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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Dares GOP to Sue Over Vaccine Mandate: "Have At It"; Second Passenger Flight Departs Kabul with Americans on Board; Thousands of Documents Turned Over to House Select Committee; Giuliani Associate Pleads Guilty in Campaign Contribution Case; America's Evolution After the Attacks on September 11, 2001; China Cracks Down on Businesses, Accuses Celebrities of Disloyalty. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 16:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Earlier today, we almost got a presidential come at me bro.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden standing firm after a slew of Republican governors say they're going to challenge in court his new vaccine mandates. One even saying he'll fight President Biden to the gates of hell over them.

A confession in court from a Giuliani goon. What that could mean for the president -- former president's former lawyer.

Plus, the 9/11 generation. A little girl who was at a daycare inside the Pentagon when the plane hit is now a grown up second lieutenant. She will join us along with her mother who is a brigadier general who witnessed that explosion. They will share their memories 20 years later.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with our health lead and President Biden's message to Republican governors looking to challenge his new mandate on businesses to either test or vaccinate their employees. Biden saying, quote, "Have it."

The president's new policies will affect about two-thirds of the American workforce or roughly 100 million Americans, forcing federal employees and federal contractors and healthcare workers, all of them to get vaccinated, even private businesses with more than 100 employees will need to make sure their workers get weekly testing or get the shot.

For context, 75 percent of U.S. adults already have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Biden is talking specifically to the roughly 27 percent of eligible, unvaccinated Americans who are the ones keeping this pandemic going. And even though other vaccines or diseases such as measles or mumps have long been mandated throughout the United States, the fallout of the Biden proposal was swift and predictable, a flurry of Republican governors already promising legal fights, calling Biden's announcement unlawful, gross government overreach, even though many of the same governors are telling schools and businesses that they cannot impose mask mandates even if they want to.

This all comes as a new CNN poll finds Biden's approval for handling the pandemic is still over 50 percent, though it has dropped by ten percentage points since April.

And as CNN's Nick Watt reports for us now, COVID deaths are still averaging more than 1,500 a day in the United States, which is a 9 percent jump from just last week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So said the president, announcing sweeping vaccine mandates with a testing opt-out for millions of American workers and cue some of those elected officials he's talking about.

Texas is already working to halt this power grab, governor of Texas. We will fight them to the gates of hell, governor of South Carolina.

Some experts say the president didn't go far enough.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: I don't think you should have an opt-out. I don't think you should have an opt-out where people get tested every week. That's a leaky system.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: Myself, I would make it vaccinate or not. But he was trying to be moderate.

WATT: The majority of American workers support vaccine mandates in their workplace, and deep in this delta-driven surge, the country now averaging over 1 million new cases a week and over 10,000 dead a week. And the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die, according to a new CDC study. Tennessee now has the highest infection rate in the country and among the lowest vaccination rates.

DR. TODD RICE, CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: We have to do something to try and increase our vaccination numbers, and anything that we can do I think is beneficial. 90 percent of our patients in the hospital are unvaccinated.

WATT: Here in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The item passes, thank you.

(APPLAUSE) WATT: Unanimity on the school board. Students 12 and up have got to be

fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by new years.

JACKIE GOLDBERG, LAUSD BOARD MEMBER: Polio was ravaging Los Angeles as I was growing up. And you know what stopped it? Vaccinating every single student.

WATT: Will it work? Well, up in San Francisco, 90 percent of eligible students are now vaccinated, and zero campus outbreaks since schools opened mid-August.


WATT: Now, meantime, that game of legal ping pong continues down in Florida over whether school districts are allowed to mandate masks. The latest turn, an appeals court judge has just ruled in favor of the governor who does not want schools and districts to have that authority.

The governor reacted, "I will continue to fight for parents' rights." Yeah, not everyone sees it that way -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

And, Kaitlan, President Biden today seemed pretty confident that his proposed mandates will survive legal challenges from Republicans.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he did, Jake, because it hasn't been 24 hours since he unveiled those new proposals yesterday, and, of course, right away, you saw several Republican governors saying that they believe that this is overreach, that he has new measures that he wants to put in place are unconstitutional.

But when the president was asked today about some of these threats from Republican governors to sue over these new measures that the president wants to take to vaccinate more Americans, he seemed to brush it off.


BIDEN: Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that -- particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. This is -- we're playing for real here. This isn't a game.


COLLINS: The Press Secretary Jen Psaki said they were expecting a lot of the pushback that they got in response to what the president laid out yesterday, Jake. But it's not clear how these lawsuits will move forward if they do actually move forward, because we're still waiting on the labor department to actually issue this rule. And what Jen just made clear in our briefing a few moments ago is that a lot of the details of what that rule is going to look like are still influx as they are crafting it, including when it's going to go into effect, who exactly will be paying for the tests if it's a company that decides to have employees who are tested, is it the business, is it the employee?

