baltimore, won a Nobel Prize.

There are scientists that totally disagree on this and I respect Dr. Schaffner's opinion, but he doesn't have the information that Jake Sullivan has. We don't have it. So we're going to have to let the investigation play out.

And to my mind, it seems like if you really do have an open mind that you don't say, oh, well, I think it's the natural origin theory, because the truth is we don't know. And I can make you a circumstantial argument in either direction if we're being honest, if we're really having an open mind. You just have to say we don't know.

BROWN: Well, let me just ask you, Dr. Schaffner and I want you to respond to what Josh just said. But isn't it true that this could have been a sample taken from a bat, and brought to the lab, and accidentally leaked out and you wouldn't be able to determine that just through science alone?

SCHAFFNER: Sure. That's exactly right. And that's why we have to consider the other option. I said I was leaning toward the natural origin. It's happened twice before with SARS and MERS. So we know that viruses do that and there are a whole host of other viruses that have come from the animal kingdom to us.

HIV, for example, influenza does it all the time, Zika, Chikungunya, West Nile virus. So this has happened many times before. The most common things occur most frequently. And so yes, I'm inclined to think it was a natural event, but I do have an open mind and we need the investigation and if there's more information, bring it forward, please. BROWN: And I think that's a key point because what I hear from you,

Dr. Schaffner, is that science alone will not be able to solve this mystery for us, right?

SCHAFFNER: Oh, of course not. We need a complete investigation on the ground. And that laboratory ought to be opening its doors, all of its records to an accredited international body.


They evaded that when the World Health Organization sent a team in and that made all of us, as I said before, and I'm sure Josh agrees with this, that that makes you suspicious they're hiding something.

BROWN: And our sources, Josh, in the Biden administration, who are part of this 90-day review, say that China has not been any more cooperative during the review. I mean, what more do you think the Biden administration needs to be doing to push China on this?


BROWN: It is so important. We're still experiencing this pandemic.

ROGIN: I think it's a great question, because on the one hand that Biden people are saying to you, and to me and to other people, hey, probably might be the lab. On the other hand, they're really not doing everything they need to do to check that out. In other words, they're not putting any pressure on the Chinese government to actually let us into the lab and let us do the real investigation.

WHO spent a year trying to be nice to the Chinese government, tried to ask them politely. It didn't work and now the Biden administration is going to say, oh, well, let's let the WHO try again. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So I say we should sanction the labs, all the Chinese labs, until they let us in. And if they don't let us in, then we shouldn't be collaborating with labs that have zero transparency, zero accountability during a crisis. So this is a pandemic that affects the whole world.

And to Dr. Schaffner's point, it's not as if they're covering up the market. We've looked at 80,000 animals that came into the market, we never found one. Zero animals connected to the outbreak. They're covering up the lab and they're not going to let us in unless we really bring our pressure to bear.

And then we have to look into our own labs, we have to look into our own research and that includes NIH, NIAID, USAID, the Defense Department who are all doing business with these Wuhan labs. And that's what Congress is trying to do and that's what, frankly, Dr. Fauci is resisting.

So there's a reason that Dr. Fauci is leaning towards the natural origin, because if it turns out to be the lab theory, then all of our collaboration with the Wuhan labs should be called into question and we should raise those biosafety standards rather than worrying about wet markets all over China, so it's really important.

BROWN: Just really quick before, because I know we have to wrap up and I just want to quote that you said Dr. Fauci is resisting. Are you saying that ...

ROGIN: That's right.

BROWN: ... he's not turning over documentation they're asking for?

ROGIN: That's exactly. Several congressional committees and mostly Republicans now and that's probably why he can avoid doing this have been, that's not only him but NIH Francis Collins, the EcoHealth Alliance, and many others, and Antony Blinken and USAID to just show us all the documents of all the work, everything that you know that was going on in these Wuhan labs.

They haven't done it, OK, and they need to do it. And then the Biden administration needs to release the intelligence that it has. In other words, 90 days of a secret investigation is not going to crack this. This is an ongoing problem.

