Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Bill Clinton Hospitalized with Bloodstream Infection; 1/6 Panel Moves to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt; China's Second Space Station Crew Set to Launch Today. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Friday, October 15th. Happy Friday. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks so much for getting an early start with me. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine has the day off.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

And we begin here with breaking news overnight.

Former President Bill Clinton is in a California hospital with an infection that spread to his bloodstream. His office says he was admitted to the ICU in Tuesday. We're told for privacy and he's starting to feel better.

Chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta has all the details.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, what we are learning is that the former president was out in California for a foundation event and wasn't feeling well this past Tuesday. Feeling a little run down, a little fatigued. But concerned enough that they took him to the hospital, University of California Irvine, where he was admitted and subsequently diagnosed with a blood infection.

A couple important points. The former president has a history of heart disease. Had heart operation back in 2004, had stints placed in 2010. Dr. Alpesh Amin, chief of medicine at UC Irvine, said this not -- his heart is not related to his current situation in the hospital. He was also tested for COVID. It's not COVID. Former president has been vaccinated and has received a booster shot as well.

They said this was clearly a blood infection and specifically something that emanated from his urinary tract. So this is known as urosepsis. It starts in the urinary tract, subsequently spreads to the bloodstream. It sounds like he was treated early. He was started on IV antibiotics and started to respond to that, meaning that he felt better, that his white blood cell count started trending in the right direction and his fever started to go down as well.

So, all positive indicators. So much so that they think the president could be released later on today or tomorrow. Getting off the IV antibiotics., and may be going home with some oral antibiotics.

Laura, they were telling me the president was up walking around, that he was joking around, that he was complaining about hospital food. I think they were trying to give me a sense of the president's mood. And they described him as being, quote, on the mend, Laura, their language.

If we get more details, we'll certainly bring them to you.


JARRETT: All right, Sanjay, certainly glad President Clinton is on the mend.

Also, the House committee investigating the insurrection is making good on the threat and it did not take long. The panel is moving forward on recommending criminal contempt charges against Trump adviser Steve Bannon for defying their subpoena. Bannon was one of the loudest Trump allies encouraging the former president to challenge his election loss.

Bannon says he's following Trump's lead here, citing executive privilege to avoid investigators' questions about his conversations with the former president, even though Bannon was fired years ago and wasn't even in the White House on January 6. Subpoenas are still out there for three other Trump allies, meanwhile, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino and Kash Patel.

The chairman of the committee says they are not playing around here.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): If they tell us that those three individuals are not bargaining in good faith, then we're going in another direction. But for right now we are attempting to negotiate. If the negotiations fail, then we will not hesitate one bit on moving on a criminal or civil referral on this matter.


JARRETT: Criminal referrals for contempt of Congress, by the way, are very rare. The last one was during the Reagan administration. And that one ended in a jury acquittal.

Chairman Thompson says he's not ruling out a subpoena for the former president.

So, here to break it all down with me is former federal prosecutor, Michael Zeldin.

Michael, good morning. So glad you could be here for this conversation.

Walk us through what happens next. This is going to take awhile.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, when the House returns on Tuesday, the committee will vote this contempt citation. It then goes to the full House that has to vote as well. If the full House votes in favor of the criminal contempt, which is expected, it will go to the U.S. attorney's office here in D.C. They, if they decide to bring the case and it's up to them, will convene a grand jury and try to indict Mr. Bannon.

If he's indicted, then he goes to a jury trial and if he's convicted, he's convicted. None of that, assuming a conviction and appeal and a failure to win on appeal, guarantees he'll testify because criminal contempt is about punishment.


It's not about getting a person to testify. One hopes that if you are going to be held in criminal contempt, you'll decide to testify rather than follow that route. But it doesn't guarantee anything, Laura.

JARRETT: So, it doesn't guarantee he's going to talk. It's interesting. Criminal contempt charges like this haven't actually been used since the Reagan administration back when the Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's mom was running the EPA, interesting fact there.

So it seems this is more about sending a message for this committee.

