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New Day

Biden Open to Changing Filibuster on Voting Rights and More; Senator Sinema Once Agreeing Tax Hikes Were Common Sense; Greene Clashes with Cheney, Raskin on Floor; January 6 Committee Subpoena Standoff; Ohio Dispatcher Credited for Helping Save Newborn's Life. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A major shift last night. President Joe Biden told our CNN Town Hall that he is open to altering the filibuster. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Voting rights is equally as consequential.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360 HOST: When it comes to voting rights just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue. Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.


BERMAN: Voting rights and maybe more. Joining me now is LaTosha Brown, Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund. This is a shift over where President Biden has been over time. He now says he would be willing to alter the filibuster to pass a voting rights bill, or I should say he'd be willing to support altering the filibuster to do so. Your take on this?

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER FUND: You know, we saw this coming. There was no way - absolutely no way around it, that we have seen consistently that the Republicans have decided that they're going all in, they're leaving nothing on the field around standing as obstructionists to stop people from being able to get voting rights, to really be able to support they're behind (ph) supporting voter suppression bills all across this nation.

And so, many activists and organizations have been saying all summer long that in order to go forward not just on voting rights legislation but to really be able to have an agenda that's going to work for American people, we're going to have to consider leaving the filibuster behind to either amend it or get rid of it all together. So I'm glad that President Biden talked about that and actually said that he was open for that at the town hall meeting. I think that there's no way forward but to address the filibuster.

BERMAN: Now the reason I change my language to say that he would support changing the filibuster is because he actually has no say here at all. It's not up to Joe Biden. It's up to the U.S. Senate. He gets zero votes here.


So why is it important ultimately if it's not going to change Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Cinema's mind?

BROWN: You know, I think that you're - I think you're right on the one level. You know, that there are the public politics and then we know that there are behind the scenes politics, that have been (ph) the President of the United States. You have a tremendous amount of power and to (inaudible) be able to put pressure.

And I think that it has added, it is complicated in this process when the president has been saying all along that he was not willing to end the filibuster, right, when we know that that was the issue that is going to stand in the way, that there's not been good faith from the Republicans to really be able to push something forward whether it's the infrastructure plan or even voting rights.

And we have to make sure that we're taking a strong stance on voting rights that is nonnegotiable, right? And so, I think that is really important that we're hearing from the administration, right, in light of Manchin and Sinema that they have to put public pressure, we have to put public pressure, and we need that pressure coming from the White House as well.

BERMAN: So it's about the effort. It's about the pressure. How hard do you need to see the president working on this?


BROWN: I need to see the president say that within under (ph) no circumstances are we going to create a circumstance that when people vote they are punished because how they voted for or how they voted. That in itself, the very nature of that is antidemocratic. We're not talking about an issue that really is a partisan issue. While there is a context around it, the bottom line is we're talking about voting rights for Americans are being under attack right now, and that should be a nonnegotiable.

We need to see the president to be unyielding to say that's a nonnegotiable and literally the public will and the voters that voted for him to say that under no circumstances is anything going to stand in the way of making sure we have voting rights protections.

BERMAN: Is he doing enough right now?

BROWN: I think he has to do more. We don't have voting rights legislation. Until we have voting rights legislation, listen, we're in the middle of right now (inaudible) is happening right now. In Georgia, the state - my native state right now what we have we're seeing a continuous purging of voters - black voters off the polls right now. We're actually seeing the Secretary of State - the Republican Secretary of State seek to try to take over the election board.

So we're in the midst of it right now where democracy is being unraveled. We don't have much time. It is important that he does everything within his power, to the full weight of his office to make sure that we get voting rights protection in this nation.

BERMAN: LaTosha Brown, thank you for being with us.

