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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

House Expected to Vote on Biden's Two Massive Economic Bills; Trial for Three Men Charged in Ahmaud Arbery Killing Begins Today; Republicans Push Back on Biden's Employer Vaccine Mandate. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired November 05, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, November 5th. It is 5:00 a.m. in New York. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I can confirm. It is Friday. I'm Laura Jarrett.

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

A potentially historic day ahead on Capitol Hill. The House plans to finally vote on President Biden's economic agenda, this sweeping social safety net plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The president held multiple calls with House Democrats Thursday, as leadership raced to lock down the votes.

And Tuesday's elections served as a wakeup call to give progressives and moderates the push to get on the same page.


REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): I believe we're going to work both these out, we have been all working closely together, and everyone is acting in good faith and we'll get these across the finish line. But I think the country wants to see action. They deserve it. They want us to produce common sense, results for, you know, for them, and for families.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): This election on Tuesday showed us how seriously we have to take these issues, these pocketbook issues, and the reality is that the Build Back Better Act is going to reduce costs for poor families and working families.


ROMANS: There are issues, of course, that remain unresolved. The House Democrats have worked out one of the sticking points how to divvy up state and local taxes. Deductions will be capped at $80,000 dollars per year over nine years. It's an approach that differs from key senators like Bernie Sanders, but a big step closer to the finish line. CNN's Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, House Democratic leadership say today is the day. They anticipate two votes, one on the Build Back Better Act, the other on that bipartisan infrastructure bill that has been sitting there waiting for the House to pass it for months now. As they worked out this broader spending package of the Build Back Better Act, there were negotiations for hours on Thursday, as House Democratic leadership scrambled to resolve the remaining issues.

One of those key issues that got resolved late on Thursday night were state and local tax deductions, they managed to find their way through on that, too. Outstanding issues, they still got to put the final touches on include immigration and also five moderate Democrats who want to get a score from the Congressional Budget Office on numbers, and what this will cost and what the Build Back Better Act will actually cost from that CBO score.

But the bottom line is, House Democratic leadership saying that they anticipate that when they convene at 8:00 this morning, that there will be two votes, one on the Build Back Better Act which will then go over to the Senate, where it will take some time to get through all of that. And then the bipartisan infrastructure act, once that passes the House, that heads to President Biden's desk for his signature.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much.

We're going to hear from the president later this morning. It's on his agenda. And that's after the October jobs report. The estimate 450,000 jobs were added back in October, the delta variant, of course, hampered growth in September and August. But infections are slowing, giving economists hope the job market can quickly recover again. Businesses across the country have been struggling to find workers to fill millions of open jobs.

But former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says that's good for workers.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: You know, there's a silver lining in everything. The silver lining here is going to be that we've got an economy after a long time when the big thing was workers looking for jobs, we've now got a big thing which is jobs looking for workers. And that should mean more of us have more power vis-a-vis our employers, and that will translate into higher wage increases.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Wages rose a strong 4.6 percent in September, from a year ago. Employers are paying more to attract and retain workers, especially in low wage industries.

JARRETT: Another legal battle is heating up between the Biden administration and the state of Texas. This time, the fight is over voting restrictions. The Justice Department claims the state's new law which bans 24 hour voting, and drive-through voting, and having polling staff, and answering a voter's questions among other things, that all violates the Voting Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

DOJ lawyers point out that this new law also limits access to mail-in voting for military personnel overseas and Americans living abroad. The DOJ already has two other big lawsuits against Texas as it tries to strike down its abortion ban and how the state transports migrants in that state.


ROMANS: All right. Two trials with effects reaching far beyond the courtroom what we learned in court and what to expect today.


ROMANS: Welcome back.

In just a few hours, opening statements will begin in the trial of three white men charged in the killing of a black jogger Ahmaud Arbery. It's one two of state trials drawing national attention where race is front and center.

We have team coverage this morning, first to CNN's Martin Savidge on the ground in Brunswick, Georgia.


MARTIIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Good morning, Laura.

This is a day that Ahmaud Arbery's family and those who support them have waited a long time to see, in fact, some perhaps feared they would never get to tee it. It's the first day in the trial of the three men accused of killing him.


But before we get there, two critical issues still got to be resolved by the judge. Number one, should the jury know that Ahmaud Arbery was on probation at the time he was killed. If the jury knew that, what might they infer about Ahmaud Arbery? After all, the judge said Ahmaud Arbery is not on trial here.

