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U.S. Cities And Police Battle Over Vaccine Mandates; Conservative, Anti-Vax Radio Host: I Got COVID On Purpose; Race Takes Center Stage In Jury Selection At Arbery Trial. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And to be clear, we're asking every member where they're going to go and where the possible agreements can be reached.

Paul Begala was on earlier today and talked about progress versus perfection.


BERMAN: You know -- well --

BUSH: Perfection -- that's not even -- but we're talking about a package that is not even perfection. We didn't even --

BOWMAN: Three point five trillion --

BUSH: Yes, this is --

BOWMAN: -- was the compromise.

BUSH: Right, that was the compromise. This is not perfection.

BOWMAN: President Biden came in at $6 trillion.

BERMAN: Again --

BUSH: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: -- I'm making the argument that Joe Manchin --

BUSH: No -- yes.

BERMAN: -- is making here because he's not sitting here. But he's -- he would say $1.5 trillion isn't crumbs.

BUSH: (Laughing).

BOWMAN: We're paying for $1.5, first of all, so we have the offsets. This is key. It's -- oh, yes.

BUSH: Tell Joe Manchin to come to my district. BOWMAN: That's right.

BUSH: Tell him to come to my district. Tell him to meet with me and I'll take him to see what happens when you give -- when you give a little of -- you give a little of something and you expect people to live off of that. Because what'll happen is that $1.5 trillion or whatever it turns out to be that he wants, we can't expect anything -- we can't expect other investments -- other big investments to come right after that. It'll be oh, we did something for you.

BOWMAN: Yes. We spend $7.6 trillion on the military alone --

BUSH: Yes.

BOWMAN: -- every 10 years.

BUSH: Yes.

BOWMAN: And it's OK for us to spend that money. No one bats an eye. But we're looking to spend $3.5 over 10 years that most of it is paid for on a bottom-up economy to target those most vulnerable and we have a problem with that.

Black, brown -- black and brown people, black and brown women, indigenous people, poor people -- we always have to weigh -- you always have to --not you -- the government always asks us to kick the can down the road for the most vulnerable people. And to me, that's unacceptable.

BERMAN: But again, the prospect of getting nothing -- if it's an issue of what you think should happen versus what can happen you would vote no on $2 trillion?

BUSH: So, what -- because what we've been saying is if we -- if -- we don't want any programs cut, period -- no programs cut.

BERMAN: No cuts on anything of the $3.5 trillion?

BUSH: No cuts of programs. But we are willing to say if we have to cut years on some of the programs to make this work, then OK, there may be some areas that can -- instead of being the 10-year investment can be five years or can be --

BOWMAN: Seven years.

BUSH: -- seven years or eight years. So we're willing to do that but don't cut our programs.

How do -- how do you tell that person working in the childcare center that no, we -- you know, not you. You wait -- you wait until whenever because we don't even know when this will come back around.

But we want to make sure that the money is there to be able to pay for the folks that are fixing our roads and bridges. Do we need that? Absolutely, and I want to make sure that they know that -- that we want that investment them. But we also need our investment in -- our investments in housing. We

also need investments in our schools. We also need those investments in the climate action. We need that clean electricity.

BOWMAN: And the majority of the American people are with us. The majority of Democrats are with us. There are just a few holding it up and it's not us.

The majority of the American people are living paycheck-to-paycheck. The child tax credit -- the temporary one -- lifted 50 percent of children out of poverty. We're looking to extend that to make it permanent. More money in people's pockets, more spending, better economy, more jobs.

BERMAN: I've got to let you both go so you can go do your jobs, even though you're not going to this meeting. But is the Biden White House listening to you, do you think?

BUSH: We're not at the table today. So, I know that they know what -- they know how we feel because we've had those talks with the White House. But bring us to the table -- bring us to the table. Why not?

Jamal, why can't you go?

BOWMAN: I can go. I can go right now.

BUSH: Let's maybe --

BOWMAN: Let's make it happen.

BERMAN: All right. Well, we'll see if the White House responds to your offer to come to the meeting today. You've freed up your calendar.

Representative, Representative, thank you for being with us.

BOWMAN: Thank you.

