Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Crews to Resume Search for Gabby Petito's Missing Fiance; Progressives Take Hard Line on Agenda as Biden Approval Falls; Family of Missing Geologist Suspect Foul Play, Demand Attention. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired September 23, 2021 - 07:00   ET



WEN ZHAO, INDEPENDENT CHINA ANALYST: People have only one voice to be heard, only one leader to worship.

WATSON: In recent months, Xi also cracked down heard on China's huge tech in private education industries, wiping out trillions of dollars in market value from some of China's biggest companies.

As Xi pushes for so-called common prosperity and a more level economic playing field, while shaping people's minds to his world view.

So where does that leave people like this canceled actress, Zhao Wei? She appears to have recently reemerged in several photos that went quickly viral, the glamorous actress, almost unrecognizable in a humble T-shirt and shorts.


WATSON: And, Brianna, it's not just this one actress. The same week that she was canceled, another actress named Zheng Shuang, she was erased from the internet similarly and slapped with a $46 million fine for tax evasion. Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Wow. A message loud and clear from the Chinese government. Ivan Watson, thank you for that fascinating report.

New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: I'm John Berman alongside Brianna Keilar.

On this New Day, the search intensifies for the man who came home from a road trip without his fiancee and disappeared before her body was found.

KEILAR: As the U.S. races toward a default and another government shutdown, President Biden playing referee as his party fights and his agenda is on the line.

BERMAN: Plus, damning new accusations that border officials warned months ago of the current surge of migrants, but the administration did nothing.

KEILAR: And CNN confronts a doctor spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the tyranny medical apartheid nipping at our heels, rise up, rise up, rise up. Yes.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Gold, Nick Watt, with CNN. Can we speak to you for a couple of minutes?



KEILAR: See what happened and why she is connected to the insurrection at the Capitol.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, September 23rd.

The manhunt resumes just a short time from now in this swampy reserve near the home of perhaps the only person who might know what happened to Gabby Petito, her fiancee, Brian Laundrie. He has not been seen for nearly two weeks.

And this morning, there are new clues about what may have been the final hours of Gabby's life. A couple says they witnessed a commotion involving Petito and Laundrie in a Wyoming restaurant last month. It may have been one of the last sightings of Gabby before her death.

KEILAR: Laundrie and Petito embarked on a cross-country trip from Blue Point, Long Island to Teton County, Wyoming, which is where Gabby Petito's body was found. Laundrie returned to their home in North Port, Florida, alone.

This morning, highly trained dive teams are ready to return to the water nearby Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County trying to locate him.

Let's bring in now Casey Jordan, Criminologist and Behavioral Analyst and an HLN Contributor to talk about what we are seeing.

Casey, first, this account from these folks who were in this restaurant really not long before it appears Gabby Petito went missing, what do you make of this? They saw a commotion. They said that she was in tears. They said that Brian was kind of in and out of this restaurant and kind of giving the waitress or the hostess a hard time.

CASEY JORDAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And that dustup at the restaurant, I mean, this is the good thing about drawing so much attention to this case, is that we're now able to piece together what was going on in the last days of Gabby's life.

That incident at the restaurant where they are out on the sidewalk, they're screaming at each other, there is a struggle over a cell phone is dramatically like what we see on the police chest cam footage for when they stopped Brian Laundrie after somebody called 911 and said they had seen -- this man said he saw Brian slapping Gabby.

So, we are beginning to see a pattern of control, maybe a different side of Brian Laundrie than other people are familiar with. Even his family may not know what was going on with this fraught, stress-filled relationship behind closed doors.

KEILAR: And what does that tell you? Is that ever a precursor to something? I mean, what is this an indication of?

JORDAN: In domestic violence, yes. These patterns of stress and fighting, and especially the physical contact usually elevate. And what we're seeing with this new information is more and more controlling behavior on behalf of Brian. In the police chest cam footage, we see him saying to the police that he makes sure he keeps the keys to Gabby's van. She owns the van. Because he is afraid that she is so emotional she might just lock him out of the van and take off. And what would he do? He has no phone, which I really doubt.