ZELDIN: I think that's right. I think the committee is empowered by the fact that there is a Democrat in the White House and that Justice Department seems inclined to bring criminal contempt charges where as in the case of the Barr Justice Department, no charges would have been brought and, therefore, was a futile effort.

I think they feel empowered to go forward and they're sending a shot across the bow to other people who may receive subpoenas, that i you defy us, this is what you risk. You risk a year in jail and you'll get nothing positive for yourself out of it. So, better to cooperate than not.

JARRETT: Well, to that point, they have the subpoenas out there for these three other Trump allies. They also have a subpoena out there for Jeffrey Clark who I think might be one of the more interesting people to talk to, given his role in sort of going along with Trump's grand scheme on the big lie.

If you were on this panel, what would be your end goal? And I say that because you've got to imagine that Trump allies out there are looking for any reason to say, see, they're still trying to come after Trump. So how do you balance all the competing interests here?

ZELDIN: I guess if I were on the committee, my view would be we need this testimony. This activity on January 6 was so egregious that truth is the only matter that would be of concern to me, what the Trump allies or the Trump base thinks really cannot be part of my evaluation. I think I just got to go after the truth, hope I get it, issue a report that explains what happened leading up to the events, and most particularly, during those two hours when the insurrectionists were in full force and Trump seemed to be relishing it rather than acting to prevent it.

JARRETT: Certainly a laudable goal to have legal facts stay out of the politics realm, but not easy to do especially when it comes to some of these folks. Michael Zeldin, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Nice to see you.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

JARRETT: In Texas, the most restrictive abortion law in the country will remain in effect now that a federal appeals court has sided with the state. Last week, you will remember a federal judge found that law which bans almost all abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy was likely unconstitutional and the judge blocked it. Several clinics in Texas then restarted abortion services, but in a 2-1 order last night, the U.S. court of appeals for the fifth circuit granted Texas's request to put that lower court's ruling on hold, effectively, keeping the abortion ban in place for now.

The Justice Department is expected to appeal the appellate court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Still ahead for you, the president stalled agenda hurting Democrats outside of Washington. Now, a top Democrat promises the time for action is here.



SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): I think the president ought to tell the House we ought to deliver on the infrastructure bill. We're 19 days away from election in Virginia. The president has a huge win sitting out there, a once in 50 years infrastructure plan. Let's make it the law of the land.


JARRETT: That's Virginia Senator Mark Warner, one of the key negotiators of the stalled bipartisan infrastructure bill. He is urging the president to lean on them to let the bill pass. Warner believes it will help former Virginia Governor McAuliffe capture his old job next month. That may be easier said than done.

CNN's Daniella Diaz has the latest from Capitol Hill.

Daniella, good morning.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate is promising a big week ahead. What's he got in store?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Laura, in a dear colleague letter, he said next week will be a pivotal moment for Biden's agenda. Basically, it's crunch time.

Look, there are still a lot of details to iron out with the massive economic bill that is stalled because of two moderate Democratic senators not being able to agree on what the details should be. Of course, the names we mention all the time, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, these two moderate Democratic senators did not agree with the original $3.5 trillion top line price tag for this bill, and as a result, they have been trying to iron out these details. But there is still a lot to work on.

Look, in a call this week, we learned that Kyrsten Sinema told her colleagues that she is hesitant to endorse any sort of economic bill, any sort of bill that would expand the nation's social safety net, unless the House passes the bipartisan infrastructure bill first. This bill has already passed the Senate and have Republican support. It's stalled in the House because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is dealing with progressives who are withholding their vote until this economic bill is finalized.

We also learned that her and Manchin do not agree with a $2.1 trillion price tag which is the number that's being floated around right now for what this economic bill will cost. And perhaps, probably one of the biggest sticking points on this is that Manchin does not agree with the climate provisions that were originally included in this legislation.


He does not agree with -- to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That is what was originally included in this $3.5 trillion economic bill, and that is what he does not agree with. But progressives want this.

