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New Day

John Kerry Downplays Expectations for Summit Amid Agenda Fight; Biden on Cusp of Historic Week for Domestic Legislative Agenda; Voters to Decide Key Races, Set Tone Ahead of 2022 Midterms. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 01, 2021 - 07:00   ET



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Shek Zar (ph) and his family lived in what's left of their house, half destroyed by a storm surge, knowing full well the rest of the building could be washed away any time.

We don't have anywhere to go, he says. If we had the means, we would move. Where we are living, we are not safe. We are powerless.

Because of its geography, Saint Louis is known as the Venice of Africa, a UNESCO world heritage site, once the capital of Senegal, now facing attrition due to the climate emergency, as erosion takes its toll on the historic buildings and the people dwelling in them.

Fishing is a profession that spans generations here in Saint Louis. But thousands of fishermen and their families have already been displaced by global warming as rising sea levels have destroyed many houses here on the coastline.

There is nothing left of where fisherman Abdullah Aiterey's house once stood. He says many who lost their homes had become climate refugees.

There are a lot of young people who have already fled to Spain because they are homeless, he says. They have lost their jobs. Many of them are going.

Others have had to move to this tent camp miles away from the ocean, living in poverty with little hope for improvement.

Rising sea levels are a threat to coastal areas around the world, already causing an increase in severe flash flooding and storm surges like in the New York and New Jersey area after Hurricane Ida in September. The world needs to act fast or risk having to completely abandon some coastal regions in the future, especially in had the U.S., says Climate Scientist Andas Liebermann (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire east coast of the U.S., because of changes in the ocean currents, sea level is rising twice as fast at the east coast in the U.S. than globally. PLEITGEN: What is a dangerous projection in the world is already grim reality here in Senegal, where the ocean that has defined the lives in this immunity for so long, is now drifting them into an uncertain future.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Wolf, just to give a sense of the scale, 3,000 people have been displaced from this area alone. And that doesn't even account for the people month who have taken their boats and tried to flee across the ocean to places like Europe. But we are hearing from folks here on the ground is they say that many who have tried have died along the way. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN NEW DAY: Fred Pleitgen reporting for us, Fred, thank you very much.

New Day continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, November 1st. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman, and Wolf Blitzer here standing by in Scotland, where President Biden has just arrived for the climate summit. He will get to work about an hour from now in the opening session.

Overnight, the president rolled out a long-term strategy for 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan includes converting to electric vehicles and buildings and reducing emissions from super pollutants.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: This is a critical stop on the president's European visit. While there is big news on his legislative agenda here at home, progressives now signaling support for two historic bills on infrastructure and social programs. And a vote now appears likely this week.

Let's start our coverage though in Scotland with Brave Heart Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Indeed. All right, guys, thanks very much.

The U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry, and his team are already downplaying expectations for the climate summit. Demand for oil is surging during a developing global energy crisis right now. China and Russia, two of the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are no-shows at this global climate summit here in Scotland.

Natasha Bertrand is beginning our coverage live from Washington right now. Natasha, update our viewers on the very latest.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hey, Wolf. Yes. So, President Biden and his national security team, including John Kerry, the global climate envoy, they have arrived in Glasgow ahead of this jam-packed day of meetings where they will attempt to raise ambitions by other countries, by the global community to combat climate change. And the president is expected to make remarks later this morning and he is expected to make a personal commitment to fighting climate change. That's according to his national security adviser who spoke to reporters last night.

The president has also been talking up this legislation at home about this $550 billion that that legislation includes for climate change, climate investments, clean energy incentives. And he has been telling world leaders that this is a framework that shows that the United States is really back a as a leader on climate change and trying to set an example for the global community about what the richer countries can do anyway to pour money into investments to have a chance at capping global warming to this 1.5 degree threshold and kind of, you know, eliminating dirty fossil fuels from the picture here.


But the president is already tamping down expectations about those commitments from the global community and he expressed pointedly disappointment yesterday with regard what Russia and China have not done. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: With regard to the disappointment, the disappointment relates to the fact that Russia and -- including not only Russia but China basically didn't show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change. And there's a reason why people should be disappointed in that. I found it disappointed myself.


BERTRAND: Now, Wolf, this is also the biggest test yet for his climate envoy, John Kerry, the former secretary of state. And his team also is kind of downplaying expectations ahead of this summit, messaging it more as the beginning of a long process than as the culmination of Kerry's efforts over the last eight or nine months.

He has been traveling the world trying to get commitments from foreign countries that are the biggest emitters, of course, Russia, China, India among them. But he has been having a tough time, frankly, especially when it comes to China. That is largely because the relationship with China -- with the U.S. and China is at an all-time low right now. Tensions are extremely high and China has said that they cannot really separate the climate issue from the broader commitments, the broader relationship between the U.S. and China.

