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Senate Republicans Allow Raising of Federal Government Debt Ceiling Until December, 2021; Republicans Downplay January 6th Insurrection as Senate Releases Report on Former President Trump's Efforts to Overturn 2020 Presidential Election. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 08, 2021 - 08:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman. On this NEW DAY, economic disaster averted, for now at least. Bipartisan senators striking a deal and raising the debt ceiling. So what has Joe Manchin upset at the leader of his own party?

And the Republican Party whitewashing the insurrection. One GOP candidate even celebrating January 6th as a kid friendly activity.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And just revealed, Brian Laundrie was being surveilled by police before he disappeared. So how did he slip away?

And we're just minutes away from the monthly jobs report. This is a big one that could tell us how badly the Delta variant stunted the recovery and how much longer until a full economic rebound.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, October 8th. And if there is one picture to sum up the state of Congress, it is this one, Democrat Joe Manchin head in hands listening incredulously, or maybe despairingly to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. A scene out of Washington's latest flirtation with economic calamity that, let's just call Mr. McConnell, or how I learned to stop worrying and embrace the debt ceiling.

Some of Senate Minority Leader McConnell's own Republicans accusing him here of caving to Democrats as he delivered the necessary GOP votes to raise the country's borrowing limit. Did he cave in so much as he decided to avert total economic disaster, the downgrading of America's credit rating, and the global ripple effects that would have left us all in a recession, maybe worse, at least until December? Then, yes, he did cave. He did though, what needed to be done, and he got 11 Republicans to join Democrats. So was he met with thanks from his Democratic counterpart? Definitely not.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans insisted they wanted a solution to the debt ceiling but said Democrats must raise it alone by going through a drawn-out, convoluted, and risky reconciliation process. That was simply unacceptable to my caucus. And yesterday Senate Republicans finally realized that their obstruction was not going to work.


BERMAN: So in case you missed it, that is Joe Manchin behind Leader Schumer shaking his head. Manchin agreed with a number of Republicans who thought Chuck Schumer's speech was mean.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was it not appropriate?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): I just think basically what we ought to do is find a pathway forward and make sure that we de-weaponize -- we have to de-weaponize. You can't be playing politics, none of us can, on both sides.


BERMAN: So on the one hand, no complete economic calamity for a few days or months, hopefully. On the other hand, some hurt feelings. Bottom line, they got it done, temporarily. So this either shows that getting stuff done is possible temporarily or that even doing the easy things can't be done without rancor, performative or otherwise.

KEILAR: Let's talk about this now with CNN's chief Washington correspondent and anchor of THE LEAD Jake Tapper. There is this perspective obviously, we see this from Schumer, Jake, why is this a thing anyway? This shouldn't be a thing, Republicans. But I wonder what you think about these events overnight.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think, it is good, obviously, that we are, as a nation, avoiding economic calamity and seriously harming our fellow Americans in the near term. But we're going to probably have to be at the same point at the end of November, beginning of December.

The larger issue here is that our government spends much more money than it takes in. And this has been a bipartisan affliction, bipartisan problem forever. There was a commission under Obama that Obama himself ultimately distanced himself from because the political decisions that people need to make, the politicians need to make in order to solve this problem, are difficult. After President Obama, then President Trump came in. He didn't even understand why then House Speaker Paul Ryan wanted to even do anything about the debt because the politics was so bad.

We have a system where the incentive structure is completely against politicians leading and making tough decisions. And whether or not we have this debate in October or November or December, the larger issue here, the fact that we spend as a nation more than $300 billion a year just on the interest on the debt, just on the interest, the vig, if we were taking this out from a loan shark.

[08:05:08] It's unsustainable, and it is a perfect example of bipartisan irresponsibility.

BERMAN: When you put it in mob terms, it does put it in perspective, Jake. So I appreciate that.

TAPPER: I figured that would hit you where you live.


BERMAN: Exactly. We said too much already.

Look, so Dick Durbin, Senate judiciary chair's committee, put out an interim report on its investigation into what the former president tried to get the Justice Department to do before the insurrection, nine times, basically trying to overthrow the election. Dick Durbin told me, I think he told you yesterday, too, Jake, basically we were half a step away from a constitutional crisis.

