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Author Salman Rushdie Attacked During Lecture In New York; Any Moment: House Begins Debate On Inflation Reduction Act; Death Toll In Kentucky Flooding Rises To 39. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: There's some breaking news coming in. Award- winning novelist Salman Rushdie was just attacked on stage while giving a lecture in Western New York. A reporter for the Associated Press witnessed the attack. Rushdie as you know has faced death threats for years over his novel The Satanic Verses. We bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's gathering more details on this. Polo, what do we know about what happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we tried to find out more about his condition and also a possible motive, here's what we can tell you in terms of what that AP journalist who was actually at this lecture series witnessed just a few moments ago. According to that AP reporter, that celebrated author and also a winner of some of the world's top literary prizes was, according to this journalist with the Associated Press attacked on stage before giving a lecture there in western New York, part of a Chautauqua institutions lecture series.

This journalist reporting that a man -- that he witnessed a man run up on stage as he was -- as the author was being introduced and then began to "punch and stabbed the novelist before the event." We do know that emergency medical services as well as police officers quickly responded to the scene. And again, we're still trying to sort out exactly not only his condition but a possible motive as well, in terms of what may have led to this particular attack that happened a few moments ago in Western New York.

BOLDUAN: Wow. OK, much more to learn on this. Polo's going to stick with it and bring more details as we learn about Rushdie's condition and what all went down. Thank you, Polo. I appreciate it. We'll stay close to this.

Let me turn out of Washington though. The House of Representatives will soon begin a debate on the Inflation Reduction Act. A final vote is expected this afternoon. Democrats are expected to have the votes to pass the sweeping health care climate and tax bill. Joining me right now, Democratic Congresswoman, and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. Congressman, thank you for being here. Will you all have all Democrats voting in support of this bill today?

REP. KATHERINE CLARK, (D-MA): We will. And this is such a good day for the American people, as we lower costs, create great-paying jobs, and make sure that our communities are safer from the ravages of climate change. So it is an exciting day to be here to witness these historical investments and families and help them meet the very real cost challenges that they're facing by reducing prescription drug costs, making sure they can afford health insurance, and making that investment in American green technology.

BOLDUAN: We're listing out the benefits. It's a big day for Democrats in Congress and getting this through. It's a big day for the White House. Is this the last big legislative vote you think that you'll be taking before voters weigh in in November?

CLARK: We certainly have a lot on our plate in September, but this really is a historic day. And it is a good day for the White House. It is a good day for Democrats. But it's really a good day for families at home. We are seeing them. We're putting people over politics, and making sure that we are meeting this moment. When we see a GOP that is focused on criminalizing women's health care, on ignoring the floods in Kentucky, the drought in Texas, the fact that our lakes are evaporating before our eyes, and the real challenges that pose to all of us in the agriculture, they want to bury their heads in the sand. And we're saying we see what you're facing. We're taking historic action to address it.

BOLDUAN: You've named this bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which is really just asking voters to hold you accountable to do just that. The CBO says that the bill is going to have a negligible effect on inflation this year or next, what's your response to that?

CLARK: We have over economists who have said this is absolutely going to help us tame inflation and we already have good news to build on with a zero rate of inflation in the month of July.



BOLDUAN: But it's the question of when you really want to bring relief -- in a question of how much can you do and one act of Congress. But when you really want to bring relief to people immediately, as they're looking at currently, at the prices that they're having to deal with, that's a big question. I mean, you're setting yourselves up for that, and in this title.

CLARK: But that's exactly it, Kate. The real problem for folks at home with inflation is high costs. High costs at the gas pump at the grocery store. And that's exactly what Democrats in the White House are addressing. We've taken on Big Oil on their price gouging. GOP has said it's fine with them. We have said we see how seniors are struggling. We want them to be able to afford the drugs they need and put food on the table. The GOP is shrugging at that --

BOLDUAN: But those price reductions aren't going to be starting to be seen until 2026.

CLARK: But we're already seeing gas starting to come down. The policies we've been working on are working. Is everything going to be fixed from a pandemic-driven economy and a world-wide inflation? No. But it is critical that you take action that you don't just come up here and say we have inflation and there is pain at home. Do something. And that's exactly what we're doing today with this bill. That's exactly the work of this Congress from the infrastructure bill, the American Rescue Plan, from protecting a woman's right to choose, these are the fundamental issues facing families at home. And this is what we're delivering on.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, while I have you, this morning, Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference over the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago of the president -- of the former president's residence, in doing so, attacking the FBI even accusing the agency of bias. Let me play this.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK, (R-NY): President Donald Trump is Joe Biden's most likely his political opponent in 2024, and this is less than 100 days from critical midterm elections. The FBI raid on President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of its authority. And as the American people know, unfortunately, this is the same agency leadership that protected Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and continues to protect Hunter Biden.


