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Biden Reels After Bad Week; Woman Wakes from 2-Year Coma; Sele Murekezi is Interviewed about His Brother. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 18, 2022 - 08:30   ET



BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: On specific timelines, but I think you heard clearly that he intends to move forward, and he intends to move forward with both the speed and the scale that this challenge - this challenge reflects.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brian Deese, I still want to know more about that zip lining with Senator Manchin. Thank you for joining us this morning, though.

DEESE: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, joining us now, CNN political commentator and host of the podcast "You Decide," Errol Louis, and CNN political analyst and senior correspondent at "TheGrio," Natasha Alford.

Let's talk about that discussion. I mean Kaitlan's asking all the right questions of the administration, which is having to explain quite a bit about why things aren't going quite as they want, Errol.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, look, they -- one thing they might want to add to their narrative is the reality that when you have the shortage in jobs that we've seen, one thing that happens is, employers have to maybe pay a little bit more. We've had a 56 percent increase in the number of workplaces that are seeking union recognition, including at some high-profile places like Amazon and Starbucks and certain units. So, this is, you know, this is kind of a buyers' market. If you are in the labor market, you know, it's going to be very, very tough for them to hold inflation down when you've got gas prices going up, food prices going up, in part because the bread basket of Europe, which is, you know, Ukraine and Russia, are both in this ongoing conflict. And, of course, the oil and gas problems as well.

So, there's not a whole lot they could do about it, but they might want to try, I think, and introduce the idea that some of this is inevitable because we're paying workers more for the first time in a long time. They deserve it. They need it. But it does drive up the price of goods. And that's partly why inflation is going to be so -- so hard to turn back.

COLLINS: Well, and, Natasha, you heard Brian there cite the jobs report last month, which is very strong. Stronger than economists expected, saying that's not the sign of a recession. But there are still concerns that people say it's pretty challenging to avoid a recession right now when you look at the figures.

How do you think voters believe the president and his administration are handling it and how their messaging on this is working?

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think your interview this morning was the perfect example. You were trying to get answers and there was a lot of not yet and I don't want to get ahead. And, frankly, I think everyday Americans hear that and it sounds like they don't have a handle on the situation. I also think everyday Americans may not understand the dynamics of inflation. One thing about Donald Trump, he was very good at taking credit of things, whether he was actually the reason for things going well or not. And I think in this case, Joe Biden might want to do a little bit more bragging about how he's connecting with, you know, promoting policies that affect everyday Americans, right? Infrastructure, great, but what about, can I pay gas, can I get groceries?

BERMAN: Look, one of the problems with inflation is, everyone understands when things are costing more. It's easy to see.

Let me ask you a question since you're here.


BERMAN: No, because you pay attention to the messaging every day. I mean every hour of every day. How has it changed or does it feel -- how is the White House modifying how it faces some of these questions?

COLLINS: Well, it's kind of striking how -- you heard Brian there talking about what a big deal it would be if they do get this bill passed on negotiating drug prices and the health care subsidies. That alone will still have a huge impact on a lot of Americans. But the standard and the reason I think voters are upset is because they looked at this bill that the White House was talking about last year with Democrats and it was this huge expansive bill, childcare, elder care, all of these things were included in it. And when you take all of that away, you know, the drug -- negotiating drug prices and the health care subsidies, which is kind of an aspect of that, now it's the main thing based on what Senator Manchin is saying. So it kind of sets up the different expectation for voters, I think, is what the White House is dealing with now.

LOUIS: Yes, that's right. No, that's right. There's this enormous gap. I mean this is the central political problem of the Biden administration. I think that's partly why his approval numbers seem to be fading. The Democratic base was promised the moon. If we - if -- you know, they said, if you give us all three branches of government, we're going to do this, that. We're doing to, deal with climate change for the first time in a generation, and on and on and on and on. And then it turns out, you can't - you can get 70 percent of that, 60 percent of that, which is still awfully good, you know, gun control legislation and so forth, all of these appointees to the court. I mean they have a case to make for sure, but the gap between what was promised and what's been delivered becomes a really critical problem for them politically. They don't seem to have an answer for it yet.

