Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Deadline Day: 2 Trump Aides Face Decision on Whether to Testify; FDA Advisers Consider Boosters, Including Mix-and-Match Shots; 5 Killed, 2 Injured in Norway Bow & Arrow Attack. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Thursday, October 14th. Five a.m. exactly here in New York. Thanks for getting your EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. A lot of news to get to this morning.


JARRETT: We begin with deadline day for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. The committee is not waiting around for witnesses.

House investigators have served a former Justice Department official who pushed the election fraud lie with a fresh new subpoena, and CNN has learned the committee spent eight hours on Wednesday interviewing the man who pushed back against the big lie, the former acting attorney general.

ROMANS: The big question today, will any witnesses show up? The former president urged aides to ignore subpoenas. One said overnight he won't show, effectively daring lawmakers to hold him in contempt.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more from Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, Thursday is a crucial day for the January 6 Select Committee. Today is the day where they are expected to have those first round of closed door depositions from two key Trump associates. Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, Patel the former DOD official, Bannon a former White House counselor, someone working outside the administration in the lead up to January 6.

The big question is whether either of these men will comply with the subpoena request, and the committee has made it clear that if they don't show up, that they're ready to take serious action to force them to comply, including up to criminal contempt referral which could happen before the end of this week if they feel like they aren't getting the compliance they're looking for.

REP. ADAMS SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not willing to allow them to play rope-a-dope in the civil courts that way. That's why we're going straight to criminal contempt and expect the justice department, unlike the last one, to uphold the principle that no one is above the law. No one gets to say, I'm not going to comply with the subpoena because I don't want to and there's nothing you can do about it. In fact, there is something that can be done, they can be prosecute and had go to jail over it.

NOBLES: And while the committee is prepping for those interviews both Thursday and Friday, they're also continuing to cast a wide net of former Trump officials who they are looking to glean information from. We are told on Wednesday the committee met with Jeffrey Rosen. He, of course, the former acting attorney general, and they have also issued a subpoena for another high-level Department of Justice official, Jeffrey Clark.

And Clark's role in all this is interesting. He, of course, was one of the main Trump allies within the department of justice who was pushing for the DOJ to use the power of that office to try and investigate election fraud, even though there was no evidence of election fraud to be had. And Clark even went so far as to reach out to some states to try and convince them to investigate fraud as well.

Rosen, of course, the attorney general at the time that Clark was pushing a lot of this, Rosen turned down Clark's entrees to try and make that happen. As did Richard Donoghue, who's a former acting deputy attorney general, who has already talked with the January 6 Select Committee.

So, this promises to be a busy couple of days on Capitol Hill for the January 6 Select Committee, and we'll see just how serious they are about taking that step of criminal contempt in the days ahead -- Laura and Christine.


JARRETT: Brian, thank you.

This is all going to come to a head and fast because at least one witness has made clear he is not coming today. A lawyer for Steve Bannon, I should say, the former president's chief strategist, he's told the House Select Committee Bannon will not Cooperate on documents or testimony because Trump told him not to, citing executive privilege.

Bannon, of course, wasn't part of the executive branch on January 6, making any privilege assertion even more suspicious. Plus, the White House has formally rejected Trump's request to assert privilege over a set of documents in the case, including White House visitor logs and phone records. It's now up to Trump to go to court to stop the National Archives from turn being over these documents to the committee very soon.

ROMANS: As the former president tries to assert executive privilege he's left with a relatively small and inexperienced legal team. More than half a dozen high-profile lawyers who represented Trump in the past are saying, no thank you, when it comes to doing so again.

CNN has learned some of Trump's go-to attorneys are concerned about his election lies, not to mention his reputation for not paying his lawyers. According to sources, among those who said no thanks, but no thanks, Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb.

JARRETT: Those firms are not willing to take that risk.

Just in to CNN, new evidence that law enforcement dramatically misread the threat leading up to the days of the Capitol insurrection.


Local police in Washington, D.C. warned other law enforcement partners that January 6 rally attendees were being urged on social media to, quote, come armed. CNN has reviewed an FBI email passed along warning to the Secret Service about this threat. The document also reveals local law enforcement knew D.C. area hotels were sold out, indicating a large crowd would be attending the rally.

ROMANS: All right. To inflation watch now, you have been paying more for just about everything for months, and prices aren't coming back to Earth any time soon. The latest figures show consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in September, a13-year high. Stripping out volatile food and energy, price still rose 4 percent. Gas prices up 42 percent over the past year. Biggest rise in new car prices since 1980. Just about every category.

