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Senate Republicans Block Bill To Suspend Debt Limit And Avert Government Shutdown; House Begins Debate On Infrastructure Bill Amid Deep Democratic Party Divide; Dispatch Audio Sheds More Light On What Police Were Told About Mid-August "Altercation" Between Petito & Laundrie. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's it for us. The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thanks, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We got breaking news, out of Washington D.C., on a looming debt crisis.

Now, what happens, in the next few days, could help determine, who stays in power, or who comes to power. The good news, and right now, kind of the bad news, is that the Democrats are in a position of making their own fate.

The Right just did what it does best. It ensured that the country is once again, on the brink, this time, of not being able to pay its bills. There should be no surprise that the GOP voted tonight, to put the country in crisis, blocking a bill to suspend the debt limit, and avert a government shutdown.

They are playing Americans for fools, fools who might believe that refusing to raise the debt ceiling, is a way, to keep Democrats, from their spending aims, which by the way, are a laundry list, of exactly what you've said, you've wanted, overwhelmingly, in the polls.

But this is not a way to stop spending going forward, OK? It is yet another blow, to America's viability. When you mess with the debt ceiling, you mess with the strength of this economy.

Mitch McConnell knows that. That's why this is what he said, last week.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We all agree America must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised.

Don't play Russian roulette with our economy. Step up and raise the debt ceiling, to cover all that you've been engaged in, all year long.


CUOMO: OK. That was last week.

Now, today.


MCCONNELL: We will not provide Republican votes for raising the debt limit. There's no chance Republicans will help lift Democrats' credit limit, so they can immediately steamroll through a socialist binge that will hurt families and help China.


CUOMO: Now, here's what you have to understand. I have said on this show, many times, "Don't hate the player. Don't hate the game." And, to the extent you can, you shouldn't hate anybody. It's really - does more to you than it does to what you feel about anybody else.

But Mitch McConnell knows that what he's saying right now, right there, it's not for other lawmakers, because they know it's BS. It's just to deceive people like you.

The debt ceiling does not get raised to pay for what you are going to spend. It gets raised, every cycle, to pay for what was already spent, meaning what Trump and McConnell spent, and never balanced, thanks to an unpaid-for tax cut.

McConnell is not saving you money by doing this. He's playing you, for a fool, and trying to keep the government, from paying, for what they already spent. It is retroactive. That is a fact.

And no, this one is not a "Come on! Both sides do this whenever they" - no. Democrats helped raise the debt ceiling when Trump needed to do it. And McConnell won't. He says his party will only support a clean stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown.

What does that mean? Look, it's going to mean what they want it to mean. And we're going to have to see. And that moves the ball over to the Democrats.

But first, to give you an idea, of what's at stake, if the ceiling isn't raised? Salaries to federal workers, payments to Medicaid recipients, Social Security checks, military paychecks, monthly child tax credit, among other things.

Now, the Democrats, they are creating problems, of their own, potentially. The House, until very recently, was debate - well they are. They're still debating this massive infrastructure bill.

They had a caucus meeting. And we're going to have some news, on that, in a second, with somebody, who's a big player. But they are still in the midst of debating the infrastructure bill. It already passed in the Senate, OK? And this is a huge bill also. It's going to affect how you and I get from place to place, the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the internet we surf. The only bridge this bill can't address is the one that Democrats seem to have between factions.

The House vote has been kicked to Thursday, because this Monday date, as many have argued, including this show, was never going to be reasonable. And Nancy Pelosi is a pro. She's not going to put a bill on the floor that she doesn't have the House - that she doesn't have the votes for, OK?


Progressives are being asked to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, in front of them, the one that went through the Senate, and trust that their much larger reconciliation spending bill will still make it to the President's desk.

They don't buy it. Now, that's a bad sign. The progressives say, "No, they have to be done, at the same time. The President's on our side. This is what he wanted."

Again, a reminder of what is at stake, if the Democrats keep shooting at each other? They could lose the majority, after the midterms, next year.

