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House of Representatives to Vote on Relief Bill Tomorrow; Supreme Court Deals Another Blow to Trump in Election-Related Suit; Prince Harry and Meghan Make Bombshell Claims in New Interview. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Very good Monday morning. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We hope you had a nice weekend, a busy weekend, certainly in Washington.

Right now, the House is poised to vote on a bill that could grant much needed relief to millions of Americans.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and send checks out to Americans possibly within days.

And just an hour from now, this is important, the CDC is going to announce long awaited guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans. In other words, telling you what you can and can't do after you receive those crucial shots.

Let's begin with CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

So, Elizabeth, tell us, one, what we expect to be in these guidelines, if we know, and just how essential they are as more and more Americans get vaccinated.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Jim, this is so essential. About 12 percent of American adults have been fully vaccinated, and I'm sure you know because you've gotten the questions, I know I've gotten them, lots of people have gotten them, all right, I'm vaccinated and what could I do now that I couldn't do before? Questions like if I'm fully vaccinated and let's say my elderly grandmother is fully vaccinated, can she and I hug? If I'm vaccinated, but my best friend isn't vaccinated, can we hug? Can we sit in the same room, six feet apart? It's those kinds of specifics questions that people do.

And sort of underneath that is the question, well, I went to the trouble of getting vaccinated, which as we know is not always easy, what goodies does that give me, what benefits does that give me? I have been told from sources in the administration, that this is not going to be entirely prescriptive. People should not expect to read and think, oh, that means I can go bowling, or that means I can go sit on a bus, if it's only halfway full. It is not going into each individual scenario that anyone might find themselves in, but, hopefully, address broad terms of who could I be with indoors, unmasked, unsocially distancing and what situations, do I still need to be wearing a mask and still do need to keep distance? Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Hey, an hour from now, we'll know a lot more. Thanks, Elizabeth, very much.

The next 24 hours on Capitol Hill will be critical for many, many Americans in need of economic aid. The Democratic-led House hopes to pass the Senate's version of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill by tomorrow.

SCIUTTO: If that happens -- could sign that bill into law before, this is crucial, unemployment aid programs expire on Sunday.

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from the Hill. So, Manu, I mean, this has been a pretty tight schedule. So far, Democrats have kept to it despite some roadblocks in those final hours on Friday and Saturday. Any more potential roadblocks between now and March 14th?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't seem that way. Right now, we do expect it to pass the House tomorrow. There might be two Democratic defections, they can't afford to lose more than four and at the moment. That is not what the Democratic leadership believes. They believe they do have the votes ultimately to get this passed in large part because the bill that passed out of the Senate is similar in a lot of ways to the one that passed out of the House.

There were some changes made, $15 minimum wage being stripped out, being one of the most significant, but also they tightened how stimulus checks will go out to individuals and families, tighten the eligibility on that and changed how unemployment benefits were going to be doled out. They were passed at $400 a week under House but they were paired down to $300 a week with some money being allowed to be deducted from an individual's taxes. But, still, that is not expected to be enough to change the dynamics in the House.

Now, we do expect all Republicans to vote against this plan. That is what happened in the Senate over the weekend, it passed by 50-49 vote. The 49 Republicans who were there all voted no. One Republican wasn't there. Had he had been there, Dan Sullivan, he would have voted no as well.

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And in the House, already, all Republicans voted against the first version of the measure and they're expected to vote against the next version of the measure when it comes to the vote, the final vote tomorrow. As both sides making completely different calculations about what the American public needs right now and what American voters want as polls do show, though, this bill is popular. Guys?

SCIUTTO: That is true, particularly among independents as well as Democrats and some Republicans. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

For more on the stimulus as well as the state of the pandemic, the economic effects, I'm joined now by the governor of Idaho, Brad Little. Governor, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

GOV. BRAD LITTLE (R-ID): Good morning, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Signed on with 21 governors pushing back this COVID relief plan and so on, saying it punishes states, such as Idaho for staying open during the pandemic. I wonder, as you know, the stimulus checks, as well as the expanded unemployment benefits, they go to residents of red and blue states if they're still having trouble finding a job. Do you oppose checks to residents of Idaho that are still out of work?

