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Markle Files Complaint against Morgan; Texas Removes Mask Mandate; FBI Releases Suspect Bombing Footage. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 10, 2021 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are learning this morning that Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has filed a formal complaint to British TV broadcaster ITV over comments that news host, formerly there, Piers Morgan, made about her.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Max Foster joins us now.

And, Max, Americans might not know the role that Ofcom, this office that you have in the U.K., plays in terms of media comments on the media, et cetera. But Piers, of course, left "Good Morning Britain."

Tell us -- tell us where this stands and what Ofcom does now.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well he's -- so he went on a tirade basically after the U.S. airing of the interview. And he's got history of this. He is not a fan of Meghan and he doesn't believe what she says. So he didn't believe anything she said in the interview, and that includes the stuff on mental health. He didn't believe she had these mental health issues.

That prompted tens of thousands of complaints from viewers to Ofcom, which is an independent regulator in the U.K. Their job is to make sure news remains impartial. So it doesn't cover the newspapers, but it does cover news programs, like Piers' "Good Morning Britain" show. It's on ITV.

The next thing we know is Piers Morgan has had a meeting with the chief executive of ITV and he resigns. He refuses to apologize for what he said. So does it suggest that ITV wanted him to apologize? I think it probably did.

Now, this morning, we've had confirmation that the Duchess of Sussex also made a complaint, not through Ofcom, directly to ITV and not about the personal attacks. They've been going on for a while I've been told. So that's not the issue here. Her issue is the idea that she was lying about her mental health issues. She feels that would be very damaging to other people suffering from mental health issues. Perhaps makes them less likely to come forward. So that was the basis of her complaint.

And ITV is very big on mental health. They've had campaigns and they've linked up with charities who have also complained about Piers Morgan's performance. So it's a mental health issue as far as Meghan's concerned and probably as far as ITV is concerned as well.

HARLOW: I wonder what Piers Morgan is saying now after all of this.

FOSTER: So he doesn't think it's about either of those things. Personal attacks or mental health. He sees this as a freedom of speech issue. He feels that he's being silenced just for expressing his view.

Take a listen.


PIERS MORGAN, FORMER HOST, "GOOD MORNING BRITAIN": If people want to believe Meghan Markle, that's entirely their right. I don't believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth. I think the damage she's done to the British monarchy and to the queen, at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital, is enormous, and, frankly, contemptable. So if I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion, perhaps Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so, yes.


FOSTER: There are, of course, people who are on Piers Morgan's side. There's an awful lot of people against Piers Morgan. It just shows how divisive this interview -- actually not the interview or the issues that came out of it, what it exposed British society has become.

SCIUTTO: Max, has Piers Morgan offered any evidence to back up his opinion that she's making this all up? I mean he's punitively a journalist, right? I mean he's just saying he believes, himself, she's making it all up.

FOSTER: I think he's more of a commentator, actually. He expresses himself in ways which, you know, was more of a commentary. I think, you know, he -- he met her once as far as I'm aware and she didn't follow up and that was where all of this started. You know, he takes a line on things and he sticks to them and it's done well for ratings on his show. I don't know how he could base his experience of how she faced suicide on any sort of evidence.


FOSTER: How does he have evidence that she didn't feel suicidal?


FOSTER: I mean, can of worms, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely, fair point. Very personal.

Max Foster, good to have you there. Thanks very much. Well, Texas is lifting its mask mandate and allowing businesses to reopen to 100 percent capacity. Some business owners, however, think it's too soon. We're going to speak to one of them.

HARLOW: We are also keeping a close eye on the House floor. This is where the vote will happen very soon on the American Recovery Plan, the stimulus bill.

Stay with us.



SCIUTTO: This morning, some cities in Texas are still requiring face coverings, even though the statewide mask mandate was lifted at midnight last night. Businesses are also, under the new rules, allowed to fully reopen to 100 percent capacity.

HARLOW: That's right, but business owners are now facing a really tough decision, do they require masks, face the ire of customers who disagree, do they risk getting them and their customers sick?

With us now is Mike Nguyen, he is a chef, he is also the owner of Noodle Tree. It's a restaurant in San Antonio.

Good morning. Thank you for being with us.

MIKE NGUYEN, CHEF AND OWNER, NOODLE TREE: Good morning. Thank you for having me on.

HARLOW: I know that you disagree with Governor Abbott's decision to lift the mask mandate. I wonder if you think that he is endangering Texans by doing so.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. I think his decision to lift the mask mandate -- and my question when he first announced (INAUDIBLE) my business. All it's really done is create division. We know there's two sides of this mask debate and, you know, even though that -- you know, I'm all for Texas opening up 100 percent. I think we worked really hard to get to that point. There -- if not to 75 percent, but I'm not going to see the full 100 percent because I'm going to have guests who take this seriously will come and we'll require masks and have the other guests who will say, you know what, I don't think we need to wear masks. This is silly. They're not going to dine at my establishment. So we're back to square one where it's 50/50.


SCIUTTO: Mike, that's an interesting point because the governor and others will say, listen, we have small business owners' backs here, but you're saying, and you've said you've heard similar from other business owners that -- I mean is it that customers would prefer to some degree that you keep the mask mandate up? In other words, they'd be more comfortable coming with masks than without? Is that what you're finding? NGUYEN: Absolutely. You know -- you know, I -- I will say that the

governor doesn't have us Texans' interests at play at this point. I think it's more of a personal interest. I think his decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish, cowardly and that there's no reason to do it. You know, that dropping the mask mandate will not help the economy, will not help us open. And a lot of us feel that he's putting a lot of us in danger, you know?

