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At This Hour

Interview with Rep. Josh Gottheimer on U.S. Rail Strike Vote; Deadly Tornadoes across the U.S. Southeast; Alzheimer's Drug Slows Cognitive Decline; Inside the Battle for Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, the House is making deals to push through a deal to avert a rail strike putting Democrats at odds with union workers.

And a potential breakthrough with an Alzheimer drug that could also come with risks.

And the world's largest vol erupts. Hawaii's governor joins us live. This is what we are watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: The action is on Capitol Hill, where the House is soon taking a final vote on a deal to prevent a potentially crippling rail strike. Without control action, a strike could begin next week, which has pushed President Biden to warn of the serious economic consequences and job losses he said could come with it, meaning a strike.

We are also following a deadly outbreak of tornadoes in the South. Dozens of tornadoes carving a path through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The threat of severe weather continues today. We're going to get you an update on that.

Let's start with Manu Raju, who has the latest on the rail deal.

What's going to happen here, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Democrats do have the votes. Steny Hoyer told me moments ago, they do have the votes. He does expect some Republicans to vote for it. They may lose some Democrats, because the bill is silent on paid sick leave for workers.

We're going to see here in just a matter of moments, votes on the final passage, that's final on this issue of paid sick leave. But they're going to approve an amendment to that, that would approve paid sick leave for the workers. But the way they're approving this proposal will essentially allow

them to separate and approve the rail deal, a tentative agreement reached back in September to essentially avert a rail strike. That will move over to the Senate.

Once it passes the House today, the big question will be, what will happen in the Senate?

The leaders expect ultimately to go to a vote but a lot of Republicans are not there, concerned about some changes that may be made. Bernie Sanders, for one, has demanded an amendment vote to ensure that the workers would go ahead and get the paid sick leave.

The question is, can they get an agreement to have a vote before a strike would occur by next week or maybe over the weekend?

That's really the timing, once the House passes that in a matter of moments.

BOLDUAN: So a critical moment taking place. It's not the end of the railroad, to be horribly adding a pun to this. Manu, thank you so much.

I'm going to get over to Josh Gottheimer, chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: This rail deal will likely clear the House today. It's described by many as a necessary move. But it's also put Democrats in an awkward position, finding themselves at least seen as going around union workers on this.

Are you worried this will have fallout later?

GOTTHEIMER: I'm hearing from the union that they want us to move forward, avert a strike and the repercussions for workers across the country if there is a strike. And as Manu just pointed out, we will vote separately on paid sick leave.


And I think that's critically important. I'm hoping that moves along and the Senate passes that. I think we've come up with a good deal to avert a strike, which I think is especially important right now for our economy.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you're going to get a vote on paid sick leave. It's likely to not go anywhere in the Senate.

Even if it is just a statement, if you will, of House Democrats, is that OK with you on the paid sick leave?

GOTTHEIMER: I think it's clear we made that statement. The biggest thing is to avert a strike, avoid that. I think this deal has a lot of good things for rail workers. I've heard from many of the unions about that and the importance of the increase in pay, other benefits that will help.

I think it's important they get that and we keep the country moving, especially now.

BOLDUAN: Hakeem Jeffries is to be the new and next Democratic leader. He recently mentioned your name. I want to play what he said about this. Listen.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): I've great respect for Representative Ocasio-Cortez and every single member of the House Democratic Caucus, to Representative Josh Gottheimer, my good friend, and all points in between.


BOLDUAN: How do you feel about being described as the outer edge opposite AOC?

GOTTHEIMER: I think this is reflective of Hakeem Jeffries' approach. He believes in the big tent party. And he's been very successful, always being thoughtful in how he speaks to everyone and brings people together.

It's why he's been so successful as a uniter and I'm very excited for him to be our next leader.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot of talk about how the incoming new, slim Republican majority gives new and unique power to the conservative Freedom Caucus on the Right.

Do you think this new breakdown will also give you and the Problem Solvers Caucus unique and new power as well?

