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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Britney Spears' Father Petitions To End Her Conservatorship; Accused In 2015 Paris Terror Attack Go On Trial Today; Trial Of Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Begins Today. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The school's information technology team detected unusual activity on the network last week and shut it down to investigate. School officials say there is no evidence that personal information was accessed.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's talk more about President Biden's national address tomorrow on the COVID pandemic. Joining us is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University and, I would say, a friend of the show. Nice to see you this morning, Professor.


ROMANS: You're a presidential historian. August, certainly the worst month for President Biden, no question, with all of these multiple crises he's facing. And a recent Gallop poll shows 42 percent of Americans don't believe he has a clear plan to fight COVID. How important is this speech in changing their minds?

ZELIZER: It's extremely important. This is a presidency that will be made or broken based on how the president does with COVID and how well he can move us out of the pandemic.

And so, part of the response is about policy. Does he increase the rate of vaccination? Does he provide other sorts of support through federal legislation to help with treatment?

But part of it's rhetorical. He needs to provide a sense of where we are, what's going on, and where we're going. And right now, a lot of the public doesn't feel that they have that.

JARRETT: So how does he help shore up the confidence that he has, in fact, got everything handled? I think for a while, sort of, he was riding on high coming out of the Trump presidency --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- where folks felt like the former president didn't have a handle on the pandemic. But now, of course, this president is the president and it's on his plate. ZELIZER: Well, that's exactly right. And I think in the first few months, what many Americans felt was a little bit of FDR, meaning he was explaining to the nation through his fireside chats what we were going to do.

And he implemented the vaccination program -- a new phase of it -- very effectively. And I think that's what he needs to do as kids are going back to school in the coming months -- be the explainer-in-chief and say this is what the science is saying and this is how we're going to implement the science.

But I think for many people right now, they don't really understand the answer to either.

ROMANS: Texas -- let's talk about Texas. It's just passed this new law making it harder to vote.

You write in a new piece on CNN that the president should support a carve-out exception to the filibuster in order to pass a new voting rights bill for the midterms. But why not go all the way and gut the filibuster entirely?

ZELIZER: Well, there's a strong argument to do that, it's just not clear that's going to happen right now. So this is, in some ways, a compromise of the moment as we have done with other kinds of legislation and other kinds of decisions to carve this out -- to take this out of the filibuster process.

But there's a strong argument, I would say, that in the long run the filibuster is destructive and it doesn't help deliberation in the Senate. It actually only helps dysfunction and gridlock.

JARRETT: Well, and whatever he does he needs to act pretty fast in order for anything to happen before the 2022 midterms. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act seems like the most modest proposal out there if you can't get all the way to an entirely new voting rights bill. But that remains to be seen.

ROMANS: And I wonder what you think about infrastructure and the broader big push for the Democrats for $3.5 trillion in a -- in a budget, which really remaking, as "The New York Times" said -- remaking the American economy from cradle to grave.

We've heard that Sen. Joe Manchin, right, may not be on board for the full amount and may be on board for only $1 trillion, some of the reporting is.

How much trouble is his legacy in here -- the Biden legacy in here for what he wants to do -- that plan?

ZELIZER: Well, it's very important it's not disconnected from recovering from the pandemic -- both the infrastructure plan and this new expansion of the social safety net. And it goes beyond that. This is, in many ways, what might define what his presidency is about -- this significant expansion of the federal government in areas where it's needed. But right now, it's stuck and it's stuck, in part, because of Republican opposition. But he also has a problem with Sen. Manchin, who has been a key form of resistance to a united party. So a lot is resting on Biden's ability to move the senator and we'll see what he does in the weeks ahead.

ROMANS: Yes. He's got an awful lot of experience moving senators, doesn't he? All that Senate experience is really going to have to come to bear here.

JARRETT: We'll see whether it pays off.

ROMANS: Right.

All right, Julian Zelizer -- so nice to see you -- CNN political analyst. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Thanks, Julian.

ZELIZER: Thank you.




JARRETT: Britney Spears' legal case much stronger than yesterday as she fights to end her court-ordered conservatorship. Jamie Spears, Britney's father, filing a petition to end his conservatorship over her estate, citing his daughter's pleas this summer to terminate this 13-year arrangement.


Chloe Melas is here with all the details and where things go from here. Chloe, so nice to have you this morning.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Good morning. Yes, live in the flesh.

JARRETT: It's so great to have you back.

MELAS: I've missed being in person with you guys.

JARRETT: This is the day for Chloe because we need to understand what in the world has happened here. How did we get from --

MELAS: Exactly.

JARRETT: How did we get from Britney telling the court -- telling the world --

MELAS: I know.

