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Camden Mayor Goes Door-to-Door with Bullhorn Urging Vaccinations; NASA I.G. Says, Returning Astronauts to the Moon by 2024 Not Feasible; New Inflation Report, Prices Keep Rising in U.S. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 11, 2021 - 10:30   ET



RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He would, I think, present significant evidence of Trump's state of mind, but, of course, I don't expect Mr. Meadows to be forthcoming with the committee. And I think he has to be concerned about potentially false statement to Congress charge if he's not forthcoming. I think that would be what I would expect him potentially trying to minimize the former president's conduct.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: So, you think he may not be forthcoming, but, first, they have to actually get him there. So, he's declined to comment at this point about talking with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, if he doesn't come voluntarily, the panel will have to subpoena him. That's going to require buy-in from Republicans.

MARIOTTI: Yes, that's right. Well, that's right. And not only that, I would expect Meadows to fight it in court, so it could save some time for him to actually get in front of the committee. He would argue executive privilege, for example, claim, that the conversations were protected and so forth.

HILL: The House Select Committee though looking into January 6th does not have to have sign-off from Republicans, right? So is there potential that maybe Meadows would need to speak with them?

MARIOTTI: Yes. I think there's certainly that potential. You can expect Meadows to go to court. We've seen this time and time again from former Trump administration officials, those who, unlike Rosen, are not eager for the public to know or willing to come forth and let the public know what happened. I would expect Meadows to be in the camp of trying to do whatever he can to avoid testifying. I would expect him to go to court and try to challenge the subpoena.

HILL: So, B.J. Pak is testifying today. As correspondent, Jessica Schneider, laid out for us, this is virtual, it's behind closed doors, oh, to be a fly on the wall. But there's still so much mystery, right? There's so much mystery surrounding why he resigned so suddenly. What type of questions would you expect the panel, that the committee would be asking him today as they try to get to the bottom of that, among other things?

MARIOTTI: Oh, boy, I've got a lot of questions I would ask. Well, certainly, they're going to want to know what, if anything, his office did to investigate allegations of irregularities or other issues regarding the election, what evidence they had, and then what specific requests came from the White House, from whom, when, to whom in his office? What was he pressured to do? Why did he feel like he needed to resign? He's going to be asked about specific conversations.

I think that could really lead to other witnesses from the former Trump White House to potentially come before that committee.

HILL: Renato Mariotti, good to see you this morning. Thank you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

HILL: Just ahead, I'll speak with one mayor doing everything he can to get people in his city vaccinated, including this, walking the streets with a bullhorn, going door to door, leading a parade through the streets of Camden, New Jersey. So, is it working?



HILL: Today, President Biden set to meet with leaders of several companies now requiring workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. That includes the CEO of United Airlines. His company says you can get vaccinated or risk being fired, This as we're learning that the three other major U.S. airlines say they won't require vaccines.

CNN's Pete Muntean joining me now with more. So, Pete, we're talking here about Southwest, American and Delta. They are not planning to follow suit. Why?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's so interesting here, Erica, and a lot of factors at play. Most airlines are saying they don't need to put a mandate in place because they insist that many of their employees are already vaccinated. United Airlines announced on Friday all of its employees would need to get vaccinated by October 25th or face getting fired.

Since that announcement, the CEOs of Southwest, Delta and American Airlines have all been on the record saying they are not putting mandates in place, they are not changing their policy after United did. Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian was on television just the other day and he says that about 75 percent of its existing workforce is vaccinated, and all new incoming employees are requiring to be vaccinated. He says a mandate just isn't necessary.


ED BASTIAN, CEO, DELTA: We're going to continue to encourage it. I think there's some additional steps and measures we can take to get the vaccine rates even higher. But what we're seeing is every day those numbers continue to grow. And I'm really proud of our team. I think we have got one of the highest vaccination rates in the country without a mandate.


MUNTEAN: Erica, there's also a labor issue at play here. Airlines, as an industry, are heavily unionized. The American Airlines pilot union says about 60 percent of its core has already been vaccinated but they're also encouraging that employees get vaccinated. But they also underscore this one thing, that any change to Americans Airlines policy for workers would be subject to collective bargaining, making these union negotiations a lot harder for companies to put these mandates in place. Erica?

HILL: A lot to take into account there, that's for sure. Not the last we will discuss. Pete Muntean, thank you.