BUSH: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a CNN exclusive. President Joe Biden takes questions from the American people. Perhaps you can submit a question. Anderson Cooper moderates. A CNN presidential town hall with Joe Biden begins Thursday night at 8:00.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And a conservative radio host and vaccine skeptic reveals he has COVID. Why he says he got it on purpose and what he did to catch it.

BERMAN: And holding out for a hero.



(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: I thought we were talking about Bonnie Tyler. I got excited there for a second. But why Batman and Superman are still cultural flashpoints decades later.



KEILAR: Vaccine mandates pitting major American cities against the men and women paid to serve and protect them. CNN reporters are covering this debate coast-to-coast.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Omar Jimenez in Chicago.

More than a third of Chicago's close to 13,000 police officers defied the city's mandate to report their vaccination status by this past Friday, which translates to about 4,500 police officers that could get placed on no-pay status in the foreseeable future.

Only 64 percent of the department reported their status, the lowest of any city department. But among those who did, the vast majority said they were vaccinated.

Now, according to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a very small number of officers have already been placed on no-pay status as part of the disciplinary process that's been ongoing as of Monday morning.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Dan Simon.

The Seattle Police Department is telling its officers do not come to work today if you have not been vaccinated, submitted the appropriate verification, or gotten an exemption, and that the city will begin the process for termination. It comes after Seattle told all of its city employees that you needed to be vaccinated by Monday evening.

Now, the Seattle Police Department is currently under a level three mobilization, which means that all sworn officers could potentially be deployed to handle 911 calls.


Now, as of Monday night, 98 percent of the Seattle Police Department have been vaccinated or received that exemption. Twenty-four officers have not submitted the information.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Washington, D.C.

All eyes are on Baltimore as this standoff between law enforcement and vaccine enforcement continues. Monday, a mandate for all Baltimore city workers to be fully vaccinated or produce a weekly negative COVID test to report to work went into effect. The big question, will officers comply? According to "The Baltimore Sun," the city police union sent a letter

to members Friday telling them not to disclose their vaccine status due to collective bargaining issues.

As of last week, about 64 percent of the police department's 3,000 employees were vaccinated. Now the focus is on Baltimore's police force to see if those numbers change and how that could impact the safety of the city.


BERMAN: So, conservative radio host and vaccine skeptic Dennis Prager says he got COVID and that he did it on purpose. Listen to this.


DENNIS PRAGER, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: It is infinitely preferable to have natural immunity than vaccine immunity, and that is what I hoped for the entire time. Hence, I so engaged with strangers, constantly hugging them, taking photos with them, knowing that I was making myself very susceptible to getting COVID, which is, indeed, as bizarre as it sounded, what I wanted.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now, Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

We should make clear Sanjay and other doctors we talked to -- they will say this is an awful --


BERMAN: -- idea.

STELTER: Yes, and this is own the libs to the illogical extreme. He is not the only right-wing radio host that pushes this narrative that you should go out and get COVID. Now, he says it actually has happened to him and that he's doing OK. And, of course, he's taking one of those cocktails of drugs that's recommended by fringe doctors.

But this is really about owning the libs. It's about whatever Biden says, whatever the government says, they do the opposite. It's contrarianism that makes people sick.

And if Colin Powell's death yesterday can be a reminder to everyone that we are still all in this together -- we need to reduce overall case counts in this country and around the world so that the immunocompromised have a better chance -- so that everyone has a better chance of staying healthy. And then you have these people preaching the exact opposite.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, you would think that keeping people healthy is everyone's priority. STELTER: I would have thought so up until 18 months ago, right? We started with the slogan of "we are all in this together" and then you have so many of these right-wing media figures trying to pull us all apart.

Look at some of the outlier examples like Puerto Rico, where there's been a lot of attention recently on why Puerto Rico's vaccination rates are so much higher than they are here on the mainland. It's because you don't have that right-wing radio nonsense. You don't have that partisanship that's poisoned everything. And figures like Prager are a part of that problem.

By the way, the same thing overnight on Fox News. You know, this narrative from Tucker Carlson and others that well, Colin Powell's death shows you there's trouble with the vaccine. You know, they -- it is this day in-day out narrative that actually is prolonging the pandemic. It is -- it is that simple and that awful. They are prolonging the pandemic.