The other way of looking at that is we're still a half step away or even closer to a constitutional crisis because of how that day and that period is now being perceived or discussed or addressed in some circles. When you look at this now, Jake, what do you see?

TAPPER: I see that there is an anti-democracy movement that has taken -- that is led by Donald Trump. And you are either trying to preserve democracy in the United States or you're not, if you're in the news media or a politician. And what Chuck Grassley said, where he basically said, you know, I'm paraphrasing here, but it's like they talked about completely trying to stage a coup, but they didn't actually do it. So it is not a big deal. That's complicity.

And I remember Chuck Grassley 20 years ago, I remember when a bunch of whistleblowers gave Chuck Grassley an award because he was the kind of person, a conservative with real integrity when it came up to -- when it came to individuals standing up and doing the right thing. And I don't recognize this individual who would belittle this. And really, it's very clear. You're either standing up for democracy or you're standing against it.

And when Durbin talks about us being half a step away from a constitutional crisis, first of all, I disagree. I think we were in a constitutional crisis. It's just that we had about a dozen Republican officials who kept the guardrails up, at great risk to themselves professionally and personally, whether Governor Kemp and Secretary of State Raffensperger in Georgia, or the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, or Commissioner Al Schmidt in Philadelphia, or the Wayne County Canvassing Board in Michigan. There are a number of individuals, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, who stood up and did the right thing.

But you have different people in those jobs, or weaker people in those jobs, and you do have an election successfully overturned. And that is what Donald Trump tried to do as his own Justice Department officials told Durbin's committee. KEILAR: You mentioned Grassley and the idea that he was a man of

integrity, and perhaps when you see him now you don't have that same impression. It's a theme, though, Jake, that we have seen with a number of Republicans. And there is this line right now that we keep hearing from a number of them, including Mike Pence, that what's with this focus on January 6th? It's just critics of President Trump sort of overblowing one day. What's the effect of that?

TAPPER: Well, we see the effect is that, a, when Mike Pence himself is saying that those of us who are horrified by images of a crowd that literally had a gallows behind them, that the crowd was chanting "Hang Mike Pence," after being sent there by Donald Trump, who angrily was saying Mike Pence wasn't going to do the right thing, and we know now there actually was a memo, the Eastman memo, that gave this basically how to stage a coup instruction on how he could have objected to the electoral votes that had legally come in, the fact that Mike Pence is saying don't pay any attention to that, that's the media. Upset, yes, I'm upset that a crowd was chanting hang Mike Pence. I'm sorry if I care more about that than Mike Pence does. But I don't know what to say about it.

The effect is we now have a majority of Republican voters and Republican leaning independents according to polling that now falsely believes Donald Trump's election lies. And that is damaging because so many of our leaders these days are terrified of their voters, and instead of leading, as they were elected to do, they follow their own voters, and they say, oh, my voters believe these lies about the election, or the pandemic, or I don't know what's next.


I shutter to think what's next. Then you have a whole bunch of weak and cowardly leaders not only not standing up for the right thing, but overtly leading a charge for the wrong thing. And that is why, a, you have something like more than 200,000 Americans who have died from the virus even after the introduction of these lifesaving vaccines -- lifesaving vaccines, by the way, from Operation Warp Speed from President Trump, and you have all these Republicans seeking to -- all these Republican officials seeking to undermine democracy in preparation for 2024.

BERMAN: And that's what matters. Certainly, it matters to understand what happened, but it needs to be acknowledged to prevent it from happening again. We have the likes of Josh Mandel, a Republican running for Senate in Ohio, the current frontrunner there, celebrating January 6th, as Brianna said, and I laugh because I couldn't cry at the time, she said, Josh Mandel is basically saying January 6th is a kid friendly event. He said he met with an Ohioan, and he was happy to, and was thrilled that this Ohioan brought their kid to Washington for the January 6th event so they could see democracy at work. So it's being celebrated now. That's where it is going.

And so if it is being celebrated, it really is a permission structure for it all to happen again. In terms of what can be done about it, the January 6th committee has issued these subpoenas, and the former president told his people, we have them up on the screen, just to defy them. Don't turn the stuff over, don't testify. In reality, is there any consequence anymore to defying a congressional subpoena?