The propagators of the "Big lie," white-washers of January 6, ignoring what just happened in Arizona, to keep falsely counting votes, under some false pretense, in other states, they could very well come back, into power.



The Democrats, they made it up. It was a hoax. And now, they're doing it again, with the January 6, OK? They're doing it again.


CUOMO: January 6 was a hoax? Really? It may have seemed surreal. But it was very real.

This is what you are up against. Can Democrats afford to be fighting with each other, when that is what they're against?

Let's bring in a player, who can take us, behind-the-scenes, of what's going on. Today was a big day. They just finished having a big meeting, among Democrats.

The man, on your screen, one, of the progressive Democrats, willing to bend a bit, to help Biden, get this infrastructure bill through. His name is Ro Khanna, Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Good to have you back on PRIME TIME, sir.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Chris, always great to be on.

CUOMO: So, I heard from Representative Jayapal that there was progress made, you guys are close. What's the reality?

KHANNA: We are close. We all want to get behind President Biden's agenda. Let's be clear. There are 210 House Democrats, who want to do that. There are 48 senators, who want to do that. There are very few hold-outs.

What we've said is we just need a public agreement, about the reconciliation spend, and some of the framework, and we're ready to vote for the bill. So, let's just get everyone in a room, get that agreement done. And then, we pass the President's agenda.

CUOMO: Do you guys understand what you're playing with here? I get that Democrats are not Republicans. I get that you guys don't do lockstep, the way they do, most of the time.

But your mandate was, you know, you guys, right now, are saying, "The mandate was the spending bill, yes, and infrastructure, but really the spending bill." No. The top item on your mandate, Ro, and I know, you know, this, was no more trumpery. No more toxic politics. No more opposition as a position. Get things done.

Are you guys worried that even what's happening right now may weaken your hand going into the midterms?

KHANNA: Chris, yes, we're worried. I mean, I read Robert Kagan's chilling piece about the rise of Trump in 2024. Anyone, who dismisses that, is foolish.

And we have to govern. We have to deliver. The consequences of us failing are very severe, not just for our party, not just for this president, but for democracy itself. And a number of members of the caucus made that point that more than anything we have to get this done, because democracy itself is at stake.

I believe that. Progressives believe that. Moderates believe that. And that's why ultimately I think we're going to rally, around Joe Biden. He's the president. We need to fall in line, get behind him, and he can come to an agreement, between the factions.

We're saying we're willing to negotiate. I guess I don't know what more progressives can do, but say we want what the President wants, and get his agenda through, and we're willing to be reasonable.

CUOMO: What if the President says, "Vote "Yes," on Thursday, on the infrastructure bill, Ro. Let's get that done. And take on faith that I will get the reconciliation bill, in the best way that I can."

Would you vote "Yes," on Thursday?

KHANNA: President's not going to say that. I've been in touch with, not the President directly, but-- CUOMO: Why do you have to defeat my hypothetical like that, Ro? I spent all this time coming up with it. And you just shoot it away.

KHANNA: Well I--


KHANNA: You always ask - you ask - you ask better hypotheticals than almost anyone. But--

CUOMO: Will you vote "Yes" on just the infrastructure bill?

KHANNA: And I want it. Here's why. I would vote "Yes," on an infrastructure bill that the progressives were part of negotiating, and it had the President's climate priorities.

But what happened here is you have an infrastructure bill that says, "We're actually not going to have electric buses. We're actually not going to have electric vehicle infrastructure. We're not going to have a Clean Energy Standard. We're not going to even take any advice or any perspective from progressives."


And now you want us to just vote for that? That was never the agreement.

If you wanted to do an infrastructure bill, and you had progressives there, and you want it to have Clean Energy Standard? Sure, I could vote for a separate infrastructure bill.

But the understanding, in the beginning, was, "We're going to do this, because we need the Romney vote, we need the Portman vote. Just put up with it. It's not perfect."

CUOMO: And you didn't get them anyway.

KHANNA: Well we got with some of them. "But put up with this bipartisan thing. But we'll give you reconciliation."

