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U.S. Adds Only 235,000 Jobs In August, Far Fewer Than Expected; Ex-Marine Kills Four People In Florida Shooting Rampage; What Happened To Ron Johnson? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 06, 2021 - 07:30   ET



MARTY WALSH, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: You know, masks -- when need be, you need them.

And we need to get people vaccinated. This is not a political issue. This -- I don't know when masks and vaccines started to become political but people are dying. People are putting themself at risk. They're putting people around them at risk.

We need to get more and more people vaccinated. Right now, we have about 70 percent of all adults in this country that have at least one shot and in some cases, even better than that. We need to get people vaccinated.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What's keeping people from filling these jobs? There are more jobs open right now than there are people to fill them. What do you think that barrier is?

WALSH: Yes. I think one of the biggest barriers is lack of childcare. That was something that's out there. And another barrier is fear for their own health and fear for their family's health. I mean, when you talk to people those are two of the biggest obstacles.

I think there is also some consideration going on here by people -- are they going to go back to the same job that they had pre-pandemic?

And at the Department of Labor, we've gotten out hundreds of millions of dollars out into -- out into communities all across America for job training and workforce development. We're also using the American Jobs Centers to connect people to jobs. So I think that -- I think that -- and we're living in a pandemic. I think there's a lot of factors here.

I think the $300 didn't have as much of an impact as everyone said it did to keep people out of work. We'll see now as we move forward. But those states that ended enhanced benefits did not see any gains at all of people going back to work.

BERMAN: Look, the studies show it didn't really have any effect at all. I mean -- so you're right about that.


BERMAN: I want to talk about the budget -- the idea of $3.5 trillion in a new spending plan. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, says he won't spend that much. He won't vote for a package that big. So how much less would the administration be willing to accept?

WALSH: I don't know if the administration is willing to go there yet. I think we just need to continue to move forward.

This Build Back Better agenda with $3.4 trillion, it's an investment in people. It's an investment in the CARES economy. It's investment into healthcare. It's an investment in our schools. An investment in job force development and workers' training.

You mentioned to me 10 million jobs are, I guess, open. Five million people out of work. Well, there's an opportunity for us to reskill and retrain workers as we move forward. There's $100 billion there.

We've never made this type of investment. The federal government has never made this type of investment in the human side of infrastructure ever. We have an opportunity now. There are people all over this country, including West Virginia, that are looking for help and looking for opportunities. And this is the opportunity for Congress and the Senate to step up here and make this good investment in peoples' livelihoods.

BERMAN: I see you're talking to us from Boston, so a question of parochial interest here. How do you feel about the Matt Jones era? The Patriots play next Sunday.

WALSH: You know, we're excited about it here. Cam did a nice job here filling in. We want to return back to Brady days.

And from what it looks like so far, Matt Jones is -- you know, a lot of pressure on him. He's just got to go out there and play one game at a time, one down at a time, and listen to -- work with his coaches.

BERMAN: Well, I'm sure he'll feel better knowing the Labor Department is behind him.

WALSH: (Laughter).

Secretary Marty Walsh, thank you for being with us this morning. I do appreciate your time.

WALSH: Thank you.

BERMAN: Still ahead, a shocking scene in Florida. Four people, including an infant, killed in a mass shooting. What we're learning about the suspect now under arrest.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And from swing-state senator to the spreader of conspiracy theories. What happened to Sen. Ron Johnson? CNN goes to Wisconsin to find out.


[07:37:50] BERMAN: The Navy has declared five missing sailors dead after their helicopter crashed last week in the Pacific, about 60 miles from San Diego. One crew member was rescued.

The Navy identified the five dead as Naval Air Crewman Second Class James Buriak of Virginia, Lt. Bradley Foster of California, Lt. Paul Fridley of Virginia, Hospital Corpsman Second Class Sarah Burns of Maryland, and Hospital Corpsman Third Class Bailey Tucker of Missouri.

The case of the crash is under investigation.

