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At This Hour

New Bodycam Video Sheds Light on Petito-Laundrie Domestic Dispute; Group of NYC Teachers Ask Supreme Court to Block Vaccine Mandate; Texas Governor Asks Lawmakers to Increase Penalty for Illegal Voting. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 01, 2021 - 11:30   ET


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: And Long Beach just waiting to get unloaded.


Not only are there delays in shipping but it's getting more expensive to ship stuff.

The cost to ship the average container out of China is up 95 percent since the end of 2020. There's a number of factors here, again, worker shortages, raw material issues, COVID outbreaks, the fact that ports haven't invested as much as they should have been. All of these issues are combining to create some significant stress on the system.

Kate, I just think this is just another reminder of how important the supply chain is even though we don't really think about it that much.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: How interconnected. And, I mean, something's got to give but it's not clear exactly when and how. It's good to see you, Matt. Thank you for that reporting.

EGAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I want to turn now to this, new police body cam footage giving new perspective on the incident that prompted a 911 call before Gabby Petito went missing. The video shows Petito speaking to a Utah police officer, it's in much more extended clip talking about how her fiance, Brian Laundrie, hit her during an argument. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, to be honest, I definitely hit him first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you hit him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You socked him first and then just on his face?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told me to shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times did you slap him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then his reaction was to do what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't remember everything that's happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just grabbed you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he hit you though? I mean, it's okay if you're saying you hit him and I understand if he hit you. But we want to know the truth if he actually hit you. Because, you know --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess, yes, but I hit him first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did he hit you? Don't worry. Just be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the right side of my face. He's like, I guess -- he didn't like hit me in the face, like (INAUDIBLE). He didn't punch me in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he did he slap your face or what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, like he grabbed me with his nail. And I guess it's why there was a cut. I could feel it.

Can I have a ticket for hitting the curb or something, please, because we're okay. Like we're just --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand. But we don't have -- listen, if I had any discretion in this, I would separate you guys for the day and just give you warnings to stop hitting each other. But I lawfully don't have discretion here. I don't have any --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is only because somebody said, like a witness said something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is there's two witnesses. And then there's what you said and what he said. And, guess what, it all matches nicely that you were the primary aggressor.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Nadia Romero is joining now from North Port Florida with more. It is so sad to see her in this video, Nadia. What more are you hearing about the investigation?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Kate. And when you sit there and you watch the entire body cam video now that we have more of it, you can see more about this couple, right? You have the social media videos of them being happy and in love and engaged. And now we're seeing a different perspective. Gabby Petito, as you mentioned, very emotional and painful to watch. Brian Laundrie, almost nonchalant, basically saying he was a victim, she hit me, whereas Gabby was pleading with police officers not to arrest either one of them. Now we know that that video took place August 12th during a domestic dispute is now under an independent investigation to see if those officers who responded handled that correctly. A month later, about September 11th, is when Gabby Petito's family reported her missing. And between those two incidents, Brian Laundrie came back here to Florida to this house behind me where his parents live, where he once lived with Gabby Petito, and his family went on a camping trip.

Now, his mother scheduled that camping trip to be two people, then changing the reservations to three, which has many people questioning where was Gabby Petito? What did Brian Laundrie's family know? And why did they only have three people on that camping site when Gabby previously lived with them? That speculation has a lot of people wondering, many more of these questions that remain unanswered. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Good to see you, Nadia. Thank you.

Ahead for us, a group of New York City public school teachers want the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the city's vaccine mandate from going into effect today. We're going to speak with the head of New York City Public Schools next.



BOLDUAN: Less than six hours to go before a vaccine mandate takes effect for public school employees in New York City, the largest public school system in the country. Any school employee who does not get a COVID shot will be forced to go on unpaid leave.

A group of teachers is fighting this requirement and their lawsuit has made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court now.

Joining me for the very latest is Meisha Porter, she's Chancellor of New York City Public Schools. It's good to see you, Chancellor. Thanks for being here.

