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New Day

Tonight, CNN Hosts Biden Town Hall as Democrats on Verge of Deal; Today, Full House Vote on Charging Bannon with Contempt; Family Lawyer Says, Strong Likelihood Remains Are Brian Laundrie's. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 07:00   ET


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: -- start Republicans in the state legislature, from taking a state with a one-point spread in the 2020 election and trying to build on their current eight to five congressional seat advantage


Over 70 percent of Ohio has voted for district reforms in 2015, but their wishes are being stymied at the state capitol. In Virginia, currently under Democratic control, a bipartisan redistricting commission has hit a stalemate. While in New York, a new independent redistricting commission has failed to get bipartisan support.

What's clear is that while a minority of Republicans can block federal election reforms in Washington, simple majorities can pass intentionally unrepresentative partisan maps in the states. Either way, the will of the people is once again being trumped by the rigged system of redistricting, making real representative democracy the only sure loser.

And that's your Reality Check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: John Avlon, thank you very much.

New Day continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman. And it is Thursday, October 21st.

A critical day for the Biden presidency as Democrats are either on the verge of a breakthrough economic deal or still struggling to reach one. And tonight the stage is set.

BERMAN: Can the president close the deal? We could see it happen in real-time tonight in a CNN presidential town hall. But Arizona's Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, has one more issue that could just derail the entire deal.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond live at the town hall site in Baltimore. Jeremy, what's the hold up now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, John, President Biden is certainly ramping up his public push to sell his domestic agenda even as lawmakers in Washington are still working to actually finalize the actual elements and the contours of this reconciliation package.

A senior official I spoke with this morning told me that the president sees this as an opportunity to have a conversation with the American people directly. The White House believes that these town hall formats certainly play to the president's strengths as a politician, to be able to have those one-on-one conversations, to bring in some of those personal anecdotes that the president likes to do.

It's also a way for the president to be able to reframe this debate, which for weeks has been centered on the back and forth, the push and pull between the warring factions of the Democratic Party around what exactly is at stake. And according to the White House, and what we heard from the president yesterday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it's about giving middle-class, working-class people a little bit more breathing room.

That is the way that the White House sees this. And they want to focus on some of those benefits and those central provisions that they want to ensure stay in this bill even as other provisions, like free community college, for example, are already being pushed aside in order to lower the price tag.

Now, the president in a week from now is leaving on his second foreign trip, which includes that COP26 summit in Glasgow, that climate summit. And the president has been using that as part of a sales pitch to lawmakers, as he tries to seal this deal, warning them that American credibility, American prestige is on the line and that he needs these climate provisions as he heads to that summit.

At the same time, though, I spoke with two senior administration officials yesterday who made clear that with or without this reconciliation deal, they believe the president can head into this climate summit with a strong record on environmental issues and, ultimately, executive action is always on the table. John?

BERMAN: All right. Jeremy Diamond, live at the town hall site in Baltimore, thank you very much.

BERMAN: We're going to have a chance to speak to a progressive member of the House, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, about all of this in just moments.

KEILAR: Also happening today, the full House expected to vote on a criminal contempt referral for Trump ally, former top aide Steve Bannon. Bannon continues to defy a subpoena by the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And joining us now to discuss, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was brutally attacked by insurrectionists while protecting the Capitol that day. Mike, thank you for coming in this morning to chat with us about this.

I was curious when I heard earlier this week Liz Cheney suggesting that Trump and Bannon may have plotted this attack, that they actually may have been very involved in plotting this, what you thought about that?

OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: I mean, I'm not a part of the investigative process. I came and gave my testimony as a witness to that day. I mean, if those allegations are true, then I want accountability. This is what this whole process has been about for me. It's accountability for elected officials and individuals involved in their political apparatus who may have, you know, contributed to the events of that day either through their rhetoric, insightful rhetoric or through some overt action just as much as it's about getting accountability for the individuals who perpetrated the attack, not just on me but on the Capitol complex itself and the hundreds of other officers that responded that day to defend the Capitol.


But it's also about accountability for law enforcement, not only, you know, bringing to light the failures of that day but also addressing them, whether it's through training, equipment, the resources that officers need to protect themselves in that type of environment. I want to see real accountability for that day.

KEILAR: Steve Bannon is not cooperating. He is not cooperating with a subpoena. And this is being referred today to the attorney general. What is your message to the attorney general as you call for accountability about what he should do with this criminal contempt referral?

