tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 6, 2017 7:00am-8:00am EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this week in washington. "the washington post" has obtained the full transcripts of two of president trump's calls with foreign leaders shortly after taking office. the calls with the leaders of mexico and australia portray a new president seemingly more concerned with politics than policy. that comes as john kelly tries to bring order to the west wing. joining me from washington is dan balz, the chief correspondent for "the washington post." another incredible week. dan: absolutely. this was to be the quiet week.
the calming week. and, there may be a little evidence of that at the white house under general kelly. these transcripts have exploded. we had so many readers of these transcripts this morning when they first broke. remarkable reporting by my colleague who has been a stalwart throughout the year as part of our national security team. but the portrayal of the new president being unhappy, concerned about his own image, talking at cross purposes with two leaders of allies of neighboring mexico and australia. i mean it was -- they are remarkable documents of what the trump presidency started as and for so long has continued as. charlie: take me through what you found remarkable about these documents. dan: on the call with the mexican president, what was so fascinating was trump's
recognition that his promise that not only rebuild the wall -- not only would he not build the wall, but that mexico would pay for it with something that was never going to happen. what he was seeking was some accommodation with the mexican president to just quit talking about it, to quit saying we will never pay for your wall. he said one point, this may be the least important thing we are talking about but the most important politically. i think he was probably correct in that judgment about it. that called went on and on about that. there was a lot about his desire to put a border tax on, his desire to be very tough on mexico on trade. but at its heart, it was in a sense pleading for an agreement to take the payment of the wall and who was going to underwrite the cost of the wall off the dialogue as quickly as possible. in some ways, he succeeded on that. i mean, there has been very
little talk in recent times about mexico paying for that wall. and in fact, his big challenge right now is getting congress to begin to pay for the wall, let alone mexico. charlie: they keep asking questions as to what appropriations will be used for what. dan: this will come up when everybody returns from the recess in september and they have to get the budget together. that is his big challenge. on the call with the australian prime minister, i think what was so fascinating was the way in which they were talking past one another. the australian prime minister was trying to explain to the new president the basis of the arrangement or agreement made with the obama administration to accept some of the refugees in detention camps in australia, and trump not wanting to have anything to do with it. the conversation went back and forth with assurances that you
don't necessarily have to take any of these people, you can vet them. we have vetted them. we know who they are. they are being kept in detention camps because they came by boat and we are trying to discourage smugglers from bringing refugees into our country. but the president was only concerned it would make him look weak as a new president, as somebody who instituted the travel ban. this conversation was this circular conversation in which the president became more and more frustrated. and clearly, the australian prime minister was more and more frustrated. it kind of ended abruptly with no agreement. charlie: here is what the president of the united states said to the prime minister of australia. "malcolm, why is this so important? i do not understand. this is going to kill me. i am the world's greatest person who does not want to let people into the country." we have never heard the president talk like this in
terms of the public and now we have it in private transcripts obtained. dan: one thing we should all recognize is the readouts all administrations give of calls between a president and the head of government or head of state of another country are pretty well sanitized. we know that there are tougher conversations that go on that we only perhaps hear about but never see. here we have the actual documentary evidence. it is a remarkable inside view of what really goes on when these conversations are not friendly and cordial. to say these were candid and frank, which is the diplomatic nicety to say this was tough, is an understatement. they were candid and frank.
but to see the frustration of the new president of the united states with two friendly countries just tells you a lot about his own mindset as he was coming in, as to the way he saw the world and the way he saw himself, the way he saw what he was believing he had to live up to as a result of the campaign. and he was getting no real accommodation from either of those two leaders. charlie: in fact, sometimes being mildly or gently corrected. more than mildly. dan: more than mildly and gently, certainly by the australian prime minister. i mean, he kept pushing back and pushing back. as i say, it was as if the president, president trump, was not absorbing what he was saying. he could never get to the point of saying i understand, we will take a look at this. it was, if this happens, i will
look terrible, i can't do this. this was a terrible agreement obama made, obama made lots of terrible agreements, and on and on. it was in a sense the donald trump we see in public sometimes or certainly we see through his tweets. but it is interesting and probably a little alarming it is that kind of conversation he has in a private conversation with a foreign leader. charlie: he endorses a dramatic reduction in legal immigration. dan: yes. and after saying he was planning to get tough on illegal immigration, but not necessarily shrinking legal immigration. there is no real evidence that this legislation has significant support on capitol hill. we have heard in the aftermath of what the president did yesterday endorsing and embracing it is a lot of pushback from capitol hill. on the other hand, it is the kind of signal president trump
regularly and consistently sends to the people who voted for him, and particularly for people who voted for him on the "america first" agenda or the "get tough on immigration" agenda. whether this goes anywhere or not, it is a re-embrace of the voters who believe he is speaking for me because i am upset about the way the immigration process has worked, legal or illegal. charlie: for someone who is a nonpolitician, he seems to understand very well the idea that you always have to protect your base. dan: i think that is instinctive with him.
