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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

McConnell Floats Debt Ceiling Proposals To Break Partisan Stalemate; WHO Recommends Use Of World's First Malaria Vaccine; Trial To Begin In Germany For Former Nazi Death Camp Guard. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 05:30   ET




SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Senator McConnell is now offering to have his caucus step aside and let Democrats -- all 50 of us -- come to the floor and vote for a short-term debt ceiling raise. And I think we will accept that so we can move forward with finishing the work to pass the Build Back Better agenda.


JARRETT: Daniella Diaz joins us live from Capitol Hill. Daniella, good morning.

So, help me out here. How do we go from weeks of McConnell telling the Democrats you've got to go it alone -- you've got to use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling -- to now a potential deal? What's he up to?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: Laura, it really seemed like as McConnell started hearing that the Democrats were considering changing the filibuster rules to possibly --


DIAZ: -- pass a suspension for the debt ceiling, they realized they probably had to reassess the situation.

You know, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday to just buy some time until they deal with the debt ceiling. And that is because for a long time -- for months -- McConnell was saying that Republicans were not going to aid at all in any Democratic efforts to address raising or suspending the debt ceiling.

Even though a lot of this has been bipartisan, the debt ceiling suspension has been bipartisan since 2011. So that's why Democrats are really upset that Republicans took this stance. But look, everything changed yesterday. It's crunch time. That's another thing to keep in mind here. Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen has been warning for weeks that unless Congress addresses this, the government -- unless the government addresses this, the country is going to default on its debt and it could have disastrous results on the economy of this country and around the world.

So that is why you saw, yesterday, McConnell finally reach a deal with Schumer. But again, it's a deal that's just a short-term deal. It's just going to buy Democrats some time until they figure out how they're going to address the debt ceiling long-term.

But look -- and another thing I really want to emphasize is we don't know what this deal really looks like in details yet. They're still working out writing legislation on this.

You know, last night, after midnight, after being adjourned -- excuse me, not adjourned, recessed for a few hours, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the floor and said they were working on figuring out the language for this bill.

But they're optimistic now that majority leader -- excuse me, minority leader McConnell has put this on the floor so that they can suspend the debt ceiling until December. So, the bottom line here is it was crunch time and they reached this deal buying Democrats time until they address this long-term -- Laura.

JARRETT: Well, I'm kicking the can down the road till December. It sets up a pretty busy period of the holidays and they're not going to be funding the government at the same time and it's just going to be a lot for you in December.

Thank you, Daniella.


Before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blinked on the debt ceiling, President Biden was warning about the big risks and expressed his frustration with Republicans on this issue, saying the United States pays its bills.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our markets are rattled. America's savings are on the line. The American people -- your savings, your pocketbook are directly impacted by this stunt. It doesn't have to be this way. My Republican friends need to stop playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy.


ROMANS: In fact, Wednesday, Goldman Sachs issued this warning that Congress might not address the debt limit in time, before the last minute, adding a lapse in borrowing authority looks like a real risk, but that lapse would probably be brief. So you can imagine that global markets are happy to see that it looks as if this brinksmanship has been pushed into December. JARRETT: For now.

ROMANS: For now, if -- there's a lot of caveats here, so --


ROMANS: -- we'll see if it works out.

JARRETT: All right, to COVID now and the Biden administration going all-in on at-home COVID testing with a $1 billion investment to ramp up supplies. The White House plans to have 200 million rapid-test kits available by December. Experts say bottom line here, it will help identify people who are spreading the virus.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Every home should have literally dozens of these so that we can keep our businesses and schools open.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's not a get out of jail free pass. It doesn't mean that you definitely don't have COVID, but it adds another layer of security.


JARRETT: Dr. Robert Redfield, who led the CDC under President Trump, says the U.S. was always behind in testing. He admits they should have done more to build up testing capacity in the first months of the pandemic.

ROMANS: All right, booed for telling the truth. Things did not go well for Sen. Lindsey Graham during an appearance in South Carolina. Watch what happens when Graham, speaking to supporters, brings up the COVID-19 vaccine.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you haven't had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you're my age --



GRAHAM: I didn't tell you to get it. You ought to think about it.


