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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Blasts Republicans As "Disgraceful" Amid Debt Ceiling Fight; Massive Oil Spill Off California Coast Ravages Beaches And Wildlife; More Than 200,000 Minors Sexually Abused By French Catholic Clergy. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 05, 2021 - 05:30   ET




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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Reckless -- that was President Biden's diagnosis of Senate Republicans' decision to pay -- play, quote, "Russian roulette" with the U.S. economy. A blunt President Biden, Monday, on the risk of not raising the debt ceiling to everyday Americans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they're threatening to use the power -- their power to prevent us from doing our job saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think, quite frankly, it's hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful.

As soon as this week, your savings and your pocket -- your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt. It's as simple as that.


ROMANS: In a letter to President Biden Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated Republicans will not help raise the debt limit and that Democrats will have to do it on their own.

CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington with more. Jasmine, how likely is it that Democrats will raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, Christine, if Republicans continue to hold their line the odds seem more and more likely. But as of right now, Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and President Biden are all adamant that they do not want to go that way. Instead, they want Republicans to basically move out of the way, allowing them to pass it with a simple majority.

Yesterday, in that speech, President Biden called reconciliation basically dangerous, saying it has to -- hundreds of votes have to happen before they can get to the one vote that they want. And he said, really, that both parties incurred this debt and therefore, both parties should support raising the debt ceiling.

Because remember, secretary -- Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen gave Congress until October 18th to raise this thing. That is only 13 days away. So, Democrats need to make the decision and they need to make the decision soon about which way they will go.

But even after the president's really tough words yesterday at the White House, really slamming Republicans for their efforts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- he did not seem swayed. He did not seem convinced that -- or, really, he seemed firm that things were going to go the way that he says they are. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The majority doesn't need our votes; they just want a partisan -- they just want a bipartisan shortcut around procedural hurdles they can actually clear on their own. Democrats need to tackle the debt limit. We gave them a roadmap and three months' notice. I suggest that our colleagues get moving.


WRIGHT: So, Christine, I don't know about you but, to me, this does not seem like a man that is willing to change his posture.

And now, of course, Biden said that yesterday he couldn't guarantee that the country would not default. That is a massive statement and it has really harmful impacts, including the American credit rating will be downgraded, interest rates will rise for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, borrowing, in addition to people being potentially furloughed for their jobs.

So, Democrats need to decide the way forward. And, of course, this comes as they also have to decide the way forward on his sweeping economic agenda -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, a lot going on there. OK, Jasmine. Thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

So, it's time for three questions in three minutes. Joining us today is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Julian, so nice to see you.


You know, Republicans have raised -- the debt ceiling has been raised 49 times under Republican presidents, 25 or 26 under Democrat presidents. This time, it sounds pretty clear that the Democrats are going to have to go it alone. The Republicans are not going to play ball here. How do they get it done, then? JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR,

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, the path McConnell is pushing, reconciliation, might be the only option. It's hard to imagine that coming out of a pandemic we'd be in the situation where the Republicans are threatening financial default and economic chaos. And right now, Schumer is trying to persuade Republicans, but this might be a case where they're not persuadable and reconciliation would allow them to push this through without Republican support.

JARRETT: Well, it's not clear to me that they have Democratic support for reconciliation on this. We'll see.

But some video surfaced this weekend of protesters following Sen. Sinema into a bathroom to confront her on her opposition to a different plan -- not the reconciliation plan but this $3.5 trillion plan to remake the social safety net. Following someone into the bathroom is obviously gross, but does it also suggest to you, Julian, that voters might actually be more engaged and animated on these issues that we might actually understand?

You know, Harry Enten has a great piece about how her district actually may not be as conservative as she thinks it is.

ZELIZER: Well, this is one manifestation of social protest and we see it going all different directions, but that is exactly what it's coming from. It's a sense from some of her own constituents that there's no room for them to participate in the process and to have their voices heard.

