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New Day Saturday
Warnock, Walker Face Off In High-Stakes Georgia U.S. Senate Race; Jan. 6Th Investigators Reveal Bombshell Footage As Endgame Nears; Teenage Suspect In Raleigh Mass Shooting To Be Charged As An Adult; Juror: "It Got Ugly" During Deliberations Of Parkland Killer's Sentence. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired October 15, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome to your "New Day." It is Saturday, October 15th, 16 days away from the Halloween. I'm Amara Walker.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It is spooky season. Good morning, Amara.
A. WALKER: It is.
SANCHEZ: I'm Boris Sanchez. We're so grateful that you're starting your weekend with us.
Up first. The countdown to not just Halloween but also the midterm elections. The 2022 elections less than a month away and candidates across the country are working hard to lock down support. The balance of power in Congress is up for grabs. And there are a handful of states which could determine which party takes control.
A. WALKER: And that includes Arizona where the race for U.S. Senate is leaning toward the Democrat. Senator Mark Kelly over Republican Blake Masters in Nevada. The contest for U.S. Senate is a toss-up. And in Pennsylvania, the race between Mehmet Oz and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman also up for grabs.
Another key Senate race is right here in Georgia where the candidates met in a heated debate last night. Senator Raphael Warnock faced off against Herschel Walker after weeks of bombshell allegations leveled at the former football star.
Details now from CNN politics reporter Eva McKend.
EVA MCKEND, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Democratic senator Raphael, Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker are in a contentious Georgia Senate race with U.S. Senate controlled state.
BUCK LANFORD, DEBATE MODERATOR: It is time to get underway. MCKEND (voice-over): The Georgia candidates debated Friday night. Walker running on a family values platform currently involved in a scandal over allegedly pressuring the mother of one of his children to get an abortion.
LANFORD: A week before this debate, a former girlfriend made public accusation saying you paid for an abortion and that you encouraged her to have another. In ABC News interview this week you said that the accusations are quote, all lies. For the voters watching tonight. Can you explain the circumstances surrounding these claims you have 60 seconds?
HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA), SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, as I say that's a lie. And, you know, what most thing I put, I put it in a book. One thing about my life it's I've been very transparent, not like the Senator, he's here things. But at the same time, I say that's a lie. And on abortion, you know, I'm a Christian. I believe in life. And I tell people this, Georgia is a state that respects life. And I'll be a senator that protects life. And I say that was a lie. And I'm not backing down.
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA) SENATE CANDIDATE: The patient's room is too narrow and small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor and the United States government. We are witnessing right now what happens when politicians most of the men pile in the patient's rooms. You get what you're seeing right now. And the women of Georgia, the women of Georgia deserve a Senator who will stand with them. I trust women more than I trust politician.
H. WALKER: I heard about him, and I heard he was a neat talker. But did he not mention that there was a baby in that room as well. And they also did not mention that he asked him, that he asked him the taxpayer to pay for it. So, he's bringing the government back into the room.
MCKEND (voice-over): CNN has not independently verified the allegations about Walker.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Herschel please say a few words.
MCKEND (voice-over): Walker was given the opportunity to distance himself from the former president on election denial.
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did President Biden defeat former President Donald Trump in 2020?
H. WALKER: President Biden won instead of the one on one. That's the reason I decided to run, because we need a change in Washington. We need leaders that's going to stand up to foreign leaders. We need people to understand that for people in Georgia.
MCKEND (voice-over): on Friday, both candidates said they would accept the results of this election. Walker was also asked about crime and took the opportunity to make a string of claims about Senator Warnock, accusing Warnock of not supporting the police who gave this rebuttal. WARNOCK: We will see time and time again tonight as we've already seen that my opponent has a problem with the truth. And just because he says something doesn't mean it's true. I have supported our police officers. I've called them and I prayed with their families. You can support police officers as I've done through the COPS program, through the invest, to protect program while at the same time holding police officers like all professions accountable. One thing I have not done, I've never pretended to be a police officer. And I've never threatened a shootout with the police.
H. WALKER: And I have to respond to that.
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are moving on gentleman.
