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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

White House Economic Agenda Faces Tough Road in Congress; North Korea Claims Successful Test-Firing of New Long-Range Missiles; Biden to Campaign with Newsom in Final Hours Before Recall Election. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Party infighting, new demands, and a ticking clock. Why the president's economic plans are running into new roadblocks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: North Korea with its most significant missile test of the Biden era. How the rogue regime fits into the web of global threats facing the U.S.

JARRETT: And for the first time since COVID hit, the nation's biggest school district is back open for all students today with new optimism for a vaccine for some kids could be weeks away. Hello everyone, it's Monday, September 13th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks so much for getting an EARLY START with us, I'm Laura Jarrett --

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, we have reports this morning from Delaware, Seoul, California, Kabul, Washington and the U.K. But we begin with the White House running into roadblocks from all directions as it enters a critical period to set an economic agenda for the end of the year and the 2022 mid-terms. Democrats in Congress are trying to push ahead with a sweeping multi-trillion dollar 10-year spending plan to expand the social safety net that includes child care and tackling the climate crisis.

The goal is to submit detailed bills by midweek. Democrats from opposite ends of the spectrum are drawing hardlines.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): He would not have my vote on $3.5, and Chuck knows that, and we've talked about this. We've already put out $5.4 trillion, and we've tried to help Americans and everywhere we possibly can, and a lot of the help that we've put out there is still there and it's going to run clear into next year 2022. What's the urgency?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-V): No, it is absolutely not acceptable to me, I don't think it's acceptable for the president, for the American people or the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic caucus.


JARRETT: So, that's in the Senate. But in the house, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a September 27th deadline to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate, but if the larger bill for social programs hasn't passed the Senate by then, it's unclear whether they would have the votes to push either one through. CNN's Jasmine Wright is traveling with the president, is live for us in Wilmington, Delaware this morning.

Jasmine, good morning. Democrats, of course, have to be united on everything to get anything passed here in a 50-50 Senate. That's even without the Republican piece of this. So what's the White House strategy?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Laura, I think if you asked the president, he would say staying optimistic. But the reality here is that comments like this from Senator Joe Manchin are not helpful for the overall goal, as you said. They need -- they have the slimmest majorities in Congress, Democrats do, and basically without his vote, it would not only be difficult, but it will basically be impossible to get anything, specifically this bill passed. And so now, of course, this is not the first time that Manchin has thrown this bill to the young administration for a loop during this legislative process.

And he has been consistently over this month foreshadowing that he wants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to slow down her timeline. Remember, he called for a pause last week. Something that basically Nancy Pelosi said we're not going to do and said we're going to plow through. And asked about his call -- single call for a pause last week, listen to what President Biden said. He basically makes the case that, you know, he thinks that Joe Manchin will ultimately be with them.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Joe at the end is always been there, he's always been with me. I think we can work something out. And I look forward to speaking with him.


WRIGHT: So, the question is, Laura and Christine is, what has changed from Tuesday until now? Well, first of all, we see Senator Manchin digging in, now saying that he won't for it at all. Remember Pelosi wants this bill written by Wednesday, up for a vote next week. But also, we have to throw in Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Now he says on the reverse that he doesn't support the bill because it doesn't do enough for housing assistance. Really illuminating the tight rope that President Biden has to walk, trying to bridge the gap in these real two-tent poles of the Senate Democrats.

One saying it does too much, one saying it doesn't do enough. So, when you talk to White House officials, over the last two weeks, they have been speaking about this bill with real urgency saying they need to get it done. It needs to get passed. So, we will see what privileges of the presidency President Biden uses over the next week and a half to try to get more Democrats on his side, whether he brings it to the White House, aboard Air Force 1, you name it, trying to get this thing done. Laura, Christine?

JARRETT: Trying to get it done, trying to pull out all the stops. All right, Jasmine, thank you for that.

ROMANS: So, while Democrats struggle with how to move forward, house Democrats are still laying out specifics on how to fund that $3.5 trillion budget plan by hiking taxes on the rich and corporations.