There's no statute of limitation on 3 million deaths. People around the world who are suffering want to know how we got into this mess. That's going to require a lot more transparency from the Chinese government, from the Biden administration, from Dr. Fauci.

That's what Congress is pushing for. That's what I think is needed here if we have any hope of getting to the bottom of this, it's an urgent National Security issue.

BROWN: Yes. Because as we've said from the beginning worth reiterating, we just don't know how COVID originated. All right. Josh Rogin, Dr. William Schaffner, thank you both. Interesting discussion.

More to come on CNN NEWSROOM, former President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to act after a federal judge ruled his DACA program is illegal.



BROWN: Well, tonight, former President Barack Obama is joining President Biden in urging Congress to protect child immigrants. This after a federal judge in Texas declared an Obama era program known as DACA illegal. The program offer protection to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Those people known as dreamers.

CNN's Joe Johns joins me now. So Joe, what does this really mean for the nearly 1 million dreamers currently protected by DACA at the very least (inaudible) more uncertainty for them?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's for sure. I mean, he essentially invalidated the law. He said this program was against the law. It violated the Administrative Procedures Act. And another reason he said, essentially, it never was passed by the United States Congress. There wasn't a formal rulemaking period for DACA.

So he did postpone any enforcement of this rule until such time as the whole thing goes through the appeals process. The President responded today in a statement saying he was deeply disappointed about this ruling. Also indicated they are going to start a rulemaking process for DACA. And he said the administration is going to appeal also indicating that Congress needs to get started on a permanent fix for the 636,000 people in the program.

President Barack Obama, as you mentioned, at the top also weighed in on this. Of course, this program started back in 2012 under Obama's watch. He said it's well past time for the Congress to act. One interesting note, it was just about a year and one month ago that the United States' Supreme Court essentially threw out all of the Trump era challenges to DACA. But here we go again, once again 636,000 people now in limbo over their status. Back to you.

BROWN: All right. Joe Johns live for us from the White House. Thanks, Joe.


Well, the (inaudible) days between the White House and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are long gone after President Biden accused the company and others like it of killing people with vaccine misinformation. When we come back, I'll speak to authors of an ugly truth inside Facebook's battle for domination.



BROWN: Well, President Biden says Facebook has blood on its hands.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're killing people. I mean, they're really - look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they're killing people.


BROWN: The White House is insisting the social media platform is not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID misinformation. Within hours, Facebook issued an extraordinary response saying, "The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet."

And today, the company accused the President of scapegoating Facebook, "President Biden's goal was for 70 percent of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed."

Joining me now are New York Times Tech Reporters, Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel. They are the authors of a new book, the Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination. So you both know that Facebook world very well, talking to so many different sources for this book.

Sheera, how this episode between the White House and Facebook compare to your reporting on Facebook's handling of misinformation?

SHEERA FRENKEL, CO-AUTHOR, "AN UGLY TRUTH": Listening to that statement just now by Facebook, I was really struck by how similar it is to what we document in the book, which is that when Facebook is, in its own way, attacked, when it has negative PR articles it doesn't like, it likes to deflect attention.

It's a pattern we show again and again throughout this book and that statement about how many people have seen positive information about vaccines or the pandemic is interesting. But it doesn't tell us how many people have seen misinformation, how many people have been exposed to those who are anti-vaccine.

BROWN: Right. I also found the statement striking. It was very defensive in its tone about Biden missing his goal. And by the way, we don't know why the goal was missed, frankly. We don't know how much of a role misinformation spread on social media played a role on that, so that struck me.

But Cecilia, why has Facebook's efforts to curb the spread of domestic misinformation been so unsuccessful to date?

CECILIA KANG, CO-AUTHOR, "AN UGLY TRUTH": Yes. Well, this statement, by the way, comes after very, very frustrating talks for months between the White House and Facebook. So absolutely the tension is so strong right now. One of the reasons why Facebook has so much trouble with misinformation spreading it is because it's hard for them to police the amount of content that courses through the platform every single day.

