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White House and Labor Department Oversee Negotiations Reaching Tentative Deal with Rail Worker Unions to Avert Strike; Russian President Vladimir Putin Meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping after Russian Forces Lose Territory to Ukrainian Counteroffensive. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 08:00   ET



LISA FRANCE, CNN DIGITAL SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER: And so we don't know. We might see that they change the script a little bit to make it less that. So we just have to wait until May, 2023. But right now, I'm super excited for this film.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I suspect they are going to make some adjustment, and I'm really curious to see what it is. Lisa, thank you for joining us with this story.

FRANCE: Thank you.

KEILAR: And NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There is a deal this morning that puts the brakes on a potentially crippling nationwide freight rail strike. It's not happening. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. The White House announced a tentative agreement after close to 24 hours of negotiations involving union leaders, rail companies, and the labor secretary. President Biden, who does call himself the most pro union president ever, is said to have been instrumental in pushing to get a deal done. He says it gives rail workers better pay, better working conditions, and peace of mind.

KEILAR: The sticking point for the unions representing more than 50,000 engineers and conductors was not over wages but it was over guaranteed sick leave. The agreement will not be sent to the rank and file for a vote. And Amtrak says it is working quickly to restore cancelled trains.

BERMAN: CNN's Arlette Saenz live at White House this morning. This was something the White House badly wanted, almost needed, Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they definitely did, John. And this really was a result of those marathon negotiations that were hosted by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and the rail and union officials. Those negotiations lasted about 20 hours, starting at 9:00 yesterday and culminating this morning at 5:00 a.m. The negotiators actually reached a deal around 2:30 in the morning according to a source, but then spent the final hours really finalizing those details.

And while Marty Walsh hosted these talks for talks over at the Labor Department, President Biden himself also got involved last night. Biden, of course, has fashioned himself as one of the most pro-union presidents in history. And he made a call into those negotiations around 9:00 p.m. where he laid out the stakes of what exactly was involved, warning how catastrophic this would be for American consumers and the U.S. economy. One source saying that failure simply was not an option.

This was just a tentative deal. And the president announced this agreement this morning, saying in a statement, quote, "These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs, all hard-earned. The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come."

Now, this agreement will now go to those union members to vote on. But one source says that these union officials really were trying to reach an agreement that they felt addressed their needs and would be suitable for those members. So we will see how exactly that vote shakes out. But this is certainly a huge win for the White House as they were trying to avoid this rail strike that would have gone into effect a little after midnight tonight with more than 50,000 engineers and conductors set to strike. But tight now, the White House has averted that strike and possibly major effects to the U.S. economy as these freight rails really impact so much of the supply chain here in the country.

BERMAN: It's a big deal. It's a big deal they got this done, at least for now. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

KEILAR: Let's go now to CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich who is live at union headquarter outside of Cleveland, Ohio, on this day where, look, it's good news and not dad news, Vanessa.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, everyone is sort of breathing a collective sigh of relief on both sides, the administration, as Arlette just mentioned, and the American people who were facing what could have been a potentially crippling rail strike. And we heard from a union official that just moments after this deal was agreed upon, one of the negotiators in the room on the union side said, quote, we're done, signaling that they had come to an agreement after what has been described as a slog, a lot of back and forth lasting more than 20 hours of negotiation at the Labor Department led by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

Our D.C. crews just caught up with the heads of the two unions that were negotiating moments ago as they were coming out of the Labor Department. Here's what they said.


JEREMY FERGUSON, PRESIDENT, SMART TRANSPORTATION UNION: Last night was a historic night for rail labor. We're very proud of what was accomplished. We wanted to take a few minutes, or a few seconds, and thank Secretary Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, and definitely President Joe Biden, everybody pulling together to make sure that we could get our members what they deserve.


DENNIS PIERCE, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN: This was the quality of life issue that we have been trying to get for our members since the bargaining round started. So we're going to hit the ground running. We'll be having more information here in the coming hours.


YURKEVICH: And according to the union, this all hinged on this very peculiar key attendance policy that was point based, where union members were deducted points if they took a lot of sick time or time off. And if their points bank went to zero, they would have to make up for that points lost by working more and being on call 24/7. So according to the union, in this tentative agreement, something was decided that helped rectify some of that attendance policy.

But now this deal does go to the union members, as Arlette mentioned. One official from the union telling me that they would never have agreed to this deal if they didn't think it was good and that members would vote yes. But of course, they could always vote no. And if a majority of members vote no, this deal will be sent back to both sides, and it's back to the drawing board. But we won't know until that union vote is taken up in the next couple weeks. Guys?

KEILAR: Yes, we'll be watching that very carefully. Vanessa, thank you.