JARRETT: -- that this was a form of torture to now, her dad throwing the towel in?

MELAS: So -- I mean, I literally almost fell out of my desk chair in my office at home when I saw that of all the people to file a petition to terminate it's her father, right, who has been villainized for the last --

ROMANS: Right.

MELAS: -- several months.

The "Free Britney" movement and Britney Spears' new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, has been putting enormous pressure on Jamie Spears to step aside -- to resign.

And the next court hearing is September 29th, so many people were assuming that Judge Brenda Penny was most likely going to suspend Jamie Spears. So perhaps he saw this as an opportunity to go ahead and get out before a potential suspension -- or, according to this 112- page petition that I have obtained, he really says that he is doing this in the best interest of his daughter. That he heard her loud and clear this summer at both of her testimonies and that, according to him, any father's heart would break.

And that he believes that Britney has outgrown this conservatorship that he believes really did help set her on the straight and narrow at a time where she was facing an enormous public crisis.

And he says that she's driving again, her car. That she wants to be in charge of her medical care and choose her doctors, choose when to see psychologists and when not to.

So he just says he wants his daughter to be happy.

ROMANS: She's 39 years old and has made hundreds of millions of dollars underneath this conservatorship. So usually, these are for people who are elderly --


ROMANS: -- can't make sane decisions or sound decisions. She is someone who was a business powerhouse during this period, still making money and the like.

Any suggestion that she will come back and work again when she's free of this?

MELAS: Well, so I -- that's the big question. Britney Spears is always posting pictures of herself dancing in her living room. We don't really see her singing on Instagram.

But she has said that she, right now, wants to focus on herself. She said in her testimonies over the summer that she wants to have a baby. She wants to get married to her boyfriend. So I think that she's still focusing on herself right now.

Remember, she just came off of -- a few years ago -- this grueling Las Vegas residency. And like you said, Christine, she has worked all throughout her conservatorship, making hundreds of millions of dollars -- something that her mother, Lynn Spears, talked about in a petition over the summer -- that my daughter doesn't qualify for a conservatorship. Like you said, it's meant for those who are incapacitated. People who have aged out of being able to care for themselves.

So I think that whether Britney will perform again, we'll just have to see. But I really do find this to be incredibly a shocking turn of events. So will Judge Brenda Penny move up this court hearing that's scheduled for September 29th? And what happens for Britney after she is freed from this conservatorship?


MELAS: Her father is asking for $2 million to pay out for his lawyers, a salary for himself of half a million dollars. Rosengart, Britney's attorney, is saying nope, we're not going to pay that $2 million. So will we see this go into some sort of a battle post- conservatorship?


MELAS: Could we also see a jury trial? At some point -- you know, Britney's said multiple times this summer that she wants to charge her father with --

ROMANS: Right.

MELAS: -- with conservatorship abuse. Mathew Rosengart is a powerful litigator. Will he go after Jamie Spears or is this the end?

ROMANS: Her father was paid all along the way, right, as the conservator?

MELAS: Yes. So as a conservator, you accept a fee. But, you know, there is money out there, potentially, as overseeing her finances that maybe he got from different record deals --

ROMANS: Right.

MELAS: -- the residency. Deals that he made for her.

So again, I don't think it ends on September 29th. I think that we're going to see this get uglier, unfortunately.

JARRETT: Come back whenever you get more details -- more scoops on what's happening.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

MELAS: I'll come back, right here, OK?

ROMANS: All right, thank you.

JARRETT: Thank you, Chloe. ROMANS: All right.

Just ahead, the woman once hailed as the next Steve Jobs goes on trial for fraud just hours from now.



JARRETT: Nearly six years after the deadliest terror attacks ever on French soil, 20 of the men accused of planning and carrying them out go on trial today in a specially-constructed courtroom.


(Speaking foreign language)


JARRETT: On November 13, 2015, 10 attackers killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more in coordinated shootings and bombing at the Bataclan theater and venues across Paris.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Paris for us this morning. Melissa, good morning. This trial historic in a number of ways.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, just by dent (ph) of its scale for a start, Laura.

Three hundred thirty-three lawyers are going to be involved over the course of nine months. Three hundred witnesses are going to be heard and that really is going to be at the heart of what we're going to hear over these coming months -- is this reliving of this profoundly traumatic night for France, generally. It was the worst atrocity committed on French soil since World War II.

And it is those memories of the victims -- all of those who survived those coordinated attacks -- that will be most closely watched.

