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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CDC Breaks with Advisers, Recommends Boosters for People in High-Risk Jobs and Settings; "Fraudit's" Obvious Conclusion: Biden Won; Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Meadows, Scavino, Bannon and Patel. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 24, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning: a COVID boost for some Americans. How the CDC director went against her own advisers to get more shots in arms.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Bogus, a sham, a so-called audit, and now, it's finally done. Months and money wasted away in Arizona to confirm Biden won in November.

ROMANS: And the first subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Capitol riots, who is on the list and why.

It is Friday, September 24th. Happy Friday, everybody. End of the week. It's 5:00 a.m. in New York. Thanks for getting an early start with us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. So much to get to this morning.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We have reports this morning from Capitol Hill, Haiti, Mexico and Germany.

But we begin with the big breaking news this morning. The CDC director now recommends vaccine booster shots for front line workers at high risk for COVID. We're talking people like teachers, health care workers and others whose jobs put them at risk. By expanding who can get a shot, Dr. Rochelle Walensky went against her own vaccine's advisers. The CDC advisers had disagreed boosters were needed by these big groups of young healthy people.

ROMANS: So, today, boosters for more people can officially begin in the United States. Now, if you're fuzzy on the guidelines, you're not alone.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA CONSULTANT: I think the problem here is this is a byzantine schedule for who is eligible that is going to be hard to implement. If the guidance is this confusing and requires this many steps, and it's hard to assure eligibility, it's going to ultimately create obstacles at the counter to people who already in many cases face obstacles getting access to health care.


ROMANS: So here's what the CDC accepted the recommendations. These recommendations from the FDA. Boosters for people 65 and older. For residents of long term care facilities who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, and for people 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions.

JARRETT: Also breaking overnight, that sham audit of ballots cast in Arizona last November, confirms President Biden defeated Donald Trump. What's worse, after saddling taxpayers with roughly $425,000 in expenses for this partisan project, the draft report commissioned by state Senate Republicans reveals that President Biden won 99 more votes in Maricopa County, while former president Trump earned 261 fewer votes.

ROMANS: It cost --

JARRETT: That's what it's all for.

ROMANS: -- $425,000 and lots of agony for that. Even so, election experts of both parties have been saying for months the results of this phony audit, audit in air quotes, conducted in actual carnival running out front would not be credible.

It was run haphazardly by a Florida company, a company called Cyber Ninjas which CNN found had an empty office, no experience auditing elections, and was led by a man who repeated wild conspiracy theories about election fraud.

JARRETT: Now, Democrats weren't the only ones pushing back against this review. Even Arizona Republican officials had called it an effort to undermine confidence in our elections.


BILL GATES (R), MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: The reality is people who are running this, they knew it wasn't the right thing. They knew there was nothing to this. But they did it anyway. And for those people, you know, I say, how can you live with your self?


JARRETT: Cyber Ninjas is set to detail its findings in a public presentation to the Arizona Senate this afternoon.

ROMANS: Okay. So, despite the embarrassing sideshow that was the Cyber Ninja review, Republicans are using the Arizona model to pull the same stunt in other states. Hours after former President Trump demanded an audit of the election results in Texas, a state he won, a full forensic audit was ordered in four counties -- Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin. President Biden carried three of those counties. Similar efforts are underway by Republicans in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

And in Florida, a state Trump won, Republicans are ordering a third- party examination of counties with larger populations. Of course, those counties tend to lean Democratic.

JARRETT: Also breaking overnight, four Trump loyalists subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. All four men asked to submit documents and appear before the committee in the next few weeks. So, expect big legal fight here.

Our Ryan Nobles reports from Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Christine, this is a significant move by the January 6 Select Committee, and it shows where their investigation is headed. They are requesting both private depositions and records from four Trump loyalists.

This is a group of men who had the ear of the former President Donald Trump and were part of his White House staff and were also people that played a key role in the rally leading up to the insurrection that took place on January 6th. Dan Scavino, deputy chief of staff.


Of course, Mark Meadows was the White House chief of staff at that time. Steve Bannon who once served as a counselor to the former president during the early parts of his administration, and was one of the group of people that was rallying people to the White House on January 6th. And then Kash Patel who was the former chief of staff to the then acting secretary of defense and was working at the Pentagon on January 6th.

You know, when you read these letters that they have sent to these four men, you get a clear idea of exactly why the committee has asked them to come forward. This is the letter from -- to Dan Scavino. It says, quote: The select committee has reason to believe you have information relevant to understanding important activities that led to and inform the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and relevant to former President Trump's communications in the period leading up to and on January 6th.

Expect a long legal battle before any of them actually come forward, and not only produce the documents requested, but actually sit for an interview with members of the committee -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Ryan Nobles, it's going to be very busy. Thanks, Ryan.

