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Biden Talks to Reporters About Putin Call on Ukraine; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Says, Inflation a Larger Concern Than Build Back Better Plan; Closing Arguments Underway in Jussie Smollett Trial. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 08, 2021 - 11:30   ET



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He asked about you a lot. He talked about you a lot.

REPORTER: Are you confident that Vladimir Putin got the messaging? Can you answer my question, please?

BIDEN: Yes, I will.

REPORTER: Can you answer my question first?

BIDEN: The meeting with Putin, I was very straightforward. There were no minced words. It was polite but I made it very clear. If, in fact, he invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences, severe consequences, economic consequences like none he's ever seen or ever has been seen in terms of being imposed. He knows -- his immediate response was he understood that. And I indicated I knew he would respond.

But beyond that if, in fact, we would probably also be required to reinforce our presence in NATO countries to reassure particularly those in the eastern front. In addition to that, I made it clear that we would provide the defensive capability to the Ukrainians as well.

The good news is -- the positive news is, thus far, our teams have been in constant contact. We hope by Friday we're going to be able say. And I'll announce to you that we're having meetings at a higher level, not just with us but with at least four of our major NATO allies and Russia to discuss the future of Russia's concerns relative to NATO writ large and whether or not we can work out any accommodation as it relates to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front.

REPORTER: Do you have (INAUDIBLE) on the ground, sir? (INAUDIBLE) on the ground?

BIDEN: Yes, in terms of in Ukraine?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) could U.S. troops be immediately on the ground (INAUDIBLE)? Will you rule that out or is that on the table?

BIDEN: That is not on the table. They are not -- we have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, it's a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to NATO -- I mean, to Ukraine. But it would depend upon what the rest of the NATO countries were willing to do as well.

But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now. But what will happen is there will be severe consequences that will have --

REPORTER: Sir, you've known Vladimir Putin for years. Are you confident that he got the message and knows this is different?

BIDEN: I am absolutely confident he got the message.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: President Biden just moments ago.

Let me bring in CNN's John Harwood for more on what we just learned and heard from the president. I'm absolutely confident that Putin got the message, John. What else did you hear?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, confident he got the message, not confident he's going to respond to the message in the way President Biden wants him to. I think mostly President Biden was repeating what we had heard from Jake Sullivan yesterday, which was this was a very direct and straightforward conversation that put the idea squarely before Putin that there would be severe economic consequences if he invaded Ukraine.

I think the news though from what President Biden just said was the possibility of that diplomatic off-ramp. We hadn't gotten many details about that, but he said he hoped to announce by Friday some higher- level talks between United States officials and Russians as well European allies about how to deal with Russia's concern about its own security.

Russia has made the case that it's not merely threatening Ukraine, that it itself is being threatened by NATO, by the potential expansion of NATO to Ukraine, by the military equipment in Ukraine by NATO, the military buildup that the NATO sees as in defense of Ukraine.

So, there are two sides to that discussion, and providing some sort of way of reassuring Putin might be a way of avoiding both the invasion and those severe economic consequences, which, of course, would affect not just Russia but countries that want to do business with Russia, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So interesting. Thanks, John for jumping on. I really appreciate it.

Now to Capitol Hill, the head of Instagram will be in the hot seat, testifying before Congress for the first time. The popular social media platform owned by Facebook is battling against scathing reports recently from a whistleblower and allegations that the platform creates an unhealthy, even dangerous environment for kids online.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is joining me now, even following all of this since this was first reported about Instagram, about Facebook. And now Instagram's chief, Adam Mosseri, what's he likely to face today?


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is going to be interesting. As you mentioned, it is Mosseri's first time testifying before Congress. He is one of Mark Zuckerberg's top lieutenants, but although Zuckerberg has had a lot of bad press over the past few years, has not a great reputation right now and in some ways been ostracized, Mosseri, that hasn't rubbed off on him. In fact, earlier this year, he was the co-chair of the Met Gala. We saw him there on the red carpet at that event. So, he hasn't got the public scrutiny that Zuckerberg has despite running this huge platform.

