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Senate Passes Two Key Biden Spending Bills; Kathy Hochul, New York's States Lieutenant Governor Promises Changes; New Zealand Outline Plans to Reopen Borders; Paris Saint-Germain Officially Introduce Lionel Messi. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 12, 2021 - 04:30   ET




AGNES VELASQUEZ, MOTHER OF COVID PATIENT: She's in induced coma and she's also medically paralyzed. Toughest part for me is seeing how she suffered.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: But now we have good news. Paulina has woken up from her coma, is off the ventilator and has walked for the first time since entering the hospital. Paulina wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19 and even though her mother was, Agnes still became infected with mild symptoms. Here is what Paulina had to say when she woke up.


PAULINA VELASQUEZ, COVID-19 PATIENT: It definitely is real because I'm sitting here and I had it. And I know a lot of people who have had it. It's real. Take it seriously. And please wear your masks.


BRUNHUBER: Yes, great advice.

Now Florida is in the middle of a heated battle over face masks. The state's governor has tried to ban school mask mandates with an executive order, though some school districts are resisting.

Still to come, Joe Biden is celebrating a pair of victories in the U.S. Senate this week, but his economic agenda still faces many obstacles. We'll have an update on what comes next in just a moment.

Plus, she is about to become New York's next governor, the first woman to ever hold the job. What Kathy Hochul is saying about Andrew Cuomo and her plans, just ahead. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. Senate has given Joe Biden a pair of big wins in the past couple days.


First it passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Then it moved forward on his much more ambitious $3.5 trillion budget. But the fight to pass Biden's economic agenda is far from over. CNN's Kaitlan Collins explains.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden is cheering his recent legislative feats.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the past 24 hours, we've seen the Senate advance two key pieces of my economic agenda.

COLLINS (voice-over): But while a since of celebration is in the air, Democratic leaders are warning of the difficult path ahead.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This was one of the most significant legislative days we've had in a long time here in the United States Senate. But we still have a long road to travel.

COLLINS (voice-over): All 50 Senate Democrats voted to approve a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint which they're hoping to turn into an expansion of the social safety net filled with funding climate priorities, healthcare and education.

SCHUMER: It's as if we caught a pass, a nice long pass at midfield, but we still have 50 yards to go before we score a touchdown.

COLLINS (voice-over): Hours after Democrats passed that $3.5 trillion budget paving the way for the ambitious package, a key moderate voice issued a warning. Senator Joe Manchin saying that he has, quote, serious concerns about the grave consequences if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion. Press Secretary Jen Psaki says Manchin is conflating short-term stimulus spending with the proposed long-term investments.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I note that I think that he is confounding a couple things in there. It's not about putting a huge amount of money into the economy over the next few months.

COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden is also pushing back on Manchin's fears about adding trillions to the debt.

BIDEN: My Build Back Better agenda is fiscally responsible. A fiscally responsible way to reduce the cost for families.

COLLINS (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is declining to say if he would support lowering that price tag that moderate Democrats have said is too high.

SCHUMER: Every part of Biden's proposal will be there in a big robust way. There's some members in our caucus who want less, some members in our caucus who want more. COLLINS (voice-over): As the White House navigates the economic

recovery, officials are also confronting rising concerns about inflation.

BIDEN: There is going to be -- there's going to be some ups and downs.

COLLINS (voice-over): After consumer prices rose by 5.4 percent in July, compared with a year ago, President Biden predicted a reduction as the economy recovers.

BIDEN: We will keep a careful eye on inflation each month and trust the fed to take appropriate action if and when it's needed.

COLLINS: And several moderate House Democrats have called on Nancy Pelosi to bring that bipartisan infrastructure package immediately to the floor for a vote instead of waiting for that much bigger more ambitious package that is expected to only have Democratic support. But so far, she has held firm to her plan, two track strategy, telling her caucus on a call today -- and I'm quoting -- I am not freelancing, this is the consensus.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: A federal judge has handed Donald Trump a resounding loss in the battle over his tax returns. The judge ruled House Democrats can see some of the former president's records through a subpoena of his accounting firm. Lawmakers say they need the information as they consider the emoluments clause of the Constitution and whether Trump earned illegal foreign profits through his Washington, D.C. hotel. Here is CNN's legal analyst Norm Eisen.


NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: These are the same records, Trump's tax records while he is in office, that prosecutors in New York are looking at. And we know that there are issues of tax fraud, insurance fraud, bank fraud. The judge considered Michael Cohen's testimony about Trump's wrongdoings. Congress is now going to get a hold of those and with one set of charges already in place in New York, possible additional charges, as I've written, Trump is at substantial risk. And now Congress closing in, I think that is a big deal. We could see more revelations of the kinds of two sets of books fraud that got Mr. Weisselberg in trouble so far and that's just starting.


BRUNHUBER: A source tells CNN that a former U.S. attorney resigned earlier than planned after learning that then President Trump was considering firing him. The Senate Judiciary Committee earned BJay Pak on Wednesday as part of its investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn his electoral loss. The "New York Times" report that Pak testified that he was going to be fired because he wouldn't back claims of widespread election fraud in the state of Georgia.


A federal judge is allowing defamation lawsuits over the big lie to move forward against three Trump supporters. Dominion Voting Systems is suing the lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell over their unfounded claims of election fraud. Dominion which makes voting machines used in the9, you know, 2020 election wants billions of dollars in damages. The judge who

issued the ruling was appointed by Donald Trump.

For the first time we're hearing at length from the woman poised to become New York's first female governor. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will replace Andrew Cuomo following his resignation over multiple sexual harassment allegations. CNN's Brynn Gingras reports.


KATHY HOCHUL, NEW YORK LT. GOVERNOR: Our work has already begun.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathy Hochul, ready to become the 57th governor of the state of New York and the first woman in that role.

HOCHUL: I will fight like hell for you every single day like I've always done and always will.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The 62-year-old speaking publicly to New Yorkers this her first news conference since governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday. Promising a different kind of leadership.

HOCHUL: No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Immediately setting herself apart from Cuomo.

HOCHUL: I think it is very clear that the governor and I have not been close. No one named doing anything unethical in the report will remain in my administration.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The longtime Democrat assumes the role in less than two weeks, and she is no stranger to politics. Holding offices from the U.S. House of Representatives to county clerk. The transition to governing a state of about 20 million people coming at a challenging time with the pandemic Hochul says being top priority.

HOCHUL: I'm going to be working with the communities where the rates are higher infections and vaccination rates are lower and to come up with a strategic approach to target that and make sure that we overcome the hesitation and worries.

GINGRAS (voice-over): With 16 months left in the term when she takes over, Hochul tells CNN in a one-on-one interview she plans to stick around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We understand you've formed a political team. Does this mean that you're going to seek a full term in 2022? HOCHUL: Yes. It is not the time to talk politics, but I'm prepared to

run for re-election and begin the process as soon as we get everything under control in the state.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Cuomo said he would step aside after mounting calls for him to resign based on the Attorney General report which found that he sexually harassed multiple women, claims he denies. The governor expressing confidence in his successor Tuesday.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Kathy Hochul, my Lieutenant Governor, is smart and confident. This transition must be seamless.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Hochul says she is intent on leaving the controversy surrounding Cuomo behind, but she'll be coming into the governor's mansion with a conflict of interest. Her husband is general counsel, senior vice president and secretary of the Buffalo based hospitality and gaming company Delaware North and could be impacted by his wife's calls being made from the executive office.

HOCHUL: I have a recusal policy in place since I was lieutenant governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About the same plan.

HOCHUL: And we're reexamining that to see if any of that would change with my responsibilities changing.

GINGRAS: And in a one-on-one interview with the lieutenant governor, I asked her if she thought the governor should be impeached or if his resignation was enough. She really declined to answer saying that she would not get involved with the decision of lawmakers but had full confidence in them. We know that the judiciary committee will be meeting on Monday to discuss what their next steps might be and we're told through a source that all things are on the table.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, in Albany, New York.


BRUNHUBER: Still to come, reopening to the world. New Zealand says it'll cautiously open it borders again starting next year. We'll have the details in a live report ahead. Stay with us.



TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: At the current trajectory, we could surpass 300 million reported cases early next year. But we can change that. We are all in this together but the world is not acting like it.


