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CNN Projects Newsom Landslide, Will Remain Governor; Republican Larry Elder Acknowledges Defeat; Pediatrics Group: Cases of Covid-19 Rising Exponentially in Children; New Book Reveals Chaos During Trump's Last Days; South Korean Military: North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired September 15, 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 --

California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom projected to survive the recall vote. He gets to keep his job, which was in jeopardy over his handling of immigration and the COVID-19 crisis.

Then, stunning new revelations about the top U.S. general's secret action to limit then President Trump's ability to launch nuclear weapons. The new Bob Woodward book detailing high level fears that Trump was going rogue after the January 6th insurrection.

And after conflicting reports behind the U.S. drone strike that killed ten people including children in Kabul, CNN launches an investigation and raises some very serious questions about what really happened.

Good to have you with us. It is a land slide win for California Governor Gavin Newsom. CNN projects the once embattled Democrat has beaten back a yearlong effort to remove him from office. The votes are running about 2:1 in Newsom's favor. Republicans led by talk radio host Larry Elder were fed up with COVID lockdowns and mask mandates, but Newsom thanked California voters were saying yes to science, vaccines and ending the pandemic.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I'm humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote and express themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division.


CHURCH: And CNN's Dan Merica is live at Gavin Newsom headquarters in Sacramento. Dan, what is the plan ahead given this of course strengthens the hand of Governor Newsom, particularly on the issue of COVID-19 measures.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, I think for Governor Newsom the next step is getting right back to work. He told reporters today that that is his plan, to get right back to work, to start working signing bills, things that have really been on the back burner for the last few weeks as he has campaigned against this recall.

You are also going to see him having to start run for re-election again. This recall was called in an off month, off year time. He is now up for re-election in 2022. So, he's going to have to turn around and run once again to keep his job for a second term.

Now the implications nationally are a little more complicated. This is a huge win for Democrats who have pushed COVID-19, strict COVID-19 measures on states across the country. This will be pointed to from Joe Biden to governors of Democratic states, even to some House and Senate members who have pushed their states to do more on COVID. This will be pointed to as a real, you know, proof point if you will, is that good politics can come from fighting the COVID-19. And trying to end this pandemic.

That is what governor Newsom ran on and his opponent Larry Elder really ran against what governor Newsom had done on COVID. The other aspect here is Donald Trump is still a factor in American politics. You know, he's not on the ballot here in California, but Governor Newsom made this race a lot about Donald Trump. He compared Larry Elder to Donald Trump. He talked about the nationalization of this race, what it would mean to have a Republican leading a state like California.

And that really proves a point to Democrats that you can talk about Donald Trump, you can talk about Trumpism in the United States, and have it be an effective message both for Democrats and independents. This was not a close race. There were some polls that showed that it would be close over the summer, that began to widen as people began to focus on this race. And what we saw, Rosemary, tonight is that Governor Newsom won a resounding victory here in California.

CHURCH: Yes, he did. Dan Merica joining us live from Sacramento, many thanks.

Well, Republican Larry Elder made claims of election fraud in the waning days of the race. Well before the votes were even counted. But he ultimately admitted defeat Tuesday night in front of his supporters. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is at the Elder campaign headquarters in Costa Mesa.



LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it's been an interesting evening. The campaign has billed this event as a, quote, victory party, all night the band had been playing, the alcohol was flowing. The mood was celebratory up until the networks, the news networks began calling the election for current Governor Gavin Newsom. That is when the two TV screens behind me that were playing the election returns turned off, and then started showing the Elder signs. And that's when the mood shifted. The big question of course was whether Larry Elder was going to

concede the election or continue to make baseless claims of possible election fraud. He has mentioned quote/unquote election shenanigans in the leadup to the election. But he did come out speaking to his supporters acknowledging the loss. Take a listen.



ELDER: Come on, let's be gracious -- let's be gracious in defeat. And by the way, we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.

KAFANOV: Larry Elder then went on to recycle his campaign stump speech talking about the issues that were important to conservative Republicans in California, issues like homelessness, crime, school choice, the high cost of living, the drought that has been plaguing the state. His platform wasn't necessarily different from the other top Republicans running, there were of course nearly 46 people on the ballot. But he was able to rise to the top of the pack due to his name recognition. He has had a national platform for years on the radio and through his essays and blog posts. He did close his speech tonight by hinting at another potential run against Governor Gavin Newsom saying in terms of what he will do going forward, stay tuned -- Rosemary.


CHURCH: All right, thank you so much for that report.

And joining me now from California, "Sacramento Bee" reporter Andrew Sheeler. Good to have you with us.


So, this was a tough fight for Gavin Newsom and his emotions were evident in his victory speech. Let's just listen to a portion of it.


NEWSOM: May have defeated Trump, but Trumpism is not dead in this country. The big lie, the January 6 insurrection, all the voting suppression efforts that are happening across this country. What's happenings with the assault on fundamental rights, constitutionally protected rights of women and girls. It's a remarkable moment in our nation's history.


