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AT THIS HOUR

Ex-Trump White House Counsel McGahn Testifying after Two-Year Legal Fight; NFL Pledges to End Controversial Race-Norming Policy; CNN Reports, U.S. Has No Evidence UFO Encounters were Alien Spacecraft. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 4, 2021 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:01]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Thank you so much for bringing those stories. Thank you so much, Whitney.

Former President Mike Pence -- very connected to this, former Vice President Mike Pence is trying to do the impossible, distance himself and wrap his arms around Donald Trump all at the same time. At a Republican dinner last night, Pence delivered his clearest comments yet on the January 6th insurrection and he said he and Trump will never agree on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: As you said that day, January 6th was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.

President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye-to-eye on that day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: This is the first time that Pence has openly distanced himself from Donald Trump on the attack on the Capitol. Though he still says that he is very proud of the agenda and very proud of everything they accomplished in their four years.

Joining me now, Pennsylvania's Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, he's also a Democratic candidate for Senate. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for coming on.

This is the same Mike Pence, as you know, who was evacuated out of the Senate chambers as crowds were chanting that he should be hanged as the mob was breaking into the Capitol. I mean, what is your reaction to what Mike Pence is saying now?

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Well, he just basically put an end to his political career. Any Republican that puts any distance between himself and absolute fealty to Donald Trump does so at their political career's peril. It's just simply that it's just a fact now in the current GOP.

BOLDUAN: And you think -- I mean, because if he wants to run in 2024, which is the assumption, do you think though he is wrong to assume that he needs the Trump base, that he --

FETTERMAN: No.

BOLDUAN: -- he can do both of these things, he can distance himself and still get their support?

FETTERMAN: There's just no way. You have to be all in and we've seen that in our own primary here in Pennsylvania. Just any tweet, any statement is recognized that is anything less than absolute fealty to Donald Trump. It is weaponized within the GOP ranks.

And what former vice president said at that dinner would all wrap in, at least in my estimation, any opportunity for him to run in 2024 in a party that is still firmly in the grip of former President Trump.

BOLDUAN: This also gets to continued efforts right now to investigate, overturn election results and we're looking at that in Pennsylvania too. Pennsylvania Republicans, they went to Arizona just recently to learn more about that audit widely seen and understood as a sham in that state.

Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano was asked by a reporter if he wants to do -- if he wants Pennsylvania to conduct a similar audit to is happening in Arizona, and he says I do. He said, I'm not about overturning anything. I'm just trying to find out what went wrong -- what went right, what went wrong and how do we have better elections in the future. What do you think of that?

FETTERMAN: Well, what went wrong in his mind is that his candidate lost. And he did so fair and square. But I will say that the former president did secure 100 percent of the dead mother vote in Pennsylvania.

Look, these kind of audits and whatever are just -- it's just bad performance art to pander for the former president here. I mean, that's all it is. They know it's not going anywhere. Senator Mastriano and others did a bizarre snake-handling kind of conference in a ballroom at the Ramada in Gettysburg at the height of the election in 2020, trying to make it seem there was something official going on here, when at all it is just sad, carnival barking for conspiracy of lies that no one believes, including themselves.

Everyone knows Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes. He is the president and nothing is going to change that for at least until 2024 no matter how much bizarre, you know, sideshow acts and antics they decide to put on between now and then.

BOLDUAN: Lieutenant Governor, thanks for being here.

FETTERMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, after a two-year legal battle to even get to this point, Trump's former White House Counsel Don McGahn, he is now in the hot seat at this moment. So what is he telling lawmakers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:35:00]

BOLDUAN: At this hour, it took two years, and today, it is finally happening. Lawmakers are hearing from former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn for the first time. He is testifying right now before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed door.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill with much more on this. Lauren, two years in the making, what is expected actually to happen here?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just heard from Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He came out just briefly and said it's going to be a while for this interview to wrap up. Essentially, this is the opportunity the Democrats have been waiting for since 2019 when they first made their request for McGahn to testify before their committee.

[11:40:04]

As you'll remember, this was an extended court fight.

Now, today, there are going to be some limits on what Democrats and Republicans can ask in this closed door meeting. Because of an agreement reached between Biden's Justice Department and the Democrats, what you expect to see today is this discussion about what McGahn told Mueller's team as part of that investigation. That, of course, includes the fact that McGahn testified that Trump asked him to fire the Special Counsel and he refused to do so. That's going to be a topic of conversation today.