GRAHAM: Well, I'm glad I got it. Ninety-two percent of the people in the hospitals in South Carolina are unvaccinated.

How many of you have taken measles shots?


ROMANS: Wow. Graham says he is all for the vaccine but he opposes the mandate requiring federal employees to be fully vaccinated.

JARRETT: You hear them yelling at him. They're saying not the same. How do they decide it's not the same?

ROMANS: I don't -- I --

JARRETT: Why are measles different? I don't -- I don't follow the logic.

ROMANS: Mind blown.

JARRETT: OK, so how soon before younger children can finally get their shot? Pfizer is set to officially request the FDA authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for kids five to 11 in the next few weeks. Assuming it happens and gets all the federal government green lights, potential sites here where you can get it -- a pediatrician's office, the pharmacy, or a school clinic.

This week, the FDA's top vaccine official said child deaths from a preventative illness like COVID-19 now are, quote, "embarrassing and a motivation for authorizing vaccine for younger kids."

ROMANS: In Africa, another lifesaving vaccine three decades in the works. The World Health Organization is recommending the first and only malaria vaccine. This is a history-making move, folks. The WHO says that children five months and older should receive four doses of this vaccine.

We know malaria kills about half a million each year, mostly in Sub- Saharan Africa. More than half are children under the age of five.

CNN's David McKenzie has more from Johannesburg. What is the timeline for this vaccine, David? And again, they've been working on this for such a very long time -- a real game-changer, potentially, for so many of these African nations.


You know, it is really a game-changer and it's been in the works for many decades. In fact, even before that. I remember speaking to scientists about this at the very beginning of my career in journalism and they were saying this is something they really wanted to figure out -- a vaccine to stop the parasite that causes malaria.

And I have to say, across these malaria zones in Africa you just see the impact of this on children, especially, getting very sick and dying because of something that has been around for millennia.

So this is the good news. This malaria vaccine has been approved for wide usage in children across high-transmission and medium- transmission countries. It's already been tested out in several countries, like Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi on a large scale. More than three million doses already given out.

So to answer your question when is it coming out, I think if the funding is there it can be there immediately. And despite the relatively complicated nature of this, giving three vaccines just after birth and then 18 months and another vaccine, it has shown in combination with other things like prophylactics and bed nets to stop mosquitos from biting at night, that this has up to 70 percent efficacy to stop severe disease.

And more than a quarter of a million children die from malaria each year in Africa, and that impact has lasted generations.

This is also a very innovative move -- the first time a parasitic disease like this has shown to be stopped in its tracks to a large degree by a vaccine. But this is really good news after so many months of bad news on how -- I have to say, this is something they've been waiting for a long time and it could roll out very soon -- Christine.

ROMANS: It certainly is an exciting development -- scientific development.

David McKenzie, thank you so much for that.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: To Florida now and the manhunt for Brian Laundrie. His parents are changing the date they say they last saw their son. They now claim he was last seen on September 13th. Originally, they told police he left for a hiking trip the day before.

Authorities have been looking for Laundrie ever since. A source says remnants of a campsite that appears to be recently used has been found in the area.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine, Laura, the parents of Gabby Petito say they want Brian Laundrie found and they want him found alive. Because, at least, her father is saying that they want him to spend the rest of his life in jail. That coming from an interview they did with Dr. Phil -- the second part of that interview in which they talked about how hard it's been.

In the meantime, a new timeline coming from the Laundrie family. His parents now setting out new dates for when he disappeared.

A newly-obtained police report shows that the Mustang -- the same one once seen towed away by FBI weeks ago -- was found near that 25,000- acre reserve where teams have been searching for any sign of Brian Laundrie on September 14th. Now, that date is significant because that's the same day police said that the Laundrie family had initially claimed they last saw Brian Laundrie heading to the reserve. That has now changed.

The attorney for Laundrie's parents now saying, "The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events. Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday, September 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, September 13." So, a change in their timeline here.

And let's talk about that reserve because we did see activity pick up a bit and we have learned that search teams out there requested additional resources to try to get to the bottom of where is Brian Laundrie -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Leyla. Thank you for that.

