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New Day

Biden to Deliver Major Speech on Pandemic Tonight; Biden Tells Ex-Trump Officials on Boards to Quit or be Fired; Hosts, GOP Governor Unleash Anger on the Unvaccinated. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 07:00   ET



BOB BAUER, ELECTION LAW ATTORNEY: And so there's a number they can call and there is going to be a number of lawyers who they can draw upon, assign to them in particular jurisdictions lawyers in their jurisdictions that can give them that support.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Ben, we saw in some high-profile cases, for instance, Georgia, where you saw state election officials really being the backbone and providing the dam that didn't break when it came to upholding the election. Some of these dams have been broken ahead of the next election. How concerned are you that there may not actually be resource to deal with that?

BIN GINSBURG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we hope this network will help provide some recourse to deal with that. I mean, it is a question, I think, of looking at the laws in the individual states and finding the right lawyers and attempts. But these laws that are being passed and the efforts to weaponize poll watchers in the polling place are all part of thinking, I think, wrongly that intimidation of election officials is going to help Republicans. I think what my fellow Republicans are not recognizing is what goes around can come around and that this weaponization in election laws can be turned on them. This is not going to be a one-way street. And that overall is bad for the democracy.

KEILAR: Yes. It's not what any party should be about, right? We're seeing that as you two join together. Ben, thank you so much. Bob, I really appreciate it.

BAUER: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

KEILAR: New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers not United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar on this New Day.

We do have breaking news, a COVID decision that will immediately affect thousands of children and could eventually influence millions and millions of school kids in America. In a matter of hours, Los Angeles could become the largest public school district in the country to require vaccinations for students 12 and up. The school board votes today on the mandate and one member tells New Day it is expected to pass. The plan requires vaccines for students 12 and older who are part of in-person extracurricular programs by October 31st. The vaccination deadline for attending in-person classes is December 19th with a few exemptions allowed.

KEILAR: Tonight, President Biden will address the nation to roll out his new six-point plan for stopping the pandemic in its tracks. That is the goal. The virus is surging. Hospitals in a number of states are near or at capacity. Children representing one out of every four new cases and the president planning to focus on vaccinating the unvaccinated on booster shots, keeping schools open, ramping up testing, mask mandates and a new push toward mandating vaccines.

So let's begin now with Jeremy Diamond who is live for us at the White House with our top story. What is ahead? What are we going to hear from the president, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brianna. Well, President Biden is expected to outline a revamped strategy for tackling this coronavirus pandemic in a speech this afternoon. The president will be pushing for new vaccine mandates as well as increased testing across the country. Those are a couple of the six pillars that White House have officials disclosed to us so far for what the president is going to be focusing on.

You can see they're vaccinating the unvaccinated, further protection for the vaccinated. You can expect to hear about booster shots in that portion of the speech as well as also looking at the economic recovery and making sure the economy can continue to push forward even as this pandemic continues to rage.

But one thing is very clear. This is going to be a very different speech from the one we heard from President Biden two months ago ahead of the July 4th holiday, when the president said that we are closer than ever to declaring independence over this virus. In those two months, we have watched coronavirus cases skyrocket, surging across the country amid the spread of this delta variant.

And so now, clearly, the president facing a lower approval rating for his handling of the pandemic, sees a need to show that he is on top of this and what more his administration can do. The question is, of course, this administration so far has said they don't believe they have the power to mandate vaccines for all Americans across the country but we have watched over the last couple of months as the administration has taken more steps in that direction and also encouraging the private sector to do its part as well. I think you can hear more of that later today as well. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. We'll certainly be looking forward to that. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. Live from the White House.

We'll also be speaking with the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, coming up.

Now, the Biden administration has asked for the resignation of 11 Trump-appointees from their positions on military advisory boards, or else they will be dismissed. Many of them have refused.

Joining us now is one member who is refusing to resign, Meaghan Mobbs, she was an appointed member of the board of visitors at West Point.


She is also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and she is an advocate for veterans and military families. Meaghan, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Can you just tell us off the start here why are you refusing to resign?

MEAGHAN MOBBS, MEMBER, U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY BOARD OF VISITORS: First of, thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective. And the reason why I'm refusing to resign is it is imperative that we do not politicize our military academies.