In New Jersey, the push to get more people vaccinated, it's is an all- hands-on-deck approach. The mayor of Camden holding a vaccine parade on Tuesday, walking through the streets, going door-to-door, you see there with a bullhorn, urging residents to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, even offering them shots on the spot.


MAYOR VICTOR CARSTARPHEN (D-CAMDEN, NJ): Let's come together. I know my city is a tough city.


Let's fight this virus. Come on now. Let's get vaccinated. Protect your family.


HILL: The number of cases in Camden County has nearly doubled in just the last week. The mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Victor Carstarphen, joining me now to discuss. Mr. Mayor, it's great to have you with us this morning.

I was telling you at the break, I love this approach, right? I love the energy. I love seeing you out there in the streets. What was your response? Did you get any shots in arms?

CARSTARPHEN: Thank you, Erica. We got a great response yesterday, just, as I said, meeting the residents where they are, getting the chance to communicate, talk to our residents. We had a number of individuals on the street that got the shot right on the spot.

I was speaking to a gentleman on the fence about getting the vaccination shot. We had a really good conversation about the importance of protecting himself, protecting his family, protecting his people around him that's elderly, and he changed his mind. And he said, listen, I want to get a vaccination shot now.

I thought that was very empowering, not just for him but for the community to see a trusted individual in that community getting the vaccination shot. And I think that helps along spreading the word in our community.

HILL: It feels like -- I think you've hit the three points that I seem to hear so much from officials and health experts lately, it's meeting people where they are, listening to their concerns and also people in the community who are trusted individuals being able to then bring that message to others.

When you were talking to this gentleman about his concerns before he decided to get the shot, why was he hesitating?

CARSTARPHEN: There's a lot of misinformation out there, Erica. And some of the things he talked about is, he just didn't know what's going to happen, will he get sick. And I've had someone out there yesterday said they felt like there was going to be a microchip put inside of them.

And so there's just a lot of misinformation, and I think it's important, as government, we get out there to have these tough conversations about the facts, about what's going on getting vaccinated and how it's going to help you. And that's the biggest precaution you can take right now.

No one wants to go back to last year. It was a dark time. This opponent that we're fighting, we have to put a full-court press against this opponent, this virus. And that's why I have my police department, my fire department, our health officials, we had cheerleaders out there walking the street, parading in our community. And it brings attention. When you bring attention, people come out. Now we can talk.

I got my bullhorn. I'm going to just walking up to people talking. I get people, hey, hey, hey, let's talk about it, because we can't get selfish. We have that 12 to 17 age group, but what about the 12 and under? They can't protect themselves. We as adults have to protect them and step up and be responsible.

HILL: And that is such a focus, right, as we're preparing to go back to school. A lot of schools in the south already heading back to school or they're in school here in the northeast. We're getting ready for that.

How much is that part of your message in Camden, that there are still those 11 and under who don't even have the option to get vaccinated?

CARSTARPHEN: It's a big part of my message, Erica, because we as adults have to step up. We want to see our kids back in school. I felt so much pride seeing the 13-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old yesterday, as we were walking in the community, they were with their dad. And they stepped up, leaders in our community.

And the more we can get our 12 to 17 age bracket of getting the vaccination shot, our adults are going to step up. I want to see our kids in school. We're going to work hard with our school district to make that happen.

HILL: There's also -- we've been talking about this from the very beginning. First, it was about the inequities of health care, and then once there was a vaccine, the inequities in what we're seeing in terms of demographics, in terms of vaccinations. Sometimes that's hesitancy, sometimes it's access. What are you finding is the biggest hurdle -- you have more than 56 percent of recipients in Camden County who have had the vaccine dose are white, 11 percent are black, 11 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian. Do you see a messaging problem there, an access problem?

CARSTARPHEN: Well, I believe -- listen, we've been vigorously having vaccination popup sites. But what I learned and what I learned the last few days in the community, there are some of our residents that -- I've had a resident say how much does it cost? How much does it cost to get (INAUDIBLE) a free shot? And I told him it's free. That was a resident that said, I want to get it.

So I keep on being optimistic and messaging and getting information out. So many times, we rely on social media and I say, listen, we've got to meet the people where they're at, go in the community.


And if it's one person, we got a shot, if it's two people, we got a shot, if it's three, that's three more than we had yesterday, and those three maybe multipliers of 10, 20 or even 30 more. We're going to keep fighting and we're going to keep pushing.

HILL: Yes. Well, let's hope they are the spreaders of the factual information. Thank goodness you were out there, and that they do multiply. Mr. Mayor, great to have you with us, and I hope there's another parade in the future, because it certainly seems like it's an effective one.

