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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Draft Arizona Audit Finds Virtually No Change To 2020 Vote; Merkel Campaigns Days Before Elections As Political Heir Stumbles; CNN's Special Report "Toxic: Britney Spears' Battle For Freedom" Airs Sunday Night At 8:00 p.m. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 24, 2021 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday morning and it is 31 minutes past the hour.

Breaking news this morning -- Joe Biden won in Arizona. I'm glad we finally settled that.

The draft report from a bogus partisan state ballot review confirms election results that have already been certified. The final report is due today and it comes at a big cost -- time, money, resources, distractions, and faith in elections -- all because Donald Trump couldn't accept losing.


BILL GATES (R), MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: I call it a show trial. I mean, that's what all of these have been up to this point. It's a Soviet show trial. A theater show of an attempt to steal an election or at the very least to sow significant doubts in our election system.


JARRETT: It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer, good morning.

Step back for us. This sham audit -- audit in air quotes -- done at Republicans' behest -- we know it was silly from the start. We knew what the result was going to be. And it's now completely undermined their own project by finding that Biden, of course, won Maricopa County.

Do you see this as sort of an unfortunate one-off -- the sort of a leftover of the big lie -- or is there actually something pernicious going on here? We now see other states with these sort of copycat audits if you will.


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, NYU LAW SCHOOL (via Webex by Cisco): Well, that's right, Laura. You hit on an interesting point because on the surface it seems like a good thing, right, even with all the partisanship in getting this going. The incapability in partisanship of the audit from doing it, you still ended up with the correct, truthful result. So that seems like a win for election integrity and our democracy.

But, as you point out, how did we even get here? How did we even get to a place where lawmakers -- elected officials in office -- we permitted to go through this sham in the first place? And you do see other states headed down that road.

So, unfortunately, I think it's a mixed bag and hopefully, the result here might cause some of those copycats to take note and change direction.

ROMANS: All right. Meadows, Scavino, Bannon, Patel. House investigators have now issued subpoenas to four of those Trump allies about that January sixth insurrection. The committee wants documents, Jennifer, and testimony in the next few weeks.

Why do these four people matter for this committee?

RODGERS: So, we know a lot now about what happened on January sixth and some about the planning of the event from the huge criminal investigation that has resulted in charging over 600 people. But the missing piece is and always has been the involvement of the president. What did he know? How involved was he in getting this going -- the planning?

And on January sixth, why did it take so long? What was he doing and why did he not stop the insurrection earlier with all of the resources he had at his disposal? That's been the missing piece.

And these four men will know the answers to those questions because they were either intimately involved with him every day, like the chief of staff and former chief of staff. They'll know about the planning and what he knew in advance and what he was encouraging. Or, like Kash Patel, they were at DOD and would have known what was going on behind the scenes on January sixth as he was mulling over the options for trying to stop the insurrection.

So this is critical information the committee doesn't yet have and that's why they're important.


JARRETT: So, Jennifer, the Biden administration is now taking steps, we know, to release more information on Trump's meetings and calls on January sixth to this committee. The White House, as our understanding is, is inclined to limit how much it exerts executive privilege. Of course, the privilege doesn't protect the commission of a crime. I'm not saying that happened but it wouldn't be protected. They're always worried about precedent here and going too far. What do

you think the ramifications would be if they just let all this stuff come out?

RODGERS: Well, it's hard to know and that's why there are some people saying listen, the president's ability to confer with his advisers, to make decisions in emergency situations must not be cabined, right? You can't say oh, someday we're going to find out all about what you're saying. The president needs to be free to make those decisions and that's why people are objecting.

But I think the White House rightly says we are in uncharted territory here. This is an insurrection. This was an attack on our democracy, both by the election -- the big lie -- and then, of course, by the insurrection. So we need to know the president's involvement in this. It goes to the very crux of his leadership and what he was doing to try to undermine our democracy, potentially.

So I think they are right to say we need to get to the bottom of this. And this doesn't mean it's going to be a free-for-all in terms of knowing what the president is doing from here on out.


ROMANS: All right, Jennifer Rodgers, CNN legal analyst. Thank you so much. Nice to see you bright and early this Friday morning.

JARRETT: Thanks.

ROMANS: Have a great rest of your day.

RODGERS: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, surprise, surprise. Big business is no fan of tax hikes to pay for President Biden's remake of the American economy.

A Chamber of Commerce ad blitz against the 'Build Back Better' plan. Those are major investments in childcare, education, and clean energy. In that blitz, the group warns of massive tax hikes to pay for those investments, and it's saying it would be a body blow to our economy, complete with boxer and all.