You mentioned the 10 men accused of having taken part directly. The only known survivor, Salah Abdeslam, is now in the courthouse behind me, as are the 13 other defendants who will actually be on the docket. Because of those 20 that you mentioned, several, of course, went back to Syria and are believed to have been killed in action there. So only 14 men on the docket and the most close to watch, Salah Abdeslam. He was one of those 10 men in Paris on that night.


Just to give you an idea of the security arrangements around me, let me show you this whole neighborhood of what is the very heart of Paris entirely cordoned off. Massive police presence for this first day of this historic trial as this gets underway.

You're not going to see any live pictures from inside that specially- constructed courtroom. What we will see is a historical record being kept. But we'll see people go in and go out. And it is only the victims, Laura, that will have direct access to the feed of the proceedings that are due to get underway in 45 minutes' time.

JARRETT: Melissa Bell live in Paris for us this morning. Thank you so much, Melissa.

ROMANS: All right, 45 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Let's look at markets around the world. You can see Asian shares closed mixed, though Tokyo bounced a bit. Europe has opened lower here. On Wall Street, stock index futures in the middle of this week leaning lower.

It was a mixed day in the U.S. yesterday. Investors returning from the Labor Day holiday. The Dow fell 200 and -- we'll call it 270 points. The Nasdaq rose slightly and that was just enough to hit a record high. It does not take much to hit records here.

Investors will find out just how many job openings there were in July when the job openings report is released at 10:00 a.m. There were 10.1 million open jobs in June, a record. Businesses struggling to hire enough workers to meet the demands of a reopening economy.

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains around the world, as you know, leading to big shipping delays and higher prices. But, China's trade with the rest of the world surged to record highs last month -- the reflective of the booming recovery. Exports rose 25 percent in August compared to last year. Imports jumped 33 percent.

The strong numbers eased some fears that the global shipping crisis would stall China's economy, but it still faces several challenges, including the Delta variant, supply bottlenecks, and slowing manufacturing activity.

All right, Elizabeth Holmes -- remember her? She went from the cover of magazines, as the founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos, to the defendant's table in court where her trial starts today on charges of running a titanic fraud. How did she get there?

CNN's Dan Simon has more.


ELIZABETH HOLMES, FOUNDER AND FORMER CEO, THERANOS: So this is the little tubes that we collect the samples in. We call them the nanotainer. They're about this big.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the darling of Silicon Valley.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A technician operates them.

SIMON (voice-over): Her technology billed as a revolutionary breakthrough and it made Elizabeth Holmes a media sensation.

REPORTER: In the year 2025, what's the thing you're most certain about?

HOLMES: More people will have access to their own health information.

SIMON (voice-over): Holmes claimed that her company called Theranos, a hybrid of therapy and diagnosis, could take just a couple of drops of blood and test for dozens of diseases, including HIV, diabetes, and cancer.

HOLMES: It's an incredible honor to have this group of healthcare thought leaders here.

SIMON (voice-over): In 2015, she appeared alongside then-Vice President Joe Biden at the company's California lab.

JOE BIDEN, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Talk about being inspired. This is inspiration, man. This is inspiration.

HOLMES: No one has ever seen this. You are the first one.


SIMON (voice-over): A year later, she gave CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta a tour of the lab and boasted that Theranos blood testing could be deployed pretty much everywhere.

GUPTA: Do you think people's homes should have these -- essentially, a clinical laboratory in their own house?

HOLMES: I think that's a very interesting space.

SIMON (voice-over): At age 31, according to Forbes, she became the youngest female self-made billionaire. A Stanford dropout, her black turtlenecks and deep distinctive voice made her an even more intriguing figure. But prosecutors say it was all a scam.

REPORTER: Elizabeth, any comment today about the trial?

SIMON (voice-over): And now, instead of walking into a lab, she's walking into a courtroom on trial, accused of misleading doctors, patients, and investors.

Federal prosecutors charging Holmes with 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of an alleged scheme to defraud her investors, which included the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Henry Kissinger.

JOHN CARREYROU, HOST, "BAD BLOOD: THE FINAL CHAPTER": Not a single one of those finger-stick tests done on proprietary Theranos technology was accurate. They were all voided.

SIMON (voice-over): John Carreyrou is the former "Wall Street Journal" reporter and best-selling author who exposed the alleged deception that sparked Holmes' downfall.

CARREYROU: The gap between her representations and the reality became huge. She's very manipulative. SIMON (voice-over): Holmes has pleaded not guilty. She's expected to testify at her trial and blame her former boyfriend, who was also the company's president, for alleged emotional abuse that impaired her decisions. If convicted, she could spend 20 years in prison.

Whatever happens, trial watchers say, could have loud reverberations across Silicon Valley where startups often embrace a so-called culture of fake it until you make it.