All right. An arrest warrant for the fiancee of Gabby Petito, but the charges have nothing to do with her death. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ROMANS: This morning, the search is on for Bryan Laundrie and the FBI has now issued a warrant for his arrest. Not for the death of his fiancee, Gabby Petito, whose body, of course, was found in Wyoming Sunday. This single-count indictment claims Laundrie charged more than a thousand dollars on a debit card that did not belong to him at the end of last month. Authorities have not said whether that card belonged to Petito.

JARRETT: Meantime, a source close to the Laundrie family tells CNN Bryan left his parents' home last Tuesday without a cell phone and wallet. That's the last day his parents reported seeing him. The source also saying the parents were concerned he might hurt himself.

ROMAN: The Gabby Petito case is highlighting the disparities between cases where the missing person is white and those involving a person of color. As an example, the coroner in Lassalle County, Illinois, identified a body earlier this month as grad student Jelani Day. He was reporting a month ago. His cause of death remains unknown. His mother has been publicly pleading for more help finding him following the huge wave of interest in Gabby Petito.


OFC. JOHN FERMON, BLOOMINGTON, IL POLICE: I'm actually happy. I'm glad that it's getting media attention. It helps us with our investigation. And it also helps bring awareness to other missing people.

On our part is we probably need to do a better job on updating people. Quarterly, who is still missing? We've got missing people that have been gone for a few months and we don't want them to fall through the cracks either.


JARRETT: Another one who fell through the cracks apparently 24-year- old Daniel Robinson, a geologist who went missing after leaving a work site in the Arizona desert on June 23rd. His father hired an independent investigator and put together a volunteer search team when he felt the police weren't making progress.


DAVID ROBINSON, FATHER OF MISSING MAN, DANIEL ROBINSON: Twenty-four to 48 hours, the first crucial moments, and those moments wasn't fulfilled.


JARRETT: The FBI's list of missing persons included almost 90,000 active cases -- 90,000 active cases at the end of 2020. That's in the middle of the pandemic and as you can see, black and Native Americans makeup double the share of the overall population.

ROMANS: All right. To Memphis now, as one person was killed in a shooting at a Kroger grocery store.

Gunshots can be heard as people peel away from the store in Collierville, Tennessee. Authorities believe it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Store workers hid in a freezer to survive. Employees and witnesses say chaos erupted moments after the first shots.


BRIGNETTA DICKERSON, KROGER EMPLOYEE: It first started in the deli. And I heard some gunshots. We thought it was balloons popping, so when it kept on going, we said, no, that's gunshot.

TAWANA FRENCH, GROCERY STORE SHOOTING WITNESS: Before I actually entered the door, a family -- a lady with like four children rushed the door, pushing three in front of her, dragging one behind her, falling on the ground and screaming at the children to just run, just run.


JARRETT: The victim killed has been identified by family members Olivia King. The family is devastated by this senseless act of violence. "The New York Times" reports FBI crime members set for release Monday showed murder increased 30 percent in 2020. That's the biggest spike since the agency started keeping track in 1960.

ROMANS: All right. It is always dangerous to trifle with the debt ceiling. It is especially dangerous during a pandemic. The Senate is expected to vote Monday on continuing government funding and suspending the debt ceiling until after the midterm elections next year.

Look, this is not about restraining future spending. This is paying bills Congress already spent, right? This is paying for what Congress already spent. A default would damage America's credit, undermine the public health emergency. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says America doesn't stiff its lenders.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: You can debate how much we should spend, whether how progressive taxes should be, what we should do about the corporate taxes, plenty of stuff that you should debate.


But nobody should be debating whether the United States is going to pay its debts. If my kid spends too much on his credit card, we might have a family debate about whether I'm going to pay the bill or whether he's going to pay the bill. But it's not an option for our family to stiff the credit card company.


ROMANS: Yeah, a congressional diamond dash. It's just ridiculous. If Congress doesn't raise the debt limit, the treasury department won't have enough money to pay the bills. And then the Treasury Department has to decide what to pay. That means federal payments to millions will be halted. Social Security checks could stop for nearly 50 million seniors. Troops wouldn't be paid. Critical monthly child tax credit payments could stop. All kinds of bills would stop. Borrowing costs for credit cards, mortgages and cars could spike for millions of consumers.

Moody's analytics warns a default would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs and raise unemployment to nearly 9 percent.

JARRETT: A lot on the line.

ROMANS: A lot of people assume they're going to figure this out. This is something about leverage. This is about politics, not about not paying the bills. We've gotten to this brink and 80 times they've raised the debt ceiling.

What if there is an unintended consequence, what if there is an accidental default and there is a ripple effect in global markets that hurts -- hurts everybody and causes some kind of recession? That could happen. Don't mess around.

JARRETT: Why do they always let it go so close to the line?

ROMANS: Drives me crazy.

JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, Haitian refugees at the U.S. southern border being taken back to Haiti by the thousands. What fate awaits them? CNN is live there next.



ROMANS: In Del Rio, Texas, tractors can be seen bulldozing vacated huts after the Biden administration made an aggressive push to remove thousands of Haitian migrants from a makeshift camp there under the bridge and around it. Three thousand people now remain under that Del Rio international bridge waiting to be processed. That number down substantially from last weekend.