BERMAN: With me now, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans, and CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon. Vanessa did a really nice job laying out what the issues were here in these discussions. Just expand on that a little bit more, talking about broadly speaking what labor wants right now.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Rail-mageddon averted. So I still think you have a lot of pressure on companies because there is a move afoot here for quality of living, better quality of living for all kinds -- nurses, teachers, railway workers. You see this victory for railway workers here, and the companies, according to the White House. But behind all of this is this difference between inflation and wages, which is getting bigger. Two years of a pandemic, crushing inflation, people are exhausted, and I feel like the workers feel that they have the upper hand here, and they're demanding more from their employers. I think this is an example here in the railway industry, and I think you're seeing it all across the country.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about why the workers had the upper hand here, right, the supply change, which is still fragile, because think about the time period that we're coming out of. We're talking about the pandemic, and that supply shock. We're talking about the war in Ukraine, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and that supply shock. So that's why this week we were hearing from all sorts of stakeholders sounding the alarm about how devastating this would be.

In fact, we got a report a few weeks ago, nearly 200 economists were polled, and when asked what would be the key factor in improving inflation, the Fed was up there, but above that was the fixing of supply chain. So that just gives you a sense of how key this issue was. And to Christine's point, that's why they had the upper hand.

BERMAN: Fixing the supply chain as opposed to literally like blowing it up, which this would have done.

ROMANS: The timing was just incredible, because you have the war in Ukraine. You've got labor shortages across the supply chain, trying to get back to normal, sort of, after COVID, all of these other factors. A supply chain expert this morning said to me it was already a perfect storm. This is a hurricane on top of a perfect storm, would have been if rail-mageddon happened.

BERMAN: Crisis averted. You're going to make rail-mageddon happen.


BERMAN: Christine Romans, Rahel Solomon, thank you both very much.

KEILAR: And this just in moments ago, Vladimir Putin holding his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. Putin and Xi speaking on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan, and experts say the Russian president is likely counting on Beijing more than ever after hitting major military setbacks in northeastern Ukraine.

Joining us now is retired rear admiral John Kirby who serves on President Biden's National Security Council. Sir, thank you so much for taking the time this morning. On Tuesday you said that there would be more aid to Ukraine that could be announced here in the coming days. Do you have any update on that as of this morning?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: I don't have anything specifically to speak to today, Brianna, but I do think that very, very soon you'll see yet another announcement by the administration of additional drawdown authority. This is items that the Department of Defense can take off their inventory shelves and send directly to Ukraine. And I think you'll see that very, very soon.

KEILAR: Days? End of the week?

KIRBY: I think I'll just say very, very soon. I think it won't be very long. And this will be our 21st drawdown package of security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of this invasion. So we're taking this very seriously, and as President Biden has said, we're going to stay with Ukraine as long as it takes.

KEILAR: Looking to supply more long-range weapons, how is that something that Ukraine could need at this moment.

KIRBY: Right, so again, I don't want to get ahead of the announcement of what is in the package coming forward, but I think you'll see that it's very consistent with the kinds of capabilities that we provided to Ukraine in the past, in the recent past, as they have fought in the Donbas and in the south systems like the advanced rocket systems, howitzers, and artillery systems that allow them to establish some range and distance so that they can actually affect the Russians behind their owe defensive lines.


And I think you'll see the package forthcoming will be consistent with those some capabilities.

KEILAR: We're all watching this meeting between Xi and Putin with considerable interest. And of course, the last time that they met was before Russia invaded Ukraine. And we saw the nations declare a new era in international relations. The war, of course, is not going so well for Russia.

KIRBY: Right.

KEILAR: What's the message to the China here, do you think, from the U.S.? Should President Xi regret throwing in his lot with Russia at this point.

KIRBY: Our message to China has I think been consistent, that this is not the time for any kind of business as usual with Mr. Putin given what he has done inside Ukraine. This is not the time to be isolated from the rest of the international community, which has largely condemned what he's done in Ukraine, and not only condemned it, but stepped up to help the Ukrainians defend themselves and their territorial integrity.

China has a choice to make. They clearly have chosen not to condemn that war in Ukraine. But we also haven't seen, importantly, we haven't seen them violate the sanctions or in any other way provide direct material assistance to Mr. Putin.

I think you said something really interesting right before you got to me, Brianna, and that's that it's important for a Kremlin to be able to have this meeting and to show that Putin is meeting with President Xi, because Mr. Putin is very much under strain and stress in Ukraine. He and his army is not doing well. And I think it certainly behooves the Kremlin to want to cozy up to Beijing with respect to what's going on there. But it remains to be seen how much President Xi is going to be committed to actually doing anything of a material nature.