BOLDUAN: What do you say to that, Congressman?

CLARK: As an American, as an attorney, as a former prosecutor, this is dangerous, and it is highly irresponsible. What we have here is an FBI Trump-appointed director and Merrick Garland who has said, let's put forth what we know if it -- so that we can be as transparent as possible with the American people. They want to continue not to fight for the American people and meet the challenges they're facing. They're working for one person, and that's Donald Trump.

And when you put Donald Trump above the law, knowing that this was an illegally executed search warrant, and turn the attacks on law enforcement, we've already seen it play out just yesterday in a deadly way. This is highly dangerous and highly irresponsible. And it makes you wonder just how much more extreme this party can become.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming on. We're going to watch this vote this afternoon. Appreciate your time.

CLARK: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. A major strategy shift from the CDC in the fight against COVID, what the new recommendations mean for students, teachers, schools across the country.


[11:40:36] BOLDUAN: Now to a big change in the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic, the CDC says we're finally there, ending social distancing and quarantining guidance for people exposed. The changing guidelines come, of course, just in time for the new school year. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is here with a look at that. So, what are the big changes and what does it mean for everyone else?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a bit of an end of an era. And I have to say -- excuse me, I'm very happy to be sitting here --

BOLDUAN: Exactly. But this is nicer over there.

COHEN: And saying this after years and years of this, it feels like. So these changes are for several reasons. One of them really the big one is that it's just COVID isn't the threat that it once was. There's you know, the vast majority of Americans are -- have a lot of immunity either from vaccination or from the previous infection, plus we have vaccines, we have treatments. So, it's different than it once was.

So, let's take a look at what the CDC announced yesterday. They said no more six feet, social distancing recommendations, someone needs to scrape all those little thoughts off all those floors, also no more screening in most circumstances. This was used frequently in schools. Kids were getting tested and tested and tested. They're saying in most circumstances, you don't need that.

Also, no more quarantining, if you're exposed to COVID. You don't need to quarantine. They got rid of some of that before but this gets rid of all of it. There are two big things that they're keeping. If you have COVID, if you're actually infected, you do need to isolate and those rules are pretty much the same.


Also, masking, they did not get rid of masking In fact, in some ways they made it stricter. Really most Americans in most of the U.S. should be wearing a mask indoors. We know that that's not what people are actually doing.

BOLDUAN: But we do know as we have seen that masks off.

COHEN: It does. They do.

BOLDUAN: They have been effective.

COHEN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: It's good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Kentucky's Governor now saying FEMA needs to do more to help the people of his state, why he is frustrated? Kentucky's Governor joins us next.



BOLDUAN: Back for an update on our breaking news at this hour, award- winning novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage while giving a lecture in western New York. Rushdie faced death threats from Iran for years over his novel, The Satanic Verses. Let's go back to CNN's Polo Sandoval. He now has video and images that have come in of the attack. Polo, walk us through this.

SANDOVAL: Yes, Kate, as we work to actually find out the latest on the celebrated author's condition. Here's what we know based on several witnesses, including an Associated Press journalist reporting that he was attacked on stage before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua institutions as lecture series here, again, that, according to the AP that was present -- a journalist that was present there, describing a man that made his way onto the stage and then began to "punch and stab" the celebrated novelist before the event. We know that medical staff and police are at the scene right now at this amphitheater trying to basically get full control of the situation here.

There's a separate witness, also telling CNN that he saw the novelist attacked on stage as well. The witness, however, this is important, could not quite confirm what was used in the attack. And that witness also estimating that he was about 75 feet from the stage during the incident when he witnessed all of this play out earlier this morning. When you look at basically the background of this morning's event, that not only does describing him as a celebrated author, but also obviously the winner of multiple literary prizes and the founder of a -- of a group that were meant to aid and support persecuted writers.

Obviously, his celebrated writings making him a target in the past, so this is certainly going to be something that we are going to consider moving forward here as we work to speak to investigators about a possible motive. But again, right now one of the several things that we're trying to confirm not only the latest condition of Rushdie but also the very latest on the assailant that was involved in this attack that took place in western New York earlier this morning, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, much more to come. That video, though looking like the moments after the attack.


BOLDUAN: Very shaky, but still important to have. Thank you, Polo. I appreciate it. We'll have updates throughout the day on this.

Also at this hour, the death toll from the -- from the flooding in Kentucky rising yet again, now at 39. Almost 500 people are still living in emergency shelters or state parks since these storms. The state's governor says that they are out of the emergency phase, but recovery is still a long way off.

