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Florida Recovery Efforts; Haiti Assassination Investigation; New CDC School Guidance; President Biden Delivers Remarks on Economy. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 9, 2021 - 14:00   ET


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're construction workers, hotel workers, disproportionately women and women of color.


Think of the 26-year-old employee at a company. She's a star worker, but she isn't being treated right. She's underpaid, passed over for promotions. Competitor across the street knows it, and wants to bring her in at a higher wage. But she can't do it.

Her company threatens legal action over a noncompete clause she had to sign in order to get hired in the first place. She can't afford a lawyer for help. She's locked in. Imagine if you're in her shoes. You would feel powerless, disrespected, bullied, trapped. That's not right.

Workers should be free to take a better job if someone offers it. If your employer wants to keep you, he or she should have to make it worth your while to stay. That's the kind of competition that leads to better wages and greater dignity of work.

Look, I'm not going to go into it now, but I used to -- you know, there's noncompete clauses of people running the machines that lay down asphalt. If, in fact, you get offered a job and you have a -- you're in Arkansas doing it -- a lot of specific examples -- you can't take a job in West Texas to do it.

What in the hell does that have to do with anything?


BIDEN: No, I'm serious. Or there were clauses in McDonald's contracts. You can't leave Burger King to go to McDonald's.

Come on. Is there a trade secret about what's inside that patty?


BIDEN: No, but I'm serious.

You all -- I don't know whether you do know. I didn't know until five years ago the incredible number of noncompete clauses for ordinary people who -- it's done for one reason, to keep wages low, period. Look, my executive order calls on the FTC to ban or limit noncompete

agreements. Let workers choose who they want to work for. I'm also calling on the FTC to do away with certain occupational licensing requirements.

Do you realize, if you want to -- if you braid hair and you move from one state to another, sometimes, you have to do a six-month apprenticeship, even though you have been in the business for a long, long time? What the hell -- what's that all about?

Military families, for example, they're often on the move between states with each new assignment. So, you have a woman in the military, her husband's following her, or vice versa. Guess what? If you have -- if you're a plumber, you have to get a different license when you move from Delaware to Missouri.

Look, it can't be a significant burden to get a new license in a new home state. That burden can't be around anymore. It takes time and it takes money. It takes a toll on families' income while you're waiting. We should remove that barrier, providing more mobility, more opportunity, higher wages for families on the move.

This is something that my wife, Jill, has worked on, together with Michelle Obama, through the Joining Forces Initiative for the military. We're going to keep that moving. We're going to get it done in an executive order.

Let me close with this. Competition works. We know it works. We have seen it work when it exists. Fair competition is what made America the wealthiest, most innovative nation in history. That's why people come here to invent things and start new businesses.

In the competition against China and other nations of the 21st century, let's show that American democracy and the American people can truly outcompete anyone, because I know that, just given half-a- chance, the American people will never, ever, ever let their country down.

Imagine if you give everyone a full and fair chance. That's what this is all about. That's what I'm about to do. So, I'd like to invite the Cabinet members up here. I'd like to -- the attorney general is here, Attorney General Garland.

Xavier, Mr. Secretary, you can come up too. I'm been watching on television. You have been really good.


BIDEN: Gina Raimondo, also Pete Buttigieg, and the chair of the FCC (sic), Leon -- excuse me -- Lina Khan, acting chair of the FTC, and director of the National Economic Council.

Am I leaving anybody out? Anyway, come on up. This may be the first Cabinet meeting we have had.

[14:05:09] BIDEN: Promoting competition in the American economy.



BIDEN: Second. Third. Fourth.


BIDEN: Fifth.

I wondered how Barack did this with the shorter name.


BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you, everyone.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, hello, everyone. Welcome to NEWSROOM, Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell here.

We have been listening to President Biden announcing and signing an executive order there.

He may be taking a question. Let's listen.

BIDEN: The United States expects, when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it's not, not sponsored by the state, we expect him to act if we give him enough information to act on who that is.

And, secondly, that we have set up (OFF-MIKE) communications now on a regular basis to be able to communicate to one another when each of thinks something is happening in another country that affects the home country.

And so it went well, and I'm optimistic.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You said three weeks ago there would be consequences. Will there be, sir?


CAMEROTA: All right, again, he was signing an executive order about boosting competition in the U.S. economy, also cracking down on anti- competitive practices in several industries, but then he just took a question on a call with Vladimir Putin.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, talking about ransomware and hacking, as we're seeing the increase of that activity from some nonstate actors, criminal groups there in Russia.