The mayor said this morning 93 percent of teachers now have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. What are the plans to make up for the 7 percent of teachers not allowed into school on Monday?


MEISHA PORTER, CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: So, you know, we've been working on those plans every single day and I'm going to, as I'm sure the mayor did this morning, continue to encourage our teachers to be vaccinated because we want them in our classrooms. However, what we're also excited about as we head into this moment is that we have more subs that are vaccinated than unvaccinated teachers, and our superintendents have been working with our principals to develop plans to ensure our students get the education and continue to get the education they deserve in person.

BOLDUAN: So, that means there will be no shortage? PORTER: We do not expect to have a shortage on Monday. We expect to be ready, and we've been working very closely with our union partners to ensure that we're ready.

BOLDUAN: How many teachers though? What is the number exactly that will be on unpaid leave as of Monday? Because the unions have warned that you could be short as many as 10,000 teachers.

PORTER: Well, we have -- no, we're not going to be short 10,000 teachers. We have 93 percent of our teachers who are vaccinated right now. The deadline is at the end of the day. And, you know, we hope and look forward to teachers continuing to get vaccinated over the weekend, because if they do, we look forward to welcoming them back into their classrooms. We want them with their students. We want them with our babies. That is what we all want.

BOLDUAN: As I mentioned, some teachers are fighting this rule. What's your reaction to them taking their objections to the vaccine requirement now to the Supreme Court?

PORTER: Well, you know, I think the courts have spoken on this time and time again, and we're confident they will continue to. You know, the health department has the authority to implement such a mandate. And this mandate is grounded in science. This is about keeping our community safe. This is about keeping our school safe. And this is more importantly about keeping our babies safe.

BOLDUAN: One part of what they're arguing to the court, let me just read it in part, is that this order will force thousands of unvaccinated public school employees to lose their jobs, they argue, while other municipal employees, including those who have significant contact with children, are allowed to opt out of the vaccine mandate through weekly COVID-19 testing. They're essentially arguing that they're being singled out when other city employees have a testing option. Are they?

PORTER: No. We don't feel that way. And, you know, we also have, you know -- we are responsible for over a million students and we have elementary school students who are not eligible for vaccination. And so we have to do everything in our power to wrap a bubble of protection around our children and keep them safe.

BOLDUAN: School is already under way. This is one big step towards what you have promised. You have given a large heads-up that this was coming and today is that final day to get that vaccine. Good to see you, Chancellor. Thank you very much.

PORTER: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling for strict penalties for illegal voting. He wants to make a change here just weeks after he signed into law another round of restrictions to voter access. What is going on here? We're going to discuss, next.



BOLDUAN: In Texas, just weeks after he signed legislation restricting access to voting further in the state, Governor Greg Abbott is now reportedly pushing stricter penalties for what he calls illegal voting.

Also happening right now as we speak, the Justice Department is in federal court arguing against the new Texas abortion ban. A lot going on.

Joining me right now is Matthew Dowd, former Strategist for the George W. Bush 2004 campaign, he broke from the Republican Party years ago and justannounced this week he is running as a Democrat in the Texas lieutenant governor's race. Matthew, it's good to see you. Thank you for being here.

MATTHEW DOWD (D), TEXAS LT. GOV. CANDIDATE: Great to be here. Thanks for having me on, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I want to start with voting rights, something we've talked about a lot. Texas already has the most restrictive voting laws in the country. The governor just signed this bill into law, this new voter bill pushing further -- pushing restrictions even further. And now he wants to make more changes, increasing penalties for illegal voting, after they just lowered the penalties. When voter fraud is not a big problem in the state, why is he so focused here still?

DOWD: Well, as you say, it's not -- not only is it not a big problem, we have the largest turnout that we've ever had before in Texas in the safest election in our history, and now, based on this big lie that's been promulgated all over the country but has become front and center battle in Texas, they're trying to even make it harder for people to vote. We rank 50th in the nation in ease of voting, 50th. In the '90s, we ranked 14th in ease of voting in Texas.