LITTLE: Well, no, I don't. But it is the magnitude of the issue, and it is the fact that those of us who worked hard not only as in the governing side but the people that went out and made the sacrifices to go to work, businesses did innovative things, we get penalized for doing that, for opening up early, for having our schools open, and the states that did less get rewarded. That is the biggest part of the objection.

SCIUTTO: Well, what is the penalty though? I mean, this extends benefits for folks who are still out of work. In fact, nationally, there are 10 million jobs that still haven't come back as a result of the pandemic and the shutdown. Many of them are in the state of Idaho. What is the penalty to give those people a few more months of help?

LITTLE: Well, if it is a like the earlier bill, the first bill that was passed, it would be on a per capita basis and we'd get somewhere between a quarter and a half billion dollars more. I object to the size of it any way and the fact that only, you know, less than 10 percent of the whole package is for COVID-related expenses.

But the best solution to unemployment is for people to have a job. And we're doing everything we can to get people back into the workforce and it is rewarding the states that didn't do that, it is bailing out their pension funds, it is rewarding other things, and that is our big objection.

SCIUTTO: I get that. Listen, we've talked to business owners on this broadcast all the time, we don't want them to lose their businesses anymore than the next guy. I guess the issue though is that, for some businesses, it is unsafe to open up fully at this point. I mean, you don't want to crowd people in the bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, and that has a consequence.

I guess I'm saying, what is the -- what's the crime in giving some financial help to folks as you wait for businesses to be able to fully reopen?

LITTLE: Well, any business in Idaho that wants to be open could be open today. But the small group that are really impacted by distancing and some of the other things, it would just take a fraction of what we're talking about spending here. We're going to saddle our kids and grandkids with this debt. You know, $1.9 trillion is a lot of money and our kids and our grandkids will have to pay it back and it is being unfairly distributed. And there is funds in it that are going to bail out pension funds, private and public pension funds, they're rewarding bad behavior. And that is my --

SCIUTTO: Okay. I want to talk specifically about -- because also in this bill, it expands the Affordable Care Act. Idaho is one of those states, it's a red state, of course, you're a Republican governor, but the voters passed Medicaid expansion in 2018. Lots of Idahoans took advantage of that.

Given that Obamacare expansion helped them, Medicaid being a part of that, why not support further expansion now?

LITTLE: Well, we want people to have a job and be on private insurance and not be on public insurance. That is our goal. Grow the size of the economy, grow the opportunities, make sure that private health care is affordable and accessible.

This is full Medicaid expansion to everybody, that is nothing but socialized medicine that has got all kinds of problems. We can do that if we have the right incentives. One of the great things that happened during this pandemic is the expansion of telehealth. With telehealth, we're going to be able to lower the cost to everybody of health care.

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SCIUTTO: I get it. I mean, but, as you know, Medicaid is not available to everyone. I'm sure, given the choice, folks would prefer to have a job and private health care. but until they do, right, if they're talking about, I don't know, taking their kids to the hospital, what is wrong with expanding that access to folks at the bottom end of the economic spectrum, especially popular in your state, that expansion in 2018?

LITTLE: Well, we expanded Medicaid and, of course, we also have some other programs. We have one of the most efficient exchanges there is. We don't have a federal exchange. We have got a state exchange. And by every measurement, it is working. We just want to create a pathway for people that need it and we don't begrudge them at all for needing that. We want to provide them health care, but we want to give them a pathway to get out from under public health care to get on to private, affordable, accessible health care.

SCIUTTO: Okay, final question, if I can, because masks have become a big issue in your state. I mean, you had this mask-burning event over the weekend. And I know, to your credit, you've tweeted this very openly. You said, listen, keep practicing the things we know work, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay home if you're sick.

I just wonder when you look at events like that. Has turning mask into political issue helped or hurt the health of the residents of your state? Would it have been better, in your view, if it wasn't a political issue, it was a straight up health issue? LITTLE: Yes, it would. But what we've tried to do is present all of the evidence and it is been conflicting, everybody has to admit that, that people choose to carry a mask, to wear a mask. You know, having it over your forehead or your chin --

SCIUTTO: It is not conflicting that the science is pretty clear on this, it keeps it down. It is not conflicting. The evidence about wearing a mask, it works.

LITTLE: Well, it was early, and that was one of the issues. No, I -- I agree totally and that is why we advocate for it all we can and, hopefully, this -- your next segment is going to talk about what we do and how much longer -- people who have been vaccinated have to wear the masks will enlighten people. But, yes, it is not helpful for people -- we want people to choose to make the right decision to wear a mask.

