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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

House Passes Bill to Avert Shutdown, Suspend Debt Ceiling; FBI: Autopsy Confirms Remains in Wyoming Are Gabby Petito's; Trump Sues NYT, Mary Trump Over Story on Tax Records. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Wednesday, September 21. It's 5:00 a.m. in New York. Thanks so much for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Laura Jarrett.


Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We have reports this morning from Florida, Beijing, Texas, and the United Nations.

But we begin on Capitol Hill. This morning, lawmakers face important deadlines with serious consequence overnight. The House passed a bill to avert a government shutdown and suspend the debt ceiling, but the measure faces grim prospects in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans far apart even though failure to reach a deal, of course, could unleash economic havoc.

JARRETT: And when Democrats aren't battling Republicans, they're sparring with each other, progressives and moderates directly at odds over the timing of passing two critical pieces of the president's agenda. You have the hard infrastructure and also expanding the social safety net.

Today, President Biden will meet with House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats in the most extensive in-person engagement with Democrats in the White House since Mr. Biden took office.

ROMANS: Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill.

Daniella, take us through what happened last night.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, it was a crazy night. But, you know, crazy nights are not rare on Capitol Hill. Look, the House passed this funding bill that would fund the government through early December, along with a measure that would raise -- excuse me, suspend the debt ceiling through early December 2022.

But this matters because this stopgap measure which needs to be passed in order to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on September 30th faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor of it. And right now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been very clear that no Republicans are going to get behind this. And the majority of Republicans have been saying this as well.

So this is going to be a showdown between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to see whether Republicans will vote to support this funding measure that includes the suspension to the debt ceiling. And if this does not happen, if Republicans do not get behind this measure, the U.S. faces default on its debt, which, of course, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned Congress could be incredibly bad before the nation which is why this needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

So, Democrats are facing a lot of issues right now when this goes to a vote in the Senate and Republicans are going to have to decide whether they're going to support it.

JARRETT: That's the part about keeping the government open which is critical. But what about the other piece of this? What about the president's economic agenda? Where does that stand?

DIAZ: That's right, Laura. That is its own problem. Separately from this funding measure that is going to the Senate. You know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been facing a lot of issues within her own party, within moderates and progressives in her own party about what to do about this $3.5 trillion economic bill, the tax and expanding bill that would expand the social safety net and the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate.

So, look, moderates want a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but progressives have said that if the House does not vote for the economic bill, the $3.5 trillion bill first, they will withhold their vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. So, a lot of debate on this.

But take a listen to what the leaders on both sides, the moderate side and the progressive side said about the deadlines. They're saying completely different things. Take a listen.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA), CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: When progressive senators passed the bipartisan bill in the Senate, it was on the specific understanding and commitment that both bills would move together. And so, now, we want to make sure that both bills are moving together and we're going to hold to that commitment. And so, yes, half our members, more than half our members will not move the bipartisan bill without the reconciliation bill being passed.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ), CO-CHAIR OF THE PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS: I'm very optimistic that we will on Monday bring it up. We'll get a vote and it's going to pass the House. We'll get there. There's too much on the line. Obviously the White House wants it, the president wants it. The country needs it. The bottom line is the vote is going to be on the 27th. We have a commitment from the speaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DIAZ: So as you heard there, they're saying completely different things about how they want this to proceed in the house. The sticking points include, of course, how they're planning to pay for this. The corporate taxes, prescription -- of course, there is debate on how the prescription drug pricing plan.

Look, the top line number continues to be the biggest debate on this. Progressives want more money and they have settled on $3.5 trillion. The moderates want to pare that price tag down to $1.5 trillion.


They don't want as much spending. That is one of the problems with the debate between moderates and progressives on how they're going to pass this.

But, look, as you guys mentioned, President Joe Biden is planning to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer to debate on this and he's planning to meet with the chairs of the critical caucuses that are behind uniting their members to support both of these bills.

So this is part of a huge plan for President Joe Biden to try to pass these bills and achieve his economic agenda which he wanted to do this Congress.

ROMANS: All right. Daniella, thank you so much for that. Laura, we talked about the 3 1/2 trillion dollar. We're hearing a lot in the process, that's what Washington is. What's happening at this moment is essentially this administration trying to remake the American economy.