FANONE: I don't really have a message for the attorney general. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to tell me how to do my job. He knows what his responsibilities are. He took the same oath that I did. I understand that this has become, you know -- or some individuals who are being investigated are treating this like political theater. But me, myself, and many other Americans are taking this very seriously, and I want to see those individuals take it seriously. And if they don't, they need to be held accountable. We have a process if you defy a subpoena, you should be held criminally liable.

KEILAR: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about this look into January 6th. And she said this.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, I think what Senator McConnell may be referencing is, yes, it's time to move on in a lot of ways. I'm one who believes that the American people are now concerned about what we call kitchen table issues, the price of gasoline, inflation, what's happening to kids in school.


KEILAR: She's saying time to move on. What do you think?

FANONE: I would love to move on. I talk to officers all the time. Many of them are just tired of the January 6th narrative for the simple fact that they don't see anything happening. They've given up on the process. For me and my law enforcement career, I've been part of a lot of cases. Sometimes they're not as interesting or sexy as other cases but it's the job. That's how I look at this. Until there's real accountability or every means of attaining accountability has been exhausted, I will continue to bring attention to the events of January 6th and how we got here.

My hope is that, you know, aside from the specific individuals, the former president, his sycophants, I think that, you know, we tend to get distracted. And it's not to say that he's not or doesn't potentially bear some responsibility here. But Donald Trump did not create the environment that we live in now. He just did a -- you know, an amazing job of exploiting it for his own personal benefit. And I think every American needs to look at their own actions and what part they may have played, however small in, you know, the events that led up to January 6th.

This is a greater discussion for the entire country, not just for Republicans, not just for Democrats, for Americans.

KEILAR: What's been clear to me talking to you over the months is that it's just hard to move on when there is no closure.

FANONE: Correct. I don't even think we've begun the process of closure, unfortunately. And it seems like there's a whole lot of people in Congress right now. They happen to be Republicans that are trying to stand in the way of that process.

KEILAR: So -- well, some people say, move on. There are actually a lot of people who say, from what? Let's listen to what some Trump supporters think.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, antifa, like the corrupt FBI, basically RINOs, corrupt politicians, the deep state, all of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't believe it was people like me and people like you see over there in that crowd that did it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who was behind --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI, CIA, antifa were used, other groups like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed like a lot of them were going into the Capitol to attack Nancy Pelosi and perhaps hang --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who? Which one? The one with the bull horns. He's not a Trump supporter. I don't care what his resume says. He's not a Trump supporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: What do you do with that?

FANONE: I don't know. I mean, you can lead a horse to water, I guess, but you can't make them drink. Yes, I mean, again, this is -- those people are responsible for, you know, their own thoughts and how they come to their own conclusions. But it doesn't help when your elected leaders are lying about the events of January 6th, not participating in or being dishonest about the discussion as to how we got here, and continuing to pledge fealty to a leader who I think whose only interest is self-interest and continues to, you know, perpetrate lies for his own political were gain. So, I mean, in some ways, I feel sorry for those people.


FANONE: I mean, they're being lied to. They're being manipulated, exploited. And they're Americans too.

KEILAR: As frustrating as this situation is right now, as you look for accountability, the truth is, it could get worse. The clock may very likely run out on all of this. That is clearly what some of the legal maneuvering is for former President Trump and his associates. Where would that leave accountability for the insurrection?

FANONE: I don't know. Again, I'm unfamiliar with the political process of attaining accountability. Sometimes that seems like an oxymoron. I guess it would be left with the Department of Justice to seek criminal accountability for those who may be criminally culpable. I mean, I feel, in my humble opinion, that there's quite a few.

KEILAR: So, we've talked a lot in recent months, and you've been so honest about the mental health and the physical health challenges that you faced in the wake of the riots. How are you doing now?

FANONE: I mean, I'm -- as far as like processing the events of that day, I mean, I've -- I think I'm doing pretty damn well. It's been a long, long haul. My physical injuries have healed. I'm kind of in limbo right now with the department waiting to go back to full duty. But that is my plan, to return to full duty.

KEILAR: Do you feel like you're on the upswing right now? How do you look at the trajectory of how things have been for you following the insurrection until now?

FANONE: It's been more of a roller coaster ride than the pendulum swinging from one end to the other. Some days I feel like we're making some headway, and then others, you know, I feel like the more realistic approach is that this is going to eventually pass from our memory bank, collective memory bank as Americans with no accountability whatsoever.

