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New Day Saturday

Biden: Democrats at Stalemate Amid Divisions Over Economic Agenda; Dems Plan Votes on Funding as U.S. Faces Possibility of a Shutdown; Arrest Warrant Issued for Gabby Petito's Fiance for Actions After Her Death; Germans Head to the Polls Tomorrow to Choose Merkel's Successor. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired September 25, 2021 - 06:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez. We start with a stalemate. Democrats working through the weekend trying to resolve their differences over President Biden's spending bill, hoping to keep his economic agenda afloat and avoid a government shutdown.

PAUL: And COVID booster shots, they're available now for millions of you across the country. The bigger concern is getting those initial shots into arm, though. The new round of mandates coming next week that could push the vaccination rate higher.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the fate of R. Kelly is now in the hands of a jury. We'll tell you the factors that they're weighing in the R&B singer's case as we await a verdict.

PAUL: Welcome to your Saturday morning. I hope you're having a good weekend. September 25th. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us. So ...

SANCHEZ: Good morning, Christi. It's fall. It's autumn. We're in autumn now.

PAUL: I know. I love it. All righty. We began with a pretty big divide among Democrats and the Republican pushback on Democrats' plans to avoid this government shutdown that is looming as of next week.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is going to move forward with plans to pass an infrastructure and reconciliation bill, but look, there are sharp disagreements within the Democratic Party between moderates and progressives and these disagreements threaten to derail the entire plan, potentially throwing President Biden's economic agenda into limbo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're at this stalemate at the moment and we're going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Hopefully at the end of the day, I'll be able to deliver on what I said I would do.


PAUL: So, in the meantime, lawmakers are facing a deadline as of Thursday to keep the government open. The Senate's expected to vote next week on a measure to fund the government and raise the federal debt ceiling, but Republicans are pushing back, saying they are willing to pass government funding, but Democrats will have to raise the debt limit on their own.

SANCHEZ: And this is why lawmakers are working through the weekend, trying to reach an agreement on a final bill ahead of that vote next week. CNN's Ryan Nobles has more.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've reached the weekend and there's still no breakthrough on these two big spending proposals that Democrats are attempting to push through the Congress as part of President Joe Biden's big domestic agenda. The House of Representatives has plans as of right now to vote on Monday on that bipartisan infrastructure bill, the cost of $1.2 trillion that's already been passed by the Senate, but the problem is they may not have the votes.

There's a group of progressive lawmakers who have said that they're not going to back that bipartisan infrastructure bill if it's not accompanied by that much larger $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill that Democrats hope to pass through the reconciliation process, meaning they would only need 51 votes in the Senate.

Now, Democratic leaders say that they are making progress, but they haven't quite laid out the plan that will allow them to vote on that bipartisan bill on Monday with enough votes from progressives who feel confident that that reconciliation package will ultimately pass.

A group of House moderates met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday evening. They were in her office for about an hour and a half. When they emerged, they said that they were confident and they were making progress and the House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, who was in that meeting said he still plans to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor on Monday.

Now, the Congress does plan to work this weekend. The budget committee on the House side plans to mark up the reconciliation package on Saturday. They're going to do it virtually. So, most of these members won't be here in Washington, but it's a sign that they're getting this process moving. Now, this bill that comes out of this budget committee hearing likely won't be anything like the bill that they ultimately pass, but it gives us an idea of where things are headed as we get closer to trying to find some resolution to this impasse.

Of course, President Biden would like to see something done. He described the situation here on Capitol Hill as a "stalemate," but the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says everyone should keep calm. She has a plan. She's just not telling us what that plan is as of yet. Ryan Nobles, CNN on Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Great wrap-up, Ryan. Thank you so much. Now CNN White House Reporter Kevin Liptak is with us live. Kevin, President Biden, we know he's doing all that he can to keep his economic agenda alive but talk to us about the reality here.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. It's really not an overstatement to say that this is the most critical stretch of the president's first year agenda so far. It's these dual bills that are trying to make their way through Congress, but also the future of the American economy at stake.