A Florida town is reeling this morning from a horrifying mass shooting. Four people shot and killed, including a baby in its mother's arms. The Polk County sheriff says the suspect was a former Marine who was wearing body armor at the time of the rampage, and that he had no apparent connection to the victims.

CNN's Randi Kaye joins us now with the charges that were just announced -- Randi.


So this all started around 4:30 in the morning, Sunday morning -- so, yesterday morning. These are all the details we're getting from the Polk County sheriff.

He said that on Saturday night a suspect was arriving at this home. A woman called 911 about a suspicious vehicle. Apparently, the man went to the door and said "God sent me here to speak with one of your daughters." That man, apparently, is 33-year-old Brian Riley, according to the sheriff.

The deputies responded. He was gone by that time. Nine hours later, though, he showed up at the same house and so did the deputies. They did engage in gunfire with the suspect. He eventually did come out. He put his arms up -- he surrendered.

And they went inside after hearing a woman scream and a baby whimper, according to the sheriff. They went inside and found an 11-year-old girl who had been shot multiple times. Also, a 40-year-old man dead, a 33-year-old woman dead, and her 3-month old infant in her arms also dead. That baby's 62-year-old grandmother was also found dead in another house on the property.

We know a little bit more about this suspect. He served four years with the Marines. He was honorably discharged. He also served three years in the Reserves. He also served in Iraq and Afghanistan and he was a designated sharpshooter.


Investigators spoke with his girlfriend and this is what she told them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: She said he had PTSD. I've seen him depressed. And he came home and he said God spoke to him and now he can talk directly to God. And she said I've never seen that kind of behavior.


KAYE: The sheriff also says that Riley has no criminal record and he was working as a bodyguard, John.

BERMAN: This is awful. Did the suspect say anything in custody, Randi?

KAYE: He described himself, according to the sheriff, as a survivalist. He also admitted to being high on meth. And when he was taken to the hospital -- because he had been shot -- he apparently jumped up and tried to grab an officer's gun. He was unsuccessful at that. But certainly, John, they have a lot of questions for this suspect this morning.

BERMAN: All right. As I said, this is horrible, Randi. Keep up posted. I appreciate you being there.

KAYE: Will do.

KEILAR: New questions are emerging about the many controversies surrounding Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Political observers have watched his evolution from Midwestern conservative to a full-fledged conspiracy theory promoter.

So what happened to Ron Johnson?

Sara Murray went to Wisconsin -- really, all over Wisconsin to talk to voters and fellow Republican officials. And I wonder, Sara, what they told you.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look, if you're a fan of Ron Johnson, you see the same grassroots guy that you elected many years ago. But there are plenty of critics on both sides of the aisle right now who say this is a guy who is spreading dangerous conspiracies.


MURRAY (voice-over): As Sen. Ron Johnson toys with running for a third term, it seems there is no controversy the Wisconsin Republican won't wade into, whether it's fueling misinformation on vaccines --

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Neurological problems, (INAUDIBLE) strokes. It's a cornucopia of problems that people certainly believe are associated with the vaccine.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- dismissing the climate crisis as B.S. --

JOHNSON: I think climate change is, as Lord Monckton said --


JOHNSON: (Mouthing) B.S.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- or suggesting the FBI had inside knowledge of the January sixth insurrection but didn't thwart it.

JOHNSON: So you think the FBI had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan, but they don't know squat about what was happening on January sixth?

MURRAY (voice-over): His apparent willingness to deny facts and spread conspiracies has left some in the state wondering what happened to Ron Johnson.

MARK BECKER, FORMER HEAD OF THE BROWN COUNTY GOP: I mean, he was -- he was our guy.

MURRAY (voice-over): Mark Becker, former head of the Brown County GOP, went from rallying behind Johnson to campaigning against him in a few short years.

BECKER: Everything that he's done since Donald Trump -- it's been so devoid of reality.

