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At This Hour

Pelosi Leaves Taiwan After Visit Inflamed Tensions With China; Dems Awaiting Sinema's Decision On Climate, Health Care Bill; Lab Techs Refusing To Draw Blood From Potential Monkeypox Patients. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: At this hour, China staging military drills off Taiwan's coast following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taipei. Before she left, she met with Taiwan's president and reiterated U.S. support for the Taiwanese. CNN's Kylie Atwood, she's here now with more on this.

Kylie, what are you hearing about these military drills and the lasting impact in Pelosi's visit?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so I think we still need to watch how these military drills play out.


ATWOOD: Because they're going to happen for a number of days now. What China has laid out in and of itself is escalatory because these military drills, you can see on a map, these around the entire island of Taiwan.

And according to Taiwan, if they are carried out, as China has laid out they're going to, they would indeed invade into their territorial waters and potentially, into their territorial airspace. So that is quite escalatory. So we're watching to see, essentially, if the Chinese go further than they have in the past with these exercises.

Now, the Biden administration is saying that what they've seen thus far is basically what they expected China would do. They knew that they were going to do something muscular in response, and this is just that. But they're saying they don't want them to go any further to escalate things any further.

We may see a bit more clear condemnation when these exercises are over but we'll just have to see when they conclude and what the Biden administration really feels like they could do here because it was Pelosi's trip, of course, that led to this.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Also here with us is Sue Mi Terry, she's director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center and a former CIA analyst. It's good to see you, Sue Mi. So give me your overall impression. There was all of the secretive nature leading up to it. What happened,

what Pelosi said, and who she met with on the ground, and that -- and the reaction to China? What is your reaction from China -- what is your overall impression? What was gained, what was lost with this visit?

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER CIA NORTH KOREA ANALYST: So first, you know, I feel very conflicted. I'll just say that.

BOLDUAN: Do you?

TERRY: Yes, I do. Because I think it's important to point out that Speaker Pelosi has every right to visit Taiwan -- Taipei, you know. So, you know, and I think it's admirable that she shouldn't show in some sort of principle, of resolve, her commitment to defend democracy to defend Taiwan if Taiwan gets attacked.

And it is actually China that's hyperventilating and hyperbolic. And, you know, Xi Jinping in his call -- phone call with Biden said, well, you're playing with fire and if you play with fire, you're getting going to get burned. This is really escalatory rhetoric.

So -- and, you know, for me, personally, to see third highest-ranking U.S. official, second in line to presidency, you know, she's a woman sitting down with first president -- female president of Taiwan, sort of standing up to China pulling China, so there is -- there is that. And there's something satisfying about seeing that to stand up against -- to China.

BOLDUAN: I'm seeing there's a "but" coming.

TERRY: Yes, there is a "but" coming because it's absolutely true that we are creating tension right now in the Taiwan Strait. And, you know, can we afford to create this kind of tension with China when we are distracted? We have limited resources.

We are engaged in -- there's Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there's a war going on right now. There's a situation in Iran, North Korea is on the verge of conducting several nuclear tests.

And when nobody's been talking about that, so in this climate, I do question the timing of the visit. And whether it's going -- you know is helpful? Because it will -- it will lead to escalation.

I don't see Xi Jinping bluffing about this, not only to military conflict but there -- but there are many, many things that China can do short of military conflict that's going to escalate tensions.

BOLDUAN: The White House is trying to understandably bring down the temperature in all their public comments. They say they're unsurprised by these military drills and the warnings coming from China.

Asked if the U.S. and China are now on the brink by this morning, the president's spokesperson said no. Let me play that for everybody what he said.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STRATEGIC COORDINATOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS: No, I don't believe so. Not at all. Look, we knew that the Chinese were going to react this way. We can see it in the rhetoric leading up to the visit.

And frankly, we've seen them do some exercises we do some flying on their own, the -- along the median line of the Taiwan Strait. All this is of a playbook. It's exactly what we expected them to do.


