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North Korea Says It Tested Long-Range Cruise Missiles; IAEA and Iran Reach Deal on Nuclear Monitoring; Manchin Pushing to Trim $3.5 Trillion Domestic Spending Plan; FBI Release Newly Declassified 9/11 Documents; Biden to Appear at Rally with Gov. Gavin Newsom; Tropical Storm Nicholas Growing Aims for U.S. Gulf Coast; Praise and Criticism Following Biden's Vaccine Mandates. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.

North Korea said it fired a new long range cruise missile. We are live in Seoul with details on now the U.S. and South Korea are reacting.

Extreme weather heading toward Texas as another tropical storm forms in the Gulf. Plus, this.


VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is what we've got to do to get to the next phase of the pandemic response so we can get through this and get back to normal.


CHURCH: Health experts are defending President Biden's pandemic response saying it was the right call to fight the surge in coronavirus.

Good to have you with us. Well, the U.S. and South Korea say they're looking into claims by North Korea that it has test fired a new strategic weapon. According to state media, North Korea successfully tested long range cruise missiles over the weekend which hit targets 1,500 kilometers away. The move is likely to heighten tensions in the region with Japan already expressing its concern. And CNN's Paula Hancocks is following this for us from Seoul. She joins us now live. Good to see you, Paula. So, just how significant is this test firing of new long range cruise missiles over the weekend and how big threat might this pose?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, any testing that North Korea does, does bring its own concerns to those in the region and of course in Washington, as well. The fact that this appears to be, according to state-run media in North Korea, a new strategic weapon will be of a concern. The fact they are test firing something new. Now we had a couple of parades over recent months. There was one in

back in January, another back in October of last year, and there are a number of new weapons systems that were unveiled. And experts have been saying since that point that, at some point, North Korea will need to test the systems. So, that appears to be what we're seeing now. Although It's unclear whether the exact cruise missile that was test fired over the weekend was unveiled specifically at one of those parades.

But one thing that is interesting is the fact that the North Korea leader Kim Jong-un was not present, apparently, at the firing itself. At least according to state-run media. He was not mentioned at all. That would suggest that it is considered maybe more routine in North Korea that the leader doesn't need to be at the particular test firing.

It was also on page two of "Rodong Sinmun," the newspaper in North Korea, as opposed to being splashed on the front page. So again, just showing that this isn't as significant, maybe, as another kind of missile launch.

The technically it wasn't breaking any rules when it comes to the U.N. security council resolutions. It's the ballistic missile technology that is banned by those resolutions, not specifically these cruise missiles. So, the U.S. and South Korea say that they are looking into this very closely. We have a statement from the U.S. military in the Indo Pacific command saying that it does highlight North Korea's continuing focus on developing its military program and also pointing out it does show it is a threat to its neighbors and also to the international community.

Japan said its concerned by what North Korea has announced, but those three countries haven't specifically confirmed they had monitored or noticed that these cruise missiles were test fired, as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Paula Hancocks joining us live from Seoul, many thanks.

Well, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is welcoming a last-minute deal with Iran that will allow inspectors to maintain nuclear monitoring equipment inside the country. That development came as IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi met with the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization for talks in Tehran. Iran had previously threatened to present inspectors from reviewing video footage of nuclear sites until there was an agreement to savage the 2015 nuclear deal. Grossi is hailing Sunday's agreement as a very concrete result for both sides.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: The important, indispensable work that Iran and the IAEA have to carry out together requires reinforcement and, most of all, requires that we get to know each other.



CHURCH: The Israeli military carried out air strikes against four Hamas targets. The Israel Defense Forces said it struck Hamas compounds used for military training, a weapons workshop and an entrance to an underground tunnel. The IDF said the action was in response to rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel. Tensions have been high this past week after six Palestinian militants escaped from an Israeli jail. Four have since been captured.

On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders know they won't receive Republican support for President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion domestic spending plan. That's why they're trying to pass the package through reconciliation, which requires no Republican votes in the Senate. But they face other obstacles, as well. Fellow Democrat Senator Joe Manchin says he won't support the hefty price tag and several other moderate Democrats have expressed concerns, as well. The sweeping bill includes large-scale investments and paid family leave, education, child care, health care, and clean energy. CNN's Arlette Saenz has more now from Washington.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House needs all Democrats to stay on board in order to pass the president's $3.5 trillion economic package. But new comments from Senator Joe Manchin could prove troublesome for that endeavor. The West Virginia Senator, a moderate Democrat said that he wants more time for this legislation to be written, and he has an issue with that $3.5 trillion price tag. Take a listen.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): And that's fine. He will not have my vote on $3.5 and Chuck knows that and we talked about this. We've already put out $5.4 trillion and we tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can. And while the help that we put out there is still there and it's going to run clear into next year, 2022. What's the urgency? What's the urgency that we have? It's not the same urgency we have with the American Rescue Plan.