SCIUTTO: Look, I appreciate the work you're doing in your state and we wish you and the residents -- in the coming months.

LITTLE: Thanks very much, I appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Well, we have breaking news. Just into CNN, the Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge from lawyers for former President Donald Trump challenging the 2020 election results in Wisconsin. Pretty consistent view of this, it seems, Poppy, from the Supreme Court.

HARLOW: Completely. Let's go our Jessica Schneider, our Justice Correspondent. Jessica, explain what this -- I mean, it is another just shooting down of the big lie.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And like Jim said, they're staying consistent here. So this is yet another election lawsuit that the Supreme Court is steering clear of. And, guys, it really deals this last blow to Trump's baseless election fraud claims.

So this was a case -- the Supreme Court is saying we are not taking this up. This was Trump's lawyers who were challenging the way that absentee voting was implemented in the battleground state of Wisconsin. They said that the Wisconsin Elections Commission had overstepped by sort of broadening out the rules to allow more absentee voting. Trump's team said that that was not within the purview of the commission and that was instead within the purview of the legislature.

So this was another case just like we saw out of Pennsylvania a few weeks ago where Trump's team and Republicans, they were challenging another body that had stepped in to sort of usurp the power of the legislature here.

But as we saw a few weeks ago, guys, the Supreme Court is not entertaining this claim, they didn't entertain the claim in Pennsylvania, and this has essentially been the last gasp for Trump's legal team here at the Supreme Court. There are no more petitions outstanding as it involves Trump directly, and so this was really the last blow to their team from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court -- these elections cases -- dealing with something that happened.

HARLOW: Thank you, Jess, very much.

Okay. Let's -- Officer Derek Chauvin accused of second-degree murder and manslaughter of George Floyd.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the trial now underway. Jury selection has been begun in Minneapolis. Chauvin is facing, we'll remind you, second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd's death. Video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes, as you'll remember, sparked protests around this country, around the world even.

Omar Jimenez is in Minneapolis. And, Omar, the city is taking precautions for more demonstrations today but we also have news now about steps moving forward on jury selection.

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OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim and Poppy. There is some debate in the beginning of this jury selection process as to whether they could move forward with jury selection until the matter of a third-degree murder charge being reinstated -- Judge Peter Cahill just ruled a few moments ago that they can proceed with jury selection and that process won't be delayed as they try to figure out the appeals process for whether that third-degree murder charge will be reinstated.

If you remember, Derek Chauvin is being charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, both of which he's pleaded not guilty to. So that is what is happening inside.

Outside here, this is really the scene, as you look at really the mass of people that have come out here in support of George Floyd. These are people that have gathered over the course of the morning. Of course, many people here, again, in support, his family here also on scene. And as we understand also, in the courtroom itself, Bridgett Floyd, which is George Floyd's sister, is the sole family representative, as only one member of the Floyd family and one member of the Floyd family are allowed in the courtroom at a time.

But, really, this is the beginning of the process of what has been a longtime coming in this case. We saw what happened last -- supporters of George Floyd out here are hoping that this ends in a conviction.

HARLOW: Omar, thank you very much for covering the beginning of -- have a close eye on this trial throughout, of course.

Still to come, Oprah's stunning interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the duchess of Sussex. They say the royal family failed to protect them and their child and that some in the palace asked racist questions about they are baby's skin color.

SCIUTTO: Yes, just amazing. As more Americans get vaccinated, there are still persistent issues of access to vaccines, especially in some of the hardest hit communities, people of color. One state is hoping to change that now. We'll talk about their plan, just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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HARLOW: Well, the duke and duchess of Sussex shared raw emotional and truly shocking details of what their life was like as part of the royal family. In the interview with the one and only Oprah Winfrey, who did a remarkable job, Prince Harry and Meghan accused the U.K. press of blatant racism, also the palace, some in the palace of racism, and namely not supporting them or securing them.

SCIUTTO: The couple revealed the conversations what their unborn would look -- the most alarming parts of the interview.

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MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: -- I was pregnant, all around the same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title. And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN HOST: There is a conversation -- hold up.

MARKLE: There are several conversations.

WINFREY: There is a conversation with you --

MARKLE: With Harry.

