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New Day

Death Toll Rises across Northeast as Floods Wreak Havoc; COVID- 19 Hospitalizations in U.S. Doubled in August; GOP-Led States Rush to Tighten Abortion Laws after Texas Decision. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 07:00   ET


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Is simple.


MARCOS ANDRES HERNANDEZ CALDERON, FORMER CUBAN REFUGEE: Do good for others. Show the United States of America that what they have done for them in there has been a good thing and they are grateful to be here and receive this help.

JIMENEZ: Knowing what they had to leave behind.

CALDERON: It's very hard. People think it's easy being separated from your country and see the other people come and go through the same thing that I went through. Yes, it's memories that you cannot erase it.

JIMENEZ: Omar Jimenez, CNN, Sparta, Wisconsin.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN NEW DAY: And no one knows better what is going on with the current refugees coming to the U.S. than people who were former refugees and are now -- they have settled here in the U.S., but, of course, they know what that experience is like.

Joe Walsh is back with us this morning. Joe, aside from Afghanistan this week, which, of course, has been a massive story, there were also big developments involving the investigation into the attack on the Capitol earlier this year in January. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made that threat to telecommunications companies saying if they complied with records request from the committee doing the investigating when Republicans are in the majority he said they would not forget. Joe, we have now learned he's among the lawmakers whose phone records the panel is requesting that these telecommunications companies reserve.

FMR. REP. JOE WALSH (R-IL): Hey, Kaitlan. McCarthy is nervous. Jim Jordan is nervous. These Republicans are nervous, no doubt about that. But I'm struck, again, the language that McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jordan and the rest of them used threatening these private companies. The government is going to come after you. Man, this is not the Republican Party I belonged to. This is Trump's party, right? Using the power of government to go after and punish private companies. But to your point, Kaitlan, they have no interest in wanting the public to know the truth about January 6th because they're part of that truth. And McCarthy knows that and he's nervous about it, and he should be.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Is there any kind of statutory conflict of interest there that might keep Kevin McCarthy from keeping action on the ethics committee? I don't know what it would be but it seems there's a clear conflict of interest.

WALSH: John, there's a clear conflict of interest, possibly something, you know, the Ethics Committee needs to look into. But, again, John, he's going to do -- McCarthy is going to do and Jordan is going to do, all of them, Jim Banks and Marjorie Taylor Greene, they're all going to do what Trump has told and shown them to do, and that's just stiff arm and fight everything because that's what their base wants. So they will resist every single effort to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th. And, again, Kaitlan and John, you guys know, they're a big part of that story because they talked to Donald Trump multiple times that day.

BERMAN: Joe Walsh, great to have you on this morning. Have a terrific holiday weekend. Thank you.

WALSH: You guys too. Thanks.

BERMAN: New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday, September 3rd. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off. Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins here again this morning.

COLLINS: We've had the craziest, busiest week. It's like baptism by fire over here at New Day.

BERMAN: You were standing in like hurricane boots in Times Square yesterday morning unexpectedly and now we're back here.

COLLINS: In studio.

BERMAN: In studio. But I have to say the story of this storm very much continues and the death toll is rising, at least 46 deaths in the northeast, 46. That's a big number across six states. Most of the victims were people trapped in their homes or cars when the floodwaters rose too fast to escape. This morning, more than 20 million people are still under flood warnings.

We have some new video in this morning from Manville, New Jersey, where the town is under water with several buildings on fire. The flooding will likely continue with rivers in the northeast expected to remain above flood stage into the holiday weekend.

COLLINS: And these powerful remnants of Hurricane Ida spawned at least eight tornadoes in the region, including this terrifying F3 that touched down in Southern New Jersey. At least 25 homes were damaged or destroyed. You can see the destruction there. A home is completely flattened by this. Overnight, President Biden has declared federal emergencies in New York and New Jersey and later today he'll go to Louisiana to look firsthand at the damage and destruction there from some of those communities that were hardest hit.