And I think what that often leads to is students -- is protesters mobilizing and trying to find other tactics to express their opinions and positions. And I think that's where this is stemming from and that's a risk that Sen. Sinema faces by not going along with these kinds of ideas.

ROMANS: Julian, the former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has a book out and she had this to say about a potential Trump 2024 run -- listen.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I am terrified of him running for president in 2024. I don't think he is fit for the job.


ROMANS: She is terrified, but there's a lot of energy behind Trump, still. And a "Des Moines Register" poll shows the former president's popularity has only grown, Julian. It's gotten -- he's gotten more popular in Iowa -- 53 percent favorable -- his best showing ever in this polling. He's going to the Iowa State Fairgrounds for a big rally on Saturday.

Is he going to run for president or is he just trying to keep the stage and the limelight? ZELIZER: Well, we don't know the answer but I think it would be a

mistake to discount the idea that he's seriously considering a presidential run. He remains very popular in the Republican Party. His popularity, in many ways, has expanded over the past year. And I think he's giving many, many signals that he's thinking, of not in the process of starting an early run. So, I still think there's a strong likelihood we will see the former president on the ticket in 20204.

ROMANS: A strong likelihood.


ROMANS: All right, we'll see what happens this weekend in Iowa, at least.

Julian Zelizer, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Thanks, Julian.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right.

And we should mention former White House press secretary and communications director Stephanie Grisham will join "NEW DAY" live in the 7:00 hour. She has a lot to say.

All right, one person who has not unhitched his wagon from Donald Trump, Mike Pence -- at least not yet. The former V.P. telling Fox's Sean Hannity he's still tight with the former president and that the two made their peace about what happened on January sixth -- you know, when Trump sicced an angry mob on him.


MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't spend almost five years in a political foxhole without somebody -- without developing a strong relationship. And, you know, January sixth was a tragic day in the history of our Capitol building, but thanks to the efforts of Capitol Hill Police and federal officials the Capitol was secured. We finished our work.

And the president and I sat down a few days later and talked through all of it. I can tell you that we parted amicably at the end of the administration and we've talked a number of times since we both left office.


JARRETT: And straight from the Trump playbook, right on cue, Pence blamed the media for distracting from the Biden administration's supposed failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. Of course, it was not just one day in January. The misinformation and disinformation that has fueled January sixth continues.

ROMANS: It does, it does. All right. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says

he is breaking up with the Democratic Party and is now registered as an Independent. The former presidential candidate calls the switch a strangely emotional experience and he believes it will help him make a greater impact.

The lifelong Democrat says his relationship with the party became an odd fit because he is a practical politician and the Democrats have become very ideological.


JARRETT: A massive oil spill off Southern California causing more than 100,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Pacific Ocean. Birds and fish are covered in oil, washing up on shore. Officials say the leak appears to have stopped as cleanup efforts focus on preventing an ecological disaster. But some environmental advocates warning that irreparable damage has already been done.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more on all of this.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine and Laura, before you could see it you could smell it. The smell of a tarlike substance, which was the oozing crude oil that had come out of an oil pipeline offshore here from Orange County.

We now know that an estimated 126,000 gallons of crude has been spilled into the sea. It has already affected some of the animals here, particularly birds. We know there are several that have been covered in this crude oil, which is very dangerous to them. One of them has died.

And there's a lot of concern that in the weeks ahead that we will see effects potentially to mammals -- some of the other sea life as well. So, sea lions and anything that goes through this can be very, very dangerous, especially if they ingest it.

We should also mention that this is not just affecting those who are here and live here and love this place, the surfers that come to use the beach. It's also affecting tourism and the businesses that rely on folks coming in who want to enjoy the water.

We were able to talk to the CEO and a captain of a company here that basically takes people out on the water. You can go ahead and charter a yacht or a boat. And he says his phone has been ringing off the hook with cancelations.