KEILAR: Well, Mike, thank you. You always come on and remind us why it can't, why it shouldn't. And so I really were appreciate you speaking with us again this morning, Michael Fanone.

FANONE: Yes, ma'am. Thank you. BERMAN: Major new developments overnight in the search for Brian Laundrie. Suspected human remains and what appear to be some of Laundrie's belongings were found at a Florida nature reserve on Wednesday in an area that had recently been under water. The Laundrie family lawyer tells CNN the probability is strong that it is Brian.

He also says it was Laundrie's father who discovered his son's bag in the park. Listen.


STEVE BERTOLINO, LAUNDRIE FAMILY ATTORNEY (voice over): It was my understanding that they were followed closely by the two law enforcement personnel.

At some point Chris locates what's called a dry bag.

They looked at the contents of the bag. At that time, law enforcement officers showed a picture on a phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby and also some distance off the trail


At that point, the Laundries were notified that there was also remains near the backpack and they were asked to leave the preserve.


BERMAN: Of course, Gabby Petito's body was found a month ago in Wyoming.

Joining me is the anchor Inside Edition Deborah Norville. Deborah, I've got a lot to ask you this morning based on what happened yesterday. And also we heard from the lawyer last night, his first. Reflect on this moment. What appear to be human remains and the lawyer says they think it most probably is Brian Laundrie at this moment.

DEBORAH NORVILLE, ANCHOR, INSIDE EDITION: Yes. Well, this moment and that admission by Steve Bertolino, the family attorney for the Laundrie, it gives the Laundrie family something that many family members of missing persons don't get, and that is closure and certainty of what happened to their loved one, if, indeed, as he says, the remains that have been found. And they're just partial remains. DNA typing will be able to determine if it is Brian Laundrie.

If those are his remains, the Laundrie family will have the same closure and certainty of knowing that their loved one is dead that the Petito family has had. Of course, Wednesday's discoveries also raise so many more new questions about how these items were found and any potential involvement of the Laundrie parents.

BERMAN: Talk to me more about that. What questions do you have based on what we just heard?

NORVILLE: Well, from the beginning when Gabby Petito went missing in early December and was reported and law enforcement came to the Laundrie home, they were immediately greeted with a note which said, please refer all of your questions to our attorney. So, from the get- go, they had shut down any personal interaction with law enforcement.

That makes it highly skeptical for some that Mr. Laundrie would have been able to walk off the path and within moments find the bag that was believed to be a wet bag that Brian Laundrie would have had in his possession when he went camping, if indeed that's what he did in that nature area.

A lot of people are questioning how was it that he was not with law enforcement? How is it that the parents were allowed into the preserve just a day after the preserve was closed? Does anyone know if the Laundrie parents had previously been to the preserve? There are just a lot of questions, some of which may be able to be answered but many of which will not.

BERMAN: It is just strange. I'm not saying impossible but it's just strange that it was the father himself that recovered this bag, right?

NORVILLE: Well, I think a large question is this. We know that earlier in the search, before the water had receded in this particular area where these items were found on Wednesday, we know that Mr. Laundrie did go to the nature preserve and was asked by law enforcement to assist them in their search. Presumably, he knew of the favored camping spots that the Laundries and Brian in particular had enjoyed over the years because this wasn't that far from their home.

Was this area pointed out previously to law enforcement? That's something law enforcement will be able to answer at a certain time. If it was not, then why did Mr. Laundrie know within hours of going to the park after the waters receded on Wednesday to go to that particular area? So, presumably, they were aware of this area and it may also be why law enforcement had previously found the backpack and partial human remains they showed the backpack on the cell phone photo too on Mr. Laundrie.

BERMAN: We have a little more sound of the interview Chris Cuomo did with the Laundrie family lawyer. Let me play that.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What do you make of the suggestion that Mr. Laundrie planted the bag and the backpack?

BERTOLINO: In nice terms, it's hogwash.

CUOMO: Would the authorities have known what they walked onto the trail with?

BERTOLINO: Absolutely. They met them at the gate with someone nearby. They walked in with them. And more importantly, Chris, this is what I said, fortunately for the Laundries, the press was following them in the whole time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So, Deborah, he sort of addresses the collective eyebrow- raising that came from yesterday.

