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Fed Chair Pick; Iowa Gives Unemployment to those Fired for being Unvaccinated; Trump Defends Threats to "Hang" Pence during Insurrection; American Journalist Sentenced to 11 Years in Myanmar Prison. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: President expected to announce that pick as early as next week, John. His term - Powell's term expires in February.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It could get bipartisan support even though Elizabeth Warren is against it. Some Republicans could support it. And it is worthy to know with him (INAUDIBLE) should being a problem, there is a political cover it could give him as well because he could say whatever decisions Powell make, he's the guy that Trump actually nominated first. Fascinating one.

ROMANS: There is also an argument, don't rock the boat right here when you're right in the middle of the Fed unwinding this massive stimulus.

BERMAN: Big decision. Thanks, Christine.

So, if you're fired in Iowa for refusing to get the vaccine, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. How businesses are getting caught in the middle.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, he was killed while jogging. And now the defense in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial wants to ban, quote, "black pastors" from being in the courtroom. One of those pastors will join us live to respond.



KEILAR: Inflation, supply chain issues, and staffing shortages are not the only challenges for business owners. In Iowa, people fired for not getting vaccinated are getting unemployment benefits from the state, and business owners are footing the bill.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is joining us from Des Moines.

How is this being received there, Vanessa?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the federal vaccine mandate and this new state law came out within just days of each other. And now, businesses are both trying to understand them and comply, creating confusion here in the business community.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): In rural Iowa, Spurgeon Manor is the only elderly care facility in Dallas Center. Its existence and staff that work here are critical for the town's ageing population.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I loved being here. You know that.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But now, two new rules, one federal and one state, are making this vital job more complicated.

MAUREEN CAHILL, ADMINISTRATOR, SPURGEON MANOR: We really are caught in the middle.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): At health care facilities like this one, new federal guidelines require all staff to be fully vaccinated by January 4th, except for those with approved medical or religious exemptions.

CAHILL: We're 83 percent vaccinated. But there's still 18 of my employees that are not vaccinated, and I cannot afford to lose one.

YURKEVICH (on camera): If they don't get vaccinated by the deadline, are they fired?

CAHILL: Unless I can find an acceptable accommodation for them, then they can't work with the residents.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): And late last month, Governor Kim Reynolds, who supported ending pandemic on employment benefits early, signed a new law, granting benefits to fired employees who choose not to get vaccinated. Normally, fired employees are not eligible.

YURKEVICH (on camera): What is the burden that it places on you?

CAHILL: It's higher fees for insurance. And so, that makes our burden harder to provide cares for our residents.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Businesses exclusively fund state unemployment through a payroll tax. With this new state law, they will pay even more for fired employees.

DENISE HILL, EMPLOYMENT LAW PROFESSOR, DRAKE UNIVERSITY: And they don't have a choice in the matter. The state has answered a mandate with another mandate. That is only putting business owners in between.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The family-owned farm manufacturing company, Sukup, has 700 employees. About 50 percent are vaccinated, in line with local county rates, the company said, navigating a federal rule and state law adds one more hurdle in a challenging year.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Supply chain issues, labor shortages, and now this. What does that feel like?

CHARLES SUKUP, BOARD CHAIRMAN, SUKUP: Oh, it's just a one-two-three punch on things.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Board chairman Charles Sukup says, he wishes vaccine mandates were left to the companies themselves.

SUKUP: Every business is being put between a rock and a hard place, between a mandate that's one size fits all. And then you have state rules and regulations that are trying to protect individual rights as well. And businesses in general are getting caught in the squeeze.


YURKEVICH (on camera): Businesses also tell us that they wish that they had more time, time to understand these two new rules and time to get their workforces to comply by this January deadline.

About 46 percent of Iowans are still unvaccinated. And it is important to note that some companies, like the farm company you heard from, they can offer weekly testing for employees who choose not to get vaccinated. But the question becomes, Brianna, who pays for that? Is that the federal government, the state, or the businesses themselves which would just add another financial burden for businesses here in Iowa. Brianna?

KEILAR: It seems like it might be the businesses, right? But you can see there's a lot of pressure on these businesses. Maybe not to comply with the federal mandate. So, we will have to see how this shakes out. Vanessa Yurkevich, great report. Thank you.

Coming up, tensions are rising on the Poland/Belarus border as thousands of migrants are left stranded, hungry and frozen. We're going to take you there live.

BERMAN: Breaking news. Donald Trump defending the threats to hang former Vice President Mike Pence during the insurrection. We just got the new audio tape.



KEILAR: Overnight, an American journalist in Myanmar was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Danny Fenster was arrested in May as tried to leave the country. He was sentenced on charges that included incitement against the military. And he could face even more serious charges of sedition and terrorism. Myanmar has cracked down on the press since the military coup in February. And human rights activist say, Fenster's trial and sentence are a sham.