H. WALKER: No, no, no, I have to respond to that. And you know what, so fun. I am with many police officers. And at the same time --
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Walker, Mr. Walker --
H. WALKER: No, no, no --
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Walker, Mr. Walker, Mr. Walker. Excuse me, Mr. Walker --
H. WALKER: We (INAUDIBLE) --
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- please out of respect, I need to let you know Mr. Walker, you are very well aware of the rules tonight.
H. WALKER: Yes.
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have a prop.
H. WALKER: Yes.
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not allowed, sir.
MCKEND (voice-over): Early voting starts Monday in Georgia.
Eva McKend, CNN Savannah.
SANCHEZ: Thanks to Eva McKend for that report.
So, this morning, we have more video showing the dangers that were faced by lawmakers on the Capitol after they left the Capitol building during the January 6 riots. The video is courtesy of filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, who was documenting her mom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on that day. It shows Speaker Pelosi huddled with other congressional leaders sheltering at Fort McNair, a Washington D.C. area based -- military base.
A. WALKER: And at the same time, Vice President Mike Pence was sheltering at a loading dock, as you see there on the Capitol campus. In a CNN exclusive, Pence and Pelosi the first and second in line for the presidency, discuss their personal safety with Pelosi begging him to keep his location secret.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Mr. Vice President. Hi, yes, we're OK. We're here with Mr. Schumer, Mr. McConnell, the leadership, House and Senate and how are you? Oh, my goodness, where are you? God bless you. I worry about you being in that Capitol boom. Don't let anybody know where you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A. WALKER: Don't let anybody know where you are. And in another clip, we also hear discussion between the former Vice President and President and Speaker Pelosi, I should say as they work on a contingency plan to clear the Capitol and finish certifying the 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We're at Fort McNair, which has facilities for the House and the Senate to meet as a backup plan. Should they seem like this, but they can't happen that would want that. Logistically want to bring all the members here House and Senate anyway. We're just making a judgment. We'd rather go to the Capitol and do it there. But it doesn't seem to be safe. What do you think Mister?
Have you spoke in terms of going back to the Capitol? Which is what we wanted you too. But Mitch was talking about going back to the Capitol. Yes.
Well, we would like to go back to the -- I -- that's what be our hope as well. The security is telling us that it's going to be a while before the Capitol will be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You might recall portions of these videos were used in a final public hearing of the January 6 committee. The House Select Committee use the video and new testimony to demonstrate how former President Donald Trump knew he had lost the election, but still went forward with efforts to overturn the results.
The committee also voted to subpoena the former president and response Trump issued a 14-page letter repeating false election claims and slamming the committee.
A. WALKER: On January 6, the officer Michael Fanone nearly lost his life defending the Capitol.
He was surrounded by an angry mob as you heard they're violently beaten with a blue lives matter flag pole. And then tased repeatedly in the neck. Fanone pleaded with rioters for his life telling them he had children. The father survived that suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury.
A couple of weeks ago the man wielding that flagpole Kyle Young was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.
Former D.C. Metropolitan officer and CNN law enforcement analyst Michael Fanone has a new memoir out this week Hold The Line. And he is joining me now.
Good morning to you Michael, and thanks for your time. Before we delve into your book, I just want to get from you what you thought were the takeaways from this final January 6 public hearing before the election. You know it ended with a vote to subpoena Donald Trump. Thursday Trump have responded by repeating election lies. He's clearly still trying to rile up his supporters and I wonder if you're concerned about January 6 happening again?
MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, the one overall takeaway that I had from all of these meetings or all of the hearings, was it on January 6, Donald Trump declared war on America. And he didn't do it figuratively, he did it literally. He raised an army of his supporters, and directed them to the Capitol, knowing full well, that violence would ensue. And he did it to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes, and the peaceful transition of power. And what we're dealing with now is the residual effect of that he's going to continue to be a threat to America and American democracy until he and the other is responsible for January shakes are held accountable.
A. WALKER: You know, sadly, go ahead.
FANONE: Go ahead.
