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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Senate Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate Despite Clear Health Warnings; Meadows Sues Pelosi And January 6 Committee As Panel Moves To Hold Him In Contempt; Canada, Australia, And U.K. Join U.S. Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Olympics. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 05:30   ET




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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour -- time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

Today, President Biden will meet speak with the president of Ukraine via secure video link about the huge buildup of Russian troops just across the border from his country. In his two-hour call with Vladimir Putin Tuesday, the White House says Mr. Biden emphasized U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

JARRETT: This morning, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. Dole, of course, served for 27 years in Congress but is probably best known for his unsuccessful bid as the GOP candidate for president in 1996. He died Sunday from lung cancer.

President Biden paid tribute Wednesday to his longtime colleague.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We didn't agree on everything but I always admired and respected him in his willingness to work with anyone -- any party -- when it mattered most.


ROMANS: The U.S. Navy is investigating the death of SEAL Team 8 commander Brian Bourgeois. The 43-year-old officer was injured in Virginia Beach during a rope rappelling training exercise five days ago and died on Tuesday. Bourgeois leaves behind a wife and five children.

JARRETT: Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie of Kentucky testing positive for coronavirus. He is the third member of Kentucky's congressional delegation to test positive for COVID. Guthrie says he's experiencing mild symptoms and is glad he decided to get fully vaccinated. ROMANS: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching an

investigation after a video leaked showing senior staff members joking about a Downing Street Christmas party at the very same time London was in lockdown during the pandemic. One of Johnson's advisers who was seen in this video has resigned.

JARRETT: It took three tries but a bill banning conversion therapy in Canada is now the law. The bill makes it a crime to subject any person of any age, consenting or not, to the practice that tries to change sexual orientation or gender identity. Promoting or advertising conversion therapy also outlawed. The ban takes effect in 30 days.

ROMANS: Scott Peterson resentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for killing his pregnant wife Laci Peterson back in 2002. Peterson spent 15 years on death row after his initial conviction. California's State Supreme Court overturned his sentence last year, ruling jurors in the case were dismissed improperly.

JARRETT: New Zealand plans to outlaw smoking for the next generation. A bill -- a proposed bill would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco year by year so that people age 14, when the law goes into effect, will never be able to buy it legally. Now, this legislation does not cover vaping, which is dangerous and remains popular among New Zealand's young people.

All right, now to this. The Senate has voted to block President Biden's COVID vaccine mandate for large businesses. Two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, voted with Republicans, leaving a 52-48 vote in favor of repealing the vaccine requirement. This, despite clear public health warnings, Delta and Omicron variants, and COVID numbers increasing globally.

CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us live from Capitol Hill. Daniella, this probably isn't going anywhere in reality because Republicans simply don't have the votes in the House. Do I have that right?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: You have that right Laura, but the bigger picture here is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi probably won't even put this to a vote in the House. They decide what goes on the floor and they won't support this. And even if they did pass this, President Joe Biden would just veto it anyway.

But really, the bigger picture here is it shows the bipartisan opposition to the president's vaccine mandate for larger employers. Now, remember, this was a mandate that -- he directed the Labor Department to enforce this vaccine mandate for any companies that have 100 employees or more. And Republicans oppose this because they say that this already puts a strain on struggling businesses and they believe that vaccines are a personal choice, which is why they did this.

Now, this effort was led by Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana. And as you said Laura, it did have two Democrats in favor of this bill. It was actually, as you said, Jon Tester, a moderate Democratic of -- from Montana, and Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia. But the rest of the Democrats in the chamber, of course, opposed this legislation.


But as I said, really, the bigger picture here is, Laura, it sends a message to these Republicans back home that these -- that voted these Senate Republicans into office that they are listening to them and this is why they wanted to vote for this -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Daniella Diaz, thank you.

ROMANS: Mark Meadows is suing Nancy Pelosi and the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. Donald Trump's former chief of staff is asking a federal court to block enforcement of a subpoena the committee sent him, as well as the subpoena it issued to Verizon for his phone records. But the committee is still moving forward with a criminal contempt referral against their former House colleague.

It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in Aaron Blake, senior political reporter for "The Washington Post." Thanks for joining us on EARLY START bright and early this Thursday morning, Aaron. Nice to see you.