Now, what we're saying is we're open to negotiating on reconciliation. But how can you, in the 21st Century, pass an infrastructure bill that doesn't deal with climate? That's certainly not what any Democrat ran on.

CUOMO: And, absolutely, and in the polls, it's not where people place their priorities, on your side of the aisle, when it came to what they wanted to see.

However, how much credit do you give the argument that something is better than nothing?

KHANNA: I give it a lot of credit. And the reason I give it a lot of credit is, Chris, you know, I was a Co-Chair for Bernie Sanders. We don't have Medicare-for-All. I get criticized by my base. We don't have free public college in this bill. We don't have a $15 minimum wage in this bill. We don't have a lot of things that Bernie Sanders, that Elizabeth Warren, that, progressives believe.

We started out at $6 trillion. We've already compromised to $3.5 trillion. We're willing to compromise more. We said, "Let's pass this bill, in the Senate, before bringing it to the House." We're willing now to even compromise on that, and said, "Let's just get a public agreement."

They haven't even given us a number, Chris. The President basically begged them. They said, "Put up a number." How can you negotiate when the other side isn't even willing to tell you what their proposal is?

So, I feel, in this case, the progressives have been exceedingly reasonable. We want to get something done. And we just need to get behind President Biden's vision here.

CUOMO: The McConnell move, on the debt ceiling, not a surprise, the hypocrisy, even, week over week, not a surprise. But what does that tell you, about just how high the stakes are, how willing, the Republicans are, to do everything they can to have you guys fail?

And what does that mean, in terms of how much you guys have to come together, on your side of the ball? They're waiting to kill you, on the other side.

KHANNA: Chris, I always knew that they wanted us to fail. What is shocking is that they want this country to fail.

You exposed the hypocrisy. And the biggest hypocritical line, in McConnell's speech, is "This is what we need to do, to compete against China?" Give me a break!

The single biggest thing we could do that would give China a leg up is to default on our debt. It would basically be handing China the competitive advantage of the 21st Century. And any Republican, who cares an iota, of us leading, should be voting, to increase the debt ceiling.

But we're going to be responsible. Democrats are always responsible. We'll vote, on a party-line basis, to raise the debt ceiling.

But let me tell you, the American people are smart. They played these shenanigans, in the Clinton years. The American people saw through it. They'll see through it this time as well. And I think they will reward Democrats, at the polls, for doing the responsible thing.

CUOMO: Do you think that there's a vote this week at all, on the Democrat side?

KHANNA: I'm hopeful. I think we're closer than people realize. I think we can get in agreement.

The President, I think, has done an extraordinary job, along with Ron Klain, and Steve Ricchetti. They're reaching out. And they've convinced 99 percent of us. They just need to convince the other couple folks.

Let me tell you this. Democrats, around the country, are outraged that a few people are blocking the aspirations, not just of those in Congress, and the Senate, but of Democrats, around the country.

We nominated Joe Biden. We elected Joe Biden. He's sort of the median point of the Democratic Party. He's been a lifelong moderate. Is it too hard to get behind him? I mean, that's politics. He's the leader, not me, not every other member of Congress. Let's get behind our Democratic president.

CUOMO: Well, I appreciate that. It's a perfect segue to the segment I'm going to do, after the break, which is showing, where the people are, and what they wanted, from the Democrats.

Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much. Good luck, doing the people's business.

KHANNA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well.

All right, so what happens now? It's going to be very profound, on the future, of who leads us. How?

We have the Wizard of Odds, to show us where Americans stand, on these bills, and what Biden, and the Democrats, can learn, from one of Trump's legislative victories.

Some good insight, from that guy, next.









CUOMO: The bad news is that the Democrats are showing this country that they are not together. The good news is the country is with them.

Proof, both the Senate-passed infrastructure plan, and this larger $3.5 trillion package that progressives want to pass through reconciliation, look, they are in an existential place with both of them.

But if Biden gets his wish list, even a fraction of the plan, could dramatically transform our lives, and are wildly popular.