But the Commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, is hitting back herself, saying the president's agenda helps business.


GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: I asked, you know, what do you need? What would help you to grow and be more productive? And they tell me better infrastructure, broadband for all Americans, worker training. Every business is struggling to find workers with the skills they need.

So, the president puts forward a package, which invests in infrastructure, broadband, apprenticeships, worker training. This is good for business. I understand they have issues with the tax increases. That's very

fair. So come to the table and help be part of the solutions.


ROMANS: Yes. The tax increase on the table, by the way, is still below where it was prior to those 2017 tax cuts.

Secretary Raimondo also said the ongoing chip shortage -- the global chip shortage means higher prices and fewer options for shoppers this holiday season. These chips, of course, are in everything -- cell phones, cars, laptops, Peloton, your coffeemaker.

That chip shortage and the supply chain headaches have hit the global auto industry. Problems there costing that industry $210 billion this year, nearly twice what consulting firm AlixPartners estimated in May.

JARRETT: A major changing of the guard in Europe this weekend as Germany prepares to elect its next chancellor on Sunday. Current chancellor Angela Merkel initially wanted to stay off the campaign trail but she's now stepping into the fray.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Berlin with more on this. Fred, what are you watching this weekend?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, we're watching a very, very close campaign that's going on here. And, of course, big change coming not just for Germany and, of course, also for Europe -- on the international stage as well.

Angela Merkel, of course, one of the best-known leaders in the world and also one of the big partners, and strong partners, of the United States as well.

The interesting thing about this campaign is actually that it is very close. Her designated successor, a gentleman named Armin Laschet -- he's actually trailing in the polls. Her party is trailing in the polls. It's because he made some unforced errors.

For instance, he was caught laughing on camera while he was visiting the flood-stricken areas in Germany. Of course, this country had some really bad floods in July of this year.

Another interesting thing is that the candidate from the other major party, the Social Democrat -- he's actually ahead in the polls because he's saying look, I'm more like Angela Merkel. He's very calm, very reserved, very soft-spoken, and he said he thinks that is what German want -- Germany wants.

The bottom line about this election, guys -- and this is very important -- you cannot win an election anymore in this country unless you have a strong, green climate agenda. The Green Party is set for some record gains in this election. In fact, they were ahead in the polls for a very long period of time. German voters want this country to move more towards green economy.

And, in fact, the place where I'm standing right now is, of course, the Parliament building in Germany -- the Reichstag. But it is also home to a climate demonstration right now where, especially, younger voters are coming out and essentially telling these political parties you need to act right now. Of course, Germany, a big industrial nation.

The other interesting thing that we're also seeing with this election as well is that all three of the main candidates -- the Social Democrat, the Christian Democrat, and the Green candidate all say that Germany needs to remain a strong partner in NATO and a strong partner to the United States, guys.


JARRETT: All right, Fred. We know you'll be watching all weekend. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.


JARRETT: A court hearing next week could determine the fate of the conservatorship that has controlled Britney Spears' life and money for more than a decade now. The pop star's tireless fight for her freedom is the subject of a new CNN special report this weekend. Here's a preview.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Britney's struggle in the national spotlight also raises important questions about how the legal system and society treat women with mental health issues.

We do have some examples of men -- of male celebrities who have, in paparazzi pictures and cell phone video, appeared unhinged.


CAMEROTA: Erratically, at times.

DUTCHEVICI: Women are always judged by a higher standard. And I think most of us wonder what would the narrative look like if she wasn't a woman?

CAMEROTA: Silvia Dutchevici is a psychotherapist who specializes in the impact of gender-based violence and post-traumatic stress disorder on mental health.

DUTCHEVICI: There's a voyeuristic component to celebrities and, especially, to this case. It's important to keep in mind that this is a person. That this is someone's life. And that the way we treat her actually says something about ourselves, about our society.



ROMANS: This looks good -- really good. "TOXIC: BRITNEY SPEARS' BATTLE FOR FREEDOM" is reported by our colleagues Alisyn Camerota and Chloe Melas. And, Chloe joins us right now. Nice to see you this morning.

I know you've been working so hard on this and we can't -- well, you can't reveal everything about this special but tell us what you can. What surprised you?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Good morning, and thank you for having me.

Listen, I've been covering Britney Spears' conservatorship for the last two years, but as I was making this CNN special with Alisyn Camerota, we learned a lot of things that we didn't before.

The great lengths that many of her close friends went to try to reach her throughout the years since the conservatorship has been put in place -- for the last 13 -- and how they haven't been successful. That Britney essentially has been behind these, like, imaginary but very real walls.

