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Texas Democrats Try To Block GOP Voting Bill By Leaving State; Macron Suggests France May Consider Mandatory Vaccines For All; Biden Calls On Cuban Regime To "Hear The People." Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 13, 2021 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: In recent days, voting rights advocates have focused on Texas where Republican lawmakers are mounting another push for restrictive voting laws, and Texas Democrats are arguably trying to save democracy by walking out on it.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more this morning.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Christine and Laura.

More than 50 Texas State House Democrats got on two private planes Monday and flew to Washington, D.C. The idea here is a quorum break. Basically, Texas state rules require two-thirds of the legislative members to be there in order to take a vote. If the Democrats leave they can't vote, and that's the plan -- to block a bill that they say restricts voting rights and adds new criminal penalties to the voting process.

Now look, their special session goes until the beginning of August, and so they're going to likely have to stay out of state for the duration of that. Texas state lawmakers said that they came to Washington, D.C. specifically to put pressure on Senate Democrats, noting that they're the minority in their state and they took great personal risk to make this decision. They would like to see Senate Democrats do the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our objective is very simply to build this bill for this session -- for this 30-day special session -- and use that time to deliver a very clear message to the U.S. Congress. You have to act and you have to act now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here to really lobby our Democrat colleagues and our Republican colleagues here in Congress, and the Biden administration that we need help. We can't do this alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They see that their power is dissipating. They see that Black and brown people are voting. The growth in the last 10 years -- 80 percent of it in the last decade has been because of people of color. That is what's scary in Texas. GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: As soon as they come back in the state of Texas they will be arrested and they will be cabined inside the Texas capitol until they get their job done. If they do not return to work they are risking losing their jobs as state representatives.

GALLAGHER (on camera): Christine, Laura, I asked those lawmakers about that. They said look, we knew the risk but we think that it is of greater service to our constituents to protest this and the only tool we have left in our toolbox. And they hope that the federal government will be able to intervene.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Dianne Gallagher. Thank you for that.

So as the Republican Party tries to use the big lie to pass laws to make it harder to vote, new reporting shows the party's top lawyer describing the false election claims about election fraud in 2020 -- lies propagated by the former president's own attorneys -- as, quote, "a joke."

According to an e-mail obtained by "The Washington Post," the RNC's chief counsel, Justin Riemer, tried to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on the RNC's accounts last November. He told the staffer that President Trump and his allies are, quote, "misleading millions of people." He goes on to say "What Rudy and Jenna (meaning Trump's lawyers) are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court."

This warning e-mail from Riemer was sent about six weeks before a pro- Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

ROMANS: Wow, that's fascinating.

Now to coronavirus and vaccination efforts around the world. A major shift in France where the French president now says the vaccine is mandatory for some and could be mandated for everyone.

CNN's Melissa Bell live in Paris with this angle for us. Melissa, how easy would it be for President Macron to do this?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Pretty unclear how it could made to work at all, and for the time being it really sounds more like a threat.

What's happening here in France, and we're seeing it across Europe, is, Christine, as that Delta variant takes hold and is expected to represent 90 percent of cases here in Europe by the end of August -- what we're seeing of governments coming up not against those supply issues we've initially seen around the vaccine but the vaccine hesitancy war. Essentially, anyone who is going to get vaccinated has, and now they're looking at all those people who are not so willing to rush and get vaccinated.

So what we heard from the French president last night on T.V. was the announcement, first of all -- very controversial -- that healthcare workers will have to get vaccinated or they simply won't be paid from September 15th. But beyond that, a number of incentives to try and encourage those who work outside the healthcare sector -- ordinary French people -- to go and get vaccinated as quickly as they can.

So, for instance, now you're going to need to show when you go into a restaurant or a cafe, or a theater or cinema that either you've been vaccinated or you have a PCR negative test. And those PCR negative tests, which had been free until now -- you're going to have to pay for from this forward (ph).

So from what we've seen last night, the app here in France that allows you to book medical appointments overrun. Nearly a million appointments booked in a single evening after Macron had taken to the airwaves. So really, encouraging people to go out and get vaccinated.

With that threat you're quite right saying that look, if this doesn't work and we don't get to the right number of people vaccinated, we may consider making them mandatory for all. For the time being, though, that is the threat looming over the French. Nothing has yet been announced definitively, Christine.


ROMANS: Yes, and this with so many leaders -- both local and national leaders are grappling with the idea of mandating something. It shows the urgency when you mandate it, but then it also can spark unrest, really, among people who say I don't want to be mandated by my government. So they have to really weigh that.

