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Gas Prices Skyrocket; Joel Rubin is Interviewed about Swastika of Syringes; Warmer Weather in Northeast; Breyer Pleads with Nation; Jennifer Jenkins is Interviewed about Threats Against Her over Masks. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 06:30   ET



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, there's very little he can do except to release more oil from our nation's oil reserve. The administration says it doesn't plan to do that. So until then, we are just going to have to ride out this wave of higher prices.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, that is not fun to hear.

All right, Vanessa, thank you for that report.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate and former NFL star Herschel Walker canceling a fundraiser after offensive images, anti-Semitic images, are found on the host's social media.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just a horrible killing spree. A man armed with a bow and arrow kills five people. What police are now saying about the suspect.


BERMAN: Georgia Republican Senate candidate and retired NFL running back Herschel Walker has canceled a fundraiser that was going to be hosted by one of his supporters, a film producer whose Twitter account featured a swastika that was shaped into an image used to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates.


Joining us now is Joel Rubin, he's the executive director of the American Jewish Congress.

You've seen that image. I'm sure you've seen it before, the swastika made up of syringes. It's just one of many images now that's being used by the anti-vaccine community to suggest somehow that this effort to vaccinate people is tantamount to what happened in Nazi, Germany.

Just broadly speaking, when you see images like that, what's your reaction? JOEL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN JEWISH CONGRESS: Well, John,

it makes my blood boil. This is not an anomaly. This is now part of a disturbing trend in our politics. We are seeing politicians normalize hate symbols, the use of hate language. They have supporters who are doing the same. And this use of the most abhorrent, disgusting, vile symbol in human history, the Nazi swastika, is not just beyond the pale, but it should be an embarrassment to all Americans who care about the future of our democracy.

BERMAN: Why do you think it's happening? I mean this isn't a one-off at this point. This is something that seems to be getting more pervasive among the anti -- parts of the anti-vaccine community.

RUBIN: Yes, John, you know, at the American Jewish Congress, we've been studying this in depth and issuing reports, researching what's happening online and social media and this confluence of hate symbols, hate language, anti-Semitic tropes and extremism in a way as a use for mobilizing political power. And so we see politicians leveraging this hate to grow their base, to grow their voting potential, to grow their fundraising. We see politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene raising money off of platforms like Gab (ph) that host symbols just like this that we have denounced repeatedly. We need politicians and leaders to stand up and speak out against it, not equivocate, not waffle, not wink and nod at their supporters, which is what's happening, which is why this continues to grow and it's now a disturbing trend.

BERMAN: Leveraging hate. People should think just about when that has happened in our world history before. Leveraging hate for their own political gains.

I want to read you the response from Herschel Walker's campaign, which did cancel this fundraiser that was going to be hosted by this person who posed that swastika image. The Walker campaign says, Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry in all forms. Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.

Is that enough?

RUBIN: No. That's mealy mouthed. That's giving a wink and a nod to those hate symbol users to continue their efforts.

We're seeing hate symbols against Jews across the country, at state level races, in Virginia recently with imagery of gold coins next to a Jewish candidate. We're seeing it with fundraisers where neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers like Nick Fuentes are headlined by Paul Gosar. So we need our leaders to speak up and speak out. If they don't do it, they are supporting this trend. And that can't happen in the United States.

I was just in Germany last week giving talks to Germans and with Germans about the rise of fascism and anti-Semitism and extremism. We need to speak out loudly and clearly. The Germans know this. They understand that this kind of hate festering leads to horrible outcomes for everybody. Certainly for the Jewish people. Certainly for what occurred in Europe in World War II. Hate needs to be tamped down and our politicians need to speak out clearly. That just wasn't enough.

BERMAN: Joel Rubin, I appreciate you being with us this morning.

RUBIN: Thanks, John.

KEILAR: Police say the suspect in a deadly bow and arrow attack in Norway had converted to Islam and may have become radicalized. Five people were killed in this attack. Overnight, the suspect was arrested and charged. Police had previously been in contact with him over concerns about radicalization, but that was before this year. The bow and arrow attack is the deadliest in Norway in a decade.

BERMAN: Professional thieves targeting drug stores in San Francisco, stealing thousands of dollars' worth of goods. What's behind this blatant ramp in crime spree?

KEILAR: Plus, a brand-new interview with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it irk you that you still get these kinds of questions from liberal Democrats, from the start they were asking whether you were going to be liberal enough, and from the -- and right here we are, after 27 years, there are expectations about whether you would want to retire to help out Joe Biden.


KEILAR: His response, next.



BERMAN: Halloween is just around the corner, but the northeast experiencing higher than normal temperatures. It feels like, I don't know, maybe Labor Day here, Chad, or Flag Day, although I don't know exactly when that is.