CHURCH: So Trumpism may not be dead in this country, but did the outcome of this recall election help shine a light on Trump's big election lie and Larry Elder's effort to push that same lie and ultimately send a clear message to both of them and to Republican governors trying to undermine the rights of voters and women and also pushing back on tough COVID measures? SHEELER: I think the outcome of the election shows that, one, the

turnout was really impressive. And it shows that Newsom's message resonated with voters. That he was able to reach out and energize his base using Donald Trump and using the specter of Donald Trump and what that meant with the election of Larry Elder. Yes.

CHURCH: And Newsom also talked about how fragile democracy is in this country. Referring to it as a more like an antique vase than a football. And that is what we've all been witnessing. Isn't it? So, does the state of California need to reassess whether less than 2 million disgruntled voters get to mount a recall vote in the state especially when the governor previously won by a landslide?

SHEELER: You know, that's a really good question and that's something that California lawmakers are planning on tackling. There are two lawmakers that plan on holding a press conference on Wednesday morning to discuss just that. So that's got the attention of the legislature and it's definitely something that people are talking about. I think that going forward you're going to see some energy behind this idea to reform the recall.

CHURCH: And so, do you sense that there is an almighty sigh of relief across the state of California?

SHEELER: You know, it was a contentious election at times and people were passionate on both sides.


I think that Newsom generated a lot of voter anger with some of the missteps that he made. Obviously, his dinner at the French Laundry didn't do him any favors. But I do think that with this done, people can kind of take a breath, but not too much of a breath because we still have a midterm election coming up next year.

CHURCH: And you think this has humbled Newsom somewhat?

SHEELER: I can't say. I think that it's definitely gotten his attention and I think that he will likely take this into account going forward with how he governs, yes.

CHURCH: Andrew Sheeler join us live from California, many thanks.

SHEELER: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: Appreciate it.

Well, arguments over vaccine and mask mandates are far from settled in the United States. The latest on how the coronavirus is impacting the U.S., just ahead.

Plus, disturbing details from a new book on Donald Trump's last days at the White House. And how his advisers worried he might provoke a conflict abroad to distract from his crushing election defeat, that's next.



CHURCH: For the first time in more than two months, the World Health Organization is reporting a substantial decline in new weekly COVID cases. Nearly 4 million new infections were reported worldwide in the past week. But the W.H.O. says all regions reported declines in new cases compared to the previous week.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the coronavirus has now claimed the lives of one in 500 Americans, that's according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Census Bureau. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest on COVID-19 across America.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Delta variant continues ripping through the unvaccinated, children, many too young to get the shot are now contracting the virus at a worrying rate.

DR. RICHINA BISSETT, ASSOCIATE MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We knew that children congregating and school districts without having mask mandates, children who are not able to get vaccinated, was a prime vector to spread disease.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Childhood cases up about 240 percent since July, representing 29 percent of all cases nationwide says new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Rising case numbers only adding to the fight on how to keep kids safe in school. In Iowa, a federal judge rules bans on mask mandates in schools cannot be enforced. Des Moines schools not wasting team, students must wear masks starting tomorrow.

Outside of Charlotte, North Carolina the Union County Public School District going in a different direction, stopping contact tracing for students and pretty much ending quarantine rules for kids who may have been exposed. Some parents are not happy.

ANGIE MCCRAY, UNION COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENT AND MOTHER: I have a first grader that goes to elementary school here in the county and its very concerning for me, I'm currently pregnant and I'm concerned for my family's safety.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And Florida's Governor DeSantis in an effort to counter Biden's vaccine mandate says if a city or county agency makes getting vaccinated a condition of employment, it will be fined $5,000 per violation.

The mayor of Orange County, Florida in a statement said, I'm not going to take actions that would adversely impact the safety of our community. I question whether or not the governor really sees it that way.

The unvaccinated filling up moment and ICUs. Unfortunately, nothing more can be done to save some people. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will worship together. We will have

congregational singing. And we can do that without the government interfering.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A popular Denver pastor and conservative radio show host Bob Enyart passed away from COVID, he was a vaccine skeptic. A husband and wife in California dying just weeks apart leaving behind five children including a newborn baby.

MARQUEZ: So, while it's proved difficult to get people fully vaccinated here in the U.S., the Biden administration isn't waiting for that. The president set to announce at the U.N. the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the world, increasing production of vaccines on a medium- and long-term basis here in the U.S., and then getting 70 percent of the world vaccinated by this time next year. Back to you.


CHURCH: A new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran "Washington Post" reporter Robert Costa is painting a chilling picture of former U.S. President Trump's last days in office. "Peril" based on more than 200 interviews with witnesses is Woodward's third book on the Trump presidency. It recounts behind the scenes moments of an angry and unhinged commander in chief, yelling at senior advisers as he desperately tries to cling to power. CNN's Jamie Gangel has the details.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Woodward and Costa reporting that General Mark Milley Chairman of the Joint Chiefs took secret action to limit President Donald Trump's ability to order a dangerous military strike or to use nuclear weapons.