These deadlines piling up on the debt ceiling, on funding the government. It's really an enormous set, an extraordinary set, of challenges for the president over the next several days and just to bring you up to date on where things stand this morning, there is no deal, there's no final agreement, no top line number that progressives and moderates have agreed to.

White House aides do expect to spend the weekend working the phones with Democratic members of Congress trying to sort of determine where they can pare down this massive spending bill to get both sides on board. President Biden is spending the weekend at Camp David. I also expect him to be getting on the phone where it's necessary. His aides have mostly cleared off his schedule for the early part of next week to hold these meetings as necessary.

Bottom line here, though, we've ended the week really where we started, with no final agreement, despite the president convening lawmakers in the Oval Office earlier this week. Now, what's really become frustrating to him is sort of this inability to get from the moderates what they're looking for, what they can agree to on this bill and you heard him speak to that a little bit yesterday. Listen to what he had to say.


BIDEN: So, tell me, what are your priorities? And several of them, when they go through their priorities, it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for because I think this is -- we're getting down to, you know, the hard spot here. People are having now to go in and look in detail as to what it is specifically, they're for.


LIPTAK: Now, we're also told that the president spoke to Democratic leaders in the Congress yesterday. They agreed that there was broad agreement on the principles of this reconciliation bill, but now you have to remember in all of this the president is coming at this from a politically weakened stance. Almost every approval rating poll shows him below 50 percent now. He acknowledged yesterday that sort of the chaos from the last month or so had prevented him from speaking about these economic plans, this domestic agenda.

He said he wanted to go out on the road and sell this plan once it's passed through Congress and you have to remember there are a lot of very popular items that are in this bill, things like childcare, healthcare, education and climate change, but as of this hour, there's no agreement and it's very clear that there will be intensive talks in the -- in the hours and days to come, guys.


PAUL: Kevin Liptak, great wrap. Go ahead, Boris.

SANCHEZ: I was just going to say Kevin's right to point out this is a critical time for the Biden White House, especially going into the 2022 midterm elections and the fact that Democrats have to have something to run on. Kevin Liptak from the White House, thanks so much.

PAUL: So let's get Errol Louis' perspective, a CNN political commentator and host of the "You Decide" podcast. Errol, good morning to you. Let's jump off of what Kevin was just talking about when he -- first of all, when he's talking about these negotiations that are going on, normally you know that you have divisiveness between Democrats and Republicans. To have it within your own party between moderates and progressives, what are the options for this president?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the options for the president are to get it done as fast as possible, Christi. The reality is that time is not on the Democrat's side. There's a lot of talk about, well, let's figure it out, let's go through it and so forth, but the longer you wait, the smaller the bill becomes, the harder it is to reach a compromise, the more time you're giving to the lobbyists.

And let's keep in mind, in Washington, there are a lot -- there are a lot more lobbyists than legislators and for every group that sees its interests under attack, such as the pharmaceutical industry which might end up having to lower drug prices -- that's one of the big points that's being debated -- they're going to send every lobbyist that they have to call the legislators over and over again.

The longer you wait, the harder it is to get this done. That's why Nancy Pelosi set this deadline. It seems somewhat arbitrary, it seems somewhat early, but she knows very well that the longer they wait, the more the special interests are likely to rise up and either shrink or even kill the bill.

PAUL: So Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that they will not agree, they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling, which is what has to be done with this $3.5 trillion spending bill and the Republicans are saying apparently, you know, look, you can do this on your own, Democrats, you can -- you can do the $3.5 trillion on your own. Why don't you just go ahead and raise the debt ceiling and make it happen? To that you say what, Errol?

