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Trump To Speak To Union Members In Michigan After Biden Joined Picket Line; 3 Million+ Children Could Lose Case If Relief Funds Expire; Federal Trade Commission And 17 States Sue Amazon. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 07:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, tonight, seven Republican candidates will spar on stage in their pursuit of the party's 2024 nomination. But if you've been paying attention over the last 24 hours there's a pretty clear reality setting in that a general election may not include any of those candidates at all. Instead, it may come down to a Biden-Trump rematch.

Now, President Biden previewed a major speech he's planning for Thursday at a fundraiser last night, saying former President Trump and his allies are, quote, "determined to destroy democracy." And some of those allies, with Trump's explicit backing, are moving several steps closer to careening Congress into a government shutdown on Capitol Hill.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, Biden became the first sitting president to join union workers on the picket line -- that was yesterday -- in their ongoing auto strike.

Now Trump will try his hand with union voters at a campaign stop in Michigan and a primetime set of remarks tonight. It's a state he won in 2016 but then he lost there to Biden in 2020. He will be speaking at a non-union plant to around 500 former or current union members -- a group that historically does vote Democratic.

Kristen Holmes live in Clinton Township, Michigan with more. Obviously, Republicans -- the party, the strategists -- see something here in polling -- Politico had an interesting piece on it -- for Republicans to grab in the union vote.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. Look, we know when Donald Trump arrives today he is not going to have the same warm welcome from union leadership that we saw President Biden have yesterday.

As you mentioned, unions are typically Democratic. They typically vote Democratic. However, they do believe that there is an ability -- and they being the Trump campaign -- to essentially drive a wedge between union leadership and the rank-and-file members, some of whom will be here tonight. We are expecting, as you said, former and current union members, including members of the United Auto Workers, as well as their families here.

And essentially, as you mentioned, when it comes to Michigan, 2016 -- it was working-class voters and the state of Michigan that helped propel Trump to the White House. In 2020, it was working-class voters and Michigan that helped propel Biden to the White House. And now you're seeing Trump trying to get some of those votes back.

It's not going to be easy this time around, particularly given all of the criticism that he has gotten from these union leaders who say that his administration was pro-business, anti-labor, anti-union, but they still believe that it's possible.

And, Poppy and Phil, I do want to note one thing. It is not just Trump who is looking ahead to the general. You mentioned that fundraiser. The Biden people are out with a new ad today that is airing in Michigan ahead of Trump's visit. Take a listen.


BIDEN POLITICAL AD: He says he stands with auto workers but as president, Donald Trump passed tax breaks for his rich friends while automakers shuttered their plants and Michigan lost manufacturing jobs. Joe Biden said he'd stand up for workers and he's delivering, passing laws that are increasing wages and creating good-paying jobs. Manufacturing is coming back to Michigan.


HOLMES: And one thing is clear. You know, you mentioned that Republicans see an opportunity here. Well, obviously, Democrats also see that there is potential for these union voters -- these working- class voters to vote Republican. They're putting out this ad specifically in Michigan to show Biden's record and to show Trump's record as well.

And one other thing I want to point out here is that one of the things we are expecting to hear from Donald Trump tonight is this pitch against electric vehicles which, of course, has been a cornerstone of Biden's presidency. They say -- the Trump campaign says that this is going to take away jobs, move them to China.

And it's likely why they chose this facility here -- this non-union facility. It is a facility that the president said in an interview yesterday that if electric vehicles were to take over now, that this facility -- his facility would go out of business.

MATTINGLY: All right, Kristen Holmes. A big night. A potent talking point. At least that's what the campaign thinks. Thanks very much.

HARLOW: All right, let's go to Kyung Lah. She is live at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for tonight's debate. Good morning.


Some of the rivals -- Trump's rivals -- he's not going to be there -- but they are calling him out for that, right? KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he is not going to be here again, Poppy. And lest you think that this is just going to be a repeat of debate one.

What we're hearing from these campaigns' signaling is, yes, they are taking it to Donald Trump. That is the hope. That they are doing it, testing out some of those lines before this debate, signaling as well to us that they are going to use some of those lines on the debate stage. But also, trying to take swipes at each other as they all fight to be the Trump alternative.