TAPPER: Well, it really depends on whether or not the Justice Department under Merrick Garland and Joe Biden want to take the next step. Being held in contempt of Congress is something that has -- it happens in this country. Politicians refuse to respond to subpoenas from Congress and they get held in contempt of Congress, and it doesn't really mean anything beyond that.

But beyond that, there are steps that the Justice Department could take if they wanted to theoretically attempt to charge any of these individuals with obstruction of justice or obstruction of Congress. There are -- there is a criminal path for this. That is the question as to whether or not the Biden administration wants to go down that path, and whether or not the committee, the bipartisan committee, wants to go down that path. I'm not sure that they are willing to do so.

But that is the question, John, because you hit on something very important, which is the lack of consequences in this country, the lack of serious consequences. I asked Durbin when he came on my show yesterday, you laid out this shocking report. Are there any laws that were broken in this? And he could not say or did not say. He said that wasn't for him to decide. So much of what the United States, our system of justice and our system of laws and governance, so much, we learned in the last five years, depends upon the honor system. And that only works if one has a sense of honor. We have a whole bunch of individuals, you can't shame somebody who is shameless, right? And that's why we have these news networks, quote-unquote news networks, that regularly tell lies about the election, or regularly engage in blatant racism. You can't shame the shameless.

So the idea that Steve Bannon is going to care about being held in contempt of Congress, if that's the only consequence, is laughable. I don't know what the solution is. And in fact, I asked Durbin several times, OK, there is a stunning report that your committee put out, the Democrats on your committee, because Republicans wouldn't join the report, but we see how close we came, and this isn't about the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. This isn't about voter I.D. This is about individuals if put in positions of power and behaving corruptly could overturn an election. That it's just that simple. You replace Brad Raffensperger with Congressman Jody Hice, who is running to replace him, who is a big election liar, who knows what he would have done? If Kevin McCarthy had been Speaker of the House on January 6th, who knows what he would have done?

So if you put people who have no sense of ethics or integrity in these positions of power, they can overturn an election. What can the rest of us do about it to prevent that from happening? And sadly, I did not hear an answer from Senator Durbin.

KEILAR: It's awful. It's awful that there is no answer to that.


KEILAR: Jake, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it. I will see you at 4:00 when you're on THE LEAD. That's when I make dinner and I eat it at 4:45 because I go to bed so early. You're like my dinner companion and I'll see you later.

TAPPER: Well, I will see you. I always consider myself to be speaking directly to you.

BERMAN: They say if you can reach one person, Jake, you happen to know that. It is Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, thank you. That's what I think as well.

TAPPER: Just so you know, tomorrow's Saturday, just so you know. You don't have to get up early. You should be okay.

KEILAR: Yeah. I'm programmed. I am programmed, right? Tell that to my children. Thank you, guys, so much.

Up next, police had eyes on Brian Laundrie before his disappearance, actually, we learned. How did they let him slip away?

BERMAN: And a critical jobs report about to be released. What it says about the economic recovery. We'll bring you those numbers the minute they come out.

And don't mess with Tesla. Why Elon Musk is saying good-bye to Silicon Valley and hello to Texas.


KEILAR: New this morning, CNN learned that Brian Laundrie was under surveillance before he disappeared and even though police had eyes on him, authorities never got a chance to speak with him.

CNN's Randi Kaye is live for us in Punta Gorda, Florida, with more.


Randi, what did you learn?


Well, as you know, Brian Laundrie returned home from that trip out west to north port, Florida, to his parent's house on September 1st. But police didn't really have him on their radar until around September 11th when Gabby Petito's family reported her missing. I was able to confirm that that is when police in North Port started surveilling Brian Laundrie but could only do what they could do legally because there hadn't been a crime committed yet.

You have to remember that. This was still just a missing persons case, there hadn't been a homicide, Gabby Petito's remains hadn't been found. There were legal limitations, but they did have eyes on him, but they never actually spoke to him. I confirmed that as well.

