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Taiwan Defiant As China Calls For "Peaceful" Reunification; General Ray Odierno Dies At 67; White House Refuses Executive Privilege For Trump Records In January 6th Investigation; COVID-19 Surge In Indonesia Proves Deadly For Hundreds Of Health Care Workers; Merkel In The Middle East; Father Of Pakistan's Nuclear Program Dies At 85; New Deadline To Raise Debt Ceiling In Early December; Biden Becomes First U.S. President To Issue Proclamation For Indigenous People's Day. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired October 10, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

A show of force in Taiwan and it comes amid new tensions with China.

Also Iraqis are voting today to decide their country's future.

Plus, the January 6th insurrection and executive privilege.

Can Donald Trump prevent people from testifying about what happened?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: Taiwan's military was on full display Sunday in an extraordinary show of defiance toward Beijing. A parade marking the anniversary of the Chinese revolution allowed Taiwan to showcase some of the most advanced and sophisticated weapons. Nothing subtle about the message.

Xi Jinping infuriated Taipei when he called for Taiwan's peaceful reunification with the mainland. CNN's Will Ripley was at the national day parade and has more from Taipei.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This may not match the massive scale of military parades in Mainland China but, for Taiwan, it is an extraordinary sight, four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the capital in front of Taiwan's presidential palace, an ominous sign of escalating regional tensions. Taiwan's military has never played a more prominent role in recent

history as it has this year. While the overall atmosphere is festive, the island, is increasingly, concerned about the behavior of Mainland China.

Provocative behavior, more than 100 planes entering Taiwan's self- declared Air Defense Identification Zone this month. With those aerial incursions, come new propaganda videos from the Taiwanese air force, vowing to defend their national sovereignty.

And the weapons they used to plan to defend their sovereignty on display here. Taiwan is vowing to up its national spending on defense by billions of dollars. In 2020, alone, saying that they bought $5 billion of weapons from the United States, including F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles.

They're also developing their own weapons on the island, increasingly, calling on the support of the United States and other democratic regional allies, to come to Taiwan's defense.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, speaking in front of the presidential palace, laying out the situation, as a fight for the future not just of Taiwan but the world.


TSAI (through translator): At this moment, free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism. And Taiwan is on the forefront of the defense line of fellow democracies.


RIPLEY: Defending that future, coming at a cost, Taiwan, having to up its military spending, even as they struggle to get a volunteer military force, after phasing out most mandatory conscription on the island.

Wil these weapons and the help of the United States be enough to defend against the threat from an increasingly assertive Mainland China?

As President Xi Jinping vows to, in his, words reunify the mainland with Taiwan. Beijing has long claimed the self-governing island as its own territory, for almost 70 years, since the end of China's civil war. Taiwan points out, they've never been ruled by the Communist Party of China and, say they plan to keep it that way, putting their military on full display here -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taiwan.


BRUNHUBER: For 70 years Taiwan's had an important role in advancing and protecting America's interests in the Indo Pacific region. Retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal spoke to Pamela Brown about the U.S. being a strategic U.S. ally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, if you look from a Chinese lens, Taiwan is part of China's, so there is an argument that they make from that standpoint.

However, since 1949, Taiwan has been acting as a sovereign or independent element and it has been part of our defensive strategy in the region.

And so now, the problem is, it has become a flashpoint between China's rising military and stronger political muscle, as well as economic. And so it's become a place where we could very easily find a flashpoint that could lead to conflict between, you know, the United States and China.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And that is -- that would be terrifying, right?

You have, you know, obviously, the criticism of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was that the U.S. had no significant interest to be there.

What do you think?

Is involvement worth risking war with China?


MCCHRYSTAL: Well, there certainly would be an argument that the Chinese would try to make subtly that it is not and they would try to convince the United States to just sort of quietly back away. But there are a number of reasons why I think we should.

First, Taiwan has been a good ally for quite a long time right now. They are key to our supply chain on chip production, as people know and they are a part of the community of nations in Asia.

