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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Pelosi Sets Infrastructure Vote for Thursday to Give Democrats Time; FBI Visits Brian Laundrie's Home to Investigate DNA Match; Angela Merkel's Party Narrowly Loses in German Elections. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: A frantic week in Washington that could hit the pocketbook of every American. Two historic bills, a possible default and a government shutdown all in the next few days.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: The FBI at Brian Laundrie's home. Why they reportedly want his DNA, and friends and family say good-bye to Gabby Petito.

JARRETT: And a surprising admission from Congresswoman Liz Cheney. What she says and what to do about it. Hello everyone, it's Monday, September 27th, 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 around the world, we have reports this morning from Florida, Germany and Haiti. But we begin in Washington with the legacy defining legislation this week for the president, with converging deadlines and implications for literally every single American family. A possible government shutdown, default on the national debt, a vote on a generational expansion of the social safety net, all as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extends her own deadline, setting a vote on a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill for Thursday.

JARRETT: That's right. This new date gives Democrats more time to forge consensus among them, but it also tees up a vote on the very last day Congress can stop the government shutdown. Our coverage begins here with CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington. Jasmine, good morning, so much at stake this week for the president. Take us behind the scenes. What's going on behind the White House?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Laura, I think to say that it is a big week for the president is actually an understatement. It's massive when you consider all that he is facing. And frankly, any mistake by him or other Democrats on all the issues from human infrastructure, the hard infrastructure, from government spending to the debt ceiling could be catastrophic for his administration. And we know that this is an administration that is desperately looking for a policy win after weeks of harsh headlines and also dipping approval points for the president. So we saw -- so the official told us -- White House official told us

that the president as well as other administration officials have been making calls, really trying to bridge the gap between progressives and moderates, trying to get something done. And yesterday, when talking to reporters returning to the White House from his presidential retreat at Camp David, he projected optimism about the vote. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm optimistic about this week. It's going to take the better part of the week I think.


WRIGHT: So, President Biden was right, kind of foreshadowing what Pelosi -- House Speaker Pelosi -- House Speaker Pelosi announced just hours later that they were moving the vote to Thursday to give them more time to come to a consensus. But there is still a question about the size and the scope of this bill. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said it was self-evident that it would be less than $3.5 trillion of proposed spending for the human infrastructure part, that includes free pre-k, community college, things like that, all really focused on families.

So, both these -- both Democrats, both progressives and Democrats are working this week to get something done under a big pressure looming on Thursday, but really, what is evident here is that, it's not just President Biden's policies that are at stake, but it is things for the American families, Broadband, childcare, all those things that are really encompassed in these bills. Christine, Laura?

JARRETT: That's right. And look, you know, Pelosi says she's not going to take anything to the floor that isn't ready, that doesn't have the votes. So, we will see where this goes and we know you will be on top of it for us, Jasmine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're going to be hearing a lot this week about politics and timelines and leverage. But there's deep uncertainty over how all of this will play out, government spending, infrastructure and then raising the debt ceiling, not raising that is playing with fire. The Treasury Department wouldn't have enough money to pay the bills, would have to pick and choose which to pay, federal payments to millions of people would be halted, Social Security checks could stop for nearly 50 million seniors.

Troops of course, can't be paid. Critical monthly child tax credit payments could stop. It also could spark a financial crisis where borrowing costs for credit cards, mortgages and cars spike for millions of consumers. And Moody's Analytics warns a default would wipe out nearly 6 million jobs. You could see there, the economy is still down 5.3 million since the pandemic began. Even an accidental short default would damage America's credit, cost the government billions more in borrowing costs and interest rates could rise for the rest of us.

JARRETT: Also this morning, a significant move in the manhunt for Brian Laundrie. The Laundrie family attorney telling several news outlets that the FBI visited the family's home on Sunday looking for samples of Brian's DNA. Now, that could mean they're trying to match samples from the crime scene that could confirm either or eliminate Laundrie as a suspect in the killing of Gabby Petito. CNN's Nadia Romero has the latest from North Port, Florida.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, perhaps the most activity we've seen here in Florida all weekend was on Sunday morning when two FBI agents came to the home of the Laundrie parents and picked up something on the doorstep. And we're told by the attorney of those parents that it was in order to collect items to try to test and match DNA. Well, that's happening here at the Laundry family home. Not far from here at the Carlton Reserve, there are supposed to be resumed search efforts to try to find Brian Laundrie as parents say that the last time they saw or heard from him, he was headed to the reserve last week, last Tuesday, but they haven't seen or heard from him since.