It has been a dangerous night in and around Birmingham, Alabama.



Downpours in Birmingham, Alabama.


ROMANS: Wow, heavy rain triggering flash flooding that quickly swamped roads. Emergency crews have been rescuing people trapped inside and on top of their cars. There were also reports of fallen trees on houses and roadways.

Up to seven inches of rain pounded the area over several hours. That's about twice the average rainfall for the entire month.

JARRETT: One hundred years old and standing trial. After more than 75 years after World War II ended and the Nazi death camps were liberated, a former concentration camp guard is about to stand trial for his alleged role in more than 3,500 murders. His trial is set to begin today in Germany.

And, Fred Pleitgen joins us live from Berlin. Fred, this is just incredible. How in the world did they find him?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Laura. It is -- it is pretty incredible and it also took a lot of work by the authorities -- by the Central Authority here in Germany to find this man and then also to pin all of these things on him. Of course, he is standing trial today.

And we asked them, actually today, how exactly they did find him and they said that they checked the record of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which is where this man was allegedly a prison guard from 1942 to 1945. Also, the Sachsenhausen memorial site. But they also actually went to the military archives in Moscow and found records of him there as well.

Now, of course, that's the one thing. And then, of course, trying to pin all of these things on him as well -- that also took a lot of work by the authorities.

And if you look at some of these things, it's accessory to murder in more than 3,500 cases, including shooting prisoners who were -- who were at the concentration camp. Of course, poison gas was also used at that concentration as well.

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was a hard labor camp where many people died because of mistreatment and because of things that were done for medical reasons as well. But then also, of course, were just simply killed also. It was obviously like all of these camps, an awful place.

And this trial is very, very important, of course, for Germany -- but then also for the relatives of the many people who were interned there as well, Laura.

JARRETT: So then, Fred, how did it -- how did it take so long to actually charge him once they actually apprehended him?

PLEITGEN: You know what? There's several reasons for that. On the one hand, in Germany, it was very difficult to charge people who maybe were not directly involved in killings but who were nonetheless part of the killing machine. People who, for instance, were guards. People who worked in offices as well.

There was a really big sea change here in Germany in 2011 when a gentleman who actually lived in the USA called John Demjanjuk -- he went on trial here. And since then, there have been more and more of these trials taking place.

In fact, there's a parallel trial that's also going on in the north of Germany where a 96-year-old woman is on trial. She was actually a fugitive for a few days because she simply took a taxi away from where the police thought that she was and had simply disappeared. But she has since been apprehended by the authorities.

But it's really been a new thing why these trials are taking so long because for decades it was almost impossible to charge people in Germany with crimes related to the Holocaust if they were not directly involved in killings. In other words, pulling triggers and other things. That has since changed and you can see that, for instance, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is saying that it's a whole different situation in Germany now than it was only a couple of years ago.

Of course, one of the things that we always have to point out is that trials like the one that's starting here today are a race against time because, of course, any of the survivors very old now and the people involved very old as well.

JARRETT: Sure, very old. But their family members are around, their descendants are there, and they have heard the stories, and this is some measure of accountability for them. Thank you, Fred.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning. Looking at markets around the world you can see relief. Markets in Mainland China, by the way, are on holiday. On Wall Street, stock index futures up a little bit this morning.

Look, talk of some kind of a solution on the debt ceiling means gains on Wall Street. It started yesterday. The Dow closed up 102 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also eked out gains.

And some good news in the job market to tell you about. A private- sector payroll report showed 568,000 private-sector jobs were added last month and that's easing some concerns about what we could see tomorrow from the big government jobs report for September. Economists predict about 500,000 jobs were added back to the economy and that would be a big improvement from only 235,000 jobs in August. And the jobless rate is expected to slip to 5.1 percent.

Economists are hoping that widespread vaccination rates and rising wages will get people back to work, especially for frontline workers. The president will be in Illinois today touting vaccine mandates to get that done.

And get ready to prove you have been vaccinated if you want to ride a rollercoaster, speaking of mandates. Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain -- you will -- they will require visitors 12 and over to show they've been vaccinated starting today, following a Los Angeles County mandate.