Just to set the stage, it's January 8, two days after the assault on the Capitol, and Woodward and Costa reveal that Miley is deeply shaken by the attack and that he believes that President Trump has become increasingly unstable and unpredictable since his election loss according to the book.

They also write that Miley believed Trump was in serious mental decline. Woodward and Costa then reveal that Milley has intelligence that China is on edge, that the Chinese are worried Trump may try to order a military strike, "a wag the dog" to try to stay in power. And Milley has back-channel phone calls with his counterpart, the top general in China, to reassure him.


Taking all of this into account, Milley says to his staff, quote, you never know what a president's trigger point is. And that same day on January 8, he decided he had to act and he called a secret meeting at the Pentagon. He called in the generals and colonels who man the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon War Room, and even though his chairman of the joint chiefs he is technically not in the chain of command, he is the top military adviser to the president. And he instructed those generals and colonels that they were not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved according to the book.

Milley said to the room, quote, if you get calls no matter who they're from, there is a process here, there is a procedure. No matter what you're told, you do the procedure, you do the process and I'm a part of that procedure.

Woodward and Costa write that Milley was very concerned and was taking precautions that there were no dangerous or illegal orders. The book then goes on to say that it is true that Milley may be criticized for what some may think was overstepping his authority, but Woodward and Costa write that his actions he believed were a good faith precaution.

One of the other things that's revealed in the book is there are new details about January 6 and what President Trump is doing during the insurrection. And there is a remarkable scene in the book where retired General Keith Kellogg, who is Vice President Pence's national security adviser at the time, is in the Oval Office watching as President Trump is watching television, watching the insurrection in action.

And according to the book, retired General Kellogg says to the president, quote, Mr. President, you really should do a tweet, this is out of control. They're not going to be able to control this. Sir, they're not prepared for it, once a mob starts turning like that, you've lost it.

And the president simply replied, yeah. And according to Woodward and Costa Trump blinked and kept on watching television.

The book is certainly something that the January 6th Select Committee is going to be taking a very close look at. Jamie Gangel, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: CNN projects California Governor Gavin Newsom has defeated an attempt to remove him from office. More of our special coverage of the California recall election, next.



CHURCH: There is word from South Korea's joint chiefs of staff that North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles into the waters off its east coast. And this comes days after Pyongyang tested long cruise missiles. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul. She joins us now live. Good to see you, Paula. So, what more are you learning about this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, interestingly today we're actually seeing missile launches from both sides of the border. We'll start with North Korea, South Koreans saying that they did fire what they believe to be two short range ballistic missiles around about lunchtime local time falling into the waters off the east coast.

Now, these unlike the ones that North Korea said they fired on the weekend, the long-range cruise missiles, the ones from today do violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions. But what we've also seen on the southern side of course from South Korea with President Moon Jae-in in attendance as well is South Korea launching successfully. They say a submarine launched ballistic missile saying that it successfully hit its target. We're expecting to see some images of that shortly this Wednesday.

Now, they've also said that they have other weapon systems that were successfully tested. What we're hearing from some experts is that this appears to be an effort by South Korea to sort of pull away from relying on the United States too heavily and to build up their own defense capabilities. We've certainly seen the defense budget be significant in recent years.

So, what we're seeing is really dual missile launches on both sides. As I say about 12:30 was the first North Korea missile, just a few hours later we saw the submarine launched ballistic missile from South Korea. Clearly those two missiles will have very differing impacts on the region and reactions from the international community. The North Korean missiles for example Japan has said through its Prime Minister that they are outraged by this particular missile launch. The U.S. military, the Indo Pacific command saying that it's no imminent threat to the U.S., but it just shows how destabilizing and impact the North Korean weapons program has on the region -- Rosemary.

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

Well, CNN projects Democrat Gavin Newsom has survived a recall election and will keep his job as California's governor. About two- thirds of voters rejected the Republican-led effort to remove Newsom there office. His most prominent challenger, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder has conceded the race. The vote reaffirmed the power Democrats wield in California according to CNN's exit polls. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state and they voted along broader political lines to save Newsom in Tuesday's race.

So, let's bring in CNN senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten. Good to see you, Harry.


CHURCH: And of course, you can say I told you so. Earlier in the week you said you'd be very surprised if voters decided to recall governor Newsom so clearly you are not shocked by the outcome. But what do you say to those watching who perhaps are surprised? And what do the numbers tell you?

ENTEN: I mean, look, the fact is California, number one, is a very blue state, right. Joe Biden won it by 29 points. Second, it's very difficult to recall a governor whose approval rating is over 50 percent. Remember the last time California held a recall election back in 2003, and Governor Gray Davis's approval rating was south of 30 percent. Right now, Newsom's approval rating, north of 50 percent.