Now, we expect that eventually, and this could take a few days, we will see a transcript of what transpires today behind closed doors. But, obviously, this is a significant meeting, significant testimony that has been years in the making. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Stand by for that. Lauren Fox, thank you.

So there is also this. We want to turn to a new report just in from the CDC highlighting the urgent need to vaccinate younger kids against the coronavirus. This as data is showing an alarming number of teenagers that require an ICU care after being hospitalized with coronavirus.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has been digging through this report and she's joining us now with much more on this. Elizabeth, what exactly is this report showing?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this report is showing that young people can and do become tragically ill with COVID-19. I think we sort of get it in our heads that they're not affected. What this shows is they certainly are.

So let's take a look at this report just coming out hours -- within the past few hours from the CDC. When they looked at January through March of this year, they saw that 204 adolescents, so around age 12 to 17, had been hospitalized, 204. 64 of them unfortunately had to be sent into the intensive care unit.

Now, if you look from October through April, there were higher hospitalization rates for adolescents than when you look over the past few flu seasons. So in other words, higher hospitalization rates by quite a bit, by like 2.5 to 3 times. So that's a very scary thing for parents. And that is why they are encouraging people to get your children vaccinated against COVID-19.

You might perceive it as not being a risk but, of course, who wants their child to end up in the intensive care unit? Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. You're not over and we're not through it until we all are and protected. Thanks, Elizabeth, I appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the NFL is pledging to end a policy that discriminated against black players, but is it too little too late? I'm going to speak with a former NFL player next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:45:00]

BOLDUAN: A big announcement from the NFL. This week, the league pledged to end years' long policy known as race-norming, essentially racial bias and the treatment of concussions. It's a testing method used for assessing brain injuries suffered by former athletes in order to determine how much each player should be awarded following a big class action fight settled a few years back.

It assumed black players started out with a lower level of cognitive brain function than other players, white players and other nonblack players. The league is now committing to stop this controversial practice, saying in part this, we're committed to eliminating race- based norms in the program and we're broadly in the neuropsychological community.

Joining me right now for more on this is former NFL Player Dr. Myron Rolle, who is also a neurosurgeon. Thanks for being here.

Can you just -- I attempted it there, but can you help explain what the NFL was doing here and was there any scientific basis for what is being called race-norming?

DR. MYRON ROLLE, NEUROSURGERY RESIDENT, HARVARD AND MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Well, thank you for having me. What the NFL was trying to do there was adjust their scales based on racial indications of particular patients.

You know, looking at demographics and seeing that any cognitive score for a white or black or nonblack person could potentially make their claims more viable and then eventually have them go through as requested so that they can have this money and potentially continue their long-term care for dementia, Alzheimer's, sequel from concussions and things of that nature.

I think it is wrong. I think it does not belong in this particular practice. I believe if you lean to the science into the data, into the pathologies of dementia or nerve degenerative disorders, you will see that, you know, black or white brains are not any different, CFS spaces aren't any different, how the tau proteins come for are not any different. Co-morbidities have ethnoracial risk factors for sure, but as far as the anatomy of the brain, not any difference.

So this race-norming, I think, is outdated, antiquated, it's wrong. I'm glad the NFL is finally coming to grips that they should do something different.

BOLDUAN: Look, Doc, I mean, you played in the league. I think the rough estimate is 70 percent of former NFL players are black. You're glad that it's no longer. But are you surprised this was going on?

ROLLE: You know, I'm a little bit surprised. I don't think that intentionally the NFL thought, let's make a systemic racist sort of system or a model to really make a very arduous process of receiving claims from any player even harder or more difficult for black players.

But I do think that the NFL wants to be about social justice and in all of their lines of business, not just writing words on a football field, putting slogans on people's chest or having PSAs, they need to look at all their streams of business and to make sure we stomp out any sort of racial bias that exists. And I'm glad that advocates for these players, lawyers, even their spouses are coming forward and saying we need to do something different.

[11:50:00]

BOLDUAN: A lot of the credit is actually being given to their spouses, their wives, in pushing to get more answers here.

What should the consequences be beyond obviously stopping this practice, do you think?