Let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval who is live in South Bend, New Jersey, an area that was battered by the storm. Polo, we can see you there. There's a lot of water behind you. What are you seeing as the sun is coming up this morning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It speaks to this other issue, right, Kaitlan, that even after the storm has come and gone, there are so many waterways that are still so swollen and still so full that a lot of that runoff is still devastating and flooding many of the area towns and cities. And as you mentioned, we are currently in Bound Brook, New Jersey. This is actually all the water that's coming from the nearby river which is certainly no stranger to flooding in 1999 Hurricane Floyd's rain left that river swollen as well, causing a lot of devastation here.

And what's important to mention here is that this town was experiencing a revitalization for the last two decades and was getting back on track and investing a lot of money into infrastructure and even flood prevention. And then, of course, Wednesday happened. And so, as a result, there were mass evacuations that were prompted just a couple days here at this point. It seems like other losses are simply just property, which is still important.

But, nonetheless, we don't have any word of any sort of injuries or deaths in the region, but all of this speaks to sort of the greater issue of the infrastructure that is going to get some time to get it back online when you have places like gas stations and small towns count on for their supplies, then that has sort of a trickledown effect.

But, overall, as you mention there, you have dozens of deaths. Governor Murphy here in New Jersey is saying about 23 of them in his state alone, and that is a number that they fear may potentially rise. As those waters continue to recede, the sun continues to come up on the second day here and they get an even better idea of the scale of the devastation in New Jersey, neighboring New York, Pennsylvania and other portions of the northeast. Kaitlan, John, back to you.

COLLINS: Thank you so much, polo.

BERMAN: So, thousands of rescue efforts have taken place in Pennsylvania as officials rush to save lives and clean up from the damage caused by the flooding. Joining us now for an update is Randy Padfield. He is the director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Thank you so much for being with us.

We saw so much video of these dramatic water rescues from all over the state, Randy. Can you give us an update on the status of these rescues?

RANDY PADFIELD, DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Good morning, John and Kaitlan. And thanks for the opportunity. So, right now, overnight, we've continued to see some water rescues occur, but most of the rivers have peaked or crested and are starting on their way down. We do have some that are still in flood stage or approaching flood stage. So, the numbers of rescues have gone down. But over the last 36 or previous 36 hours, literally, there were thousands of rescues that occurred across the state with most of the impacts occurring in the southeast.

BERMAN: Literally thousands?

PADFIELD: Yes. We talked one county late the previous night while we were coordinating water rescue resources for them and they indicated that they believe they had processed well over 500 water rescues at that point in time in just one county.

BERMAN: Did you ever expect this?

PADFIELD: We did. We modeled this storm or we were looking at the modeling of this storm before it actually made landfall and adjusting our plans and refining our plans in preparation for this. You know, we have seen flooding in Pennsylvania before and we know the devastating effects of flooding. We have a lot of water rescue resources across the state that are prepared for this. And we have seen this previously with very vigorous precipitation events that essentially delivered a lot of rain over a very short period of time.

BERMAN: Lingering threat this morning. What are you looking forward to over the next 24 hours?

PADFIELD: So, we continue to be able to monitor the rivers that are in flood stage right now. We still, you know, continue to message people, please do not drive around barricades or anything else. We have a fair amount of roads that are still closed. And, really, yesterday, we started to work on our damage assessment process with over-flights of those areas that were most affected to be able to start working through the process for federal assistance as it's needed. And then, really, it's focused on those folks that were most impacted by this to be able to get them what they need to be able to hasten their recovery process.

Randy Padfield, I know it's been a busy day and you're doing such important work. We appreciate you taking the time to speak to us this morning.

PADFIELD: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: So this is a big deal for President Biden's agenda. West Virginia Senator Democrat Joe Biden now says he wants to hit the pause button -- Joe Manchin, I should say. Joe Manchin says he wants to hit the pause button in the push to get President Biden's $3.5 trillion budget plan passed by the end of the month. He calls for Democrats to slim down the spending and slow down the pace.

This is a big deal and it really does threaten to upend the agenda and Manchin's fellow Democrats not at all happy.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us now. Melanie, I keep saying this is a big deal. Joe Manchin has the power to stop this completely.


So, is this basically saying, no, no to 3.5 trillion ever, or no to it for now, or no but maybe yes to a smaller number?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, look, it certainly complicates what is already a very complicated process for Democrats. And let me explain why. Democratic leaders are pursuing this two-track process for both the reconciliation package that contains so much of Biden's economic agenda as well as the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And Speaker Pelosi had to make a promise to her moderates that the House would vote on that bipartisan Senate-passed infrastructure bill by September 27th. Now, if the reconciliation package isn't complete by then, as Joe Manchin is suggesting that they take a pause, progressives aren't going to vote for it. So this could potentially blow everything up.