MURRAY (voice-over): Still, Becker called up Johnson to air his frustration over Republicans peddling unfounded claims of election fraud. When Johnson surprisingly returned his call --

BECKER: And I said Ron, you -- Joe Biden won the election. And he says yes, but 1.5 million people voted for Donald Trump. I'm not -- I'm not stupid. I'm not going to piss those people off.

MURRAY (voice-over): Becker wrote a column about their exchange and pressed Johnson to voice his faith in the election results.

MURRAY (on camera): Did you hear from him at all after you wrote -- you wrote an editorial about that call?

BECKER: I sure did. You know I did.

MURRAY (on camera): What did he say?

BECKER: So, yes, crazy. So I got a text on January seventh. So this was the day after the insurrection.

"Mark, it is my sincere hope to never have to see or speak to a low- life weasel such as yourself again. Please stop trying to contact me."

So they're still picking up glass on the floor of the Capitol and that's what his -- what he's concerned about.

MURRAY (voice-over): Johnson declined an interview but has previously said Becker called him under false pretenses and Johnson expected the call to remain private. According to Johnson, "Months later, he went public with what he claims the conversation was about and what I had said. Anyone who would do that is a low-life weasel and nothing they say should be given any credence."

This week, Johnson was recorded by a liberal activist, again admitting Trump lost Wisconsin.

JOHNSON: The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is that 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him. There's nothing obviously skewed about the results -- there isn't."

MURRAY (voice-over): In a statement, Johnson says those remarks are "...consistent with what I've been saying publicly on the 2020 election" and pointed to interviews where he admits Biden won. But he also continued to raise unfounded claims of election irregularities.

To Michelle Litjens, Johnson is the same guy she first brought to a Tea Party event back in 2009.

MICHELLE LITJENS, TOOK JOHNSON TO HIS FIRST TEA PARTY EVENT IN 2009: He's always been a frank talker. He doesn't skirt around issues. He is not looking to make friends, necessarily, all the time.

MURRAY (voice-over): She says he won over the crowd with a personal story about his daughter's heart defect and his concerns about government-run healthcare.

LITJENS: When Ron spoke you could have heard a pin drop.

MURRAY (voice-over): But she was skeptical when he wanted to challenge Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold in the 2010 Senate race.

LITJENS: I said, "Yeah, I don't think you really want to do that." He wasn't from politics. He ran a business. I'm like a campaign is county fairs and dairy breakfasts, and shaking hands. It's seven days a week, 24 hours a day.


MURRAY (voice-over): But she helped him make inroads with conservative operatives and talk radio hosts. Combined with millions of his own cash and buzzy ads highlighting his manufacturing and accounting background, Johnson built a Washington outside campaign dedicated to shrinking government. And he won, ousting Feingold in a GOP wave election.

JOHNSON: We need to restore our fiscal sanity to this nation.

MURRAY (voice-over): Democrats were so convinced Johnson's victory was a fluke, they ran Feingold again in 2016 --

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- and Johnson notched another victory, this time alongside Donald Trump.

MURRAY (on camera): What do you say when people are like what happened to Ron Johnson? CRAIG GILBERT, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINAL": Well, I get two kinds of questions. One is what happened to Ron Johnson and the other is like why is he saying all this stuff and why is he doing all this stuff?

MURRAY (voice-over): Craig Gilbert has been covering politics since the 1980s and following Johnson since he was elected in 2010.

GILBERT: It's unusual to have a member of the Senate from a 50-50 state as conservative as Ron Johnson is. It's not necessarily great general election politics to be kind of -- to be where Ron Johnson has been on some of these issues.

MURRAY (voice-over): Those issues include questioning safe and effective vaccines --

JOHNSON: Should you be exposing yourself, or should a parent expose their child to a vaccine that we don't know the long-term safety effect of these?

MURRAY (voice-over): -- while touting COVID-19 treatments that health officials have found ineffective or, as the FDA warned, dangerous.

JOHNSON: It's not just hydroxychloroquine, there's ivermectin. There's other things that we just completely ignored.