And joining me now is the governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear. Governor, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. 39 people are now dead from these horrible storms. You're now moving from the search mode into the very long and very difficult recovery mode. But how long do you think it is going to be in this mode until people feel like they are recovered?

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): I actually see us with three phases. We've thankfully moved out of the emergency phase where we had over 1300 rescues where we were trying to get people in a dry place to get them food and to make sure their family members knew that they were OK. Now I feel that we've moved into a stabilization phase.

That is getting people out of gyms where they're staying with 30 or 40 other people to get them stabilized, to get them the documents they need, to start the debris removal, basically to try to get people back on their feet to where they know where they're going to be able to stay the next three to four months. The rebuilding phase really starts after that. And it is significant. And it's going to be one of the most difficult rebuildings that we have ever seen, virtually no one with either insurance or flood insurance because it is so expensive.

FEMA, where it's providing reimbursement, certainly as the statutory caps, which are going to be a big challenge, but we got a lot of great local leaders working with us and the state and others to come up with innovative solutions on how we ultimately get folks that have lost everything. One grandmother was pulled from a vehicle as it was being swept away. All she had is the clothes on her back. When I talk to her, she was just glad her family was alive. How do we -- how do we get them back up on their feet? That's our -- that's our challenge.

BOLDUAN: And it is -- it is person to person, family to family, and we've seen some amazing stories of people helping people in Kentucky. You mentioned FEMA. I have to say you seemed frustrated earlier this week and talking about FEMA saying that FEMA can and should be doing more for people. What is the frustration, Governor? Is it the pace of the health -- the management of the task? What is it?

BESHEAR: I am frustrated. My job is to be there for my people, the people of Kentucky who have lost virtually everything. Now FEMA has a long history that goes beyond this administration or even the last administration of denying far too many people that need help. If you fill out one part of the form, you're denied. If you haven't gone through your whole insurance process, you're denied.


It's not an incomplete. It is a denial. And that hurts and people end up giving up. Listen, the president has made commitments. He wants to help folks. And I fully believe that the administrator of FEMA, as well, as to the people on the ground, that are meeting with people, it's somewhere in between, you know, the top, and those on the ground that we still see all these denials coming out. That needs to be a major change, a major cultural change. And right now is the time that FEMA can get it right because we're not unique in this. Whether it was the tornadoes in Western Kentucky, or other natural disasters across America, far too many people are denied by FEMA. Now is the chance to get it right for the people of Kentucky, and the people of the United States of America. BOLDUAN: It's really interesting, you put it that way. It's not just about Kentucky, it is about -- it is about everybody else. Because I have noticed something throughout this tragedy that has been hitting Eastern Kentucky, which is, look, you're a Democratic governor, working with a Republican legislature to really make it through this tragedy altogether.

And your relationship with that legislature hasn't always been great. You've been on this program talking about the fights that you've all had, but you're all working together really, to meet this moment right now. Do you have advice for the rest of the country where if you look at all of the other headlines out there, there are so many other politicians and people that are not doing that? Because it seems there's just less and less that people are willing to come together on.

BESHEAR: When your neighbors lost everything when you know, people that have lost their lives, the stuff you were arguing about yesterday, doesn't seem all that important. Now, I believe that most people out there are good people. And we get caught up in whatever's going on in the day and the arguments and you know everything that's out there so much noise kind of constantly hitting us. What matters the most is the safety and the well-being of the people around us, living out the golden rule that we treat our neighbors as ourselves. And the parable of the Good Samaritan says everybody's our neighbor.

There are no buts or ifs or unlesses. It doesn't matter their political party, it doesn't matter their view on issues, they are still people. We've got to make sure that when they need us the most that we are there for them. And I wish that we could all take this spirit that we see in the toughest of times because we got folks coming in from every state and everywhere in the -- in the United States. Tennessee and West Virginia sent their national guard with virtually no questions asked. It's that type of spirit that if we could just stop arguing and stop using anger and hate and the strong emotions to try to get an extra vote here or there or another seat here or there, then we could do good things for our people.

You know, my belief is my job as governor in the move of state to the right or the left, but to move it forward. Those are things like good jobs and access to health care, world-class education, the things that parents like me worry about at night when we finally get our kids to bed and as they get older it gets later and later. But those are things that I think matter most to folks, and that's what we focus on in times like this.

BOLDUAN: And it is a long road ahead for Kentucky because of what Mother Nature has brought to it. Governor, thank you so much for your time. We'll continue to cover -- we'll cover this recovery of -- for your state. Thank you.

BESHEAR: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: And thank you so much for being with us AT THIS HOUR. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.