Tilting in favor of families, giving huge tax cuts essentially to families, where as previously we were getting tax cuts to companies. So, there's a whole cradle to grave remake of the American economy here.

JARRET: Part of the challenge seems to be they wanted to do it all at once, right? The president had an ambitious agenda. Unlike FDR where there were little pieces along the way, he wanted to get it done at once. You're seeing the challenges, the real sausage making in Washington.

ROMANS: And there are so many pieces here because the debt limit ceiling is part of this as well, right? The death ceiling essentially, America's credit card limit, what happens if lawmakers don't raise that? Treasure Secretary Janet Yellen already warned of a catastrophe with real world consequences.

Federal payments to millions of people will be halted. And Social Security checks could stop for nearly 50 million seniors. Troops can't be paid. Critical monthly child tax credit payments could stop.

Inaction will make America a more expensive place to live. Borrowing costs for credit cards, mortgages and cars could spike for millions of consumers. The Treasury is moving money around keeping the bills paid. Extraordinary measures, they call it. At some point they will run out of wiggle room.

Remember, this is paying the bills for what Congress has already spent under Republican and Democratic administrations. The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, something that would damage America's credit and undermine the pandemic response.

JARRETT: This morning, the death of Gabby Petito has been officially ruled a homicide, and the FBI is asking for the public's help finding her fiance Brian Laundrie. Questions surround the early stages of this investigation, like why Laundrie apparently had something of a head start before he disappeared or went into hiding, Laundrie was home in North Port, Florida, for about two weeks.


JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What you can't explain is where the guy is, why did he run, and why did he really feel that he needed to evade authorities. And those are going to be questions in the event he's brought back safely, that everyone is going to want to know. If there is an innocent explanation, you stay and explain. You don't run and hide.


ROMANS: Every day, we are learning more details about that road trip. One woman came forward saying she picked up Laundrie as he hitch hiked alone in Wyoming not far from where Petito's remains were found. Laundrie has not been charged with the crime. Police haven't been able to do more than file a search warrant.

Meanwhile, the case has also raised question about why violence against black and brown women never receive the same amount of attention. For now, the search for Bryan Laundrie intensifies.

CNN's Leyla Santiago reports from Venice, Florida.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, the FBI announced they have identified the remains found over the weekend in Grand Teton National Park as 22-year-old Gabby Petito. Now, this comes as the search continues here in Florida for her fiance, Brian Laundrie. We expect teams to start early in the morning today, continuing to look for him in the area of 25,000 acre reserve. Very swampy area, very lush. Can be tough terrain for search crews to go through.

But for right now, this is a process of elimination. They are trying to rule out where he's not and trying to find where he is, because they want to talk to him. They have been saying this for days now about Gabby Petito.

We know that the FBI is taking the lead in this investigation and sorting through evidence that was collected at Brian Laundrie's parents' home. That happened on Monday after they surrounded the home and went inside to question the parents. We saw them load up a van with paper bags. We saw them tow away a Mustang. All of this as investigators try to find the answers now to what happened and where is Brian Laundrie -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you for that, Leyla

JARRETT: So, still ahead for you, it was a big lie, everyone knew it was a big lie, and they knew it. What an internal memo shows about the former president's election claims.

ROMANS: And Homeland Security takes action against border agents caught on video raising their reins to corral migrants at the border.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

More proof Trump world knew the big lie about the 2020 election was, in fact, a lie. Court documents obtained by "The New York Times" show Trump campaign staffers were well aware his lawyers claims about a conspiracy to steal the election were completely baseless, despite all the legal filings and all the court rulings against him. An internal memo says the campaign allowed its lawyers to spout conspiracy theories, quote, without their own research debunking those theories.

ROMANS: Meantime, the former president filed a lawsuit against his niece Mary Trump along with three "The New York Times" reporters over 2018 articles disclosing his tax information. The series undermined Trump's boasts of self-made wealth.

Mary Trump said in a statement, quote, I think he is a loser and he's going to throw anything against the wall he can.


The reporters won a Pulitzer prize for their 18-month investigation of Trump's finances.

All right. The border patrol agents seen charging at migrants at the U.S./Mexico border have been reassigned now to administrative duties. You have seen this video showing agents on horseback using the reins to corral people.

