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Interview with Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania on GOP Demands for Personal Info, Voting Histories of Residents; Chiropractor Signing Mask Exemptions for Kids; Mystery Deepens as Details Emerge about Missing Woman; "The Wall Street Journal:" Facebook Knows Instagram is Harmful to Teens. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The British philosopher who said if someone says if there's a teapot rotating around the sun or the Earth, it's not our job to investigate that ridiculous claim.



BERMAN: But this is answering charges that are unfounded to begin with.

BOYLE: Yes. You took the words out of my mouth. In the line in that letter, where it says there have been questions, as if those questions ask themselves. There have only been questions and misstatements from irresponsible Republican leaders.

They first ask those questions and then follow it up by saying, "well, there are these questions out there," "the public has doubt," "a majority of Republicans doubt the validity of last election," as if they weren't the ones sowing those doubts. Then they use that as the justification for this sort of sham audit.

BERMAN: What should the Democratic leaders, the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, what should these officials in Pennsylvania now do about this?

Do you think they should be unresponsive?

BOYLE: I think we continue doing what we're doing. That's simply telling the truth, standing up against this nonsense.

We know the audit isn't going to find anything. In fact, there's, to my knowledge there's only been one demonstrated case of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, relating to the last election in November 2020 and it was by a Republican, who voted for a deceased relative and voted for Donald Trump.

So we know the facts and the truth are on our side. So I'm pretty confident that we will beat this back. However, where, frankly, I have real concerns is for the future. The fact that, anymore in 2022, 2024, we're going to continue to see the sanctity of our democracy eroded.

BERMAN: Congress man Brendan Boyle, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

BOYLE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, CNN catches up with the Florida chiropractor signing medical exemptions to get kids out of school mask mandates.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you examining each and every child that you're writing exemption forms for?

BERMAN (voice-over): You'll hear his response next.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Plus, what police are now saying about a woman who mysteriously vanished on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend.





KEILAR: In Florida, the Sarasota County School District has instituted a mask requirement for all students. And now a Florida chiropractor is under fire for signing hundreds of medical exemptions for parents and kids, who don't want to wear them. CNN's Randi Kaye tracked him down.


KAYE (voice-over): It's just after sunrise outside this chiropractic office in Venice, Florida when we spot chiropractor, Dan Busch. He's just arrived for work in his pickup, hard to miss the red, white and blue splash and Freedom Fighters painted on it.

KAYE (on camera): How are you?

Randi Kaye with CNN.

DAN BUSCH, CHIROPRACTOR: Yes, I am not interested.

KAYE: I just want to ask you -- are you -- I want to ask you about the exemption forms that you're signing?

BUSCH: Yes, I already --

KAYE: I know.

BUSCH: We already made a statement.

KAYE: Well, why won't you talk to us about it? Are these -- are you examining each and every child that you're writing exemption forms for?

BUSCH: This isn't about me, this is about parents' freedoms?

KAYE: Are you -- about parents' freedoms.

Are you examining each and every child?

Are you putting children's lives at risk by signing these forms?

BUSCH: Not at all.

KAYE: Why won't you answer a question about it?

BUSCH: Because I don't need to.

KAYE: All right, how do you feel about them not accepting your exemption forms?

KAYE (voice-over): And that was the last we saw of Dan Busch.

When we asked his lawyer earlier about speaking with his client, he said Busch had no comment. Still, Busch has become somewhat of a champion here in Sarasota County to parents looking for a way out of the school mask mandate telling local media recently --

BUSCH: It's not a political thing. I'm not an anti-mask person, anti- vax person. But I am a pro-freedom, pro-choice person.

KAYE (voice-over): This was the scene recently outside his office, the Twin Palms Chiropractic Health Center. Hundreds of parents and children all hoping to secure a medical exemption.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's ridiculous to have to wear a mask for eight hours a day.

KAYE (voice-over): This mom came to get Busch to sign an exemption form for her child, something he has now done hundreds of times according to the Sarasota County School District.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great because many doctors are refusing to sign it and this is one doctor that is actually volunteering his time with no pay to sign all of these forms.

KAYE (voice-over): Not everyone thinks it's as great as she does.

KAYE (on camera): Do you think Dr. Busch is being irresponsible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely irresponsible.

KAYE (voice-over): Jules Scholles, who has a daughter in kindergarten here in Sarasota County, started the group Stop The Spread SRQ. She says one of her friends was handed this medical exemption form from Dan Busch's office without ever meeting him or having his children evaluated.

Notice it's blank; no medical or evaluation information, just what looks like the chiropractor signature at the bottom.

SCHOLLES: So to just write mask exemptions without seeing a child's is really egregious.

