Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Charter Flight Carrying Americans From Afghanistan Stranded; COVID Taking A Toll On Trump Counties Amid Vaccine Divide; Anita Hill On Her 30-Year Struggle Against Gender Violence. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 29, 2021 - 07:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Clarissa. Essential reporting from Kabul. Thank you for that.

So, one of the big topics of the war hearing -- the hearing of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. What about the Americans who are still there? Just in, one of the flights carrying some of them is now stranded. We're actually going to talk to an American who has accompanied them.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And New York State now requiring healthcare workers be vaccinated. It has been wildly successful in boosting vaccination numbers but there are a few holdouts -- so, why?


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The number of people who are hospitalized and die that are vaccinated is extremely low compared to those who are dying by the thousands every week of COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a misconception and I can speak of that --

MARQUEZ: I've seen them myself.


MARQUEZ: I've talked to them myself.




KEILAR: There are still efforts that are ongoing to evacuate American citizens and green card holders who were not able to get out of Afghanistan before the U.S. troop withdrawal there.

With me now is Bryan Stern. He was a first responder on 9/11. He is a U.S. veteran. And he is the founder of the nonprofit group Project Dynamo, which has been working, all-volunteer, to bring Americans and Afghan partners back to the United States. OK, Bryan, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

You are in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Tell us who was on this flight and what happened, because you're kind of stuck.

BRYAN STERN, CO-FOUNDER, PROJECT DYNAMO, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: Yes, Brianna, it's great to be here.

We are in Abu Dhabi under restricted movement by the Emirates who have been treating us more or less OK.

The Afghan -- the Afghan Americans, most of whom are U.S. citizens and green card holders -- we rescued them from Kabul airport and got them to Abu Dhabi. Our follow-on flight was approved. Came here and was ready to go and was ultimately denied landing clearance in the United States. And as a result, we got stuck here. We've been here for almost two days -- for almost two days and have been trying to get out.

KEILAR: OK, so you -- there was an arrangement -- that's why the UAE let you in -- that the flight would go on to the U.S., but that has since been suspended. So, you know, who are you talking to? How are you getting around this, if at all?

STERN: We're talking to anybody and everybody. We've engaged congressional leaders, policymakers, our donors -- anybody and everybody.

The reality is what you -- you're exactly right. The agreement that was made -- or the understanding that was -- that was made between us and the Emirates, and also the U.S. government and the Emirates to a degree, was that it's OK to use the UAE as a platform to move people -- to evacuate Americans and others provided that they don't really stay here. So, by killing our second flight we basically violated that rule to no fault of our own.

KEILAR: So look, these are American green card holders -- pardon me, American passport holders, green card holders. And I understand you do have a few special immigrant visa folks but those are fully approved folks who are entitled to go to the U.S.

I want you to listen to something that Secretary of Defense Austin said yesterday on the Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the administration's current best estimate of the number of Americans that are in Afghanistan?

LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Uh, Senator, according to State, there are currently fewer than 100 American citizens who want to depart and are ready to leave. We got out 21 American citizens today, along with their family members. And we'll continue to work on this, as you've heard us say earlier.

The numbers fluctuate daily because more people come to light as time goes by and they see opportunities to safely leave, and so this has been a dynamic process. But again, we will stay focused on this.


KEILAR: All right. He said, Bryan, 21 American citizens and their family members getting out -- that was yesterday -- of Afghanistan. Is that, to your knowledge, your group that he's talking about?


KEILAR: What -- who -- what are you talking -- what's he talking about?

STERN: No, we're at 116 total that we did in this movement -- that we did -- that was just on this movement from the airport yesterday. So there are -- there are many Americans that are -- many Americans that we know of that are in Afghanistan that want to leave, but they want to leave with their families is the big -- is the big differentiator.

So I believe the Secretary of Defense when he says that the -- when he says that people who want to leave. The caveat and the nuance in there is that they want to leave with their families, and if their families don't have the right documentation they cannot leave. Therefore, they don't want to leave.

And that's where you get to a big delta in the numbers --


STERN: -- as far as who's there and who wants to go versus who wants to go with their families and all that.

KEILAR: All right. Well look, Bryan, we'll keep tracking this flight as you wait to see what happens. We know these are all people with the proper, as you say, papers to get into the U.S. So we'll be in touch.

Bryan Stern, thank you so much.

STERN: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.


KEILAR: So what is going on in the NBA? Some players are refusing to get vaccinated and were giving some pretty non-scientific answers for why they're not.

