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New Day

Today, January 6th Panel Votes on Bannon Contempt Charges; FDA to Allow Mix and Match Approach for COVID Booster Shots; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Say They're Talking after Feud Erupts in Public. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 07:00   ET


GRANT RIVERA, SUPERINTENDENT, MARIETTA CITY SCHOOLS: -- and the lack of disruption to families at the 11th hour.


Test-to-stay allows us to say the families if your child is asymptomatic, like we can test and bring them back to school.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: So, Brianna, that's kind of been the consensus I've been hearing from superintendents. But just to note, the superintendents I spoke with in Kentucky and Illinois say that they require masks, and that's been very helpful in the success of the program.

In Marietta, Georgia, just over the weekend, they changed the test policy to optional. So it will be interesting to see how that might impact the program there. And, again, the CDC says it's still evaluating this. The agency says, quote, there is no update at this time when or if CDC will put out test to stay guidance, as we're evaluating the effectiveness of this strategy. This process is ongoing. Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: All right. We'll keep an eye on that. Jacqueline, thank you.

And New Day continues now.

I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman on this New Day.

It is a critical day for the January 6th investigation, the committee threatening action against anyone who defies their subpoenas, and the Biden White House rejecting Donald Trump's efforts to keep documents under seal.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Plus, Democrats possibly inching closer to a compromise, as we head into a key day for President Biden's domestic agenda.

KEILAR: And the reluctant warrior, in his own words, what Colin Powell told Bob Woodward about his health just months before his death.

BERMAN: And truth, justice, and controversy, why Superman's iconic motto is getting a rebrand.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Tuesday, October 19th.

And later today, the January 6th committee decides whether long-time Trump ally Steve Bannon gets referred to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt. Bannon is citing executive privilege for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena. But the White House, the Biden White House, is not buying that argument. CNN has obtained a letter from the White House deputy counsel, and it states that the Biden administration will not support any attempt by Bannon to refuse cooperation.

BERMAN: Last night, Donald Trump did what he usually does when he's in a tight spot. He sued. He sued the January 6th committee and National Archives in a bid to keep documents secret. The committee says Trump is just trying to stall. The White House is taking it one step further, accusing Trump of abusing the office of the presidency and attempting to subvert a peaceful transfer of power.

Now, the National Archives is scheduled to turn over documents early next month unless the courts intervene.

I want to bring in CNN Correspondent and Early Start Anchor Laura Jarrett. Laura, a big day. What can we expect?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: John, a big day indeed. Later today, the January 6th committee will finally get to flex its muscle and send a message to witnesses who try to defy congressional subpoenas. Lawmakers are tackling perhaps their easiest witness first, Steve Bannon, the one-time chief strategist to former President Trump, someone who arguably has the weakest case for asserting executive privilege here.

Last night, the panel released a new report making their case about why Bannon should be held in criminal contempt of Congress for flouting both their document and an interview requests, and revealing for the first time the full scope of their subpoena. So, at today's meeting, lawmakers will first vote on adopting the report out of committee. And if it is adopted, it is then referred to the full House. The full House will then have to vote, and if it succeeds, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will then certify the report to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. That's what then triggers prosecutors to bring the case to a grand jury.

But the Justice Department will make its own decision about whether or not to bring charges here, which means the attorney general, Merrick Garland, could intervene if he wants to. Now, historically, most people don't actually go to trial after their cases are referred to DOJ. And even if Steve Bannon is ultimately charged here, any prosecution could take a while and he could obviously appeal. So there is a long road ahead here. BERMAN: So, Laura, separate from this very connected, former President Trump last night, he sued the January 6th committee and the National Archives to try to keep the records from his presidency a secret, these records that they have specifically requested. So, what is going on here?

JARRETT: Right. So, this fight is all about what the former president was doing and saying leading up to the riot on January 6th. The problem for him is he isn't president anymore and he doesn't have the records that he wants to keep secret. They live in the National Archives. And the man who is president, President Biden, is standing by his decision not to assert executive privilege over these materials.