KAYE (voice-over): Dan Busch recently denied to local media that he has signed forms without seeing parents.

BUSCH: I have not given an exemption to any parent that I have not met with.

KAYE (voice-over): Meanwhile, partly because of his actions, the Sarasota County School District told us they've updated their mask policy and now accept medical exemptions only for medical doctors, osteopathic physicians and nurse practitioners.

To be clear, chiropractors are not medical doctors and the district will not accept their signed exemption forms. The school district also told us they've rejected about 650 medical exemption forms and that the majority of the declined exemptions were from Dan Busch's practice.


KAYE (voice-over): Yet this past weekend, Dan Busch took part in a mask exemption evaluation event, which more than 1,200 people reportedly attended. The flyer noted, "Medical records helpful but not mandatory."

KAYE: I really wanted to have a thoughtful conversation with this doctor but instead we had to catch up with him, as you saw, in the back alley at his office. I wanted to ask him why he's signing these medical exemption forms, what his evaluation process is for these students and why he thinks he's qualified to sign these forms.

I also wanted to ask him about what parents have been telling us. We spoke with one woman who didn't want to go on camera but she told us that she and her son waited for four hours to speak with Dan Busch recently. And all he did was look her son over.

He didn't ask anything about his medical history or check his vitals but he filled out the form and she walked away with that mask medical exemption form in just two minutes. Now he wasn't signing those forms at this most recent event this weekend but he has certainly been signing those forms in the past -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Sarasota.


KEILAR: You can just imagine a situation, where that's a guy who isn't even looking at a patient, a child, a child who possibly has a vulnerability. He's not even looking at the medical records. And you could have a child who is susceptible, more so than other kids, or is immunocompromised. He doesn't even know that and he's signing off on a mask exemption.

BERMAN: I do wonder if there's any legal liability there, putting his signature on a sheet of paper like that. It will be interesting to see.

KEILAR: Yes. And these are, of course, the allegations that we're hearing from that area.

Up next, President Biden's plan to tax the rich.

Who really pays -- who ends up paying?

Who doesn't?

BERMAN: Plus the woman who went missing the middle of a cross-country van trip. What happened just weeks before she vanished.





BERMAN: Just in: White House officials tell CNN that President Biden will argue today that the U.S. has reached a, quote, "inflection point" for his economic agenda, arguing that the country can't revert back to how things were before the pandemic.

Part of that agenda now includes raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans with the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right. Tax the rich. The centerpiece of the Dems budget hopes here. There should be absolutely no surprise about the Joe Biden economic agenda. Tax the rich to fund an historic cradle to grave remake of an American economy that simply doesn't work for everyone.

Big companies and the top 1 percent earners would pay for programs that would improve the lives of working families and retirees and modernize this economy, raising some $2 trillion in new revenue to pay for things like paid leave, expanded child tax credits, dental, hearing and eye benefits for Medicare recipients, free pre-K, two years of community college and big investments in clean energy.

Who pays for it?

People making $400,000 a year or more, that's the top tax rate there, would rise to 39.6 percent for companies. The tax rate jumps to 26.5 percent from 21 percent, peeling back some of those lucrative 2017 Trump tax cuts but still below where they were just a few years ago. The rationale here is that tax reform a few years ago, it enriched

shareholders, not workers and companies have been paying a smaller slice of the pie. Companies' share of tax revenue is the lowest in 50 years.

So here come the attacks from the Right. One FOX host said this is going to kill ambition. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board bemoaned Scandinavian level overall tax rates for the rich.

Quote, "If you make more than $5 million, there will also be a 3 percentage point income tax surcharge. Hilariously the committee figures the surcharge will raise $127 billion revenue as if the rich will be dumb enough not to find tax shelters."

Yes, that's the quiet part out loud. The rich will dodge essentially, is what "The Journal" editorial board is saying.

And also "The Journal" pointing out people who make $400,000 a year are traditional hardworking couples. This cohort, fact is, it's the top 1.8 percent of earners. They earn about quarter of the nation's income, according to the IRS.

That's a pretty rich sliver there. On the other side, progressives are also dismayed here. This plan is rather traditional and it's targeting of income, not wealth. It does very little to tap the vast fortunes of billionaires, like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Tax the rich I think will be a big debate from progressives and on the Right as we head into the fall, John.

BERMAN: The top 1.8 percent of earners.

ROMANS: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: All right, Romans, thank you very much for that.

Just ahead a live look at the brand new security measures installed overnight. We're getting our first look at these new fences in place ahead of Saturday's rally at the U.S. Capitol in support of the January 6th insurrectionists.

KEILAR: First, is Instagram toxic to teen girls?

The disturbing discovery as one young woman shares her story with us next.