And this just in. The federal government saying get ready for winter. Americans will spend more to heat their homes this year, especially if you live in a cold part of the country. And social security recipients, because of all these inflation numbers, they will see a cost of living increase of 5.9 percent in their benefits next year. That's the most in 40 years.

So that's good. A bigger check for Social Security, but rising prices, of course, will offset that boost. The pandemic shutdown was so extreme and the economic boom after so strong that the global shipping web simply broke. The White House announced steps to ease that pressure, but President Biden says more needs to be done.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to take a longer view, though, and invest in building greater resilience to withstand the kinds of shocks we've seen over and over, year in, and year out, whether it's the pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, cyberattacks, or other disruptions.


ROMANS: Pressure growing on the administration to maybe lift authorize tariffs imposed by the former President Donald Trump as the supply chain problems worsen. Trump put tariffs on roughly $350 billion of Chinese made goods and American consumers have paid the bill for those tariffs. No indication yet if that is something the administration is considering.

JARRETT: It seems the White House knows they will get blamed politically for higher prices here, so they want to do whatever they can.

ROMANS: There are 100 reasons why supply chain is so out of whack, right. But the bottom line is people want something to be done about it.


All right, coming up for you, boosting the boosters. Can you mix and match COVID vaccines for a better result? The first real insight into a key question to slow the pandemic next.



ROMANS: Millions of Americans anxious for a COVID booster could get answers soon. An FDA panel of vaccine advisers will consider Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters. Pfizer's booster received emergency authorization last month. Several studies have shown the Moderna shot provides stronger protection.

Here's CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, today and tomorrow, advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be discussing booster shots for people who received the Moderna vaccine and also the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Now, you might remember that last month the discussion was about Pfizer, so now the FDA and the CDC have approved boosters for Pfizer. So you have to be at least six months past your second shot, and also belong to a certain group. For example, be over the age of 65 or have certain underlying medical conditions.

Now they'll have the same discussion about Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The two are a little bit different. Moderna is much more like Pfizer. It's a two-dose mRNA vaccine.

For Johnson & Johnson, it's a little bit different. A dose of Johnson & Johnson, which is what people would have gotten originally, that's not as effective as two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer.

Now, the FDA advisers are also expected to hear a discussion about mixing and matching. Maybe originally you got Johnson & Johnson later as a booster, you'll get Pfizer, or some other kind of combination.

However, no vote, no decision about that is expected, just discussion -- Laura, Christine. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: Elizabeth, thank you for laying that out.

And as many Americans are now thinking about getting their booster shots, many are wondering if it is safe to mix vaccines. A new study from the National Institutes of Health finds mixing boosters may be safe and triggers a strong response. Those who got the J&J vaccine may be better off with a booster from Pfizer or Moderna.

ROMANS: An Idaho doctor on the front lines of the pandemic said getting COVID fully under control is now simply a lost cause. Idaho struggling with ICU bed shortages, funeral homes running out of room to store bodies. And after months of trying to get hold outs vaccinated, Dr. Steven Nemerson is surrendering.


STEVEN NEMERSON, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, SAINT ALPHONSUS HEALTH SYSTEM: Sadly today, I'm here to tell you that we've lost the war, that COVID is here to stay. And the reason it is here to stay is because we cannot vaccinate enough of the public to fully eradicate the disease.


ROMANS: In Arkansas, one of only five states that's seeing death rates spike significantly now, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson is threading the needle on mandates. He says he won't sign any bills requiring COVID tests for people who refuse to get vaccinated, but he also won't block them.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: I'm opposed to the mandate by the Biden administration, but the solution is not to place additional mandates on employers at the state government level. The solution is not to place the employers in a squeeze play between the federal government and state government.


JARRETT: All of this follows fierce blowback for Texas Governor Greg Abbott who signed an executive order banning all companies from using vaccine mandates in his state this week.

ROMANS: All right, the CDC working with states to develop a test to stay COVID strategy in schools. Director Rochelle Walensky says it is designed to keep students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom safely.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Rather than students quarantining after potential exposure, that they could potentially instead come back to school, but test so that we would know as they are returning to school on a frequent testing basis that they were safe coming back to school.


ROMANS: Walensky says guidance tonight promising new strategy will be forthcoming.