In a new statement late last night, noticeably more forceful in tone here, the White House calls Trump's actions are, quote, a unique and existential threat to our democracy, adding that the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.

So, a much stronger statement there from the White House, but that, of course, isn't stopping Trump. His lawyers are trying to argue that the House requests are too broad, quote, untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose, and that he should have the ability to keep his discussions as president private. Remember, we're talking about calendars, call logs, tweets and other communications during the run- up to the riots on January 6th.

Now, the select committee says that they're going to fight this lawsuit, noting that it is harder to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers to in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Bottom line here, John, the National Archives have said that unless a court steps in, they're going to release these documents by November 12th. So, Trump doesn't have much time to bring this train to a stop.

BERMAN: Time is running out. And very interesting, the White House, current White House weighed in as forcefully as it did, accusing the former president of abusing his power that has moral weight but potentially also legal weight, because the president's executive privilege doesn't cover potential criminal activity.

JARRETT: That's right.

BERMAN: Laura, thank you so much for that.

KEILAR: Let's talk about this now with CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. She is a former federal prosecutor. And it is just -- it's so interesting to hear the White House responding that essentially Donald Trump abused his power and they're not going to assert executive privilege. I don't know, Laura, if that's unusual, or if what is more unusual is Donald Trump's legal strategy here. LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the strategy, what strategy? The idea of just trying to throw something at the wall to prevent what you no longer have? I mean, he also can't veto legislation any longer. He is also not the commander in chief any longer. He is no longer the president of the United States. Those privileges now belong with the executive branch.

But what is curious here is, remember, the executive privilege is about protecting, frankly, the presidency, not just the president, who is the incumbent. And they often have a forward-thinking approach about it because you want to be able to have communications that are meant to advise the president or aid in his or eventually her perhaps deliberation. You want to be able to have the forthright, candid conversation that privilege actually protects.

But, here, you don't have people, like Bannon, for example, who were involved in advisory positions in an official capacity. You don't have instances where you're just talking about a communication, as Laura Jarrett talked about. You're talking about call logs and different records that might actually address the presence of communication without the underlying substance of it.

And so you've got someone like former President Trump who is attempting to still retain the powers that he lost when he lost the election. And the incumbent, realizing that in the overall grand scheme of things, there is a greater public interest in transparency than shielding what may have encouraged the actual insurrection.

KEILAR: What do you think, David? It seems like this is sort of just about trying to squirrel his way out of accountability.


KEILAR: It is not like actually a real legal approach.

GREGORY: Well, first of all, he'll find lawyers to make any argument once he has to fire some or others get disbarred. So, anyone who will bring a claim for him, he'll rely on, and that's what's happening here. I mean, the legal strategy is what it is. It's made up because of what the president is.

What's going on here is that the president is trying to hide what he said, what he did, and what he wrote in the period around January 6th, and for good reason. Look, he lost the presidency after one term. They lost Congress as a result of his leadership. He may want to run again. He's gotten into enough trouble with even his voters around January 6th. I mean, yes, there's a hard core, you know, loud group of people who will still support him, but he has alienated a lot of people. But he's alienated a lot of people. And the more that's known about an effort to undermine our democracy, to undermine a free and fair election from getting validated, the worse it looks for him. I mean, so it's very obvious that he wants to hide from that.

And I think an additional legal point is that the courts have an interest in clarity, institutional clarity around this. They want to resolve questions when there is an assault on our democracy and a free and fair election. They want it to make sure that's clear. And so there is some novelty of the idea of can a former president assert privilege when the Supreme Court is held that, no, only the current president has the ability to determine if something is worth shielding.

The White House saying here, the current White House, to be clear, no, we're not going to assert executive privilege. Donald Trump abused his power. It would be weird if the White House didn't say that.


GREGORY: Right. Because this is also, I mean, a defense of a free and fair election, a defense of our democratic system. This was so beyond the pale. And the fact -- I mean, Trump is doing what he does, which is to attack the committee, which is a bipartisan committee that has Republicans and that has to have the importance, the political importance, because if we can't get to the bottom of what happened January 6th, then Congress is useless.