We are hearing from Tim Scott's campaign that he will be much more aggressive in posture. Vivek Ramaswamy telling CNN that what he is planning to do is to take some of those policy and personality disagreements that he has with Donald Trump -- that he is going to put that on the debate stage. As well as Nikki Haley who has been testing out some of those anti-Trump lines -- calling him, before this debate, thin-skinned and weak in the knees.

And we also heard last night two other candidates saying that they are not happy that Trump is not going to be here. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's interesting that he's not willing to stand on that stage. I think he owes it to all the voters to show up -- defend his record. Articulate what he would do going forward. He's running in 2024 on a lot of the same promises he ran on in 2016 and didn't deliver on.

MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Donald Trump today is different than the Donald Trump of 2016. And you bet -- I think he ought to be on that debate stage. He ought to be engaging all of us that are vying for this nomination.


LAH: And what all of these campaigns are signaling to us is that they understand this is really their big chance -- a big opportunity to speak directly to Republican primary voters. And they also are speaking to those fundraisers. Phil and Poppy, this is an opportunity to keep that cash coming to keep their campaigns going.

HARLOW: OK. Kyung, thank you. It's going to be a fascinating night there, that's for sure.

So this morning, Sen. Bob Menendez will make his first court appearance -- it will happen in New York -- on these federal charges stemming from alleged bribery payments found in his home. Gold bars, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, a luxury car among them.

MATTINGLY: All that driving a growing number of lawmakers to call for him to resign. The count is at 26 -- about half the Senate Democratic caucus. Menendez, however, remaining defiant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Will you run for reelection? Will you run for reelection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Menendez?

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I'm here to do the work of the people of New Jersey.

RAJU: Are you -- will you run for reelection, sir?

MENENDEZ: As I said, I am here to do the work of the people of New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won't you resign, sir? Senator Menendez?

MENENDEZ: Because I'm innocent. What's wrong with you guys?


MATTINGLY: CNN's Kara Scannell is live outside the federal courthouse in New York City.

The Cory Booker moment in joining that group of 20-plus was kind of a big, big moment yesterday.

But in terms of what we're going to see today, Menendez, his wife, and two other New Jersey businessmen will appear in court. What do we expect?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, good morning, guys.

So we're expecting the senator and his wife to arrive soon this morning to face these charges. They'll surrender and technically be arrested as they're going to head into court and go before the judge.

So it will be Sen. Menendez, his wife Nadine, and two New Jersey businessmen who are accused of paying the senator hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in the form of gold bars, cash, a Mercedes Benz convertible, mortgage payments, and a no- or low-show job for his job. And in exchange, the senator is accused of taking steps to benefit the men and to provide some aid to Egypt through his role as the chairman -- or then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Now, this appearance will -- they will all appear in court before a judge. We do expect them to be arraigned on the charges. And the fifth person -- the fifth person who is charged in this case, another New Jersey businessman Wael Hana, appeared in court yesterday. He entered a plea of not guilty and he was released on $5 million bail. So additional details like that we will learn once this court hearing wraps up.

But as you say, the senator, facing growing calls for his resignation, remains defiant, saying he is not going anywhere and he expects to be exonerated of all charges when this is said and done -- Phil, Poppy.

HARLOW: Kara Scannell, thank you for the reporting. We'll watch closely as this unfolds today.

MATTINGLY: Well, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio just landed back on Earth after becoming the first American to spend a full year in space. The historic moment, that's next.

HARLOW: And in the WNBA Playoffs, the New York Liberty evened up their series with the Connecticut Sun. An 84-77 victory for them last night.

And they have another reason to celebrate. Superstar Breanna Stewart was named League MVP for the second time in her career. Stewart shared an adorable moment with her 2-year-old daughter earlier when Ruby interrupted her acceptance speech.


BREANNA STEWART, 2023 WNBA MVP: Hey, come here. You want to stand with mommy? To be a role model to you, Ruby, is really what keeps me going. And today, you get to see your mommy win MVP.




HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

So this morning, a crisis is looming over America's families and the U.S. economy. It has been dubbed the "Child Care Cliff." And now are just three days away from careening over it. This Saturday, billions of dollars from COVID-era funding that kept daycares open -- it's going to run out. And if Congress does not act to renew that funding, supporters of this aid say it could have catastrophic results for American families and businesses across the country.


DALISA ABREU, SINGLE MOM, RECRUITER: I lose sleep over it. It's a constant worry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you doing this morning?

HARLOW (voice-over): Families under financial pressure and now facing the prospect of another childcare crisis. According to a progressive think tank, without new funding, as many as 70,000 childcare programs could close. More than three million children could be at risk of losing access to care, and more than 230,000 jobs could be lost in that sector alone. And parents, especially working moms, could be forced to leave the workforce.

ABREU: So did have to take a leave of absence.

HARLOW (voice-over): Dalisa Abreu, a single mom of two in Florida, says she had to temporarily leave her job as a recruiter when COVID hit to take care of her children. Now she says she worries about having to make that choice again.

ABREU: I worry what's going to happen to those moms now -- specifically, the single parents.


HARLOW (voice-over): For Alex Magann, mom of two, the cost of childcare forced her husband to leave his job in a Massachusetts classroom to care for their children at a time when educators are in short supply.

MAGANN: It did leave a hole in his school. After running all the numbers and assessing all of our options, we realized that we would probably be losing money if we did send her to daycare.

HARLOW (voice-over): Congressional Democrats urging their Republican colleagues to take action and pass a bill that would provide $16 billion in annual funding for the next five years.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Access to high-quality childcare is essential to our economy. If mommas and daddies can't get care for their babies, they can't go to work.

HARLOW (voice-over): Republican Sen. John Kennedy offering sympathy for the issue --

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You know, being opposed to affordable childcare is like being opposed to golden retrievers.

HARLOW (voice-over): -- while also raising the critical question of how to pay for it.

KENNEDY: Do we raise taxes? Do we just borrow it? We are running big deficits and deficits do matter. And our spending has contributed to inflation. It's not the only reason.

HARLOW (voice-over): But for families and childcare providers at the edge of the cliff, they say the cost of doing nothing is simply too much.

MAGANN: Affording childcare is a luxury that shouldn't be a luxury. It should be a basic right.


HARLOW: At the table with us to talk a lot more about it this morning, Reshma Saujani. She is the founder of Girls Who Code and Moms First, a nonprofit that advocates for improved childcare benefits and paid leave. She also is a Democrat and ran for Congress back in 2010. It's great to have you.

RESHMA SAUJANI, FOUNDER, MOMS FIRST AND GIRLS WHO CODE: Thanks for having me, Poppy. HARLOW: You're always so good at bringing these things to the fore because, by the way, this is all over the papers this morning. And you've been sort of ringing the alarm bells now for months that this was going to end.

What happened Saturday? I'm assuming no more funding for this unless something dramatically changes. What does that mean next Monday for families?

SAUJANI: I mean, it means that three million kids don't have childcare. Hundreds of thousands of childcare workers are out of a job.

Parents who have found childcare because we have, again, one out of two Americans live in a city that has no childcare. So you're going to see parents with their childcare bills dramatically increasing. And millions of parents are going to have to choose between feeding their babies and funding their daycare.

MATTINGLY: The -- there's a lot I want to get to on the issue itself, but the argument that Sen. Kennedy is raising there -- I've covered these policy debates on Capitol Hill for years. It felt like there was a sea change on these issues at the start of this administration coming out of the pandemic. That has waned, I think -- the momentum. It fell out of the legislative proposals that the president put together.

The thing I don't understand necessarily is the argument is we are lacking in productivity in the labor force at this moment. This contributes to labor production. This very clearly had direct results when these benefits were put out there. And yet, the -- it costs too much -- we can't afford this -- is by far and away a winning argument on Capitol Hill.

SAUJANI: Right. Because they still see childcare as a personal problem, right? It's a social safety net issue; not an economic issue even though two-thirds of women are doing care giving work.

MATTINGLY: But why doesn't that argument connect because there is data that backs that up?

SAUJANI: Because -- I mean, and you kind of see this in Sen. Kennedy's argument. Two-thirds of Americans and most legislators still believe that someone should take care of -- someone should stay at home and take care of the baby. Guess who that is? That's us, right?