BROWN: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: So you heard Joe Biden say that in a 50-50 Senate every single one of the senators is present. So what do we know about exactly what President Kyrsten Sinema wants? John Avlon with a Reality Check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For months the most popular parlor game in Washington has been what does Senator Kyrsten Sinema want? The Sphinx of Phoenix has been tightlipped, negotiating directly with the White House while finding time to visit her foot doctor in Arizona and fly to fundraisers in Europe while the Democratic agenda twists in the wind.

But last night at the CNN Town Hall, President Biden laid out her priorities.


BIDEN: She's very supportive of the environmental agenda. Everything from family care to all those issues. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period.


AVLON: It's nice to want clean energy and childcare for working families, but typically centrists would want to pay for them. And so, it's puzzling to hear that Cinema's bottom line seems to be an absolute opposition to raising taxes, especially on corporations.

Because that same Kyrsten Sinema used to believe that, quote, "asking big corporations and the rich to pay their fair share is common sense, not class warfare." That now deleted tweet dates from her time in the Arizona State Senate when she was already aiming for a seat in Congress. That was a pretty progressive position at the time, but it's now well within the Democratic mainstream.

It's also popular with a Pew survey finding that 66 percent of American support raising taxes on big business. Now there's always room to negotiate rates and loopholes and the like, but unless you raise revenue to actually pay for the programs the senator supports, then you're going to gut Biden's effort to not add more to the deficit, something that used to be called fiscal responsibility.

Which brings us back to the question what does Senator Sinema want other than attention? After all, every Democratic member of Congress, including Sinema, voted against the Trump tax cuts, which led to a massive increase in the debt. The current Democratic plan doesn't even repeal all those cuts. Instead they propose just returning to the top rate during the Obama years while raising the corporate rate to 25 percent, which is still well below the previous rate of 35 percent.

In fact, most middle class families would actually see an overall tax cut under the Biden plan. But here's why Cinema's resistance even a modest corporate tax increase is such a head scratcher. The effective tax rate in the U.S. is not 21 percent but 11 percent. That's far less than most Americans pay. That's courtesy of loopholes that were never closed and in some cases even expanded.

And get this, 26 companies have paid no federal income tax since the Trump cuts took effect while booking more than $77 billion in profits. And "The Washington Post" found that many corporations spent that wind fell (ph) on stock buybacks while laying off employees.

And contrary to supply-side theology it hadn't even benefited the U.S. Treasury. While other wealthy nations typically raise around 3 percent of GDP from corporate taxes, in the U.S. that fell to 1 percent after the Trump cuts, so the status quo just doesn't make any sense especially if you want to strengthen the middle class and the social safety net.

But there are other ways to skin this cat that Sinema might support like a guaranteed minimum corporate tax, which would be especially effective if Biden is successful in getting the rest of the world to sign on. There's also proposals to tax stock buyback and billionaires on paper gains that are not reported as income, which could raise more than a trillion dollars over 10 years.


These worthy ideas would meet their own resistance. Already "Politico" is reporting that Al Sharpton is making calls trying to keep open the carried interest loophole that helps hedge funds. It's late in the day for big, new proposals that could have been raised months ago, but better now than never.

And if Senator Sinema wants to be known as a maverick, bold as Arizona's John McCain, she should remember his wise advice that nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself. In other words, it's time to make a deal and move America forward, and that's your Reality Check.

BERMAN: John, thank you. And you know, you have a new edition of your Reality Check Digital Series, and you look at White Nationalists and their recruit, right?

AVLON: That's exactly right. It's actually the second of a two-parter with Ellie Reed and Sarah Sidner on the rise of white identity politics, and one of the darkest tributaries of that is White Nationalist groups, and we dig into how they recruit now, how they draw folks in. And in the case of one young woman who got brought in thinking she was joining a white civil rights group, ended up finding herself attending book burns. It's quite a serious look.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much for that. We have new reporting on the breaking news this morning. One person is dead, another hospitalized after Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on his movie set.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY HOST: And what happened on the House floor between Marjorie Taylor Green and Jamie Raskin and Liz Cheney? Congressman Raskin will join us next.