LOUIS: Well, look, these are -- what the Republicans are trying to do and what some of the Democrats, frankly, are trying to avoid is getting corralled into some unpopular votes. You know, they don't want to vote to increase the debt ceiling. They'd rather say that it's not going to increase by having what they call pay-fors, meaning taxes, meaning revenue that's going to either be coming from corporations or from wealthy Americans, things that the president campaigned on, things that many, many Democrats have said that they're in favor of.


Well, those are going to be very tough and unpopular votes and what they don't want to do, Christi, is cast a vote in a preliminary stage that's going to be controversial and annoy a lot of the special interests only to see it removed from the packet. So, then they've got this black mark on their record, they've given some ammunition to the potential opponents who will say so and so voted to raise taxes on Americans and so forth only to see the provision taken out so that it was a needless let's vote.

So, what everybody's trying to do is figure out the timing on this and make sure it all happens all at once in a way that gives maximum cover to the maximum number of Democrats and Mitch McConnell is standing off to the side saying good luck with that and we're going to hold you to that and make you walk this very difficult course if you want to see the president's agenda move forward.

PAUL: So, Kevin mentioned the president's -- this new Gallup poll this week, his approval rating down to 43 percent now. I mean, you've got budget and border and Afghanistan and a potential government shutdown. What do you think at this point, Errol, is key to driving that number for the president lower right now? Is a compilation of everything? Is there one thing glaring to you?

LOUIS: Well, you left out the pandemic, first of all, Christi, but ...

PAUL: Pandemic, yes. Thank you very much. Which is probably the most important.

LOUIS: But look, what's driving the fall in the president's overall approval rating is that the Independents, those who neither consider themselves reliable Democrats or reliable Republicans, they are abandoning him and that's why the number has come down.

Now, the good news in all of this is that President Biden has extremely high support among Democrats. He has higher support than Obama did at this point in his presidency. It's higher than Clinton had at this point in his presidency. It's higher than Bush or Trump had at this point among Republicans in their presidency. So, Biden has some good news there. It's just those Independents that have walked away from him that has made the rating drop and that's why I don't think you're going to see the White House go into full panic mode.

They've got 90 percent of the Democrats behind them. That's who brought them to the party, that's what they're all about and that's who will save them once all of this gets done. The key, of course, is to get it done.

PAUL: Get it done. Yes. We'll have to wait and see. Errol Louis, always appreciate your perspective, sir. Thank you.

LOUIS: Thanks, Christi.

SANCHEZ: So, the committee investigating the January 6th riot at the Capitol has issued its first subpoenas for witness testimony. Lawmakers are looking at efforts made by the Trump White House to potentially overturn the election and how the spread of misinformation online fueled the violence that we saw that day. The subpoenas were issued to four Trump loyalists, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel.

He's a former chief of staff to then acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller. He also served as an aide to Republican representative Devin Nunes. The chairman of the select committee says that if these individuals don't comply with the subpoenas, they may be charged with criminal contempt.

We also want to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic this morning. We have details on the three high-risk groups that have now been given the green light to get a COVID vaccine booster.

PAUL: Also, missing persons cases are often treated very differently in the public eye depending on the race of the missing person. We're taking a look at how the Gabby Petito case is really bringing to light a disparity that has been long standing.




PAUL: So, Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shots are available for millions of you after CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky split with her agency's vaccine advisers by recommending a third dose for people who are considered high-risk based on where they work.

SANCHEZ: Right. More than 2 million Americans with compromised immune systems have already received a third dose and the recommendation for boosters now expands access to grocery store workers, teachers and healthcare workers, too.

PAUL: So, the country's seeing a 13 percent decline in new cases compared to last week, but Dr. Walensky says the country just can't boost its way out of this pandemic.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Hospitals across the country still under immense pressure as ICU beds remain scarce and community spread of the virus remains high. Let's get to CNN's Alison Kosik who has the latest.