And so if Taiwan were suddenly to be essentially abandoned by the United States, Japan, South Korea and other allies and potential allies in the region, it would probably recalculate the relationship with the United States. So it has wider geopolitical implications.


BRUNHUBER: That was retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, speaking with CNN.

Iraqis are voting in their country's general election today in a contest marred by calls for boycotts and a predicted low turnout. The country remains divided along ethnic and religious lines. And corruption, unemployment and Iran's influence are major issue.

Louisa Loveluck is "The Washington Post's" Baghdad bureau chief and she joins me live from the Iraqi capital.

Thanks so much for being with us. So Louisa, this election was brought on in large part by protests and lack of public services. You might think this would be a great day for Iraqis but it doesn't seem as though that would be the case.

What have Iraqis been telling you?

LOUISA LOVELUCK, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think because the mass protests that triggered this election did not lead to the improvements they wanted to see, people are disappointed.

Security hasn't improved. Corruption is worse than ever. We have a new election law. Then anyone who wants to challenge this system is really going to struggle. Independent candidates who are trying to organize are being intimidated.

We've seen the assassination of dozens of activists. That may not seem like a big number but it's really sent a message. I think one of the things that we're really sort of learning when we speak to Iraqis about this election, is they don't see it as an election to reform the system, even though that's what they've been promised.

They see it as a way for the political class writ large to relegitimize the system and continue to do exactly what they're carrying on doing.

BRUNHUBER: So for the vote itself, what is the security situation there like now?

LOVELUCK: Well, the security situation is pretty calm and security forces are deployed across the street. Across Iraq, outsider violence by the government, by the security forces and by militias against protesters, things have been relatively quiet.

I was in Ramadi five days ago for the first car bombing in five years. The security forces seemed to have it under control.

BRUNHUBER: I understand the initial results will be here within 24 hours. And then it will be some time before the parties divide up control of government.

What happens next?

LOVELUCK: That's where you have the election results, which will come out in 24 hours, and then you have the government formation, which has traditionally been a difficult process. In years gone by, this has taken absolutely months. It has paralyzed the incumbent government.

It has often meant they couldn't take major decisions the country needed. Now that may happen again. But there's also a reason to wonder whether or not it might be quicker this time.

I think a lot of the parties who are involved in the government formation, they want to keep the system as it is. We're hearing that there's horse trading that started a while ago. So it could be that it's a little faster than we imagined. But it will still take a while.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Listen, we'll keep following this story. Thank you so much for being with us. "The Washington Post's" Louisa Lovelock in Baghdad. The key architect of America's military strategy in Iraq has died. The

U.S. Army says retired General Ray Odierno died of cancer on Friday. He was 67.


BRUNHUBER: He commanded the division credited with capturing dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. He would go on to oversee the so-called troop surge in Iraq a few years later. He was eventually promoted to army chief of staff.

Odierno's family felt the cost of the war personally. His son, an Army captain, lost his arm when his Humvee was attacked in Baghdad in 2004.

He was once the world's youngest head of government. Now he's Austria's former chancellor. Sebastian Kurz resigned on Saturday. He stepped down a few days after his office was raided by prosecutors. Opposition parties threatened to bring a vote of no confidence against him.

Salma Abdelaziz has the story from London.

Salma, take us through the events that led to this.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. So prosecutors raided the office of Mr. Kurz. He and nine of his associates are now under investigation for allegations of corruption and bribery.

Essentially the allegation here is that public state funds were used to obtain polling that was favorable to Kurz and then to have that polling published in the tabloids, published in the media. Those are the allegations.

He has denied them, of course. But in a speech, he said it was time to step down for the stability of the country. He will still be a mainstay in politics. He remains the head of the people's party. He will still be seen in political circles.

He's already proposed the foreign minister will take his place. We'll see what happens. While Austria scrambles to figure out what's next for the leadership, who is the next chancellor, this has larger implications across Europe.

Kurz, as you said, was a young, charismatic, leading conservative figure at a time that conservative political parties across the continent are losing momentum, are losing votes.

