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Pelosi Warns Democrats; Taliban Present More Tolerant Image; Number of Developments Across the Country. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And also for the career trajectory of winning, women are more likely to be taking on the schooling and the home and the work and they want to work from home. That could be great for them to hybrid, except their managers and human resources experts are worried what that means if you have them out of face time, out of the culture building, out of the contact building in the office. So that's a real concern.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Christine, Ann, thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, an urgent, new warning from Speaker Pelosi about the future of President Biden's agenda.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, former President Trump is the leader of the GOP, but do the majority of Republicans want him to run again? The answer may surprise you.


KEILAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging the Democratic caucus to hurry up and pass President Biden's legislative agenda amid slumping polling data.


In a letter sent to lawmakers last night, Pelosi wrote this, in order to pass both the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill on time, it is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon. Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from members is to do fewer things well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly address the climate crisis. A Build Back Better agenda for jobs and the planet For The Children.

Let's talk about this now with CNN political analyst and national political correspondent for "The New York Times," Jonathan Martin.

OK, this letter was to everyone --

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. KEILAR: But who is she really talking to here?

MARTIN: I think she's trying to send a message to progressives in her caucus that, look, we're not going to be able to do the full scope of what you want to do. This is not going to be a $3.5 trillion package, as was, you know, envisioned over the summer. And the reason for that is because you have a fairly broad and diverse party, and you've got two chambers of that party and you're not going to get a bill through the Senate at that price tag or at -- near that scope. So, let's narrow this thing down.

And also, this is important, let's make it more understandable for the average voter. If we're trying to sell this to voters in the midterms, this is what Democrats have done for you, let's keep it the old KISS, keep it simple stupid, right.

KEILAR: Uh-huh, keep it simple stupid.

Do fewer things well, she says.

MARTIN: Exactly.

KEILAR: Cuts are coming. What gets cut?

MARTIN: Well, this is where it's going to get dicey and could make this a very difficult fall and early winter for Democrats is, there's going to be real discord. For example, I think there's some movement in the House to want to sort of trim back the expansion of Medicare for dental and vision benefits. That has been a priority for Bernie Sanders in the Senate. So what does that look like? That's a big chunk of money that, you know, you could lose, but that's an important priority for a key senator. If you do just that, for example, that's going to create real discord between chambers.

KEILAR: Do you see progressives getting in line here?

MARTIN: Look, I think it's going to be difficult, but I think the cost of failure is so significant that it's hard to see how they don't pass something. But this is going to be the challenge. How far do you come down from the $3.5 trillion number? How much do you cut until you get to the point where the left says, you know what, we're willing to compromise here but what are we doing? This is too much.

KEILAR: Yes. This isn't going to make a difference that will help us. Even politically, they might say, it might not help the American people.

MARTIN: Given the promises made, exactly. Right?


OK, so this recent Pew research poll that you have been looking at I'm sure with considerable interest --


KEILAR: Shows 67 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents --

MARTIN: Right.

KEILAR: Think Donald Trump should remain a major political figure, but then 44 percent say they think he should run for president again.


KEILAR: What do you make of this?

MARTIN: It's fascinating. And I think it sort of makes clear that this is not a black and white issue for Republicans when it comes to Trump. That it's not, you know, Trump is our savior, MAGA forever, or Trump is the devil incarnate, let's hope he goes away.

There's a larger middle ground between those two views within the GOP. It's what I call kind of the gold watch electorate within the Republican Party, which is to say, they still like President Trump. They want him involved in the party in kind of like king-making capacity, they just don't want him to be their standard bearer again in 2024. That, to me, is the most fascinating slice of the party because if they do remain steadfast, then that could make it a much more competitive primary in '24 if Trump does (ph) run.

KEILAR: Except Trump has a say in this, right?

MARTIN: Sure does.

KEILAR: And we're very -- it's very clear where he is about how you thread the needle.

MARTIN: Right.

KEILAR: He doesn't want Republicans doing it.

MARTIN: Well, and this is the other thing, if you do have a primary -- a primary where Trump is in the race, you know, do the opponents carve out the vote? There's a precedent here, it was called 2016. Donald Trump never got 50 percent in those primaries in 2015. He was a plurality nominee. But, guess what, you can be a polarity nominee if you're running against a split field. And, again, that could help him in 2024. You don't need 51 percent. You don't have to have the majority. You can get the nomination with a plurality. And so that is key. But that poll does show us, this is a more complex party right now when it comes to Trump being the nominee going forward.