BRUNHUBER: The head of the World Health Organization went on to stress that the true number of COVID infections is much higher, more than 4 million new cases were reported this week, many in North America. 65,000 deaths were also reported this week.

Well, one country that has been spared the worst of the pandemic is New Zealand. It's kept its borders closed for nearly a year and a half but now it is unveiling plans for a phased reopening with ramped up vaccinations being the first step. Manisha Tank joins us now from Singapore. Manisha, so New Zealand is opening up but not quite throwing the doors wide open here.

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Yes, that's absolutely correct. When this happened, right now the trajectory is for early next year 2022. The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has used some very carefully placed language including careful and deliberate in terms of the pathway ahead. And also, confidence, clarity, these are the sorts of things this that they want to be feeling in this move towards opening up. And how would it be done? It will be done in tiers, in stages. Those coming from low-risk countries will not have to go through mandatory quarantine if they have been vaccinated but then there will be a scaled system up to high-risk countries if they are coming from there, they will still need to do quarantines. But listen to what Jacinda Ardern had to say about the pathway ahead.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: We're not in a position to fully reopen just yet. When we move, we will be careful and deliberate. Because we don't want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as is possible. Rushing we can see from the situation of many other countries are finding themselves in. After relaxing their cities and opening their borders.


TANK (on camera): And of course, the Prime Minister also making it clear that if things don't go the way they are hoping, it could have a big impact on business of course, so a lot of countries thinking about reopening borders really because the economies are suffering with ongoing lockdowns and border controls. All of that said, how will New Zealand ramp up vaccinations? It will starting September and they'll put six weeks between the first and the second vaccination to get a bulk of New Zealanders at least partially vaccinated and get that movement going towards opening up come early next year -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thanks so much, Manisha Tank in Singapore.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. It's the hottest shirt in soccer right now as Lionel Messi spends his first full day as a member of Paris Saint-Germain. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: New York's Buffalo Bills will require everyone inside its stadium to wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status. Fans, staff and vendors will have to mask up in all indoor and enclosed spaces of the building but the team says anyone who is fully vaccinated won't have to wear a face mask in the outdoor parts of the stadium. Seating the Bill's stadium is open air.

Well, it's been quite a welcome for Lionel Messi in Paris and the preseason trophy for Chelsea. Here now is Don Riddell with a minute in sports.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Lionel Messi is settling into his new life in Paris after completing his mega move from Barcelona. The Argentine star was officially unveiled to the media on Wednesday where he spoke of his ambitions to win his fifth Champions League title and what would be a first for Paris. T

he excitement in the French capital has been a fever pitch ever since it was revealed that Messi would be leaving Barcelona, already there is massive demand for shirts with his name on the back.

Although the French league season began last weekend, it is not yet clear when he would make his debut for PSG. Messi had a pretty busy season with Argentina winning the Copa America.

Meanwhile Chelsea's successful summer has continued with another trophy. European champions beat Villarreal on penalties.


In Belfast, thanks to a practical masterstroke just before the shootout, Chelsea brought on their substitute goalie Kepa, and he made two saves to win the game. Chelsea's manager says that the plan has been in the works for months. Kepa is the club's best goalie for saving penalties.

Back to you.


BRUNHUBER: And in our pop culture headlines, the Jeopardy game show has finally answered a question that's been lingering for months. Executive producer Mike Richards has been named the official new host of the show. And actress and neuroscientists Mayim Bialik will host occasional primetime episodes. Both had filled in as guest hosts after longtime host Alex Trebek died last November. The new season of the show debuts on September 13th.

JetBlue is making its first push into European skies. On Wednesday the U.S. discount airline flew from JFK airport in New York, to Heathrow in London, for as little as $202 for a one-way ticket. JetBlue plans to begin flying from Boston to London within the year. It's also scheduling flights to London Gatwick Airport starting in September.

Instagram has unveiled a new feature to block racists and other unwanted offensive comments. It's called "Limits" and it can filter direct messages and lock down an account when facing a flood of nasty comments.

The head of Instagram wrote: We hope the new features will protect people from seeing abusive content whether racist, sexist, homophobic or any other type of abuse none of which have anyplace on Instagram.

Let's hope it works.

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "EARLY START" is next.