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New Day

President Biden Criticizes Americans Unvaccinated for COVID-19; Biden Administration to Issue Rule Mandating Testing for Large Private Companies; U.S. Generals Involved in Afghanistan War Interviewed for Special Retrospective; Nurse Details Horror Inside Warehouse Holding Evacuated Residents; Second Largest School District Mandates Vaccine for 12 or Older. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 08:00   ET



JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And perhaps that's why President Biden quietly reauthorized the national emergency declaration put in place after 9/11 just yesterday. But none of this means that Americans should live in fear. That's of course, what the terrorists want us to do.

And by now we should have the confidence to know that we can combat this threat without compromising our core values or drifting into the temptations of empire, because in the 20 years since 9/11 we've rebuilt lower Manhattan back bigger and more beautiful than it was while bringing the terrorists who attacked us, Al Qaeda, to justice one way or another.

Our defiant undimmed diversity, our commitment to the rule of law and the American way of life, is the ultimate rebuke to their hateful aims. And for all the mistakes we made, America is still the land of the free because we're the home of the brave.

And that's your Reality Check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Avlon, thank you very much on this 9/11 eve.

NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday, September 10th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. On this NEW DAY, President Biden with new aggressive vaccination requirements that could affect as many as 100 million Americans. This is a new attempt to contain the latest COVID surge, and the president is clearly running low on patience.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message to unvaccinated Americans is this. What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing.


BERMAN: President Biden announced that all unvaccinated employees at private companies with more than 100 workers, they have to do weekly testing. The way to get out of weekly testing -- get vaccinated. He's also implementing vaccine mandates for all federal workers and contractors, no option to test out, and for educators in all federally funded programs. Mandates also on workers at facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden also calling out jerks on planes -- not the words he used, but that's what he was talking about, also conspiracy theorists and politicians who refuse to implement common sense coronavirus containment measures.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they're ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.

A distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick.


KEILAR: Criticism from some Republican governors was swift as well as from some candidates. And the largest union representing federal workers is also raising questions, although some big companies like Amazon are voicing their support. The president's actions all but certain to face legal challenges.

Let's discuss all of this now with chief Washington correspondent and anchor of THE LEAD and STATE OF THE UNION, Jake Tapper with us now. Jake, thank you for being with us this morning.

And I just wonder after this announcement, all of these announcements really by President Biden, what you are making of these Republican threats, which are especially illuminated by something that J.D. Vance, the Senate candidate, has said. He said that these must be resisted, these proposals. He said, quote, "I have a simple message for America's business community. Do not comply."

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think, first of all, there are legitimate constitutional questions about whether or not this mandate on businesses, not the mandate on the federal government, but whether or not the mandate on businesses will withstand a court challenge, which I am of course anticipating there will be.

There are questions about whether this goes beyond OSHA's regulatory authority, whether or not this violates the interstate commerce clause. There is a Supreme Court case, Jacobson versus Massachusetts, that would seem to suggest maybe there is a standing for this. One person's liberty cannot override everyone else's liberty.

But beyond the politics of this, and, of course, there is politics of this -- a lot of people in the Republican Party eager to prove their bona fides by opposing President Biden -- beyond that, I think there are legitimate questions about whether or not President Biden has the authority to do this.

There's also a real choice that the president has here. There is the question of coercion, and there is the question of persuasion. And you see him moving from persuasion to coercion.


He took on a scolding tone talking to the people who are unvaccinated, talking about how people's patience is running out, talking about this mandate. And I don't know as a matter of politics, unless, of course, the goal was to get all these Republican governors and politicians to come out against this, I don't know that that was not predictable because obviously a lot of Republicans who have been on the pro science side of this are eager to show their bona fides with the base by standing up to this mandate.

BERMAN: It was absolutely predictable. And the answer may be that he was willing to take the blowback because he felt, and the White House felt it would get that many more people vaccinated. And just one point on J.D. Vance and the others. The intellectual through line here, Jake, the actual mandate, the OSHA mandate on companies isn't vaccinations.