I want to give a hat tip to Axios, OK? They kind of framed what the reality would be.

With more than $66 billion invested into Amtrak, and other rail projects, high speed trains may become a preferred mode, maybe even over flying.

We'll see more electric cars because they'll be more affordable. The plan is to give you up to $12,500 in tax credits per vehicle. And you could drive those electric cars, to pick up your kids, from a free or subsidized daycare center. Now, that is a big ticket item, with people of all different places and faces, in this country.

The White House says the average family will save $14,800 a year, while lower-income families won't have to pay anything.


The plan calls for two years of free preschool, two years of free community college. And the broadband expansion would mean high speed internet, from anywhere.

Medicare would expand, would cover dental, vision, hearing, the price of many prescription drugs, insulin, drop. And for those who need to take care of a sick family member, you'd get 12 weeks guaranteed paid leave, not to mention that there are investments in clean energy, affordable housing, job training programs.

But here's the catch. How do you pay for it? The bottom line, from the White House, is that it'll pay for itself, through increased taxes, on the rich, and other measures.

But on the Senate bill alone, a CBO score found that it would instead add hundreds of billions of dollars, to the deficit, over the next 10 years. Now, finding a way forward is going to require Democrats to lay out a clear path, on how to fund it.

Does that matter to the American people? Yes, but how much, and in what way? How do they see these proposals?

Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds has the answers.

All right, lay it out, set the table for me, about what people see, and why.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: They're popular. These bills are popular. You talk about the reconciliation bill. You talk about the Senate plan that already passed.

Look at this, two or more to one support versus opposition for both of these bills. If I was a stretch, and say, "Pass something, pass anything," and we can see that when we make the comparison back to the Trump tax cuts, back in 2017, right?

What did we see there? The Trump tax cuts, the opposition was far greater than the support. But the Republicans passed something. And in passing something, they were able to rally the base, and Trump's approval rating went higher.

Given that the Biden bills are popular, you have to, at least potentially, see the possibility, given how unpopular Biden is at this point that this could boost his popularity at a time that he needs it.

CUOMO: One step sideways. The knock is going to be "Well, first of all, they got to figure out how to pay for it." And it's going to be a lot of taxing the rich.

But while taxes, people don't like them, taxing the rich, people like you, Harry, everybody's OK with that. When you look, across the boards, right, in terms of when you look at numbers, of demographics, the idea of taxing the rich, to pay for this, that doesn't play the same way as just raising taxes.

ENTEN: That's right. I mean, look, we don't have a slide on it. But I can tell you that the numbers in that same Pew poll show that taxing the rich works. We see this throughout the polling that taxing the rich is popular.

People don't want to see their own taxes increase. But they want to, in fact, see the richests' taxes increase. And that was part of the reason why the Trump bill wasn't popular, back in 2017, was people thought that in fact that the rich were going to get a tax cut. Raising taxes on the rich is a political winner.

CUOMO: High stakes. The central tenet of Biden's presidency is not just the spending, is not infrastructure.

The number one thing that people wanted for him was no more Trump. They didn't want the talk. They didn't want the tone. They wanted to show that government could work.

Do they believe it so far?

ENTEN: No, they don't believe it. They don't think that Joe Biden's accomplished much of anything so far. And that's part of the reason why I think it's so important, for him, to pass something for his political wellbeing.

Look at this. Just 40 percent of Americans think he's accomplished a great or fair amount. 58 percent say only some or very little, in fact, the very little versus the great, is something like four to one in this poll.

So look, he needs to do something, because his approval ratings are low. The base is not with him, at this particular point. The enthusiasm with them is low. And so, I would say, again, just looking at the numbers, passing these bills could in fact be the jet fuel that he needs, at this point.

CUOMO: Now, all this is a snapshot of a moment in time. But we are where we are. That's why this point could be pivotal. You got over six in 10, who believe that the country's going the wrong way. There are various reasons why they may feel that.

But how does it all play in, to where we are, right now, in terms of how people feel, about the midterms?

