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Soon: Minnesota Nurses Begin 3-Day Strike Over Wages; When And Where To Get Your COVID Booster, Flu Shots This Fall; BYU Reverses Ban On Fan After Finding No Evidence Of Slur. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 12, 2022 - 07:30   ET





SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I said, at this point, I don't see a reason to oppose it to get them off my back. I would not support it in its current state. I'm not happy with the Baldwins of the world who are just opening that wound and opening up that debate.

J. BERMAN: He says that he's not happy with you for opening up a wound.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): You know, I think that those are very unfortunate words. But what I would say is that this is a real issue to millions of couples across the United States. This is not being done for political purposes. We have, already, a nice bipartisan group working very hard to pass it.

And this is about really moving forward and recognizing what the vast majority of Americans do -- is that you should be able to marry the person you love and protect them with the rights and responsibilities afforded by law.

J. BERMAN: Do you think there will be a Senate vote this week?

BALDWIN: I think it will be next week.

J. BERMAN: Next week?

Senator Baldwin, thank you so much for being with us. Great to see you in person.

BALDWIN: Good to see you.

J. BERMAN: Go Packers.

BALDWIN: Yay. Go, Pack, go.

J. BERMAN: Happening now, thousands of nurses in Minnesota going on strike. We are live.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the new COVID booster shot is now available. Should you get one and, if so, when?



KEILAR: Thousands of nurses in Minnesota are set to go on strike within the hour after union leaders and hospital officials failed to reach a deal for better pay and more staffing. The walkout could last three days and will impact the state's biggest hospitals.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live in St. Paul this morning with the very latest -- Adrienne.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good morning. That strike is set to begin in the next 30 minutes, but if you take a look over my shoulder you will see some nurses have already gathered outside of Children's Minnesota here in St. Paul.

Fifteen thousand nurses are planning to walk off the job today. This impacts 16 hospitals across that state. That includes seven hospital systems.

Now, wages is a critical concern among the nurses but they say that's not all. They also want better staffing and better patient care. And they want better protection when they are inside of the hospitals working.

We heard from both sides. Listen in to what they're saying now.


PAUL OMODT, SPOKESPERSON, TWIN CITIES HOSPITAL GROUP: The wage increases are not something that the hospitals can afford.

VICTORIA ZEEHANDELAAR, NURSE: We are not striking because of our wages. We are striking because we want to make sure that our patients have the best quality care that they can and the foundation of that is proper staffing levels.


BROADDUS: Meanwhile, a spokesperson with the Twin Cities Hospital Group says nurses from around the country will help fill the gap. What does that mean for patients? Well, they are honest -- the hospital systems, that is -- saying patients should expect delays and some hiccups.

Meanwhile, if you have an appointment at one of the hospitals that's impacted, a spokesperson also says the hospital will direct -- or contact those patients directly -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Delays and hiccups. In some cases, not that pivotal -- but in others, you can see where it certainly would matter when it comes to health care.

Adrienne, thank you for that report. J. BERMAN: This morning, the White House is urging everyone who is eligible to get the updated coronavirus booster shot ahead of this fall as cases could increase in the coming months. Health officials now say this could be the start of needed an annual coronavirus boost, similar to how we get flu shots each year.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard with me now. So, go get it, they say, and get ready to get it every year.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: That's right, John. Two things are happening right now. We are hearing this message of how this possibly could be an annual routine where we need a COVID-19 shot each year just like we need our flu shots each year. And then the second thing that's happening -- the White House is raising alarm about the possibility of us seeing a rise in COVID cases this upcoming winter.

So here's what we know about when and where to get your COVID boost and when and where to get your flu shot.

So, for the COVID booster, the Pfizer updated booster is available for ages 12 and older. Moderna is available for 18 and older. And it's recommended to get this updated boost at least two months after your most recent vaccine, whether that's your primary series or your most recent booster -- two months. Make sure there's that window. And if you had COVID-19 over the summer, wait three months since your illness to get your booster.