A. WALKER: Well, you know, I was going to say, sadly, there's still so many conspiracy theories out there and people saying that even some of the video, you know, out there isn't real. I'm just curious to know why you wrote this book. What do you want people to know?
FANONE: I mean, the reason that I wrote the book was twofold. First, I wanted people to understand what my experience and the experience of so many other police officers was on January 6. But I also wanted people to, you know, get a view into what it was like to come forward, speak the truth in the time of Trump and Trumpism. And, and what that was like, and understand what the cost is to Americans who speak out and put themselves in an adversarial position against Trump. It cost me everything.
But the other reason for writing the book was I wanted people to understand the experience of a street cop in America over the past 20 years. And I was hoping that, you know, me being transparent about my career, could help further more productive conversations about policing and police reform in America.
A. WALKER: You know, parts of your book focus on these recorded conversations you made, including with Republican lawmakers, downplaying the insurrection or really rewriting history, and includes this one with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Let's listen first.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He wasn't watching TV (INAUDIBLE).
GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNIC: He know what was going on. He knew what was going on. People were fighting for hours and hours and hours. You know, this doesn't make any sense to me.
MCCARTHY: I'm just telling you from my phone call that he didn't know that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
A. WALKER: And by the way, that was the voice of the late Brian Sicknick's mother there, Michael, you were clearly angry and incredulous in that meeting. I mean used a lot of colorful language as well. What do you want us to take away from these recordings?
FANONE: I mean, the overall takeaway is this, you know, the experience that I had meetings with members of Congress, unfortunately, while it was primarily Republican members, it was members on both sides of the aisle was indifference, indifference to me, indifference towards the mother of an officer who died as a result of fulfilling his oath and his duty on January 6, and indifference to law enforcement officers in general.
And I think ultimately, that's the big takeaway from my book is that there's a lot of potential dangers in in Trump and his followers. But ultimately, I think what's going to be our downfall, as America is our indifference, our indifference to the pain that was caused by Donald Trump to so many different Americans, and our indifference to our neighbors experience.
A. WALKER: You mentioned the price, the high price you've had to pay by just simply telling your story. I mean, Michael, you served as a police officer for 20 years. And I know you say one of the most difficult things for you to deal with after that coup attempt on our Capitol was your own colleagues, ostracizing you and I want to read a quote from your book, it says quote, if I approached a group of other officers talking, they would walk away. Every visit to hit the bathroom risks to confrontation. It was not lost on me that most of the venom came from white cops. Black cops, for the most part, were supportive. From them, I got handshakes and hugs, that most white cops averted eye contact, a few literally turned their backs.
Talk to us more about that experience I mean you must feel so betrayed.
FANONE: Yes, I mean that was an observation that I made. Again, it was an attempt to be transparent about my experience. I mean, I would have people draw their own conclusions. That being said, I don't think that it's a secret that there's obviously a majority of Trump supporters are white, and certainly within the law enforcement community as well as the military. The vast majority of those that still to this day, 19 months after January 6, continue to support Donald Trump are white. And I think those individuals should probably do some soul searching as to why they continue to cling to an individual who so clearly, despises democracy, disrespects Americans right to vote and choose their elected leaders.
A. WALKER: You're right when you say indifference is dangerous, and we hope that there will be less indifference the more voices like yours are heard and more evidence comes out in the days and weeks ahead.
Appreciate you joining us. The book is called Hold The Line. It is available now. Michael Fanone, appreciate you sharing your story with us. Thanks so much.
FANONE: Thanks for having me.
SANCHEZ: Mortgage rates hit their highest level in 20 years as inflation continues to drive up prices. What that means for people currently in the market for a new home, and whether we could soon see prices continue to rise.
And school shooting victims were outraged this week after the gunman was spared the death penalty. Now one juror is speaking out in a one- on-one interview with CNN, about those tense closed-door deliberations.
Stay with "New Day."
A. WALKER: U.S. stocks ended the week down with the Dow rising more than 1 percent over the past five days, but the S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent, and the NASDAQ tumbled more than 3 percent by the closing bell.