BERMAN: New developments in the case of a missing woman, Gabby Petito, who disappeared while on a cross-country van trip with her boyfriend. Police still have not been able to question the boyfriend after he returned home alone and lawyered up. We are also now learning of an altercation between the two. Polo Sandoval joins us.

What have you learned?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The father and stepfather of that missing woman, have been pleading for help in finding her, and say that she would go off the grid to explore but she would always come back.

That's fueling the concern. The Petito family attorney begging her boyfriend to break his silence and to help them find her.

Police said Brian Laundrie was traveling with Petito aboard her white 2012 Ford Transit van. The family reported the 22 year-old missing Saturday. They said they were last in contact with her during the last week of August, when she was believed to have been at Grand Teton National Park of Wyoming.

Laundrie, who police want to speak to, made it back home to North Port, Florida, where detectives processed the van and said they recovered some material, though they wouldn't say exactly what that was.

Authorities claiming Laundrie's family referred them to their attorney and that is what's fueling frustrations this morning.


JOE PETITO, GABBY'S FATHER: Listen, I'm not going to speculate. At the moment, it doesn't matter. What matters is looking at that picture and helping us find her, I'm just asking everyone here, I'm asking you guys there, keep it up as much as you can, as big as you can, as long as you can until we get her home.


PETITO: Everyone keep looking at that photo, keep looking for her, keep doing what you're doing. We need everyone's help. When I think of him, it would be bad if I said it on the TV. So let's just focus on Gabby right now.


SANDOVAL: The attorney representing the Laundrie family said in a statement Tuesday they are remaining in the background at this juncture and at this point have no further comment on the advice of counsel.

Police in Moab City, Utah, said they had an encounter last month with Petito and her boyfriend in an altercation. Officers wrote in a report there was a fight that turned physical. But they didn't want to see anyone charged. They then went their separate ways.

The officer that filed the report wrote she seemed confused and emotional as well as manic. But no charges were filed in the incident and adding to the mystery. In the meantime, we know many family members traveling and trying to help with this investigation as well.

BERMAN: Answers, Polo, that's what's needed here. Thank you so much for staying on this. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, can be harm to the mental health and the body image of teenagers, specifically girls. This is according to "The Wall Street Journal" report revealing that Facebook's top officials were aware of this, based on internal research and presentations by researchers, who wrote this, 32 percent of teen girls said, when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.

Instagram responded to this report, in part, "We're starting," they say, "to understand the types of content some people feel may contribute to negative social comparison and we're exploring ways to prompt them to look at different topics if they are repeatedly looking at this type of content."

Let's talk with our next guest about this, Sylvia Colt-Lacayo, who uses Instagram and shares her own battles with the social media app and how she overcame them.

Sylvia, thank you so much for being with us. You were featured in this "Wall Street Journal" article. I know you've been very involved in how to help teens navigate technology.

Can you talk a little bit about your personal experience using face filters?

Because I know that had a particularly troubling effect on you.

Can you tell us about that?

SYLVIA COLT-LACAYO, SOCIAL MEDIA USER: Yes, thank you so much for having me. I think face filters are one of the aspects of Instagram that I am incredibly troubled by. In case you're not aware, a face filter is essentially a portion of the app, where you filter your face.

And sometimes the filter is incredibly obvious, let's say. It puts a hat on you or flowers around the screen. What I'm more concerned about are the incredibly subtle filters that alter your image so subtly that it is almost non-noticeable.

And these changes will be thinning of the face. It will be slimming cheek bones, blurring your under eyes, sometimes even lightning your skin.

I think that these filters, because of their subtlety, are inherently dangerous because they uphold an unattainable beauty standard. I find that there are lots of people that now feel uncomfortable taking photos of themselves without the filters because they think that they look better with them on. And that just leads to insecurity and, again, comparison, which are

major themes within the app.

KEILAR: We actually had I think the filter that you discuss in particular, you look very much like yourself but you were saying that, when you went back and looked at it, you actually felt that it erased some of your heritage to sort of make you look more European.

COLT-LACAYO: Yes, I did feel that way. While that's, again, the dangerousness of the subtlety, I felt like the filter, it does still look like me. The photo does look like me.

But it was especially incredibly noticeable during the day I took the photo, where I could see in the mirror my cheeks were larger than the photo portrayed. When I turned on and off the filter, you could see my face getting visibly bigger when the filter was off.

I also felt like the filter was adding color to my cheeks and taking away kind of the way I look naturally, which I think is really important. I think Instagram inherently has become a very unnatural place, a place where things are really fake and reality is not the most important thing that is coming across.

And I think that filters are contributing to that. I definitely felt like it was taking away features that maybe I had been insecure about growing up but are incredibly important to me, because they are tied to my Nicaraguan heritage.