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McCarthy Juggles Government Shutdown, Biden Impeachment Inquiry As House Reconvenes; First Responder Deaths From Post-9/11 Illnesses Nearly Equals Number Of Firefighters Who Died That Day; U.S. Sees Record Number Of Billion Dollar Weather Disasters. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 11:30   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: John Avalon is already starting with me this morning and I love it. He is here. Senior political analyst and author of many books anchor John Avalon and CNN political commentator, Margaret Hoover, thank you both. Hoovelon alert is here. You are here together.



AVLON: Of course.

SIDNER: And you're the host of "Firing Line." And I feel like I'm going to be in the crossfire on this one but I will stand back and let it happen. All right.

I'm -- and I'm going to talk first about this idea to impeach President Biden. What are we doing? What's going on here? What is the evidence? Why is this happening?

AVLON: It's performative nonsense. It's tit for tat for the two impeachments of Donald Trump, which were utterly merited on objective facts and in the specifics of the case. Look, we're doing something as historic as impeachment. Of course, the standard was high crimes and misdemeanors. You need to be looking at the precedents of history. And there's just nothing that rises to that.

Now, they say this is an inquiry, and they've got their suspicions about you know Biden and Biden family funds and fortunes. But the idea that they're going to raise it to this is about muddying the waters. It's about a partisan distraction.

They don't even have the numbers arguably be, even passive given that Biden won 18 of the seats that Republicans currently hold in the House. But they will do this, regardless of what it does to the country because it'll play well with the base. It won't succeed, but it's a bad precedent people.

HOOVER: Well, it will --

SIDNER: Is it party over country? Is that what we're seeing there?


HOOVER: I mean, the House of Representatives is in hyperpolarized, almost non-functioning institution at this point. And frankly, it may not actually even be politically advantageous for Kevin McCarthy if he wants to keep his speakership because --

AVLON: Got you.

HOOVER: -- as John points out, this is not going to play in all those seats that basically gave him his very, very narrow majority. So, he -- I mean, he's holding on by five right now. How is it going to keep that if he litigates a hyper-partisan prosecution against the president? That just feels like tit for tat to most Americans in the middle that he needs to win back.

SIDNER: It is really interesting. I want to move on to President Biden's swing through Asia, the G-20 Summit. The president made the case that the U.S. is more reliable and that it's a better partner, for those other countries than China is.

AVLON: That's the advantage of being true.

SIDNER: But he also was very clear, he doesn't want to start a Cold War. We know the cabinet's -- that U.S. Cabinet Secretary went to China as well. But you're hearing some pushback from Nikki Haley --


SIDNER: -- who has basically gone after the president saying, oh, well, this whole thing with the G-20 was good for Russia and good for China. How so?

AVLON: It's not. Look. Nikki Haley is carving out a lane for herself. She did brilliantly I thought in the last debate. She's been pulling ahead.

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: CNN polls showing she just best head to head against Trump, in part because she's owning a traditional Republican hawkish approach to national security, which is international which she's got the credit from the UN. But saying that the Biden administration and President Biden have been weak on Beijing and China, doesn't fit the facts. There has been continuity to some extent, and even dialing up ratcheting up pressure with regard to industrial policy.

And this whole swing was about trying to reinforce America's allies in Asia and not letting the region be simply steamrolled by China. So, it may play well with the base but I don't think it fits the facts. Narrow this movement.

HOOVER: You got to --

SIDNER: Margaret's like -- HOOVER: Got to push back.

AVLON: Yes. Please do. Let's go.

HOOVER: I mean, what Nikki Haley I think specifically is criticizing is a recent thought in the Biden Administration's position towards Beijing and Beijing officials. We have sent four -- three Cabinet Secretaries. He has sent three of his Cabinet Secretaries. One who by the way, was hacked by the Chinese government, Gina Raimondo.

SIDNER: Right.

HOOVER: The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Treasury, and John Kerry to boot -- just throw in an extra. We don't even know if Xi Jinping is going to attend the APEC conference in San Francisco later this fall. At a time when Beijing and Xi Jinping is ratcheting up aggression, he is disappearing, his political allies.

AVLON: That's true.

HOOVER: He is increasing and elevating his spy agency internally, and he is funding -- he is doubling down on support for Putin. Why would we be bending over and opening up lines of communication with Beijing in a way that they are not responding to? They are taking that as weakness, not as strength. It bodes a little like detente failing in the Cold War.

AVLON: I love you'd bet --

SIDNER: He's -- your husband is losing his mind to that.

AVLON: No, no, no. (INAUDIBLE)

HOOVER: No, no. I just said this is Nikki Haley's position.


HOOVER: And it is a principled position and also a well-informed position on China.

AVLON: Being tough and still talking is what actually statecraft is about. It's carrots and sticks.

HOOVER: Not working for the Chinese right now. I know you've felt good in the West, but it is not working for the Xi Jinping -- for Xi Jinping, who is an authoritarian dictator.

AVLON: Whoever is president will try to both be tough and keep lines of communication open because that's the responsibility of states for sure.

SIDNER: There is a --there's a diplomatic thing to do here where you do have to -- you do have to talk if you want to get anywhere. All right.

