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Nearly 10,000 John Deere Workers Go on Strike after Failing to Reach Contract Agreement; Former Staffers for Trump Administration Possibly Defying Subpoenas from House Committee Investigating January Insurrection; FDA to Again Examine Efficacy of Booster Shots for COVID-19 Vaccination; Nearly 40 Precent of TSA Workers Unvaccinated Ahead of Potentially Busy Travel Season. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 08:00   ET



SHAMS CHARANIA, SENIOR NBA INSIDER AT STADIUM AND THE ATHLETIC: And this is in mind a grander fight, but like you said, 96 percent of the NBA is vaccinated. There is a pocket of about 20 players that are unvaccinated and Kyrie Irving is the only player that is impacted, in his playing status is impacted.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shams Charania, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate your reporting.

CHARANIA: Thank you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking news, some 10,000 John Deere workers are on strike this morning. This comes after rank and file union members rejected a tentative six-year contract that had been worked out with the company by negotiators for the UAW. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is joining us with more. Vanessa?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, you said it, 10,000 workers on strike as of 12:00 a.m. this morning after the United Autoworkers Union and John Deere failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. And this is after 90 percent of workers voted down a contract that was actually reached on Sunday.

This is the largest private sector strike we have seen since the General Motors strike two years ago. And John Deere workers are not the only ones on strike. Kellogg workers on are strike right now. Hollywood production crews threatening to strike on Monday. And healthcare workers from Kaiser Permanente also threatening to go on strike.

So this is what we're seeing now. The power of the American worker, they feel like with labor shortages and companies like John Deere posting these record profits, they have a true seat at the bargaining table. And it's important to note that that is putting companies on the run because without a workforce, Brianna, they can't make money. They'll actually be losing money. So the American worker right now, these John Deere workers really feeling like they have nothing to lose as they are on strike this morning, 10,000 of them across the country. Brianna? KEILAR: They certainly feel like they have leverage. Vanessa

Yurkevich, thank you for that report.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October 14th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. Countdown to showdown -- will the witnesses show, and what happens if they don't? This is a pivotal day in the investigation of the Capitol insurrection. We are about to find out how the January 6th select committee plans to handle Donald Trump's former aides if, and frankly when, they defy subpoenas.

Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, they have been called for today. They're supposed to show up today. Bannon's lawyer confirms overnight that his client will not comply. Trump has been urging his aides to ignore the committee's subpoenas.

KEILAR: A new subpoena has just been issued for ex Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Jeffrey Clark is the one who drafted that letter that falsely claimed there were voting irregularities that had been discovered in Georgia. Clark was trying to get former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen to sign that letter. Rosen actually met with the January 6th select committee for eight hours yesterday.

Trump really running out of time here as he tries to block the release of documents from the National Archives. So let's see where we are on all of this with CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild and CNN legal analyst Norman Eisen. He was a House Judiciary special counsel in Donald Trump's first impeachment trial.

OK, Whitney, let's talk about the subpoenas, who is complying and who isn't here.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, of a list of basically rally organizers, we know a minimum of five of them are actively giving over to the committee the documents that they're looking for. So these are people who would have been at the very nucleus of the rally that preceded the riot. What we know now is that other people of these Trump allies are engaging with the committee, although it's unclear what engagement means. So that's where we're going to find out a lot more about today.

We know, again, Steve Bannon, not going to comply. There is still a big question mark over Kash Patel, because we know that he's been engaging with the committee, we just don't know what the result is going to be with his deposition. So that's the big question. This week will be extremely telling. And really the committee is going to have a moment where they're going to have to decide how hard they're going to go here, and they've made it very clear that they're willing to explore every option available to them, and that will include criminal contempt, and they're willing to do it very, very quickly.

KEILAR: We'll talk about the timeline in just a second, because I think everyone wants to know about that. But, first, let's just talk, Norm, about the reason that Steve Bannon's lawyers are giving for why he will not participate. They say "Until such a time as you reach an agreement with President Trump or receive a court ruling as to the extent, scope, and application of the executive privilege, in order to preserve the claim of executive and other privileges, Mr. Bannon will not be producing documents or testifying. As noted previously Mr. Bannon will revisit his position if President Trump's position changes or if a court rules on this matter."