KEILAR: Xi may not condemn this invasion, but internally Putin is obviously trying to explain away these losses, blaming others, not taking responsibility. Do you think that Xi holds him to account at all for the problems that he's having in Ukraine?

KIRBY: We haven't seen -- I don't know about privately. We haven't seen the Chinese do anything overtly to support the effort by Mr. Putin inside Ukraine. Clearly, they haven't publicly condemned it. I think the Chinese as they watch what's going on here, they recognize how isolated Moscow is from the rest of the international community. They recognize the economic costs and consequences that this war is having on the Russian economy. I think they're taking note of that.

So they haven't weighed in to violate the sanctions and they haven't also weighed in to materially support Mr. Putin. Again, we don't think this is the time for anybody to be on the sidelines. The whole world should be lined up against what Mr. Putin is doing.

KEILAR: Yesterday you were highlighting these additional relief supplies that the U.S. is sending to Pakistan where this catastrophic flooding has displaced more than 30 million people. Does the administration have any concern that flooding of this scale could actually destabilize Pakistan, destabilize the population in a way that the U.S. and other western nations are not actually prepared for?

KIRBY: The devastation is just so tragic. And I know you're showing some images now. It's just terrible. And it's having a huge effect inside Pakistan. We're not seeing any signs that that kind of -- that kind of disaster is having any sort of political instability results inside Pakistan.

But look, this is one of the challenges of extreme weather that's caused by climate change. It produces conditions on the ground that only foster insecurity, instability, and could lead to larger ramifications, not to mention just the fact that U.S. will have to get involved, but that resources from around the world have to applied to try to deal with this extreme weather from climate change. So that is why this administration believes that climate change is a real existential threat to our national security, that it is a bona fide national security threat, because while we're not involved militarily in Pakistan other than using military aircraft to provide assistance, we have certainly done it in the past in other places. So it diverts military resources to deal with national disaster and response, humanitarian relief. It also takes away from resources that the military could be applied to other missions. It is a real national security threat.

KEILAR: The scale, I mean the scale is just unimaginable here. John, we really appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

KIRBY: Yes, ma'am.

BERMAN: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis becoming the third Republican governor to send migrants to northern cities. He flew two planes with a total of about 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard of the coast of Massachusetts.


State Representative from Martha's Vineyard, Dylan Fernandes joined NEW DAY just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DYLAN FERNANDES (D), MASSACHUSETTS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We have, you know, a person here and Republicans who claim to be of the Christian faith that claim to be wanting to help one another, help the most vulnerable and to ship families here, children here on a lie and use them as political pawns is a truly inhumane thing to do. What is humane is that our local church here, St. Andrews Parish, that put these people up.


BERMAN: And CNN senior political analyst John Avlon joins us now.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this is a significant escalation of what Governor Abbott in Texas has been doing and Governor DeSantis of Florida trying to elbow his way into this game.

I think here's what's significant based on what we know. First of all, the fact that DeSantis apparently used Florida taxpayer funds to basically charter a flight from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.

So, let's be clear. This is a political stunt to prove a point.

BERMAN: Definitionally. I don't think you would use that language but I also think you would deny it.

AVLON: Right. No. I mean, to a large sort the pitch for Trumpism without Trump still relies on being a troll king and seeing how much you can escalate those sort of politics, using people who in many case defined not just refugees, but given that many from Venezuela, refugees from a socialist hell hole frankly, given the 20 years of what Chavez and Madura have done to that nation, that these people would be used as pawns is particularly interesting and troubling, given also the fact that there are over a quarter of million Venezuelans living in Florida.

You have to wonder what they think about seeing some of their former fellow country mate being used as political pawns given the devastation of that country.

BERMAN: I will say this, two things that people need to take into account when they're talking about this. Number one, these are human beings. Whatever you think about the immigration crisis, these are human beings, including children.

And the second thing, and again, whatever you think about the immigration crisis, if it's a crisis, Ron DeSantis is getting what he wants out of this to an extent right now. What he wants is publicity and he's getting it.

AVLON: Yeah. And you're dealing with -- he is -- this is political performance art that treats refugees and human beings and migrants as utterly disposable. But I do want to emphasize the fact that what is difference about perhaps politically is the fact that many if not most are from Venezuela, and that is a different political category, geopolitical category, given how many conservatives have righteously rallied around the cost of Venezuelans, trying to resist the Maduro regime. And this all of a sudden adds insult to injury, to see them be used as political props in this way, regardless of what they're trying to leave.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much for putting it all into context for us.

The highest ranking Trump White House official so far is complying with a Justice Department subpoena on January 6. We have exclusive CNN reporting ahead.