AVLON: Yes. SIDNER: Let me go on to Tommy Tuberville.


SIDNER: One senator has stopped 300 military promotions. Nikki Haley again has spoken on this. She just disagrees with him. She has criticized that.

AVLON: That's right.

SIDNER: But here's what else she says when Jake Tapper sort of pushed her on it.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't need to be using military families as political pawns. That's a mistake. These -- the military members and families, they sacrifice enough. They don't need to be a pawn in Congress.


But look at the political games that continue to play. Chuck Schumer could still get this done if he went through and listed each member and had Congress vote on each member.


SIDNER: OK. That would take a heck of a lot of time. What do you think about the idea that Congress would then have to go one by one? We're talking about 300 people here.

HOOVER: I think Jake made a very good point, which was that we don't want to empower -- do we want to -- is it advantageous to empower the U.S. Senate to vote individually general by general, promotion by promotion in every single member of the military. Talk about not making military families fodder for pull-up -- for politics.

SIDNER: Right.

HOOVER: I mean, that -- it -- one full -- one slate vote for promotions by trusting your generals on what they recommend is a much more efficient and much, I suspect, better way of doing it. But I think what she was trying to point out is that the Pentagon is forcing Congress's hand on a policy that Congress didn't get to weigh in on. This is -- this is the funding for travel for abortion policy.

SIDNER: That's right.

HOOVER: And this is a really potent issue in the Republican primary and in which she is running. And so I'm not so sure that she is -- would promote this position if she weren't a primary candidate in the Republican field.

SIDNER: John, I know you have something quick to say here.

AVLON: I do. Look, this is just another example. Today, of course, is 9/11.

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: And we have seen a high degree of 911 amnesia infecting and inflicting our politics. One of the leading Republican candidates himself has played footsie with you know conspiracy theory that he has now a lot.

SIDNER: Would you say his name? Vivek Ramaswamy has --

AVLON: There you go.


AVLON: And you know, Donald Trump has unleashed this sort of isolationist impulse inside the Republican Party.

HOOVER: Right.

AVLON: Some Republicans like Nikki Haley and Mike Pence have gone from more traditional national security credibility. It's been more than 20 years. The changes in fortunes have been stunning, particularly with regard to Rudy.

But the lessons of that day that we take as a country we cannot forget. We need to learn the lessons of the mistakes of the past 20 years, but also the strength that we discovered in ourselves and not rely on terrorist attacks or natural disasters to rally together as Americans. Let's not forget that core message of 9/11 today.

SIDNER: That is a beautiful way to end because it is 911, and we shall never forget. Thank you both so much.

AVLON: Thank you.

SIDNER: Appreciate it. All right. Over to you, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Coming up for us. 343 New York firefighters perished during the 9/11 attacks. Now, almost the same number of first responders have died of 9/11-related illnesses. Ahead, a new heartbreaking reality. We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: 22 years on. And today, we stop and reflect and honor all of the lives lost on this tragic day, September 11. Right now, you can hear -- we continue to watch the names of victims in the attacks continuing to be read by families and loved ones. Moments ago -- I want to play for you a touching moment, two boys honoring their uncles


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my Uncle Noelle Maerz. Uncle Noelle, I'm so proud to be named after you. I love hearing stories about you. And I try to follow your example-ish, showing kindness to everyone I meet and feel living life to the fullest. Our family misses you and we ask you to please continue watching over us. You'll never be forgotten, Uncle Noelle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my uncle, Richard Michael Caggiano, even though we never met, I always wonder how good of an uncle you would have been. I will always love you and you always hold a special place in my heart.


BOLDUAN: So sweet boys. The impact of 9/11 changed so many lives. And consider this. 343 New York Firefighters were killed on 9/11. And now this year, almost the same number of first responders have died of post-9/11 illnesses.

CNN's Jason Carroll. He has more on this news. Joining us now. Hey there, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Kate. You know, for so many of their first responders who were down at Ground Zero. They've been watching, they've been waiting. Watching to see what has happened to some of their friends.

And in some cases too, other of their family members seeing them being struck with these post-9/11 illnesses, waiting these people to see if their names would be added to those numbers of people. That is a number, Kate, that just continues to grow.


JIM BROSI, FATHER DIED DURING LUNG CANCER: I think we just miss him. He was just always present in everything we did.

CARROLL (voiceover): Jim Brosi says Not a day has gone by where he has not thought about his father.

BROSI: If you were speaking to him, you were the only person in the world he was talking to. And he was as good as they come.

CARROLL (voiceover): His father, Lieutenant Joe Brosi, a veteran of the New York City Fire Department for more than three decades, died this past February three after a long battle with stage four lung cancer. Doctors gave him months to live after his diagnosis in 2015. He gave this moving interview to the FDNY in 2019.

JOSEPH BROSI, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER DIED DUE TO LUNG CANCER: Nothing's impossible. It just hasn't been done yet. You have to believe that you're going to there. If you believe that, it will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Joseph Brosi, Engine 88, February 3, 2023.