The number of new COVID cases among children remains exceptionally high according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They account for 25 percent of the weekly reported cases.

JARRETT: The chief of Chicago's police union is calling on officers to defy the city's requirement to report through vaccination status. The union's president says if enough officers refuse to comply, Chicago will have a police force operating at 50 percent capacity or less by this weekend. Officers who do not report their vaccine status tomorrow will be placed on unpaid leave in a city where deadly shootings tend to spike on weekends. Several prominent labor unions have stood in the way of vaccine and mask requirements, which is just such a shame given the rates of deaths from COVID for police officers.

ROMANS: Yeah, it's a real challenge for law enforcement. Infections and disease and dying of this disease.

Breaking moments ago, police have been in touch with the suspect in that murderous bow and arrow rampage in Norway. We'll tell you why.



ROMANS: All right. Breaking moments ago, police had been in contact -- we are told -- with the suspect in the deadly bow and arrow attack in Norway over concerns about radicalization. Five people were killed.

CNN's Melissa Bell following the story live from Paris.

What do we know about this alleged attacker?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is he was a 37- year-old Danish national. And what we have learned, Christine, over the course of the last hour from Norwegian chief of police is not only was he known to police authorities because of his radicalization, although there had been no contacts in 2021 with him, but also that he was a convert to Islam who had already therefore raised concerns as a result of that radicalization as I mentioned.

That is the very latest. We have also been learning more about the people who were killed last night in this attack that lasted just over half an hour. The man armed with a bow and arrow went on a rampage from a local super market in an attack that spread further across the town to the southwest of the country's capital. Five people killed between the ages of 50 and 70, four women, one man who died as a result of those arrow wounds. Two people also wounded. And this is a terror attack that is all the more shocking in a country

where these sorts of attacks are extremely rare. You have to go back ten years to 2011 to that far-right extremist rampage that killed 77 people, another attack on mosques also by a far-right in 2019. This is not a country that is used to Islamist terror attacks like we saw last night. We know, therefore, of his radicalization, waiting to find more about why he went on the rampage when he did, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Melissa Bell for us in Paris reporting that story out. Thank you very much, Melissa.

JARRETT: Now to this. A possible hijacking and sniper fire on American troops. Those are some of the more harrowing new details we are learning from the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Members of the Air Force received intelligence that five people aboard one of the evacuation flights planned to hijack the plane.

Now, it's not entirely clear how this issue was resolved or what happened to those five people. Also at the Kabul airport, an officer came under sniper fire as rescue squadrons helped secure part of the airport to provide medical treatment.

Okay. Coming up, turns out even a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't mean you won't get talked over by a man. What one Supreme Court justice says the highest court is doing about it, next.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Some call it a liberal fever dream. Others say it should become reality. Packing the U.S. Supreme Court with more progressives while President Biden is in office.

Today, a White House commission set up to study the court is set to release draft materials. The commission was established back in April partly as a compromise with liberals still angry that Merrick Garland didn't even get a hearing for his nomination to the court. And they want a more balanced approach on the court with a bench not dominated by conservatives right now.

The White House has said that the commission's purpose goes beyond just the number of justices, but also examines term limits and altering the court's case selections, rules and practices.

CNN's Joan Biskupic asked Justice Breyer about this commission yesterday.


JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT: I've seen the court over 27 years to try to explain a little bit of its history so that people understand it's always been controversial. And how difficult it is to get people to accept rules, the decisions that they are really wrong, and yet if they don't, we won't have a rule of law and it will be harder to hold us together.

Before people make major changes in the court, I would like them to read or otherwise understand what I've written and to think about it pretty deeply. And it is an institution. I'll just repeat this. It's an institution that, fallible though it is, over time has served this country pretty well.


ROMANS: Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor said the court changed its format for oral argument after studies showed female justice were interrupted by male justices and advocates. Sotomayor said the study had an enormous impact and led to Chief Justice John Roberts to be more sensitive to make sure people were not interrupted.


JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT: Regrettably, that's a dynamic that exists not just on the court, but in our society in general. Most of the time, women say things and they are not heard in the same way that men who might say the identical thing.


ROMANS: A change in oral arguments has been clear now that the justices are back in person. So far even in conscientious cases, the justices have not cut each other off.

JARRETT: Even the Supreme Court justices.

ROMANS: Leave it there.

JARRETT: Just leave it there.

EARLY START continues right now.