And so that's where the search efforts were focused. That's happening here in Florida. Over in New York on Sunday, there was a big memorial for Gabby Petito. For her family and friends and really people who didn't even know her, who lined up long before the memorial started to pay their last respects.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to be inspired by Gabby. That's what we're looking for. That's something I want. If there's a trip you guys want to take, take it now. Do it now while you got the time. If there's a relationship that you're in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now. When you leave here today, be inspired by what she wrote because the entire planet knows this woman's name now. And she's inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what's best for them first. Put yourself first and do it now while you have the time. I couldn't be more proud as a father.


ROMERO: We heard from Gabby Petito's mother via Facebook, posting for the first time in almost two weeks, and this is what she said. She said that she was just so grateful to so many people. She says "as I scroll through all the posts, my heart is so full of love. I wish I could reach out and hug each and every one of you. Your support has been so overwhelming and we are so filled with gratitude." Now, that search for Brian Laundrie continues, and Gabby Petito's family has said that they believe that he has the answers to all of their questions. Christine, Laura?

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that. All right, to Europe now. Angela Merkel's party heads for defeat in the German elections. What it means for U.S. role on the world stage. CNN live in Berlin.



JARRETT: Breaking overnight. What looks like a big political shift underway in Germany. Preliminary election results show Angela Merkel's party suffering a narrow defeat to a left-leaning party. The reaction from supporters of Chancellor Merkel's center-right party nationally subdued there.

ROMANS: It will be some time before either side knows the actual makeup of the new government. The man who could be the country's next chancellor is celebrating his party's big gains. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Berlin for us this Monday morning. And Fred, you're at the headquarters for the party that came out on top. What are you hearing there this morning?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly on the headquarters of the social democrat, they certainly were the big winners of last night, making really big gains and big gains that no one thought would have been possible just a couple of months ago. They were really down and out, it looked like Olaf Scholz had no chance of becoming the next chancellor. Now he says he believes he has a mandate from voters to do just that. In fact, he was already out here earlier today. I want to listen in to what he had to say there.


OLAF SCHOLZ, SPD CANDIDATE (through translator): The electorate has spoken very clearly. It has said who should build the next government. This is a clear mandate the citizens have expressed. These three should lead the government, and we have to say CDU, CSU have not only lost big, they have also gotten the message from citizens to no longer govern and to go into opposition.


PLEITGEN: Olaf Scholz there who really after say -- I mean, have been watching the campaign, really did a brilliant campaign to get back into this race and in the end to come out on top. Now, the coalition that he's talking about is going to be most probably if he does manage to form it with a green party and with a liberal democrats. On the other hand, you have Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, of course, Christian Social Union as well, they suffered massive losses. There's no other way to put it. It was a disastrous showing for them.

Their main candidate Armin Laschet however, said that he wants to try and form a coalition as well. One of the interesting things about the German electoral system is, even if you don't have the strongest party, you can still try to form a governing coalition. But it certainly looks as though the air is getting thin for him. And a final word, obviously, guys, for Angela Merkel, I saw her on stage yesterday. It was really just a sad way to end those 16 years at the helm of this country, and of course, also being such a big international figure as well with those massive losses that her party suffered, guys.

JARRETT: Fred, as you mentioned, she's been chancellor for 16 years, which is amazing. What --


JARRETT: Does her loss mean for Germany's influence with respect to some of those big issues, like the economy --


JARRETT: Post-COVID, refugees, China, there's so much on the line for Germany.

PLEITGEN: There's a lot on the line, and of course, Angela Merkel -- you know, we've seen at the past 16 years that she was not just a big leader in Germany, and of course, de facto also, the leader of the European Union, but also so big on the international stage as well, especially in the Trump years when many considered her to be the last true patron of multilateralism, that's something with the big question is, is the next German leader going to be able to step into that?


Now, all parties that I've spoken to, and I specifically spoke to Olaf Scholz about this as well, he says that Germany is going to remain very firm and strong within the European Union and also wants to remain strong and committed in NATO and a big partner for the United States as well. Of course, this is a new chancellor coming in. This is going to be, you know, a change of guards if you will, certainly, a big pivot for Germany. However, they do say they want to remain obviously a force on the international stage, at least, economically and politically. In the European Union certainly, all the parties are committed to that.

China really is the big question. Angela Merkel did orient Germany more towards China, and also increased business ties there. What's going to happen there especially of course, with the Biden administration also trying to put pressure on China, that's going to be the big thing in international politics.

