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Human Remains and Items Belonging to Brian Laundrie Found; House to Vote Today on Bannon Criminal Contempt Referral; U.K. Resists New COVID Measures Despite Rise in Cases; Brazil's Bolsonaro Defiant After Panel Calls for Charges; U.S. President Pushing Infrastructure and Climate Plans; Flooding, Landslides Kill at Least 150 People in Nepal and India. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London, and just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.

Suspected human remains have been founded while searching for Gabby Petito's fiancee Brian Laundrie. We hear from the Laundrie's family attorney.

Just hours from now in Washington, the U.S. House will vote on holding Donald Trump's longtime ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.

And the sky is the limit. South Korea joins the space race with its first homegrown rocket. We're live in Seoul for the historic launch.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Hello, everyone. It is Thursday, October 21st, and we begin with new information in the search for Brian Laundrie. Authorities are working to identify what appear to be human remains discovered in a nature reserve in Florida. It's where they've long been searching for Gabby Petito's fiancee. Now a source says the remains look like they've been there for a while. The swampy area has been underwater until recently, take a listen.


MICHAEL MCPHERSON, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Earlier today, investigators found what appeared to be human remains along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie.


SOARES: Now the family's attorney said it's very likely the remains are Laundrie's, he told our Chris Cuomo Laundrie's parents went to the reserve Wednesday and helped with the discovery.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEVE BERTOLINO, LAUNDRIE FAMILY ATTORNEY: It is my understanding that they followed closely by the two law enforcement personnel. And when I say closely, certainly within eye shot. And as they went further in, Chris ventured off the trail, into the woods, he was zigzagging in different area. Law enforcement was doing the same thing. And Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trial. And I believe that is on some video from some other news outlet.

At some point, Chris locates what's called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, laying in the woods, I'll say 20 feet or so off the trail. According to Chris, it was in some brambles.

Chris didn't want to pick the bag up, because he wanted the law enforcement to see it. This was caught on camera. Chris couldn't find the law enforcement, because they were then out of sight, because Chris had been in the woods. So, he didn't want to leave the bag there, with a news reporter standing nearby. So, he picked it up. He did meet up shortly with law enforcement. They looked at the contents of the bag.

At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone, of a backpack that law enforcement had located, also nearby, and also some distance off the trail.

At that point, the Laundries were notified that there's also remains near the backpack. And they were asked to leave the preserve.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It just doesn't look like right that the parents haven't wanted to cooperate. That Brian didn't wanted to cooperate, that they wouldn't want to talk to the other family. So, you can understand why people would be suspicious about their actions?

BERTOLINO: Absolutely. And you know, now is not the right time to talk about, you know, the situation with Gabby. But the family was following my directions. I told them not to talk to anybody. Not to say a word. I was the intermediary between the family and law enforcement. And that's why we're confident that, you know, law enforcement, specifically the FBI was informed. Brian did not come home that night. Whatever played out in those three days after that, that's on the police and FBI.


SOARES: That was Laundries family attorney there. Well, Petito's and Laundrie's social media posts about their travels abruptly stopped in late August. Petito's body was found in a national forest Wyoming last month. The corner said she was strangled. Laundrie has not been charged in her death, but he is charged with unauthorized use of her debit card.

Here's what two former FBI officials have to say about how the search and discovery played out, take a listen.


BOBBY CHACON, RETIRED FBI AGENT: It's not uncommon to go back and search an area again, underwater that you searched already. And sometimes the body of water moves things and water changes things. So, I don't see that as mutually exclusive.

I have -- you know, it's a complete hypothetical, on my part. But you know, if the parents did know, and they were waiting for the police to find him on their own, they didn't.


The father went out there a couple of weeks ago to kind of maybe guide them in the right area, if they knew. And then last night when they found out the public was going to be trampling all through there, starting today, and they didn't want some random stranger, you know, finding their son, and maybe taking pictures, and posting it, or whatever, they wanted law enforcement to find it.

They went out one more time and went with law enforcement. And now, they went right to the place.

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: And what I saw were the two parents picking up evidence, wandering through the brush, not supervised, that I could see, at least not in sight of the video that I saw. And they were picking up what seemed to be evidence and putting it in a bag. That is way out of protocol for law enforcement when they're gathering evidence. These two people, the parents of the suspect, picking up and bagging evidence at a potential relevant crime scene.