BERMAN: We had Will Cain who was on yesterday. Again, when Powell died, all we knew initially was that he passed away and that it was from complications from COVID.


BERMAN: It turned out he had multiple myeloma, Parkinson's disease -- things that absolutely weaken your immune system. He was due for a booster. He couldn't get the booster because of the condition. So, absolutely, explains what happened there.

STELTER: That's a reminder the first -- you don't always know everything right away. It took a couple of hours to find out about Powell's medical history. It took a couple of hours to know all the facts. And the people who jump to conclusions and make their assumptions -- that's part of the problem. When you don't know everything, you shouldn't make assumptions.

BERMAN: And there will be, again, doctors who say this shows that we should all get vaccinated. It's all the more reason to get vaccinated to protect people like Colin Powell who are immunocompromised.

STELTER: Right -- let's protect each other. But sadly, this conversation is not what's airing on Fox. Every once in a while, there is a doctor that says the right thing on air, but for the most part, it's the Tucker Carlsons of the world that get all the airtime and they are dragging us backwards.

BERMAN: All right, I want to ask you about Batman --

STELTER: Yes, please.

BERMAN: -- because why not?

STELTER: Please.

BERMAN: It's "The Batman" in this case. And the trailer is out for the new Batman movie.

STELTER: We need a hero.



ROBERT PATTINSON, ACTOR, "THE BATMAN": Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it's not just a call.


BERMAN: All right. People go nuts over Batman trailers.

STELTER: Oh, yes. This is a big deal. This is CNN's parent company Warner Bros. reintroducing Batman. You know, it's been a decade since there's been a Batman film. It's been way too long.

Warner Bros. were under tremendous pressure to reboot this franchise to bring it back in a big way and I think there's been a really positive overall reaction. But you're the big fan. You tell us.


BERMAN: Well, we had to endure Ben Affleck and I say that lovingly as, you know, my fellow mask hole (ph). But we needed a new Batman and hopefully, this is it.

Batman and Superman -- and I say this as a Marvel fan -- Batman and Superman are DC heroes. They're different because they're decades older --


BERMAN: -- and I think they also represent something different in American history. And Superman, very much a messiah figure. Batman represents a true vigilante. So people get more worked up about them than I think other superheroes.

And Superman, they're all worked up about. First of all, the new Superman bisexual, now changing the motto from "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" to "Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow."


BERMAN: That's days of programming on Fox News.

STELTER: A better tomorrow, yes.

Now, the American way part of the phrase came during World War II. That was a logical move when there was this world war.

I think now the message is this is a global franchise. This is a franchise looking to the future. And that kind of ethnonationalism perhaps is not the right style going forward. I do think it is partly about appealing to a global box office. But hey, who can argue for -- against a better tomorrow? What's so bad about a better tomorrow? It sounds kind of vague and simple to me.

BERMAN: Are you against a better tomorrow?

STELTER: Right. Are you against a better tomorrow?

BERMAN: Are there entities that are against a better tomorrow, tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Brian Stelter, thank you --

STELTER: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- very much for that.

The governor's race in Virginia heating up. Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin wants Trump's voters to turn out, so why is he not inviting the former president to join him on the campaign trail?

KEILAR: And jury selection continues in the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery -- killed while jogging -- after a day of intense debate surrounding issues like the Confederate flag and Black Lives Matter.



KEILAR: Vice President Kamala Harris heading to Virginia on Thursday to campaign for Terry McAuliffe in the state's tightly contested, high-stakes governor's race. President Biden and former President Obama are also expected to appear in the next two weeks.

There will be no high-profile supporters campaigning with Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin and that, apparently, is just the way that he wants it. Youngkin covets Donald Trump's voters but he seems to want no part of Trump himself.

Let's bring in CNN national politics reporter Eva McKend. This is, I think, the needle, Eva, that many Republican candidates thread.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, Brianna. You know, Glenn Youngkin has run a strategic campaign in Virginia, in that he has worked hard to try to appeal to every type of Republican. And if he's successful he could be a reference point for other Republicans in how to do this delicate dance in the early months of the campaign.

