Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

U.S. on Verge of Default, Government Shutdown as Congress Bickers; CNN Reports, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Starting to Build Nationwide Political Operation; CNN on Streets of Kabul as Taliban Return to Harsh Rule. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 29, 2021 - 07:00   ET



CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice over): A lawyer for Jamie would not would not comment on these allegations but said in a previous statement to CNN, quote, all of his actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court. His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney, and/or the court.

This summer, during two emotional testimonies, Britney made bombshell claims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said the conservatorship was abusive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said she's been given lithium against her will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said she is not allowed to remove her IUD contraceptive.

MELAS: And during July testimony, she said she wants to charge her father with conservatorship abuse. A lawyer for Jamie Spears said in his statement that he quote, loves his daughter unwaveringly.

CROWS: Free Britney now. Free Britney now.

MELAS: The proceedings have drawn a massive following both online and in-person at the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse. Fans who call themselves the Free Britney Movement have been protesting for the removal of her father and the termination of the conservatorship for months and promised to show up in full effect to see if Spears finally gets her freedom.

It's unclear whether the Grammy Award-winner will appear virtually this time and give the court and her fans another chance to hear from her.


MELAS (on camera): John, Britney called in to the last two hearings and made, you know, these emotional allegations about what her live has been like the last 13 years. So, many of us, including myself, are wondering will she call in again today or perhaps could she show up in person? Much to the delight of her fans who have been wanting to see her. So I think there could be a chance. Never say never.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: That would be high drama. Chloe Melas, thanks so much for being in for us.

MELAS: Thank you.

BERMAN: New Day continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman on this New Day. It is Wednesday, September 29th.

And the clock is ticking. Tomorrow night, the federal government could begin shutting down. And soon after that, we could see the systematic collapse of the U.S. economy, all of this in the hands of Congress, and so is the fate of President Biden's legislative agenda during this week from hell.

BERMAN: This morning, Democrats running out of patience and time with two of their own. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema both met with the president yesterday, both are still unwilling to get on board with the $3.5 trillion price tag for the social safety net package. But neither has come forward with a specific counterproposal, saying this is what we want, and complicating matters, a liberal revolt in the House over Speaker Pelosi's plan to hold a vote tomorrow on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Joining us now, one of the men in the middle of this all, Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, he is the chair of the problem-solvers caucus, he's a lead moderate negotiator on the economic bill. And you, sir, had the pleasure to be name-checked by Tom Friedman in the New York Times.

If you hadn't had a chance to see it yet, let me read you a passage. Do Representative Josh Gottheimer, the leader of the centrist Democrats in the House, and Representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the congressional progressive caucus, have the guts to stop issuing all or nothing ultimatums and instead give each other iron-clad assurances that they will do something hard? Do you?

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): 100 percent. I haven't seen Tom's story yet but I agree on this. We have got to get this done. It starts this week with the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which, as you know, is all about roads, bridges, tunnels, having us fight climate change. It's a historic $1.2 trillion package that passed out of the Senate back in August. It's been sitting in the House waiting for action. And when it came out of the Senate, it had 69 senators and it is critical to the president's agenda. What we are pushing forward this week to get it to the floor. And Nancy Pelosi said she's going to bring it to the floor. She is working incredibly hard to get the votes. And we all are and we're going to get that done.

BERMAN: That is not the hard part though, Congressman. The hard part is figuring out where you can agree with progressives on the domestic spending plan. So, where are you --

GOTTHEIMER: Right. Yes. So, what I was about to say is that we're also, at the same time, continuing to work on the reconciliation plan around the clock. As you noted in the opening, the two senators were at the White House yesterday working late into the night, making very good progress. So, I'm optimistic. What we're going to do is get this infrastructure plan passed for the country. It is 2 million jobs a year.


And at the same time, we're going to keep moving on reconciliation and we're going to get that done.

I'll tell you, I know where I am. I believe that we have to get reconciliation done. There's so much in there that's critically important, from fighting climate change to reinstating the state local reduction, or SALT, to help get taxes down in my district, child care. There are so many important priorities. And I have said and so many of my colleagues have said that we agree we need to get both done.

