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New Attacks on Vaccines and Masks as Delta Spreads; Woman Facing Eviction Clarifies Her Story; Chines Court Upholds Death Sentence for Robert Schellenberg; Sixth Provincial Capital Falls in Taliban Offensive; Gov. Newsom Faces Many Challengers and Voter Apathy. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 04:30   ET




DR. ASHISH K. JHA, DEAN BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOLL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: For any other diseases you would not turn to your political leader for medical advice. If you had cancer, if you had a heart attack, you wouldn't call up your congressman or woman and say, what's the right therapy I should get? You should be talking to your doctor. You should be talking to your healthcare provider. I wish we could do that for this pandemic as well. It's a medical and public health challenge and politicians should really let the public health and physician leaders move forward on how to get thing under control.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Some of the strongest resistance to vaccine and masking guidelines is coming from Republican politicians. The governors of Florida and Texas where COVID is surging are pushing hard to overturn mandates. CNN's Brian Todd explains.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene spreading more misinformation claiming on Twitter that many people who got the Pfizer vaccine say they are getting sick with COVID-19.

Greene saying of the Pfizer vaccine, quote, it should not with be approved or mandated.

This comes just after Greene, on recent visit to Alabama, suggested that public officials encouraging vaccinations could be shot.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You lucky people here in Alabama might get a knock on your door because I hear Alabama might be one of the most unvaccinated states in the nation. Well, Joe Biden wants to come talk to you guys.


GREENE: He's going to be sending one of his police state friends to your front door. What they don't know is in the South we all love our Second Amendment rights.


GREENE: And we're not real big on strangers showing up on our front door, are we? They might not like the welcome they get.

TODD (voice-over): Republican Senator Rand Paul tweeted out this video to his followers in recent days, regarding the CDC's latest guidelines on mask wearing.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It's time for us to resist. They can't arrest all of us. They can't keep all of your kids home from school. They can't keep every government building closed. No one should follow the CDC's anti-science mask mandates.

TODD (voice-over): And Rand Paul is a medical doctor.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: When you have people who look like they're in a position of authority such as a Senator who is also an M.D., it's tempting to just say well, that person knows what he's talking about even though what he's saying countered the message of basically every public health and medical organization and is really damaging.

TODD (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is entrenched in a legal battle to block businesses from vaccine passports, in schools for mask mandates. Today, DeSantis' office threatened to withhold the salaries of school leaders who defy a new Florida law that bans mask mandates in schools. One Senator from DeSantis' party pushes back on the Florida governor.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I do disagree with Governor DeSantis.


If my hospitals full and my vaccination rate is low and infection rate is going crazy, we should allow local officials to make those decisions.

TODD (voice-over): Why are these high-profile Republicans still taking misguided position as coronavirus cases and deaths spike?

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They think that the biggest energy in the party is in that Trump base and that Trump wing that is looking to resist anything that's coming from the Biden administration and is unconcerned about the virus even as the delta variant continues to run through the unvaccinated community.

TODD: Analysts point out there are Republican leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey who are strong supporters of the vaccine. But they say people like McConnell and Ivey are outliers at the moment and they say anti-vax and anti- mask Republicans are scoring big with those messages in their fundraising efforts. So don't expect them to back off anytime soon.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: We have an update now on a story we brought you last week about a Las Vegas woman facing eviction. Dasha Kelly told CNN she was the mother of three girls, who were also featured in the story. It generated a lot of interest and donations to her GoFundMe account, but it turns out her story was not entirely accurate. She's not the girls' mother. CNN's Nick Watt picks up from there in this conversation with Erica Hill.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN found Dasha Kelly through her post on GoFundMe seeking $2,000 to pay back rent to avoid eviction for her and, quote, her three daughters. She did not reach out to us. Now, we interviewed Kelly at her home, the girls all called her mom, appeared to be very much at home and there was nothing we could see to raise any suspicion.

But later last week a woman named Shadia Hilo, came forward and said that she was the mother of those three girls and they live with her. Obviously, we investigated immediately and, yes, Shadia Hilo is their mother. We've seen the birth certificates and now we know that Dasha Kelly is dating the girls' father. She spends significant periods of time caring for the girls at her apartment. Now, at the time that we visited, Hilo says she had dropped the girls off with Kelly for a week.

Now, when we followed up with Kelly over the weekend, she clarified that she is not the mother of the three girls. She said that she originally described herself to CNN as a mother because she considers herself to be like a mother to those girls. Shadia Hilo is understandably upset that someone else claimed to be the mother of three of her children. Children she also cares for

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: So, there are things, Nick, about Kelly's story -- or are there I should say, but do check out?