And so, to me, it's a complete reflection. They know what they've been doing on all of these issues, every issue, whether it's gun or choice issues or whatever the issues happen to be, that it is very unpopular. So, they don't want to be held accountable. And the way they have pursued not being held accountable is making it harder for people to vote, especially people of color, which it impacts even to a greater degree. And so, to me, Texas is the biggest, it's always the biggest, but the biggest battle in this fight for our democracy. And I think we're in the process of doing that.

And one other thing, tomorrow, there's a huge, huge march tomorrow at the capitol in Austin over the abortion issue and over choice and a women's right to decide.


So, it's become a big battlefront for this big battle front in this state for the nation.

BOLDUAN: And on top of all of this, the governor is now pushing this audit of the 2020 election in the state, and the lieutenant governor is right there with him on this. I want to play what one top official from one of the four counties that is facing in this investigation what he told me.


JUDGE CLAY JENKINS (D), CHIEF ELECTED OFFICIAL OF DALLS COUNTY, TEXAS: And I believe what you'll find in all four of these counties is an election that was free, accurate, fair.

Right now with their base, they are working up a narrative that there's massive voter fraud, that there has to be, you know, forensic audits to find it.


BOLDUAN: Just asking the question though, was there fraud and why don't Democrats want to have an audit, which is what we're hearing from the lieutenant governor, do you think the damage is done in terms of trust?

DOWD: Absolutely. And who you just led into this question with is a good friend of mine, the county judge of -- Clay Jenkins, the county judge of Dallas, who has actually fought this Republican leadership every day. He'd have to fight it on COVID protocols, try to protect the citizens of his own county.

But, yes, as the lies have been promulgated and then as the response to the lies is restricting voting has caused us much more greater distrust in our election, which is obviously what this entire country is based on is the idea that people can hold other leaders accountable in this. It has had a terrible effect on our democracy per se. So even if they weren't able to do the crazy things that they were done, the negative effect it has on our citizen population here is tremendous. It just causes people to lose faith in the system that has basically kept us bonded together for 240 years.

BOLDUAN: Matthew, we mentioned, and you said the Justice Department is in court right now fighting the new abortion ban in Texas. Add these all together, these are some of the reasons that you announced this week that you're running for lieutenant governor to challenge Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Why do you think you can win right now as a Democrat in a state that Donald Trump won with more than 52 percent of the vote in 2020?

DOWD: So, I actually think Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor in this state, different than many states, Kate, so your viewers can understand. It is an extremely power office. It basically controls all legislation. To me, Texas is moving. It's moving towards purple. It's moving in that direction. Texans are very dissatisfied with the politics of the GOP in Texas. The governor here is underwater on his approval rating. The lieutenant governor, there's twice as many people that intensely dislike him than intensely like him in this state.

I know I have my work ahead of me. I have to turn out Democrats. I've got to win independents and I've got to win a small share of Republicans. And there's many of them who are very disaffected with where the Republicans have gone.

So, I think it's an uphill climb because we're against big money interests, but I actually think Texans are ready for a new round of leadership that actually puts common sense and common decency for the common good as the number one goal of any policy decision we make.

BOLDUAN: Matthew Dowd, thank you for coming on, Matthew, we'll continue this conversation.

I want to move really quickly to breaking news on Capitol Hill. Pramila Jayapal speaking to reporters. Let's listen.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): There have been 28 short-term extensions of surface transportation just since 2003, so I'm not concerned that we can get an extension then so that we could take care of that.

REPORTER: Do you remain where you are on the infrastructure bill if they bring it to the floor today?


REPORTER: Does your caucus remain where they are?


REPORTER: There's been a couple who has said they will vote for it.

JAYAPAL: No. I'm very confident of our numbers. And the reality is, look, we're going to do both of these things. They are both part of the president's agenda. We're make sure we're holding up the women who need child care, the families who need child care and paid leave, the folks who need climate change addressed, housing, immigration. These are all the things that are 85 percent of the president's agenda and they are contained in the build back better act. So, we're at the table to try to deliver both things and I believe we will.