Melissa Bell, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: All right, 41 people are dead in Iraq after a fire broke out in a COVID ICU at a hospital in the southeastern city of Nasiriya. A health department official says the fire is thought to have started when an oxygen tank exploded. At least five people were critically injured.

And in April, at least 82 people died in a fire at COVID hospital in Baghdad, also traced to an oxygen tank explosion.

ROMANS: Now that pandemic restrictions are easing across the country, the White House is pushing state and local governments to use leftover money from the COVID relief package to address violent crime. To repurpose that money -- unspent money.

On Monday, President Biden met with Attorney General Merrick Garland and local leaders. He called for fewer guns and more community resources to combat violent crime.

JARRETT: Eric Adams, New York's Democratic mayoral primary winner and a former police officer, was one of those present for the meeting.


ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We can't continue to respond to symptoms. It's time to respond to the underlying causes of violence in our city. This president is making it clear he's going to redefine the ecosystem of public safety and that includes identifying the role of police, schools, families, resources, employment. This is where we need to go as a country.


JARRETT: While crime generally dropped during the pandemic and has actually continued to fall this year as well, homicides have increased -- and this is mostly driven by gun violence. According to data, at least 125 people were killed in more than 360 shootings nationwide over the weekend.

ROMANS: All right.

Meantime, a housing market so hot buyers can't even find a way in. Record low mortgage rates and a shift for more space in new locations sparked a frenzy in real estate but there just aren't enough homes. Record low inventories and record-high prices driving buyers out of the market.

Home prices have never been more expensive but there are signs a peak is near because home sales are slowing down a little bit. The National Association of Realtors notes high prices and tough competition are simply turnoffs for many potential buyers.

Fannie Mae finds only 32 percent of consumers believe it's a good time to buy a home. That is a record low. But, record low mortgage rates expected to keep driving demand, economists say.

Some people have to move -- you have to buy a house if you have to buy a house, right?

JARRETT: Right. But you're telling me I shouldn't try to buy a house.

ROMANS: I'm telling you, you should buy a house in my neighborhood. I'll help you.

JARRETT: You've been talking about it.

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: All right, The Trump Organization has removed embattled CFO Allen Weisselberg as an officer at several of its subsidiaries, including Mar-a-Lago. Weisselberg and The Trump Organization are under indicted for allegedly running a 15-year tax fraud scheme.

A company source telling CNN Weisselberg's role and title could actually be changing but he will remain at the company. This is about good corporate government, sources say.

He has pleaded not guilty to 15 state charges, including grand larceny. After Weisselberg's indictment earlier this month, Trump told "The New York Times," quote, "I am with him all the way."

ROMANS: All right. The Cuban government now disrupting communication on social media and messaging platforms, just today, after thousands of Cubans staged this unprecedented protest across the country. They're demanding relief from a growing economic crisis and greater freedom.

President Biden calling on the Cuban regime to, in his words, hear the people and serve their needs. The White House is now being forced to turn its attention from Russia and China to confront several budding crises just off the U.S. coast -- in the U.S. backyard.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann live in Havana for us -- Patrick.


The Biden administration is focusing much more on Latin America and the Caribbean than they probably would have expected at this point in several hotspots across the region and certainly, here in Cuban where these protests just stunned both the governments in Havana and Washington.

You had President Biden yesterday saying that this is something that frankly, the U.S. and Cuba have never seen before and that he is pressuring the Cuban government -- calling on the Cuban government not to crack down on these protesters.

Of course, in Haiti, you have the assassination of the president there. Other places like Peru and El Salvador, you have a contested election and then, an increasingly defiant leader of El Salvador.

But back to Cuba. There is a crackdown going on here against these protesters despite what President Biden said yesterday. The president of Cuba said the protesters are criminals. There are scores of people missing. They are presumed to be detained.

As you mentioned, Christine, the internet -- mobile internet remains out on phones here. It is just impossible to access social media, even with VPNs this morning. And that is clearly something the government is doing to keep people from posting photos and videos of the protests as they did on Sunday, which really sparked these stunning protests.


ROMANS: Patrick, what are they demanding? I was hearing economic opportunity. They need help -- the economy is in crisis. More vaccines. What do they want?

OPPMANN: You know, I think the most fascinating thing about what took place is there's really no leadership. There's nobody running the show, which is a challenge going forward for these protests. But it was just frustration.