And then for the flu shot, we do know it's available for everyone six months and older. The CDC says September and October are generally good times to get vaccinated, but some doctors say that it's OK to get your flu shot in early November as well. As long as you get that protection through the winter, that's the goal there, John.

And we do know that these vaccines are available at pharmacies, doctor's offices, health clinics. I'm scheduled to get my updated booster this evening at my neighborhood CVS. So, speaking from experience, you can sign up online. And again, the goal is to get protection through the winter -- John.

HOWARD: Teacher's pet, Jacqueline Howard -- getting it tonight, right at the beginning of the line.

Thank you so much for your reporting.

HOWARD: Absolutely.

J. BERMAN: All right, let's go back to Edinburgh right now where Don Lemon joins us for our coverage of this remarkable moment -- Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Right on, John. Thank you very much.

You know, as heir apparent, Charles often meddled in what were considered to be controversial affairs. He was particularly outspoken about environmental issues and this fueled concern from people who believe that the royals should remain impartial, much like his mother. But in a 2018 BBC documentary for his 70th birthday, Charles assured that as a monarch that he would operate within the, quote, "constitutional parameters." Listen to this.


KING CHARLES III (THEN-PRINCE OF WALES): I've tried to make sure whatever I've done has been nonparty political. And I think it's vital to remember there's only room for one sovereign at a time, not two. So, you can't be the same as the sovereign if you're the Prince of Wales or the heir.


But the idea somehow that I'm going to go on exactly the same way if I have to succeed is complete nonsense because the two -- the two situations are completely different. Clearly, I won't be able to do the same things I've done, you know, as heir. So, of course, you operate within the constitutional parameters.


LEMON: Bidisha Mamata, who is a broadcaster here, joins me now. Bidisha, it's good to see you again. I've been speaking to you all week and I'm interested in hearing what you have to say about this. That was Charles in 2018 saying that he's going to be different as a sovereign than he was when he was just an heir, right?

What are your thoughts on this?

BIDISHA MAMATA, BROADCASTER: I think it's really interesting because Prince Charles is very clever. Look at the words he uses. He's not going to be party political. And he's scoured the constitution. It makes me think of someone who is reading every letter of the law and stepping daintily between those parameters.

Of course, he's absolutely right. You can't say anything as the sovereign -- as the king, which marks you out as voting any particular way. You can't do that. But I think he's left himself enough wiggle room to say well, you know, occasionally, if something is not party political, I might lean in and press the buzzer just a little.

We know that he's extremely passionate about the environment and I don't believe for one second that he's going to stay quiet about it. In fact, I think he's right because I don't think the environment is a party political issue because we all have to live in the same society, whether it's hot, cold, or middling. It affects us regardless of how we vote.

So I think he's relying on that legal gray area or philosophical gray area, should we say, to give himself a little bit of room to say what he wants when he wants. After all, we know that being the prince didn't stop him from saying what he wanted, so why should being the king stop him?

LEMON: Yes. As we are speaking now, Bidisha, the king is arriving now at Edinburgh Airport here in Edinburgh, Scotland and -- where there will be ceremonies today for his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who is laying in rest here. And those ceremonies will continue throughout the day here.

But let's continue on with our conversation as we look at these pictures of him arriving at the airport. So you think that he will continue to lean in on environmental issues? Even though he may not see it as political it may be taken that way from the people and from the government.

MAMATA: I don't think that it would be seen as weighing in. The one interesting thing about Prince, now King Charles having been in situ as the monodical (PH) apprentice for so very many decades is that we, as a populous, are very used to him. We're used to his ways.

I actually find it very strange to see him in his black mourning suit because I'm used to seeing him in those wonderful, sort of, heathery tweeds and slightly furry-looking wooly suits that he prefers to wear.