REPORTER: Is there frustration in there between members?

JAYAPAL: Well, you know, people are here because they believe in what they are doing, and they want to get this done. And so, you know, there's sometimes frustration, but we're all part of the Democratic Party. This is the Democratic agenda. It's the president's agenda and we're excited to be fighting for the same thing.

REPORTER: How do you feel speaker Pelosi has handled this?

JAYAPAL: Good. She's been great. She's been a great ally. I think she wants to get both of these things done as well. She's a master vote- counter. So, the thing I've always appreciated about the speaker is you let her know early what you want. You work on getting those things in with her, and then you make sure she understands exactly where the votes are, and that's what we've done.

REPORTER: Has she been pushing you to accept a framework --

JAYAPAL: No. REPORTER: -- if they come up with one?


REPORTER: She understands there needs to be a Senate vote?

JAYAPAL: She's working on something to give us, as is the president, as is -- as are Manchin and Sinema, as are we. I mean, we're all working to get to something that we can agree on.


REPORTER: How much do you need the framework to be able to accept it?

JAYAPAL: Well, let's see. I've already said that I need a vote and I've also said that if there's some -- the reason I want to vote is because I want to be assured that there's no delay and that there's no misunderstandings about what we agreed to. And so if there's something else that is short of a vote that somebody can offer me that gives me those same assurances, I want to listen to that. But right now, I'm still saying, you know, we need a vote.




JAYAPAL: I'm here, baby, I'm here.

REPORTER: How long do you anticipate this is going to take?

JAYAPAL: I'll be here as long as I need to.

REPORTER: So what's next?

JAYAPAL: The negotiations are continuing, the discussions are continuing. I'm in very close touch with the White House. They are obviously really working hard to -- with the senators and I'm keeping in touch with my caucus, obviously, to make sure that I know what the temperature is of everybody, and we're doing everything we can to get quickly to an agreement. And, listen, we are going to pass these two things.

You all know Capitol Hill, it is a -- it is a strange place. Things -- things -- I've only been here four and a half years and I still find it strange. But things only happen here when there's urgency and, you know, some reason for people to be at the table. We've seen more progress in the last 48 hours than we have seen in a long time on reconciliation, on the build back better act.

REPORTER: What about Manchin and Sinema, are you talking to them?

JAYAPAL: I'm not talking to them. I mean, I'd be happy to, but right now those negotiations are at the White House.


JAYAPAL: One more.

REPORTER: You said that things only get done on Capitol Hill when there's a sense of urgency, that there's a deadline or something like that, and we all know that's how it happens. But when it comes to this -- there actually really isn't one. There's no deadline. This can get pushed and pushed and pushed.

JAYAPAL: Well, that's right. But I think the only thing that we have here is there's some people who really want to pass infrastructure bill right now, and so that -- and that includes, you know, the two senators. And so I think that is allowing us to have people at the table once they realize that that infrastructure bill wasn't going to pass in the House.

And, look, we tried to tell people this. That bill was crafted just with a small group of senators. We have a very small margin here in the House. And we have said over and over again that in the House, everybody is Joe Manchin.

And we have also a very strong progressive caucus. And I'm just so proud of our caucus because they are standing up for people who feel like they have not been heard in this country for a very long time, people who came out and voted for the president because of this agenda, people who came out and delivered us the House, the White House and the Senate because of this agenda. And they want to see us fighting for this agenda, and that's what we're doing. And at the end day we'll deliver both.

Thank you, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, guys. Thanks so much. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. So we've been listening to the head of the progressive caucus, Pramila Jayapal, who really is striking a very optimistic tone. I mean, she said, we are going to pass these two things, these two major pieces that are the entirety, really, of Joe Biden's economic agenda but no one knows how or what price tag, no one knows what the details are right now. And she still says that she wants a vote and she means in the Senate before she has assurances to move ahead on anything. So things, are -- well, things are where they are.

Inside Politics is up next. Dana bash is in for John King. It begins after a quick break.