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New Day

House to Vote Today on Spending Bill After Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Delay Tactic; Closing Arguments Set Monday in Trial Over Killing Ahmaud Arbery; Today, CDC to Discuss New COVID Data, Diminishing Immunity. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 07:00   ET


STEVEN SIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: Too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this, that we let business, politics, money dictate what's right and what's wrong.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fury comes weeks before another high-dollar event, the Beijing Winter Olympics. Peng, a three-time Olympian, the IOC staying out of it. Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution.

NATASHA KASSAM, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC OPINION AND FOREIGN POLICY, LOWRY INSTITUTE: The WTA have been quite bold compared to other organizations that have interests in China. They really came out swinging.

RIPLEY: China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs refusing to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a foreign affairs matter.

RIPLEY: U.S. President Joe Biden is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games. The Chinese patriarchy has long been accused of suppressing the rights of women and minorities. Government censors cutting off CNN's coverage of Peng Shuai's disappearance, but China cannot censor away the outrage and growing demands for answers.


RIPLEY: Peng Shuai is a household name in China. She is an icon of Chinese tennis. And now she is an icon of that country's struggling Me Too movement that has effectively been silenced and censored by the leaders of China, basically a group of old men. She had to have known, John, when she spoke out on Wabo that something like this would happen.

But until we have a chance to actually speak with her, until the authorities, until the WTA can talk to her, nobody will really know what her motives are here, because, as of now, the WTA, they've emailed, they've called, yes, they received that one strange legalese sounding email, but every attempt that they made to communicate with her has gone unanswered, which is why they believe she is being held and not being allowed to express her views. JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: So many people just want to know that she's okay. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday, November 19th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

We're maybe an hour away for a vote that is a huge step for President Biden and his agenda, the Build Back Better social agenda poised to pass the House. But it comes after we saw some history overnight, long-winded history, the longest House speech on record. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke for more than eight hours touching on everything from carrots to Red Dawn.

Now, if his goal was to have the vote in the dark, it didn't work. The vote is coming.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: In the light, actually. House Democrats plan to vote on the Build Back Better plan when lawmakers reconvene about an hour from now. And they are confident that they have the votes to pass it. What happens after that, that's more uncertain. To make it through the Senate, Democrats will need all 50 members of the Democratic caucus on board.

So, let's bring in CNN's Jessica Dean live for us on Capitol Hill. Tell us about the state of play as we have this pretty important step in all of this about an hour or so ahead of us, Jessica.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is a key step for a major plank of President Biden's domestic agenda, Brianna. And so here's where things stand right now. At 8:00, the House is set to reconvene. We're expecting that Speaker Pelosi will wrap up debate.

Now, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, she has unlimited time to speak. But the sense among members, among leadership, they want to vote and they want to get this done. So, we expect things to move quickly on that front, that she will speak but not nearly the 8 hours and 32 minutes that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took up overnight and into the morning.

After she speaks, they will vote on the Build Back Better Act. Of course, the holdout on that had been a handful of moderates wanted to see that CBO score, which came out late yesterday afternoon. And at this point, all indications are they have the votes to get this passed and send it over to the Senate.

Now, this comes after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaking in this marathon, filibuster-type speech throughout the evening and into the morning. I believe we have a little sample of what he had to say. Take a listen.

Well, we don't have that. But it went on for a long time. And as you can imagine in that much time, he covered an enormous amount of issues, railing against Democrats, against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, talking about a variety of issues. But now, the fact of the matter is this is going to move ahead. And what comes next is it will head over to the Senate where it faces a long and winding path there. And all eyes go to Senator Joe Manchin. Remember, they're going to need all 50 senators, Democratic senators on the Senate side, to get this through.

And Manchin has expressed a lot of concern about a number of issues that are in this bill, including paid leave, the expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing.


He's concerned about inflation. There's a number of issues that they're going to have to work around, and it's going to take some time to get through the Senate.

And then the question, John and Brianna, becomes, okay, it has to come go back to the House at that point. Will progressives find it acceptable if it's a whittled-down version. Also, keep an eye on President Biden. House progressives really trusting him on this. He has told them and promised them that he can get all 50 senators on board, including Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema. They are counting on him to come through on that. So, we will see what happens when it goes over to the Senate. But, again, 8:00 A.M. is the hour we're now watching when things will get busy here once again.