Let's go to CNN's White House correspondent, chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. Let's start where the president ended, on this call with Vladimir

Putin. What more can you tell us about that discussion?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was CNN's Jeff Zeleny pushing the president on what would the consequences be if Russia does not crack down on these criminal organizations that are based in Russia that are carrying out these ransomware attacks that we have seen have serious power to disrupt critical infrastructure in the United States and abroad, other countries, as well as what we have seen happen over the July 4 weekend, where they got into a small Florida company that provides software to thousands of other companies?

And it wasn't totally clear what the president said there as he walked away from the microphone when he was asked about this latest call that he just had with the Russian president, but there at the end, when he was asked about the consequences, and if there would be consequences, which is essentially what he has warned to the Russian president, he said, yes, there will be.

So, this comes after this phone call that they had, which is remarkable, in and of itself, because they just had a face-to-face summit three weeks ago, we should note. And in this readout that we got from the White House earlier today, essentially, Biden urged Putin to crack down on those organizations and said that the United States reserves the right to respond if these attacks do not stop.

Of course, we have seen that they have not stopped since that summit happened, given a massive one just happened over the July 4 weekend. And so the question has been, how was President Biden going to respond?

We had an indication that there might be a phone call between the two of them, because he said earlier this week that he would deliver his message to Putin. And, of course, that suspense has ended, now that we have seen that this call has actually gone forward.

But I think it does still raise the ultimate question of what, if any, operational response there is. And it's also not clear how the Russian leader responded to this phone call from President Biden today, which his press secretary, Jen Psaki, said lasted for about an hour.

She didn't really say what -- or characterized the Russian response to this warning from Biden to stop carrying out -- stop letting organizations or crack down on the organizations that are carrying out these ransomware attacks.

And we should note there is a difference, because President Biden seems to be more concerned with these ransomware attacks and the threat that comes with them than he is with general hacking that you have seen that happens between nations all the time.

It seems it's more something that he's well-versed in, given, of course, his decades in public service. But given these ransomware attacks and the threat that they pose, as we have seen with the oil pipeline, with several other of these ransomware attacks that have continued to be carried out, that poses a real threat.


And so whether or not Biden responds to -- or Putin responds to this warning from Biden does remain to be seen.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kaitlan Collins for us at the White House there.

Kaitlan, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, turning now to new recommendations from the CDC about the coming school year.

The CDC says that vaccinated staff and students do not need to wear masks inside.

BLACKWELL: And for the unvaccinated, the CDC says the district should do everything possible to get those kids without COVID shots back into classrooms.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, tell us more about what the CDC says that should happen with and for children who are unvaccinated.


So, Victor, the emphasis here is getting children back in school, not doing distance learning. So, let's take a look at what the CDC recommends when school reopens next month for some and September for others.

If everyone in the school is -- I'm sorry -- if not everyone in the school is vaccinated, then teachers and staff and children should be practicing physical distancing if possible. And I imagine that most, if not nearly all of schools will have some unvaccinated people, certainly the younger grades, since you can't get vaccinated if you're under 12.

Also, if you're not vaccinated, you're meaning a student or a teacher or staff, wear a mask indoors. So, if you're not vaccinated, wear a mask indoors. Also, CDC urging schools to offer weekly testing for unvaccinated people to sort of check up and see how they're doing, try to get nip an outbreak in the bud before it happens now.

They also note that, if COVID levels start to get low, then children may be in some of those areas would not need to be tested on a regular basis.

CAMEROTA: Elizabeth, tell us about the Pfizer, what Pfizer just said, that, basically even for vaccinated people, doubly vaccinated, we may need booster shots.

COHEN: Yes, it's always been known that people who are fully vaccinated might need boosters, but Pfizer surprised everyone by saying, oh, we think that the immunity is waning now, as we speak, and so we're applying for emergency use authorization from the FDA next month.

This surprised everybody, especially because Pfizer didn't give any data. They didn't say, oh, based on this new study or based on these -- this study that we did. Instead, they pointed to some Israeli data that a lot of people would say actually shows that it's not waning, that it's doing just great.

And so it's a little bit of a puzzle why Pfizer is saying this now. But I'm going to try to give you the bottom line here. Every expert that we have spoken to, plus the CDC and the FDA, say, for now, two shots is just fine.

Let's take a look at a joint FDA/CDC statement. And what that statement says is: "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time."

So, again, kind of a puzzle why Pfizer has done this. There is one note here. There are millions of people who are immune-compromised. Maybe they're taking drugs because they have had an organ transplant that suppress their immune system. There are all sorts of reasons.

But you would know if you're in this group. Those folks might benefit from getting a third shot, but, other than that, the FDA and the CDC saying, you're fine if you have had your two shots.