CARREYROU: I think if she is convicted, then it's going to be a wake- up call for Silicon Valley. If she's not -- if she's acquitted, then I think you'll have young entrepreneurs running around Silicon Valley saying yeah, I exaggerate, I hyped, I pushed the envelope -- but look at Elizabeth Holmes.


ROMANS: Dan Simon, thank you so much for that -- Laura.


JARRETT: All right.

The magical run of teenager Leylah Fernandez continues at the U.S. Open. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


You know, the big theme at this year's U.S. Open has been the incredible play from the teenagers. And Canadian Leylah Fernandez just turned 19 on Monday and now she's going to be playing in her first- ever Grand Slam semifinal.

Fernandez beating the fifth seed Elina Svitolina yesterday. It's the second time in the tournament she's beaten a top-five seed, making her the youngest player to do that since Serena Williams back in 1999. And Fernandez pretty much in disbelief at what she's been able to accomplish.\


LEYLAH FERNANDEZ, 2021 U.S. OPEN SEMIFINALIST: I honestly have no idea what I'm feeling right now. I'm just -- throughout the whole match I was so nervous. I was trying to do what my coach told me to do. And thanks to you guys -- to the crowd -- to the New York crowd cheering me on and fighting for me --


-- and never giving up for me. Thanks to you, I was able to push through today.


SCHOLES: Fernandez will next face second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus with a spot in the finals on the line.

Now, on the men's side, the dream run of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is over after he had to retire mid-match due to a thigh injury. Alcaraz said afterwards that he was able to control the pain early on, but by the second set, it was so bad that he couldn't continue.

That means another Canadian player, 21-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime advances to the first -- his first Grand Slam semi of his career. And ready to feel old? Felix, the first male player born in the 2000s to make it to the final four in a major. He'll face Daniil Medvedev on Friday.

All right, 20 years ago, baseball was a big part of helping out country come together and heal. And this Saturday on HBO Max, a powerful new documentary, "EXTRA INNINGS FROM 9/11: 20 YEARS LATER" will debut.




SCHOLES: Yes, the film captures the effects of those tragic events on the lives of the storytellers now 20 years later. Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Mike Piazza all a part of the documentary. Turner Sports, who produced the doc, and HBO Max are owned by CNN's parent company WarnerMedia.

And you know, guys, just going back to that time --


SCHOLES: -- I certainly remember watching baseball and all those Yankee games and how much of a big part of it was of just the emotion of that time.

JARRETT: Sure, yes.

ROMANS: It was so special. I mean, here in New York it was really, really special to have people coming together. I mean, that was a -- I can close my eyes and I'm back there in a second. I can't believe it's been 20 years. I mean, I can close my eyes --


ROMANS: -- and remember just how awful it was here and then how it took sports and it took just everyone together getting through it.


ROMANS: But looking at those clips I just -- I remember.


ROMANS: It's just amazing.


JARRETT: I'm looking forward to seeing that.

ROMANS: I'm going to watch that documentary. I really am.

JARRETT: Yes, absolutely. Thanks, Andy.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: Finally this morning, an elderly couple trapped in a burning car on a San Diego area freeway saved from a fiery death by five men from a local homeless shelter. The men say they were driving back from bible study on Labor Day. They spotted the fire and leapt into action.


ANDREW LEGGETT, GOOD SAMARITAN WHO RESCUED ELDERLY COUPLE FROM CAR FIRE: We just saw this guy and he's stuck in his seatbelt. So we kind of snatched open the door and unbuckled the seatbelt and my buddy, Barry, snatched him out of the car.


JARRETT: His buddy, Barry, there remains in the hospital with burns to one arm. The other heroes say the rescue stemmed partly from their experience at East County Transitional Living Center.


HARRY HEMPHILL, GOOD SAMARITAN WHO RESCUED ELDERLY COUPLE FROM CAR FIRE: There was a time when, like so many, I would have -- we would have kept driving. But because of programs like ECTLC, we're -- I'm changing. And in that change now we're able to not just be selfish individuals but look out for others.


JARRETT: The couple in the car, Ken and Joan Williamson, age 92 and 90, are hospitalized but they are expected to fully recover. It's so nice to see some Good Samaritans --


JARRETT: -- and some quick thinking this Wednesday for you.

ROMANS: There are heroes everywhere.

All right, thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Wednesday, September 8th.

And this morning, a huge rise in the number of COVID cases among kids just as school begins across the entire country.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports more than 250,000 new cases involving children arise (ph) in the last week. That's a 23 percent increase from the week before and a 250 percent increase from five weeks ago.

Nearly 27 percent of all new weekly cases are children. That is a much higher percentage than we have seen over the course of the pandemic.