BERMAN: Plus, COVID doesn't care what party you belong to but right now, it is taking a much higher toll on one group of Americans.


BERMAN: The political divide over vaccines growing more extreme with some recalling the red COVID phase of the pandemic.

As "The New York Times'" David Leonhardt notes, "COVID deaths are also showing a partisan pattern. COVID is still a national crisis, but the worst forms of it are increasingly concentrated in red America." Joining me now is CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza. Chris, walk us through what's going on there.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, John, gladly. So this is -- these numbers are really striking.


All right, so let's just start -- this came out yesterday. This is Gallup. This is adults with at least one vaccine dose -- this is stunning, the delta between this -- 36 percent -- 92 percent of Democrats vaccinated -- at least one shot. Republicans, just over half.

Now, why, you ask? Well, a couple of reasons -- complex.

But remember this? This is Donald Trump when he got back from Walter Reed Hospital after being treated for COVID-19. He symbolically rips his mask off.

This is a man who has said that it was going to go away. Poof, it will be gone. It will disappear like a miracle. Skepticism about masks. Skepticism about science.

And then, he was amplified by Fox News Channel. Yes, Tucker Carlson repeatedly suggesting that this is about freedom rather than public health. I'll note Laura Ingraham, as well, was on that train. Two Fox primetime hosts.

Now, what has that all wrought? As I showed you, 92 percent of Democrats, at least one dose, and 56 percent of Republicans.

Well, what does that translate into real-world numbers? OK, these are cases. Look at this. Look at the difference here. This is Republicans versus Democrats.

Now, thankfully, John, we're down here. We're tilting downward. Hopefully, the Delta variant ebbing away. But still, just to remind you -- and we'll remind you in these next two slides as well -- this does not have to be a partisan issue. This is about public health. Hey, I say that.

Now, let's go to hospitalizations, right? Many experts say that's the best guide. It's the same trendline.

Again, we're looking at June 30th through September 28th. I mean, we're talking about 40 per 100,000 people vaccinated -- in the hospital here versus under 20 if you're a Democrat. It doesn't have to be partisan.

I'm going to show you one more and this is the worst one of them all, John. This is deaths. You know, look. It's -- I feel like we could do a million graphs here all the same.

Biden won states relatively low per 100,000. Trump won states up high. It's just over and over again, red COVID. Yes, the Delta variant is where we are, but the truth of the matter is

we are living in two Americas -- a blue America and a red America. And in red America, COVID is still raging, causing hospitalizations, causing deaths. And it just -- the thinking is it did not have to be this way, John.

BERMAN: No, it certainly didn't. And look, the partisan issue certainly is predominant and may be the most serious right now. But it's not just politics, right?

We see in the NBA with over 90 percent --


BERMAN: -- of the players vaccinated, but some prominent ones not vaccinated. We did learn that LeBron James finally got vaccinated.


BERMAN: But listen to what he said.


LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I know that I was very skepticism about it all. But after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but for my family and for my friends. And that's why I decided to do it.

We're talking about individuals' bodies, you know. We're not talking about something else political or racism or police brutality and things of that nature. We're talking about, like, people's bodies and well-beings.

So I don't feel like for me personally that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods.


BERMAN: So it's good for him that he got vaccinated. Hopefully, people see the example. But it's a missed opportunity for a leader like --

CILLIZZA: Big time.

BERMAN: -- LeBron James to not tell people to get vaccinated or suggest it.

CILLIZZA: Big time, big time. And what I don't get about LeBron -- look, first of all, there were a lot of players -- Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Kuzma, Andrew Wiggins -- who, in the last few days, have said like well, I'm not getting it. I need to do more research, et cetera, et cetera.

I'm glad that LeBron said I got it. That's a -- let's just give him credit there.

That said, the argument that this is an individual decision -- I have a 9-year-old, John. He can't be vaccinated yet.

We want to reduce the number of people who can get this and get seriously ill so that the virus doesn't continue to mutate in ways that could endanger people, whether the immunocompromised or the young who can't get it.

It's not just an individual decision. It's a public health societal good decision. And I feel like that's the message we need to push out there. It's not, in fact, just about you. It's about all of us.

BERMAN: And LeBron James -- if you found research that convinced you, share it. Go ahead, share the research which convinced you and the rest of the family.