And in one town, people said that it was because they had electricity cutoffs there for the last week and that is what got them out into the street.

Other people certainly are very frustrated by the fact that daily life in Cuba means waiting in lines. That has always been the case but particularly during the pandemic. People are spending hours every day just hunting for scarce food, scarce medicine. This is something the government has a monopoly on importing that the government is so cash- strapped they simply cannot import the goods that Cubans need, and store shelves are empty.

So I think that certainly calls for liberty. People angry over the lack of political opportunity -- that this is a single-party state. You do not have the right to protest here and that is why we've seen this crackdown and police arresting people.

So, you know, you talk to five protesters and you'll probably get five different reasons.


OPPMANN: But certainly, people are angry. We've seen this coming for some time. All the same, though, the explosion of anger --

ROMANS: Right.

OPPMANN: -- and protest on Sunday, I think has surprised everybody. It's just something that Cubans have never seen before.

ROMANS: Yes, widespread grassroots unease about what's happening in their country.

All right, thank you so much for that, Patrick Oppmann.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

Life-threatening climate change has arrived. Dangerous and record- breaking heat with alerts for much of California, all of Nevada, and parts of five other western states.

With the heat comes wildfires, especially in California and Oregon where one county sheriff said it will make arrests if residents do not heed current evacuation orders.

Oregon's health director says the recent heatwave seems otherworldly and conditions may be here to stay.

JARRETT: So far, officials say 55 large fires have burned over 768,000 acres across 12 states. That's about four times the size of New York City. And wildfire season tends to run through October so we are just at the beginning here, folks.

CNN's Stephanie Elam reports from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Laura and Christine, what we have is a punishing cycle out here in the west where it is so dry and the temperatures are so hot that it's leading to more drought, and that drought is then leading to more of these extreme temperatures.

And it's happening not just in California but throughout the west. You're seeing these records fall and not in a good way. We even saw that St. George, Utah, which is in the southwestern part of the state, actually tied an all-time record for the entire state of Utah for a high temperature of 117.

And what is really concerning when things get this dry is that the wildfire danger increases. And we're already seeing more fires starting to spring up and complex fires up in the northern part of the state.

And everything is brittle, basically, is the word I would use. Even touching the branches of the trees out there, they break apart in my hand so easily. And that, along with the wind that picks up in the afternoon, is what can drive these wildfires -- and everything is right for that right now.

And it's worth noting that this is early in the season. Fire officials very concerned this year and making it clear that fire season is getting longer every year. In fact, so far, we've seen more acres burn this year than in last year's fire season at this point in the year. What's noteworthy about that is that last year was a record year in and of itself -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Stephanie Elam, for that.

No spectators, no problem. On the day of the Tokyo Olympic Villages opening for the athletes, the head of the International Olympic Committee had high praise for the city and organizers of the 2020 Summer Games.

CNN's Blake Essig is live in Tokyo. And Blake, the Olympics begin in 10 days. What did the IOC president say this morning?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Christine, Tokyo very well might be the best-prepared city ever to host the Olympic Games as IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier today. But the same can't be said for its handling of COVID-19. The capital is now under a fourth state of emergency order.

For 23 straight days, Tokyo has seen an increase in the number of infections compared to the previous week. As cases continue to surge, metropolitan government experts believe a potential fifth wave of infection will exceed the previous wave. Now, that prediction is based on the highly transmissible Delta variant and an increase in people's movement.

Now, people in Tokyo have been living under a constant state of emergency or quasi-state of emergency since April and it's clear that fatigue is setting in.

Now, regardless of the case count, with the start of the Olympics just 10 days away, organizers are making their final push to prepare for the games. That includes the opening of the Olympic Village, which happened today.

Now, organizers are also left to deal with the news that four of its contractors who supply electricity for the games were arrested for allegedly violating Japan's narcotics laws. Now, Tokyo 2020 says that if the allegations are true they will issue a strict warning to the company and tell them to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Now, despite the legal trouble and recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Tokyo organizers continue pressing ahead in an effort to cement a positive legacy and create an upbeat tone for these games. Today, that effort was on display at the unveiling of Recovery Monuments, which were designed to connect the prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the rest of the world -- Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Blake for us in Tokyo. Thank you so much for that -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right.

The Olympic Games are still on, yet South Korea is banning fast treadmills in gyms to combat COVID. The country's health ministry says harsh breathing from intense activities can "spatter a lot of saliva." That is a quote there, folks.