JARRETT: So where are all these thousands of people coming from? And where are they going now?

CNN is covering both of these angles starting with Melissa Bell live in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for us.

Melissa, good morning.

Homeland Security says there have been 17 repatriation flights to Haiti since Sunday, with almost 2,000 people. But the U.S. special envoy to Haiti actually resigned Thursday citing the administration's, quote, inhumane decision to deport thousands of Haitians. So what exactly is happening when they get to Haiti when, in many cases, they haven't been there for years?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They are arriving with a great deal of despair, of anger, of trauma. These are people who spent so many years, many of them in Latin America and rebuilt lives, then decided to head north looking for a better life.

There is anger, that sort of lottery that wound up taking place under that Del Rio Bridge. Some allowed to head into the United States to seek asylum, others put on those planes, often without knowing where it was they were going. Have a listen to what one man Frankly Jean had to say to us yesterday as he stepped off that plane, and back into the Haitian capital for the first time in years.


FRANKLY JEAN, DEPORTEE (through translator): All those deportation will make the crisis in Haiti even worse than it is already. People are going to suffer now. You see all those people being deported to Haiti, including women and children. There are no jobs and there is nothing here. What are those people going to do? The crisis is going to get worse.


BELL: What they are coming back to is worse, essentially, than what they fled, Laura. It was mentioned in the letter by the resigning U.S. special envoy that crippling poverty, this is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The gang violence makes Port-au-Prince so unbearable and so dangerous, and the political corruption that once again he cited with corrupt political leaders he said working in alliance with those gangs.

It gives you an idea of the state of Haiti. It's been going on for a long time. It's some of the reasons these people left. They are now coming back to the country that is even worse circumstances with a president assassinated in July, and again, going back to that letter, what was described by the U.S. envoy to Haiti as an unelected de facto leader and the prime minister who is now in power, Laura.

JARRETT: So important to remember the people who are coming are people who are fleeing from that earthquake that happened years ago. Not the one that happened months ago. So we will see what happens going forward.

But, Melissa, thank you for being there for us.

ROMANS: Yeah, people who haven't been in Haiti in years.


ROMANS: On the U.S./Mexico border, the department of homeland security temporarily suspending use of horse patrols in Del Rio, Texas, after the video showed border patrol agents on horseback charging at Haitian migrants. This morning that pathway to cross the border is effectively choked off from both sides. That's where CNN's Matt Rivers has the story from the Mexican side.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, this time yesterday there were dozens of Haitian migrants streaming back and forth across the border here, from here on the Mexican side, across to the other side on the U.S. side. There was a rope that was strung between both sides. People were following that guideline. Now that rope has been cut and things are different.

I want to show you the other side of the border now. You can see some Haitian migrants over there. Those are some of the last Haitian migrants that were able to make it from here on the Mexico side across to the U.S. at least at this moment.


They're going to be allowed to go to that encampment that is in Del Rio where thousands of Haitians remain. But here in Mexico, that's not going to be the case.

Basically what ended up happening was on Thursday afternoon, about a half dozen or so immigration officials here in Mexico, they kind of made a line on this river bank here behind the camera. Word got out amongst the Haitians that were staying here and there was basically a mini rush toward the border from people that were on the Mexico side that wanted to get to the U.S.

They pushed past those immigration officials, several dozen people quickly made their way across the river using that guideline. It was then cut, but it was quite the chaotic scene there for a little while. Things have calmed down now, in part, and I can show you this because up the river bank here, we've seen increased law enforcement presence here.

So we talked about this steel wall Governor Abbott in Texas created on the U.S. side to deter migrants. This is kind of a mini version of that. These are migration officials here. It's local police. There's state police here as well. You can see more heavily armed police officers now here basically creating a shield.

This means that Haitian migrants basically are not able to go to the U.S. via this route any more. It's a long border. They can probably figure out another way to get across if they want to. Officially this heavily used route is essentially out of options, which means that these Haitian migrants, many of whom came here to Mexico, some just for a few hours to charge their phones, to get supplies, things that they couldn't do on the U.S. side because it wasn't easy to charge phones, harder to use the bathroom, easier to do that here in Mexico.

People who did that are now basically stuck for now, at least, on the Mexico side. Mexican officials not letting them cross, and so they're going to have to do their immigration proceedings or they're going to get deported eventually back to Haiti, many of them, here from Mexico.

This happened very quickly. It was unexpected. Many Haitian migrants are not happy about this. Many want to go back to the United States, but this is the reality of the situation on the border. It can change in basically an instant -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: Matt Rivers, thanks so much for that, Matt.

JARRETT: Thanks, Matt.

All right. So, what would you do if you were told you were kidnapped from the hospital as a baby? The incredible discovery sent one man on a lifelong search for the truth. The new CNN film, the lost sons, premieres Sunday night at 9:00, only on CNN.