SANCHEZ: The falling stocks come after a key consumer survey shows that expectations for inflation are again set to increase, and as investors brace for another interest rate hike.
CNN's Christine Romans has the latest.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Boris, Amara, felt like a year of stock market action and economic news in just one week, leaving a still confusing picture about whether the U.S. economy can avoid a recession. What do we know? Well, retail sales were flat from August to September as inflation took a toll on the American consumer. Sales and everything from food to auto part saw little or no change in September. The retail sales numbers are not adjusted for inflation, so Americans spent the same dollars for fewer goods. Inflation still a daily burden on American households. Consumer prices rose four-tenths of a percent from August to September. And 8.2 percent when compared with last year and core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy prices. And that was the highest since 1982. A fresh 40-year inflation high for that core rate.
Now the Feds crusade to crush that inflation has driven mortgage rates to the highest since George W. Bush was in office. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage now 6.92 percent. For context, a $400,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage taken out today would cost an extra $1,000 in interest compared to that same mortgage taken out a year ago at 3 percent.
SANCHEZ: Christine Romans, thank you so much for that.
The chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS is forecasting that home prices are going to flatline and about half the country next year. Lawrence Yun is predicting 0 percent growth on average in 2023. It's been a seller's market for a long time as we've emerged from the pandemic and demand is massively outstripped supply. So, this is great news if you're a buyer, but only if you can afford a mortgage, which could be getting more expensive. The organization also warning that mortgage rates could hit 8.5 percent if they climb above the 7 percent threshold they're hovering around right now.
Lawrence Yun is actually with us this morning. Lawrence, thank you so much for spending part of your weekend with us.
Let's start with those mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage just average 6.92, the highest since April of 2002. A year ago, you can get a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for just 3.05 percent. What do you think the chances are that they will go above 8 percent? Where do you see them peaking?
LAWRENCE YUN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: I think that we are testing the 7 percent mark is most likely to hold at this level and possibly even retreat somewhat after holding. But if it breaks the 7 percent line, the mortgage rate looks to go up even above 8 percent. Now we have to remember when inflation is this high last time back in the early 1980s, mortgage rates actually climb up to 18 percent. Of course, we don't see that. But I think the 7 percent is likely to be the new normal.
SANCHEZ: Yes, you don't think the 1980s rate hikes of 18, 16 to 18 percent? You don't think that's going to come back?
YUN: Oh, yes, definitely not. I mean, that was just due to the just runaway inflation. We have high uncomfortable inflation, the Federal Reserve and 10 on fighting it. And I think the inflation level a couple of years from now will be back to normal about 3 percent a year. That means that mortgage rate probably at that time could be somewhat lower in our so for people who are entering the market today. America the great one of the great part is people can always refinance at lower rates in the future online unlike many residents in other countries.
So, for Americans the opportunity to refinance when the mortgage rates fall, that's a great thing.
SANCHEZ: Right. So, what has to happen for rates to go down? How long do you think buyers are going to be waiting?
YUN: Well, first, you know, the mortgage rate is critical to the housing market. So, mortgage rate needs to stabilize, inflation needs to steadily come down a bit. And for the housing supply to really increase we still have housing shortage. One would think that with the changing market circumstances, there will be a burst of supply. We are not seeing that we are not seeing any foreclosure property coming onto the market or any distressed properties. So, we are in a somewhat of a strange dynamic have fewer buyers for our sale at this time, fewer sellers. So, we need to really increase supply to moderate the price growth.
SANCHEZ: Yes, and you essentially think that home prices are going to flatline over the next year in some parts of the country. Walk us through where you see prices going.
YUN: So nationwide, essentially a 0 percent increase in prices flatline, meaning that half of the country will see some modest growth in home prices. I would say the Midwest will probably see continued growth especially if it's a job creating condition, simply because it's so affordable, like Indianapolis, just so affordable, some job creation boosts housing demand, and the southern states, you know, Georgia, Florida, where people are continuing to migrate into. So this is additional residents boosting the demand.
But the vulnerable part where the prices will decline will be the expensive high-cost region, particularly California, they may see about 10 percent price decline in California.