When I was first appointed to the board, there were four Obama appointee holdovers that were there serving out their three-year terms. I was graciously welcomed, I was treated with dignity and respect and that type of nonpartisan engagement is exactly what we need in America right now, the ability to come together, have discussions bring different perspectives, increase cognitive diversity and have these conversations. And that's one reason why I'm not going to step down.

KEILAR: So, why do you think you were asked to resign?

MOBBS: I think it is for a variety of reasons. The only way that I can imagine is because of the kind of politicization or this kind of wanting to capture this as being a political appointed board. And while you are appointed by the commander-in-chief, by the president, who, by their very nature, is from a political party, this advisory board itself is remarkably nonpartisan. It's one of the last places in America where those things are kind of checked at the door. What comes first is the health, the well being of the cadets, to make sure at least speaking about West Point right now, to make sure that they have the best possible opportunity to become excellent army officers.

KEILAR: You know, let me ask you about that because you say it's not about politicizing the board and you say the president shouldn't politicize the military. Didn't President Trump politicize the military?

MOBBS: I think there's a long history of many presidents politicizing the military. And, honestly, what I really want to speak about though is this administration's decision to do so versus decisions made by previous administrations because it's important in this moment now to accept what's happening because this has not been happened before. This is an unprecedented move by a president to dissolve all boards, all appointees and label them all as being unqualified.

KEILAR: Okay. So, I want to ask you a little bit about that because you say it's about focusing on what Biden is doing, not what Trump is doing. You obviously were an adviser to the campaign, former President Trump's re-election campaign, when it came to veteran and military family outreach. You have recently been very outspoken about what you talk about and, look, many people have talked about as the moral injury of the evacuations from Afghanistan.

As an adviser to the Trump campaign, did you advise them or the president on the moral injury of basically scrapping the SIV program that contributed to the difficulties that we've seen in evacuating Afghan allies?

MOBBS: So that wasn't something that I worked on. It would be very hard for me to speak on that. But something that I'm often an advocate for is mental health for all of our veterans across administrations. And this is something that I think is remarkably, again, bipartisan and nonpartisan. It's ensuring that the health and well-being of our veterans, of our military and our military families are first and foremost in a variety of ways, and this includes at the V.A., this includes during our period of service and also during their period of being at the academies, it's ensuring that we're taking proper and appropriate precautions to make sure all of those needs are addressed. So, every opportunity I can speak about making we are getting what I would call left of bang, ahead of any of these issues that might occur as a result of military service. I'm a very outspoken advocate for that.

KEILAR: Yes, look, I'm certainly not taking away from your advocacy on that where you talk about the importance of transitions for military personnel and just how that can affect their mental health. You talked about a number of issues that I think there's broad bipartisan agreement on saying that, hey, these are things that should be addressed.

You also, though -- you were an adviser to the Trump campaign and I do wonder if, for instance, on that, you know, we've seen President Trump just yesterday praising -- or not praising, really pushing back on the removal of this Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond. He actually referred to the former confederate general as a unifying force. He said, if only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we're suffering because we don't have the genius of Robert E. Lee.

You know, I want to ask you about that because as someone on the board of visitors for West Point, you're well aware that West Point is trying to figure out what to do with all of its stuff that's named after Robert E. Lee, whether it's Lee barracks that you or one of your -- while you were at West Point, one of your fellow cadets may have actually stayed in as a dorm, you know?


I mean, what do you say when you hear the former president saying things like this?

MOBBS: So, we serve at the current pleasure of the current president which is why he's able to terminate in the way that he did. So my focus is ensuring that we're representing those values and those ethics when we come to the board of visitors and making sure again those decisions that you're talking about are outside of the purview of the advisory board.

We are there to provide insight around curriculum, around discipline, about fiscal expenditures, around those sorts of things. So we're not necessarily having discussions around any of the things that you just mentioned.

But one of the things we do speak about, which I think is important that we do bring up very frequently is the rise of sexual harassment and sexual assault in our military academies and in the military, broadly speaking.

So those are the things that we're focused on. We're focusing how we can best and appropriately meet the needs and demands of the cadets so the conversations that you're mentioning aren't things that happen at the advisory board.