We don't have an ability for one branch to investigate the other. This was an abuse of power just based on everything we know now. Based on what the president said out loud in front of God and everybody. So once you have added layers of conversations he was having, it will become even clearer. And, again, we have plenty of clarity already.

KEILAR: It makes you wonder, Laura, if the system is at all prepared to deal with a vexatious litigant, like Donald Trump, or someone who is intransigent, like Steve Bannon and other aides who are refusing to comply. What happens with this contempt vote? I mean, is Bannon actually looking at any consequences here?

COATES: Well, he should be. Remember, I know that oftentimes he will think of baseball as America's favorite pastime, but it is actually litigation. But Congress is not prepared normally for people to thumb their nose. I mean, the last couple years they have been. But the idea of having a criminal referral to the Department of Justice, remember, if there was an everyday person outside the purview of a congressional select committee, you have a squad car go pick up the person you've subpoenaed. And you have them appear and actually testify. And a bold assertion of privilege is not going to be enough to shield their responsibility to comply with the subpoena.

And, remember, everyone keeps talking about executive privilege as if talking about Trump and Bannon as if you just get to have a get out of subpoena free card. If you have a valid assertion of privilege, you've got to prove it. And even then, you still have to show up and answer all of the questions that are not responsive or touch upon those areas of privilege. And so you've got a very high bar here for someone like Bannon or when the Supreme Court has already said, although that a prior president could have some claim of privilege, they still have to prove it and there is still a lot of constraints on the ability to be able to assert it.

There's a whole host of things that needs to be proven. Most importantly, of course, as Laura Jarrett pointed out, the Department of Justice still has to actually make an independent decision. And if a grand jury does indict, you still have to go through a trial, which is the moment in time when the lawyers for the person who has thumbed their nose can begin to try to provide an opportunity to avoid trial and present actual testimony.

And, again, Steve Bannon has been quite vocal up until now, up until getting that subpoena, about his views. He has made public many of what he has alluded to the conversations being. If that's the case, he's already lost any privilege by already publicizing whatever it is he has to say. So we have got perhaps a protracted litigation but not one that should result in any way with Steve Bannon being able to thumb his nose at a congressional subpoena or a former president being able to say, I still want to be in the Oval Office, even though I'm not and the election was fair.

GREGORY: Just remember, timing is important too, right? If we get to the point where this all gets tied up in litigation, you have the midterm election. Politically, part of the problem is there is not enough Republican support at the leadership level if they take over to keep the committee going. And that'll be a sad reality.

KEILAR: Enough support? Is there any?


KEILAR: I want to ask your opinion, David, about this DOJ filing that speaks not only to the importance of looking back and holding people to account for their activities on January 6th but why it is important for the future. Part of this says the risk of future violence is fueled by a segment of the population that seems intent on lionizing the January 6th rioters and treating them as political prisoners, heroes or martyrs instead of what they are, criminals, many of whom committed extremely serious crimes of violence.

GREGORY: Yes. Well, I think it is such an important political statement about making sure that people realize what happened on January 6th is not the end. And it could be tame in comparison. We don't know what 2024 looks like. We don't know, now that these forces have been unleashed and with a demagogic leader like Trump, if he is involved again, you know, what could be whipped up.

There's a lot of connective tissue through social media. We've seen this in our history where, you know, people who are determined to use violence and ideological ends, you know, can band together. But now it's even easier to do that.

So I think there is no question, this is an important moment, which is why the fact that our political leadership is not really committed shoulder to shoulder to say, this cannot stand, is what is so disturbing for our democracy right now and our -- because we don't have a political system that is strong enough and committed enough to protect our institutions.


That's a sad state. Voters can have something to do with this by speaking loudly about it. KEILAR: Yes. Look, the divisions in the country, do they have any interest in that? That's a big question. David, Laura, thank you so much.

GREGORY: Thank you.