ROLLE: I think one thing this can tell us is we need independent neuropsychologists, neurologists, other people in this particular space in concussions, traumatic brain injury, nerve degenerative disorders to be truly, truly at the table especially being black or brown and minority descent, so that they can advise the NFL and say, look, this practice, this policy doesn't make sense.

Let's step away from the algorithm, let's step away from the metrics and the numbers, and let's see if this makes sense for the majority of these players who happen to be black, the majority of retired players who are going through this bureaucracy, this myriad of paperwork and phone calls.

They need to make that to have these claims so that their chronic conditions are managed appropriately. There needs to be an independent group to come in and say, let's solve this, let's change it and maybe the NFL can be the model for other professional organizations going forward as well.

BOLDUAN: If I can lean on your expertise as well on the upcoming Olympic games, if you look at where things are right now in Japan, new cases in Japan are surging. As an athlete and a doctor, what do you think of the games continuing on? They are planning to hold these games despite so many warnings from so many different sectors, and athletes are already arriving.

ROLLE: I think it is very difficult to do and, honestly, I don't think the right move. As an athlete, let me put the athlete hat on first, when you are preparing for the Olympic Games, you have four years to do so. You're training. Your mind has to be in the right place. A lot of the work that you put into preparation for those games comes mentally.

And if you are mentally unsure if you're going to get sick, if you need to get a vaccine, if you need to move a certain place, if you can see your family, if you can get the right nutrition and get the right maintenance to your body so that you are able to perform at peak performance when it is time to qualify for the trials and go to the Olympics all of that comes into consideration. And a lot of that is not really spoke know about much when you talk about just putting on these games.

And then as a physician, I think it is a public health issue as well when you have numbers still surging. You don't see numbers going down. You see hospitalizations still occurring, severe hospitalizations and complications from this.

We're still new to COVID-19. We're still new to this pandemic, relatively speaking, and so I think more data needs to come out. It's okay to pause for a little bit and maybe do these games another year or a year after that or something of that nature so that we all get it together and we make sure we're not only protecting the sanctity and the integrity of the games but also these athletes who have sacrificed a lot, put a lot forth to have this moment in their life to do great things.

I think right now, the leaning is let's try to make money, let's get this going, let's try to return to a sense of normalcy and I do not think that should be the priority, not as an athlete and not as a physician.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Rolle, thank you.

Coming up for us, we have new details on a highly anticipated intelligence report on UFOs. What the government says about these mysterious objects in the sky.

But, first, when COVID hit, everything came to a halt. And for one chef, it meant closing down her business just as it was taking off. But she still found a way to give back. Here is this week's CNN Hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've witnessed that people are literally a paycheck away from not eating. That is heart breaking. That's unbelievable but it is so very real and it is continuously happening.

We've served over 60,000 meals in the past 14 months. I'm inspired to keep going because the need has not stopped.

It is a great feeling to know that I'm able to ease the burden if just a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's beautiful. Oh, my gosh, I see okra too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am giving them a sense of understanding that we are in it together, a sense of knowing that people in your community do care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: To learn more, you can go to cnnheroes.com. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:00]

BOLDUAN: One of the biggest questions about the universe may finally be answered, maybe. A highly anticipated U.S. government report on UFOs is soon to be released, but already some details are coming out.

Sources telling CNN the report finds no evidence that sightings reported in recent years were alien spacecraft but it does not rule it out either. U.S. intelligence officials have not reached a definitive conclusion of what the UFOs might actually be. The officials also can't rule out the possibility that these flying objects came from another country, like Russia or China.

U.S. Navy pilots have reported encountering these mysterious objects. One of those pilots recently talked to CNN about what she saw off the coast of San Diego in 2004. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. CMDR. ALEX DIETRICK (RET.), FORMER U.S. NAVY F/A-18F PILOT: Enter stage left, the Tic Tac. And that's what we affectionately refer to it as because that is what it looked like. It was white. It was sort of a matte finish, just like a Tic Tac. And it behaved in a way that we were surprised, unnerved, it accelerated, or it almost didn't accelerate, right?

[12:00:06]

It sort of jumped from spot to spot and tumbled around in a way that was unpredictable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: The full report is expected to be delivered to Congress later this month. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduain. John King picks up right now.