But the idea that a small faction of Democrats would hold up the president's agenda and vote against the infrastructure bill this week and all of those hard-working men and women of labor, all those jobs, this doesn't make any sense to me. So, we've got to get it done, and we will.

BERMAN: Well, the other side, Congressman Ro Khanna, for instance, Pramila Jayapal say, the issue is a small number of Democrats, like you, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, are holding up the reconciliation package. And Ro Khanna, who, by the way, last night when I was speaking to him, had very nice things to say about you personally. He said you guys are friends --

GOTTHEIMER: Yes, he's a good friend.

BERMAN: And you guys talk all the time. But he's pissed because Kyrsten Sinema went to the White House three times yesterday and won't tell anyone what she wants. Listen.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I have no idea what she wants. I don't think her colleagues know what she wants. I don't think the president knows what she wants. I don't think House moderates know what she wants. We said, let's get in a room. Let's negotiate. Let's come up with a deal. And I just don't understand it. I mean, the president carried her state.


BERMAN: Do you know what she wants?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, I'll tell you this. Everyone is working around the clock, including Senator Sinema, on getting it done. And she was at the White House yesterday. Obviously, I wasn't in that meeting. And all I know is that great progress was made and we're going keep working today.

But, again, that doesn't mean that -- these are two separate pieces of legislation. You don't hold up and not vote for an infrastructure package that is historic, once in a century, that will help fix everything from water, to broadband, to fighting climate change, to the gateway tunnel between New York and New Jersey. You don't hold it up and hold it hostage while we're working on another piece of legislation. We're going to get both done.

But I'll tell you what. It just doesn't make any sense to me that you have a faction of folks in my party that would blow up the president's agenda, refuse to vote on infrastructure as some sort of way to hold up progress. I mean, so that's why I believe at the end of the day we will unify and get it done.

BERMAN: But why should Ro Khanna count on Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin voting for the overall domestic agenda when they don't know that she will or what she supports? If she's not saying what she supports, how can they go into this and make any kind of deal?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, that's exactly what we're working on. Legislating takes time. You are talking about a significant investment. So, we are working on both. She has made it clear she is willing to back reconciliation and get something done. It's why she is spending all the hours working on this. And so I don't really understand that argument because it's claiming that we're not actually working on reconciliation, which everybody is. And we have a responsibility to (INAUDIBLE) the president's agenda.

BERMAN: If it's not $3.5 trillion, what's your number?

GOTTHEIMER: I love you, but we're not going to negotiate on television here.

BERMAN: But that's the problem.

GOTTHEIMER: by the way, that's exactly what the members are working on. But, again, that's how we legislate. We're going back and forth. We're negotiating. And I hope today we're going to get more guide answer, by the way, from every side.

But, again, I bring you back to the simple fact what I'm confused about, why would anybody not vote when it comes to the floor this week for a bipartisan historic infrastructure package to help get all the shovels in the ground and millions of jobs working. I just don't understand that.

BERMAN: Well, they say they were promised.

GOTTHEIMER: It is too important. We're going to get it done.

BERMAN: They say it was because they were promised that there would be a vote on the overall domestic agenda plan, and they say they need to know what that domestic agenda plan is. Do you think Nancy Pelosi is going to put infrastructure on the floor tomorrow? GOTTHEIMER: I do, because we're going to have the votes. There's no one is better than Speaker Pelosi getting the votes. And just to get everyone some history here, back in August, every single Democrat in the House voted to bring the infrastructure bill to the floor this week. Why? Because it's once in a century, it is critical to the president's agenda, and we've got to get moving on climate resiliency. Hurricane Ida destroyed so many parts of my district. There is so much on her climate resiliency to fight climate change and make sure we -- you talked about investing in transit, in trains, in Amtrak with that horrific crash this past week. So, the idea that we wouldn't do that makes no sense.

But I'm with Ro and my colleagues. We've got to also get reconciliation done. I'm committed to that. We're going the get behind the bill. We're working out the details. That's how legislation works. You don't hold a bill hostage while you're doing it.

BERMAN: Can I try one more time here. I know you don't want to negotiate with me but I assume some of your colleagues are watching this.


So, pretend you're talking to them for a moment here.