So, a bit of tension there between Kerry and the administration on the China policy that has kind of thrown a hamstring in the works here. But, again, this is an attempt by the administration to raise the ambitions and show the world that the U.S. is back at the table here. Of course, one of the big questions they will have is whether the U.S. is here to stay.

BLITZER: Yes. There will be a lot of words that will be uttered here in Scotland over the course of the next several days. The question is whether these words will be packed up with action, including, as you correctly point out, billions and billions of dollars.

Natasha Bertrand, thank you very much.

Brianna, we just showed our viewers some live pictures of President Biden arriving here in Scotland, Edinburgh. That's where the airport is. He's going to be driving very nearby to Glasgow for the actual summit. We're here, we're watching all of this unfold. Our special coverage, of course, will continue.

In the meantime, Brianna, back to you.

KEILAR: All right. Thank you, Wolf. And we will check in throughout the show.

Back here in Washington, Democrats in Congress are working on passing the president's Build Back Better legislation. A House vote on the infrastructure bill that's already been passed in the Senate could happen later this week. But considering the way things have played out these past weeks and months, it also could not.

Joining me now to discuss this is the chief deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan. He also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. Sir, thank you for being with us in studio this morning.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Okay. So, the bill isn't final, and that means there's a lot of furious lobbying going on from people in your party who are hoping that their pet provisions, the things that matter so much to them, still going to end up in the bill. Could you see this changing? Do you think that, say, paid family leave or the ability of Medicare to negotiate drug prices will end up finally in this bill?

KILDEE: I think there's a chance that we will be able to make progress on drug pricing. There's been a lot of discussion over the last couple of days, potentially over the next couple of days, we could come to an understanding that would not be precisely what the House would like to have, this really expansive drug price negotiation legislation that we've already passed, but something that takes a big step toward that, maybe a narrower set of drugs that would be subject to negotiation under pricing, saving the federal government hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, but more importantly, saving consumers.

So, we think we can get there. It's possible. But what we have is pretty substantial as it is. I think part of the problem that we're all dealing with is we had a $3.5 trillion expectation, we have an agreement in principle around $1.75 trillion. But if we all step back from that, this is a huge investment in American families, reducing the cost of health care, making sure people have adequate access to child care so they can get back into the workforce. Sometimes we have to think about what we have and not so much what's not included. Pass this. Change the lives of so many Americans and then build on that.

KEILAR: You said we have an agreement. I will say at this point Senators Sinema and Manchin are not signed on. They have spoken positively about it.


They are not to yes at this point in time.

Just real quickly, back to the specifics on the drug pricing, so, is what you are saying that Medicare could negotiate drugs on the market long enough that there are generic versions but not drugs that are pretty new and so they have exclusivity, is that what you are saying?

KILDEE: That has been the crux of the debate, is to whether or not we should negotiate for a broad array of drugs or a more narrow range of drugs for which the research has long been paid off. I think there is a debate as to whether or not we should have more patent protections, more exclusivity when there is still a lot of research.

But taking one example, insulin, we ought to be able to negotiate drug pricing for insulin. This is something that Americans know when they go to buy it over the counter costs far more than it cost the producers to deliver it to the market. We cannot have billions and billions of dollars of profits going to drug companies when people are having to essentially not taking their insulin.

KEILAR: Or ration it.

KILDEE: And ration their insulin. This is something most families have some experience with.

KEILAR: Senator Sanders said that all 50 Democratic senators need to agree on this before House progressives agree to vote yes, or before progressives agree to vote yes. Do you agree with that? Is that the order of things here?

KILDEE: That's where we are right now. And I think we're so close that I think we have to take this position. Look, for most of us, we view the Build Back Better and the bipartisan infrastructure bill as one big agenda. This is the Biden agenda. He articulated on the campaign trail that we agreed with. And the fact that we really are so close to having a deal that has unfortunately just Democrats moving forward together, really no Republican support for the entire package, we're close.

And we just need to get the details right, not worry so much about the political dynamic in this moment because the most eloquent message, political message, is a message delivered at the kitchen table, reducing the cost of child care, making drug prices more affordable. That's the most eloquent message we can deliver.

KEILAR: Separately, The Washington Post has done some pretty extraordinary reporting where they have constructed a comprehensive timeline of what happened before, during and after January 6th. And one of the things is that President Trump, for 187 minutes, did nothing, that he did nothing during that time, even as so much was playing out on the Hill. What is your reaction to learning that he did nothing, including sending no aid to Congress? KILDEE: I wish I was surprised. For 41 of those 187 minutes, I was trapped in the gallery with just a few police officers and hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get in. Who knows what they would have done to all of us. The fact that the president saw this as a confirmation of himself and not as an attack on our democracy tells you basically all you need to know about this person.