Also, talking about the monitoring of her cell phone use, which was really shocking. And that's something that you're going to hear a lot more about.

And really, those early days right after the conservatorship was put into place and how and why did she immediately go on the Circus tour. We have some people from that moment in her life that are going to be weighing in and I think it's going to shock you all.

JARRETT: Oh, I'm so excited. The special -- we know it also includes some new interviews you got with actresses Mischa Barton and Rosie O'Donnell -- people who know something about being in the spotlight themselves.

MELAS: Yes, both of them talk about the paparazzi -- the relentless pursuit of that tabloid culture in the early 2000s.

Mischa Barton, the "it girl" on the "THE O.C." -- she was like the girl that everybody looked up to at the time, myself included. So it was interesting to hear her perspective.

And then Rosie O'Donnell was the first talk show host to ever sit down with Britney Spears on T.V. She ended up interviewing Britney over a dozen times. And, Rosie, herself, weighed in on her own mental health struggles. And so, you're going to see parallels with other celebrities.

But this is bigger than Britney and I think that there are a lot of apologies to go around to a lot of people in this moment of reflection that we're going through.

ROMANS: There's another hearing in the conservatorship case on Wednesday. Will it end? Is that it?

MELAS: Well, I'm going to be there in the courtroom and that is the major moment that everybody is waiting for.

Is Judge Brenda Penny going to rule on Britney's father's petition to terminate the conservatorship? I don't think it's just going to be that simple -- that Judge Brenda Penny is going to say all right, you're done -- goodbye. Go forth into your life. I think she's going to want to make sure that there are financial and mental health checks in place. Things to set up Britney for success in the future.

But I think it could get heated, contentious. And who knows -- maybe Britney, herself, will be there physically in-person in the courtroom this time. She's attended by phone, virtually, all the times prior.

But this is going to be the big one, so if you're in L.A., drive by the L.A. County Superior Courthouse. You're going to see the Free Britney movement out there in full effect and see me.

JARRETT: Well, I'm so glad --

ROMANS: Great.

JARRETT: -- you're going to be there for us. Come back and tell us everything that happens. Give us all the good courtroom color.

ROMANS: Yes, I'm not going to drive by.

MELAS: I will.

ROMANS: I'm just going to let you do all that --

MELAS: Thank you, guys.

ROMANS: -- and come back and tell us what happened. Nice to see you.

JARRETT: All right.

MELAS: Thanks, guys.

JARRETT: Remember to watch the special report Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business to end the week.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares closed the week essentially mixed. Tokyo up, but Hong Kong and Shanghai down. And European futures have opened -- stock markets, rather, have opened lower. Futures in the U.S. are what we're watching here and they are also leaning down.

Look, stocks extended their rally Thursday but we did see a rise in first-time jobless claims -- something to watch there about the job market. The Dow closed up 506 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished higher. It was the best day for the Dow and the S&P since July, and the best day for the Nasdaq since August. Jobless claims rose to 332,000 last week. That's the second increase in a row. I want to see them going in the other direction. They went up very sharply in Louisiana, which is still seeing the devastating effect of Hurricane Ida play out in its job market.

The White House, this week, easing travel restrictions on fully vaccinated foreign visitors, starting in November. Goldman Sachs estimates that should restore up to 15 percent of pre-pandemic tourist spending by the end of the first quarter, and add about 100,000 jobs in travel industries.

And we've all been there -- you get a new device and a new charger. Well, the European Union has proposed new rules to make USB-C chargers standard on all devices -- cell phones, laptops, cameras, speakers. Now, these rules are years away but they could be bad news for Apple, which uses its own lightning port on the iPhone.

JARRETT: I, for one, would like one charger for everything.

ROMANS: Me, too. One for all.

JARRETT: All right, the Panthers beat the Texans on "THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL," but lose their biggest star to injury.

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


So, the Panthers -- they're now three and zero for the first time since 2015 when they opened the season 14 and zero and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. But this was a rough win for the team and for a lot of fantasy football owners out there.

Superstar running back Christian McCaffrey suffering a hamstring injury in the second quarter as he ran out of bounds. Ruled out for the rest of the game and scheduled to undergo an MRI.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold -- he had another solid game, though, to put this one away with his second touchdown run of the night. He lost his helmet in the process. But the Panthers would win that one 24-9.

To baseball. The White Sox headed back to the Major League Baseball Playoffs -- the second-straight year they've clinched their first American League Central crown since 2008 in a 7-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Indians. This is the first time in the White Sox 120-year history that they've made the postseason in back-to-back seasons. Definitely an accomplishment worth celebrating.