Developing this morning. Thousands of people are stranded at the border between Belarus and Poland. And they are facing some dire conditions from freezing temperatures and vicious beatings, to going without food and water. Many of the migrants trying to travel on from Poland and deeper into Europe.

Frederik Pleitgen live for us on the Polish side of the border. Fred, tell us what you're witnessing. FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brianna. I'm actually at the last checkpoint before you get into what's called the exclusion zone. Because essentially, the Polish government has done is they've said that journalists and NGOs are not allowed any closer to the border. It's about a mile away. And that is where that makeshift migrant camp has sprung up. It's on the Belarusian side of the border.

And you know one of the things that we have to point out in all of this is that the conditions out here are absolutely appalling.


It's very cold, especially at night. Consistently below freezing. And so, really the people who are in that camp, they are out in the elements. They have very little, if nothing, in the way of facilities. Some of them have tents. But most of them are really just "out in the open." And of course, food and water also very much in short supply. So, all of that really the very dire situation.

What you have there is a standoff with the migrants are - are basically in between Belarus and Poland, the European Union. And that's when they could get really dangerous for this entire region because the Belarusians are saying they want those people to go across the border. They are not letting them back in to Belarus.

But the Polish side is staying. They are going to stand firm. They deployed some 15,000 troops and border officials here to the border. They say they have hermetically sealed it off. They say no one is going to get through. They call all of this state-sponsored human trafficking.

Now, there was a small group that was able to get through the border earlier today. But the Polish have said that they have detained all of those people and have sent several back into the Belarusian area. Brianna?

KEILAR: So, what is the EU and the U.S. doing here to stop Lukashenko?

PLEITGEN: Yeah. You know, they're really stepping up pressure. And I think one of the things that you can really see is that the EU now is really coming together. And the U.S. certainly playing its side as well. The U.S. have said that it wants to implement new sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian strong man.

The European Union really has a two-fold strategy in all this. On the one hand, it sealed off its border. But on the other hand, it also says it wants to increase sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko. But what it's also doing is it's threatening the airlines that are flying these people into Belarus. A lot of them coming via Istanbul and Turkey. Some of them also via Iraq. And the European Union has said that those airlines really need to watch out.

Now, there might be a small victory for the European Union in this. I just got word a couple of minutes ago that apparently, the Belarusian flagship carrier and some Turkish carriers as well say they are not going to allow people who want to fly to Belarus from Istanbul onto the planes anymore. And that's certainly something that would be very important for the European Union.

At the same time, you do see that this conflict isn't going away any time soon. You have the Belarusian strong man Alexander Lukashenko. He's still threatening the European Union. He threatened to cut off gas that of course comes from Russia. What we have seen in the past couple days even is maneuvers that were flown by the Russian air force with strategic nuclear capable bombers over Belarusian airspace. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Fred, look, distressing pictures there. You see children in there in freezing temperatures. And this is very serious, these conditions.

Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

BERMAN: On the subject of autocrats and not completely disconnected, Russian Leader Vladimir Putin testing the U.S. in Europe. New reports of Russian troop movements near Ukraine raising alarms in Washington.


ANTHONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014 when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory, and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked.


BERMAN: He is referring to Russia's invasion and occupation of Crimea, worried that Russia would do it again.

Joining me now is professor of Global Politics University College in London, Brian Klaas. His new book examines why people like Putin end up in power. That book is called "Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us."

Professor, what's Putin up to here and what kind of response from the U.S. and the rest of the world could stop him?

BRIAN KLAAS, PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: It's a great question. So, Vladimir Putin, everything about him is about power. And so, even when we have foreign policy stories like troops amassing at the border, we have to think about what he is trying to achieve.

And what he is trying to achieve is consolidation of power in Russia. He's facing saggy in approval ratings even though he has a state propaganda network on his side. He's facing the prospect of unrest and he's cracking down on journalists and human rights groups.

So, what he's doing is he is trying to activate this sort of latent impulse inside of our brains to turn to strong men in times of crises. This happens, as I explain in the book from everyone from mid-level managers who have dictatorial personalities, to actual dictators, where they understand that creating crises is a good way to consolidate power.

And so, I think the key here is there needs to be a strong push back from the United States to make it clear that this tactic will not work and that he needs to think about his foreign position and not just his domestic position.

BERMAN: You talk about strong men creating crises. This just in, Jonathan Karl, White House correspondent at ABC News is writing a new book called "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," which has to do with the insurrection, which has to do with the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

And this week on ABC, just released audio of an interview that Jonathan did with the former president, where Jonathan asks him about the calls to hang Mike Pence during the insurrection and if Trump was worried about them. Listen to this.



JONATHAN KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think -

KARL: Because you heard those chants -- that was terrible. I mean --

TRUMP: He could have -- well, the people were very angry.