KEILAR: Yes, it is really fascinating.

Jonathan, wonderful to see you bright and early. Thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you.

KEILAR: The Taliban trying to present a less oppressive image on the world stage, but the reality on the ground paints a different story. CNN's latest report from inside Afghanistan, next. BERMAN: Plus, we'll take you inside a hospital in rural Missouri where

administrators are warning that a coronavirus vaccine mandate may hurt more than it helps.



BERMAN: The Taliban trying to present a new image to the world of life under their rule. More moderate, less oppressive. Still, stories persist of Afghans facing the Taliban's brand of swift and brutal justice.

CNN's Clarissa Ward just spent two weeks reporting from inside Afghanistan. She joins us now from Islamabad, in neighboring Pakistan, with her latest report, which I should note, Clarissa, contains some graphic video. But this is something people need to see.


We actually traveled to a city called Ghazni. It's just under 100 miles south of Kabul. And we spent some time with the much-feared, notorious, so-called vice and virtue police who have just started their patrols again.

Take a look.


WARD (voice over): This is the image the Taliban want to project. Friendly and pious, bringing peace and security.

On the streets of Ghazni City, Taliban official Malovi Mansour Afghan (ph) goes from shop to shop, talking to the owners.


He asks how the security situation is with the Taliban in charge.

The situation is good. Praise be to God, the man says.

It may well be a performance for our cameras, but it is telling. The Taliban wants to show they have changed.

WARD (on camera): When you're talking to the men and some of them don't have long beards, are you saying anything to them about their beards, or does it matter right now?

WARD (voice over): We tell the people that this is the Prophet Muhammad's sunnah (ph) and make them aware, he says, but we don't want to force the people to do this.

In another part of the market, the newly resurrected, much-feared religious police are also keen to show they are taking a lighter touch. They gather the shopkeepers to introduce themselves and warn them about the importance of following the sharia.

Make sure your women cover themselves, one Talib tells the crowd. They should not travel without a close male relative.

A man stands nearby, casually smoking a cigarette, a punishable offense under the previous Taliban regime, but no one says a thing.

Back at their headquarters at the ministry for the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice, the men are still settling in. Up until recently, this was the ministry for women. The man now in charge seems leery of my presence and refuses to meet my eye. He says their mission is to help Afghans embrace Islamic rule.

WARD (on camera): And what do you do if they're not following your interpretation of sharia law?

MAWLAVI ABDULLAH MOHAMMED, MINISTRY OF PROPAGATION OF VIRTUE AND PREVENTION OF VICE (through translator): We act with accordance to sharia law. Firstly, we inform people about good deeds. We preach to them and deliver the message to them in a nice way. The second time, we repeat it to them again. And the third time, we speak to them slightly harshly.

WARD (voice over): If his words sound like talking points, that's because they are. As we leave, he hands us a newly issued Taliban booklet outlining the group's gentler approach.

WARD (on camera): So he says that this book contains the rules for how they should carry out their work.

WARD (voice over): But old habits die hard. And back in Kabul, it's clear not everyone is following the new guidelines.

WARD (on camera): It's badly bruised.

WARD (voice over): In a secure location, Wahid (ph) shows us the ugly marks left behind after he says he was whipped by Taliban fighters. We changed his name for his protection. He tells us three fighters stopped him as a busy traffic circle for wearing western-style clothing. They took him into a guard hut and demanded to see his cell phone.

WAHID (through translator): I had photos in my phone related to gays. Also the clothes I was wearing were a gay style. They took me and covered my mouth. Two of them held each of my hands and the third hit me, first with a whip and then with a stick.

WARD (on camera): What reason did they give for doing this to you?

WAHID: When they were beating me, they kept saying that I was a gay, I should be killed. They had very scary faces. They were enjoying beating me.

WARD (voice over): That lurid brutality was on full display weeks earlier in the western city of Herat, when the bloodied bodies of four men were hung in public for all to see. The Taliban said they were kidnappers, killed during a raid. On one man's chest, a grim warning, abductors will be punished like this.

Remarkably, many in the crowd seemed to approve of the Taliban's medieval display.

People are really happy about this decision, this man said, because people believe that by doing this, kidnapping can be removed from this province.

In another grotesque display, two alleged criminals, their faces painted, were humiliated before a jeering crowd. Punishing the Taliban favors for petty thieves. After the corruption of the former government, the group has seized on a frenzied desire for swift justice. But they are savvy enough to know how it looks to the rest of the world.