and i think that it is one of the reasons he was far more successful as a candidate that a lot of traditional politicians and observers and journalists ever expected. he tapped into something, as we know, almost from the start of his campaign two years ago. i think people did not appreciate it and certainly underestimated it. he has had that instinctive bond with a part of the country that remains very strong. those visceral feelings he has, he is able to express as president and continue to play to that base. there is some slippage in his approval ratings over the last few weeks. most approval ratings have gone down, even some of the supporters who form the base. there is a new quinnipiac poll in which he is down somewhat with non-college-educated voters. i think when he does this kind of thing, it does reinforce with a lot of those voters that he is
thinking of them and on their side. charlie: then there is the other legislation he looks at which is showing the conflicts he is having with congress on the russian sanctions. russia, iran, and one other. he said he signed it reluctantly in the name of national unity suggesting constitutional questions and that he had real disagreements with it. dan: we know he had disagreements with it. we know he had to sign it. it was passed so overwhelmingly by congress. and it was passed in essence as a way to tie his hands, and congress effectively did that and forced him to sign it. his signing statement made clear his disagreements with parts of it, suggesting parts of it are unconstitutional. but also just the pique he showed in the personal statement he made.
"i built a great company, i can make better deals than anybody, congress should not get in my way." what we saw in an early-morning tweet was him saying our relationship with russia is at an all-time low and congress is to blame for that. we have seen in the last couple of days, the russians suggesting he has been overwhelmed and overrun by the political establishment in washington. obviously, all of that is bothering him. it is eating away at him. what we saw yesterday in the signing of this was a signing with a great deal of dissatisfaction. i think it is one measure, one indicator, that there is the beginning of some more concerted pushback on the part not only of
democrats, put them aside at this point, but among republicans. republicans are in a variety of ways saying to donald trump, we will do what we think is best. we are the legislative branch, we are a co-equal branch, and we will express ourselves. sometimes it will be in disagreement with what you want to hear from us. charlie: also in the health care bill, the failure to repeal and replace. dan: his frustration with that is enormous. seen in the aftermath, he has had a variety of things to say about it. most consistently, recently trying to get congress to come back and do something about it. we have seen in a remarkable way members of congress basically
saying to the white house we will do the business we want to do. senator mcconnell has no desire to come back and deal with this issue at this point. he tried and failed. he does not want to try and fail again. there's other important legislative business that will have to be done when they return from recess. the debt ceiling being one and getting a budget being another. those are two significant things that have to be done. the president eats away at this notion congress should deal with health care. we use this word again. it is kind of remarkable the degree to which he has yet to understand or accept the ways of the legislative process and how a president can constructively affect that. we have not been able, so far, we have not been able, so far,
to see him learn that lesson and turn himself into a more constructive force operating with members of his own party on the hill. and we are now seeing the reaction to that. charlie: robert mueller, special counsel, has impaneled a grand jury. they say it is aside his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase. dan: it is obviously a very significant development. perhaps not that surprising considering the seriousness we believe he was bringing to the task. think smartess, i lawyers would recognize this means there is a broad investigation underway. this is an investigation that will require subpoenas and depositions from who knows how many people associated with the president or beyond. and that this is not going to be something that is going to be wrapped up by thanksgiving. the impanelment of the grand jury suggests this will be a long process. we assume bob mueller wants to move it as expeditiously as possible for the good of the
president and the country to try to get this resolved as quickly as possible. but that is not necessarily possible given the various threads he seems to be looking at. again, we don't know everything he is looking at, but there have been enough hints in some of the information that has come out and some of the people he has hired, that he is looking at the russian hacking, that he is looking at possible collusion or collaboration by members of the trump campaign or trump associates. perhaps is looking at the financial dealings of people around trump. we know he has been investigating general flynn. there are any number of things that will fall under the rubric of this grand jury. if you are the president of the united states who sees it all as a witch hunt, this has to be a concern development.