A wild moment on the House floor yesterday. Following the vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, seen here on camera you will see Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene approach here colleagues, Liz Cheney and Jamie Raskin. Greene reportedly shouting at them, calling Cheney a joke and asking Raskin why don't you care about the American people.

So what all happened there? Let's talk with Jamie Raskin, Congressman fro Maryland. He is a member of the January 6 Select Committee. Sir, thank you for being with us this morning. What did happen?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well thank you for having me. I went up to congratulate Liz on really a splendid set of remarks that she made about Steve Bannon's contempt. You know, he'd blown off our subpoena, and she made it clear that that's intolerable in a system of rule of law.

So anyway, I thought she had done a great job. I went over to congratulate her, and then Marjorie Taylor Greene -- whom I don't know, I've never been properly introduced to - started yelling at me, saying when are you going to do hearings about all - about all the violence at Black Lives Matter protests.

And I tried to engage her as I do with all my colleagues. I said, you know, we really should have some hearings about Kyle Rittenhouse and the two people that he killed at a Black Lives Matter protest and all the other right-wing saboteurs who went out to try to create violence and to commit violence against Black Lives Matter.

So she turned her attention to Liz Cheney. I did hear her call her a joke and start screaming at her. I thought that Liz, who's about the best mannered and best poised person in the House of Representatives might just walk away, but I was impressed that she gave as good as she got.

And I mean, I'll leave it to Liz to talk about whatever she said, but seemed to me like the theme of Marjorie Taylor Greene's comments was that Liz Cheney had betrayed Donald Trump and the Republican Party, and the them of Liz's comments were that Marjorie Taylor Greene was, shall we say, a bit eccentric.

KEILAR: But she called - Liz Cheney called her a joke and she referenced the Jewish space laser conspiracy theory about wildfires, is that correct, and Marjorie Taylor Greene responded to that?

RASKIN: It seemed like there was some history to the conversation that they were having, and it may have had to do with some of Marjorie Taylor Greene's posting online.


RASKIN: But I couldn't hear all of it. I was sort of behind them, and you know, it kept going for a little while, but you know, look. You know, the Marjorie Taylor Greene Freedom Caucus faction has been eroding the level of discourse that we have in the House of Representatives and Congress, and it's very hard to know what to do whether you just walked away or you engage with them.

But I'll tell you at least speaking on the Democratic side that the post-Trump Democrats are very different from the pre-Trump Democrats. We have come as close to fascism as we want to come in America, and we're not putting up with any of the nonsense anymore.

KEILAR: Well look, it was the comment section kind of playing out there on the House floor, indeed, there, but I do want to ask you about the substance of what is happening with the committee's work. What happens if Merrick Garland takes a pass on prosecuting Steve Bannon on criminal contempt?

RASKIN: Well look, we understand that we have a separation of powers. We respect the independence of law enforcement and the Department of Justice. Merrick Garland is a very effective lawyer, and he is - he and his team and the U.S. Attorney and the District of Columbia are going to make their own decisions, and we're not going to try to push them, lobby them, sway them. We saw enough of that during the Trump administration.

We're going to continue to use other tools that are in our tool belt here to try to get the testimony of everybody that we've subpoenaed. The vast majority of people that we've approached have come in voluntarily or have accepted a subpoena or are in good faith negotiations right now about rendering their testimony.

But we've shown them we're not fooling around. This is a responsibility everybody has, and we don't have a special class of people who happen to know Donald Trump who are somehow above the law.

KEILAR: Has Trump's - have Trump's attorneys been in touch with the committee about any concerns they may have about executive privilege?


RASKIN: Well that they've sued us, as you know, but they've not tried to intervene in Steve Bannon's case specifically, and they brought a suit against the committee, and that might be a great forum for us to deal with all of these different subpoenas that are in the air if anybody decides not to comply with them.