I want to put up on the screen some of the things in the build back better plan, universal pre-K, child care support, community college, Pell grants, paid maternity leave, child tax credits, aid for seniors on Medicare, Obamacare subsidies, reduced drug cost, money to battle climate crisis. Which of these don't you want?

GOTTHEIMER: All of those things are things that I care about. The bottom line is this though. When we work it out and work out the details, which we will, it's going to be a great bill for the country. It's going to be a great bill for the people that I represent in Jersey, just like this infrastructure bill is going to be great for the country and for the people I represent.

So, the bottom line is we have to get both done and we will. And it starts this week. On Thursday, we are voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. We're going to have Democrats and Republicans backing it, showing the country that we can come together, we can govern. And we're going to show the same with on the reconciliation bill.

So, people, and I said this to my colleagues, you just have to know we're going to get both done and I'm completely confident we can get there.

BERMAN: New Jersey's favorite son, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, thanks for being with us this morning. I appreciate it seeing you. I'm counting for this --

GOTTHEIMER: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Thank you, sir. GOTTHEIMER: Yes, I love (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: That is such a compliment. All right, let's talk about that and more with CNN Anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt and CNN Political Analyst David Gregory.

All right, we just heard from Congressman Gottheimer. We know what's going on with the liberals. Are you guys any clearer on where these infrastructure and social safety net bills stand?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I barely know where I am this morning.

KEILAR: Do you know your names?

GREGORY: I don't know, not after hearing all that.

KEILAR: It's very unclear.

GREGORY: Well, what's also unclear and what's really unfortunate, I think, for the president is that so much of the focus is on this level of micro-negotiation. And what's really being lost is how all this could change the country, for the better or worse, depending upon your perspective.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. And John put that graphic up on the screen, and made that very clear, says to the congressman, okay, which of these things do you not want, and that, of course, is the tricky piece of this.

I mean, my big question, which John asked, is, okay, what is Pelosi actually going to do tomorrow and why? Because it doesn't seem right now that progressives are willing to back down. There are a lot of quotes coming off at Capitol Hill last night saying, you know what, I'm sorry, we're going to vote no on this. So, it's a real test for her.

I mean, we're constantly reporting she doesn't, and she will say, I won't put something on the floor if I don't think it's going to pass. But there has got to be something to break this logjam. I mean, Democrats cannot continue with this for another week.

GREGORY: The obvious thing is you make it less expensive. You do less, right, in that second bill, which is what they've talked about, what Manchin has talked about. I think the interesting generational test, it is not just about age but it's about Biden saying, look, Democrats, this is what your president wants, like Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, you better deliver. Because, really, progressives, where else are you going to go? And I question whether Congress and our politics works like that anymore. So, I really think that's a bet.

KEILAR: He is trying to make it work like that. We saw Kyrsten Sinema at the White House -- multiple meetings at the White House yesterday, including with the president. It's really Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that hold the keys here and progressives are saying, what do they want. Does the White House, does anyone -- I mean, I'm looking at what all these senators are saying. No, I don't. I honestly don't know, Angus King and Dick Durbin, they have no idea what these folks want.

HUNT: They don't. And, look, I think the focus here should be on Kyrsten Sinema. I think there is a sense on the Hill that, as much as Manchin has been upfront on this, it is probable that they can bring him along if they really need him. But Sinema was back and forth to the White House three times yesterday, twice with staff, once with the president. And everyone keeps asking them, the president asked him directly, how much money are you willing to spend? Give me a number and we'll figure it out. And, so far, they won't do it. So, again, that makes it completely unclear how we get out of this.

And don't forget that this reconciliation package is now all tied up with the debt limit and the default, which is coming on October 18th. And most of the headlines this morning, the top headlines are about the numbers on Wall Street yesterday, the panic about what's going to happen if they can't get it together. And this dysfunction is feeding uncertainty in way more than just political ways.

GREGORY: And I think there is an undercurrent here that takes me back to the financial collapse and the TARP legislation, which was a mere 700 billion at the time.

KEILAR: I remember.

HUNT: That went down. I was in the chamber.

KEILAR: And (INAUDIBLE) Speaker Pelosi was relying on some Republican votes, right?

GREGORY: Right. But part of my point was the reaction to all of that, which was crisis, huge government intervention and then a kind of re- advantagement (ph). And I think we're seeing that now.