BIDEN: It's hard to acknowledge I'm over 65 and I'll be getting my booster shot. ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (Voice over): President Joe Biden, along with millions of other Americans, is now eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

BIDEN: Like your first and second shot, the booster shot is free and easily accessible. Booster shots will be available in 80,000 locations, including over 40,000 pharmacies nationwide.

KOSIK (Voice over): The booster shots are now green lit by the FDA and CDC for Americans 65 and over, people 18 and up with certain underlying health conditions and adults at increased risk of COVID because of their workplaces or institutional settings.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: In a pandemic, we most often take steps with the intention to do the greatest good even in an uncertain environment and that is what I'm doing with these recommendations.

KOSIK (Voice over): But getting more initial shots in arms remains a high priority for the administration.

WALENSKY: I want to be clear. We will not boost our way out of this pandemic.

KOSIK (Voice over): A dramatic scene played out in real time on Friday during a taping of "The View."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need two of you to step off for a second.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ana and Sunny have to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're going to bring you back later.


KOSIK (Voice over): Two hosts of the show tested positive for COVID just ahead of an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris, but later in the day, two sources said that both women subsequently tested negative on follow-up rapid and PCR tests. Harris had not interacted with them, a White House official said.

According to new data from the CDC, on Friday, 75 percent of the eligible population in the U.S. has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 32 states and D.C. have now fully vaccinated more than half of their residents. But in Alabama, a different story. The state's health officer said yesterday that reports that the state has had the highest death rate in the country recently need to be verified but they certainly make sense. He said over 100 people died there every single day last week.

DR. SCOTT HARRIS, ALABAMA STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OFFICER: You know, these aren't numbers or stats. These are -- these are our friends and our family and our loved ones. These are Alabamians who are dying of COVID. We continue to say, you know, at least 90 percent of these deaths are completely preventable with vaccination.

KOSIK (Voice over): Meanwhile, here in New York state, on Monday, a vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers will go into effect.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL, (D) NEW YORK: I believe it's critically important for our healthcare workers to be as healthy as they can before they attend to the health of others.

KOSIK (Voice over): That same day, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is also requiring all school staff to provide proof of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: We're going to work with anyone who needs to get vaccinated between now and the deadline. If they don't get vaccinated, they consciously make the choice not to get vaccinated, they will be suspended without pay.

KOSIK (Voice over): Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Let's get some perspective from an expert. Joining us now is Dr. Taison Bell. He's the director of the medical intensive care unit at the University of Virginia. He's also an associate professor of infectious diseases and pulmonary and critical care medicine. Dr. Bell, always a pleasure to have you on. Thanks for joining us. I want to play more from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, talking about her decision to authorize booster shots for adults who work in high-risk areas. Listen to this.


WALENSKY: The question wasn't yes or no, the question was wait or do now. In my -- if I'd been in the room, I would have voted yes and that is where I absolutely took the advice of my advisors, but on this one, I voted to -- I recommended that we make vaccines available for this group of people.


SANCHEZ: Dr. Walensky saying that this decision effectively was inevitable and it was really a question of timing rather than yes or no on getting booster shots to high-risk workers. I'm curious about what you made of her decision.

DR. TAISON BELL, DIRECTOR, MEDICAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT AT UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, thank you for having me on, Boris, and I'm one of the lucky people who have had the chance to work directly with Dr. Walensky while seeing patients in the hospital when I was training and she always made decisions based not just on the question that was at hand, but what was in the best interest of the patient overall and I think in this case, the patient was the nation's health and I think she made the right decision. Now, clearly the advisor committee to the CDC, the specific decision on expanding boosters to healthcare workers and other frontline workers, was split. So we are going to have people that are very thoughtful who have disagreements with her decision, but I think in the context of the strain on the healthcare system, this was the right decision.

So healthcare systems are strained across the country and my hospital continues to get calls from hospitals that are over capacity and in many cases it's related to staff that have called in sick with COVID. Now, luckily the vaccines are very effective at preventing hospitalization and death. So that's not our concern here, but it's clear that when healthcare workers aren't able to show up to work, that could potentially mean that a patient either can't get a bed that's available or can't get the care that they need.

