Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Interviewed on Possible House Vote on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill as Negotiations Continue on Budget Reconciliation Bill in Senate; Monica Lewinsky Reveals She was Suicidal During Scandal with Former President Bill Clinton. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 30, 2021 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go!



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mission accomplished.



BERMAN: That is amazing.

KEILAR: Look, he just trots him over there.

BERMAN: He says he's stunned by all the attention from the viral video. The folks at Florida's Wildlife Commission, they were not impressed, and apparently without a sense of humor. They tweeted, "Concerned about an alligator, don't grab a garbage can. Call our hot line at 866-FWC-GATOR, and we can dispatch a real alligator trapper."

KEILAR: Wow. Did you notice his friends didn't really help him out much?


BERMAN: No, exactly. Let him be. He's got a trash can. He doesn't need our help.

KEILAR: They're just like color commentating on the side.

BERMAN: I would be there for you when you trap an alligator in a trash can.

KEILAR: Thanks. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now. KEILAR: And a very good morning to our viewers here in the United

States and around the world. It is Thursday, September 30th. It's a critical day for congressional Democrats and for the White House, both on the verge of a potentially humiliating self-inflicted defeat. The pressure is on Speaker Nancy Pelosi after her decision to move ahead with the vote today on the president's bipartisan infrastructure plan. Pelosi not sounding overly optimistic when asked about her strategy by our Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you worried you may not have the votes?

NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: One hour at a time.


BERMAN: Progressives have promised to vote against the infrastructure bill, a bill they support, unless they get some assurance on support for the other parts of the president's domestic agenda -- child tax credits, pre-K, paid leave. So far there are no such assurances from two Democratic senators. One of them is Senator Joe Manchin.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): No, it's not possible.

That won't happen.


BERMAN: Joining me now is the secretary of energy and a member of President Biden's jobs cabinet, Jennifer Granholm. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us. Senator Joe Manchin put out a statement overnight where he commented on the Build Back Better agenda from President Biden, with more specifics than we heard from before. And I want you to respond to a few different points from Senator Manchin. He says, quote, "I can't support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point all of us regardless of party must ask the simple question, how much is enough?" Your response?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Yes, first of all, of course the funding that was spent over the past year was in response to an emergency which was the pandemic. And now the economy is starting to recover, and we have to look at the future. So the Build Back Better agenda is over the next 10 years. And these are investments that 17 Nobel Prize winners say, economists, say that will put our country on the path to succeed in the future, addressing the middle class issues that other countries have addressed, for example, help with childcare for the middle class, that we simply have not.

So these are long-term investments. Obviously, Joe Manchin is concerned about making sure we don't have too much spending without pay-fors. But the good news is the president -- his agenda is fully paid for, and those are the discussions that are happening right now.

BERMAN: Manchin also writes, "What I've made clear to the president and Democratic leaders is spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs when we can't even pay for the essential social programs like Social Security and Medicare is the definition of fiscal insanity." Your response?

GRANHOLM: Yes, that's the whole point is that, for example, there were 50 corporations who made $40 billion in profit last year who didn't pay one dime in taxes. Tax fairness requires that we all pay our fair share. And Senator Manchin, I think, is very much in favor of reshaping the tax codes that it is fair, that we address those loopholes and inequities. So that is a discussion that's happening right now. But the president, too, wants to make sure that it is fully paid for. And that's one of the features of the Build Back Better agenda that has huge support among the population.


GRANHOLM: In every poll.

BERMAN: -- Manchin also writes, "I cannot and will not support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces."


GRANHOLM: Same answer. It's fully paid for. The president agrees. We don't want to rack up debt and deficits. That's why this is fully paid for in a way that does not raise taxes on people who are earning less than $400,000 a year. It's just a question of which of the many paid for options that I think both Senator Manchin, Sinema, and the rest of the Democrats in the House and the Senate are in favor of.

BERMAN: So what is Manchin's problem then, if that's your answer to all the specific concerns?

GRANHOLM: Well, he is concerned, I think, about the top line, the full amount. And so that's certainly -- the president said it is all up for negotiation. There are pieces in the reconciliation bill, the second part of the Build Back Better agenda, that he has some issues with, and that is part of the negotiation that has to occur that is not fully baked yet. And so that's part of what I think is holding up the vote on the infrastructure bill today.