BOLDUAN: They say they're watching this closely, Kylie. What's the -- is there -- is anyone giving like a timeframe of how long they watch and when they'll know if things are getting too hot, or they're cooling down? I mean, obviously, November is a key moment for Xi Jinping.

ATWOOD: Yes. I think the next few days are really critical here because Pelosi is out of the country, right?


ATWOOD: Excuse me, not the country, the island. She's left. And so China can now fully carry out these exercises. And then we have to watch to see what happens on the trade front because there has been some trade that China has now restricted with Taiwan.

Does that impact a global supply chain at all because of the Taiwan Strait and all of that? So there's a lot of factors to consider over the next few days and over the next few weeks.


And I do think the fact that Pelosi is out of there now means that we are probably likely to see the full response that China is planning here.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned Ukraine, and I think this is an important bit of this, too -- I'd like your take on which is -- because I saw the spokesperson for Vladimir Putin actually.

He was probably asked about it but he spoke out and commented saying that the -- her visit was a pure provocation. But it has me wondering about lessons from Ukraine here.

Lessons, what has Beijing learned from what we've seen play out in Ukraine and Russia's unprovoked attack there and the international response? And also what has Taiwan learned from the -- from Ukraine?

TERRY: So, I think in terms of Beijing, and in -- you know, in Taiwan, it's calculus -- is complicated, right?


TERRY: Because the takeaways are complicated. So on one hand, Putin has been threatening a preemptive use in a wider war. So that has deterred the United States and the whole world from really fully helping Ukraine.

So there was that. But at the same time, with unprecedented sanctions against Russia, you think that Xi Jinping has to think twice about what it will mean to try to invade Taiwan right now.

And this is the last thing that Xi Jinping needs because he is going for the third term, and we have November coming up, so he doesn't want war.

But again, I tried to say, you know, there's not going to be the use of force, but there'll be show force. And there's many things that China can do cyberattacks on embargoing Taiwanese goods, even quarantining ships from going in and out of Taiwan -- I mean if they -- if that's more of an extreme way.


TERRY: But there are a number of things, and -- that you know, here, the number of things that China can do, that Xi Jinping has thought about. I also think there was a broader implication for the region when South Korea and Japan everybody else, look at this, Russia's invasion, it has to make them nervous, right?


TERRY: But again, I just would think it would have complications and things calculation just because, you know, they don't want to also be sent sanctions to China.

BOLDUAN: Already complicated getting more complicated. It's been the --

ATWOOD: Yes. And we also know that China is learning things very directly from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, right? And we have senior U.S. intelligence officials saying in recent months that China is working hard to be able to militarily take over Taiwan, not necessarily that's going to happen today, or tomorrow, or next week or next month.


ATWOOD: But I do think that that is a really incredibly important piece of this whole puzzle here, and one of the reasons that Pelosi felt like it was necessary to go now and to reiterate that support for the U.S. to Taiwan.

BOLDUAN: Good point. It's good to see you guys. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.

TERRY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. Senate Democrats pushing fast and hard to pass the big economic and climate package that they have on the table now before their August recess. One senator now at the center of it all just spoke to CNN, the very latest from the cap -- from Capitol Hill coming up.



BOLDUAN: In the words of one flood survivor, it looks like a warzone in Eastern Kentucky. Widespread destruction is complicating all of the efforts to find the many people still unaccounted for there. Governor Andy Beshear, he spoke moments ago. Listen to this.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR, (D-KY): This is day seven in search and rescue and ultimate recovery from the most devastating flooding event our state has ever seen.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro, he's live in Hazard, Kentucky. Evan, what is the latest there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, today is the day that the governor has been warning about, the day when the heat comes. It's 11: 30 in the morning, it is already extremely hot and it's also very humid. I'm sweating. I've been sweating all morning.