Look, this means that they're going to have to pare down some of these provisions in this economic bill and progressives are not going to be happy about that. In fact, even House Speaker Pelosi had to speak out about a major theme progressives want in this bill, to include a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. Pelosi said that they're probably going to have to remove that from this economic bill.

So bottom line here is it's going to be really busy next week and possibly until the end of October with this next deadline October 31st to pass these two bills because they're going to have to negotiate on what to include in these bills and progressives and moderates see this situation completely differently -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yeah, thank you for laying out all the sticking points there. Really important to get down to what is at stake here for folks.

Daniela, thank you.

Coming up, China is building a new space station and preparing to launch its second manned mission to make it happen. What do Beijing's ambitions in space mean for the U.S.? That's next.


[05:20:53] JARRETT: Welcome back.

China is challenging the U.S. and not just here on Earth. It's launching a second manned space mission to help build its new space station. China's cosmic ambitions are part of a building space race with the United States.

CNN's David Culver is at China's launch site in the Gobi Desert and filed this report for us.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, good morning to you from the Gobi Desert here in Northwestern China. Look over my shoulder. This is Shenzhou 13. A few hours from now, that craft known as the divine vessel will go up to the Heavenly Palace, that's Tiangong. That is China's soon to be completed space station.

Why is China building the space station? Well, the U.S. barred China from participating in the international space station, so they're constructing their own. And they're inviting other countries to take part. The one catch is those European astronauts including from U.S. allied nations are going to have to learn Chinese because all the interfaces are in Chinese. So they're actually taking language courses now to do just that.

And China really has, compared to the U.S., stepped up their space program remarkably. You have to look at the comparison in years that the U.S. has had, really a four-decade head start and manned missions. China's first manned mission was in 2003. Since then they have seen first attempt successes in missions to the moon and Mars, and they've got huge ambitions. They've got plans to build a moon base along with Russia and they want to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.

Now, proof of them wanting to show the rest of the world how much confidence they have in their space program is our being here. Foreign media doesn't often get this kind of access. But they're proud, they're confident and they want to show they are a fierce competitor to the U.S. both in this world and in outer space -- Laura.


JARRETT: David Culver, great reporting as usual.

Coming up for you, a very controversial ending to a classic series. A checked swing sends the Giants home and the Dodgers move on. Oh, no, we have reaction from San Francisco, next.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

In Texas, a grand jury has indicted a former pilot in the first criminal charges stemming from the Boeing 737 MAX disasters. Boeing's former chief technical pilot is accused of deceiving the FAA while it was first certifying the jet. Prosecutors say Mark Forkner withheld critical information about an automated cockpit feature to save Boeing money. A flaw in the design led to two crashes killing 346 people. The jets were grounded for almost two years costing Boeing more than $20 billion. No comment yet from Forkner's lawyer.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson threatening to prosecute "The St. Louis Post Dispatch". The paper revealed a security flaw on the state education department's website that had exposed the Social Security numbers of 100,000 staffers, but two days later the governor lashed out.


GOV. MIKE PERSON (R), MISSOURI: They were acting against the state agency to compromise teachers' personal information in an attempt to embarrass the state and sell headlines.


JARRETT: Now, the newspaper disagrees here, saying it informed state officials after discovering the vulnerability and delayed publication to give them time to fix the problem.

A once prominent South Carolina attorney embroiled in several scandals has now been arrested again. Alex Murdaugh is set for a bond hearing on charges he swindled the sons of his dead housekeeper. He's accused of pocketing millions of dollars in settlement money intended for the family of Gloria Satterfield, the housekeeper. She died after what was described as a trip and fall accident at the Murdaugh estate back in 2018.

Just the latest challenge for Murdaugh who survived being shot in the head himself in September. Authorities say he admitted the shooting was part of a conspiracy scheme so that his surviving son could collect an insurance payout. Police are still investigating the murder of Murdaugh's wife and son back in June.

EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett. Almost 30 minutes past the hour here in New York and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

Former President Bill Clinton on the mend, but still hospitalized this morning at the University of California Irvine Medical Center. He is being treated for a urinary tract .