ENTEN: This, to me, this slide says it all. And what essentially I did here was OK, let's take the choice, for Congress, and say, "Are you enthusiastic or not about voting next year?"

Among those, who are extremely, or very enthusiastic, look at that, the Republicans hold a 4-point lead. But if you look at those, who are somewhat, or not enthusiastic, it's Democrats hold a 6-point lead.

What Democrats want to be able to do is build enthusiasm, from their base, because remember, midterm elections, yes, it's about preference, but it's also about turnout.

Democrats want to do what they did in 2018, get their voters to turnout. If they can, and do, they have a much better shot, in the midterms, and they have to give their voters something, to vote for, which these two packages could in fact, do.

CUOMO: Harry Enten, very, very helpful. We call you the Wizard of Odds for a reason! Thank you.

ENTEN: I try my best.


CUOMO: All right, let's take a break. When we come back, we're going to bring in some better minds, to look at why the Democrats are where they are, and why isn't it as obvious to them, as it was to me and Harry?

Pass something! Look how it worked with Trump. People didn't even like the tax cuts. Your traditional conservatives saying, "Wait, they're not paid for. We don't do this, on the Right," and it still gave him a boost. Why does that not play as logic, right now, with the Left?

Better minds, next.








CUOMO: I want you to know that when you complain about something, it doesn't fall on deaf ears. Many of you say, "Will you stop talking about Trump? You know, why? Why do you have?" May I make an argument? Trump matters.


Trust me. There is no pleasure, in talking about the former president, not for me. But he is the one that almost half of Congress seems to follow. And because, not only is he the leader, but it's how he is leading.

He is all-in, on chaos. Listen.


TRUMP: They're destroying our country. Our country will not survive this. Our country will not survive.


CUOMO: The guy just said January 6 was a hoax, and he's talking about what threatens the existence, the survivability of this country?

And you have to see what he's doing, because they're all doing it - not all. Many of them are doing it now, the awful, ineffable "They," meaning anyone, who's not with him.

And despite losing, in epic fashion, he lives a lie that lingers, despite it failing, every test, ever fueled by poisoned passion, but never proof. His lawyers always knew it. State-by-state, officials, in his own party, knew it, and know it. Even the fugazi Cyber Ninjas now know it.

But do you hear that? That is the sordid silence of almost half Congress. And because they refuse, to call out Arizona's echo of the obvious, the lies linger, and even grow, more accepted, every day, look, to the point where a majority, that's not in-party, now no longer have confidence in the core of our system of government.

If you don't believe that elections, reflect the will of the people, and should be acted upon, what do we have? Is that selling "America First?" Or is that America at her worst? And all just to get power back from the Democrats? What will be left?

It is in this gangrenous, you know, this just gangrene group that Liz Cheney stands out, not because of what she's saying, but the fact that she's the only one saying it.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The alternative cannot be a man, who doesn't believe in the rule of law, and who violated his oath of office.


CUOMO: Now, here's the thing. She's not the only one, on the Right, who thinks it. Many, in my business, are often told, off the record, how bad Trump is that he's like a bad rash. But the base, "Whoa, you know, I have." Book after book keeps telling us that Trumpers, like Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, they know the danger. That's why you're not shocked to hear so-called Republicans say one thing, in public, but something else in private.


CHENEY: The argument that you often hear is that if you do something that's perceived as against Trump, that you'll put yourself in political peril.


CUOMO: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

Now, that is commonly misattributed to Edmund Burke, a century ago, in England, but so on point that JFK adapted it, here, in the 60s. And it matters as much, and as true, germane and relevant today.

This is a warning to Right and Left. Democrats better realize that fighting themselves, does not look like robust debate. It looks like weakness, to a country that was promised better.

2022 is coming, and with it, a wave of Re-Trump-licans willing to do anything to regain power, now aided by state legislatures, racing to spread distrust, about the last election, changing laws, to affect the next one, including redrawing electoral maps, in a way that makes a mockery of majority rule.