charlie: i think john kelly said the president would not fire jeff sessions after the president heard from a lot of republicans you better not do that. bear.re will be hell to secondly, you had a lot of people in congress say if he tried to fire him and appoint a new attorney general that would be a very tough road. dan: he has clearly been put on notice that either of those steps would bring him nothing but grief from capitol hill. first with jeff sessions, who has a lot of friends on capitol hill who rose to his defense when the president began to attack him in tweets and statements. the reaction was swift and very clear to the president, a clear warning, do not take that step. similarly with any effort to try to scuttle the investigation by bob mueller. he is hearing from people that would be a very dangerous step
for him. there is some legislation brewing on the hill that would tie his hands if he tried to do that. i think it is a signal to him that he has to let this investigation run its course and accept the consequences. it may be that the final conclusions do not particularly do him any damage. we have to leave open the possibility. but every time he steps into something, it creates more questions about what he is worried about. charlie: dan balz, thank you so much. we will be right back. stay with us. ♪
♪ charlie: as dan balz mentioned in my conversation with him, this is a extraordinary story of access to conversations with the president of the united states and the prime minister of australia and also the president of mexico. greg miller, the reporter who broke the story, joins me from washington. at the table is dan senor. i'm pleased to have both on the program. greg, first of all, what was the first reaction you had when you
discovered these transcripts? when you realized you had access to them, and what they said? >> we had written stories earlier in the year about the calls. we had gotten word they were really chaotic and heated. we sort of knew that going in. to me the thing that jumped out right away was reading through the mexico call and what a distance there was between what trump has said publicly about mexico, "i'm going to build a wall in mexico is going to pay for it," and what he was telling the mexican president in his very first call. it went completely in the opposite direction. charlie: what did he say in the call to the president of mexico? >> at one point in the call, he says this is probably the least important thing we are talking about but the most important thing politically.
charlie: the transcripts of these calls, where they come from and how are they edited and prepared? who has access to them? >> when a president has a conversation with a foreign leader, he has his own white house staff listening and there are note takers. they are scribbling notes throughout the conversation. after, they produce a transcript of sorts. it is not verbatim the way a court reporter might put them together from a recording, but it is very close approximations. it is an accurate reflection of the play-by-play of that call. those become memos circulated to policy people throughout the white house. charlie: the white house has
said the president is always looking to make the best deals for the american people. in every conversation with foreign leaders, he is direct and forceful in his determination to put america and americans first. is this likely to lead to a different impression of president trump than most americans already had? >> i think it reinforces some of our impressions about that. you read through some of the language we use from an official familiar with the calls when they say he is always putting america first. i think you also read these transcripts of these conversations, and he is always putting donald trump first. he is referring to himself repeatedly throughout these calls. everything is viewed through the prism of, are you making me look good or bad? if it is the latter, i am angry about it. charlie: what were your impressions? >> this is not the first time a president has spoken candidly with a foreign leader and spoken in terms about policies different from what the
president says in public. that is not shocking. the crassness and starkness of the way he does it is probably a little unnerving, but it is not shocking. what is worrisome to me, in addition to what it reveals about president trump and how committed he is to these policies and some of the things greg says, is this is unprecedented in terms of the leak. and the idea that foreign leaders around the world now know when they are having a and a conversation with the president, they could be reading not only in the front pages of
"the washington post," but the front pages of newspapers and their own countries about those conversations. these conversations in some respects reflect not well on the leaders to whom trump was speaking to. it looks like he is trying to push them around. i'm just saying if you are the president of mexico or any of these countries, you do not want these conversations in your press. and i think -- look, the u.s. president's relationship with these leaders is asymmetrical. what they say to our president and what they say about our president matters a lot less in our politics than what the u.s. president says about them or to them in their politics. i think having these conversations broadcast out like this will make a lot of these leaders around the world a lot more -- charlie: circumspect. >> uneasy about talking to the president candidly. that is a huge problem. >> this white house does have a problem with leaks, discipline generally. the attorney general is scheduled tomorrow to have some sort of press conference or event in which he addresses the