The OSHA mandate is weekly testing. And so what J.D. Vance is saying is don't comply with weekly testing? Don't force people who are unvaccinated to take a test before they walk in the door? He wants to preserve their right to walk into a place of work with COVID?

I'm just -- again, if you get down to the basic intellectual through line here, it's hard to follow on that, because that's what the mandate is. For federal workers they're required to get COVID, no opt out on testing. For private companies, get tested.

TAPPER: I'm not saying it's unconstitutional. I'm just saying there is a debate to be had, and there are enough skeptics on the Supreme Court that I don't think anybody can stand here and say with any confidence that this will withstand the scrutiny of this court, which is obviously more conservative and more inclined to agree with J.D. Vance on some of these issues than President Biden. Keep in mind, of course, J.D. Vance is in the middle of a Republican primary for the Senate in Ohio where, again, there's a lot of politics afoot here, which is part of what's going on.

One of the things that I find questionable -- or not questionable really, but something that is worth debating and discussing, is the fact that we are in a world now, a society now where misinformation is part of the problem, right. And it's not just on the right. It's not just conservatives, although this anti-vaccine, anti-science hold on too many people in the Republican party, too many people in conservative media, is quite stark. But you see people on the left, people who are apolitical also expressing skepticism about this.

In 1977 there was this quack, quackery treatment of cancer called Laetrile. Berman, I'm sure you remember. Brianna, you might be too young. But the idea was that with peach pits, or I'm sorry, with apricot pits, there was a way to treat cancer.

The entire scientific community said this is nonsense, this is crap. But there was a big hold on the American people left, right, and center as to whether or not they could be taking this treatment that ultimately did nothing, did nothing to help people with cancer. This is part of the American public. This is part of the ethos in this country. People don't want big government telling them what to do.

Now, the difference between now and back then is now the anti-science component of our society is bigger, and it has -- there are grifters, there are people who are using this for ratings, for clicks, for votes. And so I haven't yet really seen the Biden administration talk or try to address this. I don't think scolding is the approach. There are these purveyors of misinformation out there, and they're not just on the right. Robert Kennedy Jr. is one of the most notorious ones.

And I haven't seen the president or anyone say, look, people -- he's scolding the people that are being lied to as opposed to the liars. Do you know what I mean? Instead of saying there are a bunch of people trying to get your money, trying to get your attention, trying to get your votes, trying to get your views and clicks, they're lying to you -- instead of shaming the liars and trying to educate the people being lied to, he's scolding the people being lied to.

And, again, as with the election lie, you can get mad at the people who believe the lies, but the villains are the liars.

KEILAR: Yes, no, I think it's a really interesting point. Where does the blame lie?

I do want to, look, here we are a day before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, which has, let's be honest, Jake, when you look back on the last 20 years of your career, in a way so much of it has revolved around this moment and the aftermath of it.


And you have a special report that I'm really looking forward to seeing called "What Went Wrong in Afghanistan." Tell us what you found.

TAPPER: We started working on this after President Biden announced the September 11th deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. So we've been working on this for months. We did not know how it was going to end, but we have now interviewed most of America's commanding generals in the war in Afghanistan. And this is not just a look at the last month. This is a look at the last 20 years. How is it that a country as strong as ours, as, if you believe our own press as well- intentioned as ours, was not able to succeed in Afghanistan the way anybody wanted to succeed. And I'm going to run this one clip for you. This is just one aspect

that gets into what the commanders of the war on Afghanistan during the Bush years, the problem that they began experiencing as soon as President Bush turned his attention from Afghanistan elsewhere. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just he and I sitting in the Oval Office, and I had not been expecting this. I expected him to say, here's what I would like you to be able to do. But he said, what do you think you can do? I said, well, I'll get the Europeans outside of their wires, and they'll get a little more involved in patrolling and being out amongst the Afghan people. That will be good enough. That's just the way he responded.