Will the Right wake up to the Faustian bargain it is making with a malignant man and mentality?

Will the Democrats wake up and realize any bargain that gives people, even some of what is wildly popular, is better than nothing?

Or will the rest of us awaken to a reality that irrevocably abandons the promise of America?

Let's talk consequences of a fractured Democratic Party with Van Jones. What are they going to do this week? What do I not get about why they think that this is OK? A better mind, next.








CUOMO: Let's take a listen to the Democratic state of play right now.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We will vote for both. But we need to actually get the reconciliation bill done.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): You've got infrastructure, an historic once-in-a-century. There's no reason why we shouldn't pass that right away.


CUOMO: Whoop!

Meanwhile, this is the threat they're facing.


TRUMP: Because they cheat on the elections. They don't need votes. They cheat on the elections.


CUOMO: The man will lie, and stop at nothing. Are the Democrats playing like that's what they're playing against?

Let's bring in a better mind, Van Jones, the one and only.

Good to see you.


CUOMO: Am I missing something?


JONES: Well, listen, I think it's a healthy debate. I know, right now, it looks - people are biting their nails. It's a tough week. But the progressives have a point.

The policies that progressives have been fighting for are wildly popular, insanely popular, and they have the opportunity to get more done. And when you have that moment, you know, in politics, you have that moment, you want to get all you can, out of it.

People keep saying, "Well, just compromise, compromise." I understand why you say that. At the same time, every dollar they back off of could be grandma that doesn't get a hearing aid, could be a toddler that doesn't go to Pre-K.

The idea that they're fighting for are so important for ordinary people, that it's hard to tell them, "Hey, just sit down, shut up, back off. Let the moderates have their way." And so, I think, what you, forget, is the moderates actually have the unpopular positions, because they are less enthusiastic, about some of these programs.

And the progressives, for once, actually have the country, on their side, according to the polling data. So, that's why they, I think, want to stick it out, and try to get all they can, while they can get it.

CUOMO: I'm with you. Optics, though, optics, they should have been doing this in quiet. And they're not. But if you look at the - what we learned, Trump didn't get the tax cut that he wanted. People didn't like the tax cut. But he's still got a boost.

If people get $1 trillion, of spending, on those, there're going to be a lot of grandmas, without hearing aids, to use your metaphor, but there'll be a lot more with them than would have been otherwise.

Do you think the Democrats get punished, if it's $1 trillion, I'm just throwing the number out there, instead of $3.5 trillion, you think they get punished?

JONES: No, I don't think that they get punished.

And look, first of all, you have Nancy Pelosi. And I believe, at the end of the day, you're going to see the bills getting passed, are getting passed the right way, in the right order.

But it is in fact the case that you're looking at a Democratic Party that is watching people come home, from Afghanistan, after 850 gazillion dollars being spent, I don't even know - nobody can count how much money was spent over there, and there's not a positive outcome.

And so, when those are the numbers that you're talking about, and now you have a chance, to spend real money, on real people's problems, I think the progressives are right to stand their ground.

I think it's the moderates, on this case, who need to be looking in the mirror, because why is the progressives are going to be blamed, if we don't get across the finish line, when the moderates, in this case, actually have the less popular position?

CUOMO: I agree with you. I think I know what I'm missing. I just figured it out. That's supposed to be your job!

Here's what I'm missing. You are talking progressives, and centrists, or moderates. And you're not wrong. But I'm just talking Democrats. See, I don't know that the people watching see the interior factions, the way you do.

JONES: Sure.

CUOMO: And rightly so, Van. But everything you've said, is 100 percent accurate, and backed up by the polling data. You're right, OK? But I don't think that's what people see.


CUOMO: People see, "Are you going to do something for me or not?" Because these guys, on the other side, they are desperate to get back in power.

JONES: Yes, well look, I mean, in some ways, it's kind of like the "Game of Thrones," like the "White Walkers are coming!" You know what I mean? You have a much bigger threat than whatever is going on at King's Landing. And so yes, I understand that you've got that bigger threat.