He's acting basically like President Trump is still president, right? This has no -- this has no standing.

NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Brianna, good morning. That's right. This letter that Bannon's lawyer wrote to the committee keeps talking about the president, the president, the president. They actually quote a case that I helped litigate when I was impeachment co-counsel that says the president can prevent an aide from testifying based on executive privilege. But Donald Trump is not the president. In the United States, we only have one president at a time. That president is Joe Biden, and Joe Biden has not authorized Steve Bannon not to testify. Quite the opposite, the Biden White House is opening the floodgates of information, saying that they will not exert executive privilege over both some of the witnesses and some of the documents.

KEILAR: Executive privilege cannot be used to cover up wrongdoing, right?

EISEN: It can't be used as a -- no privileges can be used to advance crime. It's known as the crime fraud exception. What could be a bigger fraud than the big lie that the election was stolen? And there is other absurdities in this letter. Bannon's lawyer says that executive privilege applies to a conversation, conversations Bannon had with Trump years after Bannon left the government. The letter says that the attorney-client privilege applies, but Bannon's not a lawyer.

So these kind of make weight arguments, they worked when Trump was in the White House because Bill Barr was not going to prosecute criminal contempt. They're not going to work now.

KEILAR: So what does that look like, the prosecution of criminal contempt? Clearly Congress, Democrats mostly, relying on the Justice Department to precede with this. What do we know about this?

WILD: Well, there is a procedure put in place to put this question to the Justice Department, so this will begin with the House Committee then. Then eventually, the assumption is it is going to move over to the Justice Department, which puts Merrick Garland in a very difficult position because Merrick Garland has made very clear he does in the want to get -- wade into politics. And this is an extremely political moment for the Justice Department, extremely political moment for someone who is a former appellate judge, so methodical, thoughtful. So it is a difficult question, but there is a procedure in place, and we'll see how -- to what degree Merrick Garland is going to follow the procedure. And that's I think still a question mark, but it is a very real possibility. KEILAR: It's one thing to not get involved, but at a certain point

there is a nexus of not doing your job, right, where we're going to see where that line certainly is. Norm, Whitney, thank you so much to both of you.

BERMAN: So today and tomorrow a panel of FDA advisers will look again at COVID-19 booster shots. A new study shows some people might be better off getting another vaccine than their original shot. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with that. Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. So these FDA advisers, these are external advisers, mostly folks who are scientists at universities, are meeting to look at the data behind the Moderna booster. Should folks who got a Moderna booster -- a shot, rather, back in the fall of the -- back in the winter or the spring, more than six months ago, should they be getting a booster?

So let's take a look at the basic questions that these FDA advisers are going to be looking at. They -- the company is saying they want to do a half dose booster. They say you don't need a full dose six months later, and it helps them spread out the vaccine to more places around the world. Six months after your second shot, but you also have to be over age 65 or have a certain health condition or live or work in a certain risky situation, for example, be a healthcare worker.

Now, my sources are telling me that the discussion around Moderna is likely to be quite similar to the discussion around Pfizer last month. Of course, we know now that Pfizer boosters are available for many, many people. So I'm told this discussion will likely be very similar, but the one about Johnson & Johnson boosters that will happen tomorrow, I'm told that's a little bit trickier. John?

BERMAN: Watching it very closely, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: So 40 percent of TSA agents remain unvaccinated. But the deadline to get the shot, it's just days before the busiest travel time of the year.

KEILAR: And a mother confronts her school board about COVID misinformation just one day after burying her 10-year-old daughter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sitting next to my healthy daughter's death bed. She died five days after showing symptoms.



KEILAR: That mother and her heartbreaking story, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: The TSA says 40 percent of its workforce is still unvaccinated against coronavirus as the deadline looms, 40 percent. Civil federal government employees must be fully vaccinated by November 22nd. That is the Monday before Thanksgiving, which, of course, is one of the busiest travel times of the year. So what is going to happen here? CNN's Kristen Holmes with us now. That is a huge number, Kristen.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it is an insane number. And that November 22nd deadline that you mentioned, that is to be fully vaccinated. So that means if you were to get something like the Pfizer vaccine, you have to get that first dose by this Monday, and there is no indication at this point that employees are doing that.