You see him kind of romancing and welting the police into his narrative while she weeps constantly and takes all the blame, says it's all her fault. She's the aggressor. And he is gaslighting her. He is making her think she has a mental health issue, she has OCD. When, in fact, this has been years. They met in high school. She's never known any other relationship. They were teens when they met. She lived with him with his parents. You really wonder if she had a life or mind of her own.

KEILAR: You see this video that we are playing right now and you see manipulation.


KEILAR: And not just of Gabby Petito but also of the police?

JORDAN: Well, the police handled this very, very well. I think the only thing that worries me is I don't see them saying, we are here because we got a 911 call that said you laid hands on her.

KEILAR: Can I ask you about that though, Casey? Because it seems to me when you watch that video, there is an indication that Gabby Petito would have been the one getting in trouble because the marks were Brian Laundrie.

JORDAN: Correct.

KEILAR: How are police properly reconciling the 911 call with that visit with them?

JORDAN: Everything got reversed when they pulled them over. Gabby is crying uncontrollably. She just cries all the time, which indicates something very deep seated is going on with her. They separate them. And they talk to Brian. He's calm, collected. For those of us who teach domestic violence studies, we call this a cobra. He is very controlling and manipulative. He looks great. He's the one doing the dance. But when no one is there, there is a strike.

We always think that they are like pit bulls. But, in fact, what he is doing is saying I'm sorry I was speeding. Listen, she was grabbing the steering wheel. And then when they go talk to her, they say, answer these questions very carefully because the inference is she's going to be arrested if she answers it wrong. So, she takes all of the blame. If she said, I want to press charges, they don't have enough proof against either one of them. They're going to have to arrest both of them.

I think what the police did was actually a misstep. By doing that eight-hour cooling off period, I think it just amped up the situation so that they spent the night apart, probably Brian had to get a hotel of his own. When they reconnected the next day, I think that's when everything went downhill. Now, there was police contact. He hasn't actually dissipated his anger. He's actually more wound up than ever. And we see evidence of that based on the testimony of what happened in the restaurant just a few days later.

KEILAR: Casey Jordan, thank you so much for your perspective on this. We'll have much more on this ahead, including we're going to look at a trip to the campground where Gabby Petito was last seen alive

JORDAN: Great to be here.

BERMAN: So, President Biden meeting with key Democratic lawmakers at the White House really over the entire day yesterday, different groups of them, trying to break the impasse between moderates and progressives over how to get both this infrastructure deal passed as well as the $3.5 trillion spending bill. And while that internal Democratic standoff continues, Democrat v. Democrat, the president is also facing a real threat of the nation running out of money to pay its bills if Republicans hold firm in opposing a bill to raise the debt limit.

Joining me now, Kasie Hunt, CNN Anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst, and Dana Bash, CNN Chief Political Correspondent and co- Anchor of State of the Union.

Take us inside the room, Dana Bash. What came of this full day of meetings and where does the situation stand this morning?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you what did not come of this full day of meetings, resolution. And the big reason is because it was so siloed. You had all of the different camps in different meetings.

Now, the White House says that it's because the president wanted to make sure that he understood what everybody's top line and bottom lines were. But I talked to sources frankly some of whom were in the meetings who said why are we doing this at this point when the deadline that the House speaker set, because she had negotiations with moderate Democrats about getting all of this done, that deadline is Monday. Why didn't these meetings happen weeks ago? And why aren't they at the point right now where they are all together trying -- take out a piece of paper, take out a pencil and try to figure out where they are?

I talked to one person who is familiar with the meeting that the president had with moderates who said that what they were trying to do was explain that the progressives, who are absolutely committed to $3.5 trillion in spending for their so-called reconciliation bill, which has all of the spending for the social safety net issues, they need to talk to the president and say what's the real top line number, meaning, how low can they go.