subject and talks about a crackdown. at the same time, this is an administration and president who lashes out in all directions all the time against his own he badmouthed his own attorney general on twitter. he accused congress of being responsible for the damaged relationship with moscow. he attacked the intelligence community. how does an executive like that expect to engender loyalty across the administration when he is constantly pointing fingers and putting blame and criticism in all directions? >> i agree as a practical matter it is sort of the inevitability of what you are describing, constant attacks including on the intelligence community which are damaging. it is inevitable this kind of thing will happen. it does not make it right that a
public servant in the intelligence community or anywhere else takes this kind of action in response. the president is allowed to criticize whoever he wants to criticize, including his own government. it does not make it ok for officials to release it. the long-term implications are extremely damaging. >> there is additional value for us at "the washington post" because when we published our story earlier in the year as characterizing the conversation with turnbull as acrimonious, trump the next day denounced the story as fake news. said it was all a lie by the "fake news media." here -- charlie: the president of mexico says he never made the call to praise the head of national security. >> this is a pattern that has surfaced in his claim about the boy scout leadership calling to credit him for the speech he gave. there is a credibility issue here. >> what is striking is i think
all politicians spin, many bend facts slightly. the speed and frequency with which this president lies on not necessarily big things but small things, the cumulative effect is huge and incredibly credibility damaging. charlie: how did the conversation with turnbull end? >> not well. turnbull is trying to turn things in a more productive direction. clearly, trump is upset about the refugee deal. turnbull says let's talk about syria, something else. trump wants no part of it and wants to get off the phone. he lashes out at the end, "thanks a lot, i'm getting you off the hook and you're putting
me on the hook." turnbull is saying you can count on me, australia is your friend. trump brushes him off and says i hope so, goodbye. charlie: are you finding, as a reporter covering washington and the white house, that the tone is leading to more people wanting to tell their side of the story or wanting to make some point because they do not believe the general line of conversation coming out of the white house? >> i think i would be lying if i said otherwise. there are people who care deeply about the institution, of the intelligence agencies, congress, or other parts of the executive branch who believe in fundamental principles of democracy and what the united states stands for who feel trampled often. how they express that, you will have great disagreement on the extent to which some of what they do is appropriate. but it's real. you can't discount the fact that that is real.
>> i would add to that when trump came into power, came into the office, there was, he said he could steamroll an agenda through. what he completely underestimated, including his team, is the power in washington of the permanent bureaucracy, of congress, of the press, and of interest groups, special interest groups, and how they work together. in greg's case, someone in the government working to get the story out. all four of those institutions are in overdrive, including republicans in congress. all four institutions now are working harder and more energetically to be a real check on this president for the reason you stated, because they just as greg said, they feel the story is not getting out. charlie: greg, thank you very much. thank you, dan. we will be right back. stay with us. ♪
xfinity. the future of awesome. ♪ charlie: for the first time, scientists have successfully edited a gene in human embryos to repair a condition that causes a dangerous heart condition. the new method would also prevent the mutation from being passed on for future generations. the achievement could be applied to 10,000 conditions caused by
specific inherited mutations. the study was a collaboration between the salk institute, oregon health and science university in portland, and korea's institute for basic science. the development also raises ethical concerns regarding its potential to be exploited for non-therapeutic purposes. joining me from portland, oregon is the study's senior author dr. shoukhrat mitalipov of oregon health and science university. from cambridge, massachusetts, richard hynes at mit. from palo alto, hank greely, director for the center for law and biosciences at stanford. in new york, pam belluck who wrote the story for "the new york times." i am pleased to have each of them. it is a remarkable story and a remarkable advance. we want to fully understand the potential and also the caution that is being raised. i will begin with pam. tell me the significance.