So we're not prioritizing women's labor market participation. We're not prioritizing families. And the reality is that you can't be pro- family unless you're pro-care.

The United States is still the only industrialized nation that doesn't have paid leave. We're the most wealthiest nation that spent the least amount on childcare because we still think that family has got to figure it out by themselves and it's not an economic issue -- and it is. It's like number 13 on Congress' list and it should be number one right next to AI, right next to China. HARLOW: There are people on both sides of the aisle speaking out on this -- working on this issue. On the Democratic side, Congressman Ro Khanna, someone you've worked with alongside Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

Janet Yellen, the treasury secretary, has said -- and I think rightly so -- this is a quote "textbook example of a broken market."

SAUJANI: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Has the Biden administration -- you're a Democrat, but have they don't enough on this issue do you believe? Have Democrats writ large?

SAUJANI: Look, I mean, I think the president introduced a proposal to create a ceiling on the cost that Americans spend on childcare. They have given a lot of voices. The problem is Congress is broken. The men in Washington have decided that it's not a priority and they simply don't have the will to get anything done.

And at Moms First Look, I think that we need literally an army of moms that are putting pressure on Washington to say this is a priority for families and we need you to prioritize it.

HARLOW: Don't we need an army of dads, too?

SAUJANI: Oh, absolutely, and dads want this, too.


SAUJANI: This isn't a -- this isn't a gender issue --

HARLOW: Right.

SAUJANI: -- right? This is a family issue.

But the reality is that two-thirds of the care giving work is done by women. You saw this on the clip. The person who is having to make the choice between their job and their kids are us.


SAUJANI: And so our voices at this moment are critical.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: No, I just --

HARLOW: Phil somehow does both in his home.

MATTINGLY: No, my wife is a rock star.

HARLOW: Chelsea --

SAUJANI: You know what we need?

HARLOW: Chelsea is indeed --

SAUJANI: We need to get a march to Washington and tell Sen. Kennedy exactly where our dollars need to be spent.

MATTINGLY: I know we have to go but I think the interesting thing is --


MATTINGLY: -- there are conservative proposals -- policy proposals --


MATTINGLY: -- that there seems to be a sea change and an understanding of the importance of this and how do you reconcile them is still an open question that nobody's figured out. And --


SAUJANI: I mean, listen, the movement that we're building is bipartisan.


SAUJANI: This isn't a political issue, right?

HARLOW: Moms First?

SAUJANI: Moms First is a bipartisan movement, right?


SAUJANI: We had thousands of Republican mothers send letters to their Republican congress people saying I need you to do something.

So again, I think the necessity right now is to make this, like, again, a priority. In many ways, I feel like these issues how -- is how climate was 20 years ago.


SAUJANI: I'm like oh, yeah, I should be recycling. And now we realize that it's fundamental to our economic innovation and our success as a -- as a country. And it's the same thing on care issues.

HARLOW: You've been --


HARLOW: -- leading the charge on this, yeah.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

SAUJANI: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you. OK, a new big lawsuit against Amazon from the FTC and the states. We'll tell you what it means.

MATTINGLY: And NASA astronaut Frank Rubio just returned to Earth after becoming the first American to spend a full year in space. The historic moment -- we've got it, next.


MATTINGLY: Well, just moments ago, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio landed back on Earth after breaking the record, becoming the first American to spend more than a year in space. Now, he initially planned to spend just six months in space but his Russian ride fell through, forcing him to remain at the International Space Station.

CNN's Kristin Fisher joins us now from Washington, D.C. Kristin, he's being carried out of the capsule. He's supposed to be carried out of the capsule. Why?


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is standard procedure for any astronaut but especially an astronaut like Frank Rubio who has just become the first American to spend a full year in space.

Because think about it. This is the first time in 371 days that his body has been exposed to the forces of gravity. He has not put any weight on his legs or had to really lift anything with any real weight in well over a year. And so even astronauts who spend about a week in space, they have a hard time walking after they return to Earth. He spent more than a year in space so he's having probably a very tough time getting acclimated to the forces of gravity.