WATT: Yes, absolutely. She is facing eviction from her apartment. We saw her seven day notice when we visited. And we have confirmed that. And she clearly does look after those girls part of the time. But in that GoFundMe post, she said that -- she described the girls as her daughters and that's just not true.


CHURCH: GoFundMe is offering full refunds to donors after two weeks any money left will be released to Kelly who says she will use it for living expenses and accounts for each child.

Well, still to come here on CNN, a Chinese court has rejected a Canadian man's appeal against a death sentence for drug smuggling. We're fooling reaction to the case, that's next.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, one of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims is now suing Prince Andrew saying, she was sexually abused by the Duke of York. Virginia Roberts Giuffre says he forced himself on her when she was 17 years old. She claims it happened multiple times at Epstein's home in New York and his private island. And that his partner Ghislaine Maxwell's home in London. Prince Andrew has said he's never met Giuffre despite this photo of the two of them. CNN has reached out to the prince's representatives for comment on the suit. Buckingham Palace has previously denied these allegations.

A Chinese court has upheld the death sentence for a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially sentenced to death in 2019 by a lower Chinese court. He says he is innocent.

CNN's Steven Jiang is following this case for us from Beijing. He joins us now live. Good to see you, Steven. So, what is the likely next move for Schellenberg and what are the ramifications of this case?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, now Schellenberg's case goes to the supreme people's court here in China for final review before any execution could be carried out. But a Canadian government has already condemned this decision but also vowing to continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest level to request clemency for him.

Now for China's critics, this case is another example of China's so- called hostage diplomacy. That's something Beijing obviously strongly denied, but it's worth taking a look at the time line of his case.

He was first tried on November 28, 2018 as an accessory to the smuggling of more than 200 kilo grams of meth and he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. But he decided to appeal.

Now, that date is important because a few days later on December 1, Meng Wanzhou, a high-profile senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested at the Vancouver airport by Canadian authorities on behalf of the U.S. government for her alleged role in dodging U.S. sanctions against Iran. That move by Canada infuriated the Beijing leadership and with officials here promising unspecified consequences for Canada. And within weeks Schellenberg was ordered to face retrial during which he was tried as a principal to the case because prosecution claimed that they had uncovered new evidence. He was convicted and sentenced to die. Now, obviously he appealed again, but now we know he lost that appeal as well.

But the timing of today's announcement is also interesting because Meng's case in Canada has also entered this crucial phase of final arguments as she continues to fight her extradition to the U.S.

And also worth remembering, Schellenberg is not even the only Canadian facing potential execution here as two other Canadian citizens were arrested. Shortly Meng's arrest in Canada and they have also been charged and tried and facing potential execution as well. So, Rosemary, all of this widely seen as interconnected with their results having major geopolitical implications -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Of course, Steven Jiang bringing us the latest on that from Beijing, appreciate it.


Well, North Korea is warning the U.S. and South Korea over their joint military drills set for this month. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says the two countries will face a more serious security threat for ignoring Pyongyang's warnings. The drills are held every year infuriating the North, but they've been scaled back recently due to COVID.

Well, the Taliban now controls six provincial capitals in Afghanistan. A local official says the entire northern city of Aybak has fallen. With Afghan forces under siege across the country's the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan will meet with other regional officials to try to formulate an international response. Civilians desperate to escape the Taliban's offensive in the provinces have abandoned their homes to reach the relative safety in Kabul.

And CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has reported from inside Afghanistan for years now. He joins us from London live. Good to see you, Nick. So, what is the latest on the Taliban advances and of course the ramifications for the Afghan government?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: At this stage the Afghan government has just announced that it will essentially be encouraging local militias form a popular uprising it says, encouraging people who essentially have weapons form part of armed groups in government loyal areas to get together and come under the umbrella of Afghan defense forces.

Now that is something that has been happening in certain areas at a slower pace over the past months. The official tweet we've seen the announcement from President Ashraf Ghani formalizes to some degree. And it's possibly a reflection of two things, that maybe Afghan security forces in the fights that they have had around the country are increasingly stretched. It's totally fair to suggest that Afghan commandos are a limited resources and are currently engaged on multiple fronts. B fighting particularly hard for the city of Lashkar Gah, in the south, in Helmand.

But also, too suggests possibly how intense the pressure is by the Taliban on various different urban centers. The fact that the government has to essentially formally recognize this sort of armed group. We'll have to see where this leads. Afghanistan has a dark history of warlord-ism in the '90s and this may well sadly lead to elements of the country following under specific armed groups control.