What Biden wants to accomplish in terms of generational change, a kind of JFK kind of moon shot on transforming programs, it comes after the height of the pandemic and a massive infusion of government spending to keep people afloat.


And then after that, infrastructure, which I think people can get their heads around, Republicans too, understanding it is good politics and good policy. But then this massive spend to change the social safety net, it just gets into kind of basic politics, which is too much government, way too much spending and people back off and say too much.

HUNT: And I think, too, to circle back to David's first point, here, Biden's mandate was to come in, not be Donald Trump, not be chaotic, govern competently and in a way that Americans could basically forget for a little a while that they needed to worry about what was going on in the White House, right? That was the mandate.

And now here, we have Congress seemingly not able to get it together. The president has to cancel a trip that he was supposed to take today in order to deal with this. It does not send that message of non- chaotic competence. And you can see that in the poll numbers.

KEILAR: Let's talk Liz Cheney because CNN's Mike Warren is reporting that she is exploring her future political options outside of Wyoming. She is actually attending a fundraiser in Texas. This is going to be with George W. Bush and with Karl Rove. Flashback, right? Flashback, David Gregory. And then she is going to speak at another event in New Hampshire. Is there a corridor for her? Is there a motive other than winning for her here?

GREGORY: Yes. I was having this thought watching her the other night watching her on 60 Minutes. She's positioning herself to run for president. She just has to get through this period, where can she survive this Trump period, whatever that is, and come out on the other side as a champion for conservative Republicanism, and at the same time, with a kind of centrist appeal because she showed courage. That could be a winning formula. That's what rattles around my head.

And so whatever she's doing, when you're hanging out with former President Bush, that's a slice of the Republican Party that is certainly not en vogue anymore.

HUNT: So, I've actually done a lot of reporting on this question. I actually asked Liz Cheney the day that she was ousted as conference chair what her long-term plans were, how far would she go to prevent the former president from coming back into office. And she essentially said she would do whatever it takes. And if you speak to people who are close to her, it is very clear, she is laying the groundwork to stand in his way in a Republican presidential primary.

And, of course, the challenge is she's got to win the House race first. If she loses her House race in Wyoming, those hopes are going to be dashed. And I think that is part of why she's willing to bring out all these big guns behind her, the fundraiser that she's planning.

And the New Hampshire trips are designed to send signals. They're media signals, as much as anything else. I think that if she is going to challenge him, I mean, the primary is really the place where you would have to stop the former president. And that is an incredibly difficult challenge.

GREGORY: So hard, yes.

HUNT: And I do, if you, again, speak to people close to her, I don't think she's under any illusions. Although I think she was maybe surprised by the depth and nastiness of the response to her stepping out there. I don't think that she thinks necessarily that -- all politicians have stated those, and I think, to your point, they are motivated by their own power and want to get themselves in there. I think she really actually does believe what she has been out there saying. I think it's been hard to be out there doing that. And the evidence is the fact that there is nobody else.

GREGORY: I agree with that. I actually agree with that. I think she has a lot of integrity. And it's not like she changed what she believes. She has certain boundaries that she's going to stick to. I mean, I think it's very interesting. And I think unlike other people who are Republicans, she has actually stood up with conviction.

The added difficulty she has is whether they can serve but so affiliated with the Bush-Cheney years, if that's what people would accept. Would it have to had been a Paul Ryan, who was one step from that younger, and I'm sure Paul Ryan would like to run at some point if he sees a way back in, which seems improbable right now.

KEILAR: It is going to be interesting to see her path, presidential aspirations or is it political grenade, or maybe a little bit of both.

HUNT: Well, she has the stature to do it, if that's what she wants to do.

KEILAR: Kasie, David, thank you so much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

HUNT: Thanks, good to be here.

KEILAR: Coming up, a lawyer for Gabby Petito's family confirming that her ex-fiance did go on a camping trip with his parents before he disappeared and now after, as we have learned, Gabby Petito died.

BERMAN: Plus, CNN live on the ground as the Taliban returned to their harsh rule. Clarissa Ward joins us.

KEILAR: Plus, her journey to end gender violence began 30 years ago when she accused then-Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Anita Hill joins us live.