I mean, evidence has to be gathered the correct way to preserve whatever hairs and fibers or DNA, or whatever trace evidence is on that piece of evidence. It has to be collected properly. And it has to be stored properly, in the proper container. To just pick it up and drop it in some dry bag, unsupervised, on their own, it seemed very bizarre to me.


SOARES: We'll have much more, of course, on this story and other latest developments in "EARLY START" in about 50 minutes or so.

Now, just hours from now in Washington, the House has voted to whether to hold Donald Trump's longtime ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena. We've learn Republicans are set to overwhelmingly oppose that effort even if they deny they're trying to block Democrats from investigating the January 6th insurrection. CNN's Ryan Nobles reports now from the Capitol.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The entire House of Representatives set to vote Thursday on a criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon, the former White House aide who the Select Committee, the January 6th Select Committee, is interested in learning about his role in the planning and execution of that event. The big Stop the Steal Rally that happened before the insurrection here at the Capitol on January 6th. Bannon has been defiant with the committee, saying he does not need to

comply with them. Does not need to submit documents or testify in front of the committee because he's protected under executive privilege through the former president Donald Trump.

Of course, the Select Committee doesn't see it that way and they believe that he has a duty to come forward and tell what he knows about what happened on that day. And in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, we heard from Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee and the Liz Cheney, the vice chair, a Republican. Who implored fellow Republicans to support this measure of referring criminal contempt against Bannon.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I ask each one of you to step back from the brink. I urge you to do what you know is right. To think of the long arc of history. We are told that it bends towards justice. But it does so only because of the actions of men and women in positions of public trust.

NOBLES: Now, it is expected that this will pass. But it will be mostly along partisan lines. So far, the only two Republicans who have said they will vote for the measure are Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who are of course members of the Select Committee.

A few Republicans could break ranks and vote with the Democrats. But Republican leadership making clear where they stand. They sent out a message to their members, a recommendation from their leadership to vote no on this criminal contempt of Steve Bannon. Many Republicans saying that they just have a problem with the Select Committee in general and they won't support anything that committee attempts to do.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


SOARES: Well, following the vote it will also be up to the Justice Department of course to bring charges against Bannon. Still, Democrats are reacting from their expected opposition Republican colleagues. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It is really quite shocking, when you listen to Steve Scalise -- their number two, the GOP number two member of the House -- just a week ago, couldn't admit that the election wasn't stolen. No wonder he doesn't want the contempt to go forward. You know, he feels as evidently the Republican leadership does. It's more important to support the cult of Donald Trump than it is to defend their own democracy. And it's this abdication of their oath of office that has our democracy on such fragile ground.


SOARES: Well, and there's another high-profile Republican who is not ready to cooperate and that is Donald Trump's former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino. He now has one week to respond to the House Select Committee's subpoena for documents related of course to the January 6 insurrection. The following week is his deadline to testify. Scavino's attorney said his client was given additional time to respond to the subpoenas.

Now, COVID vaccine booster shots may soon be available to Americans.


The Food and Drug Administration says it will consider lowering the age range on its Emergency Use Authorization, but the shots once more data comes in. The shots are currently available to people 65 and older and of course, those at high risk. This comes as the FDA has now authorized booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, in addition of course to Pfizer. The agency has also given the go ahead to mix and match vaccine brands.

While the United States waits for the health regulators to authorize a COVID vaccine for young children, Dr. Anthony Fauci says when the time comes it's crucial to get kids vaccinated. He said it will play a major role in slowing the spread of the virus and will help protect them from the risk of COVID-19. Take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: But children are not completely exempt from the difficulties of getting infected. In fact, if you go to pediatric hospitals throughout the country, you see that many of the beds are filled with children who have serious illness. So, it's important to protect the children. And also, children do get long COVID, namely, something that you have obviously very difficult experience with when yourself when you were infected. Children can get that lingering symptomology after getting infected.


SOARES: Well, here in U.K. there are new details this morning of yet another surge of COVID cases. Healthcare professionals are warning when the crisis as COVID infections soar. And but the British government isn't bringing back restrictions for their so-called plan- B. Instead, they're planning to ramp up their vaccination program. Take a listen.


SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: We're looking closely at the data and we won't be implementing our plan-B of contingency measures at this point. But we'll be staying vigilant, preparing for all eventualities while strengthening our vital defenses that can help us fight back against this virus.


