Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Deal Reached To Extend Debt Limit Until December; Biden, Manchin Met Today To Discuss Build Back Better Agenda; Brian Laundrie's Dad Assisting With Search At Florida Nature Reserve; Police Deny CNN Source's Account That Campsite Was Found At Reserve; Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood, Discusses Where Legal Fight Goes After Federal Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Law. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 14:30   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is proving tricky as well, Victor. Because, remember, we have heard from across the Republican Party.

I've heard again and again from various Republicans, Senate Republicans, a lot of moderates even, who were saying, I'm not going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.

So they're a bit in a pickle right now. We have to see how they work that out within the Senate Republicans.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: OK, so, let's say that they get the, if needed, 10 Republicans to seal this deal. This only takes the country through a few weeks. What do the next few weeks look like?

DEAN: Deja vu all over again, right? We're essentially going to be back in the spot where we just were.

They avoided a government shutdown. That was last week. They're going to get this temporary debt ceiling accomplished. But then we're looking at these deadlines just down the road in December.

And Democrats are remaining adamant, Victor, they're not using this budget process called reconciliation in order to do that. So, the question becomes, OK, how are they going to do that? And what has fundamentally changed here?

Because Republicans, again, are saying, we're not going to participate in this in any way, shape, or form.

So we're going to see a lot of the same all over again, just a few weeks down the road.

BLACKWELL: Well, one way they can do it is by this carveout in the filibuster. We know that Senator Joe Manchin is at the top of the list of people who opposes that carveout.

Met with the president today. Do we know anything about that meeting? DEAN: Well, we know at that meeting, they were talking about -- he

didn't say much, but he did say they had a good conversation, as they always have.

Of course, Manchin is the lynchpin or one of the lynchpins in moving their massive economic package forward. He wants to keep that at $1.5 trillion. Many Democrats want it closer to $3.5 trillion.

There's a wide gap between those two numbers. They're trying to figure out what that is and then what they can put in that package. So, those negotiations continue.

He also said, Victor, he is not for carving -- a carveout or any changes to the filibuster.

Again, Joe Manchin has been consistent. I've heard him say again and again and again, as we've asked him about this, he's not making any changes to that.

Now, our reporting indicates that McConnell was getting concerned about the pressure that was going on, on Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, about the filibuster as it related to the debt ceiling.

But Manchin again saying he was not considering that -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Jessica Dean, with all the fast-moving developments on Capitol Hill, thank you.

So, we have new video of Brian Laundrie's father after police -- he now is helping police search for his son. We have a live update on where investigators are focusing their efforts now.



BLACKWELL: So we've got new developments in the search for Brian Laundrie. His father spent the morning at the Florida nature reserve where authorities have been looking for his son.

CNN cameras captured him returning to his home just a few minutes ago.

His visit comes a day after a source close to the Laundrie family told CNN that police found a recently used campsite inside the reserve.

CNN's Jean Casarez has been following every step and detail of this story.

So let's start with the father. What do we know about what police are expecting from him or hoping from him?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the attorney from the family tells CNN that actually what happened was that, verbally, the family told weeks ago to the FBI, when they went into the home, when they spoke with them, that this was the area that he loved. They told them the trails that he liked to go on, verbally. But since then, the police have asked the family, can he go out to the nature preserve to actually help us, show us where Brian liked to camp, where he liked to walk, where he liked to hike. And so conceivably, that is what the father was doing.

But he just arrived back to the home a few minutes ago. He was out there. He drove away. We got the video in the red pickup to the Carlton Reserve, which is 25,000 acres.

You know, we've heard 75 percent of it is under water and there's alligators and snakes. But he was there with law enforcement, trying to help them.

And here's what's interesting, Victor. The family, through their attorney, is telling CNN that they believe that's where he is. They don't believe that their son is anywhere but the Carlton Reserve.

And that's important right there because, do they know? It appears as though law enforcement is relying upon what they're saying.


CASAREZ: Because there have been so many resources out there. And really, yesterday, they sent more again out there. And -- but at this point, he's back home. So what does that mean?