All right, the Ryder Cup set to kick off in about two hours in Wisconsin. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas going to begin the competition, going up against Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia.

Well, their teammate Brooks Koepka - he tweeted out this picture of him standing next to his teammate, Bryson DeChambeau -- who he's famously had a spat with for months now -- saying, "Caption this..." Well, Phil Mickelson chimed in with "Who's the handsome guy in the back? Didn't he win the PGA?"

All right, guys, the Ryder Cup always so much fun. It's like football meets golf. All the fans in Wisconsin going to be rowdy all weekend long. I'm looking forward to it.

ROMANS: All right, sounds good. All right, Andy, have a great weekend.

JARRETT: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right, you, too.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

Historic flooding in the northeast earlier this month had New York City police officers going beyond the call of duty, wading through the floodwaters to make dozens of rescues. Remarkable pictures.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has more.


SGT. MATTHEW MOSCHETTO, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'm going to wade through and see if I can see if there's anybody in the cars.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is footage from NYPD Sgt. Matthew Moschetto's body camera.

MOSCHETTO: Is there anybody in there?

GINGRAS (voice-over): The exclusive video shows the moment the 19- year veteran began frantically searching for anyone who may have been trapped in submerged cars on a flooded New York City streets.

MOSCHETTO: There was a car there, a car there. A couple of them had turned around and floated.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Moschetto recounted for us the night when the remnants of Hurricane Ida barreled down on the northeast.

MOSCHETTO: I've never seen it to where it was that night when we got there and cars were, like, covered -- like, to the roofline.

GINGRAS (voice-over): He was headed home after his shift, worried for his own family's safety in the storm. But, 911 calls started pouring in.

MOSCHETTO: Once it started getting to the point where, like, cars were trapped and people were -- you know, people needed help, I realized that we're not going -- I'm not going home. We're getting -- we're getting dressed again. We're going back out.

GINGRAS (voice-over): A call bringing the sergeant and his partner here -- a street that cuts through Central Park. In a normal rain it floods, but Moschetto's never seen it look like this.

MOSCHETTO: Is there anybody left in any of these cars?

GINGRAS (on camera): So you approach and you see a number of cars underwater. What's your first thought?

MOSCHETTO: My first thought was we're getting wet. We're going to have to make sure there's nobody in them.

GINGRAS (voice-over): They trudged through waist-deep water checking each car.

MOSCHETTO: Sergeant, I don't know if you can hear me. I can't hear you. We have nobody in the cars.

Luckily, everyone had gotten out of the cars, but there was one stranded motorist who was standing on what I thought at the time was a curb, but it turned out to be like a 3 1/2-foot high jersey barrier.

By that time, the water was coming down the ramp here and over the walls, creating kind of a current that he couldn't fight his way through.

And I'm going to carry you out to where it's not so deep. I'm here -- I'll hold you. Yes, just like that.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Moschetto threw the stranded driver over his shoulder while his partner pushed from behind against the strong current, likely saving the man's life.

Across New York City that night, NYPD officers were called to 69 water rescues.

RODNEY HARRISON, CHIEF, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: And I have to acknowledge the men and women of the New York City Police Department who had tireless and heroic efforts throughout the night.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Moschetto responded to four more calls that night before finally heading home.

MOSCHETTO: I would hope somebody would do that for my family if they needed it, you know. And it's something that any cop would have done.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


ROMAN: All right -- amazing there.

And some breaking news this morning. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley announcing he will run. He said, "It's 4:00 a.m. in Iowa, so I'm running. I do that six days a week. Before I start the day, I want you to know what Barbara and I have decided. I'm running for reelection to do a lot more."

JARRETT: Incredible -- 88 years old. ROMANS: Eighty-eight years old, running for another term. You know, he was a congressman in Iowa when I -- I'm from Iowa -- when I was a little kid. So that just shows you how long he has been in Washington.

JARRETT: Everyone knows you're from Iowa, right?

All right --

ROMANS: Did I tell you I'm from Iowa?

JARRETT: -- a surprise boost for COVID vaccines overnight. What it means for your third dose. And it turns out that sham audit in Arizona was a sham, indeed. "NEW DAY" picks it up from us.


I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Have a great weekend, everybody.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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 on this new day. We've got breaking news all over the place.

No one has lost the state of Arizona more than Donald Trump. He keeps losing again and again and again, even worse than he thought. For months, the former president has claimed that the sham partisan audit in Arizona's Maricopa County would reverse the results and somehow declare him the victor.

But overnight, a draft report of the so-called (air quotes) audit by a group calling itself the Cyber Ninjas, found that not only did Donald Trump lose Arizona, but he lost by even more votes than previously realized.