I'm going to give you the example of Germany. I was there last month when, in a stunning defeat, Angela Merkel's center right party lost to the Social Democratic Party. This was a period in which Germany is now trying to figure out its future after Merkel, who is stepping down now after 16 years.

So a lot of conservative politicians were looking to Kurz as the sort of new face of that conservativism across Europe. The other concern here is, much like happened in Germany with the CDU, with Merkel's party, that inability to galvanize support, the inability to reach out to voters meant losing the young vote on one end.

People wanting a more green agenda, wanting a more progressive agenda. And on the other end, losing more right wing voters who, in Germany and Austria, were gravitating toward more far right groups.

So the concern here for Austria is, yes, what happens next in terms of leadership but also across the region at large, when you're looking at the face of conservatism in Europe. Kurz was one of the key figures.

Now what happens next?

Can these movements fit into the new demands for a climate driven agenda, an agenda that is progressive but be able to meet the demands from the Right for a more conservative move?

Without Kurz, a lot of questions being asked there, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: We'll have to see if this has any wider implications. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Still ahead on CNN, waiving executive privilege. The White House says Congress can have access to a trove of documents from the Trump administration, as the White House investigates the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

But the Republican Senate minority leader says he won't help resolve debt ceiling issues in the future. That story ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The investigation into the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is picking up steam. On Friday authorities finally managed to track down former Trump aide Dan Scavino and serve him a subpoena after struggling to find him. CNN's Arlette Saenz reports.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden wants to ensure that the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection has all the documents and information it needs.

So President Biden decided not to assert executive privilege over those Trump administration documents that the former president, president Trump, is trying to do. The White House counsel, Dana Remus, sent a letter to the National Archives, outlining their reasoning.

And she wrote in part, "The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield from Congress or the public information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself."

A reference to efforts to overturn the election. And White House press secretary Jen Psaki echoed that argument as well. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are moments throughout history where presidents and White Houses have asserted executive privilege. We will continue to evaluate those on a case-by-case basis. But this committee is investigating a dark day in our democracy, an attempt to undermine our Constitution and democratic processes by the former president. And that context, I think, is important here, too.


SAENZ: Now Psaki would not say what kind of documents this would include, whether it was phone records or visitor logs. But it's also worth noting that this decision applies just to an initial set of documents submitted to the Biden White House and former president Trump's attorneys in early September.

The White House has said they are reviewing other documents and that decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. But this all sets up a possible legal fight between the Biden White House and the former president.


SAENZ: Many legal experts argue that the decisions over executive privilege sit with the current president, not the former. But it's totally expected the former president will try to fight this.

But bottom line with the Biden White House, what they've tried to argue is that they want to provide as much information as possible to that House Select Committee as they're trying to get to the bottom of what transpired around the January 6th insurrection.


BRUNHUBER: Arlette Saenz, thank you for that report.

CNN contributor John Dean tells our Pam Brown why he believes the strategy won't work.


JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, we know executive privilege is a qualified privilege, whoever invokes it. So it can be balanced against the person who wants to hold it or it cannot be. I think in this instance, they're going to lose.

This is an investigation of an insurrection. Executive privilege doesn't cover that kind of behavior. That's clearly why the White House has said, we're not putting any executive privilege on this first batch of documents that had been requested from the National Archives and that is going to undercut whoever else tries to rely on it.

So Pam, I don't think it's going to work. I think it's a stall tactic and it is an effort to make these more protracted and maybe go away if they can drag it out long enough.

BROWN: Right.

I mean, that's the question, right?

Does this claim of executive privilege from Trump slow or stop the panel from being able to ask questions and compel cooperation. What realistically could the committee do if this does get tied up in court?

DEAN: Well, if -- first of all, we've gone through this drill recently, with Don McGahn when he was White House Counsel. He decided to litigate it. He actually successfully litigated it and only because he agreed to settle and compromise did they get him before the House Judiciary Committee but that left the law in a mess.

The Court of Appeals, their three-judge panel said the House has no statute to base a civil action on to enforce a subpoena, unlike the Senate, which does have such a law. The House has done nothing about correcting that.

The House does have inherent powers. Again, they've done nothing to exercise those inherent powers.