BLACKWELL: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: And let's talk about this now and bring in Dr. Ashish Jha. He's the dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha, first on schools and what to do with the unvaccinated children, do you think that what we're hearing from the FDA reconciles with what we're seeing, especially with the spread of the Delta variant?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, so, first of all, thanks for having me back.

Couple of thoughts on this. I was really thrilled to see the CDC come out and be very, very clear that all kids need to be back in school full-time this fall and that it is safe to do so. That, I think, is sort of principle number one.

No doubt about it, getting kids and adults vaccinated is going to make a big difference, but, as we have discussed, you can't do that for under-12 kids, and not all kids over 12 will be vaccinated. And whether to have all of them masked up, I think it's reasonable. You can also imagine using local infection numbers in a community.

Let's say, in Vermont, where there's essentially no infections, you may not need to mask everybody up. But in a place like Missouri or Arkansas, where there are larger outbreaks, maybe masks would make more sense.

So, some of this will be local. But I think, in general, the CDC really did get the principles right.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about those booster shots. Why does Pfizer think that immunity is waning right now for doubly vaccinated people?

JHA: Yes.

So, there's some preliminary data out of Israel that suggests that some older people who got vaccinated a long time ago may be having slightly higher rates of breakthrough infections. But the bottom line here is, we just don't know. And these decisions have to be ultimately guided by evidence and science.

And all the evidence right now says two shots is enough for most people, except for those immunocompromised. And until we have clear data that that's not true, I don't think there's any reason to be talking about a third shot or a booster of any kind.


All the data right now says two is good. If we see new data, we will want to look at that and make decisions.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about, frankly, what we have discussed before, this overlap of the lack of vaccinations and how it correlates with political leanings, and the gap growing between Democrats and Republicans who have or say they will be vaccinated.

It is growing, as we're seeing in polls. We have had this conversation about strategies, but it appears that they're just not working.

JHA: Yes.

It's -- I mean, the idea that somehow we would bring politics into vaccinations is very, very upsetting. I think there are a couple things going on here.

One is people's information ecosystems. If you think about where you get your information, a lot of people are getting a lot of very bad information about vaccines. And I think that's driving some of this. We really need political, religious, other leaders in those communities, in those states to step up and talk about why vaccinations are so important.

I think that's going to make a difference. The other thing I think that's going to help is, you are going to see, over time, businesses, schools, universities start mandating vaccines if they want to bring people back into the workplace or school safely. Certainly, colleges and universities are going to do that.

That's also going to, I think, push a lot of people over the fence and get them vaccinated.

CAMEROTA: Let's look at what's happening in Missouri. The numbers are going in the wrong direction there. I will pull up the seven-day moving average. So, cases are going up.

I mean, there's no other way to interpret what you see on your screen there, and yet the governor was basically saying this is not a time to panic. So let me play for you what Missouri's governor said.


GOV. MIKE PARSON (R-MO): We're all concerned about the spike in the Delta virus, but to try to mislead people like we're in a crisis is totally misleading. We're not in a crisis mode in this state.


CAMEROTA: So, is that fair, that they're not in a crisis mode?

JHA: Well, when I listen to that, and I also try to pay attention to what the hospital leaders in communities are saying, you're seeing CEOs of large hospital systems in Missouri call out for help for more ventilators, for more respiratory therapists, they're shipping patients to other hospitals.

That all is crisis. Now, maybe it's not happening across the entire state. And I'm sure it's not. But there are pockets of Mississippi that are really struggling. And we hear it from the health care leaders themselves.

So, we have got to pay attention to that.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you, as always, for your expertise.

JHA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, new developments in the assassination of the president of Haiti. The White House says officials from the FBI are going to head there soon to help investigate.

CAMEROTA: Plus, we have the latest from Surfside, Florida.

CNN goes inside the sister building of the one that collapsed -- what a structural engineer is saying about the situation there now.



BLACKWELL: Haitian authorities say the armed group who assassinated the president of Haiti were professional killers, but they still don't know why they did it or who was behind it.

Right now, there is a manhunt across the country for at least eight additional suspects; 17 suspects have been detained, including, according to police, two U.S. citizens and retired members of the Colombian military.

CAMEROTA: Haiti has requested help from the FBI and Homeland Security. CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now from Haiti's capital.

Matt, what do we know with this?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know too much more than what was said last night by Haitian authorities, which is a lot of information that you just mentioned about who these suspects are and where they are from.

So, at the moment, we know that there's 28 suspects that they have identified; 26 of them -- you gave the detention numbers -- three of them have been killed so far. Eight of them are still on the run. But of the 28 suspects identified in total, 26 of them are Colombians at this point, as far as authorities have said.