MURRAY (voice-over): Johnson's spokeswoman says he's opposed to vaccine mandates but, like everyone, he wants the pandemic to end and hopes the vaccine will play a key role in ending it.

She says Johnson is also an advocate for early COVID treatment. "He is agnostic regarding which drugs might be effective. He wants them all researched."

GOP strategist Brian Schimming insists Johnson's frankness appeals to voters.

BRIAN SCHIMMING, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's telling it as he sees it and there's a lot of voters who say that's what they want.

MURRAY (voice-over): As the senator grapples with whether to backtrack on his 2016 campaign pledge to seek only two terms.

JOHNSON: I'm going to serve one more term -- that's it -- two terms. More than enough time -- 12 years. Feingold's these for 18 years.

MURRAY (voice-over): Controversial comments, like saying Black Lives Matters protesters are threatening while Capitol insurrectionists are not, are already reemerging.

JOHNSON: I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law, so I wasn't concerned. Now, had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.

MURRAY (voice-over): Johnson's spokeswoman says he condemns the violence that day but respects those who protested legally.

Meantime, Johnson's remarks are invigorating a crowded field of Democratic Senate hopefuls in this politically divided state --

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D), WISCONSIN: He's a person who has morphed into the guy who is going to say the racist part out loud, you know. We're talking real Archie Bunker here now on top of the conspiracy theories.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- with candidates like Mandela Barnes already using Johnson's words against him.

BARNES: He speaks his truth and unfortunately, he's delusional.


MURRAY: Yes, I was talking to one former staffer of Ron Johnson who said the thing you need to understand about this guy is before he was on conservative talk radio, before he was on conservative television, he was the guy who was listening to conservative talk radio and yelling at the television.

And in case you're wondering how all of this is playing with former President Donald Trump, he has already endorsed Ron Johnson for a third term, even though Johnson hasn't said if he's going to run yet.

KEILAR: Yes, he loves him, right? I actually was thinking back to I was covering Congress as a correspondent there when he was elected --


KEILAR: -- in 2010. And it was interesting because look, the Senate is a particularly elite place, right? And I remember talking to him. He didn't really seem like he fit in in that regard.

MURRAY: Yes. He kind of came in as this like conservative business guy -- plastics manufacturer. And people sort of look at him now and they say what happened? We elected you and you kind of lived in this reality with us. And now they see a guy who seems very different to a lot of folks in Wisconsin.

KEILAR: Yes, a really fascinating report. Thank you so much for traveling all over Wisconsin to bring it to us --

MURRAY: Our pleasure.

KEILAR: -- Sara Murray.

Donald Trump may want another run at the White House, but the same can't be said for Melania Trump. Why the former first lady is in no rush to get back to Washington.

BERMAN: And harrowing new video of New York police officers diving into a flooded basement to try and save lives from all that flooding.


KEILAR: Former first lady Melania Trump has stayed largely out of the public eye since leaving Washington in January and as the former president publicly flirts with the idea of running again in 2024, CNN is learning that Melania Trump is less than interested in returning to the White House.

Here with exclusive new reporting is CNN White House correspondent Kate Bennett. Less than interested, Kate. What does that mean?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, on a scale of Melania's interest, which is she's not the most enthusiastic political spouse that American politics has ever seen, it's not super unusual, I think, that she isn't interested in really picking up the mantle here and going back for a second round.

People I spoke to who know her very much think that was a chapter in her life. It's ended -- it's over. She's private. She wants to return to her private world.

And she wasn't a prolific presence on the 2016 campaign, either. People stopped seeing her. The campaign stopped asking her if she wanted to do events because the answer was always no. President Trump, at the time, said don't bother her. So she's already sort of set the precedent that this is not something she wants to engage in.

KEILAR: I mean, we saw, in a way -- look, she didn't come to the White House right away, right?


KEILAR: She waited to come to Washington from New York.



KEILAR: I wonder, do you know what she thinks about all of this talk of Donald Trump 2024?