REUBEN PASANDI, OWNER, CAPTAIN NEWPORT LUXURY BOAT AND YACHT RENTALS: It's not a good feeling. We have our -- we have our rent to pay. We have our -- you know, all kinds of expenses that will keep on going but the income may not be there. So --

SIDNER (on camera): People were canceling, correct?

PASANDI: Exactly.

SIDNER (on camera): They can't go anywhere.

PASANDI: We've got to give them back their money. That's only fair. It's not their fault.

SIDNER (on camera): We should also talk about the company that says it's responsible for this leak. Amplify, a Houston-based company, says that the leak started happening sometime on Friday. We now know that the subsidiary of Amplify, a company called Beta Operating Company, has seen several violations -- more than 100.

But right now, what a lot of folks are doing are just trying to clean up the oil and trying to save the animals who use this as their home -- as their habitat -- Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Sara. Thank you so much for that.

Amplify Energy's stock falling 44 percent, losing nearly half its value. Stocks still have about 145 percent year-to-date. That's, of course, riding that surge in oil prices this year. But a very bad day for Amplify after that oil spill.

It's already facing a lawsuit because of the spill. A Southern California deejay filed a lawsuit against the company Monday. The complaints of a deejay, who is also a resident of Huntington Beach, will lose a substantial amount of business because the beach where he books events will be closed for the foreseeable future.

The lawsuit also names Amplify's subsidiary, Beta Operating Company, as well as 100 unnamed subsidiaries and affiliates.

CNN has reached out to Amplify Energy and Beta Operating Company for comments.

A programming note on an all-new season of "THIS IS LIFE." Lisa Ling explores historical events that changed America that are rarely found in history books. It's a hard truth America still confronts today. Catch the season premiere of "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING" Sunday, 10:00astern and Pacific, only on CNN.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Breaking news. A devastating new report on child sex abuse by a Catholic clergy in France. An independent commission finding more than 200,000 minors have been victimized over the last seven decades.

Cyril Vanier has been studying this report. He joins us live from Paris. What are we learning?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Look, this has been 2 1/2 years of investigation by this independent commission to answer one simple question -- how many minors have been abused? What is the size of this problem within the French Catholic Church?

And we can now put a number on it -- 216,000. That's the estimated number of minors who have been abused since 1950. That number surges to 330,000 if you include the wider Catholic social environment. That's to say Catholic schools, youth movements, and Catholic charities.

So, with that number now public, now irrefutable with forensic statistics and research into this, there's going to be a before and after for the Catholic church. And, in fact, the head of France's Conference of Bishops has said as much. He said the scale of abuse was, quote, "more than we ever could have imagined." He expressed his shame and asked for forgiveness.

Victims of sexual abuse were seething today. One who spoke, who has been instrumental in shedding lights on cases of sexual abuse, said that the representatives of the church were a disgrace to humanity and said looking them in the eye, you must all pay.

Now, we just spoke to someone who was a victim of sexual abuse and testified before this independent commission, who is now a priest, and told us he struggles with the dual role as both a victim and a representative of the institution. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fought with all my strength as a priest and as a victim, first, against abusers and as a priest, so that at my level these things do not happen again. That things move forward and that the church change.


VANIER: His priority now, that the recommendations of the commission be fully implemented so that this never happens again in the French Catholic church.


ROMANS: All right, Cyril Vanier. Thank you so much for that truly devastating report. Thank you.

JARRETT: All right.

A top legal adviser at the State Department, now stepping down from his post, says the Biden administration's deportation of Haitians from the U.S.-Mexico border is inhumane. In a six-page memo to colleagues, Harold Koh challenged the use of a public health law to expel migrants, a tactic used often by the Trump administration.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has the latest from Washington. Priscilla, good morning.