BERMAN: What more could Senator Manchin do to be helpful other than write this response with that criticism?

GRANHOLM: Yes, I think Senator Manchin and his team are in right now negotiating the contours, particularly of the climate provisions. He obviously comes from a state where 90 percent of the energy comes from coal. He doesn't want to damage his state, nor does anybody else. And so how do we do the contours of a climate proposal that allows for a just transition for his workers and allows for West Virginia, who powered this country for the past 100 years, to be able to power this country for the next 100 years but using clean energy. Those are the conversations that are happening right now.

BERMAN: Has he told you specifically what he wants?

GRANHOLM: We've had lots of conversations.

BERMAN: Will there be a vote in the House today as far as you know on the infrastructure, the bipartisan infrastructure plan?

GRANHOLM: Yes, you heard what Nancy Pelosi said to Manu Raju. You just played it. I think it is hour by hour. These are live negotiations that are happening right now.

But I will say, John, that it is not some major cataclysm if there isn't a vote today. There is full support of the president's full Build Back Better agenda. There is some negotiation around the margins about the size of the package, the second package, and what's in it and how that's shaped. But this will get through. I will -- mark my words, the infrastructure bill will be passed, and a version of the reconciliation bill will be as well.

BERMAN: Not some major cataclysm if it doesn't happen today. Sounds like as far as you're concerned there is some wiggle room on the timing here.

GRANHOLM: For sure there is. There is a sense of urgency because, of course, we want to be able to address these issues for the middle class, for the infrastructure of our nation, for the climate, for the planet. But if it happens today, or if it happens in a couple of weeks, I like to quote Ted Lasso, we all have memories of a goldfish. Whatever it ends up being, that's what will be remembered. Families will remember they got help with their childcare, help with their eldercare, their prescription drug costs were lowered. They're not going to remember whether this was voted on in the last week of September or the first week of October.

BERMAN: I love Ted Lasso too. But a reminder, AFC Richmond doesn't win a lot of games. Secretary, I do want to ask you this --


GRANHOLM: That's true.

BERMAN: If the infrastructure bill does come up for a vote today, is the administration asking that these progressives vote for it?

GRANHOLM: Obviously the administration has negotiated this infrastructure bill and they want to see it happen. But they are also extremely respectful of the speaker and of what is happening in the Senate. So I'm going to let those conversations happen behind the scenes, but obviously the president and everybody wants to see this infrastructure bill passed. Question about whether it is today or in a week or so, that's another issue.

BERMAN: A week, is that the timing now? GRANHOLM: Well, no, I'm just -- that's me throwing out a time. It's

not -- I'm not making news. Two weeks, three weeks, I don't know. But if it's not today, then it will happen. It's just a question of what the negotiations on the reconciliation bill look like.

BERMAN: To be clear, you're always allowed to make news here. We appreciate you coming on. Secretary Jennifer Granholm, thanks so much for being with us.


GRANHOLM: You bet, John. You bet.

KEILAR: As you know, John, the goldfish is the happiest animal because it has a 10-second memory, right?


BERMAN: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Look, I'm all about believe. I just wanted to point out that when you coach Ted Lasso, AFC Richmond was relegated. So it doesn't always work the way you want it to.

KEILAR: That's right. Voters might have a longer memory than 10 seconds. And I think that's what some of these senators are banking on.

Let's talk about this more now with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger. All right, timing here, because she said if, if there is a vote today. So it's in jeopardy.


KEILAR: A few times, and was talking about maybe this is in two weeks, maybe it's in three weeks.

BORGER: Well, it was supposed to be the day of reckoning, except it looks like it's probably not going to be the day of reckoning. Jennifer Granholm was -- tried to be obtuse about that. But she really was pretty clear.

KEILAR: She was.

BORGER: She was sort of, like, well, maybe, maybe when we, down the road or -- so it seems to me that Nancy Pelosi, when she said hour by hour, meant hour by hour, and she is not going to bring something to the floor that isn't going to pass, and the progressives are not budging. And Joe Manchin is not budging, and Kyrsten Sinema is not budging. And so the Democrats are just trying to figure out how they can do this and get out of each other's way, which is exactly what they're doing.