And so, you see them right there extracting him from the Soyuz capsule, which landed in Kazakhstan just a few minutes ago. He's literally carried out and then placed in a reclining chair where he can try to regain his sense of equilibrium.

But Phil, the other big thing that he's dealing with is this violent reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. In addition to the -- just the forces of gravity, he's also just pulled four or five Gs on this reentry into Earth. Everybody describes the Soyuz landing as being particularly violent.

In fact, the previous record holder, Phil, Mark -- NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei -- the previous record holder for this -- the single duration space flight -- he said his advice to Rubio before landing was keep your mouth shut on landing so that you don't bite off your tongue.


FISHER: That's how violent it is. So I think it's understandable that Rubio might be carried out of the spacecraft right about now.

HARLOW: Wow. Well --

MATTINGLY: That's good advice.

HARLOW: Yes, that's great advice.

Kristin Fisher, welcome home to him. And now he gets to see his family for the first time in a year. Thank you.

FISHER: Yeah, he has four kids.

HARLOW: Yeah, oh.

FISHER: You bet -- thanks.

MATTINGLY: Well, the Federal Trade Commission and 17 states launching a landmark lawsuit against America's largest e-commerce company, Amazon. The suit accuses Amazon of having a monopoly over much of the online retail environment and using its market size and power to manipulate third-party sellers and raise prices for consumers.


LINA KHAN, CHAIR, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: People are paying higher prices, right? Consumers are paying more than they otherwise would. Small businesses are having to pay a 50 percent Amazon tax right now. And so, ultimately, the complaint is seeking to restore the lost promise of competition. Greater competition will mean lower prices, better quality, better selection, and greater innovation. And that's ultimately what this case is about.


HARLOW: The case also alleges Amazon unfairly promotes its own platforms and services, harming third-party sellers who rely on Amazon to sell their goods. It's a claim that has followed Amazon for years, starting with a paper written by the woman you just heard from. She's now the FTC chair, Lina Khan.

But she wrote about this back in 2017 as a law student. Here is how she explained it to us in 2019.


KHAN: When you have a situation when a single company is effectively able to set the terms of the marketplace, that's a situation where I think we should worry about the market not being competitive.


HARLOW: That same year, I asked the then-CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, Jeff Wilke, about all these criticisms of Amazon's marketplace dominance. Here's what he said.


HARLOW: Does Amazon give priority to and prioritize its private label in search?

JEFF WILKE, THEN-CEO, AMAZON WORLDWIDE CONSUMER: We prioritize the things that customers want.

HARLOW: In a recent hearing on Capitol Hill, an Amazon attorney went a step further and categorically denied the claim.

NATHAN SUTTON, ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL, LITIGATION & REGULATORY, AMAZON.COM: We do not use their individual data when we're making decisions to launch private brands.


SUTTON: Our incentive is to help the seller succeed because we rely on them.


HARLOW: So when Wilke, the Amazon executive, left the company in 2021, yesterday, Lina Khan told CNN the FTC has not ruled out holding Amazon executives personally liable for the company's alleged conduct if they find sufficient evidence.

MATTINGLY: Now, Amazon says the government's action could end up causing the very problems it hopes to solve and that, quote, "If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses -- the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do."

This is not the FTC's only lawsuit against Amazon. It's also suing the company and several of its executives, alleging a scheme to enroll customers into their prime memberships without knowing.

All right. You have been focused on this all morning.

HARLOW: I just find it really interesting.

MATTINGLY: You've obviously covered a lot of this.

HARLOW: Did I email you enough about it?

MATTINGLY: I love those emails. I learn a lot from them.

What's your take? Because this is a huge moment not just for the FTC and the Biden administration, but also Lina Khan.

HARLOW: Well, this has been her fight --


HARLOW: -- since she was a law student. She's the first one who raised the question to, I think, this country about what is a monopoly? How do we define it? Do we have to change the way you define a monopoly from the Microsoft days to what Amazon is now? My big question out of this is it's important to track. Seventeen state attorneys general are on board. But what's it going to mean for people at home and the people who sell on Amazon? I think that's the real question. Is if they prevail in this lawsuit, is it just going to be fines and penalties or will actual changes happen that benefit them?

And Amazon -- and their statement is important --