So the name of the game right now is water, getting it to people as quickly as possible. I'm at an elementary school in Perry County that has been turned into a Relief Center. I'm going to have Lorenzo throw the mast that came up on top of the satellite truck.

You can see just how much water they have around me. And photojournalist Kim Uhl, we're both down here amongst all this water has been given out to families that need it because they still can't get it.

And they still -- some of them don't have power. And some of them still are having trouble with other services, maybe getting out of their house.

Now, a big challenge for those people is immediate. But there's also what comes next. And Kim actually went to one of the emergency sites where people have now been moved to, the -- who lost their homes, to talk to one survivor of this storm about his house and what happens to him next.


ELISHA ABNER, FLOOD SURVIVOR: And now, notice today when we went to get some pictures, they started to be some mold forming around the cracks in the walls and stuff.

So I know it's going to be a dangerous situation you know if we try to get in there if we don't get in there soon and try to get some cleaned out. I have insurance on the vehicles, thank God. But I don't have flood insurance in my home and the homeowners has already turned me down.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, Kate, that story is very common around here. People didn't have flood insurance. They expect to get flooded. Their houses are gone. So even after this immediate problem with this water and cooling today gets solved, there's a much longer-term problem about how to get people back into their houses, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So much. Yes. Evan, thank you for that. Let's turn to Capitol Hill right now. Senate Democrats are up against a deadline now to pass their big health and energy bill before the August recess but two potential wildcards remain, the Senate parliamentarian and Senator Kyrsten Sinema. CNN's Manu Raju is live on the Hill with the very latest. Manu, what's Sinema saying today?


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a whole lot. She's not tipping her hands and she is making Democrats play the waiting game because they typically do not know if they have the votes, they have her on board, and one big reason why is because, as you mentioned, the Senate parliamentarians ruling.

That is a significant issue because the Senate parliamentarian will decide whether or not Democrats can pass this bill through the budget process, meaning whether they can pass it along straight party lines and is not subject to a Republican, that filibuster and if the parliamentarian agrees with their approach.

Then Sinema says that she will make her final decision about whether to green-light his proposals. Now, Democrats are still hopeful that she will get there at the end of the day, but they are still not certain.


RAJU: Senator, have you had discussions with Senator Sinema about the reconciliation bill? And are you concerned that she could sink this?

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL): I just don't know where she stands at this point. And I don't want to presume anything. She was kind enough to call me while I was recovering. And we talked for a few minutes. She didn't tell me and give me any signals as to where she's going on this bill. We need her. We need every single vote. So I hope she'll be with us.

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA, (D-AZ): Thank you so much.

HANNAH HURLEY, SPOKESWOMAN FOR SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA: So, as you know, we don't have a comment. We're going to wait and see what comes out in the parliamentarian process and she's reviewing the texts.


RAJU: So she said they're taking my time, so not in any hurry to tip her hand one way or the other. But nevertheless, Democrats are still hopeful she will turn around and support this plan, even as she has been concerned about some of the tax provisions in this proposal that deals with health care, that deals with climate change, that deals with the issue of taxes that Democrats want to approve along straight party lines by the end of the weekend, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. So, Manu, there was a moment of bipartisanship once again yesterday in the Senate, the Senate finally passing that bill to improve the health care of veterans who are exposed to toxic burn pits. This after Republicans had blocked the bill just days prior. What changed with the bill because it got overwhelming support this time?

RAJU: Yes. And it didn't actually change at all on the policy front. In fact, 25 Republicans flipped their votes and blocked it from getting a final vote last week over procedural concerns.

They contended that they wanted to allow -- have Pat Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania, have a chance to offer an amendment to change the proposal. Now that amendment did actually come to pass. It came up last night, it did not pass.

It was rejected, the Toomey amendment, as well as two other Republican efforts to change the bill.