KEILAR: The point she's making was, look, this is going to happen, so when it happens doesn't really matter. But let's be honest, when you are looking at passing huge legislation like this, you want a bird in the hand. You don't want a bird in the bush.

BORGER: No, exactly.

KEILAR: So what is the president's role here?

BORGER: That's a really good question, Brianna, because the president has been -- he's a former senator, brings in everybody, wants to listen to everybody. Everybody says he's a good listener, but he doesn't give away much. At a certain point a president has to lead, and a president has so to say, OK, these are the things I promised the American people, and we are going to have to figure out a way to do some of it, maybe not all of it, and maybe $2 trillion and not $3.5 trillion. And here are my priorities right now. And I want us all to kind of figure this out because we sink or swim together.

And everybody needs to know that, and I think they understand that. I was talking to a Democratic political strategist who said to me failure is irrational for the Democrats right now. They have to figure out a way to get to yes or they self-destruct, and they hurt the Biden presidency. So they're going to have to figure it out. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow. The good news is they'll probably figure out a way to keep the government running, which is no small feat. But they got to do it.

KEILAR: I wanted to ask you, actually, about something totally different. Monica Lewinsky, because she was on David Axelrod's podcast, "The Axe Files," and she was talking about how she was not only suicidal during the Clinton investigation, but how she told the independent counsel, or at least intimated that she was. Let's listen.


MONICA LEWINSKY: I just couldn't see a way out. And I thought that maybe that was the solution, and had even asked -- this is also an interesting point of I had asked the OIC lawyers about what happens if I die? And as --


LEWINSKY: Yes. As more of an adult now I think back, how is there not a protocol, like, that's a point where you're supposed to bring a psychologist in, or something -- how is that not a breaking point?


KEILAR: You covered the Lewinsky scandal.

BORGER: Just to hear that breaks my heart. I think back in those days I remember I worked for a news magazine then. And talking to people at the White House, who were whispering, oh, she stalks him, we couldn't get her out of his office, and all kinds of stuff about Monica Lewinsky. And there wasn't enough outrage about it, myself included. We were outraged about Bill Clinton and what he did, as we should have been. But the sympathy for Monica Lewinsky should have been much greater and much more understanding of what she was going through at that time.

And looking back with the benefit of how we have all grown over the last decades, I feel like she was left out there. She was left to hang out there. She had a lawyer who was a grandstander, and remember, he appeared on all five Sunday shows at one time, and that was a big deal. And then she had her parents. But she had been betrayed by a friend, this woman Linda Tripp, she had been betrayed. And she was absorbing all of that as a young woman, being the butt of late-night jokes. And can you imagine handling all that and then telling that to the independent counsel, and nobody is saying, we need to get you some help, dear, you need some help.


And I think, you know, she's -- she's been amazing about talking about this. And I think that is a good thing for everyone. And she, you know, she is quite remarkable right now being able to sort of unburden herself about what she went through at that time, and how the American public at that time kind of blamed her a lot.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I will say the hindsight is painful.

BORGER: Yeah. For all of us.

KEILAR: I really appreciate you talking about it. Gloria Borger, thank you.

BORGER: Thanks.

KEILAR: With all eyes today on Senate moderates, what will they do, what will they go for, what do they want? One group that helped elect Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona says they want her gone.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And a new revelation about a cell phone purchase from Brian Laundrie after he returned home to Florida. The new leads that gives the FBI.

KEILAR: And a judge bringing Britney Spears one step closer in her fight for freedom from her conservatorship.


KEILAR: As the search for Brian Laundrie continues, we're learning new details about the days before he vanished. A family attorney says the Laundrie purchased a new cell phone on September 4th, but then he left that new phone at home when he disappeared. That was September 14th, according to his family.


We also learned that the FBI has now obtained surveillance video from a campsite where Brian Laundrie went with his parents after returning from his cross country road trip without his fiancee Gabby Petito.

Let's talk about all this with Les Stroud, survivalist and creator of the series "Survivorman."

Les, you know, first off to you, what does it tell you about this phone? He had it for ten days, he left it, he went out and bought this with his mother.