The volume is just so high. They rely actually on machine learning, which is just not smart enough to catch a lot of this misinformation and they rely on people to report problems. The volume of misinformation is so strong and Facebook has been able to take some of it down, but the White House is saying it's just absolutely not enough.

BROWN: Right. It's sort of like compared to a game of whack-a-mole, take it down here, pops up over there. And in the book, you write about how Facebook's business decision to promote social groups backfired writing, "By pushing people into groups, Facebook had made it possible for fringe movements, including militias and conspiracy theorists, to organize and recruit followers on the site.

Even when Facebook took the step of instituting an outright ban, many could slip through the cracks, with deadly consequences." So Sheera, why did Facebook promote this group platform and does it help explain this wave of conspiracy theories we see today?

FRENKEL: Absolutely. And I think Facebook's own data really shows that when Facebook made the decision to push people into groups, they described it as taking the conversation from a public square into a private living room. The problem is that in those private living rooms, you were surrounded by like-minded people which often pushing these really conspiratorial ideas.

When that sort of strategic shift happened, we saw a group not just of conspiracies like the anti-vaccine movement, but also I would know QAnon grew hugely. This is a right-wing conspiratorial movement that believes there's a global cabal of elites that are pushing a certain type of ideology. We have seen a number of incredibly damaging conspiracies grow since Facebook started pushing people into those small groups.

BROWN: Want to also bring up Russia, Cecilia. Facebook has admitted that Russia interference in the 2020 election, but yet it seems to be unwilling to work with the White House and finding a solution to misinformation on its platform. Why is that?

KANG: Well, Facebook actually did not prioritize those sort of security findings that they had been fighting for months, by the way, before they became public, before Facebook brought them to the public. They were prioritizing growth and that's really what the crux of our book is trying to show people how did Facebook get to even this point today where the President says that Facebook is leading to deaths.


And a lot of that is because they're not prioritizing the right things. They weren't for it throughout its history. It was always growth first and it was engagement on the website. It was building this big advertising model. And our book really shows you why these decisions were priorities and how the leaders were really behind these human decisions that put growth first.

BROWN: Right. And help us understand, Sheera, a little bit more about how much Facebook dragged its feet on the Russian disinformation campaign during the 2020 election and how much does it recognize its role in facilitating that and facilitating the current misinformation campaigns right now out there about the vaccine.

FRENKEL: Absolutely. I mean, when we were reporting for this book ourselves, I think we were shocked at how much we uncovered in terms of Facebook executives kind of hearing warnings from their employees over and over again, about how much they were finding on Russia's involvement in the 2016 elections and making the decision not to go public until almost a year later. September 2017 is when Facebook finally decides to tell the public what they know.

And we document in this book that for months ahead of that they were filing internal reports, they were starting to find Russian ads and they were still not disclosing how much Russia had done during the platform.

BROWN: And just, Cecilia, back to the question of sort of taking responsibility, I mean, you can't improve a situation theoretically, unless you take responsibility and recognize what you did wrong and apply solutions moving forward. How much do the executives at Facebook feel responsibility for Russian misinformation and the current misinformation campaigns we're seeing spread on Facebook now?

KANG: I think there's definitely a recognition that there were problems and mistakes made. There were mistakes made. One really important thing to remember and we really show this in our book is that the power lies many ways with one individual and that's the CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He's making and he has made the most consequential decisions when it comes to misinformation speech and particularly speech by politicians, including the former President Donald Trump.

And so when it comes to responsibility, although the question really needs to be posed to one particular individual and that's Mark Zuckerberg.

BROWN: All right. Cecilia Kang, Sheera Frenkel, thank you so much. I look forward to reading your book.

FRENKEL: Thank you.

KANG: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, after months of seeing coronavirus cases fall, they are now rising in all 50 states and it's so bad in one Missouri County that they asked the state to fund a COVID-only treatment site over fears local hospitals could run out of space. I'll speak to that county's health official up next.