KEILAR: He did talk about inflation. He did talk about gas prices. But eight hours is a very long time. And so you heard him talking about baby carrots, a congressional potluck that I am sure will never happen, and also Red Dawn, which is a favorite movie of many people, one that John Berman really likes, Jessica Dean. So, don't go far because this is going to be a big hour ahead of us. Thanks, Jessica.

DEAN: Yes.

BERMAN: Wolverines, that's all I have to say about that.

All right, big news out of Georgia, where lawyers for three men charged in Ahmaud Arbery's killing, have rested their case but not before one of the defendants, Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, returned to the witness stand. He was grilled by prosecutors over his version of the deadly shooting.

Joining us now, Elie Honig, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor. Elie, this cross from the prosecutors was meticulous. And you saw them piece by piece addressing weaknesses in the defense case starting with the idea that the defendant was doing this to make some kind of a citizen's arrest on Ahmaud Arbery. Watch this.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Not once during your statement to the police did you say that you and your father were trying to arrest Mr. Arbery, did you?


DUNIKOSKI: Yes, to the police.

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.


ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That is just devastating, John. That is a devastating piece of cross-examination. Because, first, it takes down one of the pillars of the defense here, which is the argument that the reason Travis McMichael and his father and his neighbor pursued Ahmaud Arbery, was not because they wished to do him harm but because they were going to place him under citizen's arrest.

However, the obvious question, why didn't you say anything about a citizen's arrest to the police at that time? Wouldn't that be the first thing you would say to the police? So, it casts serious doubt on that part of the defense.

Also, whenever a defendant takes the stand in his own trial, it's the most important moment of the trial and it's all about credibility. That takes a serious chunk out of Travis McMichael's credibility.

BERMAN: Well, let's talk more about credibility here, because the prosecutor was able or at least tried to expose discrepancies between what McMichael told police and what McMichael is testifying on the stand. Listen.


DUNIKOSKI: Detective Nohill specifically asked you, do you remember if he grabbed the shotgun at all. And your response was, I want to say he did, but, honestly, I cannot remember. I mean, we were -- me and him were face-to-face the entire time. Do you remember saying that?

MCMICHAEL: Yes. And I was trying to think of that exact moment, trying to give -- like I say, trying to give him as much detail as possible under the stress of all of this going on.


HONIG: That's another crucial discrepancies between the original testimony that Travis McMichael gave the jury, that Arbery grabbed the gun. That's what he said. No equivocation about it, to what he said to police originally, which is, I really don't know. That is a huge difference. That is the key moment of the whole interaction here. And whether Ahmaud Arbery's hand was on the gun is a key part of that key moment.

And, again, his credibility is shot here. If I'm the prosecutor, I'm standing up when I give my closing early next week and I'm saying, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, he lied to you about citizen's arrest, he lied to you about the hand on the gun, as the judge will instruct the jury, you are free to disregard his entire testimony if you find he lied to yo7u about important matters like that.

BERMAN: And then the prosecutor also was able to get McMichael to explain just how threatened he felt during different parts of the encounter. Listen.


DUNIKOSKI: He never yelled apt you guys?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never threatened you at all?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't brandish any weapons?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't put outline any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran?

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running


HONIG: They should show that clip in law school. That's how you do cross-examination. One short question, one fact per question, yes, no answers, and built up to that final answer, he just ran. I mean, that is a phrase that I think is going to ring in the jury's memory. He just ran. And all those other important concessions, he was not armed, you had no reason to think he was armed.


And what it establishes here is Ahmaud Arbery was trying to get away. He's an unarmed man. Ho was the real threat here? The argument is these defendants. They pursued him. He tried to get away.

BERMAN: Could I ask you, Elie, how does the defense deal with this in closing, all of those things that you just laid out?

HONIG: You're going to have to argue that, ultimately, it came down to the moment in time, that brief moment in time when the struggle is happening. And I think their argument is going to be Travis McMichael feared that his gun would be taken and so he did what he had to do to protect himself.

The inconsistencies are really tough, especially when it's the defendant and especially we're not talking about tangential issues but the core of the testimony.