But it comes after an awful five to six days now since Friday when the first provincial capital fell and we're now at six provincial capitals. Aybak as well, which now appears to be calm in Samangan Province. Ghazni is deeply under threat from the Taliban offensive, is, according to witnesses, caller this morning. And the U.S. chief diplomat on this particular topic in Doha,

essentially it seems for three days of meetings to try and persuade the Taliban to stop for to slow down its military offensive. That essentially has been the feeling that the U.S. government have had for years now, that a political process is convenient for them but is also what the Taliban wants. But it seems fairly clear given Taliban's precipitous movements on the ground that they are not interested in a negotiated settlement at this time. Quite what leverage Zalmay Khalilzad bring to those talks, we'll have to find out -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Nick Paton Walsh bringing us the very latest there, many thanks.

Well, California's governor is just weeks away from a recall election. But some of his supporters are either unaware or just don't care. What that could mean for his chances to stay in office, that's next.



CHURCH: Texas state Democrats are free to return home without fear of being arrested. Many of them left the state last month to prevent a quorum in the legislature blocking action on restrictive new voting laws. A state district judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing their arrest. The Republican governor and house speaker will have a chance to argue against the injunction at a hearing next week.

Well just over a month from now, California Governor Gavin Newsom will face a multitude of challenges Republicans and Democrats in a recall election. Some Democratic voters want to keep Newsom in office, but as Kyung Lah reports, getting those Democrats to actually vote could be an uphill battle.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I'm telling, you guys got the rip.

LAH (voice-over): To save California's governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fight, so just fight.

LAH (voice-over): Volunteers fanned out across South Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd like to leave you this flyer.

LAH (voice-over): A Democratic stronghold.


LAH (voice-over): Five weeks to go before the recall election in California. VICTORIA MACKY, VOLUNTEER: We got far more people voting no then we have this point to vote. Yes, are just going to ignore the selection altogether.

LAH: You just got to reach them.

MACKY: Just got to reach them.

You want to put? No.

LAH (voice-over): In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. The recall of Governor Gavin Newsom is being met by a collective yawn.

RAY RUFFIN, INDEPENDENT, VOTED FOR NEWSOM: It's ridiculous. I think he'll still be our governor.


LAH (voice-over): Unconcerned or unaware about the off-year election.

LAH: You sense that people are paying attention or talking about it at all.



LAH: The governor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I would be one that (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they want to like remove him.


LAH (voice-over): Apathy equals opportunity for Republicans. Here's how the ballot works. Question one is yes or no to remove Newsom. If enough Democrats don't save Newsom, a GOP Challenger in question two could win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for joining us a special coverage of the very first gubernatorial debate to recall Gavin Newsom.

LAH (voice-over): Republican challengers at the first debate stressed enthusiasm is on their side. Sure, celebrity names like Caitlyn Jenner and radio host Larry Elder who did not show up here may snag headlines. And one candidate has grabbed attention by campaigning with a bear.


The California's conservatives believe this recall is a rare political opportunity. A chance to pull off an upset.

KEVIN FAULCONER, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Oh, I think Governor Newsom's worried and he ought to be. I think Californians are angry and frustrated.

BILL CARRICK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If you're a Democrat, it's scary.

LAH: If you're paying attention.

CARRICK: If you're paying attention.

LAH (voice-over): Most are not as longtime Democratic strategist, Bill Carrick, but there's still time. Newsom, who won in 2018, with more than 60% of the vote has millions more in the bank than Republicans and is now blanketing the airwaves with ads.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Vote no to protect California and our democracy

LAH (voice-over): Republicans do have challenges of their own.

CARRICK: They haven't done well in California in years. They have no statewide offices. They have super majority of Democrats in both houses of the legislature. Closing that gap from where they are in the registration, that is one big mountain to climb.

LAH (voice-over): Another Republican dilemma Donald Trump. So toxic in California that on CNN, Larry Elder jumped through hoops to avoid any connection.

LARRY ELDER, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: I have not voted for a Democrat since 1976. I'm a Republican, and I've consistently voted Republican. So, to call me a Trump supporting radio host, a little unfair is my opinion.

LAH (voice-over): California's progressive poll gives Newsom the advantage, but in politics, nothing is ever certain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, after Trump, there's no way of like ever being sure.

LAH: Last time a Republican won statewide in California was 2006. Now the governor's forces are sounding the alarm saying Democrats could change all that and lose the governor's mansion just by not paying attention.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


And thanks for your company, I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @rosemaryCNN. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN, have a great day.