But I think that when I talk to progressives, both grassroots, and in office, what they're saying is, the bigger the package that we can get, across the finish line, the stronger we are ultimately. Yes, you may not like the optics. You may not like the back-and-forth.

By the way, don't forget it. On the other side, when the Tea Party was trying to get the Republican Party, to move, they were a lot more fractious, a lot more belligerent. I mean, they were, bringing out the torches against their own people.

Yes, there's some back-and-forth. It's an unhappy kind of family.

CUOMO: This is not that.

JONES: This is not that.

CUOMO: This is not that. But remember why you guys got elected. You guys got elected because nobody wanted that anymore.

JONES: Sure, sure.

CUOMO: Now, it was a little bit of a lighter situation, on the congressional side than with Biden.

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: But they believed that you guys could do better, in terms of getting things done. You say, Pelosi. Is she going to be the Arya Stark of this situation?

JONES: I think--

CUOMO: You see her coming flying over the top, when Jon Snow doesn't know what he's doing, and is going to finish this off? Is that what you're saying?

JONES: I believe that, in my heart of hearts, do not bet against Nancy Pelosi, under any circumstances. She will get this figured out. She will get this thing done. She'll get us across the finish line.

But I think it's healthy for this party to have to look at the fact, we do have power in the hands of the Democrats. Are we going to do all we can, while we can, to help as many people as we can? Or are we going to let a few voices, on the moderate side of the party, in this case, have us back, all the way off, without even having the argument? I respect both sides. I respect. The tone of this argument, I think, has been good. People are biting their nails. They should be, because there is a threat here that you don't get it done, but which is going to get done.


And a month from now, looking back, you're going to say, "We got past the debt crisis. We got both these infrastructure pieces done. And Democrats can deliver." That's a much stronger place to be, next year, looking down the barrel of the Republican Party, than the alternative.

CUOMO: Percentage chance that that's where you are?

JONES: With Nancy Pelosi, I'd say 100 percent.

CUOMO: Remember, you're from California. Remember the Raiders motto, "Just win, baby!"

JONES: Just win, baby!

CUOMO: This is your chance. This is your chance. Let's see how you do. Van Jones, always a pleasure.


CUOMO: Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

CUOMO: Developments in the Petito case, why the search for Gabby Petito's missing fiancee is being scaled back. And why did the FBI go back to the home of Brian Laundrie, the fiancee?

Questions we'll tackle with a brilliant legal mind, next.








CUOMO: Boy, what a memorial that the Petitos and the Schmidts had, for Gabby, trying to remember what she meant, in life, and what she can mean, going forward.

[21:50:00] And now, the focus is going to be on finding the fiancee. And there's new audio that sheds light, on what police officers knew, before they stopped Brian Laundrie and Gabby, in Moab, Utah, on August 12.

Now, we already knew, and I'll remind you, someone called 911, to report a domestic dispute, involving the couple, where a woman saw Brian, strike, Gabby.

After that, what did Dispatch tell the officers before the stop? Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The female who got hit, they both, the male and the female, both got into the van and headed north.

RP (reporting party) states seeing a male, hit a female - domestic, he got into a white Ford Transit van.


CUOMO: Isn't that called an assault? The City of Moab is now launching an investigation, into the officer's handling of the dispute.

Now remember, when people saw the tape, they found remarkable, if you go look it up online, how nice the officer seemed to be, in the situation. And it was a compliment. Well, now how should it be seen?

The manhunt for Laundrie is in its second week. Police haven't found any trace. All we know is that FBI agents returned to the Florida home, Laundrie shared with his parents, on Sunday, asking for items that might have his DNA. Why?

Joey Jackson is with me now.

Let's go in reverse order, brother. And thanks for being with me tonight. Why look for DNA?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, I think there's three reasons, Chris, that, they're going to look for that.

Number one, you have to attach the DNA, to the actual crime scene itself, so you want a match there.