So this is in the best interest of making sure that the healthcare workforce is healthy and that we can show up for our patients.

SANCHEZ: And there is a lingering issue with the fact that the deadline for healthcare workers to get their vaccine shots is quickly approaching and apparently many of them have not and there are doctors out there who are concerned about staffing because some healthcare workers are refusing the vaccine. I'm curious as to whether that is a concern for you and what your message is to those workers that have not yet gotten vaccinated.

BELL: Well, I think it's an important consideration because we've seen that vaccine effectiveness does wane over time and remember that healthcare workers were in that initial priority group when we initially rolled out vaccines in December and January. So the recommendation was -- they had different grades of recommendations. So they said "should" for people who they strongly felt should get vaccinated.


Healthcare workers were included in the "may choose to get vaccinated." So it is a decision up to the individual healthcare worker to decide whether to get vaccinated, but I do think it's important to consider being able to show up to work because we've all seen that the effect of symptomatic infection, having to call in and not show up for work, that does have a significant impact and strain on healthcare resources.

You know, we are on the edge and in many cases on a day to day basis and if one or two nurses or respiratory therapists call in sick, you know, that could be the difference between being able to properly take care of a patient or not.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And, Dr. Bell, quickly I want to get your thoughts on a new policy in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis announcing this week that schools are going to follow a symptom-based approach to quarantining. That means that kids who may have been exposed to COVID but don't have symptoms will be allowed to return to the classroom depending on their parents' choosing. Given that you can spread COVID without having symptoms, how would this policy prevent the spread of the virus?

BELL: Well, I have a lot of problems with this policy. I think it's not rooted in science and it makes absolutely no sense to me and I just want to be clear about that. And as you pointed out, the main problem is a symptom-based approach is not a reliable approach to catching cases.

In fact, there was actually a study published recently in "The Journal of the American Medical Association" that looked at testing versus symptomatic case screening in Omaha, Nebraska and they found that if you're using just a symptom-based approach, you could be missing up to 90 percent of cases in schools.

Now, of course many school districts aren't using regular testing and I do think that's another opportunity, but that's why it's so important to pair it with other mitigation measures like masking and social distancing and that's how we can really tamp down on outbreaks in schools.

Now, specifically when it comes to kids who have been exposed to coronavirus, and this is what they're talking about with this policy, there are even some interesting Test to Stay protocols that have been tested, for instance in the U.K., and they've shown that even after being exposed, provided you don't have symptoms, the child can test daily for up to a week and they can effectively keep children in schools and prevent outbreaks.

But when you're relying on a policy like this that is rooted just in symptomatic screening, but you're not pairing it with universal masking, which they've rejected, you're not during regular testing and you're not requiring vaccines in teachers and staff, then it's really like you're reading the coronavirus playbook, but reading it upside down and so I don't agree with it and I think it needlessly puts people at risk.

SANCHEZ: And we have to leave the conversation there. Dr. Taison Bell, always appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

BELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: We'll be right back. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: We are just about 32 minutes past the hour. And the manhunt for the fiance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito is ramping up. A second woman in Wyoming now says that she gave Brian Laundrie a ride to the area where Petito's body was later found. The FBI has issued a federal arrest warrant for Laundrie for activities that are not linked to her death, but related to his, quote, "use of unauthorized devices".

PAUL: A source tells CNN Laundrie left his parent's home last Thursday without his cellphone, without his wallet, and his parents were concerned that he might hurt himself. And so far, authorities have reported no sign of Laundrie, but they're expected to resume their search for him in the 25,000 acre Florida nature reserve -- thus, Laundrie's parents have actually pointed them to.

Now, as Gabby Petito's case continues to gain some national coverage, still a lot of minority families who are frustrated with the lack of response and media coverage to help find the people they love.