BENNETT: I mean, I think she thinks it's just talk. People I spoke with know that she is sort of allowing Donald Trump to have his political ambitions again. Their lives are independent and always have been, but they do come together -- they do discuss things. She does give her opinion.

But again, I think she has established she is independent, she is private.

She has not utilized the platform of first lady that her predecessors have and I think that is also part of the story. By seven months out of the White House, many of them have established out offices, foundations, causes that they believe in -- that they were inspired by when they are first ladies. Melania Trump really hasn't done any of that and I think that's a signal to really show just how disinterested she is in becoming another second-term first lady.

KEILAR: Yes. It took her so long to come out with her initiative --


KEILAR: -- which actually delayed the second lady's initiative, which was pretty interesting. So you just didn't have a lot going on there --


KEILAR: -- with these counterparts to the president and the vice president.

I wonder, in Donald Trump's calculations about running or not --


KEILAR: -- if she's reticent, does that dissuade him at all from maybe running, or no?

BENNETT: I don't think so. I mean, he was never a candidate that sort of needed or wanted the woman's voice. So many presidential candidates in modern history rely on their spouse to fundraise or get the women voter and suburban voter. We hear that all the time. He's never been one of those people.

In 2016, he had Ivanka Trump as a surrogate. I think if he runs again -- if he runs again -- the big question mark -- we're looking at Lara Trump, we're looking at Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Again, I think that Melania Trump is an enigma. When she does come out she's incredibly popular with the Trump base but they aren't chanting for her. They sort of respect that she's private and if it isn't broke, I don't think she's really going to fix it.

KEILAR: So then, who would campaign with him if he campaigns?

BENNETT: I mean, that's the -- that's the thing. I don't think that this is a candidacy that necessarily needs that softening theme. Usually, the women -- that's so sexist and antiquated and I hate even saying it, but they humanize the male candidate. They sort of are able to put a filter over what he's like at home, what he's like as a dad or a husband.

And, Donald Trump's constituency never, to me at least and to voters, seemed to need that and therefore, I don't think Melania is essential in his campaign, nor is she particularly relatable in that sense. I think she's projected a traditional stoicism. Some people call it coldness -- whatever you read into it. Getting to know her has been a challenge and thus, getting to know him through her would be even more sort of a fruitless endeavor I think.

KEILAR: Yes. Well, it's really fascinating because it's kind of unprecedented, yet again, if he does run -- what it's going to look like, you know? BENNETT: It really is.

KEILAR: Kate, thank you so much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

KEILAR: NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman along with Brianna Keilar. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. It is Monday, September sixth. It is Labor Day, but honestly, no holiday for the White House with a range of challenges.

This morning, there are questions about the rollout of booster shots for COVID that's supposed to start in two weeks. White House chief of staff Ron Klain is refusing to say if that goal will be met but promises that the president will follow the science.

A source tells CNN that the Pfizer vaccine booster plan remains on track for the week of September 20th but it could take a few weeks longer to move forward with boosters from Moderna.

KEILAR: Now, COVID keeps surging through with the country averaging 160,000 new cases every day. No, we haven't seen these kinds of numbers since January. They are three times higher than we were seeing last Labor Day.

Around half of the country, right now, fully vaccinated. There is a positive sign, though, and that is a slight drop in hospitalizations.

The Delta variant's two-month surge has generated a sharp rise in public fears about contracting the coronavirus and a reduction in vaccine hesitancy.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten. Harry, I want to start with the good news here, which is that vaccinations have gone up. And as Brianna just said, and may still be saying as I hear in my ear, we are seeing a drop in hesitancy.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, we are. I mean, look, I like good news, especially on Labor Day as we head into the fall -- I like good news.

Look at this. Will you receive a COVID-19 vaccine? Look at where we are right now among adults -- the people who have been eligible the longest. Seventy-five percent say that they have already gotten one, in fact. That's what the CDC reports. Look how much that's risen since late April -- 51 percent. In early January it was just three.

At the same time, what do we see? Unlikely to get the vaccine.