BERMAN: New reports that the FDA is planning to authorize a mix and match approach for Americans seeking coronavirus booster shots. This would allow people to get a different brand of booster from the vaccine they initially received.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. This has been one of the questions people asked for some time, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. People have wondered, well, if I got Moderna first months ago, can I now get a booster with Pfizer, if that's what is available near me? Or if I got Pfizer, can I get Moderna? Or if I got Johnson & Johnson, could I get either of the other two? So, The New York Times is reporting that it is expected that the new rule is going to be get whatever. Boost with whatever. Whatever you got originally, you can get any of the three as a booster.

Now, let's take a look at the study that started this off. This was the study that was announced at an FDA vaccine adviser's meeting last week. What it found, it looked at 458 study participants, and they found that Pfizer and Moderna recipients did well with any booster. It didn't really matter what booster you use.

Interestingly, Johnson & Johnson recipients, in other words, folks who got Johnson & Johnson months ago, they got a better antibody response if you used a Pfizer or Moderna booster instead of a Johnson & Johnson booster. So, the results of the study are sort of supplemented with what infectious disease experts tell me that it just sort of makes sense. It makes sense that it doesn't matter what you got months ago, that any of the companies' boosters will work.

Now, when you get a booster will depend on what type of shot you got in the beginning. Pfizer, it is after six months and only for certain people at high risk of COVID complications. Moderna looks like it'll be the same. For Johnson & Johnson, it looks like it's going -- the instructions will be to get a booster two months after you got your Johnson & Johnson shot. And that's for everyone. It doesn't matter who you are. Two months after Johnson & Johnson, get a booster no matter who you are. John?

BERMAN: This is why I think all of this is of particular interest for those 16 million people or so who did get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

So, Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin putting on a show of unity for the cameras, look at that, arm in arm. But what happened behind closed doors? And what are key progressives hearing about possible progress? Two key Democrats join us.

KEILAR: Plus, standoffs mounting between law enforcement and vaccine enforcement in several of America's major cities.

And the gang that kidnapped 16 American missionaries, 1 Canadian missionary, has made its demands. Hear what they are.



BERMAN: A key meeting last night as talks over President Biden's sweeping economic agenda reach a critical point, progressive Bernie Sanders and moderate Joe Manchin appearing with their arms around each other outside the Capitol.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We're talking.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): All right, we're talking.


BERMAN: Looks like all peace and harmony. Now, Manchin, earlier in the day, responded to Sanders' claim that he's getting in the way.



MANCHIN: No, no, there's 52 senators who don't agree, okay? And there's two that want to work something out, if possible, in the most rational, reasonable way. That's all.


BERMAN: Today, the president is bringing over two groups of House Democrats to the White House, meeting separately with moderates and progressives, to see if they can move toward common ground.

Joining me now, two progressive Democrats, Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri and Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York. Thank you both for being here with me this morning.

So, I guess some housekeeping first. Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders meeting behind closed doors yesterday. We know Joe Manchin met with Pramila Jayapal, who leads the progressive caucus. What is your take on these meetings?

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Having the meetings, great. Let's have the meetings. But also, what comes out of it? Are we bringing home climate action? That's the question. Are we bringing home free community college? Are we bringing home what we need for our care economy, those investments that we need right now for our communities? The talks are great. Let's talk and act. Let's talk and move because the clock is ticking. People need help right now.

BERMAN: So, the president meeting today with a group of moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats, are either of you going?

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): No. We haven't been invited to the meeting. That's unfortunate because there have been multiple meetings, and neither myself nor Cori Bush or other members of the squad have been invited to any of these meetings. And it's unacceptable and it's frustrating. When we talk about our districts, we center racial justice and racial equality. We center economic justice. She talks about St. Louis. Cori talks about St. Louis. I talk about the Bronx, Mt. Vernon and Yonkers. So, it is great to have the conversations.

But we cannot cut resources from black women, from black people, from the Latino community, from the indigenous community, from our seniors. I hate that we continue to cut resources to our most vulnerable communities while continuing to respond to special interests and what they want us to do in Congress.

BERMAN: You haven't been part of the talks. Why do you think that is?


BUSH: No, I haven't been part of those talks. And, you know, I think part of it is, first of all, we've been very, very clear and very vocal about what we want to see. But I think that there is something to be said about having people that talked about being the people that they serve. You know, I've talked about being unhoused. You've talked about issues where you have been -- had to be in -- you were in a shootout before, in more than one shootout. We have lived the life that the people in our communities have lived.