SANCHEZ: That is interesting to hear. Lawrence Yun, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us.
YUN: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Of course.
A. WALKER: And my stomach hurts just thinking about 8 percent average interest rates for mortgages. Crazy.
All right, up next more fallout in the wake of the Parkland School shooting verdict. Prosecutors are now looking into allegations that a jury was threatened as another speaks out on just how tense those deliberations were.
WALKER: The Justice Department has now officially appeal the appointment of the so-called Special Master who was overseeing documents seized from the former president's Florida estate. The Independent overseer was tasked with inspecting thousands of documents found at Mar-a-Lago by FBI agents, many of them classified back in August.
SANCHEZ: Yes, the DOJ argues the lower court judge who appointed the Special Master doesn't have the authority to interfere with their investigation. They call it a serious and unwarranted intrusion.
WALKER: Prosecutors say a teenager accused of killing five people in a mass shooting will be tried as an adult. The attack which spanned 2 miles across Raleigh, North Carolina neighborhood there, also left two people wounded. A source tells CNN the suspect was dressed in camouflage and a handgun and long gun were recovered from the scene. Our affiliate WTVD has been speaking to people in the neighborhood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE MEDINA, NEIGHBOR: It's heartbreaking. I have teenagers, myself, and you just -- it's a tragedy at any point in time, but to see a young person choose that potentially if that is the case, it's it's tragic. It's tragic for the families though that are suffering right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: One of the five victims killed was an off-duty police officer Gabriel Torres, who is on his way to work. Nicole Conners, Sue Karnatz, Mary Marshall and James Roger Thompson were also murdered in the attack. James was just 16 years old.
There are new details this morning about the tense jury deliberations and the Parkland School shooting trial that led to the convicted gunman being spared the death penalty.
WALKER: The Broward Sheriff's Office is now conducting an investigation after one juror said they felt threatened by another juror during the deliberations. CNN's Leyla Santiago spoke to one jury member who had more to say about the trial.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Amara, we had a very insightful conversation with one of the 12 jurors that eventually recommended life without parole for the Parkland shooter. She told us that she doesn't regret the decision to make that recommendation but does have anxiety over it, especially when she thinks about the family's pain.
Ultimately, she felt that the system failed the Parkland shooter throughout his life and she pointed to the law to explain her decision making. Remember in Florida, a jury must be unanimous for the death penalty. Here's how she described it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MELODY VANOY, JUROR IN PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING TRIAL: I was still undecided until the very, very end. And even though we can only -- you know, there was only one person who could vote for life, that would give him life. I just didn't want to hide behind that person. if that was my vote. It took a while. But at the last minute, I think when we went around the room and voted right before filling out the paperwork is when I went for life.
It was surprising there were negative, you know, sarcastic remarks. Like, oh, we're going to give him life but he's sick. And in some of the small talk, I heard comments like we're going to let the families down. I heard comments like, oh, you know, we have to put a stance for Florida. In other words, you know, you can't come here and do that and get away with it. But when you go back to the instructions, those were things that we could not consider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: She described very tense heated conversations, a debate that at one point, drove the jury to ask for time away out of that deliberation room to get fresh air, to get outside. You know, having been in the courtroom, you could see the toll that this took not only on the families that will always deal with this trauma, but also the jurors that had to see here.
And even at one point visit the school where this shooting took place February 14, 2018, she called it one of the toughest days of the trial before deliberation began. Here's how she described that part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANOY: It was horrific to say the least. It was like going to a museum that you never wanted to go to, that you would never in your life buy tickets to go to. That's what it was like. And at that point, we had viewed so much video where you could walk through the school and know whose remains were there. It was one of the worst days of my life. Yes. I even -- when I got home, I even had glass stuck in my shoes from that day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: Again, she was one of the juror's recommending life without parole. We do know that another juror did report feeling threatened at one point, that went before the judge and has now been turned over to local law enforcement for investigation. Boris, Amara?