TAPPER: What does that mean, good enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never tried to define that. But after that he said, and here's another thing. I want you to always tell me exactly what you need. Tell me exactly what you need. You're not going to get it because I've got to take care of this Iraq thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally resented the war in Iraq.

TAPPER: When Lieutenant General Barno arrived in 2003, he had about 57,000 fewer troops in Afghanistan than were in Iraq, 57,000. The following year, that gap doubled to about 115,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a V-8 engine in Iraq tuned up, and you had something much less in Afghanistan. So everything was harder.


KEILAR: That is something, jake.

Lieutenant General Barno I know. General McNeill is the first one there. And we should also note that the first time Secretary Rumsfeld, then Secretary Rumsfeld, approached President Bush about wanting to meet with General McNeill and General Tommy Franks, who was in charge of the Iraq effort, President Bush didn't know who General McNeill was. He didn't know who he was. Rumsfeld said, he's commanding the war in Afghanistan. And President Bush said, he didn't need to meet with him. So at least he got his meeting in that clip.

But this is -- I want to just underline again, this is a look at all 20 years, not just the Bush years. But when you think about the fact that this effort did not succeed, did not achieve what we wanted, nobody went into Afghanistan thinking, OK, we're going to be here for 20 years.

We're going to spend $2 trillion. It's going to cost at least 6,000 American lives if you include contractors, tens of thousands of innocent Afghans are going to die at the hands of the American people, in addition to insurgents. And when we leave, the Taliban is going to take over right where they left, even stronger than before. Nobody would have believed it. So why did it fail? This was one of the original sins of the American effort in Afghanistan, going in and then completely changing focus.

KEILAR: Well, look, that clip was fascinating. I think it goes to show just -- I think I got caught, honestly, making a funny face on TV because I was so rapt by what we were hearing, because they were so honest with you. So this is going to be -- this is just an amazing special that we're going to see from you, Jake, with really the behind the scenes story here. So thank you so much for talking with us about it.

You can tune in and you can watch Jake as he is asking these tough questions and getting incredibly candid answers about America's longest war. That will be on Sunday night at 9:00 eastern.

And next, a nurse will join us live to describe the horrifying conditions inside the warehouse where nursing home residents were kept during hurricane Ida. Hear what she experienced.

BERMAN: Plus, a landmark move for the nation's second largest school district, voting to mandate vaccines for students 12 years and older. Not everyone is on board. We're going to speak with a board member on the pushback from some parents.

KEILAR: And ahead, the remarkable and poignant story of how baseball helped New York and the nation's recovery in the weeks following the September 11th attacks.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, families of nursing home patients who were relocated to a warehouse during Hurricane Ida are filing a class action lawsuit claiming they endured, quote, horrific and inhumane conditions. We have new video from inside that warehouse where hundreds of patients were held and where at least seven died.

Joining me now is Natalie Henderson. She is a nurse who worked at that warehouse for evacuating nursing home patients.

Thank you for being with us.

You thought you were being evacuated to a medical facility, not a warehouse. Tell us what you saw inside and what the conditions were like during the storm.

NATALIE HENDERSON, NURSE AT WAREHOUSE FOR EVACUATED NURSING HOME PATIENTS: Like you said, I thought we were going to a facility. I didn't know it was going to be a warehouse. And when I arrived there, I arrived to the address and it was a green shack to the right-hand side. I'm like, oh, my god, is this where they're housing the patients? I'm like, where -- you know, where are we, like?

So I called my supervisor and she told me that we were to the left- hand side, which was the yellow warehouse. And when I went in there and entered, there were residents already on the floor on mattresses. I'm like, oh, my God. You know, I didn't know it was going to be housed in a warehouse.


So they were all in a row on mattresses and air mattresses. I just thought it was like unbelievable. I couldn't believe that so many people were crowded in one place, you know. The first thing I thought about was COVID. I'm like, Lord, you know, the virus is out, all these people cramped in one spot. They're going to catch the virus, you know, and possibly die. It just was unbelievable.