KEILAR: The Taliban takeover has brought a return to harsh rule in Afghanistan, making life particularly difficult for Afghan women who enjoyed freedoms under the U.S.-backed government.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is live for us on the ground in Kabul. Clarissa, what have you been seeing?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have been talking a lot about the issues of the social crisis here in regards to women who feel their rights and see their rights being subjugated in real-time. We've talked also about a return to medieval justice with some of those these horrendous sights, bodies being hung in the city of Herat as a warning to anyone, telling them not to commit crimes.

But the other real crisis facing Afghans right now, Brianna, is an economic crisis. And make no mistake about it.

[07:25:01] This country is on the precipice of a massive and severe economic recession. We're not just talking about purse strings being tightened. We are talking about starvation and hunger potentially.

Essentially, what's happened is that there is a total liquidity crisis. There is no cash coming in to Afghanistan. The central bank has been effectively frozen. People can only take out about $200 a week. There are long, long lines outside every bank inside the city.

And in this market where we are, we have been talking to people who are all complaining about the prices. A 30 percent rise we're hearing in food prices, 40 percent rise in fuel prices. More importantly perhaps, people are not getting paid, so people in the health care sector not getting paid, teachers not getting paid. All of this has a tremendous knock-on effect.

And the end result of which potentially is not just a dire situation, in which people are suffering and don't have enough money or food to take care of their families, but also a very real potential crisis coming for the Taliban as it is already facing serious challenges politically, in terms of security. This is just one more thing that this new government is now having to grapple with as it struggles to get the outside world to recognize it, to unlock some of that funding.

And it's interesting. We talked to people who are real critics of the Taliban. Some of them still say, they want to see the world bank unfreeze that money. They want to see the IMF unfreeze the money. Whatever their feels are about the Taliban, at this stage, this is becoming a serious humanitarian crisis in the making, Brianna.

BERMAN: Clarissa, we heard from the U.S. generals yesterday testifying before the Armed Services Committee that there was advice to President Biden to leave a troop presence of about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan for an extended period of time. The president claimed in other cases he didn't get that advice. In either case, he didn't do it, right? He didn't want to do it. He didn't want to leave any troops there. Your reaction to that?

WARD: Well, you know, I just have to say that I can only go by what people are saying on the ground here. And, honestly, for the most part, at this stage, the whole debate about how did this happen or why did this happen, it sort of feels a bit ex post facto to people here who have resigned themselves to the fact that the U.S. left, that the way in which the U.S. left many felt to be kind of abandonment, certainly chaotic, obviously lethal.

And there's no amount of reassurance that can be given at this stage to a lot of people to persuade them that indeed, you know, their best intentions were kept in the hearts of many who are making these political decisions. And I think more broadly speaking, of course, there are real questions about how this looks for the U.S., what are the optics of this going forward.

You heard general Milley in those hearings yesterday saying that American credibility is under, I believe, the expression he used, was under intense review and this could, in fact, be damaging to the U.S.'s reputation.

But for the people on the ground here, John, I would say the focus really is on everyday survival at this stage.

KEILAR: We are looking at the folks walking by your camera there, Clarissa. I do see a few women but really not many.

WARD: It depends what area of town you're in. You do see women out on the streets. Because this is a strange sort of transitional period where the Taliban is trying to ease off a little bit in terms of dictating how women should dress, how people should present themselves, whether they can shave, whether she can smoke cigarettes, for example.

But at the same time, people see the writing on the wall. They see the direction that things are moving in. They see the fact that girls above sixth grade can't go to school anymore. They see that girls can't go to a university, that women can't teach in universities. And so a lot of them do choose in that sort of context to stay at home. And they are fearful of what could happen to them.

We went to an area of town with a lot of beauty parlors the other day. Every single one of them, the photographs, the pictures on the outside with women's faces have been defaced. And so what you are seeing literally is women being erased from the public space. And that's the fear here.

So, you do see some women on the streets. You do see women dressing in the ways that many of them would always have dressed here in Kabul. But there is also a deep sense of unease and understanding that this is likely a temporary situation and that we won't know the full effect what the Taliban government will really change or bring for some months to come.


KEILAR: All right, Clarissa, essential reporting from Kabul, thank you for that.