Now, I will say House committees are already at work plowing ahead writing their portions of the reconciliation package, they're not taking marching orders from Manchin when it comes to timing, but another wrinkle in all this, John, as you mentioned, is the price tag. I mean, Joe Manchin making crystal clear that he does not support 3.5 trillion. Kyrsten Sinema has also echoed a similar statement and the House is not going to want to pass something that they know can't get the requisite 50 votes in the Senate.

And let me read from you a passage from his op-ed. Manchin wrote, instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget reconciliation legislation. I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial, political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions.

So, I mean, pretty inevitable that that price tag is going to have to come down throughout this process but that is going to tee up a massive fight with the left.

COLLINS: And, Melanie, he says their artificial political deadlines. Who is Manchin referring to in that line?

ZANONA: He's talking about the artificial deadlines created in the House, part of the negotiations that Pelosi had to make with her moderate wing as well as with the progressives in order to pull off this complicated two-track process, as I was saying. But progressives are furious. I mean, they are already punching back. They feel like they are already compromised.

Remember, they wanted 6 trillion for the reconciliation package and the budget resolution only allows for 3.5 trillion. And AOC put out a tweet yesterday saying, maybe we should hit the cancel button on a bipartisan infrastructure bill drafted by Exxon lobbyists. Ayanna Pressley, another squad member, said, maybe we should hit the mute button on Manchin.

And so you're just seeing these two wings of the party are at war with each other at a very critical moment. They need to be able to trust each other in the process. So, you see Democratic leaders really have their work cut out for them here.

COLLINS: It's going to be a very long September. Thank you, Melanie, for all of that.

BERMAN: Not to mention the button wars that can be going on.

COLLINS: It's going to be a lot.

Coming up, the Supreme Court's decision to let a restrictive abortion law stand in Texas. Will it open the door for similar laws in other Republican-led states?

BERMAN: And tragedy at a Texas school district. Two teachers die of COVID in the same week. The family of one of the victims shares her story.



COLLINS: Hospitals in many states are still struggling to keep up with the surge in coronavirus cases. Nationwide, hospitalizations have doubled in August alone. Along with Florida, Texas has accounted for nearly 30 percent of current hospitalizations in the U.S.

Now, a local Texas school district is temporarily closing after two of its teachers died from the coronavirus within a week of each other. Natalia Chansler, who taught 6th grade social studies, died Saturday from complications stemming from COVID-19. The district where she worked doesn't require masks though it does recommend them.

Joining me now is Talia's sister, Annice, who is a school nurse in the same school district where her sister taught. Annice, what can you tell us about your sister?


COLLINS: Good morning.

CHANSLER: Talia was just a very kind-natured person, just with an inviting personality. She is very quiet though. But her personality was inviting so people would just, you know, attract -- she was just attracting people to her, students, parents, anyone who came across Natalia, they immediately liked her and liked her personality.

COLLINS: And you say she's quiet but you've also described her as very witty, is that right?

CHANSLER: Yes. When she gets to know her and with family -- we have a large family. Talia is eighth of ten siblings and the fifth sister and the baby sister. So, she kind of -- she's funny. She likes to dance, sing, tell jokes. She likes to cook, always laughing, always in a good mood, always -- nothing brings her down. Everything is let's do it. It is what it is. And that's how her personality was the whole time.

COLLINS: So, she is your baby sister. Where are you in the ranking of the ten siblings?

CHANSLER: I'm the fourth.

COLLINS: You're the fourth. So, she was your younger sister. And she was just 41 years old. You said she had not gotten vaccinated yet but you said she was doing her homework and she was looking and wanted to be thorough in which one she was going to pick, is that right?

CHANSLER: Yes, that is correct.

COLLINS: And what kind of questions was she asking? What was she looking at as she was thinking about getting vaccinated?

CHANSLER: Of course, she had underlying medical conditions, which were -- her medical conditions were under control.