pam: this is really a big deal. this is the closest we have come to being able to genetically modify a human embryo. it was quite a successful experiment or series of experiments that the team did. that tells you that the ability to do that safely and to do that successfully is probably not all that far off. a number of years, for sure, maybe a decade. but not that far off. charlie: so, people with diseases that can be inherited, that issue can be eliminated? pam: right. i mean, the goal is to be able to, for couples who have mutations that they would pass on to their children that would be a specific cause of a disease, the idea is that you would be able to correct this, to repair the mutation, to basically get rid of it. the disease would not only not be transferred to the child but
would be eliminated from the family's line for future generations. charlie: so, the question is, how did you do it? how long have you been working on it? give me a sense of your journey. dr. mitalipov: so, we've been actually monitoring how this new gene editing technology developed. as you know, there are several tools being developed that enable you to cut dna into very specific spots. so, the latest of this technology is called crisper, which allows you to direct the scissors to a very certain gene you tell it to cut. so, this was a pretty efficient way of basically mutating genes. but, of course, for humans, we would like to convert mutated genes back to normal and that is how we combined the cutting tool
along with the embryo, we inducesit self-repair in an embryo. we make the cut next to the mutant place, when an embryo repairs, it has some kind of request to read from a template. in this case, it was another gene that comes from another parent. and so this was the main finding, that if you just tell embryos where the problem is, it can very efficiently self-repair this mutation. charlie: the self repair, it is amazing to me that a gene can do that. how was it able to do that? dr. mitalipov: every cell in our body has this self dna repair system. the dna breaks pretty often and the body must repair it efficiently. most cells of the body repair it by making more errors. it could be some pieces of dna missing.
but it appears to be that embryos have a very different system. they have some kind of proofreading activity that will always try to see some kind of blueprint it would require to rebuild. in this case, the blueprint is usually the second gene, which is in this case, at least in our study, the second gene always was normal for humans. charlie: hank greely, what would you add to this in terms of the significance and excitement in the medical community? hank: i think one of the remarkable things about this study is they discovered something surprising. it didn't actually work quite the way everybody expected. and when the story first broke last week early, none of the early stories really talked about the most interesting scientific finding which was the self repair mechanism in the embryo. i think this is a really fascinating advance that might bring embryo editing to the clinic a little bit earlier, but i think we are still a decade
out. maybe now we are nine years and 10 months out. charlie: people have been trying to do this. i know, i mentioned in china and in other places. but this really was a breakthrough for this. pam: right. i mean, the thing that basically -- they accomplished three things, three important things that the previously published research -- three previous studies done by chinese researchers, and the big advance that this team was able to do, first of all, they were able to successfully get the change into a lot of embryos, dozens of embryos, not just a few. so that tells you that their success rate was pretty good. it was not 100%, it was about 72%, but that was pretty good. it tells you, you know, they are moving in the right direction. they did it with a relatively common gene mutation that causes a very serious disease.
so they went for the kind of targeting we would want this kind of technology to be used for. and maybe even most importantly, they avoided two really big problems that had plagued the chinese efforts. they were able to get rid of a problem where the mutation would be copied in some cells of the embryo but not all of the cells. so, that creates, you know, kind of this patchwork of repaired cells and unrepaired cells which is not safe in terms of producing other embryos. also, they appear to have done this without creating a bunch of unwanted mutations. and that had happened in the previous effort. so, we're talking about an effort that looks like they created apparently healthy embryos. that means this could conceivably be safe to do. charlie: richard, what do you see as the opportunities here
and the risks? richard: well, there are still some risks, and they point this out in the paper, that need to be resolved. we need to be able to do this on other genes if it is going to be widely applicable. seems no reason why that should not be possible, but it needs to be shown. it would be interesting to know whether you could edit mistakes in the female germ line in a similar fashion. again, that needs to be shown but it seems likely. so, i think this is, as others have said, several steps forward. but it's not there yet, because it has to be worked on further. there are lots of genes like this where one bad copy can cause trouble. the dominant disease causing genes. this opens the way to addressing them which could be there useful once the technical hurdles are cleared which could take a few years, to put a number on it, a
few years before that will be technically feasible. then you asked, what will be the issues raised? there are a series of ethical, societal issues that will need to be addressed once it becomes technically possible, assuming it does. then, we have to decide what should be allowed and what should not. there are many values to being able to correct genes like this. and there are also some risks and some societal consequences, having to do with things like equity, who will have access to this, because it is going to be an expensive technology. that is not specific to gene editing. it is true of lots of medical advances. it's a societal problem but it needs to be thought through. we now have the opportunity, we in the community have this opportunity knowing this is likely coming to think that through, and engage a serious public discussion as to what things need to be fed into that
decision. the committee of the academy said, lay down a set of stringent guidelines that would have to be met before one could move forward to clinical application. and they will all have to be met and then maybe some more of that will develop between now and that time. charlie: what was the toughest thing to overcome? we may have -- and secondly, what is your next step? where does the research go? dr. mitalipov: so, the first question, i guess, it was the regulatory oversight. so, even though we have a guideline set that we can do, at least this kind of thing with our basic work, but still we needed to go through very extensive review and prove on different levels, in three different communities, about why we're doing it, how we are going to do it and whether there are alternatives. so, this is probably the toughest and longest part in the project.