SANCHEZ: For years, this issue has caused people of color to take matters into their own hands to get their cases in the public eye. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has that story.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nelly Howie(ph) vanished in a rhubarb.

BROADDUS: Murdered or missing white women and children who captured national media attention. The most recent --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still on the hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance --

BROADDUS: Gabby Petito found dead in Wyoming eight days after she was reported missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was at work --

BROADDUS: In Chicago, Karen Phillips is fighting to make sure the world knows her daughter. Kierra Coles, a mail carrier missing for almost three years.

PHILLIPS: I believe that if Kierra was a different color, we'd have more results by now.

BROADDUS: This photo of Coles holding an ultrasound, after learning she was pregnant as one of the last pictures taken of her in 2018.

PHILLIPS: We couldn't wait, we could not wait.

BROADDUS: Phillips is among dozens of black and minority families struggling to get attention on their missing person cases.

PHILLIPS: I just miss her. She was doing so good and everything she wanted to do for her to just come up missing like --

ZACH SOMMERS, CRIMINOLOGIST: There are thousands of cases out there of folks who have gone missing that we don't know about.

BROADDUS: Zach Sommers, a criminologist specializing in missing person's cases says only a fraction of minority cases received nonstop news coverage compared to white people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there's a missing white woman, we're going to cover that every day. BROADDUS: A systemic issue, the late long-time maker Gwen Ifill coined

"missing white woman syndrome" in 2004.

SOMMERS: "Missing white woman" syndrome is the idea that young white girls and white women, they get much more news coverage than other folks of different demographics when they go missing.

BROADDUS: According to 2020 FBI data, blacks only make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for nearly a third of the missing person's cases in the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you see her, tell her we love her.

BROADDUS: In Washington state, Mary Johnson's family still waiting for answers. Johnson went missing late last year from the Tulalip Reservation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a native American woman -- sorry, I'm not racist or anything, but she deserves the same treatment.

BROADDUS: Online, black and brown families are using hashtag Gabby Petito to post about their missing loved ones, hoping to gain momentum. A move that helped a family of Daniel Robinson raise awareness. Robinson went missing in June.

ROGER HAWLEY-ROBINSON, BROTHER MISSING SINCE JUNE: We shouldn't have to depend on other stories or other cases to push our own story. And I just want -- we just want answers just like anyone else.

BROADDUS: Those families also saying they didn't get the same allocation of resources or treatment from law enforcement.

SOMMERS: There's data that suggests that when people of color go missing, especially young adults, teenagers, adolescents, that they are more likely to be classified as runaways by police. They're more likely to be considered missing of their own accord by voluntary means.

BROADDUS: How do we balance the coverage?

SOMMERS: No one is saying that Gabby isn't worthy of coverage. It doesn't have to be Gabby Petito or someone else gets coverage. The same spotlight should be getting shown on both of them.

BROADDUS: Today, Phillips should be celebrating her daughter's 29th birthday. Instead, she made fliers with the message, "find Kierra Coles".

PHILLIPS: What kind we really do about it? Other than just try to keep our name out there, you know, keep doing interviews and hopefully, one day, somebody would just call in and just leave a tip. We grief everyday because we don't know where she is or what's going on.

BROADDUS: Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Chicago. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: That's going to be the worst part, is just not knowing. I cannot imagine what it's like for these families, very good notes to make there. And we certainly hope the best and that maybe she gets some news on Kierra. So, the massive migrant camp at the U.S. Mexico border in Del Rio, it's been cleared out now, we're going to take you to Haiti next where thousands of those migrants have already been deported back to their home country.