KEILAR: Do you see how some of the folks that President Biden and the Biden administration have looked at here are people who maybe don't belong on advisory boards for service academies, for instance, a former colonel who has attacked the role of women in certain military situations, or has, you know, advanced replacement theory or a former appointee who tried to get election fraud information to the White House from the DOJ or people who enabled the big lie, which was really the impetus for many veterans and even active duty service members breaking into Congress? I mean, do you see a distinction here between some people, like an H.R. McMaster or I'm sure you would put yourself in this category, someone -- like he's being honored as a graduate of West Point here soon. Do you think that it makes sense that some of these people should have been scrapped but that you're not one of them? How are you seeing this?

MOBBS: So, I can only speak for myself. I haven't met the individual that you're speaking about. We haven't had a board meeting since the election because of the suspension of all the board. So I've never worked alongside him or know him personally. So, again, I can only speak for myself. And what I can --

KEILAR: But you know, Meaghan -- Meaghan, let's not dodge that. Because you don't have to work alongside someone to know that they promote replacement theory or that they attack women being in military roles that men are in. I mean, you know, you know the record of some of these people. So do you think that it makes sense that some of these people would be scrapped?

MOBBS: So I think it makes sense that any president can look at those that are appointed and make the decision to assess on an individual basis. I absolutely think the president obviously has that ability and that purview to do so. I think wholesale scrapping every appointee and throwing kind of the baby out with the bath water sets a very dangerous precedent because this sets a precedent for future administrations to do the exact same thing.

And it prevents the ability of what I spoke about previously the ability for people with different perspectives that are rooted in very good intention and beliefs around the best way to serve cadets can come together and can have these discussions and have this discourse that's done in a respectful way. And by doing this, it sets the precedent that in the future, if someone disagrees with someone, they can just label them as being unqualified or just scrap them wholesale and it prevents the ability of having those conversations that I think are imperative for our democracy.

KEILAR: Meaghan, I want to thank you so much for having this conversation. Look, it's one we very much need to have as we look at the credentials of all of these individuals who are on these service academy advisory boards. And I appreciate you coming on to talk about it.

MOBBS: Thank you so much for having me.

KEILAR: Hospitals strapped, resources strained. Now, some prominent voices in the media are speaking up blaming those who refuse to be vaccinated.

BERMAN: CNN returns to one rural town almost a year later to see whether this latest surge in cases and hospitalizations has changed any minds.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you thought about getting the vaccine?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, really, how come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I don't want to get sick.




BERMAN: This morning, a new wave of anger focused on the unvaccinated and especially people pushing vaccine misinformation coming from media hosts, even from a Republican governor. Let's start with what Howard Stern said yesterday about the need for vaccine mandates.


HOWARD STERN, SIRIUSXM, THE HOWARD STERN SHOW: When are we going to stop putting up with the idiots in this country and just say, you know, it's mandatory to get vaccinated. (BLEEP) their freedom, I want my freedom to live. I want to get out of the house already. I want to go next door and play chess. I want to go take some pictures.


KEILAR: I want to do all those things. So, many hospitals filling up with unvaccinated COVID patients. Late Night Host Jimmy Kimmel saying this about who should be getting priority care.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMM KIMMEL LIVE: Dr. Fauci said if hospitals get any more overcrowded, they're going to have to make some very tough choices about who gets an ICU bed. That choice doesn't seem so tough to me. Vaccinated person having a heart attack, yes, come right on. We'll take care of you, unvaccinated guy who gobbled horse goo, rest in peace, weezy.


BERMAN: Here is West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who seems exhausted trying to cut through the lies being spread about vaccines.


GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): For God sakes of living, how difficult is this to understand? Why in the world do we have to come up with these crazy ideas, and they're crazy ideas, that the vaccine has got something in it and it's tracing people wherever they go? And the same very people that are saying that are carrying their cell phones around.


I mean, come on.


BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator Michael Smerconish, Host of CNN Smerconish, and a genuine star of the radio, unlike some of the people we've played before, Michael. So let me ask you what you think about this.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm a Howard super fan. When he said it, I was cheering him on as I was listening. You know, we talk a lot in this country about the 1 percenters. There's a great spread right now in The New York Post, of all places, about the 99 percenters, drawing on the fact that according to CDC data, January through the end of August, 99 percent of all hospitalizations for COVID-related illness, the unvaccinated, those who are not fully vaccinated, similarly, 99 percent of COVID deaths, January through the end of August, all those unvaccinated.

So, the time for cajoling, I think, is over. We're no longer dealing with vaccine hesitant. I'm not going to say that anymore. It's the vaccine obstinate. And we have got to draw a line in the sand and force people to get vaccinated.

One last thing, if I may. This is happy and sad at the same time. I'm dying to show people my vax card. The only place I've been asked to show it was at a Dead & Company concert. We've got to give credit to the remnants of the grateful, in this cloud of lawlessness, we all knew we had to show our vax card to get into the show and we were fine with it. KEILAR: Yes. I see Berman chuckling. He loves that. I thought I would be carrying my vaccine card around showing it in places. And it's only -- I used it to get into my kid's school so I could volunteer at the library. That's really like the only place where I had to show my card. And I just wonder what you think.

We've had people on the show, Michael -- who we had the mom of a veteran whose son couldn't get into the ICU because of people with COVID in the ICU and he died because of the delay in care. So, I wonder what you make of this conversation about hospitals prioritizing vaccinated or unvaccinated people in a crisis of care situation.

SMERCONISH: So, I don't think it's just the stuff of a late night routine by Jimmy Kimmel. It was Nancy Gibbs, the former editor at Time, in an essay for The Washington Post. It stands out in my mind because I used it for Radio Fodder. She put forth this idea that if we're allocating scarce resources, we ought to have consideration for that fact.

I'll give you another example I view similarly. There was a representative of Kaiser Health, it may have been their CEO, I forget her name, who said, why aren't we charging ,more for insurance among the unvaccinated in the same way we factor in smoking and we factor in risky behavior? These are people making a conscious decision not to get vaccinated, defying the science.

And I'm sorry. I'm tired of trying to coax them along. The time for coaxing is over. So, give me Governor Justice, give me Howard Stern, and give me Jimmy Kimmel.

BERMAN: You know, Michael, I like to say I need a miracle every day, and this vaccine is a miracle in so many ways protecting us. Can you be specific about how you would stop coddling the unvaccinated? What you are supporting exactly.

SMERCONISH: Okay. So, let's begin with president -- let's begin with President Biden and the speech that he'll deliver today, because I think his is a half measure. I don't think he's done the Full Monty in terms of saying the federal employees, you must be vaccinated. We'll contemplate a religious exemption. By the way, that's a subject I think we ought to debate in the future because no major religion is at odds with the notion of vaccination. I recognize some people for medical reasons can't get vaccinated. Okay. They should have a negative COVID test.

But, law enforcement, if you're a police officer, like this union B.S. in some departments, standing up for cops who don't want to get -- screw that. If you're in the frontline as an EMT, as a firefighter, as a cop, as a government employee anywhere, you're getting vaccinated.

And how about flying on airlines? I'm back resuming now travel for speaking engagements. I'm surrounded by people. I have no idea what their vax status. We're all wearing masks. I'm cool with that. But how about a vax mandate for airlines as well, private employers? My lawyer firm was on the cutting edge, the law firm where I'm associated months ago, and saying, you must be vaccinated to work here. You guys know, CNN drawing a hard line as well, which I totally applaud. That's what's necessary.

Forget trying to sell people because they don't want to be sold. It's like they're taking pride in the fact that they're saying, screw you to all of those of us who are vaccinated and are relying on the CDC guidance. So stop with the cajoling already.


BERMAN: Listen to Bob Weir and Michael Smerconish.


BERMAN: Thank you both very much. And you can watch Smerconish and dancing bears Saturday morning at 9:00 A.M.

We do have more breaking news this morning. A flight carrying about 200 people, including a number of U.S. nationals, has, we're told, just taken off from the airport in Kabul. We'll ask the White House press secretary about the plan to get Americans out safely.

Plus, this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very -- this is a very --




KEILAR: That is a high school teenager being mocked during a school board meeting while making a personal plea for masks talking about a loved one who died. He's going to join us live ahead.