regarding what to do next, i think we discussed today there are so many other genes and this crisper technology has to be developed and optimized for each one of them. i bet even the clinical application, if even we develop this and test it, still in each case we would have to use this technology as part of diagnostics where we would biopsy a few cells from the embryo and do all these tests not only that the mutation is now corrected but make sure there are no off target effects. and i think this technology needs to be, you know, developed, so that we could actually proceed to clinical trial sometime in the future. charlie: do all of you feel like we are looking at a breakthrough moment in science and medicine, that we will look back at this a
few years and say that was where we achieved the results that led to a remarkable future in the way we deal with inherited disease? hank: to me, breakthrough is a little bit strong for this. i think it is great work and a wonderful paper. interestingly, what exactly was done here could also be done through a process that he already mentioned, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, where you select embryos and pick the embryos that do not have the bad copy of the gene. so, the precise method here is not that new. i do think, though, it is one more important step toward a future where we could do this. then as richard pointed out, the big question will be, should we and if so under what circumstances and how will we deliver it and how will we make it just and fair? charlie: is it safe?
is safety a factor here? pam: oh, safety is going to be the main factor. charlie: with what kind of consequences? pam: well, for example, you know, as dr. mitalipov mentioned, the next kind of steps -- they are going to have to repeat this with this mutation and with many others. and they're basically going to have to figure out a way to get it more and more successful. so, you want to have 90%, 95% of the time, you want this to be successful, maybe 100% of the time if you can, right, obviously. what you want to avoid is creating other problems in the embryo. you do not want to create other mutations. you do not want to have a patchwork of cells. you want to be able to have a healthy embryo so the child can
be healthy. once they get the technology to the point where they have a very good success rate in the lab, in the dish, with the embryos, then u.s. law or some other country's law will have to change enough to allow there to be clinical trials where this can be tried in actual pregnancies. charlie: and we think that is four, five years away? pam: i think as the experts here have been saying, a decade sounds about right. but with science, honestly, it is always very hard to predict and these developments are happening very quickly. there are other teams working on this kind of thing. those clinical trials, the children who are born will need to be followed to make sure that they are healthy, and there are not any unintended consequences. so, it's a ways out. but it is moving pretty quickly. charlie: how significant, and this is for anyone, how significant is the idea that
eliminating the mutation and the self-correcting -- was able to be passed on from generation to generation? that factor. was that to be expected or was that a breakthrough as well? >> no, that was to be expected. that if you correct something in the embryo, it is going to be inherited. so, that would be expected. i would like to add something else, though, that i think sometimes gets lost in this discussion. these were in vitro experiments to work out the technology of how to make edits in an embryo. those have implications not only for what we have been talking about, gene line therapy and correcting mutations in yet to be born children, it is also very important to study these embryos in vitro to learn things about why things go wrong during ivf. things about fertility, things about implantation and
miscarriages. so, the tools that they've advanced in this paper can be used to study those questions with no, quite apart from any goal to edit gametes to cure children of this disease. there is a lot of good medical benefits that will come from the basic science of which this is a good example. charlie: go ahead, somebody. hank: the germ line issue you raise is going to be an important one. people are already in different camps. some people think that change in the line is an awful thing. presumptious. we shouldn't try it. others think it would be a great boon to health. i think that will be a big argument to have, but i think the other bigger argument we will have is whether these kinds of things should only be used to