KARL: They were saying "Hang Mike Pence."

TRUMP: Because it's commonsense, Jon. It's commonsense that you're supposed to protect. How can you -- if you know a vote is fraudulent, right?

KARL: Yeah.

TRUMP: How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?


BERMAN: OK. Three things. A, the vote was not fraudulent. B, the fact that he acknowledges that he was getting reports about the well-being of the vice president is certainly interesting in terms of the timeline of what he knew and what he was monitoring. But C, what I want to focus on with you, justify the calls to hang the vice president of the United States. What does that tell you?

KLAAS: Yeah. You know I think there's a bigger picture here. Those comments are obviously despicable, and they are mainstreaming political violence. It's a threat against leaders of the United States.

But we have to take a step back and see. This is happening from the top to the bottom, right? So, school board members are facing death threats now for following public health guidance. People in community - you know town councils and so on.

And one of the points that I make in the book is that power is magnetic to corruptible people. So, you can either downplay that effect or you can amplify it. Trump's comments amplify it. Because they -- the people who are drawn the power when power comes with the risk of violence are the worst kinds of people.

And so, the Republican Party is creating a pipeline for corruptible leaders by doing this. They're making it so good, decent people. Look at the rest, you know chants of hang Mike Pence all the way to threats against school board member and they're just going to bow out.

So, I think the story is not just about Trump. It's not just about January 6th. It's about the kind of leaders we're going to get if we don't push back against this violent extremism that is being mainstreamed in America right now and that's going to have dire consequences for people who put their hat in the ring who try to become powerful in our society in the future.

BERMAN: So, in your book, how do you push back on that?

KLAAS: So, I think there is a really important aspect where you have to think about who is drawn to power. So, I use the analogy of a high school basketball team. The try-out for that is going to have taller kids than usual. With power, you're going to have power-hungry people crave power more than the average person. So, you have to recruit with that in mind.

Police departments are a great example, right? We talk a lot about what the police do. We need to think about who the police are, who is drawn to policing. And as I argue in the book, you can design recruitment schemes that try to amplify the best people in society.

You can fix this. This is actually quite an optimistic book. Because we can fix this. But we need to think much more seriously about who is drawn to power and how systems either amplify power-hungry people or counteract them and keep them out of positions they have no business being in.

BERMAN: Professor, I do a lot of reading. Brianna knows because we talk about it all the time. Historically speaking, the reaction to power grabs, the reaction to would-be autocrats. What has history taught us about modernist (ph) or tepid reaction to that?

KLAAS: Well, it has taught us that it is just going to make it worse, right? There is a ratcheting effect. One of the things that happens with people in positions of power, is that it is true that power corrupts. We have plenty of psychology research, neuroscience research. It physically changes your brain.

As I talk about in the book, this is something that means over time, if you don't face consequences, accountability and oversight, you are just going to get worse. And so, I think we need to recognize that and understand that, yes, we have a self-selection problem with who is seeking power, but we can counteract that by actually doing more than a slap on the wrist when people who are in power behave in atrocious, unacceptable, despicable ways like Donald Trump did with those comments about Mike Pence.

BERMAN: Yeah, again, again. And if everyone just moves on from the former president trying to justify or normalize calls to hang the former vice president, that's a problem. That has consequences.

Professor Brian Klaas, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

KLAAS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. We have more on this breaking news, including the legal angle of Trump getting -- saying he was getting updates about what was going on at the Capitol. That could be significant.

KEILAR: And Meghan Markle apologizing for misleading a British court. What she failed to tell a judge.



KEILAR: Week 10 of the NFL season and it's kicking off with an upset in Miami.

Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report." Andy?


So, this game between the Dolphins and the Ravens last night, it was an offensive struggle. It was the first game this season where there were more punts than points through the first three-quarters. And the best play of the game was one that didn't even count.

Third quarter, Dolphins was going run a screen here. And offensive lineman Robert Hunt decides to catch it. Look at the big man go. Takes it beautifully, stretches out for the touchdown. Only problem was, he wasn't eligible to receive it, so it did not count.

Miami kicked the field goal there with 9 -3 in the fourth quarter. Sammy Watkins fumbles the ball. Xavien Howard picks it up, weaves his way for a 49-yard touchdown. Dolphins pulled off the upset 22-10. First time in Lamar Jackson's career that the Ravens scored just 10 points in a game.

All right. College basketball season just a few days old. But we may have already seen the buzzer beater of the year. UC Riverside pulling off the incredible upset against Arizona state. J.P. Moorman, a desperation hit from well beyond half court. Islanders celebrate winning that one 66-65.

And finally, in the NBA, things getting heated between the Pacers and the Jazz. 4th quarter, Indiana center Myles Turner blocks Rudy Gobert.