In fact, it would be very strange if he lost all of his individuality, he lost that slightly dry sense of humor he had, and then turns around and behaves as if he's sort of cause-playing as the king of some kind of Disney movie imagination. He's not going to do that. I do think he's going to be careful.

And let's not forget. Looking at these images right now, he is surrounded by people all the time. Since the announcement of his own mother's death, I don't think he's had even five minutes to himself.

So, even if he wanted to suddenly go off piece and say something about this, that, or the other -- be it the environment or something else -- all of these people who are around him -- the ushers, the advisers, the political stringers who are letting him know everything that's happening in this great nation -- they would advise him otherwise, and he will listen. Because look how dutiful he has been even in the last five days. He's already behaving like the king.

LEMON: There's a lot of business that -- to be discussed in the days ahead, even with the funeral services for his mother. Let's talk about some of that.

Antiqua and Barbuda, commonwealth country and the former British colony -- they will hold a referendum in the next few years on whether to remove King Charles as head of state and become a republic.

The new king is inheriting a divided nation. Is this a preview of the challenges that he's going to face, Bidisha?

MAMATA: I don't think that these are challenges. In fact, the current affairs issues, which you highlight so accurately, are the natural state of things.

[07:45:02] In fact, we have been speaking over the last few days -- you and I -- about the nations of the Commonwealth. Now, even that phrase, the commonwealth -- it sounds very passe to me. There was the colonial era, the post-colonial era, the decolonization era, the commonwealth era. Those are all issues associated with the queen's reign.

And I think it's absolutely right and completely understandable, really, that all of these former colonized nations hold their plebiscites, their referenda, their polls. They put it to the people. And if it's time to move away from that long shadow of colonization and occupation, I think we can all understand where those nations are coming from.

I think the king, too, understands that. I think the queen understood that, too. Because part of the role of a monarch is to travel through all of the nations of the land to realize that here is not there.

You can't govern remotely. You can't take what's not yours. You have to let people be free to decide who they are, what they are, what their identity is. I think that's really completely fine. We all have to roll forward into the 21st century.

But, of course, you're absolutely right. If you looked at the U.K. newspaper headlines, this country -- England -- is, indeed, divided for reasons of finances, social mobility, the energy crisis, food prices. It's really shocking the moment you step away from the pageantry and the regal monodical (PH) ceremony that you see here this week, next week. They're exceptional -- they're not the norm.

In about three weeks' time, we're going to go back to the norm and King Charles is going to inherit a country that needs its divisions healed.

LEMON: And we will see how that transition takes place.

Thank you, Bidisha. We appreciate it as we watch these images in Edinburgh, Scotland. The king and queen consort arriving just moments ago, making their way here to the palace at Holyrood -- of Holyrood. And so, we'll be continuing to follow this.

But it is going to be interesting, John and Brianna, to watch the transition here and to see how the king changes, if he changes, in his reign. It's going to be, I would imagine, different than what this mother did. But now, he is the monarch. He is the sovereign -- the head of state.

KEILAR: Yes, and such an important conversation that you had there, Don. And, of course, we'll be coming right back to you there in Edinburgh, Scotland shortly.

A university investigation into a racist incident is turning up empty. We unpack the fallout from the allegations, next.

J. BERMAN: And Ukrainian forces making remarkable advances on the battlefield. Could this be a turning point in the war there?



KEILAR: Two weeks after a Duke volleyball player alleged she was called racial slurs during a game against Brigham Young University, an investigation into the incident found no evidence to corroborate the report.

John Avlon joins us now to unpack the story.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. We're starting something a little different today. It's a new segment that updates the initial official version of the story once more facts come in. It's a form of journalistic accountability. And we're going to call it "Upon Further Review."

Now, volleyball is rarely the source of serious controversy but it went straight to the front of the outrage Olympics two weeks ago when a Duke starter named Rachel Richardson make the explosive accusation that she and other Black teammates were subjected to racist heckling while playing a game against Brigham Young University.