There's a resolution that was introduced by Ted Lieu, congressman from California in the last Congress, introduced it again in this Congress, which could fix that, where the House could indeed hold somebody in contempt and then fine them as long as they remained in contempt and it could get quite expensive for somebody who didn't comply.

I'm not sure, Pam, why the House isn't getting its act together and making these things very effective when they do subpoena them.


BRUNHUBER: That was CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, speaking with our Pam Brown.

U.S. health experts are cautiously optimistic that the country may be turning a corner on the pandemic. Hospitalizations, cases and deaths are all declining nationwide. The country is now averaging fewer than 100,000 new cases a day, some of the lowest numbers we've seen in weeks.

Vaccinations continue to tick up; 66 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated. That's over 187 million people.

Meanwhile, Brazil's COVID death toll has topped 600,000. It's only the second country to pass the threshold in the United States.

Russia, reporting its highest daily COVID death toll so far, with nearly 970 deaths on Saturday. It is the fourth day in a row the country has reported more than 900 deaths.

Authorities are blaming the steep rise on the country's low vaccination rate, as well as the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Now just over 30 percent of Russians have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, hopeful progress in Portugal. On Saturday it became the first country to fully vaccinate 85 percent of its population.

Indonesia is among the countries worst hit by the coronavirus in Asia. Thankfully daily case numbers are much lower now than they were three months ago when the second wave of its virus hit its peak. That surge took a toll on the country's health care workers. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the report.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the front lines of Indonesia's battle with COVID-19, 35-year-old Dr. Riken Mediana Eka Putri, pregnant with her second child, became a victim of the very disease she was fighting.

ADITYO WIBOWO, DR. MEDIANA'S HUSBAND (through translator): She contracted the virus on the 4th of July and passed away on the 29th of the same month. Our 8-year-old and I were also positive. We recovered but not my wife, who was 34 weeks pregnant.

HANCOCKS: She was one of 208 Indonesian doctors who died in July alone, the highest monthly toll since the start of the pandemic.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): And one of nearly 800 doctors who have succumb to coronavirus in the country so far, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

DAENG FAQIH, CHAIRMAN, INDONESIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (through translator): In July, doctors were exhausted. The COVID cases were increasing sharply, so was the workload.

HANCOCKS: Overwhelmed hospitals facing a severe shortage of beds and oxygen were forced to turn patients away as the highly contagious Delta variant swept through the country. The problem further exacerbated by a massive surge in deaths among health care workers.

WIBOWO: When many health care workers were testing positive for COVID, my wife risked her life, replacing several colleagues who had fallen ill.

HANCOCKS: Dr. Riken was not vaccinated. The government's approval in late June to start inoculating pregnant women came too late for her. But even those fully vaccinated with the most wildly available vaccine in Indonesia, China's Sinovac, were not always safe.

Dr. Sylvi Febriza Darori is a pediatrician who lost her brother to COVID. Despite being fully immunized, her brother, who is also a general practitioner, caught the virus in late July and unknowingly spread it to his love ones.

SYLVI FEBRIZA DARORI, SISTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM (through translator): Thirteen members of my family were infected including my father, my mother, my brother's family, his wife and his 2-year-old child.

HANCOCKS: Though numbers have now started to improve, fatalities among doctors at the peak of the second wave left a serious dent in the health care system of the world's fourth most populous country which already had one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in Southeast Asia with just four doctors for 10,000 people.

EDHIE RAHMAT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROJECT HOPE INDONESIA: The new medical doctor actually is a little bit hesitant to join the recruitment at the moment because of the situation.

HANCOCKS: The government took steps to try to fix the problem offering booster shots of Moderna's vaccine to frontline workers. Vaccination rates among the general public, which were abysmally low, have also risen steadily since July.

The country is one of just 8th in the world to have administered more than 100 million doses of vaccines, but the distribution is uneven. In the capital, Jakarta, about 70 percent are fully vaccinated. Elsewhere in the country, that number is just 16 percent, putting doctors at risk -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


BRUNHUBER: Before she became a politician, German chancellor Angela Merkel worked as a scientist. That's why she may have a special honor in store. She visits Israeli leaders. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem.