ROMANS: Meadows may be suing the January 6 Committee to stop the House from getting his phone records, but we know that lawmakers already, Aaron, have plenty of significant evidence, including a text Meadows sent another member of Congress saying quote, "I love it" about the possibility of appointing alternate electors in November 2020.

Where does this go next?

BLAKE: Well, I think there are two points here.

One is that the effort to sue the January 6 Committee is an effort to move this into civil court. We saw during the Russia investigation that's more fruitful as far as drying things out. Maybe when Congress comes with a contempt referral for the Justice Department Meadows' lawyer will say hey, this isn't civil court. We're litigating this right now. Let that process play out. So I think that's a big part of why this lawsuit was filed.

The other thing that I felt was interesting was the letter sent by Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee yesterday. It basically laid out the argument that Meadows had been cooperating substantially, had turned over some very intriguing things, and now suddenly got cold feet. It basically argued that there are things that he has turned over that they want to ask him about. He can try to assert executive privilege then.

But I think it's difficult to separate all this from what happened this past week, which is that Meadows' new book and its disclosure of a positive COVID test for President Trump before a debate in 2020 has really alienated the president and has pressure on Meadows to toe the line like so many before him have.

JARRETT: But he knew all of that was going to come out, which is so curious. And he knew his text messages were going to come out and yet, he's fighting this anyway. But leave that there for another day.

I want to ask you about what's going on in Georgia. David Perdue has thrown his hat in the ring for governor there. He says that had he been in charge in 2020 he wouldn't have certified the Georgia election results. In any other time, I think it's fair to say that would be disqualifying --


JARRETT: -- given that there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud anywhere, much less Georgia. But somehow, now that's seen as sort of a plus for him, I guess in the Trump book.

BLAKE: Well, and the weird thing about this is, as your colleague Ryan Nobles noted yesterday, David Perdue was asked this question about certifying the election in Georgia back in -- and confirming the results back in January of 2021. And he basically punted on the issue, saying he didn't know if he would actually be in the Senate when it came time to accept these election results.

So, one of the most curious things about this is that David Perdue is essentially running on Brian Kemp's handling of the 2020 election results and the things he did before the election. But these were not things that David Perdue said beforehand and I think what that shows is that there is a perceived benefit in Republican primaries.

And, of course, this is very demonstrated in at least aligning with President Trump on these false claims and saying things that maybe don't go as far as the president but at least hint in that direction, which is a lot of what we've seen from David Perdue in recent days, especially.


Aaron, listen to what former president Barack Obama said yesterday on GOP redistricting efforts.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their plan is to control state legislatures and congressional delegations before a single vote is cast. That's not how democracy is supposed to work. Our democracy is essential to who we are. It is what makes America exceptional and it shouldn't be a partisan issue.


ROMANS: Aaron, is he right?

BLAKE: Well, certainly, this is one of the most undersold stories in American politics. The last time we had a census I focused on this extensively. I went through the maps. When each state was doing this, I looked at how they were changing. How the partisan makeup of the districts was changing.

Republicans have gotten much more of an advantage from this because they've been much better at winning governors' races, winning these state legislatures, and it's kind of self-reinforcing cycle in which they then draw the maps that allow them to continue to control those things.



BLAKE: And so, certainly, both parties gerrymander extensively. Republicans simply have many more opportunities to do it. And what that means is that the playing field is at least a little bit more slanted towards Republicans when it comes to the 2022 elections.

ROMANS: All right, Aaron Blake. So nice to talk to you this morning. Thanks for dropping by.

JARRETT: Thanks, Aaron.

BLAKE: Thank you.

JARRETT: Speaking of democracy and gerrymandering, in just a few hours, President Biden will kick off a two-day democracy summit at the White House. It's a virtual meeting for global leaders, promoting democracy over autocracy. Both China and Russia have launched preemptive attacks against this summit, calling it hypocritical.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton, for the first time, sharing the victory speech she hoped to deliver in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton revisiting the speech as part of "MasterClass" video being released today on the topic of resilience.