BLACKWELL: Early on, there was some thought that sending them to the reserve was a decoy, to make sure that Laundrie could get away or get some distance between himself and Florida.

CASAREZ: Right. Right.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this campsite.


BLACKWELL: Because there's a family friend that tells CNN that police found this campsite. Police are now disputing that. What do you know?

CASAREZ: Exactly. And the way this came about last night is the source close to the family told our own Chris Cuomo that police were requesting Chris Laundrie, the father, to go out and help them and to search and find the trails.

But they had actually found the remnants of what they thought was a recent campsite. And so because of that, they didn't want him to go out yesterday, so they were holding off.

Well, now, police -- and a police spokesperson is telling CNN that no campsite was found. And they are saying that, you know, quite possibly, by air, maybe they thought they saw something, but there's nothing.


Conceivably, bottom line, no campsite. So that's what we're learning now.

But we went back to the source, Chris did, to see what they had to say. And they confirmed that, yesterday, they were told by police that there was -- were the remnants of a recent campsite.

And that could have been substantial.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Certainly. If, of course, if it was related to Laundrie himself.

We're also hearing more from the Petito family. Right?

CASAREZ: We are. And they are describing what they found at the site. I mean, we're learning -- you know, we don't know what the crime scene was like there in Wyoming. Nor should we, because that's part of the investigation.

But we have learned about that they led the stepfather to where Gabby was found and he did describe that there was a fire ring in the area, conceivably that's what it looked like to him, an area where he would have pitched a tent.

We don't know if any of that is factual. But it allowed them to place the stones of the cross where she actually was found.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you so much for the latest on this. So many twists and turns every single day.

CASAREZ: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Thank you for following them.

A federal judge has blocked the controversial Texas abortion law at least for now. Up next, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood tells us where the legal fight goes from here.



BLACKWELL: Well, late last night, a federal judge blocked the controversial Texas law that prohibits abortions after fetal heartbeat is detected with no exceptions for rape or incest.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pittman zeroed in on the part of the law that effectively deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who helps to facilitate an abortion.

He wrote this. "Fully aware that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the state contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that."

Joining me now is Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

Thank you so much for being with me.

Let me start with what this means right now. Does this mean that pregnant people in the state of Texas, from your understanding, further along than six weeks when the fetal heartbeat is typically detected, can get abortions today?

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, technically, yes. But you know, every abortion provider is trying to figure out what is possible for their patients in the wake of last night's ruling.

You know, Texas abortion restrictions were already incredibly complicated. They required most -- they required patients to come in twice within 24 hours to see the same doctor.

Many of the providers right now are also, you know, dealing with essentially the last 37 days of addressing the impact of -- you know, of S.B.-8 on their patients and on their staff and on their call centers.

And so, it is certainly technically feasible. But I know that every provider in the state of Texas is trying to consider how best to support patients right now while we're also waiting to hear from the Fifth Circuit, knowing that the state of Texas has already appealed.

BLACKWELL: So, generally, your reaction to what you read -- and this language was especially sharp from this judge.

MCGILL JOHNSON: I mean, I think Judge Pittman was incredibly clear. This was a scheme to deny the constitutional protection, constitutional rights for the people of Texas who could get pregnant.

I think that it was incredibly compelling and thoughtful, the ways in which the patient's stories -- you know, to remember that the patients are at the center of this ban, they're on the other side of it. The patient impact, I thought, was particularly compelling.

And it was really, I mean, a very important victory, however long it lasts in Texas for, I think, people who support access to abortion.

BLACKWELL: Well, you and he, Judge Pittman, acknowledge that this fight is not over.

Let me read a little more from this ruling.

"That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right."

This now goes to, and we know, the attorney general there, who says that the state will appeal. It goes to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is one of, if not the most-conservative courts of appeal in the country.

Abortion providers have won this battle. What's your outlook on the war? MCGILL JOHNSON: Look, I mean, I think, as I quoted at the rally this

weekend, you know, like Dr. King, "The arc is long, but it bends towards justice." And we are seeking abortion justice. We are -- will be continuing to fight. The war is not over.