GOTTHEIMER: I think what it would show -- and this is up to the Republicans if they govern this way and I hope they will, as we did in this Congress with the four-seat majority on the Democratic side, if they're up to it, I think there's a lot we can do together, if they want to govern and not just obstruct and investigate.

BOLDUAN: You have worked hard to make deals at a time when bipartisanship is few and far between. That will be important in this next Congress.


GOTTHEIMER: If you look at what we did in that past Congress, infrastructure, veterans' legislation, law enforcement funding, all those things were done working together.


BOLDUAN: There's a singular priority you can point to in the coming Congress? GOTTHEIMER: I think everything is tied to affordability is critical. I think a chance to continuing to stand up to China, investigating in more domestic manufacturing. I think there's an opportunity for immigration reform.

Obviously in the next weeks, we have to get appropriations done and fund the government. But there's a lot ahead and I see a lot of opportunity if Republicans are willing to sit at the table. There's a ton we can do together.

BOLDUAN: Where a lot of people only see gridlock, Josh Gottheimer sees opportunities.

GOTTHEIMER: Yes, put the country first.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for your time, congressman.

GOTTHEIMER: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: I want to turn to the tornado outbreak I was telling you about off the top. More than 2 dozen tornadoes ripped think Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama overnight. Two people were killed. Ryan Young is in Mississippi for us. He's joining us now.

Ryan, what have been seeing this morning and what have you been hearing?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Destruction and people being scared.


You're talking about 25 tornadoes hitting in a short span. And people are not used to tornadoes hitting this late in the season.

This one house struck us; a lady said she went next door to her son's house to hide from the storm. The tree split it in half. They're trying to get as much out of here as possible but the fear is something they'll never forget. We just talked to her a short time ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandson's wife just panicked. She was just screaming and hollering. Everybody was scared. But she's really, really scared of storms. And she had a rough time and upset the little boy, who's about 17 months old. He, of course, got upset but, yes, it's very, very scary.


YOUNG: A lot of times we focus on adult things and losing possessions but think about a child, who had to go through this and hear that sound over and over again, and scream and yell and be scared. You can only understand what that does to a parent, to try to hold a child as much as possible to get through this. As we wrap up here, Kate, all these power agencies with the high-

tension power lines down, the good news is there were rescues but no deaths in this area.

BOLDUAN: Ryan, thank you very much for that. I appreciate it.

So a significant study showing the most promising news in decades against Alzheimer's, what scientists say a new drug does to slow progression of this horrible disease. That's next.





BOLDUAN: Potentially big news in the search for treatment for Alzheimer's. Phase III trials of an experimental drug, showing that it appears to slow the progression of the disease by roughly 27 percent.

The data published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" suggesting that the drug is showing positive impacts after about 18 months. But there's adverse effects that need further review.

Joining me is Dr. Richard Isaacson at Florida Atlantic University of Medicine.

Thank you for coming on. The data has been long awaited, about 1,800 participants, half of them received lecanemab -- I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly -- others a placebo.

What does this say to you?

DR. RICHARD ISAACSON, FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE: This is the first chapter in what I hope will be a very long book on disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's.

In the past, we have drugs that doctors can prescribe that help modestly. But we need to stop the disease in its tracks and slow it down. I have several family members with the disease.

What it shows is that 27 percent slowing of decline means that instead of a person losing four years, they may lose three years of cognition. It's not a grand slam, it's not a magic pill but it's something.

BOLDUAN: We would take all the time we can get in terms of slowing it down; 27 percent is huge for your loved one and time lost, quite frankly.

There were adverse effects that they say they needed to report and review more: brain swelling, brain bleeding.

How serious are these complications? ISAACSON: The take-home message is different people with different genes will respond differently to this medication. There's a concept called personalized medicine, where different people get different drugs, different doses.

And this will usher in a new era, where we need to be careful with whom we give the drug to, what dose and the duration with which we give it.

We also -- people have to come back on a regular basis. This isn't a pill; it's an I.V. and they need to get brain imaging. So it's critical that doctors and patients work together in the context of a healthcare team to try to, you know, benefit the patient but also minimize side effects.