SAENZ: Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have said they are moving forward with this bill. Pelosi is hoping the final legislative text will be written by Wednesday of this week, with a vote being held next week in the House. And President Biden has said he ultimately believes Joe Manchin will be on board with this plan.

The president will be traveling out of the country to Denver, Colorado on Tuesday to sell elements of this proposal with the White House really stepping up their messaging campaign over the course of the past week. Saying that the time is now for this bill to be passed. But the White House is also keenly aware that so much of the president's domestic agenda depends on how these next few weeks play out on Capitol Hill and they can't afford any defections from the Democrats.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: House Democrats want to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations to pay for this spending plan. The proposal and all the fine prints surrounding the tax hike is expected to be officially released later today.

And earlier I spoke with Sabrina Siddiqui, the White House reporter for the "Wall Street Journal" about Senator Joe Manchin's opposition to the spending bill.


SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For President Biden, it really is a key piece of his agenda that's at stake here. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, he's is a more centrist Democrat. He's one of the key supporters of this bipartisan infrastructure deal that Biden and Democrats hope to pass, but you know, with the president and Democrats want to do is move ahead this larger $3.5 trillion economic package that includes over priorities like health care, child care, and, you know, elder care. So that's something that Manchin is saying simply costs too much. And, you know, Democrats have said they won't pass one Bill without the other. So, the big question here is can Biden keep Democrats in line? Because they really have only a slim majority in both the House and Senate. And they can't really afford to lose many votes.


CHURCH: And as we mentioned, Manchin isn't the only Democrat expressing reservations about the spending bill. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema opposes the price tag and Virginia Senator Mark Warner says there isn't enough funding for housing assistance.

Well, the U.S. Capitol Police are recommending disciplinary action be taken against officers in six cases related to the January 6th riot. The violations include conduct unbecoming of an officer, failure to comply, improper remarks and improper dissemination of information. A seventh investigation is still pending while no wrong doing was found in 20 other cases.


Authorities said they did not find sufficient evidence that any of the officers committed a crime. Members of Congress are expected to get a security briefing with law enforcement today about an upcoming rally at the U.S. Capitol. Authorities are bracing for potential clashes and unrest on Saturday as far right groups are said to protest in support of those charged in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Claiming they're political prisoners.

A newly declassified document is shedding more light on the FBI's investigation into support given to the 9/11 attackers and their ties to Saudi nationals living in the U.S. at the time. CNN's Alex Marquardt has a closer look at what the report reveals and what it doesn't. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The FBI released the first of what will be a series of declassified documents from the FBI's investigation into how 9/11 happened. The declassified memo that was released late on the 20th anniversary of the attacks on Saturday, provides a more detailed look at the behavior of Saudi Arabia nationals connected to two of the 9/11 hijackers. But it does not provide any stronger evidence of the awareness or the direction of the 9/11 plot at the highest levels of the Saudi government or royal family.

The 16-page document is heavily redacted and much is a summary of an interview with an unnamed Saudi national who was interviewed in 2015 by the FBI when applying for U.S. citizenship. That person, the report says, had worked at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles and was in regular contact with other Saudi citizens who provided or who are suspected of providing significant logistical support to the first two hijackers to arrive to the U.S. in Los Angeles.

One of those who provided the support was Omar al-Bayoumi, a supposed student suspected of being a Saudi intelligence official. Bayoumi offered, quote, travel assistance, lodging, and financing to the two hijackers. In response to this new report, the 9/11 Families United Group says it, quote, puts to bed any doubt about Saudi complicity in the attacks. The victim's families have long pushed for greater transparency about what the U.S. knows about any possible role that the Saudi government had in 9/11. And President Joe Biden recently ordered the Department of Justice to release declassified documents over the next six months, and this was the first one. The Saudi government has said it welcomes the documents' release saying they would show that there was no Saudi government involvement.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Dozens of Haitian migrants were rescued from a crowded boat Sunday near Florida's Biscayne Bay. Officials say the vessel was packed with approximately 80 people. According to authorities a good Samaritan spotted the boat Sunday afternoon and reported it to the Coast Guard.

Well, we are tracking another strong tropical storm heading for the U.S. Gulf Coast. The latest forecast from the CNN Weather Center after this short break.

And California's governor is set to get a campaign boost ahead of Tuesday's recall election. Gavin Newsom has a simple message to voters.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Just vote no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fill out question two? NEWSOM: No interest. Just vote no. Just a simple no and go and

encourage everybody who hasn't voted to turn in those ballots. I remind everybody election day is today, election day is this weekend, election day ends at 8:00 on Tuesday.




CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.

Well, President Biden heads to Idaho and California in the coming hours to assess wild fire damage and to support Governor Gavin Newsom at his final campaign rally. Newsom faces a recall election on Tuesday. A conservative group launched a petition drive to remove Newsom from office as he deals with the climate crisis and the pandemic. The recall's outcome could have implications for the White House agenda. Natasha Chen has our report.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than 7 million California voters have already turned in their mail in ballots. Others have taken advantage of early in-person voting at vote centers like this one over the weekend. People here in Beverly Hills, a left- leaning area, told us that they approve of Newsom's leadership throughout the pandemic and they worry someone like Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate to replace Newsom, may roll back vaccine requirements and mask mandates that they feel would be harmful to public health.

But one major reason for the recall, is some Californians did not like Newsom's pandemic restrictions. I asked one voter here whether she can feel the frustration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I'm aware of. There are individuals who decided they're not going to be vaccinated or they're not going to follow protocol because that's their group that think that way. So, it's very clear how people -- some people say I don't trust the government. I'm not getting vaccinated. So, I think it's -- I don't see frustration as much as people are dug into their ways.

CHEN: She also told me that she feels this recall election is a waste of money because there is a scheduled gubernatorial election next year anyway. This ballot has just two questions. The first question asks voters whether they want to recall Governor Newsom. If the majority of people say no, then he stays in office. If the majority says yes, then the second question kicks in. That question asks the voters, who should replace Newsom if he is recalled and lists 46 candidates to choose from. The person with the most votes on question two becomes governor. But that wouldn't happen immediately. The California Secretary of State has up to one month to finalize the tally and certify the election. Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that report.

Well, we are tracking tropical storm Nicholas as it makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of Texas as the storm is expected to strengthen before making landfall. So, let's turn to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who has the latest forecast. What are you seeing, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary, it does continues to strengthen right now and that's the concern with this storm system. And we're watching it carefully because we think it'll run out of time here before too much longer to get to hurricane strength and beyond that.


But you'll notice here much of the convection, much of the thunderstorms activity on the eastern periphery of tropical storm Nicholas at this hour and sits about 14 miles per hour shy of what would be designated as a hurricane. But again, we don't expect it to have enough time to get there and you'll notice water temperatures into the middle 80s are going to be conducive to further try to intensify this system as it meanders up the coast.

And flood watches have already been prompted. Much of western Louisiana, really the entirety of the coast of Texas dealing with flood watches because the models have consistently brought down at least 7, maybe 10 inches of rainfall across a wide-reaching area. And notice any time you have a system that kind of parallels the coast and makes landfall, potentially still have a part of it exposed over open waters. We do tap into additional tropical moisture.

So, we think parts of Houston really going to be seeing significant rainfall beginning as early as tonight when the system makes landfall and continuing it's really much of the middle portion of the week, as the system hugs the coast and eventually ends up potentially around areas of Louisiana. Notice this orange contours, red contours. Those are 4 to 8 inches of rainfall in an area that, of course, is still an active recovery mode from what happened with hurricane Ida in recent weeks. So, it's the last thing you want to see.

Houston that looks to be one of the wetter spots where three consecutive days of moderate to heavy rainfall potentially in place. Temperatures gradually climb up as we reduce the possibility of the persistent rainfall and go back into more of a summer time regime where thunderstorms are going to be scattered about. At that point, temps closing in on 90 degrees which is right where they belong this time of year.

And the other element with the tropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico, of course, we saw it with Ida as it moved over a lot of the infrastructure here for oil and the pipelines that are in place across the northern half of the Gulf. But even on the western half there of the Gulf right along the coast of Texas, quite a bit of infrastructure in place. So, we do expect Nicholas here to cause at least some disruptions associated with this as it hugs the coastline and kind of laying out the tracks of how Ida played out along the oil platforms versus where Nicholas is forecast to move in.

Notice again, plenty of activity there along the coast of Texas. So, the system will see impacts there, as well, when it makes landfall later on this afternoon and this evening.

How about the tropics? Pretty active still. 60 percent possibility over the next five days that another system would form. Right now, we are 14 storms into the season here. And that would be storm number 15 coming in place. There is also a 50 percent chance just off the coast of the Bahamas right now. But, Rosemary, you see how active it has been through Nicholas. Now Odette would be the next storm in the here in our name of tropical systems.

CHURCH: Unbelievable, isn't it? Pedram, staying on top of all of that for us. We appreciate it, Pedram Javaheri.

President Biden is receiving blistering criticism from conservatives of his recent vaccine mandates. But health experts are praising the requirements saying they are desperately needed. Top infectious disease Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN it may take many, many more vaccine mandates to end the pandemic. Adding that requirements from schools and businesses would make a difference.