BERMAN: What we saw there appears to be good lawyering. What the jury saw, we won't know until next week. Elie Honig, thank you very much.

HONIG: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So, the jury in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial, homicide trial, I should say, is set to begin day four of deliberations. So far, the panel has been talking for 23 hours. They've asked the court a handful of questions but stayed silent for most of yesterday.

Joining me now, Civil Rights Attorney and former New York Prosecutor Charles F. Coleman Jr. First, let's just get this out of the way. It's friday.


BERMAN: Why is it that oftentimes people say, well, juries like to come back with a verdict on Friday?

COLEMAN: Well, John, the answer for that is very simple. No one wants to come back to court on Monday. So, the idea is that if we can make an agreement, if we can come to some sort of agreement or consensus before Friday, we don't have this hanging over our heads over the weekend and then have this process almost all the way over on Monday. We can sort of use the pressure of a Friday, close of business deadline to get us to come to an agreement. A lot of juries will try to do that.

BERMAN: So, the jury or a juror asked to take the instructions home overnight. The judge said, yes. This is unusual.

COLEMAN: It is unusual. Usually, you will not have a judge that will allow a juror or juries to take things like instructions outside of the courthouse. Because one of the reasons that you have that is you want to make sure that members of the jury are not having outside conversations with other people about the case. That's one thing that you see judges instruct juries on literally almost at the end of every single recess and coming back every day you instruct them not to have conversations with anyone about this case, so on and so forth.

But when someone takes something like jury instructions home, it opens the door for them to have conversations with people who are in the house who may not have seen the trial, who may not have heard all the judge's instructions, and that can potentially influence a juror in a negative way.

BERMAN: Does it give you any window into the state of mind of the jury that they wanted to take the jury instructions home?

COLEMAN: Well, what it tells me right now is that they are doing their job. Ultimately, the notes that we have seen, the requests that we have had have all been about the evidence and all been about the case. We have not had a question from the jury about interconflict between different jurors. That would be a bad sign. It's something that we should be prepared for a hung jury if we see. So, for right now, all of those notes are positive and suggests that the jury is taking this seriously, they are examining the evidence carefully and they are doing their job.

BERMAN: One of the defense lawyers who was speculating publicly that the that it's taken as long as it has indicates that maybe there is a split within the jury. We have no idea. We just don't know. But who would that benefit at this point?

COLEMAN: Well, it's hard to say. It's really impossible to say. I think that it just depends on where the majority of the split is held. Because sometimes what you will, and you have seen it before, where you will have a majority of the jury who feels one way, and that can ultimately coax a holdout into participating. Of course, we all know the story of 12 angry men where the exact opposite can happen. So, it really is entirely too early to tell and very difficult.

BERMAN: But there's every reason to think that we should be watching very, very closely.

And another thing, I keep saying the jury has asked questions. The jury actually hasn't asked questions. They have asked to see things again and review things. They seem to have an understanding of what they have been told, they just want to see it more and get a better sense of it. That tells you it's a jury that cares.

Charles, thank you very much, nice to see you.

COLEMAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Today, the CDC will debate boosters for all adults, and it could get FDA approval as early as today.

KEILAR: Plus, is Trump souring on Ron DeSantis? What we are learning about their relationship since Trump left office.



KEILAR: Today, a CDC panel of advisers will meet to discuss the request of Pfizer and Moderna. The companies have asked for federal approval to expand eligibility on the COVID booster vaccines to all adults 18 and older. And it's possible that the FDA may actually authorize those boosters as early as today. This is happening as COVID infection cases and hospitalizations are ticking up across the country.

So, let's talk about all of this now with CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Okay. Let's talk first about the boosters, which we could see available for all adults as of today. How does this affect the pandemic?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, first of all, if you look who is already eligible for boosters, it's a significant percentage of the country. Because you remember, they said people over the age of 65 but also adults with pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk.

And when you look at all those conditions, Brianna, it's close to 90 percent of adults have one of these qualifying conditions. So, this, I think, in some ways, is going to more of a communication sort of thing rather than anything else, just basically saying all adults are now eligible for boosters. So I think it will make it easier for people to understand. There have still been a lot of questions for that.

But I think, overall, if the question is what does this do for the pandemic, and we look at what is happening with the pandemic, we know case have started to go up, deaths and hospitalizations still a lower proportion of those but kind of plateaued.