Last night's order was very clear about the devastating impact of patients. And we're going to continue to fight not only in Texas but in all of these other states that think they can put these copycat laws into place.

There's no state in the union where banning abortion is popular.

So we will be using all of our levers. We will be fighting in the courts. We will be fighting on the ground. And we will be ensuring that all of lawmakers understand the impact that this decision will be having on their -- on their citizens.

BLACKWELL: What have these last -- you talked about what it's meant for abortion providers. What have these last 36 days meant for women seeking an abortion across Texas?


I read in "The New York Times," just anecdotally, that there's a clinic in Oklahoma that now sees 60 percent of their patients coming from the state of Texas.

What has been the impact?

MCGILL JOHNSON: Well, it's exactly right, it's the ripple effect. The patients -- we saw 85 percent of our patients in Texas at Planned Parenthood affiliates came in six weeks prior to S.B.-8.

So those patients, over the last 37 days, have been traveling to neighboring states. They've been going to new Mexico, to Oklahoma. Those places have been booked out three weeks in advance in some cases. We just saw a patient in Vermont that was from Texas, Oregon.

Think about the ripple effect, the people in those states who are now being pushed out because of the impact of S.B.-8 hitting those other states.

The reality is there aren't enough providers of abortion and abortion access. And this country is limited already.

As our colleagues in the Reproductive Justice Movement says having the right is meaningless if you don't have the ability to access it.

What we're seeing is the limits of that in Roe v. Wade, the way it has been chipped away with ban after ban after ban, over the last decade in particular.

BLACKWELL: Alexis McGill Johnson, thank you so much.

MCGILL JOHNSON: Thanks for having me. BLACKWELL: Let's talk about what's happening in Alabama. Heavy rain

sparked some treacherous flash flooding alerts in parts of the state overnight.

At least four people are dead, including a four-year-old. Dozens of people near Birmingham had to be rescued from their flooded cars.

Look at this on the screen. This is remarkable. It happened in just a short period of time, a few hours.

A slow-moving storm could dump even more rain, several inches, today. Some parts of Alabama have gotten more than a foot of rain this week.

Pfizer just asked the government to authorize vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11. And with cases and hospitalizations and deaths all falling, are we finally turning the corner on the pandemic? We'll talk about it.



BLACKWELL: Prince William and Prince Harry were just boys when they lost their mother, Diana. But she still has a strong effect on their interactions with the royal family, their relationships with the media and on their charitable activism.

As CNN prepares the all-new original series "DIANA," our Max Foster looks at her enduring influence.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Diana's marriage to Prince Charles was fairy tale, then Meghan's marriage to Prince Harry was even more so.


FOSTER: American, bi-racial, divorced and already successful in her own right, Meghan singlehandedly modernized the British monarchy just by being who she was.

But like Diana, Meghan was ready or willing to accept the scrutiny that came with the role.

PRINCES DIANA: I seem to be on the front of the newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I know there's an obsession on how things look. But has anybody talked about how it feels? Because, right now, I couldn't feel lonelier.

PRINCE HARRY: What I'm talking, my mother. When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help.

FOSTER: Harry has blamed the media for his mother's death. He's scarred himself by the constant invasions of privacy into his childhood.

His mother was acutely aware that she was the most famous woman in the world. She couldn't control that. But she learned to turn it to her advantage and use it as a force for good.

In William and Harry, she instilled a sense of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate, secretly sneaking them out into homeless shelters.

PRINCESS DIANA: Everyone has the potential to give something back if only they have the chance.

FOSTER: In the Sutu, Prince Harry co-founded a charity for children who live in extreme poverty or with HIV/AIDS, causes close to Diana's heart. The foundation, Sentebale, named in honor of his mother, translates as "forget me not."

In 2014, Harry followed in Diana's footsteps, walking the same path through a minefield in Angola.

Like Diana, the Sussexes left their senior royal positions and are carving their own paths.

Meghan may have never met her, but one person she remains close to in the U.K. was a close friend of Diana.


MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: One of the people that I reached out to, who has continued to be a friend and confidant, was one of my husband's mom's best friends, one of Diana's best friends.

Because who could understand what it's actually like from the outside?