But ultimately, the pressure was mounting. Republicans agreed to get behind this and it did overwhelmingly get approved by the Senate and it will get to the president's desk. And he is expected to sign it as soon as next week, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Good to see you, Manu, thank you. Coming up still for us. A young girl escapes captivity, in part by chewing through the restraints that she was held by, the horror that she faced, and then the gruesome discovery of the house where she had been. That is next.



BOLDUAN: New reporting first on CNN. Lab technicians of two of the nation's biggest blood testing companies are refusing to take samples from people who may have monkeypox. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins me now with more on this reporting. Elizabeth, as I first read this, it was hard to believe. How is this possible? What's going on here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on here is that CNN has learned that technicians, phlebotomists, they are called phlebotomists at LabCorp and Quest that some of them have been refusing to take blood from monkeypox patients.

Now, you don't need blood to diagnose monkeypox, that's done by swabbing the lesions, but infectious disease doctors tell us they routinely it's standard of care to take blood when you suspect monkeypox because you want to check for other types of infections because monkeypox can look like other things. And they say really is a problem that these phlebotomists have been

saying, no, I don't want to draw their blood. And also that it's stigmatizing. We know that monkeypox is a disease that has mostly really mainly been among men who have sex with men, at least in the United States.

So let's take a listen to David Harvey. He's with a coalition of sexual health clinics.


DAVID HARVEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COALITION OF STD DIRECTORS: The fact that this is happening is an echo of the earliest days of HIV. We -- I thought I had come a lot further. This is a grave dereliction of duty.


COHEN: OK, so let's take a look at where monkeypox is right now because these -- this action by the phlebotomist is really coming in a -- at a terrible time. So, August 2nd, there were cumulatively since May -- more than 6300 cases of monkeypox.

If you go back a week, there had only been about 3500. That's an 81 percent increase in just one week. So public health officials are really trying to get this outbreak under control.

Now we asked LabCorp and Quest about this. Let's read what they had to say on this subject. So LabCorp says some of our phlebotomists have been scared appropriately of it. And so we're trying to come up with an evidence-based policy that is compliant with occupational safety rules and regulations to make sure that we protect our workforce.

Quest says we want to ensure every patient has access to the testing they need while also fostering a safe environment for our employees and all of our patients. Now, the CDC tells us, look, this shouldn't be scary. There are safety precautions that are universally done. They should be done with monkeypox too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, that's kind of part of the job.

COHEN: Right.

BOLDUAN: And it's good to see you, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for bringing that reporting to us.


I also want to tell you all about this. A young girl, just 12 years old, kidnapped, tied to a bed, assaulted, and drugged. I mean, this is a horrific story. And then she is now a hero. An investigation into her nightmare is now underway in Alabama. CNN's Amara Walker is covering this for us. Amara, what are you learning? AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right. It's such a horrific story. So here's what we know Kate. This 12-year-old girl was found wandering on a rural road in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, which is in the east-central part of the state.

And apparently, her appearance was alarming enough to get drivers to call the authorities. So when deputies arrived, they realized that she needed a medical treatment and learned that she had been in captivity for approximately one week.

The details are stunning. So according to the court documents, this is a man, 37-year-old Jose Pascual-Reyes, who kidnapped this girl on July 24, around midnight, took her to that residence, tied her wrist to bedposts for approximately a week, allegedly assaulted her on her head, gave her alcohol to keep her subdued and listen to this.

Even in that state, she was able to chew off those restraints, breaking off her braces in the process, and she did escape.

So in the course of the investigation -- so this man was charged with kidnapping in the first degree. But investigators also found two decomposing bodies in that residence. They added three counts of capital murder, two counts of abuse of corpses to the charges.

A lot of questions we've asked. We've reached out to the Tallapoosa Sheriff as well as the chief investigator. Right now, that suspect is in the Tallapoosa county jail awaiting a bond hearing, Kate, but really disturbing.

BOLDUAN: Oh my god. Amara, thank you so much for telling us that story though, and shining a light on it. All right, thank you all so much for being here. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after the break.