KEILAR: OK, so that's a no. It's the lawsuit, right? So it's just the lawsuit. And then on the - you mentioned many people are talking to the committee. Some key people, of course, are not. Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino. What is the latest on the committee's interactions with those folks?

RASKIN: Well I think all that I'm authorized to say and all I really know is that although they haven't testified yet their lawyers are involved in negotiations with our lawyers. I mean, here's the thing about a subpoena. If we tell you to come in Friday at 9 a.m. and that doesn't work for you because you've got a doctor's appointment and you can come in Wednesday at 4, well we can work that out. That's one thing.

But to do what Steve Bannon did, which is just to blow the whole thing off and to act with sneering, derisive contents towards the whole process puts you in contempt of the U.S. Congress and the people we represent.

KEILAR: Will the committee subpoena Jim Jordan?

RASKIN: As far as I know there have been - there have been no discussions yet about any members of Congress. That obviously raises different kinds of issues. Now Jim Jordan decided to come forward in the Rules Committee this week. And so, he established himself as fair game for a whole bunch of questions, and he has - he seems to have admitted in kind of a sideways way that he was in communication with Donald Trump on January the 6. It seems pretty clear that he was in meetings prior to January 6.

And look, the bottom line is that we know that there are lots of people in the Republican Party, both elected and unelected, who know a lot of information about the assault on Congress on January 6, which was the worst violent attack on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812 and perhaps the most dangerous assault on American democracy since the Civil War.

One would think that it would be - they would understand that it's not just a legal duty but it would be a civic honor for them to be able to render testimony, and most of the people we've reached out to, including their fellow insurrectionists, have come forward to testify and to give the information they've got. That is their legal duty.

KEILAR: President Biden said last night he made a mistake saying that anyone who defies your subpoena should be prosecuted, but -



KELIAR: -- you can't - I mean, you can't unring that bell, though. And he said he's not going to call up Merrick Garland, tell him on the phone who to prosecute, who not to prosecute, but he doesn't need to. He already said it publically.

RASKIN: Look, you know, I don't think that Merrick Garland is afraid that Joe Biden is going to fire him, the kind of thing that Donald Trump got us into. I don't think he thinks that somehow there are going to be reprisals against him if he does this or if he does that.

The bottom line is that the basic respect for independent law enforcement and the separation of powers has been restored in the country. We've turned over the information we have with the U.S. Attorney, and we're going to let that process play out, but that's not the end of the story for us because there are civil contempt procedures also for compel and compliance with an ignored subpoena, and we also have the inherent powers of contempt of the Congress.

So you know, anybody who thinks that they're just going to get away with this and sweep it under the rug, they've got something else coming to them. I mean, you know, they're hero is Donald Trump -



RASKIN: -- who obviously travels with an army of lawyers and millions of dollars, but it's not going to be so easy to get away from our committee because we are charged with trying to create a complete, voluminous conference of proportion (ph) -


KEILAR: Sure, but back - I want to - I do want to pull this back because I think it's really important to President Biden. Is it damaging that he said that?

RASKIN: I think on the scale of the encyclopedia of offenses against independent law enforcement in America that we saw during the Trump administration, that barely rates as a comma. I mean, it's just tiny.

And I'm glad - and he apologized, something Donald Trump never did, for intervening to try to fire people, to try to intervene in particular cases, to try to get particular people prosecuted like Michael Cohen, to try to get certain people freed. I mean, that was a whole different thing.

And so, he created some confusion out there. I'm sorry Joe Biden stepped over the line. He pulled himself back. He apologized. I mean, we're back to normal business in America here. At least we're trying to get back to normal business, and I'm glad that Biden, you know, had the maturity to apologize about that.

KEILAR: And on a happier note, pets. You have introduced - completely differently here, you've introduced a bill that has to do with pet shelters. What is this about?