SOARES: New COVID cases -- as you can see in that graphic -- are now topping 40,000 a day here in the U.K. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins me now here in the studio. And Fred, why is the government wasting -- given they're at 40,000, why not just enact plan-B now?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 40,000, and one of the things the Health Secretary said at his press conference, is he fears it could go up to 100,000 cases per day as the winter progresses, or as the winter really sets in. So, there's obviously -- the obvious question, why they don't do it right now? They seem to believe that they still have things under control.

The Health Minister came out earlier day and he said, yes, the NHS is strained but it's not strained to appoint where it can't cope right now. Of course, there are some medical professionals who are saying, look, it's better to enact this early. And of course, there is some sort of strain. On the other hand, of course also, it would be a bit of a mea culpa, wouldn't it, you had this freedom day in July to now, only a couple of months later saying, yes, we do have to enact restrictions once again even though medically, that's what medical professionals are calling for.

SOARES: Did they say what the limit will be? I mean, did they say how bad it has to get in order for them to enact that plan-B?

PLEITGEN: it's quite interesting. They haven't said that yet. They haven't said yet what exactly the limits would be. However, we just did hear the Health Secretary there saying, that yes, they will be continuing to be vigilant. But the British Medical Association says now is the time to act. I want to read you a quote of what they said in a statement earlier this morning

They say, quote, the government has taken its foot off the brake, giving the impression that the pandemic is behind us and that life has returned to normal. It is willfully negligent -- very important -- of the Westminster Government not to be taking any further action to reduce the spread of infection, such as mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing and ventilation requirements in high-risk settings, particularly indoor crowded spaces.

So, medical professionals -- and this is not just the British Medical Association saying this. One of the reasons we saw that press conference yesterday by the Health Secretary, is that the NHS came out as well and said, look, it's time to enact plan-B. The government it this point seems to think that they still have things under control. And they think that boosting vaccinations is something that could help as well.

SOARES: Willful negligence are pretty strong words from the BMA. But also, we are getting a sense here of deja vu. Because when this has all happened so much criticism against the government for not acting fast enough. But also, we're hearing now of a plan-C supposedly, "The Telegraph" is talking plan-C. We didn't even have a plan-B.

PLEITGEN: Yes, plan B is not even active yet, exactly.

SOARES: Fred, thanks very much. Great to see you.

Now, Brazil's President is lashing out at the Senate panel that accused him of recklessly managing of the pandemic saying he's not guilty and their report was a big waste of time. The Senate commission investigating Jair Bolsonaro is recommending he face 10 criminal charges including crimes against humanity. Three of President Bolsonaro's sons are also among the accused, along with some 60 current and former government officials.


JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We know that we are guilty of absolutely nothing. We know that we did the right thing from the first moment.


They took up the time of our health minister, public employees, humble people and businessmen. They have produced nothing but hatred and resentment among some of us.


SOARES: Well Senators are scheduled to vote on the final report next week. If approved it will go to the attorney general, but he is considered a Bolsonaro ally. So, it's unclear if the allegations will lead to actual charges. The investigation has hurt the president's approval ratings and is a setback to his bid for re-election next year --October of next year to be precise.

Well, just months after India was ravaged by a second wave of coronavirus, the country's health ministry now says it has administered 1 billion doses of COVID vaccines. It reached that milestone by giving 8 million shots in a single day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations to the nation. Calling it a triumph of Indian science, enterprise, as well as collected spirit.

Floods and landslides pummel India as well as Nepal, leading to large number of deaths. Military helicopters rushed to save survivors stranded -- as you can see there -- on rooftops, to video of dramatic rescue. We'll have that coming up for you.

Then the White House and key Democrats quietly discuss what to sacrifice to keep President Biden's stalled domestic agenda alive.

And later this hour, another blow for Chinese real estate giant Evergrande. Why they called off a multibillion-dollar deal with a rival developer. We show you the share price tanking next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the United States of America, damn it. What are we doing? Both of these goals are going to help us meet the moment in the climate crisis in a way that creates good jobs, makes us more economically competitive.


SOARES: The U.S. President there trying to sell his plan for infrastructure, climate and budget reconciliation in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. They are at the heart of course of his domestic agenda. And he's promising his roadmap will breathe new life into the American workforce. But a few Democrats are objecting to parts of the agenda and installing its progress. CNN's Phil Mattingly explains where things stand.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For President Biden and his multitrillion-dollar dual-pronged domestic agenda there's never been any question about the import of it to his administration, to Democrats both in the White House and on Capitol Hill. The big question was, is there ever going to be a path forward? It's something that the president and his team have worked quietly behind the scenes on it for the better part of last two weeks.