Now, obviously, this kind of heckling is totally unacceptable and the country rallied around her with stars like LeBron James offering a statement of solidarity, her family appearing here on CNN, amid some 65 separate articles written about the controversy. The University of South Carolina women's basketball team even announced their decision to cancel all games against BYU.

Now, for their part, Brigham Young University offered a wholehearted apology. BYU Athletics pronounced a zero-tolerance policy against racism. They banned a fan who had been identified as making the racist slurs. They also launched an internal investigation, but that's where the narrative started to fall far short of the initial indignation.

Because when BYU released its findings after reviewing all available video and audio recordings and reaching out to more than 50 folks who attended the game, including Duke personnel and athletes, they stated that they had not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. And they lifted the ban on the fan with apologies. They also invited anyone with, quote, "evidence contrary to our findings" to come forward.

Now, healthy skepticism is always a virtue but this doesn't read like a cover-up. Instead, it feels like there was a rush to judgment because of a well-intentioned impulse to believe the Duke player's accusations.

Now, we need to note that the investigation does not call Rachel Richardson a liar or a fabricator. It leaves open the possibility that she sincerely believed that she heard repeated racial heckling and that some sort of misunderstanding occurred.

For its part, Duke issued a statement saying it was standing by its players. But notably, the Richardson family has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.

Look, systemic racism is real and corrosive to the soul of our country but facts always have to come first.

Listen to ESPN host Stephen A. Smith, who covered the controversy extensively.


STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN HOST: Racism, prejudice still exist in this country. We all know it. We know how prevalent it is and we know that it's something that completely needs to be eradicated. Having said that, we're not doing ourselves any favors if we bring it up and broach it when it doesn't exist. And that's the key that we need to focus on.



AVLON: That's right. And that's why it was surprising to hear the head coach of the South Carolina women's basketball team, Dawn Staley, say that she was still OK with canceling her team's games against BYU regardless of the results of the investigation. Staley says that she's standing by her decision because of her own personal research and commitment to the well-being of her team.

But when investigations turn up a very different fact pattern it's incumbent upon everyone to acknowledge it and adjust. Fidelity to the facts is all that we as journalists and citizens should ask. It's understandable that there's a desire to believe people when they say they've been victimized, but the accusations have to be backed up by facts. And when the facts don't fit upon further review, we need to set the record straight with as much intensity as the initial reports -- Bri.

KEILAR: John Avlon, thank you so much for that.

Just in, new accusations regarding former President Trump, this time from a former U.S. attorney who Trump fired in 2020.

J. BERMAN: And a somber day in the United Kingdom as King Charles addresses Parliament for the first time as king and gets ready to lead the procession of his mother's casket.


J. BERMAN: So, new revelations from a former U.S. attorney that then- President Trump fired in 2020. Geoffrey Berman, no relation, speaking out this morning about the claims in his new book. He says the Trump Justice Department pressured his office to prosecute the president's critics. Berman, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and led investigations of people in Trump's circle until he was forced out -- here he was moments ago on "GOOD MORNING AMERICA."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ANCHOR, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Talk about an effort to get you to prosecute the former Secretary of State --



G. BERMAN: Yes, that was truly outrageous. President Trump attacks John Kerry in two tweets, saying that Kerry engaged in possible illegal conversations with Iranian officials regarding the Iran nuclear deal. The very next day, the Trump Justice Department refers the John Kerry criminal case to the Southern District of New York. Two tweets by the president and the John Kerry criminal case becomes a priority for the Department of Justice.

And the statute they wanted us to use was enacted in 1799 and had never been successfully prosecuted. So, in about 220 years this criminal statute was on the books there were no convictions.


J. BERMAN: CNN's Kara Scannell is following this story for us and joins us now. Kara, these are actually important and very serious allegations.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, that's just one allegation that Geoff Berman has in his book where he gets into some other examples where he believed there was political interference.

But we had never known about this investigation into John Kerry.