BOLDUAN: From what you see here -- and, as you said, it's a chapter.

But what you see so far, are you in a place where you would be comfortable prescribing this?

ISAACSON: Absolutely. And the right person at the right stage, early in the disease before the dementia has taken hold, mild cognitive impairment, these are the people we think it's going to work best in.

We need to be very cautious with the dosing. But whether it was a family member or patient, I would definitely be willing to use this drug. But we still have a lot of learning to do.

As we use this in clinical practice and then we have to figure out, does Medicare cover it?

And that's a different discussion but I would use the drug. I would use it carefully and slowly. And different people with different genes, I would use it more cautiously, possibly a lower dose and a longer duration of time.


BOLDUAN: That's so interesting. Doctor, thank you for coming on. We really appreciate your perspective.

ISAACSON: Appreciate you for bringing it to people's attention. It's an important day.

BOLDUAN: It is. It's an important day. Any incremental news on this is important to bring. What, 6 million adults in America are suffering from this horrible disease. Thank you very much.

I do want to turn to a big (INAUDIBLE) in Washington. A jury convicting members of the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers, of seditious conspiracy. It marks a big win for the Justice Department. Paula Reid has details.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia and one of his subordinates, Kelly Meggs, were convicted of seditious conspiracy Tuesday.

Rhodes, Meggs and three other defendants were all convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and several other charges.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I think the character of January 6th is now finally sinking in to the whole country.

REID (voice-over): The Justice Department alleged that the Oath Keepers conspired to forcibly stop the peaceful transfer of power and plotted to attack the Capitol.

The trial, the first of three seditious conspiracy cases, was a major test of the Department of Justice's ability to hold January 6 rioters liable. The lead prosecutor said Rhodes and his subordinates claimed to be saving the republic but they fractured it instead.

The evidence revealed how Rhodes wrote two public letters, urging then president Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would give the president the power to call up militants to help him remain in power.


STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS: If the fight comes, let the fight come. Let Antifa go -- if they go kinetic on us, then we'll go kinetic back on them. I'm willing to sacrifice myself for that.

Let the fight start there, OK? That would give president Trump what he needs, frankly. If things go kinetic, good, if they blow bombs up and shoot us, great, because that brings the president his reason and rationale for dropping the Insurrection Act.


REID (voice-over): Prosecutors said Rhodes placed a force of Oath Keepers at a Comfort Inn, ready to rush to Washington in if needed. On the day of the insurrection, he remained outside the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We showed through evidence and testimony that Mr. Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy. There was no evidence to indicate that there was a plan.


REID: Those lawyers have signaled they intend to file appeals. All these defendants face up to decades in prison. But this is expected to embolden prosecutors already working on January 6th cases.

And it's a sign to the newly appointed special counsel, Jack Smith, that a jury can find evidence of a conspiracy. It's one thing to bring an indictment but a successful conviction is another thing entirely.

BOLDUAN: Paula, thank you for bringing us that detail. I appreciate it.

Coming up, an exclusive look at the fighting in Ukraine. Matthew Chance is on the front lines.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right well, you can hear the incoming rounds, the incoming rounds from Russian artillery fire are really intensive here, as we have entered the outskirts of Bakhmut.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Much more is next.








BOLDUAN: Now to a CNN exclusive. After months of relentless strikes in Eastern Ukraine, CNN's Matthew Chance takes us to the front lines, where dozens of soldiers are losing their lives.


CHANCE (voice-over): The brutal fight for Bakhmut where Ukrainian troops have battled Russia's onslaught. These exclusive images from the soldiers themselves, their Commanders tell us dozens of lives are now being sacrificed here every day.

The road into town is heavy with thick smoke and danger. Explosions ahead force us to pullover before another slams into a building close by.

CHANCE: All right, well, you can hear the incoming rounds -- the incoming rounds from Russian artillery fire are really intensive here as we have entered the outskirts of Bakhmut, which is, you know, certainly everything we're seeing, everything we've been told.