WINFREY: -- about how dark your baby is going to be?

MARKLE: Potentially ,and what that would mean would look like.

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SCIUTTO: -- moment there. We're joined now by CNN Anchor Royal Correspondent Max Foster also the editor of ESSENCE.

So, max, first to you, the full interview has not aired yet in the U.K. The palace has something to answer to here, right? You said earlier, they're somewhat struggling with a response. You speak with people inside there. Do they have an answer to these many allegations?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: They're just not coming out with a response right now. I think my only assumption is they're working together. There are in different households involved here. They're all going to have to come up with some common response.

I think they do have to answer a couple of key questions. Of course, there is the allegation there that the institution is racist. It is a huge allegation to make. They will want to respond to it. But I think there's no one else pretty much in the world, better qualified than to Meghan. She is the only -- so she is more qualified than anyone. I don't know where to begin with that.

The other -- to give is that Meghan was a vulnerable woman in a -- suffering from some severe mental health issues. She went to ask for support from officials and from the H.R. department and no one stepped in to help her. So there are two clear areas where everyone wants to hear the palace point of view but there are others too.

HARLOW: And to that second point, Max, let's just take a moment and listen to what Meghan Markle said about her suicidal thoughts and where she was in that moment.

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MARKLE: But I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it. And I just didn't -- I just didn't want to be alive anymore.

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And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.

And I remember -- I remember how he just cradled me and I was -- I went to the institution and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said I've never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution.

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HARLOW: Cori, what were your thoughts when you heard her say that, I mean, the fact that she went through it is enough, but to be able to tell the world that?

CORI MURRAY, DEPUTY EDITOR, ESSENCE MAGAZINE: You know, someone tweeted that, and I know that the institution and the royal family likes to say that the crown is not real. But someone tweeted last night, I think they've since deleted it, they said they had been really gracious (INAUDIBLE) because it reminded me deeply of the -- what she was going through, and to hear that from Meghan Markle, the talk about it, I mean, it is one thing that she's sharing as a mother, or soon to be a mother, that she wants to harm herself, that she doesn't want to be here.

And it's simply because this country and the way that the tabloids are set up and the way they sell their papers and their news is to literally destroy her and destroy her based on the fact that she's an outsider that has come into this family and that she's biracial. I mean, that is in itself, those are two things she cannot -- she can't stop being biracial. She's married this man who is clearly the love of her life and he loves her. And what do you do with that? It is one thing to have a negative comment in your -- on your Instagram, but, I mean, when the whole country is seemingly against you, that has got to be -- I mean, I commiserate with her.

SCIUTTO: Cori, you bring up the crown, right and -- to imagine a conversation between a senior member of the royal family, as Harry described it, and him raising the skin tone of a child, whether I imagine it would be too dark, right, in their view. Tell me your reaction to that. I was just shaking my head that those words are uttered in the 21st century. MURRAY: Well, you know, amongst black folks, we know that feeling or that sentiment very well. I mean, it goes back to the one-drop rule. I mean, a lot of black people, families may deal with that if you've married -- if you're light and you've married someone dark, there may be people in your family who say, I wonder what kind of -- literally the same thing what their skin color is going to be, that way.

But when you look at someone like Meghan, who -- although she's biracial, she's very light, Harry -- and then to even question it. Also and just in 2021, why should that even matter? Here it is, your grandson, your heir, your bloodline, has married someone and he's happy, you've seen several other family members who, when they get into relationships, they don't work out well, that seems to be that is a worse message that goes out to the world, that these people, these couples are broken. But here it is a couple that is truly in love and the thing that you want to question is their skin tone? It's ridiculous. It is truly ridiculous, especially today, especially today.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: And the palace has yet to say a word about it. They have to answer to all of those questions.

MURRAY: I'm waiting how they're going to answer that.

And then also I would like to say the fact that Harry would not say makes me think it was someone extremely close to him and he wants to -- to me, how I read it is that he's protecting a family member. But, unfortunately, if you ask a number of people in the black community, they know that conversation all too well, especially families who have a range of color in their family.

HARLOW: Hopefully, this prompts some really important, difficult conversations in other families as well.

Cori, thank you so much for your insight, Max Foster, for your reporting, as always.

If you or a loved one need help, please call the National -- 1-800- 273-8255. Again, that is 1-800-273-8255.

We will be right back.

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