Plus, what new text messages revealed -- they had problems with this in "Meet the Parents," too. What it reveals about Brett Favre's involvement the largest welfare fraud scheme in Mississippi history.


OK. So, we are also getting brand new details of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth as thousands are waiting in line for hours to pay their respects. We're live from London next.




REPORTER: What did the Queen mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything English. Everything English. And I think to die in your own bed, age 96, loved by the global population, nothing tragic about that.

REPORTER: And, ma'am, I'm just wondering how long you guys were expecting to stay in line for today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just said about three hours.

REPORTER: You were expecting a lot longer, I presume?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think so, honestly.

REPORTER: That's great. Why was it so important to bring your girls?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girls, say it, why we cam

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Because we wanted to see the Queen.

REPORTER: She an important person, isn't she?



BERMAN: The line to see the Queen is currently longer than four miles.

CNN's Max Foster live outside Buckingham Palace.

And, Max, I understand you've got some brand new details about the funeral. What have you learned?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a couple of details. In terms about lying in state, that's going to be a very poignant moment tomorrow night on Friday, 7:30 local, about 2:30 your time, I think, where the four siblings, the Queen's children, will all stand vigil at each corner of that coffin. That's going to be very powerful. I think the public will continue filing past as it that takes place. I think that's going to be a big moment.

On Sunday as well, John, we've been told there will be a reception for heads of state here the Buckingham Palace. We think it's going to be the biggest gathering of heads of state in modern history. We're not being given a guest list exactly from the palace of who's invited, but every day more heads of state have confirmed they're coming and even the emperor of Japan who has only left for a funeral once before and that's what with the king of Belgium. So, that's sort of a level of heads of state we're talking about here.

And yes, we got more details about what we can expect to see on Monday. So at 6:00 a.m. eastern time, the funeral will take place at Westminster abbey followed by a minute of silence and a procession to Windsor, as the procession goes through London and through Windsor, members of the royal family will walk behind the coffin. Again, a very powerful moment.

And then at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time in Windsor, there will be a burial service effectively in Windsor.


Again, a very poignant service. You don't see a high profile people you saw a Westminster and it's going to be a much small smaller event but a very powerful event where in the end of it, the Queen will be lowered into the vault and will be laid alongside Prince Phillip and then they will be buried together at the side chapel, which will be in private later on on Monday evening, alongside the Queen's parents and her sister.

BERMAN: Historic moments unfolding before our eyes, Max Foster as always, thank you for your reporting.

KEILAR: We have explosive new CNN reporting. Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department's investigation into January 6th and that makes him the highest ranking Trump administration official known to have responded to a subpoena in this federal investigation.

CNN anchor and senior Washington correspondent Pamela Brown has this new reporting for us.

Really important. Tell us about this.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, because this was former President Trump's chief of staff. He was at the center of all of former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He was there in the White House on January 6th.

And we know a lot about of exposure and experience he had with Trump on that critical day because of the text messages he had already turned over to the January 6 committee showing the behind the scenes, frantic back and forth, people texting back and forth, people texting Mark Meadows, telling the president to stop the rioters.

We are told through sources familiar, speaking to me and my colleague, Evan Perez, that the DOJ did subpoena Mark Meadows and that he turned over to DOJ the communications and documents that he had already turned over to the January 6th committee complying with this.

But our understanding is that DOJ will likely continue to pursue more from Mark Meadows. We know what he turned over to the committee was not the full scope of communications he had. He still has hundreds of documents and text messages he has not turned over.

But he is a critical figure here, Brianna, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out because, again, he's so critical to DOJ and his investigation. It is hard to believe DOJ would just stop right here and we know there's executive privilege fights playing out now behind the scenes with DOJ and other Trump figures depending on how that shakes out may dictate what it would be in terms of Meadows.

KEILAR: His top deputy subpoenaed as well?

BROWN: That's right. Ben Williamson also subpoenaed recently. As we reported, more than 30 people in Trump's orbit have been subpoenaed as part of the January 6 probe, looking at efforts to overturn the election, looking at January 6, looking at the fake electors subpoena.

So, Ben Williamson, his top duty, has also been subpoenaed for testimony and for communications as well, relating to those events. And he also complied with the January 6 -- cooperated I should say, with the January 6th committee. So, he's also been at the center of things as well.

But the fact that his boss, Mark Meadows, is now clearly in the crosshairs of investigators is notable.

KEILAR: Certainly is. Pamela Brown, great reporting. Thanks for sharing it with us.

LeBron James saying the NBA definitely got it wrong, that's a quote, in its one-year suspension of a team owner accused of using racial slurs.

BERMAN: And actor Ryan Reynolds losing a bet that he says may have saved his life. We'll tell you how.