The other issue to be resolved is whether or not the jury should see or know that there was an image of a Confederate flag on Travis McMichael's pick-up truck. Travis McMichael is the one who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery and the truck was used to chase Arbery through the neighborhood on the day he was shot. If the jury sees that, what are they going to infer about Travis McMichael?

And then there was another surprise that came at the end of motions on Thursday. And it had to do with this controversial jury. The judge suddenly announced that one of the jurors was already leaving. He said it was due to a medical issue. It is not the single African-American juror. Instead, it's a white female. And she will be replaced by another white female who is alternate number one.

But it means even before we get to the most difficult part of this trial, they've already lost one alternate and have three left and can't afford to lose many more -- Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: Martin, thank you for that.

Let's bring in Jennifer Rodgers, our legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Jennifer, good morning.

With everything that Martin just laid out there, this is so fraught, issues of racism front and center, just, you know, so many trials here. What do you look for as this trial actually gets under way, especially with the jury composition here?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, we'll just have to take it day by day, and see how it develops, but I'm hoping that these evidentiary issues that come up that Martin was speaking about, whether the probation comes in, whether the confederate flag on the license flag comes in, these are critical issues because they can tend to sway a jury one way or the other.

And so, I'm really watching closely to see how those rulings go and people in the courtroom watching closely to see how the jurors react to the evidence as it comes in, to try to get a read on how they're thinking as things progress.

ROMANS: So, Jennifer, stay with us for a moment. The other major trial we're following is the Kyle Rittenhouse case in Wisconsin. We want to talk a little bit more about that.

In court Thursday, defense lawyers seized on testimony of a witness from the conservative news website "The Daily Caller". He suggested first man killed by Rittenhouse may have invited or initiated that confrontation.

We've got Omar Jimenez with more from the courthouse in Kenosha. Listen.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPOINDENT: Days into testimony, the prosecution continues to call witnesses in this trial, as they're expected to do through at least early next week. Now, much of Thursday focused on what led to the shooting on August

25th, 2020, and in particular, the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, one of two people killed that night by Kyle Rittenhouse.

Now, much of the testimony we heard Thursday came from Richard McGinniss, a video director with the video website "The Daily Caller" who have been following Rittenhouse and documenting what was going on, the fifth witness called by prosecutors and at one point emphasized that Rosenbaum was unarmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever see a weapon on Mr. Rosenbaum?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never saw a gun on Mr. Rosenbaum?

MCGINNISS: I did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never saw him have a knife?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never saw him have a club or a bat or a chain or anything like that?

MCGINNISS: I just saw the bag that was thrown. That was it.

JIMENEZ: That bag was a plastic bag but there was a chase leading up to those final moments and McGinniss described it toward the end of that chase, Rittenhouse was standing still, as Rosenbaum continued to advance, and then lunged forward toward the front of the gun, missed, and then that's when the shots began. It's a moment that the defense seized on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could have stopped at any time once he sees an armed individual, correct?

MCGINNISS: I assume he could have, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He kept advancing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he continues to advance until he makes a lung for the weapon, correct?

MCGINNISS: Yes. It appeared that he was lunging for the front portion of the weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which would be the business end of an AR-15?


JIMENEZ: Court is expected to pick back up this morning with more witnesses from the prosecution, but with one less juror, as we learned Thursday, one juror in particular attempted to tell a joke to a deputy earlier this week about Jacob Blake, the person who these protests centered on that started, why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake, and ended with, they ran out of bullets and the jury was called in and questioned and didn't deny it happened and was dismissed. As the judge emphasized the public needs to be confident this is a fair trial -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Omar, thank you.

Let's bring back Jennifer Rodgers.

You know, the defense is latching on to the aisle that the witness lunged toward Kyle Rittenhouse, that somehow excuses the shooter's actions.


I don't know, in a dark street, if when someone is coming toward me and I'm behind the cars, and I see a gun, I don't know how I would react. What do you make of that?

RODGERS: Well, this is really the critical issue here, because Rittenhouse is claiming self defense. So there is no question that he shot this person who was unarmed and so you know, you kind of had elements of the crime, the prosecutors will be able to establish the elements of the crime.

And Rittenhouse has to prove by a preponderance that he was in fear for his life when Rosenbaum was coming towards him. So this really is the crucial issue here. Not just with respect to the shooting of Rosenbaum, but in fact, also relating to the others, because if Rittenhouse is then viewed by the other people as being an active shooter and endangering everyone out there and that's why those other two people advanced towards him, then you can see how Rittenhouse would not have a valid self-defense claim as to the second two people he shot.