This is the most self-centered, egotistical, frightening person ever to hold any public office that I've ever seen. And this reporting puts it in really stark form. It's frightening.

KEILAR: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you for being with us this morning.

KILDEE: Thank you.


BERMAN: Tomorrow is the deadline to vote in two key governor's races, Virginia and New Jersey. They could have a profound effect on the national political landscape and offer a preview of the upcoming 2022 midterms.

Joining me now, Ron Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor at The Atlantic, and Sophia Nelson, USA Today Columnist and Scholar-in-Residence at Christopher Newport University.

Ron, I actually feel like we have learned a lot already, particularly from Virginia. What is the fact that it is so close the race in Virginia right now in a state that Joe Biden won by ten points one year ago?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. I mean, this is kind of I think a ghost of Christmas future moment for Democrats. I mean, Virginia -- what happens in Virginia is not a guarantee of what will happen in the midterm but it is, in all likelihood, a preview of what will happen if the political environment does not improve for Democrats.

Midterm elections are always tough for the part holding the White House. Their voters are less likely to show up than the voters who are outside of the White house and who were fired up. But they are especially tough when the president's approval rating is sagging, as Biden's is now 42 percent nationally, 43 percent in Virginia in The Washington Post poll.

So I think what this says is that, win or lose, if McAuliffe wins narrowly or he loses narrowly, either way, it sends the same message to Democrats, that, out of self-interest, they have to find a way to come together and help Biden rebuild his approval rating before next November, because if they don't, it's going to be a very tough night.


BERMAN: Sophia, what lessons are Republicans likely to take from Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, win or lose, at this point? SOPHIA A. NELSON, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, good morning, everybody. I think a couple things. If Glenn Youngkin wins, and I do think there's a fair chance that he could pull it off on Tuesday, I live in Loudoun County, which is what I call ground zero, it is where all the culture wars are being fought. And I think that Glenn Youngkin has done a very good job, like him or not, with balancing, catering to the Trump base, having people like our state senator here, Amanda Chase, who calls herself Trump in heels, on his campaign, someone he'd beaten in the primary.

And then he has also done a really good job of using the wedge issues that we have here with the school board. There have been issues around transgender students and, you know, the roles that the county plays with respect to providing restrooms and all of these different things that have been happening here in Loudoun County, their culture issues.

And then Terry McAuliffe stepped in a little bit when he said he didn't think parents should be involved in the education in the debate, right, and Glenn has used that very effectively to rally up independents. And that's where I think this race is going to head.

So, Republicans are watching this to see how you do that balancing act of embracing Trump in your primary and then you got to run away from Trump a little bit when you get to the general so that you can get the independent voters back. And I think that he's probably done a good job.

And I would say one other thing. Go to Christopher Newport University's (INAUDIBLE) Center. There is a great poll October 27th. It really breaks all of this down, likely voters, and it's a dead heat right now.

BERMAN: So, Ron, why is New Jersey seemingly at least a little different from what's happening in Virginia right now? Phil Murphy running for re-election, that is a plus 16 state for Joe Biden one year ago, but Murphy seems to be a little bit safer.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. It's funny. Every four years, of course, we pay a lot of attention to Virginia and New Jersey typically gets less attention as the first off-year election. Some of it has to do with proximity. It is easier for reporters in Washington to get to Virginia. But New Jersey is a more democratic state.

And we will be -- look, we will be looking, I think, for two things out of both states. One, is do you see the usual imbalance in intensity where the party out of the White House, in this case, the Republicans, their base shows up more than the Democratic base? And then the other question is the one we were just talking about in Loudon County. Do we see center-right, particularly college-educated voters, who may have moved away from the Republican Party because they couldn't stand Trump, drift back even though, as we see in this Washington Post reporting, you know, Trump's kind of threat to American democracy is real and ongoing.

And I think such a critical issue, John, for not only '22 but '24 is what do these Republican-leaning voters, who moved away from the party, do, are they willing to cast votes for republicans who will enable and excuse what Trump is doing? And in Virginia, the answer seems to be more yes than no.

BERMAN: Is Trump losing potency as a voting issue, Sophia?

NELSON: I think so. I live, like I said, in Loudon County, Northern Virginia. Ron has the great question. I'm one of those Republicans, right, you guys all know this, moderate that moved away, never Trumper. I refuse to have anything to do with anything about him.