So it's really no surprise that TSA is coming up with some contingency plans here. We heard from a TSA administrator who told CNN this exclusively, they said "about 60 percent of our workforce has been vaccinated. That number needs to go quite a bit higher in the next few weeks. We're building contingency plans if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that."

This is a big deal for two reasons. One, it could be a huge issue for travelers. As you mentioned, this is one of the busiest travel days of the year. And as we have seen in a pattern the last several weeks and months, this is going to likely be even busier than normal. People didn't get to see their family last year.


They didn't get to celebrate. A lot of people are vaccinated and they actually want to travel. They want to be able to celebrate this holiday season. So that could be a huge issue if we're going to see staffing shortages.

The other thing that we're noticing here is this is really the first set of numbers that we have seen from a government agency on what Biden's vaccine mandate might look like. And this could be an indication of some problems for the administration moving forward, if you're looking at an agency that 40 percent of people are unvaccinated, what does that mean across the federal government?

So this is the first set of numbers we're seeing. Not sure if it is going to apply to every government agency, but it is certainly a red flag when you talk about the vaccine mandate, which is set to go in place on November 22nd.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You see the problem from here, going into the holidays.

All right, Kristen, thank you for that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An emotional message from a Virginia mother who just buried her 10-year-old daughter on Sunday.


NICOLE SPERRY, LOST 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO COVID-19: COVID is not over. No matter what people who have been standing up here have said. I was sitting next to my healthy daughter's death bed. She died five days after showing symptoms.


BERMAN: Teresa Sperry was a healthy young girl, her mother says, before getting COVID. Teresa died on the September 27th, the same day there was a school board meeting in her town where they advocated for the removal of the mask mandate, insisting the pandemic is over.

Joining me now is Teresa Sperry's mother, Nicole.

Nicole, thank you for being with us.

I am so sorry for your loss. It has been just a little over two weeks since Teresa passed away.

Where do you find the strength to speak out like you are?

SPERRY: It's -- it's mostly from her. You know, she -- we did everything we could to protect people, and she's not here anymore. And I feel like I have to fight for her to make sure people know that this is still going on.

BERMAN: The day that she left you, there was a school board meeting to remove the mask mandate in your area, where people were saying COVID is over. What was it like for you to hear that?

SPERRY: I was enraged. I'm sitting next to her, you know, and wishing she was going to just wake up and I was, like, if this was over, then I wouldn't be sitting in the ICU room looking at her and just -- I was lost at that moment. And I was enraged because people were still saying this. And it was -- I was -- I was enraged when I heard it. And that's when I knew I wanted to speak at the school board meeting.

BERMAN: We have been putting pictures of Theresa up on the screen, so beautiful, and so vivacious. There was -- there is a mask requirement in the school still. You say Theresa was a healthy girl. I mean, how -- do you know how she got it and how it all happened so quickly?

SPERRY: We don't know exactly. You know, we know that she was the school nurse for her classroom. We know nobody here in our household had gotten -- was sick before she was. The two friends that she played with quite frequently, they weren't sick beforehand.

We tried to limit any time at any other places except school. So we would assume it is at school, but we can't say exactly for sure it was at school.

BERMAN: And what is your message to other parents out there, across the country, and maybe in this community who are tired, fed up dealing with COVID right now and just want it to be over? SPERRY: I want it to be over too. Like I said in the school board

meeting, it's very hard to teach phonics to third graders, but we still do it because we want to protect other people. Wearing a mask is just a simple gesture of compassion to say I'm protecting others who may not be as healthy. We have a decent tribe of friends and a lot of them have health issues that, you know, chemo or rare genetic diseases and things like that, that if they get COVID, they would die.


And it's just about compassion and caring for others. A simple mask, vaccinate if you can.