Plus is Columbus Day on the way out as a U.S. holiday?

The White House says no, even as it recognizes Indigenous Peoples' Day for the first time. We'll have that story ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with Israeli officials as her time in office winds down. Merkel has held a news conference with Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett. For more on the latest, we have Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.

How will Merkel's leadership be remembered by Israelis? HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a working visit but it's a farewell tour for Angela Merkel. It was initially supposed to take place in August. It was abruptly canceled because of the situation in Afghanistan.

Angela Merkel arrived last night and she has a full day today. She's being accompanied by the Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett. It gives a sense of her importance in Israel. She had a press conference with the Israeli prime minister.

She will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, which she has done on every one of her visits. She will meet with high tech leaders and entrepreneurs and later will receive an honorary doctorate from the Haifa's Israel Institute of Technology, referring to her time as a physicist.

Germany and Israel have had a strong relationship for years. Under Angela Merkel's term, especially that relationship has deepened. She was the first German chancellor to speak to the Israeli parliament.

She has said on the national stage and she repeated this today, Israel's situation is a national priority. That doesn't mean she hasn't criticized Israel in the past. Today she mentioned that, she said sometimes we disagree on questions regarding whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

We agree there should always be an image of a lasting democratic Jewish state of Israel. Under her term in Germany they have outlawed displays of the flag of Hamas. They have put a lot of investment into combating anti-Semitism.

Though this is a farewell to Merkel, they hope the relationship with Germany will continue to be strong. One of the main topics in the relationship between Israel and Germany is the Iranian nuclear deal.

The Israelis have been opposed to this and a return to the deal, Germany is a signatory of, their tone on the opposition has softened in some ways in recent weeks. And now the Israeli leadership want to have some sort of alternative on the table in case diplomacy fails -- Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Thank you so much, Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.

The man known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear program will be given a state funeral in Islamabad later today. Abdul Qadeer Khan passed away after being taken to the hospital.

The atomic scientist was hailed as a hero in his native Pakistan but was seen as a dangerous threat for providing nuclear material to countries like Iran. We're joined from Sophia Saifi from Islamabad.

A hero to some but a villain to many others. Tell us about the man and his controversial legacy.

[05:35:00] SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Kim, AQ Khan is one of the few personalities in Pakistan that unites all of the Pakistanis across the ethnicities, the political spectrum. We've seen an outpouring of tributes for him.

There are reports he'll be buried at one of the biggest mosques in Pakistan, only one of two people buried there, if that does happen. He is somebody who is revered in Pakistan for leading the country's nuclear program. Pakistan became a nuclear state in 1998.

It is one of the things that Pakistan -- it's a very strong part of Pakistan's identity, being a nuclear armed state, especially considering that their foe and neighbor, India, had been working toward a nuclear program.

Because of that Dr. AQ Khan is very much a hero here in Pakistan. Again, the United States has condemned him -- had condemned him back in 2004 for leading one of the world's most extensive nuclear proliferation programs.

He's been known for helping North Korea, Libya, Iran with developing nuclear programs. He was heavily criticized and ostracized for that. He was placed on house arrest in 2004 and released in 2009. He's had a heavy amount of security around him.

His house in Istanbul was very difficult to access on the outskirts of Istanbul. He was not able to speak to the press. His movements were severely curtailed. But regardless of that, he was still seen with much criticism by the United States and the E.U., that Pakistan had been very lenient with the way they treated AQ Khan, with allowing him to leave house arrest.

He is, like you said, very much a hero here in Pakistan, a villain internationally but someone who leaves behind a very complicated yet interesting legacy -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much, Sophia Saifi in Pakistan.

Here in the U.S., a day after the Senate narrowly averted a government default, Mitch McConnell said don't expect Republican help next time. The U.S. could face a government shutdown in the middle of the holiday season. Suzanne Malveaux has that.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: The claws are being sharpened going into the weekend on all sides.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell facing criticism from those in his own party for offering a lifeline to the Democrats to temporarily raise the debt ceiling. He is now lashing out.