But the spokesperson for the North Port Police Department did tell me there was a huge effort, huge hustle by their department to try and figure this case out. And that no investigation is 100 percent perfect. He also was able to confirm to me that the authorities do not have Brian Laundrie's phone nor do they have Gabby Petito's phone. They know he bought a new phone in North Port, Florida, after returning home. That phone, the family's lawyer says, was left at home.

So that is in the hands of the FBI, but his original phone that he had on the trip out west and her phone, authorities do not have, but we did check with a former FBI agent who does tell us even if you don't have the physical phone, Brianna, you can get information off it, you can do some tracking, find some geographical information, figure out where text messages were sent from, where the phone was, and also even some Internet searches that Gabby Petito may have done which could turn out to be useful to investigators.

KEILAR: That is a fascinating with that development about the phones. I also wonder what you know, Randi, about the help that Brian Laundrie's father has given authorities.

KAYE: Yeah, this is really unique. He actually went into the Carlton Reserve, not far from the Laundrie home, that is where the family says Brian Laundrie went when he disappeared on September 13th. They are the only people that are directing authorities to that reserve. But yesterday Chris Laundrie, Brian's father, went into the reserve with law enforcement, he showed them according to the family's lawyer some of Brian's favorite spots that he would frequent in that reserve, also some of the trails that Chris Laundrie would hike with his son in that reserve. So they were certainly trying to use his father to help track the son if he is in there. But later in the day, the family lawyer released a statement saying that there were no discoveries and hopefully Brian will be located soon.

KEILAR: All right, Randi, thank you so much for the new reporting.

Coming up, why one hospital is refusing organ transplants to its unvaccinated patients.

BERMAN: Plus, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me live and I see now in person on where he thinks the pandemic is headed and if we finally turned a corner.



BERMAN: I'm happy to say there is good news to report on the COVID front. For first time in two months, the average of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is below 100,000. Hospitalizations are at their lowest point since the beginning of August, and dropping. And the average of new coronavirus deaths also continues to decline, although still way too high.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says the positive trends will all depend on human behavior, which she cautions has not served us well.

Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, Dr. Walensky says it is in our hands. It depends what we do where this pandemic goes.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been in our hands all along. I hesitate to bring up the fact there are countries that were diagnosed, had their first patients diagnosed in the same day as we did and had a very different trajectory.

But I think the indicators look positive, if you look at this just from an objective standpoint and people bring up the idea that, look, we're going into winter. That's when respiratory pathogens spread. That's true. But when it comes to pandemics, because you get so much widespread immunity, some from vaccines and some from the disease spreading, you get drop-offs around this time of year.

Look back at 2009, the big surge of that pandemic was right around this time. The numbers eventually dropped. And then they sort of stayed low after that. You can see that. That's far right of the screen.

BERMAN: Oh, wow.

GUPTA: Yeah, they came down, stayed down. 2018 -- 1918, 1919, that pandemic, you had a big surge around this time of year, John, but over the winter, it was actually pretty flat, you did get a surge again in February. And it was interesting, it was probably a remainder of the people who did have immunity but got the infections at that point.

I think it does bode well, historically, looking at other countries and seeing what is happening here, maybe we'll get a little bit of a reprieve. I'll tell you quickly, the flu, people talk about the flu, like what are we willing to accept is the answer in terms of when this pandemic ends.

Those are flu numbers, John. Up to 60,000 people die every year, millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. We don't shut down the economy for that, I think it is going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but I think when we start to see numbers like that is when we say, hey, look, we're going to declare this thing at least in the rear view mirror if not over.

BERMAN: I will say when things drop, it is a real opportunity as the numbers start go down, it is an opportunity to get your arms around it even more. So I hope people seize that moment and drive it down to those minuscule numbers, if we can. There is the university hospital in Colorado, which said they're not going to do organ transplants for unvaccinated patients.

GUPTA: Yeah.

BERMAN: What is to be made of this?

GUPTA: I don't think people should say this is a form of punishment for the unvaccinated. People said the idea of rationing care, triaging against unvaccinated, all that, I don't think that's what's happening here. Hospitals generally take care of everybody, no matter what. I know there has been a lot made of should people who are not vaccinated not get the same level of care. I haven't seen a single hospital system saying that.