Kentucky is now among the states that have fully vaccinated at least half their residents. That is significant because Kentucky has been suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the country with hospitals overwhelmed. While the U.S. vaccination rate has been ticking up, many health experts say it hasn't been fast enough. They're expecting the vaccine mandates to help push those numbers higher.


MURTHY: Number one the data tells us that these requirements work to increase vaccinations. Number two, a lot of businesses are actually relieved that these are going into place. And we've heard a lot of feedback from the business round table and others it will help create safer workplaces.

The measures that you see taken and that the president announced when it comes to the vaccine requirements, that will help reach 100 million workers in the federal government and in the private sector. These are some of the most aggressive actions that we've seen taken to date and they will help.


CHURCH: And despite Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promising a legal fight over Mr. Biden's mandates, some local officials think it's the right move in a state where the idea of mask requirements in school has provoked a fiery debate.


ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: This should not be a political issue. This is a health concern issue. We've never debated the value of vaccination for the measles, mumps, polio, or hepatitis. What's different now? The conditions, the health conditions are not what are causing the issue, politics are.


And sadly, here we are debating this from a political perspective rather than a health benefit perspective.

I tell you, as a superintendent, as a father, as a teacher, I'm concerned for our kids. They are being used as political pawns in this political chess game. And that is reprehensible.


CHURCH: Meantime, students return to the classroom today in New York City. The nation's largest school district. It will be their first in- person learning experience in 18 months. And this comes as the Delta variant is driving COVID surges among young people. But health officials say COVID vaccination approval for children ages 5 to 11 could happen in the coming weeks.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Pfizer has said they'll have data before the end of September. They could be ready to file within days of having that data. So, they'll file very quickly with the FDA. FDA said it's going to be a matter of weeks not months in terms of their evaluation of that clinical data to make a determination whether they're going to authorize vaccines for kids age 5 to 11. I interpret that to mean perhaps four weeks, maybe six weeks. But I think in a best-case scenario given that timeline I've just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children age 5 to 11 by Halloween, if everything goes well.


CHURCH: Earlier I spoke with CNN medical analyst, Dr. Esther Choo, about the current U.S. push for mandatory vaccines and mask use. And I asked her what she thought of the effectiveness of these mandates. And here's part of our conversation.


DR. ESTER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: There are plenty of people on the ground who want their children masked. Who really want to do the best they can until we can offer the additional protections to children. But it's very hard to push up stream. You know, I have family in Texas where people would like to have their children masked but when the message is it's optional, you know, a lot of schools are not going to the trouble of reinforcing it. And nobody's kid wants to going to a setting where there the only one wearing a mask. And so, it just, you know, doesn't create any momentum for things people are perfectly willing to do.

We're in the middle of a crisis where COVID is one of the main safety issues for workers and for students and for teachers and for, you know, for health care personnel. And so, to me, there is a logic to it. Compelling logic. I think there are a lot of businesses of that size, 100 or greater, that have been struggling with this. Should I or should I not impose a mandate? Because many of my employees want to feel as safe as possible for themselves, for their family members. And so, I think this erases that, you know, that ambiguity for them and makes it a lot clearer about how to move forward.


CHURCH: And while some fear vaccine mandates may be too extreme. The U.S. Surgeon General said it's a good idea if it remains fair. Delta Airlines has committed full force to the idea, announcing a $200 monthly insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees. And in the two weeks since that announcement, Delta said the vaccination rate among its workers has gone up. One expert also says the move makes sense given how the pandemic has affected the airline industry.


DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The airlines are very familiar with the concept. You know, if anyone has flown, they always say your first commitment is to your safety. So, safety for them, for the passengers and to the employees was number one priority. And throughout the pandemic, they have done everything. You know, they have implemented testing very rapidly. They have done all sorts of things, including making vaccines available to their employees. At the end of the day, what we need to get people -- we need to get people vaccinated. And whether you do it through a mandate or you do that through making it harder for people who are unvaccinated. At the end of the day, for an airlines, you know, whether you have -- think about being inside a plane, think about being, you know, a pilot or flight attendant, think about being a customer-facing representative. I think if we can get everybody vaccinated, I would feel so much more comfortable to know that I'm getting on a flight where everybody is vaccinated.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to make additional announcements about global measures the government is taking against COVID-19 and the Delta variant. The Surgeon General says Mr. Biden will speak ahead of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday. Last week the president announced a six-pillar plan to bring the country out of the pandemic, including increasing vaccinations and COVID testing. There's no words so far on what he might say on Thursday.

Well, for women in Afghanistan, an encouraging announcement from the Taliban. What they say female students can expect going forward.

And later it appears the consequences of Brexit are now being felt across the U.K. A look how the supply chain is being strained in a live report from London. We're back in just a moment.