In a scathing public letter to President Biden, "I will not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis. Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claim they lacked to address the debt ceiling through standalone reconciliation and all the tools to do it."

The Senate voted 50-48 on Thursday in favor of the extension after 11 Republicans, including McConnell, joined Democrats in a separate vote to overcome the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold needed to stop debate.

It was a retreat for Republicans that now has them more determined to put raising the debt ceiling squarely on the Democrats. Tuesday, the House is expected to vote on the two-month extension and send it to Biden's desk for signature, averting an economic calamity.

Without this it was expected the U.S. markets would tank, the dollar would lose value, interest rates would rise, the credit rating could be downgraded and there would be a big ripple effect on everyone.

Whether to raise the debt ceiling is not resolved, only kicked down the road, as we're going to see in the weeks ahead. Republicans are trying to force Democrats to own the issue, pay politically and tie it to their $3.5 trillion spending bill.

The only way they can achieve that is by forcing Democrats to vote for it solely on their own by 51 votes, the process known as budget reconciliation. While Senator Chuck Schumer says, no way, it's too risky, time-consuming to use that strategy, not to mention unfair for Democrats to take responsibility for Republicans' contributions to the debt, Democrats did use reconciliation to pass their $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and are aiming to use it again to get their Build Back Better spending bill into law -- Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, President Biden formally recognizes Indigenous Peoples' Day on the same day normally devoted to Christopher Columbus. We'll speak with a Native American leader about what the president's proclamation means to them. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: On this Columbus Day weekend in the U.S., the president did something no other had done before. He issued an official proclamation, recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Native Americans and other groups have long asked that Columbus Day be replaced. With the stroke of her pen, Maine's governor did away with Columbus Day in 2019. But the White House acknowledged the president's proclamation doesn't go this far.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, today is both Columbus Day, as well as Indigenous Peoples' Day. I'm not aware of any discussion of ending that -- either ending the prior federal holiday at this point.

But I know that recognizing today as Indigenous Peoples' Day is something the president felt strongly about personally. He's happy to be the first president to celebrate and to make it the history moving forward.



BRUNHUBER: Fawn Sharp is the president of the National Congress of American Indians and she joined me from Lake Quinault, Washington.

Thanks for joining us.

President Biden became the first president to proclaim Friday being Indigenous Peoples' Day. But as we heard there, unlike many cities and states, he didn't replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day. Was this a mistake making this a half measure and not fully replacing Columbus Day?

FAWN SHARP, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS: I think it's a step in the right direction.


SHARP: We know as tribal nations that there's a truth to be told and there are many truths that make up this country. . And as we progress and as we reconcile with our past, we're taking incremental steps but ultimately, we do see this as a very positive move.

BRUNHUBER: But would you like to see it replaced?

SHARP: Yes, absolutely.

BRUNHUBER: Also making news this week, the president undoing the cuts made by the Trump administration to two national monuments in Utah. This puts 2 million acres back into the national monuments.

I went there a couple of years ago to Bears Ears, to cover that issue, when president Trump was about to shrink those areas by some 85 percent and spoke to some indigenous leaders there about what effect this would have.

For our viewers who may not be familiar with this area, why is this reversal so important?

SHARP: This reversal is critically important for our effort to ensure that our sacred sites maintain that nature from when time began to the end of time. We have a very spiritual connection with these places. While we've relinquished millions of acres across the U.S., we've never relinquished that spiritual connection. So it's critically important to us.

BRUNHUBER: Talk to me a bit more about that. There is so much history in that land.

And having it sort of shrunk and exposed to, you know, logging, mining, other things like that, what effect would that have had?

SHARP: It would have a devastating effect. When we consider our entire being, mental, physical, spiritual well-being, just where we are as a country in terms of all of the implications to our natural world through climate change and other apocalyptic challenges we are facing, there are many things we don't have control over.

We can make a conscious and intentional intent to protect them, not just Native Americans but every citizen of the country.