She became emotional when reading the part where she paid tribute to her mother.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I dream of going up to her and sitting down next to her, taking her in my arms and saying look at me, listen to me. You will survive. You will have a good family of your own and three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine your daughter will grow up and become the President of the United States.


ROMANS: The speech also outlined her vision for America rejecting U.S. versus them countries, saying quote, "The American dream is big enough for everyone."

That's -- I mean, that takes something to read the words you thought were going to be said when you've become president.

JARRETT: And all these years later you can see how much it still impacts her.

ROMANS: We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom all now joining the U.S. in its diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Official representatives of those nations will stay home while the athletes will still compete. All three countries cite China's human rights abuses.

When a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry was asked about Australia's decision to boycott, he replied, "No one would care whether they come or not."

Kristi Lu Stout is in Hong Kong. And this is -- it sends an important message. I mean, I think. When you have diplomats from around the world coming to your country and city for the -- for the Olympics, it's an important moment to have major companies -- or countries, rather, snubbing China. I guess I'm not surprised at the response.

KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's a moment of intense national pride for China, so this is a form of an official snub.

But we just learned that France will not be participating in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games. Other European nations are still considering it, including the Netherlands. And that's why we're seeing these forceful statements come out of China as more nations do join the United States in its diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Games. China is saying that they, too, will quote "pay the price."

It was on Wednesday we heard from the British prime minister. The U.K. announced that it will take part in this diplomatic boycott.

So you've got the U.K., along with Australia, Canada, and the United States. Again, this is not a full boycott so their athletes will be free to compete and to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

It was on Monday, earlier this week, when the United States formally announced its diplomatic boycott, citing human rights concerns, especially charges China is committing genocide in its Xinjiang region -- a charge that Beijing denies. And when the United States made that announcement on Monday, China was very quick to push back and say that the United States will pay the price. That there will be repercussions.

Well, earlier today at the daily Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing, we heard the spokesman say that other nations taking part in this diplomatic boycott will also pay the price. Take a listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANG WENBIN, CHINESE DIPLOMAT (through translator): The United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Canada used the Olympics for political manipulation. They cannot win the hearts of the people and are isolating themselves. They must also pay the price for their mistaken acts.


STOUT: So, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman saying that the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada will pay the price for taking part in this diplomatic boycott, but China has yet to articulate what that price would be. Back to you, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, we know you'll report on it when we know. Kristi, thank you so much.

STOUT: You got it.

JARRETT: All right.

Back here at home, millions in the west are on alert for the first real taste of winter while parts of the east are warming up. Here is Derek Van Dam.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, look who decided to finally show up, Christine and Laura. Old man winter making an appearance this week across the west.

Look at this. We have winter weather alerts stretching from the Upper Midwest right through the Great Basin, all the way into California. This is thanks to a very powerful and expansive storm that's going to be moving across the Four Corners region. And some of that energy will eventually move across the Upper Midwest and into the Central Plains as a formidable snowstorm.

In the meantime, we have high pressure along the east coast. That will allow for things to remain high and dry today for the D.C. region into New York. A weak clipper will bring some light snow to the Upper Great Lakes today.

But the main event really comes in on Friday and Saturday with snow as well as strong winds, and a trailing cold front that will bring the potential for strong to severe weather. Keep an eye to the sky Nashville to Shreveport. Damaging winds, large hail, isolated tornados a possibility, with an enhanced risk of severe weather.

Fifty-eight today for Atlanta, 39 in New York, 44 for Chicago.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right, Derek. Nice to see you. Thank you.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning. Looking at markets around the world, a mixed closed for Asia, and Europe is like barely moving here this morning. On Wall Street, futures slipping a little bit after a powerful rally in U.S. stocks so far this week.


The Dow has added more than 1,100 points in just three days. As we learn more about the Omicron variant there is growing relief in markets. Stocks are right back near their record highs. Look at the Dow. It is up 25 percent this year.

There is evidence inflation may be peaking and signs that workers are the winners in the COVID jobs markets. We know another 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs in October, down from that record set the month before. But a sign that workers are confident enough to quit for better pay, better jobs, or to start their own businesses. Record new business creation in the U.S. right now.

Critical new inflation news comes Friday with consumer price data.