Harold Koh, a big name, a prominent attorney, very well respected. I wonder, what are you learning about how much conflict there might be within the State Department over these types of deportations?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Laura, this is the second resignation in just over a week where an official has cited this public health authority on their way out the door. In late September, Daniel Foote, U.S. envoy to Haiti, also resigned, saying that he didn't want to be associated with what he called an inhumane policy.

Now, Harold Koh, that State Department legal adviser who we learned is also leaving, had planned to depart in October, according to a State Department official, and will still serve as a contractor. But in the memo to colleagues he, too, called this an inhumane policy and he also went on to say, quote, "It simply is not worthy of this administration that I so strongly support."

Now, Laura, the source of tension here is what's known as Title 42 that allows for the swift removal of migrants who are encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border, largely barring them from seeking asylum in the United States. And it's really come into focus with the expulsion of Haitians. Since September 19th, the Department of Homeland Security has conducted about 65 repatriation flights with more than 7,000 Haitians on board.

Now, the administration calls this a public health imperative amid an ongoing pandemic and says it is not an immigration policy. But clearly, still frustration both within the administration and outside of the administration among Democratic allies as these flights continue.

JARRETT: All the repatriation flights. But they are going to a place they do not know as their home anymore in so many cases.

Priscilla, thanks so much for getting up with us.

ALVAREZ: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 52 minutes past the hour.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, markets in Mainland China on holiday. But, Nikkei -- Japan's Nikkei -- look at that drop, about two percent. At one point here down 10 percent from recent highs. Wall Street's tech slide infecting markets there.

On Wall Street, stock index futures, also this morning, leaning up for a little bit of a balance after a problem yesterday on inflation worries and debt ceiling brinkmanship. The Dow fell 323 points. The Nasdaq, two percent lower.

Fanning those inflation worries, oil -- the highest since 2014 after OPEC and its allies held steady on production plans. And at this pace, that production not keeping up -- that supply not keeping up with demand. And the higher oil prices mean higher gas prices. At the gas station, the average for a gallon of gas is now $3.20. That's a dollar more than last year.

Someone in California will wake up this morning very, very rich, beating odds of 292 million to one. Someone hit the Powerball jackpot. The ticket sold in California -- a bounty of nearly $700 million, the seventh-largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.

Now the lucky winner has some big choices. You've got to choose between an after-tax lump sum or 30 annual payments. You've got to figure out how to spend it all, right? The lump sum would be $499 million.

My advice, take the lump sum after taxes. Buy your mom a big House. And don't try to spend it all. Figure out how to grow that money.

JARRETT: I know from --

ROMANS: Congratulations, whoever you are.

JARRETT: I know from Christine Romans, always take the lump sum.

All right, Netflix and Howard University teaming up to establish a $5.4 million scholarship fund in honor of the late actor Chadwick Boseman. The scholarship will cover the full cost of four years' tuition at Howard College of Fine Arts, where Boseman was a student. The actor died in August of 2020 after a battle with colon cancer.

OK, a rough start to the week for Facebook, for sure. First, a whistleblower; then its apps all went dark yesterday providing plenty of juice for your late-night laughs.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Facebook was only down for a day, and in that short time everyone got the vaccine. Isn't that amazing -- amazing -- amazing how that happened. I don't know.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": With no social media, I actually ended up spending most of the day talking to my son, and he's really nice. Nice guy.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": For hours, users were left in suspense about whether their second cousin thinks the vaccine gives your pancreas Wi-Fi. It was so bad that the only way Facebook could let the world know what was going on -- and this is true -- was by posting a message on Twitter.


JARRETT: A good day for Twitter.

ROMANS: It really was. And those are professional comedians. Real people were so funny. Facebook and WhatsApp being down is surely an interruption to a lot of people's quote-unquote "vaccine research." And -- but if Facebook is down, whose cousin's girlfriend's nurse is going to tell you that the vaccine is a hoax? [05:55:05]

There were so many good ones. Congratulations, America, on being so funny about Facebook being dark.

JARRETT: And now it's back.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.