And they kept rolling residents in, you know, through the Acadian ambulance, the vans, they kept coming in and placing more residents inside the buildings. There was two other little side buildings over to the right-hand side and it started leaking water, you know, as the storm was approaching as the days went by. We had to literally cram everybody in that big warehouse, in a big warehouse, and we had to move patients closer and closer together.

They had no privacy. They were being changed in front of each other. They had port-a-potties to the left-hand side, I'm sorry, right-hand side up towards to the facility. The kitchen was right next to the port-a-potties. It was full of feces, urine, it was just terrible. And they piled all of the linen, the dirty linen and diapers in the same corner and the whole place just reeked of feces and urine. It just was horrible.

BERMAN: That's awful. That's just awful. Do you believe people died prematurely because of what you saw?

HENDERSON: Yes. You know, elderly people, once you kind of transition them out of their normal habitat, you know, normal place of living and you place them somewhere like that, that's a shock to their system. I believe it does affect them, you know. They could possibly die from it, yes.

BERMAN: I want to make clear, CNN has reached out to the executive for the nursing homes and the warehouse, Bob Dean, Jr., for comment. We didn't get a response. This is what Dean told a CNN affiliate. I want to read it.

It said: We only had five deaths within the six days. Normally with 850 people you'll have a couple deaths a day, so we did really good on taking care of people.

What's your response to that?

HENDERSON: Terrible response. He shouldn't -- that was terrible. You know, we help patients. As they get older, we're all going to pass away some day, but we don't expect, you know, people to die like that.

I just feel he shouldn't have said that. That was so insensitive of him to say that. It really shouldn't have been any deaths, to be honest with you, to me. If they were in a better facility, a better place where they had air conditioning, it was humid up in there. It was just terrible, terrible experience.

BERMAN: Natalie Henderson, I'm sorry you had to go through it. I'm appreciative of you coming forward and saying what you saw, and hopefully you will bring some peace and maybe ultimately justice to some of the families here.

Natalie Henderson, thank you very much.

HENDERSON: You're welcome. Thank you.

BERMAN: Coming back -- coming up, I should say, some pushback from some parents following a Los Angeles school board's unanimous vote to mandate vaccines for students 12 years and older. So what happens if some parents don't comply? Next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Los Angeles is now the first major school district and the second largest in the nation to mandate vaccines for students who are 12 and older. This is happening as the highly infectious delta variant is causing a rise in pediatric COVID hospitalizations nationwide.

And joining us now to talk about it is Nick Melvoin, the vice president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Thank you for being with us. We talked about the decision to do this on the program yesterday, why L.A. Unified decided to go there. So I wanted to talk to you today about the response that you're now getting from parents. What are you hearing? I'm sure some, at least, are pushing back.

NICK MELVOIN, VICE PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION: Yeah, the main thing I'm hearing from parents is an appreciation that we're doing everything we can to keep kids safe and in-person for schooling. And that's the irony I think in this country right now, districts that have flouted safety precautions are the ones where the schools have to close either for a few days or few weeks at a time. L.A. unified, we've been leading the nation with weekly testing, mask mandates, and air filtration upgrades. Now this vaccination requirement so that kids can stay in-person and schools can remain open.

So, most parents have been gratified that we're doing that so schools don't have to close after the 18 months of trauma that kids have had. There are parents who are concerns. Some I think are in that wait and see approach, who wanted to see how the year shaked out. We have over 60 percent of kids in Los Angeles who are already vaccinated. And as they have been able to participate in extracurricular activities and not have to quarantine if there's a close contact because they are vaccinated, more and more parents are availing themselves of that option.

We have parents who haven't had access. Over 82 percent of L.A. unified's parents are living in poverty, many in communities that have been historically under served, and so we're working with those families. We're setting up mobile vaccination clinics. We're bringing vaccines to schools. Some, Brianna, are misinformed. There is a misinformation campaign out there. We're working collaboratively to situate this vaccine and other immunization requirements school districts have insisted on for generations.

You know, my grandfather was -- contracted polio later in life and was riddled with it most of his life.