RASKIN: Well the pet shelters are overrun because of COVID-19 and the economic calamities we suffered over the last several years, and there are major shortages of food, and this - [07:55:00]

-- it simply says that just like businesses can give surplus food to human food shelters they can also give now surplus pet food to pet shelters without exposing themselves to liability, so we're sort of waiving the liability rules to say we've got hundreds of millions of pounds of leftover pet food. Give it to the pet shelters that are being run by not for profits and by local governments around the country.

KEILAR: I'm not sure what the constituency is for opposing that, so we will track that bill as well. Thank you so much, Congressman.

RASKIN: Well I appreciate that thought, and thank you for having me this morning.

KEILAR: All right, thank you.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news this morning. Alec Baldwin accidentally shooting and killing a cinematographer with a prop gun on set. We're getting new details ahead.



KEILAR: When a frantic mother dialed 911 after her 2-month-old baby stopped breathing, a quick-thinking dispatcher put his training to the test. He's being honored for going beyond the call of duty to help the mother save her baby's life. CNN's Brynn Gingras has more.


BEVERLY PUCCINI, MOM OF INFANT SON WHO STOPPED BREATHING: My newborn isn't breathing. I need help.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A terrified new mother calls 911.

TIM JOHNS, 911 DISPATCHER IN MENTOR, OHIO: 911. What is the location of your emergency.

GINGRAS: And dispatcher Tim Johns is on the other end.

JOHNS: OK, we're going to get help.

GINGRAS: A calm, collected voice drowning out the chaos.

JOHNS: At her worst moment I needed to be the best I possibly could be.

GINGRAS: Beverly Puccini says she'd just given her 2-month-old son, Elliott, a bath.

PUCCINI: And he was kind of nasally, so I suctioned his nose and he just overflowed with blood out of his nose and his mouth. And he stopped breathing. He's purple, please help!

GINGRAS: Johns, a six-year veteran of the Mentor Ohio Emergency Dispatch Unit instinctively relied on his training.

JOHNS: We're going to start CPR, OK?

I just remember thinking of my children at the time, saying what would I want if this was going through. Make sure I'm articulate with my instructions. Make sure I check every single box.

GINGRAS: Coaching Beverly on how to revive her son, even counting with her as she gave chest compressions.

JOHNS: Do it 30 times. I'll count for you. One, two, three.

PUCCINI: 15, 16, 17, 18 -


JOHNS: You're doing great!

PUCCINI: It literally was like he was in my living room with me talking me through it, telling me that I can do this.

GINGRAS: And she did.

PUCCINI: He just moved a little.

GINGRAS: When paramedics arrived minutes later, Elliott was breathing.

JOHNS: I remember I went to the back and got a glass of water I think it was, and it was one of those things that decided to put prayer (ph), you know, make sure the baby was OK.

PUCCINI: Got your rattle?

GINGRAS: Now Elliott is home, happy and healthy, yet it's still unclear what caused him to stop breathing. Johns never knew Elliott spent three weeks in the hospital recovering. Dispatchers don't often learn the outcome of those they've helped until this day.



JOHNS: Hi. How are you?

PUCCINI: Good, how are you?

JOHNS: It's nice to meet you. So nice to meet you.

PUCCINI: Thank you.

JOHNS: Oh, you're welcome. You did a great job. He's so cute. GINGRAS: The fire chief awarded Johns a letter of commendation for his work. It sits next to a very special thank you note he received from Elliott's grandmother.

JOHNS: Just to see him here, it's something else.

GINGRAS: Though Johns says the ultimate praise comes from knowing the impact he's had on this mother and son.

JOHNS: Hi, buddy. Hi.

GINGRAS: Who are no longer strangers.

PUCCINI: Thank God there's people that are out there to help us when we are in situation like that.

Say hello.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, Mentor, Ohio.


KEILAR: I think I have something in my eye, right?


NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: All right, good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Friday, October 22. And we do have breaking news overnight. A deadly shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's upcoming film that was filming in New Mexico.

Police say a prop gun fired by Baldwin killed the film's cinematographer and wounded the director.