Also banned, fast-paced music like Gangnam Style. You'll remember the South Korean hit that went viral a few years ago -- no more. The new measures are mandatory under South Korea's health regulations, with the country currently battling a health record of number of new COVID cases per day.

ROMANS: All right, that'll be in my head all day long. Thank you.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, after record highs in the U.S., you can see Asian shares moved higher here and European shares have opened narrowly mixed here.

The newest sign of a global recovery, demand for Chinese-made goods soaring. And Chinese customs officials say shipping delays are easing. The world's second-largest economy releases second-quarter GDP on Thursday.

Back on Wall Street, looking at stock index futures. Right now, after that record-high day yesterday, you can see futures in the U.S. narrowly mixed here. It was record highs in the regular session.

The Dow led by gains for Disney, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase. We're expecting a strong quarter for the banks in this recovery. Goldman and JPMorgan report second-quarter earnings just before the opening bell.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished with record highs.

The other big event, the Consumer Price Index -- CPI -- that's at 8:30 today. Prices are rising all over the place and some have worried inflation will force the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than expected.

Microsoft is buying cybersecurity firm RiskIQ to help companies protect themselves as cyberattacks become more of a concern -- the price of doing business in many cases here. RiskIQ software allows companies to monitor their entire networks and its thread intelligence research helps them mitigate potential risks.

Cybersecurity has been key for many business leaders after a string of ransomware attacks from the Colonial Pipeline hack in May to Kaseya earlier this month.

JARRETT: With the Olympics less than two weeks out now, Team USA's men's basketball suffering another shocking upset -- this time, to Australia.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, what happened?


So, you know, these are just exhibition games but there is a real reason to be concerned that Team USA won't win gold in Tokyo. Since the team starting playing with NBA players in 1992, they have lost just two exhibition games. They've now lost that many over the last three days.

And Australia -- you know, they have their share of NBA players but none of them all-stars. And, Kevin Durant, Jason Tatum, and Damian Lillard just not able to come through in the closing minutes when Australia went on an 11 to one run to end this game.

Team USA is a small team. They don't have a traditional point guard and they guys just aren't familiar playing together. So, some real problems here.

The U.S. hasn't failed to win gold at the Olympics since that disaster at the 2004 Athens Games when they got the bronze. Not a lot of time to pitch the problems.

All right, the Home Run Derby taking place last night in the thin air at Coors Field in Denver. New rule this year. You didn't have to wait for the ball to land to hit another one.

And Mets' slugger Pete Alonso putting on a show. He crushed a first- round record 35 homers. He would meet the Orioles' Trey Mancini in the finals. Mancini, an inspiring performance after battling his way back from being diagnosed with stage three colon cancer last year.

Alonso would end up beating Mancini by one in the final round to become the third player ever to win back-to-back derby titles. And the Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani was the favorite and he

struggled early but rallied to hit six home runs more than 500 feet, which was a record. Ohtani, however, did lose his first-round matchup to Juan DeSoto. He's going to take the field at tonight's All-Star Game as the American League's starting pitcher and the leadoff hitter.

All right, Tampa Bay and Lightning celebrate their back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with a wild party on the water. And somewhat appropriately, actual lightning from an afternoon thunderstorm ended up bringing the fun to an early end.

The biggest question from the day, though, is who dented the cup? Check out that huge dent at the top on the rim. The Lightning telling CNN it's going to be repaired before it's sent back to the team for more celebrations.

All right. Finally, tennis star Naomi Osaka has a brand-new Barbie doll and it's already sold out and on backorder. Mattel unveiling the collectors' item yesterday as part of its role model series and it was gone within hours.

Osaka says she wants to empower young girls, tweeting, "I hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything."

Now, this is actually the second Osaka Barbie. She partnered with the toymaker for their Shero doll back in 2019.

But pretty cool, guys, that she's got her own. I love how realistic it looks.



SCHOLES: Pretty cool she's got that Barbie and I'm sure a lot of young girls are going to enjoy it.

ROMANS: Yes. She's 23 years old and she's and she's -- I mean, she's changing how we think about sports and the relationship between --

JARRETT: And mental health.

ROMANS: -- and between the media and sports. And sort of just a sign of the old model --


ROMANS: -- of -- for these athletes.

OK, great to see you. Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: Very cool.

ROMANS: All right. JARRETT: Thanks, Andy.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman on this new day.