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At This Hour

Biden & Manchin Talks At Standstill, Build Back Better Stalls; COVID Outbreaks In Pro Sports Postpone Games, Sidelines Players; Kim Potter To Testify Soon, Prosecution Rests Their Case. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 16, 2021 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: New this morning, talks between President Biden and Senator Joe Manchin have stalled, meaning the President's Build Back Better plan, the massive social spending bill is unlikely to pass the Senate as Democrats had hoped by Christmas. Here's what Manchin says he is now focused on.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm concerned about, basically, the challenges we're going to have in the future. I really am, and we have a lot, because the unknown is very great right now. So we will see whatever happens. I'm trying to work with everybody, and I'm open minded to everything.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But you don't believe that the child tax credit could fit because it could blow up the price tag of this bill? You want to keep it at 1.7.

MANCHIN: That's a big one. That's a big one. It really is.


BOLDUAN: He's got big concerns still, and so it's going nowhere right now. Joining me now is former Democratic governor of Montana, Steve Bullock. He's now the co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century. Governor, thanks for being here. You want to see the social spending bill passed, but now that it's going to be pushed to next year, an election year, do you think it will?

STEVE BULLOCK (D), FORMER MONTANA GOVERNOR: Look, I do think it will. And yeah, we talked about this as, as you said, the massive social spending bill. But what this is, is 40 million Americans child care tax credit, or affordable pre-K, or housing. So what this really does address is some folks everyday needs and I do think it'll ultimately get across the finish line.

BOLDUAN: Now I was thinking, like you, Joe Manchin was once a Democratic governor in a red state, you both speak the same language, you know. He's concerned about inflation, he's concerned about the cost, and he's indicated that voters in West Virginia don't want it, or at least to challenge. What is the case that you make to Joe Manchin to convince him to get on board with a Build Back Better bill now?


BULLOCK: Well, I think the case that needs to be made is that there are folks, urban and rural, all across this country that have been heard, and it's not just COVID. Look, you can look the decade from 2005 to 2015, 80 percent of household incomes in this country stayed flat or broad. And when you talk about what people need, they need, in rural areas, reliable broadband, infrastructure bill took care of that. They need good roads, good water systems, infrastructure bill took care of that.

But when you look at quarter people in the rural America pay over half of their income in rent, they need help with housing and rent, the Build Back Better program does that. Everybody can talk about the cost of drugs right now, fixing drug, Build Back Better does that.

There are nine children or toddlers waiting for every daycare spot in rural America, and Build Back Better addresses that. So finally, we're starting to address the things that people talk about at their kitchen table, and Build Back Better does that.

BOLDUAN: And Joe Manchin knows that -- Joe Manchin knows what's in the bill. So were you saying the world is -- the country is just talking about it the wrong way if it's all in there? I mean, how do you get him to yes when you know that he knows all the things that you just said?

BULLOCK: Well, I think he -- You know, look, I think he is getting a lot closer to yes in as much as saying he recognizes that we need to do something. But think about this past year, we've talked 3.7 trillion, we've talked 1.7 trillion, or you know, the massive social spending bill, we haven't actually been talking enough about what's in it.

Now, I think Senator Manchin, like a lot of Democrats is saying, I think we've got to be fiscally responsible. Don't kid yourself to $2 trillion in debt that we got in the last four years through tax cuts that don't benefit those folks, consider Manchin's district or in Montana or Indiana or anywhere else.

Republicans weren't worried about sort of their folks getting paid. But we do have a real opportunity here combined with the infrastructure bill to be able to address those needs people have. So, I do think we'll get there.

And look, I'm frustrated, but forget about me, most people out there just say, look, these are just Democrats fighting Democrats, as opposed to trying to make (I).

BOLDUAN: Well, that actually gets -- I mean more broadly, you've been writing and talking about and sounding the alarm for Democrats on what you're getting at, which is the core of the problem you think, which is facing Democrats, especially heading into a tough midterm, is the Democrats are out of touch with the need of the ordinary voter, is how you wrote it. Why do you think that is?

BULLOCK: Yeah, I think the time towards the Democrats bypass or -- and serving the media, other media certainly help that, but aren't necessarily viewed as addressing the issue someone's talking about across the fence line or at a kitchen table, and that's I think one of the reasons.

Now, I looked, my last op-ed, it came up sort of after the election, when almost half of those counties in Virginia, Democrats lost by over 70 percent. And we got to show up, and we've got to make, both in urban and rural areas, we've got to make the connection with folks everyday life.

And most people are thinking about, right, how's my job, how's my home, how are my schools? Am I going to make it to the end of this month without -- with a little bit of money left to spare? Those were always sort of the issues, bread and butter, economic issues the Democrats talk about, fought for, and actually advance. And we got to make sure that people all across the country know that that's what we're doing.

BOLDUAN: Governor, it's good to see you. Thanks for coming on.

BULLOCK: Great to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.


Coming up for us, pro sports getting smacked by a wave of COVID, like the country at large, right? The tough calls that they're now making because of it, that's next.


BOLDUAN: The pro sports world is also struggling to stay ahead of the virus in a pretty big way. The NBA and the NHL both forced to postpone games due to outbreaks, and this is the first time this season that the NBA's had to push off games.