And the progressives, of course, are saying to the president, well, you know what, we have already compromised. We wanted to go much higher.


So, honestly, Bree, in the intro, said that the president is the referee. And from what I'm hearing in my sources, they want the president not to be the referee. They want him to be an active player in this and get off -- I mean, he's obviously not on the sidelines, but really tell people this is what I need from you in order to make not just my agenda work but the Democratic agenda, the Democratic majority that our voters trusted us with.

BERMAN: I will take the metaphor one step further. I think they want him to be the coach, if not the general manager and team owner at this point. They want him to be all those things.

Kasei, Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, yesterday said that he hopes President Biden has some special sauce to make this all work. And my reaction to that was if they're counting on condiments now, they are in real trouble just a few days before this is all resolved. But how important is President Biden now to making this happen?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, Dana is exactly right. It's not going to happen without the president kind of laying out, okay, this is what I want, this is what I need you to do. That's what House leaders, I think, in particular, have been hoping for, rank and file members of the House that I've talked to have been saying that. The president needs to weigh in on this conflict and back and forth.

And the reality is that there's just a lack of trust, especially on the part of progressives that they're actually going to follow through on this strategy in the Senate and that they're going to get what they want if they move forward on this bipartisan infrastructure bill. And that, of course, goes to Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema. You've seen some of the animosities spill out into public view. And it's gotten more personal, which is something that Democratic leaders have worked hard to try and tamp down in the past.

And the one question I do have in terms of Biden as well, the president, is he doesn't necessarily have as much familiarity with the House as he does with the Senate. He served in the Senate for many years. Dynamics in the House are very different. The House speaker, of course, is a great partner for him. But it's clear he's counting on his personal relationships here to push this across the finish line. So I think there are a lot of questions about how that's going to play out.

BASH: And if I may, John, add one other thing that I'm hearing, and that is we are so focused, understandably so, on the polls of the Democratic caucus. The moderates, those to the furthest right of the caucus and the progressives, those to the furthest and the left. But the vast majority of the caucus, particularly the House, is somewhere in the middle in that they're not being told what is going on. They're not being asked for their opinion and they're not being told what's going on. And there is so much tension and frustration.

I talked to a veteran lawmaker who has been around a long time yesterday show said that they have not seen it as tense and people as kind of biting and angry at one another. And this is within their own party, as they have ever seen it. And in large part from now, it's because a lot of those members whose jobs are on the line, who are so- called front liners, who may lose their seats, in any event, are not being kept in the dark because the leadership doesn't know what's going on but there is not a lot of communication, a lot of frustration.

BERMAN: And then you have what seems to be the negotiating strategy. Progressives have been criticized for this, but moderates are doing it too. They're using Michael Corleone from Godfather II negotiating strategy, which is basically to say, my offer is this, nothing. Progressives are saying, my offer is this, nothing. We'll past nothing if you don't move here.

And Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to an extent, are doing the same thing, although they don't vocalize it quite like that. And, Kasie, and Brianna has asked this question a lot guests here, really? I mean, really? Are they really willing to accept nothing here and what will the consequences of that be?

HUNT: Nothing is not acceptable for Democrats that I have talked to. And it is particularly unacceptable for the White House. They have essentially been arguing the White House has had aides on the phone with some of these lawmakers that Dana is referring to. I've spoken to a couple of them who have had calls with White House officials, where the White House has tried to are he assure them at the end of the day, they will be able to figure it out because failure is not an option.

But at the same time, these members feel like there's not any direction from the White House and it's not just going to magically work itself out. So it's very clear that -- and Democrats have been saying this for months when you ask like, hey, isn't that a lot of money? Hey, isn't -- you know, what exactly are you going to put in this massive thing? Isn't raising taxes a little bit risky? They would just come back and say, it doesn't necessarily matter the details of the package. What matters is that Democrats are seen solving people's problems.

And I think part of why we're in this situation too is that back in July, things felt a little bit better.