Chris Cillizza, thanks very much for being with us.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So, damning claims by one of Donald Trump's former press secretaries, including how he tried to kick a CNN reporter out of the Press Corps. That reporter joins us live.

KEILAR: Plus, Anita Hill joins us live on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and where American society is right now, three decades after she spoke up.



KEILAR: It's been nearly 30 years since Anita Hill's dramatic testimony as the Senate considered Clarence Thomas' confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. The hearings brought the issue of workplace sexual harassment to the public spotlight.

And now, in her new book "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence," she offers a comprehensive look at the state of sexual harassment and assault in the U.S. And she also talks about what it was like to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by then-Sen. Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN (D-DE), THEN-SENATOR FROM DELAWARE IN SENATE HEARINGS CONSIDERING CLARENCE THOMAS' U.S. SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATION: Can you tell the committee what was the most embarrassing of all the incidences that you have alleged?

ANITA HILL, ACCUSED U.S. SUPREME COURT THEN-NOMINEE CLARENCE THOMAS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, AUTHOR, "BELIEVING: OUR THIRTY- YEAR JOURNEY TO END GENDER VIOLENCE", PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL POLICY, LAW, AND WOMEN'S AND GENDER STUDIES, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: I think the one that was the most embarrassing was his discussion of pornography involving women with large breasts and engaged in a variety of sex with different people or animals.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D-PA), THEN-SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA IN SENATE HEARINGS CONSIDERING CLARENCE THOMAS' U.S. SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATION: You testified this morning in response to Sen. Biden that the most embarrassing question involved -- this is not too bad -- women's large breasts. That's a word we use all the time. That was the most embarrassing aspect of what Judge Thomas had said to you.


KEILAR: Joining us now is the author of "Believing" and professor of social policy, law, and women's and gender studies at Brandeis University, Anita Hill. Anita, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

HILL: It's a pleasure to be here.

KEILAR: I listened -- I listened to that moment and that comment from the late senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, and I, and I'm sure many others, cringed.

I wonder when you look back on that time period, what has changed, to you, and what hasn't changed?

HILL: Well, that kind of language hasn't changed. I mean, it's still out there. It's still a tactic that people use to diminish the pain and the experience of sexual harassment or rape, or sexual assault -- all forms of gender violence that are at an extremely high and dangerous level in this country.

KEILAR: That's one of the things you talk a lot about in your book, which is the rhetorical downplaying of sexual harassment is a -- it's really key to its perpetuation, right?

HILL: Absolutely. You hear -- and it happens to us -- the language that it's not so bad or don't make a big deal out of it starts with us when we're very young. I mean, I'm sure if you did a poll in your office, you would find that many of the women and perhaps some of the men, too, have heard this phrase over and over whenever they complain about being harmed by someone else's behavior.

And what we're doing with that kind of language is we're grooming people to dismiss their own pain and redefining it as not so bad or painful and nothing that they should be complaining about. And then we wonder when they grow up why they don't complain about sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual assault, or rape.

And so we need to change our cultural approach to these issues. We need to change our approach to survivors and victims if we want them to come forward.

KEILAR: I know you watched Kathleen (sic) Blasey Ford's opening statement in her testimony before the committee during the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. What -- and I know that you have since met with her. What did you think, watching her? HILL: Well, what I thought was the second part of what I want to discuss, which is that the process hadn't changed. That the process hadn't changed in any appreciable way.

That the process -- that there was still -- between 1991 and 2018, there still hadn't been put into place a complaint process so that Christine Blasey Ford could submit her complaint about Justice Kavanaugh's behavior. That it could be fully investigated, and that there could be a fair and open hearing for her to be heard and for there to be a reasonable response to the allegations.

And we -- as far as I know, there still is no process in place. And that's really the problem in many instances. We talk about the behavior and we talk about the cultural aspects of gender violence and what perpetuates it, but what is also troubling is the fact that we put people who have complaints into processes that are not meant to help them.

And we have examples of this that we've been -- I've been hearing from people for 30 years now and each time you hear that they were put in a process that they didn't understand and there was no clarity of, no transparency. No assurance that their complaint would even be investigated, much less any kind of accountability.

And so, we need to think not only about the behavior but we need to think about the culture. We need to think about and revise our processes -- yes.

KEILAR: And that's very much what your book deals with -- talking about gender violence and sexual harassment as it relates to so many things. And we certainly appreciate you, Anita Hill, coming on the show to talk about it. Thank you so much.

HILL: Well -- and can I -- can I also say --