Top players in quarantine, the NFL facing double the number of positive cases this week compared to last month is now making a change. Coaches and staffers in contact with players, they're not going to be required to get booster shots.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN sports analyst columnist for USA Today, Christine Brennan. Christine these leagues, they mirror communities that they live in, right, but where do you think this is headed?


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: We don't know, Kate. I wish I knew. We certainly know what last year was like. We know that these are the winter months, we're inside more, we realize that anything could happen. And in terms of Omicron and Delta, and of course, COVID in general, these athletes -- the thing that hits me more than anything else is these athletes, these coaches have access to the greatest medical care there is much more than you and I.

And the thought that any of them would be fighting a booster or that any of them, like Aaron Rodgers, would not be vaccinated, it's astounding. They get a shot for an injury, they take a painkiller, they do whatever.

And so as role models and leaders in their communities, which I think you were alluding to, there itself, most of them are leading and doing the right thing, but they're also mirrors of their community and the concerns about the vaccine that some people obviously still have, amazingly enough, and also just the inability to obviously take get a handle on COVID, which is an American problem, not just an American football problem.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. And now that NFL mandating these booster shots for coaches and staff that worked directly with players, the mandate, not applying though to actual players, why do you think that is, because in terms of the science, that doesn't make sense?

BRENNAN: It does not make sense. And this is, again, the ongoing problem that gives us Aaron Rodgers, what a terrible role model that he has become for who knows how many people who listened to him versus listen to their doctors.

But it is amazing to me, Kate, that mandates were not given, that if you want to play in the NFL, you want to play NBA, did that, they basically -- they mandated in most cases that you had to play, which is why some players couldn't play in certain cities, or couldn't play at all. And this is -- it's a privilege, it's not a right to be a professional athlete. I know the players union wouldn't like me saying that, but we wouldn't give that opportunity if you played sports to play at the professional level.

So, I do not understand that in the midst of a global pandemic, the likes of something we've never seen before, that all measures weren't taken, that they didn't pull out all the stops. And now, the stop and start, these teams that are in trouble, who knows where we're going to the playoffs, what are the protocols, what's going to happen if a team can't play in the playoffs.

These are all on the table now in large part because, one, we're in the midst of a global pandemic and it's hard to predict, and two, the NFL and these players didn't do everything possible that they could, some of them anyway, to be prepared, to be able to play in the midst of this pandemic.

BOLDUAN: Before I let you go, I want to ask you just about other big news that's happened today. NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars coach, Urban Meyer, fired less than a year after he started. We all know that he's faced a series of controversies, no doubt, but he's also got the number one draft pick in the country on his team and he didn't last the season. Was it the scandals or the team's record, Christine?

BRENNAN: I think more of the scandals and Urban Meyer's terrible leadership, Kate. He was a great college coach, doesn't translate often to the pros, occasionally it does, but a lot of these coaches just can't do it, and his behavior was awful.

And it's a stunning fall from grace for a man who's revered in the college game. It's hard to imagine him reclaiming his reputation anytime soon, even as a T.V. analyst, which is where he was working as well.

So, a disgraceful exit for Urban Meyer, totally deserved, totally self-induced, and stunning to see that he was just so enabled, not only to win games, only won two games, but also just to be able to be a decent coach and role model and do the right thing. He made the wrong turn, mistakes at every turn. As I said, a stunning debacle for a man who has been revered in the game for a long time.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Thank you, Christine. It's good to see you.

BRENNAN: You too, Kate, thank you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Kim Potter, the former police officer on trial who says that she meant to use her Taser when she actually shot and killed Daunte Wright, she just announced that she's going to take the stand on her own defense. Details in a live report, next.


BOLDUAN: Developing right now, the defense is beginning to lay out their case in the trial of Kim Potter, a former police officer charged in the shooting death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop just outside of Minneapolis. Potter told the judge moments ago that she plans to testify in her own defense. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live outside the courthouse there. Adrienne, what's the latest?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, when court started this morning, the judge asked Kim Potter if she still intended to testify and she said yes. The judge asked her if she needed more time to think about it, and her response was no, and her defense attorney, Earl Gray, also followed up and said his client has thought about this extensively. So when will Potter take the stand? That is the big question.

The court is taking a break right now, but before that break on the stand, their use-of-force expert, Stephen Ijames, he has more than 40 years in law enforcement and has trained officers in 33 countries, a stark contrast compared to what we heard from the prosecution's use- of-force expert yesterday.


He said that it's completely untrue when it comes to the Taser not being effective. He said that Taser that Potter intended to pull, the Taser 7, was actually designed to work better in close range. And he also refuted testimony given yesterday by the prosecution's defense attorney. Listen in to what he says when it comes to driving that vehicle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was, at this point in time, or -- Was this -- At this point in time, was Mr. Wright in control of his vehicle as he struggled to get back in it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he ever in control of the vehicle before the Taser, Taser, Taser was shouted and a gunshot took off?

IJAMES: Not that I could tell from the video, no, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean by control, in police word?

IJAMES: Control literally means the ability to put it in drive and go.


BROADDUS: And by contrast, the prosecution's use-of-force experts said on yesterday, Wright was in a position to operate the vehicle, which have -- which could have caused harm, not only to the officers, but other people in the area. Compelling testimony this morning. We'll be back following it for you. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Adrienne, thanks so much. Thank you all for joining me. Inside Politics with John King begins after a break.