PAUL: Get ready to potentially see some real changes in Germany because voters are heading to the polls as of tomorrow to choose a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. She's led the country since 2005 and there's so much that could lead to a significant shift in German politics. Yes, Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes, polling indicates that there is a large number of undecided voters and the race will likely be closer than expected. CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen joins us now live from Berlin. Fred, Merkel stepping down, she wasn't really all that eager to be out on the campaign trail, right? But she is.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right. She's certainly wasn't eager to be out on the campaign trail at all, but now she's basically forced to be out on the campaign trail because heir-apparent, her successor-apparent from the conservative party, he's down in the polls. He's not doing very well. There was some unforced errors that he committed, for instance, we had some pretty bad flooding here in Germany in July, and he was caught on camera laughing while visiting the flood victims there.

So, Angela Merkel actually is on the stomp with him right now hoping to drum up some support, he is still down in the polls. The other interesting thing is that the candidates from the rival party, from the social democratic party, he's ahead because he's saying well, he's a lot like Angela Merkel. So, he's trying to be as much like Angela Merkel as possible while he's on the campaign trail, and certainly, that seems to be leading to some degree of success. Now, there's two things that I think are absolutely key also for our viewers, is that on the one hand, no one is going to become chancellor here in Germany unless they have a strong climate agenda.

Germans say that the time to act is right now. They want a chancellor who has a strong green agenda, that's also by the way why the green party is looking to really score in this election. And the other thing, we've talked to all three candidates here in this election, and all of them say they want Germany to remain strong in the European Union, strong in NATO and a strong partner for the U.S. as well, guys.

PAUL: All right, so, we're going to just get a little bit of light- hearted news in here because God knows we need it for levity, right? So, I understand you've got some really -- PLEITGEN: Yes --

PAUL: Interesting pictures for us here, Fred, of --


PAUL: Of the chancellor and some parrots.

PLEITGEN: Right, well, exactly, you're absolutely right guys. And I have to say also I've been covering Angela Merkel since she was the opposition leader here in Germany for the past, say, about 20 years. I was obviously very young back then. I have never seen her in a light- hearted moment like this one. She visited a -- it's a bird farm, it's not only parrots, it's mostly parrots though, in the north of Germany, it's actually her own electoral district, even though she is not running anymore, a town of Marlow. And obviously, she had all those birds on her arms, on her shoulders and on her head as well. It certainly led to some very light moments.

Again, Angela Merkel, of course, usually a very serious leader, someone who usually isn't up for antics any way, shape or form. But you do feel now that things are coming to a close, she's going to a few more appointments where she can do some more light-hearted things, and is generally -- you can see that the weight of this office is already beginning to fall off her. Of course, she was such a big leader here in Germany in the past 16 years and internationally as well in Europe and in the world. So, now, she's up for some moments, you know, she can just hang out with the beds a little bit.

PAUL: Because she's earned it, right? She's earned it --



PAUL: At this point.

SANCHEZ: Known for her stoicism --


SANCHEZ: It's interesting to see --

PLEITGEN: Sure has --

SANCHEZ: In that light. And just one more --


SANCHEZ: Note, Fred, you are still very young, right?

PAUL: Yes, you are.

PLEITGEN: Thank you, Boris, thank you, thank you --

SANCHEZ: Of course -- PLEITGEN: I appreciate that.


SANCHEZ: Fred Pleitgen from Berlin, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks Fred. So, the U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigned over what he called the inhumane decision to deport thousands of migrants back to Haiti.

SANCHEZ: Yes, those being deported are returning to a country in turmoil years after leaving in search of a better life. The story from CNN correspondent Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Junior, his wife Elianne and their two-year-old were deported to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, seven years after the couple says they left in search of a better life. They're now staying with friends. The three sharing a single bed, not much, but more comfort than they've known for several months.

When work dried up in Brazil in June where they've been given asylum, the family headed north through ten countries, some of it by bus, but much of it on foot.

Elianne there says that the worst was arriving in the United States. As they arrived, she says, everything they had including tooth paste and soap was taken, so that as they got into the prison, they had only the clothes on their backs. She says that when they were called up, they thought they'd be freed, instead she says we were shackled. Seeing my husband shackled was the worst, she explains. Then they handcuffed the women, and then they put us on a plane, my baby was crying, and I couldn't even hold him. And that was what made me cry.