Yesterday ahead of the hearing, Facebook and Instagram announced some new features, I think we have a list of them, that would put parents in control of more safety measures for young users on the platform, including a prompt telling people to take a break. Look, some people say that is a good step, a step in the right direction. Others will say it's just to give Mosseri a talking point on Capitol Hill today.

And, of course, people will say that it isn't really addressing the more fundamental problems about the algorithm, speaking of which, new reporting overnight, investigation research done by a tech advocacy group, called the Tech Transparency Project, they set up accounts that were accounts belonging to 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17-year-olds, accounts belonging to teenagers, to kids. And they quickly found that with a little search around, these kids were seeing accounts that were advertising the sales of drugs, even being reached out from a purported drug dealer on the platform.

You see there that is what the Tech Transparency Project found and it's really, really troubling. So Mosseri will have to answer to that, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. And, again, people should be outraged because it has to be -- if you have the platform, you have to be able to manage it.

It's good to see you, Donie. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Senator Joe Manchin once again throwing cold water on Biden's Build Back Better plan over inflation concerns. I'll talk to a top economist about whether Manchin's fears are warranted, next.



BOLDUAN: Historic inflation is once again threatening to derail a huge piece of President Biden's economic agenda. Senator Manchin reissuing this warning last night about his fellow Democrats' social spending bill. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We had people at that time saying inflation will be transitory. We had 17 Nobel Laureates saying it's going to be no problem. Well, 17 Nobel Laureates were wrong.

The unknown we're facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we're looking at.


BOLDUAN: And then this is what he told CNN's Manu Raju on Monday.


MANCHIN: I don't know how you control inflation when the first year of spending is going to be quite large. That's an awful lot more of federal dollars going into a time when we have uncertainty.


BOLDUAN: Uncertainty. But there are also some protections this morning that things are looking up and some prices are going down.

Joining me right now is Mark Zandi, he's the chief economist for Moody's Analytics.

Mark, it's very clear the White House has said that this big spending bill will help control inflation. It's also very clear Joe Manchin doesn't agree. Who is right?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: I would say neither. This is a neither here nor there when it comes to inflation, Kate. This is about longer term economic growth. And all else being equal, this would take the edge off of inflation, it should help improve labor productivity, that's the infrastructure part of the bill legislation. And it should help to raise labor force participation, which is the social programming part of the bill. But this is really on the margin. Inflation is really not the issue when it comes to this piece of legislation.

BOLDUAN: Which is why I wanted to ask you, because it's been interesting that it's come so much into the conversation about this legislation of recent.

ZANDI: Yes. I mean, I think there's strong feelings about the legislation. It is a big package, $1.75 trillion over ten years. And strong feelings and people are going to use arguments that help support their perspectives on this. But I really don't think the argument here is around inflation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say in totality, the inflationary impacts are really not significant.

But for lower income households, low and middle-income households, the beneficiaries of the package, through child and elder care, through housing, through health care, their inflation rate -- the rate of increase in prices for the things that they face will likely be lower. For higher income households, it very likely will be higher. But in aggregate, across the entire population, I just don't see any inflationary impacts. It's not a reason to vote for or against this piece of legislation.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. Part of the inflation concern recent has been high energy costs, and some good news on that front, it seems. The dire prediction of sky-high home heating cost doesn't seem to be panning out. It's down 48 percent, off the peak, gas prices at a seven-week low and seem to be heading lower.


Mark, why is this happening?

ZANDI: Well, supply and demand in the energy markets. We've seen demand come back very quickly with the improving economy, the vaccinations. The supply side of the market, oil producers, energy producers have been slow to ramp up, which, by the way, Kate, is not atypical coming out of recessions. Generally, demand picks up a lot faster than supply.

But at these higher prices, producers can make money and they ultimately increase production. And so we're now seeing production increase start to meet demand. And the result is that we're seeing some moderation in pricing.

This is a big deal. I mean, if you go back four to six weeks ago, the price of a barrel of oil is about $85. Today, it's closer to $70. And that means when that translates through to gasoline prices, we're going to go from $3.50 a gallon, which was the peak a few weeks ago, to less than $3.00. And that's going to make a big difference in terms of inflation.