BRUNHUBER: You just touched on the number of issues that are facing the indigenous communities there. COVID is one of them. Indigenous people, I'm seeing, are among the highest risk of dying of COVID-19 than any other ethnic group and are at least twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.

Why have they been at such high risk during this pandemic?

SHARP: I think it's important to note that Native Americans have been incredibly vulnerable even before the pandemic. We have a failed system of our trustee failing to live up to treaty, commitments and obligations.

There was a report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights delivered to Congress two years ago, called the Broken Promises Report. And it detailed not one federal agency is living up to its trust responsibilities.

When you're talking about health care, infrastructure, access to clean water, all of those things, we are failing on every metric. So this exposure just made the world clear and told the world what we've already known long before COVID.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. In Canada there have been many tragic headlines this year about the discoveries of the bodies of indigenous children, who have died after being taken from their homes and placed in schools. Canada has a long way to go when it comes to aboriginal issues.

At least there's an attempt to grapple with the sad piece of the past, much more than the U.S. The issue of Indian boarding schools has been largely ignored. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced an investigation. There was recently a bill introduced in Congress to establish an American Indian Truth and Healing Commission on Indian boarding schools.

But people have argued, there are a million pressing issues that the indigenous community affects them, their lives right now.

Why spend time and all that political capital on the past?

What would you say to that?

SHARP: We have to, as a country, spend the time. This is one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history that no one talks about, even in our own communities. It's so hard for us. Some of these things are unspeakable.

When we try to talk to some of our elders, the victims of boarding schools, it is so painful. But generation after generation we've had to carry this as well as this country. It's so important for us to put up a mirror and take a cold, hard look into that past, to reconcile so we can begin to heal as a country.

It is important. It's the darkest chapter, it's foundational to this country.

Until we do, we're going to continue to experience multi-generational trauma, pain and division. So it's important for all of us to face that cold, dark past.

BRUNHUBER: So many challenges ahead but really appreciate your insight into all of these issues. Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians. Thank you for joining us.


SHARP: Yes. Stay well. Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: An Atlanta Braves baseball player is showing off his style, not with his play on the diamond but around his neck. We'll have that story ahead. Please stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: It's a vice presidential house divided by baseball. Doug Inhofe tweeted out this video Friday night, calling it the one thing he and his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, just can't agree on.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have been bitter rivals for over a century. Somehow, this is the first time the two teams have ever met in the playoffs. Now the Giants struck first, winning 4-0 at home but the second gentleman's Dodgers got their payback Saturday night, winning 9-2.

From gold chains to diamond studs, some Major League Baseball players are known for sporting some bling. But one Atlanta Braves outfielder is turning heads with his own necklace, an elegant strand of pearls. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a slugger for the Atlanta Braves who's brave enough to wear -- pearls?


MOOS (voice-over): Hard not to notice that he's accessorizing.

"Pretty sure Joc Pederson just the first Braves player to homer while wearing a pearl necklace."

The Braves themselves are having fun with "sweet mother of pearl" tweets. Fans are marveling. Joc Pederson out there, smoking cigars and wearing pearls. The outfielder joins icons who are partial to pearls.


MOOS (voice-over): Like Jackie Kennedy. When first asked about his new penchant for pearls, Pederson said it's a mystery for everyone.

He assured a sportscaster, "'There's no story, they're just dope,' said he tried the chain thing and it was too hot and heavy."

Pederson wears his pearls, staring at pictures, the way Audrey Hepburn wore hers, staring at Tiffany's windows.

One fan noted, "Pearls go with everything, even those street clothes Pederson wore into the clubhouse."

Will pearls turn Pederson into the Dennis Rodman of baseball?

As one fan joked, "If you like that, wait for him to steal third in heels."

But hey, pearls were good enough for Prince.


MOOS (voice-over): Pederson's latest pearl of wisdom for why he's wearing them, that he is just a bad -- rhymes with pitch -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our international viewers, "CONNECTING AFRICA" is next. And "NEW DAY WEEKEND" is next for viewers here in the U.S. and Canada, where I wish everybody Happy Thanksgiving.