BERMAN: I want you to tell me about Theresa, and I understand you have a poem that her father Jeff wrote about her.

SPERRY: Yeah. He wrote it while he was in quarantine himself, and it says: My heart is broken, like a million pieces of glass, what once was so full is empty so fast. I miss my princess, the most loving person I know. I can't hear her laugh anymore, I can't watch her grow.

She would have been beautiful, just like her mom. I see her dance in my heart, but I won't see her go to prom. She is so kind to her friends, always takes care of those around her. I won't see her babies, she would have been a beautiful -- a wonderful mother.

I can't find the end to this, I'm hurting too bad. With this hole in my heart, I'm not but sad. Forever my princess.

She was a friend to everybody. She would stop if we -- even before COVID, and we would be going to the stores, she would stop and compliment random people on their shoes or their shirt or their hair. Even during COVID, if we took her to the store with us, she would still compliment people, you know, especially if it I was cute designed mask. I like your mask, it is really cute.

You know, she always had a smile for everyone. She always was there to help everybody. It's -- the world is definitely missing out on a great person. She was -- she was my mini me. She was my diva. And she's not here anymore.

BERMAN: May her memory be a blessing. Forever your princess.


BERMAN: Nicole Sperry, thank you very much.

SPERRY: Thank you.

BERMAN: We're back in a moment.



BERMAN: All right. Breaking news in the standoff between the January 6th committee and former Trump allies defying the subpoenas issued in the investigation.

Today, two of them were supposed to show up for their depositions. Steve Bannon had already rejected that. And just moments ago, we learned that Kash Patel, the former defense official, he is not expected to appear today before the House committee. We are told he's still engaging with the committee, so what does that mean? More on this ahead.

KEILAR: The shipping bottleneck overwhelming ports on both coasts. At the port of Savannah in Georgia, there are 80,000 containers piled up there on the docks and ships are waiting. They're waiting now up to a week just to get a slot to drop off their shipping loads.

And so, let's go there live now, bring in CNN's Amara Walker.

The backlog is just tremendous, Amara.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is tremendous, Brianna. In fact, I can tell you when daylight came up and my producer and I arrived here this morning, the scene was just staggering.

Just look here behind me, at this mountain of shipping containers here at the port of Savannah, just piled high, as you can see, at this terminal. We're told about 70 to 80,000 of these steel boxes are stacked up here and they have been here for days.

This is a 50 percent increase in the number of shipping containers that the port of Savannah typically sees. Why are we seeing such a backlog right here on land? Well, I'm told that much of this has to do with the retailers who are not picking up their goods. Of course, this also highlights of course, this also highlights the fact that there is a shortage of truck drivers that we're seeing play out across the country.

But we're told on average these shipping containers will sit at the terminal for about four to five days, while it is not normal days. So, the average is now about 12 days.

And I also spoke with a ship communications director, he tells me there are hundreds of these shipping containers sitting here at this terminal beyond this 12-day average for several weeks now. What they're doing is getting on the phone, calling the retailers and saying, hey, your freight is still here, when are you going to come and pick it up.

They do stress to me, the Georgia Port Authority, there are no operational issues, things are actually moving smoothly even though they may be feeling more overwhelmed than usual.

So, a major backlog here on land, right? That's the scene. But out at sea, we're talking about a major traffic jam where the rush hour is lasting for days. So, we're told that there are about 20 cargo ships in the queue and most of them are waiting for up to about five days to just drop off their goods.

So, to alleviate some of the mess or the congestion, I should say, that we're seeing here on land, we're told that the Georgia Port Authority is in talks right now with the federal government to identify some pop-up storage facilities where they can move some of the cargo to inland storage facilities.

The last thing I want to mention, a lot of people are wondering, what does this mean for me? Am I going to get my Christmas gifts or holiday gifts on time? The Georgia Port Authority said they spoke or pulled some of the retailers they worked with, and they're feeling cautiously optimistic. Take it for what it's worth.

Back to you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Cautiously optimistic, so many products being affected by this bottleneck that is, you know, it is where it is coming and where it is going. So, this is a big deal.

Amara, thank you, live for us from Savannah.