And this 2022 outlook from JPMorgan got my attention. It is predicting a full economic recovery next year, telling clients "Our view is that 2022 will be the year of a full global recovery, an end of the pandemic and a return to normal economic and market conditions we had prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our 2022 price target for the S&P 500 is 5050." For context, the S&P, yesterday, closed around 4,700.

And more good news for energy prices, which have been the key inflation driver this year. Citigroup is predicting a radical drop in energy prices next year because of plenty of supply, Omicron, and other factors that will drive volatility. Gas prices, as we've been reporting, are starting to pull back a bit, down another penny since yesterday.

JARRETT: Why -- what's driving JPMorgan to be so bullish like that?

ROMANS: They're looking at bigger uptake on vaccines and they're looking at moving ahead. It's been two full years of this COVID economy and they are seeing light at the end of the tunnel here.

I mean, it's so interesting when you look at consumer sentiment surveys. People are exhausted by COVID, they're exhausted by high gas prices and inflation. But you look beyond those numbers and there's some hope that next year, things will get better.

I keep pointing out, too, that Social Security recipients will have a 5.9 percent increase in their checks, accounting for inflation this year. If you have peak -- you know, if inflation starts to come down a little bit next year, hopefully, people will have a little bit of money in their pockets.

JARRETT: Let's hope.

All right, Tiger Woods set to make his return to golf and he's going to do it with his son by his side.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Laura.

Ten months after nearly losing his leg in a car crash, Tiger Woods is going to tee it up in a two-round tournament for former Major winners and the family member. It's near his home in Orlando, Florida. It's next weekend.

Tiger said in a statement, quote, "Although it's been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the PNC Championship with my son Charlie. I'm playing as a dad and couldn't be more excited and proud."

Tiger and 12-year-old Charlie played in the two-day event last year and Tiger looked as happy as he'd ever been on a golf course. But don't expect a return to the Tiger of old. The 15-time Major champ said earlier this month that he'll never be a full-time golfer again and he's a long way from being fit enough to play again on the PGA Tour.

The NHL's Arizona Coyotes are on the brink of being kicked out of their own stadium because they haven't paid their bills. According to Arizona's Department of Revenue, the team has a lien in excess of $1.3 million with $250,000 owed to the city of Glendale where they play. If the taxes and back rent aren't paid by 5:00 p.m. local time on December 20th, the Coyotes won't even be allowed to get inside.

In a statement to "The Arizona Republic," the team says the mistake appears to be quote "an unfortunate human error" and that they will repay all the money they owe today, and are taking immediate steps to make sure it won't happen again.

The team was already looking for a new place to play next season. In August, Glendale decided against renewing a lease for the Coyotes. This won't make looking for a new home any easier.

Let's go to the NBA. The Raptors and Thunder went down to the wire for a wild ending. Raptors down one with time running out. Fred VanVleet's shot blocked but Justin Champagnie tips in what appears to be his first-ever game-winning buzzer-beater. The crowd erupts, players ecstatic for the undrafted Champagnie.

But upon further review, the ball is still touching his hand and that red light went on as the buzzer sounded, so it's no good. Oklahoma City escapes with a 110-109 victory. They were this close.

All right. Finally, a guy disrupted play and walked out onto the pitch during a women's champion league match in England. Security nowhere to be seen. He's shouting at players, taking a selfie.

And then lay it on him -- bam. Sam Kerr took matters into her own hands. The Chelsea star and also the NWSL's all-time leading scorer blasting him with a body check to the ground. Guards eventually chased the guy off the pitch. The game continued to a scoreless draw. But get this, Laura and Christine. The referee gave Kerr a yellow card.


JARRETT: How? How is that possible?

WIRE: Exactly. In our sports department here none of us has ever heard of this before.

JARRETT: Oh, my goodness.

WIRE: The crowd there was cheering for her for getting this man off the field. And you never see that in the NFL or any other place where a player takes care of a fan.


JARRETT: Thank you, Coy.

ROMANS: We'll take her yellow card. Give it to us instead.

WIRE: Yes.

ROMANS: Thanks, Coy. Nice to see you.

JARRETT: Thanks so much for joining us, everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" is next.