And very recently, that we're not very disconnected from it, like a year ago, you know? And we are the folks that should be at those tables as well because we are talking about investments for them. If you won't listening to the people, the regular everyday people in your communities, who are we representing? Our title was representative. So why don't we have people who are representing the broad vast of our country at those tables.

BERMAN: So, Senator Manchin has outlined some of the things he's concerned about in the larger plan. He talks about the expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing, new paid family and medical leave provisions, tuition free community college, aggressive climate measures, he certainly wants to dial that back, Congressman.

BOWMAN: Well, we're talking about -- we're focused on bottom-up economics, making sure we center the grassroots, making sure we center those who are most vulnerable. If we cut back on Medicare expansion, we cut back on seniors, we cut back on people who need health care. If you work in this country, if you work full-time, you should have access to quality health care, dental, optical and hearing.

The climate crisis is here. Hurricane Ida just destroyed New York and New Jersey. 50 people were killed. We got to go big on climate change. And, obviously, we have to take care of our children. If we don't take care of our children, there is no future democracy. How are we going to negotiate and cut back on any of that? BUSH: And we talk about -- people want to talk about the violence, the violence. Crime is up. Violence is up. But you want to pull out the investment, we're talking about billions of dollars that will go into communities for violence intervention. Why are we -- so we fuss about what we don't want to see, but then we won't fund what we know would help. So, those are the things that we have to talk about.

Our care economy, you know, we don't want to make sure that mom has someone at home that can stay there to help take care of her while you go to work? We don't want to keep grandma in the home. You know, no, we should do that. How are we taking care of our community members that are living disabled?

BERMAN: How do you reach a deal then, short of somehow which is changing Joe Manchin's mind?

BUSH: We keep doing what we've been doing. But you also have to -- we have to reach those communities, to have the communities reach their legislators, because that's the thing. When people call our offices and say, from our districts, this is what we want -- now, I can't talk about what happened with certain ones in their states, but in our districts, when they call us and say, no, I want you to vote this way, that's how we move.

BERMAN: Why do you laugh when I said, changing Joe Manchin's mind?

BOWMAN: Well, you know, Joe Manchin and others like him have a certain perspective that I think is incorrect. He thinks investing in a bottom-up economy is entitlement. He claims he's worried about inflation. But I think we need to have a conversation about the special interests that support Joe Manchin and many others. And we need to understand that when we invest this way, it is better for the GDP and the economy going forward, but it's also better for our well- being.

When you put money in people's pockets, they spend that money. It creates demand, which creates supply, which creates jobs. We have to make sure we're putting money in people's pockets and lifting them out of a global pandemic. Look at what we've gone through over the last 18 months.

BERMAN: You talk about the people in your districts and what they're asking for. How do you tell them that the possibility of nothing is better than the possibility of everything?

BOWMAN: But why is that the possibility? I'm sorry, Cori. Go ahead.

BUSH: No. But that's --

BERMAN: Well, if it is a $1.5 trillion plan that gets to the floor, will you vote against it.

BUSH: Well, that's the expectation. The expectation is we will give you crumbs and expect you to be happy. What we're seeing is I didn't come to Congress to continue to give crumbs to my community. St. Louis continues to get crumbs and we keep being number one or number two for homicide, number one for police murder, number one for the murder of children. We keep having those issues. We keep having issues with black children being ten times as likely to go to the emergency room for asthma than white children. How do we fix those things? You have to put the money there.

And so I didn't come to Congress to sit back and accept those crumbs. Give my folks the meal. And that is why we are here, to push that.

BOWN: Don't ask us why aren't we willing to compromise. Ask Joe Manchin, is he okay with violence in our communities continuing, public housing falling apart, black and brown people disproportionately dying from COVID, the climate crisis? Ask him to go bigger instead of asking us to go smaller.


BERMAN: To be clear, we're asking every member, you know, where they're going to go and where the possible agreements can be reached.