prevent disease or whether they could be used for enhancement purposes. that i predict is going to be the big division in 10 years, 15 years, whenever it gets to the point where this is safe enough to consider. charlie: the division between those who approve of it or those who do not approve of it, or what division? richard: should it be just used for preventing disease or used to make modifications to people. one aspect of this paper is it uses y-type gene from the other chromosome to correct the mutation. charlie: as of now the nih is prohibited from performing -- funding genetic research. what might change that? pam: more importantly, the fda is prohibited from even considering any kind of application for a clinical trial in this country. charlie: is this a political argument or a medical argument? pam: well, i think like a lot of things, it is both. i mean, i think there are, there are certainly people on
different sides politically here. they probably fall along the same lines as many of these kinds of arguments and issues do, but there are medical questions. including, you know, not only just how well this could work, but what circumstances are really appropriate for this to be used. you know, ideally -- charlie: "playing god" is a phrase they use sometimes. pam: i mean, some people would see it that way. the easiest goal for people to accept, and, in fact, one could argue an almost ethical responsibility in a way, is if we have the ability to safely help people have healthy children when they would have no other option, then some people would say there is an ethical argument for doing that, right?
but the ethical concern is, are we doing this when it's not necessary? and would we be making it sort of preferentially available to people who have the resources to pay for it? charlie: are there other ways to achieve the results that are achieved by this gene editing, or is this it, if you want to make sure that you can attack these kinds of inherited single gene diseases? richard: it has already been mentioned that you can use pgd to select the embryos that don't carry a mutation and discard them and use the others. that's a possibility. it isn't a possibility for everything, for every mutation. but one could think about changing, but it is possible for many of them. pam: the advantage of this technology is that it could work alongside pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
right? if you have a couple with fertility issues, currently, they are able to genetically test their embryos and pick the healthy ones and implant those. charlie: that happens today. pam: that happens today, but not every embryo is going to be healthy. so, one of the clearest arguments for using this gene editing technique is that you could repair the unhealthy embryos, and the couple would then have more healthy embryos to choose from or to use in trying to conceive. and that could not only give them a better chance, but it could save women from going through multiple, arduous cycles of ivf. so there are some arguments for that. charlie: what is the most important thing you learned in
this successful experiment? dr. mitalipov: so, the most important thing is probably the ability of the embryo, so the germ line, to do self repair, because we actually tested this self repair in a patient's own skin cells. we used cells direct from skin. we tested extensively. we chose the very best crisper construct, and then we monitored how cells would repair. we've actually never seen this kind of repair using the other allele. the first study was completely opposite. so, this was very surprising and that is how the whole study started. basically, we needed to prove if this was just a one experiment, and so we had to repeat it with multiple different eggs, make sure this is a conserving mechanism. charlie: hank, this was on the front page of all of the newspapers i read this morning
and got a lot of attention in the television world as well. is it the kind of event, the kind of success, that will promote the kind of necessary study that we need to deal with what is a step forward in medical science? hank: i hope so, but it might not. what we need is a long social discussion, both with ethicists, scientists, religious figures, but also with ordinary people, with the regular citizens, about what we would want to do with this and what we would not want to do with it. what worries me a little bit about the intention this has gotten is that it could lead to a panic. after dolly the sheep's birth, suddenly everyone was worried about armies of cloned warrior slaves. a bunch of legislators passed silly, in retrospect, laws, because people got caught up in a panic. panic legislation is almost always bad legislation.
we have got time. we should sit down, carefully think about it. the national academy's report that richard cochaired was a great start. but we need to sit down and think hard about what this would mean, and what we would want for our families and for our societies. charlie: you have all been really wonderful to come in this evening. it is, i think, something that will get a lot of attention obviously because of the ramifications we have said today. we hope to revisit this. i thank you for being patient as we mounted this broadcast, and i am certain we will be coming back to talk with you more. so, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. charlie: and thank you, pam. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪ we check our phones 85 times a day.
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