They were controlled by her doctor. But it was nothing that would have taken her life. So, she had to kind of do a little bit more homework to see which vaccination would be the best vaccination for her and her situation.

And so it's the same as anyone. She kind of was straddling the fence about which vaccination would be the best one for her.

COLLINS: Yes. So, she was looking around. And then was she close to getting vaccinated? Or what kind of conversations were you having with her about that?

CHANSLER: She was close to getting vaccinated and then, of course, this happened. And then she was really more thinking, okay, when I get better, I'm going to go ahead and get vaccinated. But, of course, she passed before that.

COLLINS: And she was a teacher in a district where they don't require that you wear a mask if you're a teacher or a student but they do recommend them. I know my mom is a teacher in a similar area where they don't require a mask either. Was she nervous about going back to the classroom?

CHANSLER: She was very nervous, especially at the beginning of the school year. Like I said, her medical issues, she was concerned that there were no mask mandates in place. She was concerned and asking why aren't we staying at home again, you know, until we can figure this out. So, she was okay. She was nervous the first time when the first COVID-19 was out. And then when the variant came out, she was even more nervous, but she had to work. She had no choice.

COLLINS: A lot of people know what that feels like where you feel you have to go to work regardless of whether or not you feel safe going into work. You don't have an option to stay home.

CHANSLER: Yes, she wasn't. She didn't feel safe. I do know that for a fact.

COLLINS: And since she passed, I know that that has been incredibly difficult for you. I can only imagine your younger sister. Has it encouraged anyone else in your family who maybe hesitated to get vaccinated before to make that move now?

CHANSLER: Yes, it has, and they have made that move. They've made that move and I'm so proud of them for doing that. I hate that it took Natalia's passing to help them understand how important it is but I'm just glad they've done it. And if it can help someone else outside of our family do the same thing, then I'm happy for that as well.

COLLINS: And, Annice, what do you want people to remember about your sister, your baby sister?

CHANSLER: She was just a fun, loving, best baby sister I could ever have.

COLLINS: We see a picture of you there. There she was. She was so beautiful.

Annice, we're so sorry for your loss. And thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for telling your experience and sharing that with people, because I know it's deeply personal, but I think it means a lot to viewers.

CHANSLER: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: We'll be back in a moment.



COLLINS: South Dakota is taking its cue from Texas and moving to restrict abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to overturn that six-week abortion ban, the briefest to ever go into effect in the United States. And Republican Governor Kristi Noem says her office will, quote, immediately review the new Texas law and current South Dakota laws to make sure we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books.

Joining us to discuss this is Elie Mystal, a Justice Correspondent for The Nation Magazine. You've seen Florida governor ron DeSantis also say that he is welcoming pro-life legislation. So, do you think this is going to spur similar laws to what we're seeing in Texas that is now in effect as of Wednesday morning, now happen to pop up all across the U.S.?

ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Yes, of course. Like this is why what Texas did and what the Supreme Court stopped -- didn't stop Texas from doing was functionally overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Those two cases only stand for the premise that the government cannot restrict abortion rights before 24 weeks before fetal viability because they place -- unless they place an undue burden on women, right? That's all of those cases stand for.

And the fact that Texas now has a six-week abortion ban, which his effectively a complete abortion ban when you think how long it takes a woman to even know that she is pregnant, especially when she wasn't trying to be, when you consider Texas has a six-week abortion ban and that any other state that wants to follow Texas' bounty system can do it and apparently get off scot-free from the Supreme Court, then Roe means nothing, folks. What Texas has done is overturn Roe and what South Dakota wants to do, what Florida wants to do, what Missouri will do in three seconds is follow their lead and also take away women's constitutionally protected rights to healthcare.

BERMAN: I mean, if you're a Republican anti-choice governor with an anti-choice legislation, why wouldn't you pass something like this today or tomorrow the minute the legislature walks back in the door? Why wouldn't you sign this into law when you know the Supreme Court just told you it's not going to stop it from going into law, at least for now?

MYSTAL: That's exactly right. Like if this is what you want to do, if you spent a generation on a crusade against women's constitutionally protected right to healthcare, that's been your whole game for 50 years, right now on the cusp of victory, why would you stop


And the only reason you would stop is if you didn't think you would get away with it but the Supreme Court is saying you can get away with it.