So, this is really the linchpin of the issue, and the jury is going to have to sort out whether or not Rittenhouse was reasonably concerned for and in fear of his life or serious bodily injury, as Rosenbaum was approaching him, and at least according to this one witness, trying to take his gun from him.

JARRETT: Jennifer, I want to pick up on something that Omar mentioned at the end of his report there, this jury who was dismissed because he apparently said to another officer of the court, maybe a sheriff's deputy there, that, he made a joke about Jacob Blake, the man who had been shot, that sets off all of the protests in Kenosha.

And when he is asked about it by the judge, he said I don't think it has anything to do with my ability to be impartial, which as Christine always points out sort of shows the casual nature of this type of racism.

If you're the prosecutor on the case, knowing that a juror was impaneled on the jury that had that point of view, what do you need to do over the next couple of weeks to keep this trial on track?

RODGERS: Listen, the jury is seated so there is not much you can do about the juror who left and obviously the prosecutors will argue hard to get that juror off and if anything else comes up like this, you have to do the same. You just have to make your case, you wanted to show people that what the defendants did here is not okay. And that, you know, Jacob Blake isn't going to figure very heavily I don't think in the trial itself, because it is said he was the precursor and his shooting was not what we're here for in the trial.

But prosecutors need to try their case and of course as always keep an eye out for jurors who might have those same views and if they do make a motion to the judge to dismiss that particular juror.

JARRETT: All right. We'll see how this all plays out. Jennifer Rodgers, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, thank you so much, Jennifer. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend.

A vaccine mandate for 100 million people, what's the timeline for workers and big companies and why some Republican governors are taking the issue now to court.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

This morning, a GOP assault against President Biden's vaccine mandate. The Biden administration says private businesses with 100 or more employees, certain health care workers and federal contractors, must all be fully vaccinated by January 4th. Now that's about two-thirds of all U.S. workers. But anyone not vaccinated must be tested weekly.

ROMANS: There will be a federal fine of $14,000 per violation. Companies are offering paid time off, to get vaccinated.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: So we're pretty confident of the administration clearly has the authority to protect workers, and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives, and stop spread of COVID.


ROMANS: Vaccinating the work force. That's how you get out of the pandemic and it becomes something endemic.

But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says his state will join Alabama and Georgia for the vaccine mandate. It's DeSantis' latest to undermine the administration's COVID requirements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The end of the day, individuals should make informed choices about their own health care. They shouldn't be coerced into getting a jab. And in this situation, you're going to have people that are going to have to make that decision, do you get fired from your job, or do you do this, if this may be something that you don't think is something that you want to do?


JARRETT: More than a dozen Republican dominated states have said that they will sue the Biden administration over this new rule.

Meantime, Chicago public schools are closing next Friday, for vaccination awareness day, designed to ensure all eligible students have the opportunity to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible.

In New York City, kids who get their first shot at a city-run site are eligible for a $100 incentive.

Now, look, legally these states are not on great legal grounds. They know that the Biden administration has strong arguments to do this for an emergency health rule, all the courts that have looked at this and the school context have said it is fine and as you point out, these mandates work.

ROMANS: They have been working. The requirements and the mandates working, United Airlines put out a mandate and guess what, people started to get the shot and it is only 500 or 600 people who didn't get the shot out of tens of thousands who work for united airlines. And Delta Airlines did it differently, they charged those who did not get the shot, $200 extra a month in the benefits because if you get COVID, it's $50,000, you know, the cost of the company if you're hospitalized.


And guess what? Almost everyone got vaccinated. So, we're seeing that these vaccine mandates are pushing people to get the shot.

And at this point, let's be honest, we talk about all of the five coming from the Republican governors, and you're talking about a few percentage points of people who are not getting the shot. We are moving toward a vaccinated work force and some people will be left behind.

Will we hurt the labor market? I don't think so. We know there are people who don't want to look for a job because they're afraid of getting the virus.

JARRETT: And it brings them back in.

ROMANS: Make the economy safe, your work force will come back.


ROMANS: Our friends from "Sesame Street" are back for a new town hall. Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill and Big Bird for answers about the COVID vaccine for kids. "The ABCs of COVID Vaccine: CNN Sesame Street Town Hall for Families". That's tomorrow morning at 8:30.

It's always such a good show. That one.