The family gives us a tour of the neighborhood they find themselves back in, Junior says that Port-au-Prince is worse now than when they left. I asked him if it is the insecurity that has worsened, he laughs, and tells me, there's no security in Haiti. The assassination of the country's president and the aftermath of a 7.2 earthquake in August just some of the dismal conditions forcing families to embark on the grueling trek to the U.S. border with Mexico.

(on camera): And yet, the flights keep on coming. Seven, and all arriving here in Haiti just this Friday. Some here at Port-au-Prince, others at the airport in Cap-Haitien in the very north of the country. The logistics almost impossible to deal with, says the International Office for Migration, given the sheer number of people being deported.

(voice-over): Back in the place they desperately wanted to leave. The dream of finding a better life in America ends here back on Haitian soil with a hand out of $100, a hot meal and a ride to the bus station.

FRANKLY JEAN, DEPORTEE (through translator): People are going to suffer now. There are no jobs, and there is nothing here. What are those people all going to do?

BELL: That's the dilemma facing thousands of migrants forced to return to a country the U.S. special envoy to Haiti called a collapsed state before he resigned on Thursday. A small group of people turned out in Port-au-Prince to protest the deportations, a show of dissent, but little help to the migrants still being flown back to Haiti returning to the many problems they thought they'd left behind. Melissa Bell, CNN, Port-au-Prince.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Melissa Bell for that report. A jury has begun deliberations in the sex trafficking trial against singer R. Kelly. Coming up, we have details on the damning evidence and the testimony presented in court.



SANCHEZ: Jurors began their deliberations in R. Kelly's federal trial just yesterday. He's accused of exploiting girls, women and boys for decades, and is facing racketeering sex trafficking charges.

PAUL: Now, the jury deliberated about four hours before the case was adjourned for the weekend without a verdict. But they're set to resume Monday. CNN's Sonia Moghe has more.

SONIA MOGHE, CNN REPORTER: Boris and Christi, the jurors have already been deliberating for four hours starting Friday afternoon. They have the task of waiting through evidence and testimony from 50 witnesses from the first 21 days of this trial. Now, some of the testimony they have heard has been incredibly disturbing. They've heard witnesses testify about sexual abuse and physical abuse and being directed to film videos of sexual encounters and humiliating acts by Kelly on his iPads and cameras. Some of which were seized by federal agents.

Some of those recordings which jurors saw in court as part of this trial. Now, multiple women testified that they were sexually abused by the singer when they were minors, young girls. They testify that Kelly knew their ages and had sex with them anyway, and even in some cases recorded these sexual encounters. Now, multiple women also testified about physical abuse at the hands of Kelly, one woman said she was just 16 years old when Kelly choked her to the point in passing out. And several women testified about chastisement sorts, spanking that often left them bruised or even bleeding, that they said were punishments.

Now, former employees of the singer and former living girlfriends testified about something they called Rob's rules, strict rules in place for his female guests and for dealing with his female guests. Multiple women testified that they were directed to stay in rooms at R. Kelly's homes and had to get permission from the singer himself or his associates before leaving the rooms.

[06:55:00] Even to do something like get food or go to the bathroom. Now, R.

Kelly's defense attorneys say those rules were in place because his home was also his recording studio, and he liked to record music at odd hours of the night and needed to keep the studio secure. But prosecutors say these rules were actually methods of coercion used to control his victims and to keep members of his enterprise in line. That enterprise prosecutors say enabled the singer to exploit girls, boys and young women for decades.

Now, we expect these jurors to return here to work on federal report Monday morning to resume those deliberations. Sonia Moghe, Brooklyn.

SANCHEZ: Sonia, thank you for that. Coming up, the head of the CDC defending her decision to open up access to COVID boosters. What this means for thousands of people now eligible to get a third shot.