BERMAN: Who are people blaming, do you think, Natasha? Are they blaming him for not getting it done or are they blaming Republicans and/or Joe Manchin for stopping him?

ALFORD: Well, there's the reality of, you know, what actually causes the problem and then there's the perception. And I think when people hear Joe Biden speak, they hear a lot about what he can't do, right? How his hands are tied. That's not exactly inspiring. And you see he's taken a hit with black voters. Black voters put Joe Biden in office and now this new "New York Times" poll shows that 47 percent want a different nominee. That should be concerning. This is a base that Democrats often take for granted. And , you know, it's about more than prescription drugs. We want to hear about how policing is going to change. That was a big promise. Student loan debt.


Black college graduates, their life would be changed, many of them, if student loan debt was waived because it promotes the racial wealth gap.

So, let's get outside of these same sort of topics that we keep hearing about and think about, how do you affect people from all corners of this community? They're not happy.

BERMAN: A great point. Very few people want to hear a president tell you what he or she can't do. It's a tough thing to run on.

COLLINS: And we are waiting on a student loan debt decision from the administration that people are watching very closely.

BERMAN: Natasha, Errol, thank you both very much.

COLLINS: Thank you.

BERMAN: A U.S. Air Force veteran is the latest American to be captured in Ukraine since the war began. His brother joins NEW DAY ahead.

COLLINS: Plus, a woman has just woken up from a two-year coma to tell police it was her brother who attacked and left her for dead two years ago.


COLLINS: It's a chilling twist in a long, painful journey for one West Virginia woman. Police say that Wanda Palmer woke up from a two-year coma after being attacked by a hatchet - with a hatchet in 2020.


And she identified her older brother as the perpetrator.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us.

Jean, this is a fascinating story, to put it lightly. JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is unbelievable.

So, when law enforcement got to the home of Wanda Palmer, what they said was, and I quote, they said she was attacked, hacked and left for dead. They thought she was dead. She was upright in her sofa, but then they noticed shallow breathing. So, they rushed her to the hospital. She was alive, but she was in a coma. And two years ago law enforcement said there was a witness that said that they thought they saw her brother on the front porch the midnight before she was discovered, but they had no surveillance video, they had no phone records, they had no eyewitnesses at all.

Well, two weeks ago, the care facility where Wanda was called up law enforcement and said, she is waking up. You can talk to her. Law enforcement went there and she told them, it was my brother that did this to me.

They have never found a weapon. They believe it was a hatchet or an axe. But they have charged Daniel Palmer III with attempted murder and malicious wounding.

But here's the thing, Kaitlan, there's always another side, right? And we have reached out for a defense attorney and reached we've reached out to the public defender's office. But this is two years old. She could not carry on a conversation. She could just answer yes or no questions. And so the defense is going to look at how she was questioned, if they prodded her and coerced her into saying this. But, on the other hand, if she wakes up and it's one of the first things she says and, well, it's called an excited utterance and there is trustworthiness when someone does that.

So, this will be interesting to follow this case.

COLLINS: Yes, and that they never found the weapon. Very interesting.

CASAREZ: They have not.

COLLINS: Jean, we'll stick with you on it. Thank you so much.

Meanwhile, another American has been captured by pro-Russian separatist in Ukraine. The details of his detainment we'll get when his brother joins us next.

BERMAN: And this morning, the funeral for one of this war's youngest victims.



COLLINS: A U.S. Air Force veteran has been captured by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. According to his brothers, troops detained 35- year-old Suedi Murekezi in Kherson last month. He wasn't there to fight but had moved there about four years ago to work in the tech industry. His brother says that Russian forces wrongly accused him of participating in pro-Ukraine protests. Joining us now is Suedi's brother, Sele Murekezi.

And, Sele, thank you so much for joining us on this. I know this is, obviously, a tough time for you.

Can you tell us, when was the last time that you spoke to your brother?

SELE MUREKEZI, BROTHER OF U.S. AIR FORCE VET DETAINED IN UKRAINE: Thank you very much for having me on the program.

The last time I talked to my brother was on July 7th. That was the first time he was allowed to make a phone call to us.

COLLINS: And how did he sound when you spoke with him? Could you tell that something was wrong?