The big question mark, but of course, is only going to be answered once we have a new government here. That could still take several months, Angela Merkel is still going to be in power until that point in time. So, don't expect huge changes coming from Germany, but it could be still quite significant how Germany behaves on the international stage, guys.

JARRETT: All right, Fred, appreciate you there, cover now all for us.

ROMANS: Thanks, Fred. All right, today is the deadline for health care workers to be vaccinated in New York State, but tens of thousands still have not received their shot. We're going to tell you how the state is planning for critical staff shortages.


[05:20:00] JARRETT: Welcome back. As many as 12,000 migrants have now been

released into the United States after being detained in Del Rio, Texas in recent weeks. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says they're being monitored as their cases move through the courts.

ROMANS: Others who are still in custody could be sent back to Haiti, but once they get there, many are looking to leave again. Our Melissa Bell is on the ground for us this morning in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christine and Laura. Another six flights of Haitian deportees returned to the country on Sunday. Haitian deportees that tell us that after so many months on the road and so many years away from Haiti, their plans, say many of them, is simply to try and leave once again. And that is not only because of the grinding poverty here, the political instability, especially that has dominated since the assassination of the Haitian president in July, but also the growing insecurity for ordinary Haitians like here in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

We've been speaking to human rights activists who say that since Tuesday, there have been at least ten kidnappings in the Haitian capital, including one at a Sunday church service in which a man tried to rescue his wife from being kidnapped only to be killed himself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time though, there is an uptick in the number of kidnapping. The authorities react by having more patrol in the streets.

LOUBY GEORGES, SENIOR PROJECT & PROTECTION ASSISTANT, IOM: Clashes between different gangs have really blown out of control. And so we find persons like the IDPs that are here, they had to leave their permanent village or camp site which they were residing in since the earthquake in 2010. So, imagine that.


BELL: That is the level of insecurity that Haitians are dealing with day to day, and it's why those Haitians coming back are telling us that despite all they have been through, their plan is simply to get back on the road to try and get out of Haiti once again. We've spoken to a few of these last few days who have already headed towards the Dominican Republic. Christine and Laura.

ROMANS: Oh, Melissa --

JARRETT: Melissa Bell, thank you for that. All right, another exhilarating week in the NFL. Last night's game came down to the final second. How did this end? Find out next.



ROMANS: Welcome back. A former political editor at "Fox News" speaking out about the recent bogus election audit in Arizona. Chris Stirewalt played a key role in calling Arizona for Joe Biden before any other network, a move that enraged the Trump campaign team. But he tells CNN what's happening now is a direct assault on the legitimacy of our elections.


CHRIS STIREWALT, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DISPATCH: The very action of taking the spurious, the specious undertaking to try to undermine -- there's no purpose in these endeavors. Whether it's the one in Arizona or the ones that are underway in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, they're trying for in Georgia and other places. The point of these is to undermine confidence. It's not what the findings is. So I take no satisfaction or pleasure from seeing this outcome that roughly corresponds with the real results. They're doing their damage anyway.


ROMANS: Chris Stirewalt says he has sincere sympathy for people who were duped into believing election fraud conspiracies. It's almost as if those audits -- the whole point of them is not to get to any kind of truth, it's just to keep the big lie alive.

JARRETT: Yes, and just by saying it, they've done the damage.

ROMANS: All right. EARLY START continues right now. Good Monday morning, this is EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett, about 28 minutes past the hour here in New York, it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today. All right, high stakes legislation with deadlines colliding on Capitol Hill this week. Democratic leaders are trying to pass the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion spending bill. On top of all of that, Congress also needs to fund the federal government to avoid a partial shutdown and possible default.

ROMANS: What could be a seismic political shift in Germany. A preliminary election results show the left-leaning social democratic party winning the most seats in Germany's parliament, narrowly surpassing Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian democrats.

JARRETT: The FBI in Florida Sunday returning to the family home of Gabby Petito's fiance Brian Laundrie. The family's attorney says agents asked Brian Laundrie's parents for personal items belonging to their son to help with DNA matching. Meantime, a public memorial service for Petito was held Sunday in her hometown in Long Island.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a push on across government at the senior level and government officials to do everything possible to stifle anything to get anything out to the American public.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: A Department of Homeland Security whistleblower says the

Trump administration covered up Intelligence about Russian election meddling and white supremacy. Brian Murphy says Trump appointees demanded manipulation of information that would make the former President look bad.