But someone like me is not going to vote for Glenn Youngkin, right, because I am not comfortable with the election integrity rhetoric that he opened up with and the ties, the subtle hints of Trumpism. And I think that Ron is right. The question is what will those moderate independent-leaning Republicans do? And I think they're come back home because of the cultural issues.

And I have been screaming about this for a year. I don't think that Democrats have been paying attention at how galvanized our country is and here in Virginia on the culture wars. And it's a big deal. I think if Youngkin wins, that's why.

BERMAN: Sophia Nelson, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. Sophia, I should note, is the author of E Pluribus One, Rediscovering Our Founder's Vision for a United America. Thank you both.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Alec Baldwin breaking his silence in a tense exchange with reporters about the deadly shooting on the set of his film.

KEILAR: Plus, the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse getting away with a controversial ruling by the judge.

And Elon Musk makes a $6 billion offer with a big catch.



BERMAN: Some tense moments as Alec Baldwin broke his silence about the death of Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after Baldwin discharged a prop gun -- or discharged a gun that was supposed to be used as a prop on a movie set.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR AND PRODUCER, RUST: She was my friend. She was my friend. The day I arrived in Santa Fe and started shooting, I took her to dinner with Joel, the director. We were a very, very -- excuse me. We were a very, very, you know, well-oiled crew shooting a film together and then this horrible event happened.

There are incident accidents on film sets from time to time but nothing like this. This is a one in a trillion event. It's one in a trillion. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining me now to discuss is California State Senator Dave Cortese. He is planning to introduce legislation to ban firearms and live ammo on film sets. Sir, thank you so much for being with us.

First, I would like for you to comment on what we heard from Alec Baldwin there.


He said this is a one in a trillion event. Do you think it is?

STATE SEN. DAVE CORTESE (D-CA): No, I don't think it is. It's actually kind of disturbing to hear him framing or reframing the issue that way. The fact of the matter is this wasn't a fluke or matter of chance. What happened was live ammunition was introduced onto a movie set. It shouldn't have been. A firearm was loaded with live ammunition. It shouldn't have been.

That firearm was handed to him without it being checked. He didn't check it, obviously. He then pointed the firearm toward another human being, put his finger on the trigger, both of which are mistakes according to anyone who knows anything about handling firearms. And then he pulls the trigger of the firearm, with the firing pin with a live round in it and shoots it. All of those are mistakes. Those are mistakes. Those aren't matters of chance. If you correct even one of those mistakes in that sequence of events, Halyna Hutchins is still alive.

So, to characterize it as a one in a trillion or a matter of chance is -- I don't know if it's an attempt at a new narrative or revisionist history, or if it's just a man in a state of shock trying to defend his actions. But we have to be concerned with workplace safety that's why we will be bringing legislation forward, I will, in California.

KEILAR: Walk us through this bill. What does it do?

CORTESE: The bill was -- we just got the first draft of the bill, first of all, last Friday, just before the weekend from what we call leg council, our legislative council in Sacramento. We started a paperwork on that a week ago today. We will begin moving through the process now and putting more and more details on the bill.

So, the bill is in its first draft form now. And what it intends to do in the state of California is create standards and remedies, best practices, codified in, which don't exist right now in California. There are regulations that the industry has. There're regulations that are written into bargaining agreements with the unions. But believe it or not, there's nothing in the labor and employment code that regulates the industry in terms of --

KEILAR: And so what would it do when it comes to firearms or prop guns? Let's make a distinction between the two, live rounds, and blanks. What does this bill do? CORTESE: Yes. First of all, there's no such thing as a prop gun. That doesn't exist. What there are are guns that have firing pins and can shoot live rounds that are used as props and there's -- currently, and there're guns, of course, could be dummy guns, plastic guns, rubber guns, whatever. This bill will clean that up and saying that you don't bring live guns, that's what they call them in the industry, guns that have a firing pin, guns that can shoot a live round or live ammunition onto the set in the first place. And if you do, there's remedies and penalties for that.

In this case, we know that crew members were beginning to raise safety measures on this set well before the Hutchins tragedy. Had they been able to go to a state agency at that point in time, bring code enforcement in, perhaps the site would have been red tagged. Perhaps filming would have stopped until that had been cleaned up. Those are kind of remedies that we're going to be putting in place here in California.

KEILAR: Well, we appreciate you talking to us about this bill. This incident raising so many questions about how to make it not happen again in the future, and we appreciate you being with us, Senator Dave Cortese.

CORTESE: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: So, up next, why two college Florida professors are blocked from testifying about voting rights.

BERMAN: And what the judge in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is telling prosecutors they cannot do in court.