But take a look at the difference still in this country between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. It is a very different picture. The vast majority of what we're seeing of impact really is among the unvaccinated. That's the curve on top. You're seeing cases among vaccinated. Those have ticked up, as you can see on that curve as well, but this is still primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So, that's a real important point.

Also, I think when we look at this data, I think it is important to know that the vaccines remain really good at protecting people from getting severely ill. When people get boosted, I think what with the data we are seeing now from other countries in particular, it also decreases the chances of people becoming infected. We've known, people who are vaccinated, even though they may be able to carry virus in their nose and their mouth, their likelihood of becoming infected in the first place is much, much lower. Those who are boosted will have even more protection against that as well.

KEILAR: That's great. You become less likely to be a vector, which is essential. Look, in my case, I still have an unvaccinated child. I'm doing my best not to spread it, right, even if I feel that I am protected.

So, as we are looking ahead here to the winter, knowing, of course, that this is kind of two pandemics, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, what is it going to look like, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, I think if we sort of look at, again, the impact of these boosters, you do get an idea that you could start to decrease overall transmission. What happens, I think, as we go into the cooler and drier months, you're going to have younger people sometimes meeting with older, more vulnerable people indoors. Some of those meetings have not happened for a long time. If people are well protected, then I think, you know, you're much less likely to have sort of spread within those households and those particular communities.

But in areas where there is not as much immunity, either from vaccines or from infection-acquired immunity, you are likely to see more spread. So, we often talk about the country, Brianna, as a whole, what is happening in the country, but you are likely to see increased pockets of spread in some place. In other places, they're going to seem relatively buffered from what's going on.

KEILAR: Can we discuss the latest on this question of how the COVID pandemic started, because there is a researcher who is taking a fresh look at the origins of COVID-19. And he says that the evidence points straight to that food market in Wuhan rather than a lab leak, which is obviously different than you have been told by some former or one in particular former Trump administration official.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, look, we did a whole documentary about this and talked to lots of people and I think it's safe to say it's still a murky picture here. But what they're looking at in this particular study or article that you're talking about was they're looking back at the Wuhan food market that got a lot of attention early on and basically tracing cases around there, saying how likely are these cases to be related to the market. And there's been some evidence, obviously, from the very beginning that that was an origin of this, that there were some animals in there that may have been some of the initial vectors of spread. But it's still a pretty murky picture.

The commentary referring to as I spoke to Dr. Robert Redfield about this, someone who was CDC director at the time, someone who had access to a lot of the raw data and intelligence, and when I asked about this, this was back in the spring, here's what he said.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human.

Normally, when the pathogen goes from a zoonotic to a human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human genome transmission. I just don't think this makes biological sense.


GUPTA: What he is basically saying, Brianna, is when this pathogen, we really started to see it, it was already so contagious, that it seems like it would have been sort of either adapted in human cells somehow beforehand to be that contagious. Other people say, look, it may have already been spreading at a lower level within Wuhan, just wasn't really hitting people's radar until later in 2019. We don't know still, Brianna. It's still not clear.

I think what is clear is that there is intelligence, there is data that could really help knowing what happened to a database in China in the fall of 2019, knowing what happened to lab workers at that Wuhan Institute of Virology, having some of that real data, and getting real access to the lab. And that still has not happened. So, as a result, we don't know. I think it's knowable. We don't know. And we may never know for sure the origins of this.

KEILAR: Yes. China is definitely not cooperating on that important data. Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it.


Thank you.

KEILAR: New CNN reporting that President Trump -- former President Trump is growing increasingly frustrated that Governor Ron DeSantis has not publicly endorsed him for 2024. How he is putting on the pressure.

BERMAN: And NBA Star Dwayne Wade opening up about fatherhood, life after basketball, and that time LeBron James ghosted him.


BERMAN: Brand-new CNN reporting on growing tensions between former President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Sources say Trump has become increasingly irritated at the Florida's governor's refusal to publicly rule out a 2024 bid if Trump also decides to run.

CNN's Gabby Orr joins me now. Gabby, you have got some fresh reporting on this trouble in paradise.


GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Right. Good morning, John. As Donald Trump tracks very closely what Republican presidential hopefuls for 2024.