Number two, let's remember that they're looking for him, right? And so, in the event that he's found, without identification, you're going to pinpoint match that it is him, saying the alternative that he is not found, he's in a demised state, or some other state, they'll be able to match the DNA there.

So, to the extent the DNA is all about identification, those are the three primary purposes, in which the DNA is being sought. They'll have a sample, and they'll be able to attach it, in each of those instances.

CUOMO: Witness says, to an officer, "I saw the guy hit the woman. They got in the van, and they left."

Officer finds the van, stops them. The guy does not say that that didn't happen. He makes it a little bit more about her hitting him.

Why don't you have probable cause for an arrest?

JACKSON: I think you may have probable cause for an arrest.

Listen, I lock horns with police officers, every day, right? It's the nature of my job, attacking them, for their investigation, or lack thereof, attacking them for their observations, attacking them for what they do, and not do.

In this instance, however, we have to remember, right, we blame the police, because they make an arrest, and they're heavy-handed. We blame the police, because they don't make an arrest, by use of their discretion. And so, police are out there making discretionary calls. I think they could have made the call to arrest.

But I just want to be clear. In this instance, the person I blame is Mr. Laundrie, right? Innocent till proven guilty. Everyone's entitled to that presumption. But the evidence is piling up as to him.

So, whether the police arrested him that day, or some subsequent day, if he's heck-bent on doing something untoward, inappropriate, illegal, or killing someone, it's going to occur. And that's what it looks like presumptively happened here.

So, with respect to the police's conduct, we can second guess it, third guess it, fourth guess it. They did not make the arrest. This is what occurred. And he's the one to blame. And he's the one responsible, allegedly, not the police officers in Moab.

CUOMO: Instead, what they said was, "Hey, you two guys need to be separated, for a night." They put them into different hotels. And then that was it.

Why ask for the DNA now, by the way, just to go back to that first forensic point?

JACKSON: Yes, I think they're closing in. I think they're clear to that. And remember, there's a grand jury investigation, going on, at this point.

What does that mean? It means that a grand jury has convened, again, consisting of those 23 people, not deciding guilt or innocence, just establishing there's reasonable cause, to believe a crime was committed, and that the subject of that investigation committed it. That's Mr. Laundrie.

We know that just a simple majority can vote out an indictment. We also know that they did vote out an indictment, that is the grand jury, as to that one count of the electronic (ph) fraud.

We know they didn't go, that is, authorities and prosecutors, to a grand jury to get an indictment for debit fraud. We know they're in front of that grand jury, presenting significant evidence, to build up to the murder. So, you're going to want to present that DNA for that grand jury purpose, which is another reason.

One, the crime scene issue. Two, if you find him, you identify him. Three, if there are remains, you could identify that. Four, get that information, before the grand jury, and make a connection, with respect to what occurred, and with regard to who actually is responsible.

CUOMO: People I was watching, during CNN, tonight, and other places, who know this park, say they think it would be very hard, to be in there, this long.

JACKSON: Yes, I mean, I think that's a valid point. If you look at--

CUOMO: We don't know he ever went in there. We just know his car was there.


JACKSON: That's correct. But they have to, of course, look, when they're investigating, and they have to pursue every single lead, they possibly can, and they have to, if they believe that this is the place, look for him.

But if you look at the terrain, the snakes, the alligators, et cetera, it could potentially be problematic. They're scaling back. They're following the leads as they know them. And what their thoughts are, is either A, Chris, he's alive somewhere, and he's there, or B, perhaps he's someplace else, or C, he's not around at all.

CUOMO: Two families, two people, lives ruined forever, Gabby, never coming back.


CUOMO: Thank you, Joey Jackson. Appreciate you. Speak to you again soon.

JACKSON: Always. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, we'll be right back with the handoff.







(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Thank you for watching.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" with its big star D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is the first time in, gosh, months that I haven't seen you. I didn't see you the entire weekend, Chris Cuomo.

CUOMO: My loss!

LEMON: I know. You were like "Thank goodness, I don't have to carry that one, this weekend, and pay for all the bills!"