CARSTARPHEN: Yes indeed. We're pushing hard in the city of Camden. Thank you, Erica.

HILL: Thanks again.

Overnight, a Texas judge granting a temporary restraining order that would allow Dallas County leaders to override Governor Greg Abbott and order their own mask mandates in schools and government buildings. The ruling comes as hospitals across the state are filled to capacity with COVID patients, a surge fueled by the delta variant.

Now, so far, several districts, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth have issued mask requirements for their teachers, students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

Ahead, we're also going to take a closer look at plans for astronauts returning to the moon by 2024. Now, it turns out that just may not happen. We have some details on that delay, next.



HILL: As space exploration returns to the forefront, NASA says it's time to temper expectations of when astronauts will return to the moon. The agency's inspector general says doing so by 2024 just isn't possible.

CNN Space and Defense Correspondent Kristin Fisher joining me now. So, Kristin, this report blames that delay on the funding shortfalls, impact of COVID-19, technical challenges. When can we then expect a return to the moon?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the good news for space enthusiasts is that the Biden administration has said that it is committed to the Artemis program, returning the next man and the first woman to the lunar surface. The big question though, of course, has been the date. And the problem is Congress hasn't allocated enough funding for this program.

And then there have been all sorts of technical difficulties along the way. First, with the rocket and the capsule, the space launch system and Orion capsule. And then NASA's I.G. put out this report just yesterday, which essentially said that the space suits that these astronauts, these Artemis astronauts are supposed to wear is going to be at least a year late. They won't be ready until 2025, a year past this 2024 goal. And what's more, NASA will have poured in about a billion dollars into these space suits and yet they still won't be ready in time.

And so this I.G. is saying that part of the problem is that 27 different companies are supplying components for this space suit, which is what led Elon Musk to jump into conversation yesterday, saying on Twitter that, hey, it seems like there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen. He's now saying that SpaceX could help develop space suits for these Artemis astronauts.

But the bottom line here, NASA says that it's going to evaluate this date later this year. Hopefully, it won't change, but right now, Erica, it looks like 2024 just won't happen.

HILL: Yes, it does look that way. Kristin Fisher, I appreciate it, thank you.

One piece of collateral damage from the pandemic recovery, rising prices. You've likely noticed it and the inflation jump we're learning likely not going away anytime soon. The pace of consumer price inflation did slow a little bit in July, but it's still elevated.

CNN Business Lead Writer Matt Egan joining me now. So, what does this new data tell us about what we're in for?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Well, Erica, the bad news is that prices keep rising on Americans. The good news is that they're not rising as fast as they had been. Overall, consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in the 12 months ended in July. That's a lot, but it's actually a bit cooler than the price gains in June, which were the most since 2008. If you take out food and energy, prices were up 4.3 percent over the past 12 months.

Now, let me give you just a few examples of some of the things costing more. Women's dresses were up almost 19 percent over the last 12 months, used cars and gasoline up 42 percent, rental cars up more than 73 percent. Americans are also paying a lot more for food at the grocery store because labor, shipping, packaging, all those costs have gotten more expensive.

Let me give you a few examples. Apple and milk, those prices are up 6 percent over the last 12 months, fresh fruit more than 8 percent, meat prices up nearly 11 percent over the last 12 months.

Now, this morning, we talked to one distributor who services this grocery store. And he said he's noticing incredible price increases.


BILL DELQUAGLIO, PRESIDENT, B&D SNACKS: Instead of a normal 2 to 3 percent increase, it could be a 10, 15 or 20 percent increase. So, on my end, as a businessman -- I've been doing this for 35 years. As far as I'm concerned, I'm scared to the point of are they going to stop buying the product.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we have to eat, so what can I say? A lot of times I have to compromise.


EGAN: And the senior director of operations here said he's never seen price hikes like this in his 38 years of experience.


The good news is that prices for some things, like used cars and air fare, are coming back to earth a bit. They're still up, but not nearly as much. That is giving economists some hope that inflation could be peaking here, Erica.

HILL: All right. I will cross my fingers for that one. Matt Egan, I appreciate it. Thank you.

And thanks to all of you for joining us this morning. I'm Erica Hill.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after this quick break.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Here is what we're watching at this hour. A big win, the Senate advancing a massive budget blueprint overnight, a victory for Joe Biden, but it's a long road ahead still.