A draft proposal obtained by CNN calls for a top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent, that's for Americans earning $400,000 or more a year. Those taxpayers would also pay more on their investment profits. Meanwhile, the top corporate tax rate for businesses making $5 million or more would rise to 26.5 percent from 21 percent. Essentially, this plan raises some of those tax rates that were lowered by the 2017 GOP tax law. All these measures are projected to raise $2.9 trillion, the draft proposal says that along with something called Dynamic Growth Estimates would fully cover the cost of a $3.5 trillion plan. The final version will likely be released today.

JARRETT: What are Dynamic Growth Estimates?

ROMANS: That means when you do these things to make this -- the economy more efficient, the economy grows stronger. And so, the economic growth of -- the economic growth that comes with these plans then would help fund it as well.

JARRETT: This is why we need the chief business correspondent so early in the morning to help us out. Thank you. All right, new overnight, North Korea claims it successfully test-fired new long range cruise missiles over the weekend. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul for us this morning. Paula, President Biden has talked about the new threats facing the United States. Could this be one of them? How significant is this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, North Korea had not been at the top of the priority list for some time. Certainly not since the beginning of the Biden presidency. And this does take it up higher on that priority list. North Korea does not like to be ignored. And more quite often have weapons tests or test fire missiles in order to get the attention back to them. So, this is the most significant test-firing of the Biden presidency so far. But it could have been a lot more significant. What it was, was a long- range cruise missile.

So, it means that the -- that it is according to North Korean state- run media, new strategic weaponry. They say they have been developing this for two years. It's significant because it means they are pushing forward in their military capabilities, but it wasn't ballistic missile technology. So technically, they weren't violating any U.N. Security Council resolutions. So, that is why you're not seeing many of the countries being quite so concerned. Although Japan and South Korea have said that they are concerned. The U.S. also saying that they are looking into this.

But significantly, Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader was not there, according to state-run media. They didn't mention him. So, that shows that it wasn't that significant because he likes to be front and center when it's something that he really wants to show off to the world. And, also, it was on page two of the "Rodong Sinmun", the newspaper. If it was extremely significant, it would have been splashed all over the front page. Laura?

JARRETT: Very helpful context. Paula, thank you for your reporting, appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, California Governor Gavin Newsom fighting for his job and much more as Democrats try to beat back a Republican recall.



JARRETT: President Biden heads to California today to campaign with Governor Gavin Newsom ahead of tomorrow's recall election. The removal of the Democratic governor of a very blue state could carry implications well beyond California.

ROMANS: That's right. You know, a loss could embolden Republicans who oppose vaccine mandates and other important COVID restrictions. It could even jeopardize Democratic control of the Senate if 88-year-old Dianne Feinstein for some reason couldn't finish her term. CNN's Natasha Chen has more on all this from Beverly Hills.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, more than 7 million California voters have already turned in their mail-in ballots, others have taken advantage of early voting in person at voting centers like this one over the weekend. People here in Beverly Hills, a left-leaning area, told us they approve of Newsom's leadership through the pandemic, and they worry that someone like Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate to replace Newsom, may roll back vaccine requirements and mask mandates that they feel would be harmful to public health.

But one major reason for the recall, is some Californians did not like Newsom's pandemic restrictions. I asked one voter if she could feel that frustration.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I'm aware of. They're individuals who decided they're not going to be vaccinated or they're not going to follow protocol because that's their group that thinks that way. So, there -- it's very clear how people -- some people say I don't trust the government, I'm not going to be vaccinated. So, I think it's -- I don't see frustration as much as people are dug into their ways.


CHEN: She also told me she feels this recall election is a waste of money because there's a scheduled gubernatorial election next year anyway. This ballot has just two questions. The first asks voters whether they want to recall Governor Newsom. If the majority voters say no, then he stays in office. In the event of a recall though, the second question asks voters who should replace Newsom if he's recalled, and there's 46 candidates to choose from. The person with the most votes would become governor. But that would not be happening immediately. The California Secretary of State has up to one month to finalize the tally and certify the election. Christine and Laura, back to you.

JARRETT: Natasha, thank you for that. While he was president on 9/11, now George W. Bush drawing a direct line from terror abroad to terror at home.



JARRETT: Welcome back. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the FBI released the first of several documents about the suspected role of the Saudi government in the September 11th terror attacks. The evidence reveals at least two hijackers met with Saudi insiders on U.S. soil. The Saudis have publicly welcomed the documents release, but are 9/11 family members satisfied?


TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIRWOMAN, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: No, Saudi Arabia has been fighting us tooth and nail to keep all of this evidence buried. It's what they put out in the press, but it's not true at all. They don't even release their own files. They don't produce documents in our court case. They do not cooperate.


JARRETT: CNN's Alex Marquardt has more on what the document says and what it doesn't.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Laura and Christine. The FBI has now released the first of what will be a series of declassified documents from their investigation into how 9/11 happened. There are declassified memo released late on Saturday night, the 20th anniversary of the attacks, provides a more detailed look at the behavior of Saudi Arabian nationals connected to two of the 9/11 hijackers. But it does not provide any stronger evidence of the awareness or the direction of 9/11 plot at the highest levels of the Saudi government or royal family.

There is no smoking gun. The 16-page document is heavily-redacted. Much of it is a summary of an interview that the FBI did with an unnamed Saudi national. His name was redacted, who was interviewed in 2015 when applying for U.S. citizenship. That person, the report says, was working at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, California, and was in regular contact with other Saudi citizens who provided or are suspected of providing significant logistical support to the first two hijackers to arrive in the U.S. in Los Angeles. One of those who provided that support to the two hijackers was Omar al-Bayoumi, a supposed student suspected of being a Saudi Intelligence official.

Bayoumi offered, quote, "travel assistance, lodging and financing to of the two hijackers". In response to the report, the 9/11 Families United group says it puts to bed any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks. The victims' families have long pushed for greater transparency about the Saudi government's possible role in 9/11. And President Joe Biden recently ordered the Justice Department to release declassified documents over the next six months. Laura, Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Alex, thank you so much for that. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited top congressional leaders to a security briefing today from the chief of capitol police. The topic, security preparations for that far right rally planned for Saturday on Capitol Hill. This justice for J6 rally is in support of the insurrectionists who have been charged in the Capitol riots. An internal Capitol police memo viewed by CNN reveals law enforcement is bracing for potential clashes, violent rhetoric surrounding the event has increased online and counter protests are being planned for the same day.

JARRETT: Yes, the online chatter escalated after the officer who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt went public in a recent interview. The Capitol police have also formerly asked for temporary fencing around the Capitol ahead of this rally. Former President George W. Bush had this to say about the Capitol rioters when he spoke at a 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, and their disregard for human life in their determination to defy national symbols. They are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.


JARRETT: Same foul spirits. The FBI has warned repeatedly that domestic terrorism fueled by white supremacy is the number one threat to the United States right now.

ROMANS: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with scientists about the origin of COVID-19. A new special report begins Sunday night at 8:00 only on CNN.



JARRETT: Hurricane watches in effect this morning along the northeast coast of Texas. Tropical storm Nicholas is expected to reach near hurricane strength when it hits there tonight. Heavy rain will be the biggest threat with up to 15 inches in some areas. Nicholas is the Atlantic hurricane's 14th named storm, something we usually don't see until mid November. Here is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Yes, Tropical Storm Nicholas inching very close here towards the coast of Texas. We think landfall possible later on this afternoon or this evening. And I'll tell you what, this system has everything it takes to further strengthen. Water temperatures well into the middle 80s along the coast of Texas, and the only good piece of news out of this is that it will run out of time to further strength as it approaches land.

But you'll notice that we do have flood watches and flood alerts across a wide reaching area, from western Louisiana all the way through the southern coast there of Texas. And we do expect the system to come ashore somewhere between say 60 to 65 miles per hour winds, which will be just shy of a category one hurricane. And with that said, the rainfall really going to be the major concern with the system, and I'm here to tell you, some of the pockets of rainfall here could exceed 20 inches.

See the white contour towards west of Houston, working your way close towards areas of Austin there, could see a tremendous amount of rainfall out of the system over the next two to three days and the forecast certainly plays out as such in Houston with rainfall expected really for much of the next several days before conditions quiet down just a little bit.

And really, another area to watch carefully is the oil and energy infrastructure that is just offshore here. Wide spread coverage of it, and of course, we know what happened when Ida moved ashore, the system riding close to the coast of Texas will certainly have its impacts also felt across this region. Laura and Christine.

JARRETT: Pedram, thank you. EARLY START continues right now. Good morning, everyone, this is EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's just about 30 minutes past the hour this Monday morning, and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.


MANCHIN: He will not have my vote on 3.5, and Chuck knows that.