There was kind of a pause in some of the coronavirus concerns before the delta variant popped up and made everyone's lives so much more difficult. It was before the chaos in Afghanistan. The president had a little bit more political capital then. And it's harder for him to play this role now considering that there are all these questions.

And one in particular I want to underscore that I think -- and I would be curious if Dana is hearing this from members too, is the economy, which has become a major concern for a lot of voters who, you know, are talking to their members of Congress or constituent offices. And that's really at the end of the day what is going to sink or make the Democratic Party sink or swim here.

BASH: Yes, absolutely. The economy, inflation, which is why when somebody like Joe Manchin argues that spending $3.5 trillion on a spending bill will increase inflation, that resonates with some. It's why you hear the White House saying it's not going to do that because we're going to pay for it.

But that's also why you are actually seeing pressure from somewhat used to be traditionally conservative groups, business groups, chamber of commerce and small business groups saying you have to get this done because particularly the original bipartisan infrastructure bill, $1.2 trillion, it's jobs. It is jobs in districts and states all across this country. And that will help the economy.

BERMAN: One thing that is interesting, and I'm going to let you go here, but, Dana, you have likened this back to the battle over Obamacare. One thing that was different there is there were these tea party town meetings where you had droves of angry, shouting, people -- that's not happening this time. Democrats, to an extent, are seeing shadows here. They may be real but it's not like there is a popular uprising on the streets that's driving this political movement. This is something, at this point, is intellectual and pushing forward.

BASH: That's exactly right. Shadows is such a great way to describe it, John. And the shadow that they are seeing is the shadow of 2022 or the shadow in the past from 2010. What I mean by that is they don't really think -- and I know, Kasie, you have heard as well. They think it is extremely unlikely in their heart of hearts that they're going to keep the majority in 2022. So that's the clock that they're up against. They need to do the things they promised to do as much as possible and not punt.

And that's why even though they are talking so much about this overall spending and maybe not about the details, that's why there's so much frustration because the details matter. Are they going to give dental care to people on Medicare? Are they going to give people who are care givers money? Are they going to extend the child tax credit? All that stuff matters because those are the issues that they believe that they ran on and that they have to deliver on.

HUNT: And that's why they need some of those tangible deliverables, like they need people to feel the impact of this bill right away.

BERMAN: Yes, right away. Tick tock, tick tock, as I was saying, the clock is running out here.

Dana and Kasie, thank you both very much.

BASH: Thank you.

HUNT: Thanks.

BERMAN: Coming up, so the focus on the Gabby Petito case is raising awareness for other missing persons' cases, specifically among minorities. The family of one man who has been missing for three months now pleading for help. He will join us live.

KEILAR: And CNN confronts a doctor spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the tyranny medical apartheid nipping at our heels, rise up, rise up, rise up.


KEILAR: Will she face consequences for her off-the-wall comments?



KEILAR: As the Gabby Petito homicide case garners national attention, another young person has been missing for nearly three months, and his family is desperate to find him. 24-year-old Daniel Robinson, a geologist, was last seen on the morning of June 23rd leaving his work site in the desert of Buckeye, Arizona. Nearly a month later, Daniel's jeep was found in a ravine approximately four miles from where he was last seen. And police that the vehicle appeared to have rolled and landed on its side. Daniel's clothes, his cell phone, wallet, his keys, they were all found at the scene and police say that foul play is not suspected but Daniel's family says otherwise.

Joining us is his family. We have Daniel's father, David Robinson, and Daniel's brother, Roger Cawley Robinson. I want to thank you both for coming on this morning to talk about Daniel. And I do just want to start first, David and then Roger, if you can tell me a little bit about your baby brother. But, David, tell me about your son.