Details now starting to emerge. A pathway also seeming to emerge. Still, many hurdles remain. The president telling Democrats behind closed doors on Tuesday, that several different areas where he would be scaling back his package. Some areas that will drop off entirely as it relates to that multitrillion-dollar climate and economic package.

But also making clear that in laying those out he believes he was closer to in agreement with two moderate holdout Senators, Senators Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema. And with that taking his argument to the public on Wednesday in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. It's optimism. Take a listen.

BIDEN: I think we're going to surprise them because then people are beginning to figure out what's at stake.

MATTINGLY: Democrats have made clear they want a framework deal on that second piece of the agenda by the end of this week. And they've been working very quickly to try to and secure that. However, the president doesn't currently have signoff on the two moderate Senators. There are still a number of major details to be figure out from the climate package, from the length of the extension of the fully refundable children's tax credit. How to expand Medicare, whether to cover expansions of Medicaid, how to expand subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. No shortage of major substantive issues still hanging out there right now.

But obviously, the president has made clear, Democratic leaders have made clear time is of the essence. They want to move quickly. The question is how fast they can actually do and do they actually have the votes to pass whatever they agree on.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


SOARES: And be sure to tune in later today, President Biden will join Anderson Cooper for CNN Town Hall where he'll take questions about his economic agenda. You can catch it right here, 8:00 p.m. in New York, 8:00 a.m. Friday in Hong Kong, only on CNN.

Now despite increased commitments from world leaders to combat climate change, a new U.N. report has found many companies are planning to actually ramp up fossil fuel production. It says over the next decade governments will produce more than double the amount of energy from oil, gas and coal that would be needed to limit global warming. The report comes as a new study from the "Lancet Medical Journal" warns the health effects of climate are expected to get worse in coming years.

A helicopter came to the rescue as heavy floods swamped parts of India and Nepal killing at least 150 people. India's Air Force tweeted this video -- this video I should say that you're seeing there. Showing a helicopter pulling out people stranded by floods in Uttarakhand state. More than half of the victims were in Nepal and dozens more are injured and missing. The record flooding has also washed away homes and bridges on both sides of the border.

Derek Van Dam joins us now with the weather forecast for the area for the rest of the day. And Derek, any letup in the heavy rainfall?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the good news is that the southwestern monsoon is starting to retreat across these areas. So, we should start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. But you talked about bridges and roads being washed away. Well, here's a prime example of that. I mean, this occurred in the northern India near the border of Nepal, earlier this week from the heavy rain that fell.

And I want you to take note of the mountainous terrain across this region. This is an important part of the narrative of telling this story. Because what is taking place is a phenomenon called an orographic lift. So basically, think of the mountainside or the Himalayas basically, as this immovable panel, or let's say a wall, for instance. If you were to take a sponge, a wet sponge, push it against that wall -- or the mountains in this case -- it's going to ring out all that available water.


That's exactly what happens when air gets pushed up and over this immovable surface. It wrings out all of the available water, allows for heavy rain to form, clouds to condense, and we get that intense rainfall. And when it falls within high elevated areas like this, we get the ravines in the canyons, it funnels down and it creates that immense amount of flooding and flash flooding that can happen at a moment's notice.

We're talking about rainfall totals in excess of 400 millimeters. We're talk about several inches of rain within this area, over a foot in some instances. Now the good news is, the water vapor satellite imagery showing this retreat of the monsoon that helps form this hefty rainfall across northern and central India. It is moving quickly. It's annual retreat. And there is its current location with still some rainfall expected across the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal and into the southwestern portions of the Indian subcontinent. Including the state of Kerala where we have the potential for more flooding. This area could pick up another 5 to 7 inches of rainfall here within

the next five days. We do have a weather forecast that looks rather wet. And you can see they are preparing for more flooding in Kerala, starting to release more water out of some of the local dams within this particular region. That's all we have from the weather center, Isa, we'll send it back to you in the studio.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Derek Van Dam there for us.

Coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, officials are working behind the scenes to secure the release of a group of kidnapped missionaries in Haiti. Why some inside the country are concerned about the ransom demands.

Plus, farmers in Colombia are hoping to cash in on the legal drug trade. The country's medical marijuana industry is taking off and giving a much-needed boost to Colombia's economy. We take you to Colombia, next.