Thousands of migrants many of them Haitians are still camped under a bridge right there at the border. And there are concerns more people are coming from Central America. President Biden appeared to address the issue yesterday.


REPORTER: What is your response to the situation on the border -- with the Haitian immigrants?


Thank you very much.



ROMANS: The violence is not justified. You can see most of Mr. Biden's response could not be heard over the shouting of White House staffers trying to clear the press out of the Oval Office.

CNN's Rosa Flores is on the ground in Del Rio, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, I am just yards from the bridge where thousands of migrants are waiting to be processed by U.S. immigration authorities.

Take a look and you'll see that this is the area that has been the center of the news for days now.

If you look closely, you'll see that there are men, women, children. We have drone footage of this area that really gives you an idea of the magnitude of this camp. At last check, the Del Rio mayor says that there are more than 8,000 migrants here still waiting. If you look in the air closely, you'll also see that a lot of these migrants have made their own huts, their own places so that they can sleep.

The other thing I want to show you from the air is you're also able to see the force of the U.S. government and the state of Texas. DPS vehicles and also border patrol vehicles that are along the river to try to stop the flow of migration.

Now, on Tuesday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announcing that at least 4,000 migrants have already been moved out, and that he's expecting the scene here to dramatically change in the next 48 to 96 hours -- Laura, Christine.


ROMANS: Rosa Flores will be there to let us know how that's going. Thank you.

A decisive decade for the future, how President Biden framed his presidency and diplomacy at his first speech at the U.N. General Assembly.




BIDEN: We've ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. And as we close this period of relentless war, we are opening a new era of relentless diplomacy. U.S. military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first, and should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world. Indeed, today many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.


JARRETT: That was President Biden at the U.N. using the end of the Afghanistan war to turn a corner on diplomacy. The Taliban wants representation at the U.N. but doesn't look like they're ready to compromise on some key issues.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in Kabul again this morning.

Nic, you just spoke with a senior Taliban official. What did you learn?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, Anas Haqqani, the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister who's got an FBI bounty of $10 million on his head for connections to terrorism, to al Qaeda, what Anas Haqqani told me was President Biden's decision to end the war was the right decision. He said in his and the Taliban's view, there are still hawk in the U.S. administration that would still want to fight the Taliban here. But he said that he thinks future generations of Americans will thank President Biden for the decision. He thinks it's the right decision, but he does feel at the moment that those, what he describes as hawks, are still out for a fight in Afghanistan.

And on those key issues that President Biden listed for the Taliban to adhere to in the future in their government, that is, rights for women, political rights, economic rights, social rights, their rights as women to have full lives, that was what President Biden said was important for the Taliban to understand. So I really pressed on that issue, and the understanding that I've come away with seems very clear, that the Taliban are not willing to compromise on their cultural values of women, their place in society as they see deemed by Islam, and so it seems -- and this was the very clear understanding I got in this hour and a half almost interview, that the Taliban will not compromise on women's issues to free up frozen assets that they have in the international community the others and United States have frozen, billions and billions of dollars, so that they can aid the economy here in Afghanistan.

Their view is they will stand by their own traditional values. And if the economy gets hurt, that would be something that they can withstand. They said they've been through that before.

So this is the view from here.


They believe that they have made some compromises by putting in yesterday announcing 17 non-Taliban members into the government. Many people here feel that's window dressing, but that compromise on women's issues doesn't seem to be there at the moment.

JARRETT: This just shows you how important it is for them.

Okay, Nic, thank you so much for that.

Well, it's been a roller coaster of the week for the Brazilian health minister in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Monday night, Marcell confronted protesters upset about his government's downplaying the pandemic by flipping them a double middle finger as you can see in this grainy video. Yep, there it is. The very next day he announced he tested positive for COVID-19 and will be quarantining here in New York for 14 days. He had been vaccinated, although other members of Brazil's U.N. delegation were not.

ROMANS: Double middle finger, oh, my goodness.

All right. The a court ordered conservatorship has controlled her life for years. Now see how she and her fans are fighting back. A CNN special report, "Toxic: Britney Spears' Battle for Freedom", Sunday night at 8:00.