So, Chad, what's going on here with the warmer weather?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, 75 in Rochester in October. I mean, come on. That really is a July temperature. It's going to be very nice today. But things change on Saturday and certainly into Sunday.

This weather brought to you by Servpro, making fire and water damage like it never even happened.


So, what is happening? Well, the East Coast is warm on this side of the cold front. The West Coast is cold. Significant snow is out west the past couple of days. Even some of the interstates have been shut down because of the heavy snow out there. And that air is moving to the east. Not, not the snow, but the colder air will replace the warm air that's here. So another good day Friday, Saturday. Then all of a sudden, Saturday night thunderstorms, colder air coming in and then the west shifts. The west warms up and likely melts most of that snow.

Look where we go here. We go from 78 tomorrow, Friday, all the way to 63 on Sunday. So, yes, that is the cold front, John.

BERMAN: All right, we're watching it carefully. Thanks so much, Chad.

MYERS: You bet.

KEILAR: That means, Berman, you'll be mowing your lawn in a tank top, I think, this weekend.

BERMAN: Tube top.

KEILAR: I cannot unsee that.

All right, this morning, a brand-new wide-ranging interview with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer by our own Joan Biskupic. Justice Breyer responding to constant criticism of the nation's highest court and a commission that has been looking into potential reforms, including calls to increase the number of seats on the bench.


JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT: I've seen the court over 27 years. To try to explain a little bit of its history so that people understand that it's always been controversial and how difficult it is to get people to accept rules, the decisions that they think are really wrong. And yet, if they don't, we won't have a rule of law, and it will be harder to hold us together.

Before people make changes in the court, I would like them to read or otherwise understand what I've written and to think about it pretty deeply. And it is an institution. I'll just repeat this. It's an institution that, fallible though it is, over time has served this country pretty well.


KEILAR: And Joan is with us now to discuss her interview with the justice.

You know, it's interesting, this is an embattled institution. And he's sort of taking a different tack than some of the other justices. He very clearly has faith in it.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: He has faith in it. And he has stayed on message.

You know, Brianna, the reason he's been sitting for interviews is that he's been promoting a book about how the court is not a political institution. And it's a tough time to be promoting that kind of message given how deeply split they are and recent rulings and orders against the Biden administration policy and to let Texas enforce its near abortion ban for pregnancies after six weeks. So the court is right in the middle of a big storm right now.

And what Justice Breyer is saying is that it's always been controversial. Have faith. He certainly has faith. And he did not veer off of that.

I asked him a lot about proposals that are coming with the presidential commission. He warned again against court packing. He warned against any kind of efforts to see more about how the court processes work. He talked about the importance of being more private in the justices' conferences so that they would have confidence to discuss cases without fear of people knowing how they might have voted in private or their -- or their confidential exchanges. And he also resisted ideas about the justices being formally covered by an ethics code. Right now only lower court judges are covered by that.

And he had -- he had cautions on everything. And, you know, when I said, look at -- look at what's happening. I brought up January 6th. I brought up the continued controversy from, you know, the far right wing and Donald Trump over the election results. And he just brushed those aside and essentially said, things are good.

Now, he's been here 27 years. And he separates himself on that message from his fellow liberals. Like Justice Sotomayor who said -- warned, we're going to have some unfortunate, disappointing rulings coming up. A huge amount. He didn't want to go there. And he also didn't want to go where fellow liberal Elena Kagan has gone to criticize some of the justice's processes that she said, you know, seemed too hasty, are getting harder and harder to defend.

KEILAR: Justice Breyer sort of saying, actually, nothing to see here. It's incredibly interesting.

And, obviously, he's been facing a lot of pressure. Democrats are worried that if he doesn't step down because he is, you know, up in years. If he doesn't step down while President Biden has the ability of -- with the Senate to confirm another liberal justice, right, that he's facing a lot of pressure.

Let's listen to what he said when you asked about that.


BISKUPIC: Does it irk you that you still get these kind of questions from liberal Democrats. From the start they were asking whether you were going to be liberal enough.


And from the -- and right here we are, after 27 years, there are expectations about whether you would want to retire to help out Joe Biden.

BREYER: But does it irk me? I'll tell you. The truth I think is, there's always -- you know, you can always hope for your more mature self, which is there sometimes. And this is a country in which every day I see this in this document. But, number one, it's called freedom of speech. That means freedom of thought. Freedom of expression.

BISKUPIC: So you think, let them -- let them say what they want?

BREYER: Oh, I do believe that.

BISKUPIC: But are you really -- but you must be irked somehow. This must drive you nuts a little bit, right?

BREYER: If you can. I mean, please. Was that --

BISKUPIC: That -- I didn't mean to slip into an informal way of asking you a question, Justice Breyer, but I would think -- I would think --

BREYER: (INAUDIBLE) fine. I was thinking of Harry Truman, if it's too hot, get out of the kitchen or something like that.