One other quick point though. On this Friday, we're going to get this consumer price inflation release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that is going to be ugly because that's going to reflect the higher energy prices and other prices that prevailed through November. But I think that's the worst of it. And going forward, we're going to see much better inflation statistics in significant part because energy prices are going to be lower.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting. JPMorgan just released its outlook for 2022 this morning. And I want to read for you part of the prediction. Our view is that 2022 will be the year of full global recovery, an end of the pandemic and a return to normal economic and market conditions we had prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. How bold is that prediction?

ZANDI: Well, I like it. I mean, I actually agree with it. I think there're good reasons to be optimistic here. I mean, we're creating a lot of jobs, distracting from the ups and downs in the data, probably half million every month. And at that pace unemployment is coming in very quickly. It's already at 4.2 percent. It's going to be below four in the next few months. And as we just discussed, I think inflation -- the peak of that is at hand and it's going to moderate going forward.

So, if you invite me back a year from now Kate and we're talking, I think we're all going to feel better about the economy. But having said all of that, the key is that the pandemic continues to recede, that each -- we're going to have more waves. Omicron may be the next. If it's not, we'll likely suffer another one. But each wave that we suffer is going to be less disruptive to the health care system and the economy than the previous wave.

If that's the case, if we can get this pandemic under control, I think we're going to feel a lot better about things a year from now.

BOLDUAN: I can guarantee very little, but I can guarantee you we will have you back on very soon. It's good to see you. Thanks, Mark.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the trial of Actor Jussie Smollett now in closing arguments. Jurors will soon decide if he staged a hate crime attack. Details in a live report next.



BOLDUAN: Developing right now, closing arguments are underway in the trial of former Empire star Jussie Smollett. He's accused of staging a racist homophobic attack against himself.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Chicago. He has been following this. Omar, what are you hearing?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, closing arguments are ongoing right now. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb just told jurors that this is when all of the testimony and evidence gets tied together. He told them that they need to prove two things, simply that Jussie Smollett created a plan to carry out a fake hate crime, and that he falsely reported the fake hate crime as a real hate crime to the Chicago Police Department.

Now, specifically, Webb has honed in on some bottom lines for jurors, saying that the Osundairo brothers were the ones that carried out the attack, Mr. Smollett was the person that orchestrated it. And then he attacked Jussie Smollett's testimony, specifically saying he was providing you false testimony on critical issues. His testimony at the end of the day lacks any credibility whatsoever, as he went on to pointblank accuse Jussie Smollett of lying under oath.

Now, that, as I mentioned, these arguments are ongoing. Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making false police reports in regards to a hate crime here. He's maintained his innocence throughout as he's pleaded not guilty. But after these closing arguments, it will then get sent to the jury, and that's where the final word will come from, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Omar, thank you so much for your reporting throughout this. We'll be back to you when the news breaks.

Before we go, patience in this world is on short supply today, these days, from something as important as wanting to get past the pandemic to something as seemingly small as waiting in line for coffee.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta now on why practicing patience is important in today's Chasing Life. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's Chasing Life podcast.

We've all been there, standing in line at the grocery store, being put on hold when calling your credit card company, or counting down to a vacation, waiting. It can feel like torture. But whether you like it or not, waiting is part of our daily lives, and the stress of it can actually be bad for our health.

So, how do we learn to practice more patience? Well, one way is to distract yourself. This allows you to create what Psychology Professor Kate Sweeney calls a state of flow. She says once you engage in another activity, whether it be something like a puzzle or even gardening, it reduces your ability to think about anything except what you're doing.


If you've ever been to Disney World, you know that they are the masters of this technique. They go through elaborate efforts to distract visitors from the fact that they are waiting hours in line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, for example, if you go to Space Mountain, if you have the app loaded up, it's going to allow you to build a spaceship. And once your spaceship is built, you get to race it with other people in the queue line around you.

GUPTA (voice over): For longer periods of waiting, like let's say for the results of a big medical test, you don't want it to feel like you're putting your life on hold. So, Sweeney suggests planning ahead. If you prepare for the possible outcome, this can give you back a sense of control instead of feeling like you're just waiting around for bad news.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and Chase Life wherever you get your podcasts.