CARROLL (voiceover): Brosi's name, one of 43 added to the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall last week, which commemorates firefighters, paramedics, and civilian support staff who died from post-9/11 illnesses. It's the second largest group added to the memorial since it was created in 2011 when 55 names were added. The number of lives lost from post-9/11 illnesses on the wall now stands at 341, almost equally to the 343 FDNY firefighters killed that day.

BROSI: That number has grown each year. And my fear is it will continue to grow.

CARROLL (voiceover): Brosi says his father was at Ground Zero on 9/11 and remained working there day in and day out. So, too was New York City firefighter Daniel Foley.

Foley pledged to stay at the site until his older brother Thomas. Also, a City firefighter was found. fully ended up finding his brother's body 11 days later. He continued to help with the recovery efforts for months. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2020. He was 46.

CARRIE FOLEY, WIFE OF 9/11 FIREFIGHTER DANIEL FOLEY: He was diagnosed with 9/11 cancer. And we talk about the fact that 9/11 not only killed Uncle Tommy, but 20 years later killed Daddy.

CARROLL (voiceover): The message from firefighters and their families. Years after one of the darkest days in U.S. history, first responders are still suffering and dying as a result of their service.

BROSI: The other thing is it's the people who aren't dying but are sick. And they're not living but they're alive. And no one measures that loss.

CARROLL (voiceover): A final note, both Brosi and his brother Joe, our New York City firefighters who were also there on 9/11 working alongside their father.

CARROLL: Are you concerned about your health and in terms of the future?

BROSI: I will say I monitor my health very closely. I will not live my life and worry.


CARROLL (on camera): Kate, these first responders 22 years later, just want people to remember what they did and to remember that they are continuing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. It's so important to hear about their sacrifice and to hear their stories and to hear from their -- from them and their families. Jason, thank you very much for shining a light on that one today. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: That was very important to see. Michigan State has suspended Head Football Coach Mel Tucker without pay following accusations of sexual harassment. The investigation began in December but the news became public this weekend following a report by USA Today. CNN is working to independently verify the details of that report.

An American who fell ill in a cave in Turkey last week is expected to be rescued by tonight or tomorrow. New pictures of American scientist Mark Dickey being slowly pulled on a stretcher. According to the Turkish KB Federation, an accomplished group of spelunkers, rescue teams were able to move him closer to the surface of what is considered one of the world's deepest caves this morning. He became seriously ill about nine days ago at a depth of approximately 3400 feet.

Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano is currently erupting. This is the third time it has happened this year. Lava flowing from the crater. Officials say the lava is currently confined to the summit and does not pose a threat to residents. Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the island. Sara.

SIDNER: All right, coming up. A new report out this morning shows the United States has suffered more climate and weather disasters this year than any other year on record. Our bill Weir joins us to talk all about it. Ahead.



SIDNER: A new report this morning shows the United States has set a new record of 23 separate weather and climate disasters with losses costing over a billion dollars. And we're still -- we have still what, four more months? Really?

BOLDUAN: Do we have four more?

SIDNER: Yes, four more months left. I forget what I'm going to tell.

BERMAN: I don't know if there's going to be math.

SIDNER: Joining us now is CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir.


SIDNER: There's always math. (INAUDIBLE)

WEIR: -- and grim charts when I show up.


BOLDUAN: That is just true.

SIDNER: It's true.

WEIR: Yes.

SIDNER: But tell us what the heck is going on. This is -- this is bad.

WEIR: Well, the charts I have been showing you about temperatures off the --


WEIR: -- off the charts, well, this is the correlating effect of that. Take a look at this. The last time we spent this many billion-dollar storms a couple of years ago. Now, like you said four months ago with that the line at the very top, about $67 billion. And this doesn't count Hurricane Idalia or the droughts Out West or Hurricane Hillary so it's going to go up even more than this.

And it's a treasure and blood. The American Red Cross announced today that there's a chronic blood shortage now. It's down 25 percent because people can't donate blood the way they would if they weren't dealing with hurricanes and fires.

But if you look at the map, it is a full menu as they say, of that sort of nature walk through the Book of Revelations as Al Gore likes to say. You've got every form of unnatural disaster across the country, the Maui fires there in the Pacific as well. And FEMA has asked for a lot more money this year to deal with these damages as well. But another record and they're always the worst kind of records these days.


SIDNER: You know, looking at all that, it is -- it is like we cannot -- this is going to be the best year, correct? Because you talked about the heat. This may be the best year than the ones coming.

WEIR: The coolest summers we ever have. Yes, exactly. And so, the mind shift has to come in, and here's evidence for those who say if we don't do anything, it's going to cost so much more. Meanwhile, the clean economy is taken off. 80 -- over 80 percent of new energy projects in the United States have solar batteries, wind, nuclear. The future is there if it's -- if we can grab it.

SIDNER: He always ends on a good note though.

WEIR: Happy.

SIDNER: He brings in doom and he ends with happy news. (INAUDIBLE)

BOLDUAN: Well, it is true. This is -- this is definitely not a one- off. what we're seeing here and that's -- that people need to start getting really used to it.

WEIR: You got it.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Bill.

WEIR: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

WEIR: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for joining us. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.