He's -- at a time where we need him to be a leader, he's not being a leader. A leader needs to make hard decisions. A leader needs to lead. And he's basically saying, you know what, we're going to leave the decision on you all because if something goes wrong, it's going to be on you all. It has nothing to do with me, you know?

Even with the freeze, you know, he blamed windmills, he blamed frozen generators. He never took accountability of what happened. He didn't even try to help us. He just went to Twitter and said, you know, half a million people have their power back. You know, and it's ridiculous.

And even back when we had our first surge back in May, he opened up the state way too soon. He saw what happened and was blaming restaurants, gyms and everybody else except for himself, you know?

So Greg Abbott doesn't have the Texas people's interests in play. He, you know, cares about himself at this point.

HARLOW: Mike, you've been battling cancer. You have lymphoma. So your battle for your business has also been a battle for your life, for your health. And, I mean, I just -- I can't imagine being in your shoes going through this and then having to hear, you know, well, no one has to wear masks anymore, which, if that were in your restaurant and you had to let people in without masks, you'd really be compromised.

NGUYEN: Correct. You know, I was very almost devastated when I heard the news just because, you know, this year has been tough on me. And, you know, not only dealing with the stress of -- you know, with my sickness, it's also dealing with the stress that comes with COVID, you know, the anxiety of that and just trying to have to adapt to try to keep my business alive.

Obviously, my business and my health kind of go side by side because that's what's going to provide me, you know, my medical expenses and all of that. So, you know, I had to shut down for six months earlier this year and it got to a point where, you know, I had to reopen to kind of keep the business alive, you know? And my biggest thing is, if we have another surge and we get a setback, my business may not survive this.


Final question, if I can. Some business owners have told us that they're now put in a uncomfortable position, to say the least, of having to confront customers, right? In other words, that you're now the enforcers, right, for mask requests in your restaurants because the mandate's been lifted. And I wonder if you've had to confront that.

NGUYEN: I personally haven't had to deal with that yet. I kind of see it may happen. It's just they're -- we've been through this for a long time now and we're all kind of -- you know, our emotions are high right now and the fact that if people are ready to go back to some type of normalcy and, you know, confrontation's going to happen. You know, we see it all the time on the Internet, when people go to stores and, you know, they flip out, throwing groceries on the floor just because they have to wear a mask, you know. And it's sad that we can't just respect each other's -- you know, what we're going through and (INAUDIBLE).

We're all in this together, at the end of the day.


NGUYEN: And that's -- we're not going to be able to get past this. We're so close to the end of the light of the tunnel that, you know, it's -- we're just so close to being there. And my other thing is, you know, with this confrontation, since I'm an Asian-American, we've seen a lot of attacks on Asian-Americans. And that's a huge concern for me because I have a bull's-eye on my back. And, you know, you see all these incidents of that and this is an opportunity and I, you know, (INAUDIBLE) --

SCIUTTO: Yes. We don't -- we don't want to add --

NGUYEN: (INAUDIBLE). It opens up that opportunity.

SCIUTTO: Yes, we don't want to add that to your experience any more.

Mike Nguyen, thanks so much. We wish you and your business the best of luck.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.



HARLOW: The FBI is releasing this new security video of the subject they believe planted pipe bombs at the RNC and the DNC headquarters in Washington right ahead of the January 6th insurrection.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Whitney Wild joins us now with more.

And, you know, Whitney, I've spoken to folks in law enforcement who say that, you know, either this video evidence is new, unlikely given the FBI's resources, but more likely that they've just run out of leads, right, and they're kind of going to the public saying, help us out here. Is that what you're hearing and is that really what they're relying on now is public help?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it is. I mean the fact of the matter is there are almost 300 people or so who have been arrested in this case, but this is the biggest outstanding question and they haven't made an arrest in this case. So now they're hoping to jog witnesses' memories with this video.

So the video shows this person sort of casually walking around the neighborhood surrounding the RNC and the DNC, but people saw this person.


I mean some of the video -- I hope we show it because it's really interesting -- actually show somebody walking a dog, walking right past the person federal officials think planted these pipe bombs. And, further, there's videos showing this person walking in the alley behind the RNC, sitting down at a bench near the DNC. We know that a pipe bomb was found in the alley behind the RNC. We know a pipe bomb was found next to a bench near the DNC. So federal officials are really leaning on the public.

Here's the video I was talking about. This person passed the suspect and they still don't know who it is. This was at a time of day, it was like a quarter to 8:00. And so FBI is hoping there's someone out there can offer something.

Here's another thing that was new with this video. The FBI is also saying it's possible that some people in D.C. might have seen this person getting into a vehicle, taking something out of a vehicle in D.C. sometime between 6:30 and 9:00 at night. That's a new timeline, an expanded timeline because federal officials have maintained these bombs were planted between 7:30 and 8:30.


WILD: The reward now, Poppy and Jim, $100,000 for anybody who can find this person.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the other thing notable, right, this person seemed to be hiding from the cameras, right, wearing the hood, the mask, seems like possibly glasses. Notable.

Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

Well, soon the House will vote on President Biden's massive rescue plan and take it over the finish line. We're going to be live from The Hill coming up.