The popular game-streaming service Twitch confirmed it suffered a major data breach. Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, said Wednesday it's working to understand the extent of that damage. The statement came after an anonymous person reportedly released code and data on how much top streamers on Twitch are paid.

A data scientist said what happened to Twitch can happen to almost any organization, but their particular service most likely made them a high priority target.

The Department of Education making major changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This could help more than 550,000 people who are working in government and nonprofit sectors and have a bunch of student loans.

Under this program, the government forbids remaining -- forgives, rather, remaining student loans for qualifying public sector workers like -- we're talking first responders, nurses, and teachers -- after you have made monthly payments for 10 years. Then the balance is wiped out.

The program has been criticized for being hard to navigate and full of all kinds of logistical problems and confusion about eligibility. Borrowers are receiving very little help from their loan servicers. That's been the criticism.

Now, the Department of Education says it's going to fix that and make these changes over the coming months, including a limited waiver that will authorize all prior payments from student borrowers to count toward the program, including loan types and payment plans that didn't qualify previously for forgiveness.

JARRETT: Finally, this morning, a winner has been crowned in Alaska's Fat Bear Week tournament. After a record-breaking week of voting, a brown bear named 480 Otis is taking the title of the annual contest in which people vote for their favorite chunky bear at a national park. More than 25 years old, Otis is one of the older bears at the park. His win this year makes him a four-time heavyweight champion.

And apparently, his fans say he's praised for his mellow attitude and fishing skills.

ROMANS: Mellow attitude and fishing skills. We don't care how much he weighs. We love him just the same, big or small.

I want to just weigh in a little bit on that student loan story for a minute.

JARRETT: Yes, please.

ROMANS: Because I think that's from 2007 -- they did this student loan forgiveness. And it was really hailed as so important for so many indebted, and it just didn't work out the way people wanted. So the real -- the chance here for the administration to get this right, I think is pretty important.

There are a lot of people who are nurses or doctors in rural parts of the country, or they're attorneys not paid very much, working for pro bono. Working for community service organizations who thought that they would be able to have their loans wiped away by this public loan -- Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and it didn't work out that way. That should be a priority.

JARRETT: In the past, the president has had such an interesting stance on loan forgiveness. Remember, at one of those CNN town halls, he sort of made it seem like this was actually for middle-class people who had paid to go to --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- very fancy schools. And so, he's sort of equivocated on it, so it's interesting now that there's -- the administration is doubling down on this effort to help people out.

ROMANS: Yes. The whole idea is, like, you shouldn't be in student loan debt when you're 50 years old --


ROMANS: -- if you're working a job that's good for society, you know?


ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us, everybody. We'll keep an eye on that story for you. I'm Christine Romans.

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



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October seventh. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

Breaking overnight, a federal judge blocked the abortion ban in Texas. The judge siding with the Biden administration, which sued after the Supreme Court declined to step in and block the Texas law. This is a law that bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. That's usually around six weeks, before most women even know they're pregnant.

The Texas law also effectively deputizes its citizens, allowing them to sue clinics, doctors, nurses -- even Lyft drivers who may take a woman to get an abortion.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: In his scathing 113-page ruling, the judge here said, "From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right."

Texas officials are planning to appeal this ruling.

So, what does all of this mean going forward? CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig joining us now. He's a former state and federal prosecutor.

How significant is this decision?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER STATE AND FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, Brianna, this is tremendous most importantly because as we stand here now this anti-abortion law in Texas is not in effect. It is on pause.

Also, important to note, however, this is just the first step in the legal battle that is to come. This is temporary. This decision we got yesterday came from a district court judge -- a trial-level judge in the federal court for the Western District of Texas.

So, it's a first step. There are more legal battles ahead. We're going to end up in the Court of Appeals and potentially, in the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, what happens in the district court, very important. Enormous win for the Biden administration; enormous blow for the Texas law here. KEILAR: So then, the judge directly addressed this novel enforcement

scheme, which that's one of the things that made it difficult, right, for getting around the enforcement of it.