He really welcomed former President Donald Trump's endorsement, but in recent weeks he's been carefully navigating that relationship, and it seems as though his supporters are comfortable with him walking this fine line. So we likely won't see high-profile national Republicans with him on the campaign trail or the former president in the final days of this tight race.

Last week my colleague Jeff Zeleny asked Youngkin about Trump.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Would you like to see him campaign here?

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Well -- so, no. The person that's going to be campaigning here for the next 2 1/2 weeks is Glenn Youngkin. I'm on the ballot. I'm running against Terry McAuliffe. By the way, Terry McAuliffe wants anybody but Terry McAuliffe campaigning. He's inviting the world to come and campaign.


MCKEND: So when I was on the campaign trail with Youngkin I saw a woman at his rally wearing a t-shirt with the White House on it, referring to the White House as stolen property.

I see Youngkin as both trying to appeal to them as well as recognizing that he needs largely white Virginians in the suburbs who may have voted for President Biden because they thought that the former president was distasteful but don't necessarily agree with Democratic politics.

And he thinks he can appeal to all of these constituencies by beating the drum on parental rights, for instance, by suggesting that parents have lost their ability to have agency when it comes to the direction of Virginia public schools, especially amid the pandemic.

So, Brianna, a real test because if he is able to pull out an upset in Virginia and turn the state, other Republicans will certainly try to replicate this model -- this fine line that he's trying to walk.

KEILAR: Look, clearly, Democrats are worried or you wouldn't see all these big names out there for Terry McAuliffe as well.

Eva, great reporting. Thank you.

We have some breaking news on that violent gang that kidnapped 16 American missionaries; one Canadian one. They have now named their price. This is going to be a big problem -- it is very high. We will take you live to Haiti.

BERMAN: And Gabby Petito's family finally bringing her home. Their heartbreaking new interview, next.



BERMAN: This morning, jury selection set to resume in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial -- or the trial of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. Three men are accused of chasing down and shooting the 25-year-old while he was jogging.

Yesterday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over how much of the hundreds of potential jurors -- how much they should be questioned about their views on race. CNN's Martin Savidge -- again, who's been covering this from the very

beginning -- joins us now with the latest on what we're seeing -- Martin.


You know, day one taught us one thing in that this is going to be a very difficult, very slow, and very methodical process. And as you say, it's going to focus mainly on the question of what the jurors' potential perceptions are on the issues of race, racism, self-defense, and also on groups such as Black Lives Matter.

Just to remind you, Ahmaud Arbery died February 20th -- February 23rd in 2020. He was gunned down while his family says he was jogging through a neighborhood.

He was pursued by three white men. The men claimed that they thought Arbery was a suspect in a series of break-ins in the neighborhood. And two of the white men were armed. They used pickup trucks to eventually corral Arbery in the neighborhood.

Arbery got into a struggle with Travis McMichael over a shotgun. Travis McMichael shot Ahmaud Arbery three times at point-blank range, killing him.

Now, the defense is maintaining that this was self-defense and that they were attempting to conduct a citizen's arrest. The prosecution says no -- this was nothing but vigilantism and racial profiling at its absolutely worst.

And, of course, all of this had been videotaped by one of the suspects.

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery says look, just getting to day one of this trial is major progress. Here is what she had to say.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ABERBERY'S MOTHER: I'm very thankful. The case has come from a very long way. I'm pleased in the direction that the case is going to. I never thought that the day that we would pick jurors would come and the day has finally come.


SAVIDGE: Just to give you an idea of what they're up against -- normally in a trial in Glynn County, they would call about 150 potential jurors. They have called 1,000 jurors. The first 600 showed up yesterday. And yesterday, they barely got through questioning a group of the first 20. This is going to take a while -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Martin. Thank you so much for that report.

SAVIDGE: Good morning.

KEILAR: Gabby Petito's heartbroken family is finally bringing her home. They traveled to Wyoming over the weekend to retrieve her remains. And we are hearing from Gabby's mother and stepfather in a new emotional interview.

CNN's Randi Kaye joining us now from Punta Gorda, Florida. Randi, tell us what they're saying.


So, the family of Gabby Petito spoke with "60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA" and it was a pretty wide-ranging interview. They talked about what Gabby was like as a child and how they're coping with her death. But at one point, her mom and her stepfather got pretty --