Back in Ghazni, our attempts to see the justice system in action are repeatedly stonewalled. We're told that the sharia high court is closed, despite the people waiting outside.


WARD (on camera): We're trying to show that you have a judicial system.

WARD (voice over): As we try to persuade the Taliban to let us in, we see two men head into the court. Our Taliban minder relents and lets us follow them.

But in the courtroom, the judge makes it clear we are not welcome.

Tell them to stop, he says.

We are quickly ushered out.

WARD (on camera): We've been trying all day to get into the sharia court. They're not letting us. But they also won't give us a reason.

WARD (voice over): It may be that what happens behind closed doors here doesn't fit the Taliban's new, carefully cultivated image, and that the movement borne in conflict is still brutal at its core.


WARD: We spoke to a Taliban official privately who conceded that what happened in Herat shouldn't have happened, John, but really this illustrates the difficulty that the Taliban's leadership have at the moment because even if they issue these gentler edicts or directives, it can be very difficult for them to ensure that the rank and file on the ground and the different regional leaderships toe the party line. So that is part of the reason you're often seeing a disparity between what they say and what they do. And that's what the U.S., in those meetings over the weekend with the Taliban said, it's not enough to hear the words, we need to see the actions.

BERMAN: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain there. Quite a difference between what they're trying to say they're doing and what you are seeing on the ground there.

Clarissa, why is it so important for the Taliban to try so hard to change its image?

WARD: Well, I think a big part of it is that the Taliban understand right now they need the support of the international community. They need to be recognized by other countries. And more than anything else, they need those billions of dollars in aid which had been frozen to start flowing again.

This country -- or, sorry, Afghanistan is on the precipice of a major economic and humanitarian disaster if that money doesn't start flowing, salaries aren't being paid. But we're also talking about real hunger if that aid doesn't start moving soon.

And so the Taliban understands, this is an important moment to demonstrate that they're more pragmatic and more diplomatic. But then you have to ask yourself, John, why don't they do easy things, like allow girls to go to school again? They said that girls can't go to schools after 6th grade until they've set up the proper Islamic environment. That would seem to be an easy fix to show the international community that a leopard can change its spots.

BERMAN: Easy things and the right thing, it's worth noting as well.

Clarissa Ward, terrific reporting, as always. Thank you so much for being with us.

One of the highest profile coaches in the NFL stepping down after the league unearthed a number of racist, homophobic, masochistic emails. The breaking developments, coming up.

KEILAR: Plus, Netflix responded to the uproar over Dave Chappelle's controversial jokes and calls to pull his show.

And a hidden Picasso nude is revealed. See how it was brought to life.



KEILAR: All right, a 27-year-old Alabama man shot and killed on Saturday night in an argument over the Alabama-Texas A&M football game. This is according to police. The gunman and the victim were fighting over which team is better. A suspect has been identified but is not in custody.

CNN has reporters covering a number of other developments across the country.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH WRITER: I'm Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta.

Classes are canceled for a wellness day today at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The university's chancellor says that there is a mental health crisis, both on the school's campus and across the entire United States. And making his announcement about the university's wellness day, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz writes, quote, as a chancellor, a professor, and a parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed, end quote.

Now, several studies have found a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health challenges. One report from last year from the CDC finds that almost 41 percent of adults report mental health challenges stemming from the pandemic.


Netflix is standing by Dave Chappelle's comedy special, which debuted last week called "The Closer." It was criticized as transphobic by members of the LGBTQ community, advocates, artists, and even some of Netflix's own employees. But in an internal memo which leaked on Monday, Netflix's CEO, Ted Sarandos, said, quote, we don't allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe "The Closer" crosses the line.

CNN has not independently verified this email. But in the midst of this controversy, a source told CNN that Netflix has suspended three employees. One of these employees identifies as queer and trans and tweeted criticism of the special last week. But Netflix told CNN that the suspension had nothing to do with this employee's tweets.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPEAN EDITOR: I'm Nina dos Santos in London, where behind the walls of this gallery, a newly discovered Picasso is about to go on display this week. It depicts the figure of a crouching, nude woman which was found behind another painting that had been painted on top. The 1903 work, "The Blind Man's Meal." It was found using highly (INAUDIBLE) techniques like artificial intelligence, advanced imaging technology, as well as 3D printing.


And that offers exciting, new possibilities of examining other post- modern pieces.