NORVILLE: Yes. Look, it's a fair response and it's a fair question, it's a fair response. We'll know a lot more when the DNA testing comes in. We don't know how long that is going to take. We also don't know what the condition of the other items that were found were. There was not only the backpack and perhaps whatever it inside the backpack was more protected. But we know it was sub merged under water most likely for a period of weeks.


This notebook that was found -- and we know that Brian was an artist, he did a lot of art that I think he put on T-shirts and things like that. Is there anything beyond doodles in that notebook? And if there is, is it legible? And the biggest question, does any of this shed any light on the circumstances of the death of Gabby Petito? And the truth is we may never know the answer to how Gabby Petito died?

BERMAN: Even as one chapter may, may be closing, we are left with all kinds of new questions even now. Deborah Norville, thank you for being with us. We'll speak to you more about this, I'm sure.

NORVILLE: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a single senator opposing raising certain taxes. What will that do to President Biden's domestic agenda?

And CNN is getting brand-new details on the miracle plane crash in Texas, what the cockpit data recorder could tell us.

KEILAR: Plus, another criminal investigation surrounding the Trump organization, this time it's zeroing in on a New York golf course.




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We can't afford to sit while other countries pass us by. We are going to breathe new life into the economy and our workforce.

If we make the investments, there's going to be no stopping America in the remainder of the 21st century.


BERMAN: President Biden in his hometown of Scranton pitching his build back better agenda after signaling that he is willing to reduce or completely scrap several campaign promises from the spending bill.

Joining me is Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. She's on the Appropriation and Budget Committees. Congresswoman, thank you for being with us.

It is still in the negotiating process, but it appears what is in the bill as of now would be a child tax credit one year extension, universal pre-K, four weeks of paid family leave, child and elderly care and Medicare expansion. I know a lot of people are focused on what may not be in the bill but what are you most excited about that does appear to be in it right now?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Well, thanks, John. I think just in general I'm excited about the fact that we're negotiating and that we're coming together and Democrats are seeking consensus on the bill in terms of the investments that we make. Of course, we want to see investments in child care, the child tax credit.

We want to see middle-class tax cuts. We want to make sure that the care economy recognizes our essentially workers and our caregivers and making that they are provided a living wage for caregivers. We have climate provisions we are still negotiating. We know the wildfires, hurricanes, that there is a climate crisis, and we have to do everything we can do to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030. So, there're still many issues we're negotiating.

But I think the great thing is that everyone is at the table. We're talking. And I think we're going to get this done. No one is going to get everything that we want but the Biden administration campaigned on these investments and we're going to get everything that we can get to make sure that the American people know that we want these investments so that their lives can be made better immediately.

BERMAN: If it does pass within the confines of what is believed to be -- being discussed right now, how will you sell this to your constituents? What will you emphasize? What will you say, this is what we have delivered?

LEE: And this is very important, John, talking about what we are going to deliver now. And I'm glad the president is going to do the town meeting this evening. Because what we want to deliver is to make sure that we ensure that people have good paying jobs, given the infrastructure bill that we're going to pass, both bills together.

I'm going to talk to my constituents about the fact that in my district and throughout the country, we have horrific, unbelievable child poverty rates. I'm going to talk about we're going to reduce child poverty by 40 to 50 percent by some way of -- in some formulation of the child tax credit extension.

I'm going to tell my child care workers that we want to make sure that our child care workers have the investments and the support so that they can have good quality child care centers and so that women and fathers can get back to work. Nearly 2 million women are out of work and they can't afford child care.

So, I'm going to say, finally, with the jobs that are going to be created, you will have those resources and good quality child care, preschool. Let's talk about how this bill and what we're doing in terms of these investments are going to enhance the quality of their lives and really help us build back not only better but bolder in terms of moving forward. Because we have had decades of disinvestments in many of our communities, including our black and brown communities.

BERMAN: We understand there is reporting this morning that Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is opposed to raising the corporate tax rate at least to 25 percent, which is what something the Democrats had landed on before. How much of a problem would that be if you don't raise the corporate tax rate in order to pay for this?

LEE: Well, let me tell you, our Ways and Means Committee chaired by Congressman Neal passed a reform package which required the wealthy to pay their fair share, that everybody should pay their fair share. And so when you talk about reducing in terms of the pay-fors, you're talking about cutting back on some of these investments that people desperately need. And so this has got to be a tough negotiation.