DAVID ROBINSON, FATHER OF MISSING ARIZONA GEOLOGIST DANIEL ROBINSON: Thank you for bringing us on, Brianna. Daniel, he's a very outspoken guy from his childhood. Daniel, he's always challenged everything. He challenged his siblings. He wanted to outdo them academically. Everybody knows that Daniel had been born without a right hand. He never let that stop him. He had done everything from learning how to play the French horn. He learned how to play the trombone. When he got into college, he sought out to be a geologist. He pursued his dreams and he accomplished those goals, graduated with honors. He also is a friendly guy. He always had friends. The college of (INAUDIBLE), I have seen so many of his friends that loved him. Daniel is a guy who loved to travel. He spent time with a friend traveling. He loves nature. He liked to do hiking. Once he got out here to Phoenix, he liked to hike, he liked to travel, like I say, see nature.


And he loved his career as a geologist. He liked to collect his rocks. He has a rock collection. But most of all about Daniel, he's a person that liked to bring people together. Even in this moment where he is not here with us, he is bringing everyone together right now. So, that's the type of person Daniel is.

KEILAR: I will tell you I have been reading about your son, and I have been so impressed by him and what a special person he clearly is, your baby brother, Roger. And I just wonder, right now, authorities are saying that there is no foul play suspected. That's not what your family thinks. Tell us about this.

D. ROBINSON: Well, there're too many things that's going on with this case. From the beginning, you know, from a family standpoint, Daniel, he would never do anything outside of telling his family. The first indication I thought that was very strange with Daniel is after six hours not hearing from him at all, he didn't call his siblings, his mom or myself, he let somebody know where you're going. But once Daniel became missing, we realized that I think the quick action wasn't there quick enough, first of all.

But then when -- that caused me to have to do my own searching and things like that. But once his vehicle was found and the way it was found, it just didn't look right. It didn't sit right with me. That's why I end up getting my own private investigator from that point. Everything that was found from that point indicates that, you know, we need to look a little farther than saying he is just missing.

KEILAR: Roger, the Buckeye Police say that the case remains open and active. They say, currently, we are consulting outside experts for enhanced analysis of the data from Daniel's vehicle. We are also asking anyone with information to please contact investigators. You know, what do you think, Roger, about what police are doing and where this investigation into your brother's disappearance, where it stands?

ROGER CAWLEY ROBINSON, BROTHER OF MISSING ARIZONA GEOLOGIST DANIEL ROBINSON: From what I'm getting from this, I feel that, you know, they're trying to do what's right at this point. But I feel that it's a little too late. Like my father said, had they been quick about it in the beginning, we wouldn't be here three months later still searching for my brother, still looking for answers.

I think my sister that lives in Arizona and my father did a lot in the beginning trying to push and get things moving, pleading with the police, you know, begging for them, hey, can you help get a search, can we do an air search, can we get something. And I just think the lack of action initially is what is leading us here. And now, they are having to backtrack and try to bring outside sources to help search for my brother.

KEILAR: You know, roger, I wonder what you think about there is now attention. There is some national attention on your brother. That so infrequently happens in the case of a young missing black man or a young missing white woman. What do you think about that and what needs to happen?

R. ROBINSON: I think that it's sad that we still have to, you know, think in that way. I will say my parents never raised me and my siblings to believe the world is out to get us. However, there are some very obvious things that happened historically and there're things that still happen today that's not very great in this country.

And it just saddens me that it takes this much, you know, to get people's story out like my brother or anyone else. We shouldn't have to depend on other stories or other cases to push our own story. And we just want answers, just like anyone else. I think my brother or everyone else's brother or father, siblings, whoever they may be, they deserve the same attention.

KEILAR: Daniel is a very special person. We hope that some more eyeballs on this case might get some more answers for you, as you continue your search for him. Roger and David, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

R. ROBINSON: Thank you so much.

D. ROBINSON: Thank you.

KEILAR: Still ahead, CNN is live at the southern U.S. border where migrants can be seen crossing the river right in front of our cameras.

BERMAN: And CNN catches up with a doctor who is touring the country and spreading lies about COVID.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Asymptomatic spread is not a thing.