LES STROUD, SURVIVAL EXPERT: That's an interesting question. I think in the situation we have to remember something, I think he's 23 years old, we're dealing with someone who is essentially quite young. And so it is a world of technology. And I think also what you get in a lot of situations like this, believe it or not, is a matter of cliche, we live by cliche as we get questions based on cliches and think in cliches.

This is a young kid thinking in the cliches of the world he's grown up in, playing a little bit of the Jason Bourne situation, I think, and changing technology.

But, again, I'm not -- I want to state too, I'm not a law enforcement agency or officer, I work with them, but, yeah.

KEILAR: So talk to us about this survival aspect of this. We do know that he went camping. And we do know that the parents directed law enforcement to this Carlton reserve. But we don't know where Brian Laundrie is.

What questions does this raise for you?

STROUD: Well, the biggest issue here will always be time and distance. And the things that work in his favor work against law enforcement's. So time and distance is, if you will, the biggest energy suck going on here.

These are the questions that are going through the FBI's mind, they're trying to take a look at the stories that they're getting from the parents. Now what they want to do is validate the stories, even though they may seem, seem like they -- the information is meant to aid the son. They want to validate that or dispute that.

But that leads them down into a road where they're looking for electronic bread crumbs and what Laundrie has in his favor is going to be the time and the distance in this situation.

KEILAR: How essential would it be in your experience just knowing what people need to get by for so long, how essential would it be for him to have some assistance from people that he knows?

STROUD: That's a very interesting question. And that's one that's been on my mind. It depends, you have to go back to the beginning of this and ask the question is was it premeditated or was it simply an act of rage?

How essential? Nonessential, really, to answer your question. Not that essential. If it was premeditated, he may have stations set up where he can get resupplies.

But I doubt that's the situation. He's a 23-year-old kid, if you will. That is a young man on the run, scared, very, very scared, and in a situation like this, people ask the question, is he hunting for food, is he, you know, out in the wilderness -- what is really happening in that situation, if he is simply a scared kid on the run, he's probably looking for cabins and cottages and places he can break into.

And then he can resupply with food, resupply with clothing, and any kind of shelter, something like that to stay on the run.

KEILAR: It will be interesting, those are things that would also give an opportunity to maybe realize he had been there, right? We'll have to see what law enforcement maybe comes upon.

Les, I want to thank you so much for being with us.

STROUD: My pleasure. Thank you.

KEILAR: The NBA putting a full court press on its unvaccinated players. No play, no pay. We'll talk about the fallout next.



BERMAN: The NBA taking a tough stance on unvaccinated players. Those who miss games because they do not comply with local vaccine mandates in cities like San Francisco and New York, they will not be paid for the games that they miss.

Joining me now is a proudly and publicly vaccinated player for the Boston Celtics, Enes Kanter.

My friend, it's great to see you.

How do you feel about this decision not to pay players for games they miss because they're not vaccinated?

ENES KANTER, CENTER, BOSTON CELTICS: Thanks for having me on, brother. I think I would just say the NBA won't pay you and if you don't play. What do you expect? It is a state law to be vaccinated while indoors. And the NBA and the players have to follow these rules.

You know, majority of the NBA players, over 90 percent are vaccinated. And they are 100 percent fine. And I feel like if you don't follow the rules, sports like NBA could be canceled again or we will have to force -- go to NBA bubble one more time and I know no players want that.

You know, NBA invests lots of money and time and help and you look at the players, they listen to the doctors about everything. Surgeries, diets, and, you know, injuries. But when it comes to vaccination, they should listen to them, for sure.

BERMAN: You say it is 90 percent or so vaccination rate among NBA players. You wish it were 100 percent?

KANTER: I wish. But I think we are getting there. More and more NBA players are getting educated and they're doing more research every day. And we are actually holding meetings in a locker room about it.

And I think, you know, just -- I feel like we should be led by examples because we have a huge following. And there are so many people out there that are idolizing us. We have to be community leaders and just go out there and say, listen, vaccination is a must and I feel like many NBA players use their platform to be big example.

BERMAN: Well, that's interesting that you say that because LeBron James who did say he got vaccinated, also said he's not going to use his platform to tell others because he feels it's a personal choice. What do you think about that?

KANTER: I would say this, everyone has a choice to make. But in this pandemic, our choice choices can hurt others.