Six of them, at least, have prior military training. Then you have the two Haitian-Americans. But, beyond that, Victor and Alisyn, we have so many questions that have not been answered. What was the motive behind all this? Who financed the operation? How did they get all the arms into this country, or did they buy them here?

And, also, how did they make their way up this road behind me basically without a problem? At the bottom of this road, there's a police checkpoint 24/7. We passed it on our way here.

They came up this road right here, and then they made their way here. They made a left on this road, not before passing this police checkpoint right here, which was staffed at the time. There are police officers around here right now, but they don't want their faces on camera, so they're mainly behind us.

And then, if you come up this way, the assailants continued up this road, and if we can show you, we zoom in a little bit, down that road, about 100 meters down that road, you can see a parking lot. There's a barrier in front of that. That is the parking lot that serves as kind of the entry to the presidential residence, where those assailants entered and eventually assassinated the president, nearly killing his wife, who remains recovering in a Miami hospital.

There was also security in there. So, checkpoint number one, checkpoint number two, a whole bunch of guys with guns in that presidential residence, and yet, somehow, all of these people came in here, and the only people that were injured in that house were the president, who ultimately lost his life, and also the first lady.

That leaves so many questions about how this was allowed to happen, Victor and Alisyn, and that is information that the Haitian government is just not providing as of yet.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Matt, you have to imagine, after you walked us through all of the security checkpoints, all the security that was there, that they would likely be part of the investigation or the subject of some of these probes?


RIVERS: Absolutely.

And we haven't had any confirmation in terms of what Haitian prosecutors are looking at, but you can only say that two plus two equals four. If all of these people came up this road relatively easily and got in and out, even though they have been tracked down over the past two days, there have been firefights, we saw some of the results of those firefights earlier today, those are certainly going to be inquiries that are made.

Was this some sort of an inside job? Was there complicity within the Haitian security forces? That is absolutely a question that needs to be asked, because one thing we know for sure is that these assailants did not fight their way into the presidential residence.

CAMEROTA: Matt Rivers, thank you for showing us all of that.

All right, back here, now to Surfside, Florida, more victims have been recovered from the rubble in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building. And that brings the death toll to 78 people; 62 others are still unaccounted for at this hour.

BLACKWELL: Officials are working to inspect all other high-rises there in the community, and it includes Champlain Towers North, the collapsed condo sister tower.

They're pulling samples of concrete and running tests on it to determine if anything could have compromised the southern tower.

CNN's Rosa Flores is there for us.

We understand you went inside the building with the chief investigator today. What do you see?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the investigator that was hired by the city of Surfside to investigate, to figure out exactly what caused the collapse.

His name is Allyn Kilsheimer. Now, he's not allowed on the actual site of the collapse, and so that's why he's starting at Champlain Towers North, the sister building that was built around the same time frame with very similar blueprints. Now, he took us around, and we tagged along as he was working with his team.

He's trying to figure out how closely that building was constructed to the original blueprints. That's one of the first things that he's trying to figure out. He's also taking material samples. And he took us to the garage where they had already extracted some core samples of the concrete.

Then he also showed us how they are checking the waterproofing by the pool deck, and then we also went to several apartments, where he asked his team to take core samples from some of the columns there. Now, he explains that these core samples will be sent to labs. There's going to be extensive testing.

But I asked him, because he does a first check, just an eye check, I asked what he looked for. Take a listen.

What do you look for?


ALLYN KILSHEIMER, KCE STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: The lighter colored things is stone, the bigger ones. And just visually, even though this will all be done microscopically, I'm looking to see if the gray is still connected to the stone.

That's the adhesion. I'm looking for what's called air entrainment, which is supposed to be there, which is these little round holes. And I'm looking to see if it looks like uniformly mixed concrete. That's all I can do from visual.


FLORES: Now, of course, the big question is, has he seen anything, any sort of sign, anything that worries him?

And, Victor and Alisyn, he says that, no, so far, he has not seen anything at Champlain Towers North that he is worried about. As for the investigation, he says it's going to take time. He has to figure out exactly what happened.

He says that he is confident that he will figure that out, but it's going to take time. He has to have access to the actual collapse site. And, at this point, as you know, the focus here at the site of the collapse is to recover every victim -- Victor and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes, I mean, there's still so many questions, but, of course, everybody's going to have to be patient to figure out exactly what went wrong there.

Rosa Flores, thank you very much.

OK, so now to this. Hunter Biden is selling some of his paintings. And that is sparking controversy. So we're going to show you the paintings, tell you how much they're going for, we think, and talk to a former ethics czar about all of this.