It's far from the worst thing in the world to have people say mean things or nice things or this thing or that thing about you. And really, if you're not prepared, of course people will get upset about all kinds of things. That's why we have this First Amendment. We have it there so people will say things that you might not like and that I might not like. That's why it's there.


KEILAR: People say mean things. Whatever. That's me paraphrasing what he just said.

BISKUPIC: He -- you know, it's a -- yes. He is a tough person to interview, as you can tell, because he does stay pretty much with his message. And, you know, Democrats are so darn frustrated with him. The reason I referred to, you know, his 27-year tenure, I went back and found a clip from 1994 when President Clinton rolled out his nomination. And our own Wolf Blitzer even said on the air to justice -- to then, you know, Judge Breyer, about to be Justice Breyer, what do you say to people who wonder, couldn't the president maybe have gotten a stronger liberal, somebody who could come and take on Justice Scalia or the other conservatives? And, you know, he just smiled and said I'm a justice for all Americans. And that he's still saying that. And that strikes some people as being a little too idealized in these tumultuous times. But that's his story, and he's sticking to it and he's staying on the court.

KEILAR: Yes, he's definitely old school.

BISKUPIC: At least -- yes, and let me just say this for all the people who wonder when he'll go.

You know, look, he's in the middle of this term. He'll probably ride -- he'll -- I presume he'll ride it out until next spring, June, when they finish. But then, you know, I think -- I think there's probably a chance he leaves before the midterm elections. But right now he's giving no sign publicly of that.

KEILAR: Interesting.

Joan, thank you for talking with us about your interview.


KEILAR: Today is a critical day in the Capitol riot investigation. Will Trump's allies show up to testify?

BERMAN: Plus, we're going to be joined by a Florida school board members who has received violent threats for advocating masks.


JENNIFER JENKINS, EDUCATOR AND BOARD MEMBER, BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOLS: I reject them following me around in a car, following my car around. I reject them saying that they're coming for me, that they're -- that I need to beg for mercy.




KEILAR: A Florida school board member's comments going viral after she revealed the threats that she and her family have been experiencing for advocating for masks in schools.


JENNIFER JENKINS, EDUCATOR AND BOARD MEMBER, BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOLS: I don't reject people coming here and speaking their voice. They do it all the time. We don't -- we don't stop them from doing that. I don't reject them standing outside my home. I reject them following me around in a car, following my car around. I reject them saying that they're coming for me, that they're -- that I need to beg for mercy. I reject that when they are using their First Amendment rights on public property, they're also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors, that they're making false DCF claims to me against to my daughter that I have to take a DCF investigator to her playdate to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks. That's what I'm against.


KEILAR: All right, that is Jennifer Jenkins, who is with us now. She is an educator and a school board members for Brevard County Schools' Third District.

Jennifer, I get anxiety just listening to what you're going through. I mean that's child protective services being called on you when it shouldn't be by someone harassing you.

Who are these people harassing you and how often is this happening?

JENNIFER JENKINS, EDUCATOR AND BOARD MEMBER, BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOLS: To be honest with you, this has started over quite some time. I was elected to the school board almost a year ago and I would say about six months ago was when the first group of protesters came in front of my doorstep. The people who were involved in this are a minority of voices. The majority of voices here in Brevard County support me and I believe agree with the things that I agree with.

But, unfortunately, it doesn't take -- it just takes a minority to terrorize you and harass you. And when there are no consequences for that behavior, it just becomes normalized and accepted. And, to be honest, it didn't just start with masks. This came from these minority of people who have been on the losing side of the democratic process. The same process that they claim to support.

This entire organization here in Brevard County was started by the Republican incumbent that I defeated who could not accept her defeat and had started an organization that started to let her supporters know from day one their disdain for me and detain for the people and the ideas that I support.

KEILAR: Let's listen to one of these interactions that you've had to endure.


JENKINS: I don't (INAUDIBLE), sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not in -- I'm not in public office.

JENKINS: I don't care. I don't pretend to be someone I'm not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have -- you know the old saying, he who has nothing to lose is --

JENKINS: I don't pretend to be someone I am not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the one to fear, not someone like you.

JENKINS: You can --


KEILAR: And where is that? That's your house?

JENKINS: That is directly beside my daughter's bedroom on the streetside, on the sidewalk of my home.

KEILAR: OK, so that's -- I mean they're making your life hell. What is their goal, do you think?

JENKINS: You know, I don't -- I don't understand their goal, to be perfectly honest with you. I am not against people using their First Amendment rights. I'm not against them protesting on public property, which is the sidewalk.


However, I'm just against them terrorizing me and threatening me.