WALKER: And later this morning in the 10:00 a.m. hour, two family members who lost loved ones will join us to share their thoughts and feelings on the jury's decision. Tony Montalto lost his 14-year-old daughter Gina. And we're also going to talk to Debra Hixon, her husband Chris, the athletic director at the school, was killed that day. That's a 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:41:30]
WALKER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this morning thanking the U.S. for another $725 million in military aid.
SANCHEZ: The latest package includes ammunition for various rocket systems, anti-tank weapons, artillery rounds, small arms and medical supplies.
WALKER: Meantime, Ukrainian officials report fresh attacks on the southern city of Zaporizhzhia today in an assault involving, quote and unquote, kamikaze drones.
SANCHEZ: Let's take you to Kyiv right now where CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is tracking the latest details. And Nick, reportedly Kyiv was just hit by a Russian missile. Is that right?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, limited details released. I think after the flurry of information we heard earlier in the week about what was hit by that large wave of Russian missiles. Ukrainian officials are more tight lipped about exactly what got here, but it's an energy infrastructure here in the Kyiv region apparently hit also in Zaporizhzhia too.
At the same time, though, we are hearing that Ukrainian forces, according to Russian state media sources are in fact moving forwards in the southern direction around Kherson where we were just couple of days ago. That's important because it's a potential vulnerable spot for the Russians. They have openly declared that they want to get their civilians out of the city of Kherson, which is the last provincial capital they still control in Ukraine.
That may be a possibility of them trying to control the situation there better or it might be them preparing for the possibility of the worst. It's been a long-term target of Ukrainian forces. They're moving down the Dnipro River towards it. And that seems to be where the focus of some of the push today as well.
But it comes after interesting signals we heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan yesterday, talking about the need for a goodwill gesture to get out of conflicts, not specifically, the war in Ukraine. He also made comments about how a conflict between Russia and NATO could be catastrophic. But it is one of a number of occasions we've heard Russia talk about diplomacy, the possibility of peace talks, peace talks that the West and Ukraine dismissed, frankly, because they don't trust Russia at the negotiating table and remarking on their history of using diplomacy as a time to regroup and then pursued the military goals later.
Certainly, something Russia would like to do at this point, given how badly its military campaign is going. No more so in the south a day where it appears Ukraine is taking back fraction by a fraction yet more territory. Boris?
SANCHEZ: Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Kyiv. Thank you so much, Nick. WALKER: Tensions between America and Saudi Arabia escalating this week with the White House accusing the Saudis of, quote, coercing its allies to cut oil production and side with Russia. CNN's Natasha Bertrand reports now on the pressure mounting in Congress for the Biden administration to act and the options the President is now considering.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): Tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia escalating sharply this week, with U.S. officials accusing the Saudis of strong-arming OPEC into cutting oil production and helping Russia maintain its war machine in Ukraine.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Saudis had conveyed to us both privately as well as publicly their intention to reduce oil production, which they knew would increase Russian revenues and potentially blunt the effectiveness of sanctions. We made clear that that would be the wrong direction.
BERTRAND (voice-over): The OPEC Plus decision to cut oil production by as much as 2 million barrels per day has rattled the White House, which now says it is reevaluating its relationship with the Saudis, one of the U.S.'s most important Middle East allies just months after President Biden traveled to Jeddah in an effort to mend an already faltering relationship.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am in the process when the House and Senate gets back, they're going to have to -- there's going to be some consequences for what they've done with Russia.
BERTRAND (voice-over): Multiple sources also telling CNN that other OPEC Plus members, including the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq, oppose the Saudi-led decision. Those countries have now indicated to the U.S. that they may not move forward with the kind of huge cuts that Saudi Arabia wants, one of the sources said.
The Saudis have pushed back against the Biden administration, releasing a rare written statement accusing the U.S. of trying to distort the facts, and insisting the decision was based purely on economic considerations.
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia is not siding with Russia. Saudi Arabia is taking the side of trying to ensure the stability of the oil markets.
BERTRAND (voice-over): As the Biden administration considers how to punish Saudi Arabia, a senior official tells CNN they've been purposefully vague to keep the Saudis guessing. But one option lawmakers are considering is to ban future weapons sales to the country once Congress is back in session.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I think it's unlikely that we will support any additional arm sales to the Saudis. This was a punch in the gut.