MUREKEZI: Yes. I could tell that something was wrong because my brother and I are very close. We're only three years apart. He's my younger brother. And the way he was sounding was different from how I know him.

COLLINS: And so, how did you figure out that he had been detained? Was it from that conversation or was it after the two of you had spoken?

MUREKEZI: No, actually, when we talked on July 7th, it had been a month since we had spoken. And before then, two days never went by without us talking. So we found out he was missing on July 9th. And I had talked to him on July 8th.

COLLINS: And so when you started to piece this together and realized that he has been detained, did you - did you look back on that July 7th conversation and realize that not only something was off, but maybe he was not allowed to speak freely about what was going on?

MUREKEZI: Well, he was not allowed to speak freely because I was thinking that most likely someone is listening to him, probably with an AK-47 next to him. So, because we speak other languages, I tried to speak to him in our native language, which is Kinyarwanda, and he could not speak the language. And that's the language that he speaks very well. And his answers were very short. And that's what made me realize that he was not free to talk.

COLLINS: And what have you learned since then about the conditions that he's being held in?

MUREKEZI: Unfortunately, I could not learn the conditions that he was -- or is being held in simply because he was not expressive. So, my assumptions are that he's not being held in the greatest conditions.

COLLINS: And I know you've spoken to the State Department about this. What have you heard from officials there about your brother?

MUREKEZI: I spoke to the State Department and then I speak with the U.S. embassy in Kyiv on a regular basis, and some other organizations, non-government organizations. And what we have learned, basically, is where he is. And that was learned through speaking to him, which is -- he's being held in Donetsk. Otherwise, for the U.S. embassy, they don't have a lot of information. So, every time we speak to them, they inform us that they are working on the case. But, at the same time, they don't have specific things that they can disclose to us. But we truly believe that they are doing something somehow behind - behind closed doors.

COLLINS: Well, Sele, I'm sure you're very worried about your brother. And so we hope that you learn more information and that hopefully you get your brother home.

But thank you for joining us this morning to bring attention to his case and to his detention.


MUREKEZI: Thank you very much. We believe so, too.

BERMAN: All right, staying in Ukraine, in Vinnytsia, a funeral for a four-year-old girl killed by a Russian strike there last week. Her name is Liza Dmytrieva. We are told she was on her way to see a speech therapist with her mother when the missile hit. Her mother is still in the hospital, badly hurt. She still doesn't know her daughter has been buried.

A warning, the images you're about to see are graphic and disturbing, but important.


BERMAN: As you can see there, the funeral, Liza, was surrounded by stuffed animals, a flower crown on her head. According to the Ukrainians, more than 350 children have been killed since the invasion began.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).



COLLINS: It's time now for the "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

Three people have been killed after a gunman open fire in the food court of an Indiana mall.


The gunman was only stopped when an arm bystander shot him.

BERMAN: A report by Texas state lawmakers investigating the Uvalde school massacre found systematic failures in the response by law enforcement. The report says there are nearly 400 officers on the scene. COLLINS: Professional race car driver Bobby East has died after being

stabbed at a gas station in southern California. Police shot and killed the suspect on Friday after trying to serve him a warrant.

BERMAN: The January 6th committee says it expects to receive Secret Service texts from January 5th and January 6th of 2001 (ph) by tomorrow. The missing messages in question disappeared shortly after they were requested by oversight officials investigating the agency's response to the Capitol attack.

COLLINS: And Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are married 17 years after their first engagement, proving that trends (ph) from 20 years ago really are making a comeback.

BERMAN: That's the lesson here.

Those are "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." More on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, former President Trump, adviser Seve Bannon, walking into court, there he is, just moments ago as he faces two counts of contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with the January 6th committee, which he promised at the time would be the, quote, misdemeanor from hell.



BERMAN: Finally, we want to welcome the newest addition to our CNN morning family. Met June Tahay Balkissoon. She arrived Sunday at 9:22 a.m. to mother Laura Jarrett and her husband Tony. Baby June weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Laura says the name is a mash-up of the women on both sides of her family.

And our congratulations to them.

COLLINS: Great eyebrows on that baby.

BERMAN: What a face of that baby.

COLLINS: So cute.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now - CNN does.