BERTRAND (voice-over): There are currently no imminent weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the pipeline, though, and experts are skeptical that the relationship will fundamentally change.
JONATHAN LORD, SENIOR FELLOW AND DIRECTOR, CNAS MIDDLE EAST SECURITY PROGRAM: Because of Saudi Arabia's activities in the war in Yemen and the civilian casualties they caused, followed by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Congress has become more and more critical and controlling of U.S. foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia. There's very little coercion left that the U.S. can do in trying to control military sales to Saudi Arabia.
BERTRAND: Now, a U.S. official told CNN that the OPEC announcement was, quote, a lot of theater, and it's ultimately unlikely to take the full 2 million barrels of oil per day off the market. But the U.S. is looking to OPEC's next meeting in November to see whether the cartel stays on this path. Boris, Amara?
WALKER: All right, thank you so much, Natasha.
Well, two climate protesters have been charged in London after they threw cans of tomato soup on one of Vincent van Gogh's masterpieces. And before you see this video, if you are a Van Gogh enthusiast, you might want to turn away.
SANCHEZ: The activists splash the Dutch master's painting "Sunflowers" at the National Art Gallery, and then as you hear people gasping in the background, glued themselves to the wall. Women are from Just Stop Oil, a group that wants the British government to halt new oil and gas projects.
The 19th century painting is covered by a glaze and was unharmed by the protesters. It's valued at tens of millions of dollars. These protesters were arguing there should be more value placed on the environment over art.
Still ahead, in the San Diego school districts, more than a third of the 2,600 students were absent this week, and the culprit was a flu outbreak. Why health officials are warning that the U.S. could soon be in for a very substantial flu season.
SANCHEZ: Health officials are warning of an early increase in seasonal flu activity in parts of the country.
WALKER: CNN's Jacqueline Howard has more on where we are seeing those increases.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Amara and Boris, public health officials already are seeing some flu hospitalizations, possible cases within schools and they are bracing for what could be a rough flu season ahead. Now when you look at the numbers, it seems as if we're returning to flu levels that we saw before the COVID-19 pandemic.
When you look at the percentage of specimens from people going to the doctor's office with respiratory symptoms, that percentage that tested positive for flu was 3.1 percent in 2019 before COVID. Then in 2020, that percentage dropped to 0.2 percent. In 2021, it dropped to 0.1 percent. And now, it's up again around 3.3 percent.
And Amara and Boris, that's likely because we're no longer following COVID measures like masking and social distancing. Those practices also help prevent flu spread as well. And then number two, this could be because the past couple of flu seasons were very mild. So we also might not have robust immunity right now.
And over in San Diego where high schools have many students out sick, County Public Health officers say they anticipate this will be a rough flu season. Quotes, "We are coordinating with local school districts and are checking with other school campuses to try and figure out why so many students have been affected so suddenly. Unfortunately, we anticipated this would be a rough influenza season, and alongside COVID-19 other respiratory viruses are also making a rapid comeback," end quote.
And, of course, remember to protect yourself against flu, get your flu shots, stay home when you're sick, and wash your hands often. Just overall, practice that good hygiene. Amara and Boris?
SANCHEZ: Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much for that.
Hey, stay with CNN because Amara and I are going to take an hour off. Smerconish is going to step in for an hour. And well stay attune.
WALKER: Yes, we'll be back very soon. But first, the all-new season of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" continues tomorrow night on CNN. Here's a preview.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Where are they?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): The beehives are there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Luigi Mineus (ph) and his family have been keeping beehives since 1631. And Luigi wants to show me the ropes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): And off we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I'll stay here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): You prefer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I'm not going near the bees. We have a long shoot ahead. If I, you know, multiple stings. That's be bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Let's open the cover of the hive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All spraying, the bees in these hives work industriously to collect pollen from the diverse wildflowers that flourish here. The result is 1,000 flower honey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Now we get rid of the bees. Simply like this. Look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my gosh. Beautiful/
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Feel how heavy this is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
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