A lot of the details like that are still something we're waiting to see from the Labor Department -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan, stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN's Gloria Borger and also Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, let's take a step back and acknowledge the world that we're in. About 25, 26 percent of eligible adults in this country are not getting vaccinated. They are swimming in the sea of disinformation from MAGA media, from Republican politicians, from individuals like Robert Kennedy Jr. and this -- it's understandable how frustrated President Biden seemed yesterday. It's understandable. It's not even the first time we've heard a politician express that.

Listen to this -- this is Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama when she said it's time to start blaming unvaccinated folks. It was actually the Biden White House that took a different tone. This is a couple months ago. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I don't think our role is to place blame.

REPORTER: Is that a sign that perhaps the federal government should step in and issue mandates? And if not, are you putting the needs of unvaccinated people ahead of the needs of vaccinated people?

PSAKI: I think the question here, one, that's not the role of the federal government. That is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take. That certainly is appropriate.


TAPPER: So obviously the White House is now singing a different tune. I guess my question for you, Dr. Schaffner, because you are in the heart of it. You're in Tennessee. How do you reach these people?

Is Kay Ivey saying it's time to start blaming them? Joe Biden, President Biden expressing exasperation? What's the best way to convince them to get vaccinated?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSIOTY MEDICAL CENTER: Yeah, Jake. If we knew that, we would have done it some time ago. But I still think you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. I think local people who are trusted have to reach out to their neighbors and their friends -- the business community, the religious community, and of course local politicians also. We need more of that. And, in addition, we're now calling people to serve their country.

We're drafting them. We're asking them to step forward and participate in this fight against COVID. It's like we're drafting an army. You all have to serve your country as well as yourselves. We're asking you to roll up your sleeves and get vaccinated.

TAPPER: So, Gloria Borger, just to remind people again, the Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said a couple months ago, it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks. But today, she is one of the Republican governors pushing back on what President Biden is proposing.

She tweeted: President Biden has missed the mark. His outrageous overreaching mandates will no doubt be challenged in the courts.

She's one of at least 15 Republican governors who are calling Biden's move government overreach. I guess the other question I have for you is, 75 percent of adults already have at least one shot. I don't doubt even that this proposed mandates will be broadly popular.

What do you see this, beyond the science and health, what is the political debate here really about?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the political debate is the one we've seen, the same one we've seen in the past. And the Republicans have decided to make this a question of big government, big brother, overreach.


And some Republican governors like Kay Ivey once stood up and said, as she said also earlier, folks are supposed to have common sense, you need to get vaccinated. And then she said, you know, blame the folks who are unvaccinated.

And I think that's the debate we're having now. This is going to continue into the next election, and the Republicans are playing to that base. And Democrats, in a way, are just saying the president is saying we've got to push forward because this is going to affect everything. This is going to affect the health of our citizenry and our economy. And so the Biden folks know what they're facing. The poll numbers are going down. They get it. And they have to explain why they're doing it and why they believe they're right.

And this is a fight that is going to continue in every arena. And this is just one more of those big government overreach, too many taxes, et cetera, et cetera. It's the same thing, different issue.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, when asked how these policies would be enforced, the White House COVID Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said this. Take a listen.


JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: If a workplace refuses to follow the standard, the OSHA fines can be quite significant. Enforcement actions includes fines up to $13,600 per violation.


TAPPER: I know they're still putting meat on the bone when's it comes to how this is going to work. But who is going to enact that fine? Is it going to be OSHA? Where does the money go? Who's going to enforce it? Do we know?

COLLINS: Those are a lot of questions, Jake, that are still unanswered. And also, the infrastructure could potentially be a really big enforcement process of keeping up with who is vaccinated, who needs to be tested, have they been tested this week. OSHA is what would be overseeing that, we believe. It's the labor department who's actually crafting this rule, but OSHA is trying to move it forward and when they're going to unveil it in the coming weeks, we'll know more about those details.

But those are big questions for businesses because the White House is hoping that this rule will, in effect, just be so difficult essentially to enforce that it will encourage companies to just get everyone vaccinated, that that will be the choice that they're making. Because at a minimum they're saying this is the bare minimum of be vaccinated or get tested.

But I think there are some companies that are going to have questions about this because then it's what do you do with your workforce if you have people who refuse to get vaccinated? Those are going to be big questions for companies that do like this and want to move forward with it, but it depends on what their workforce looks like.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all for joining. Appreciate it.

A promising sign in Afghanistan. A second commercial flight has left Kabul. Who was on it? Will more flights follow? Stay with us on that.

And thousands of documents have been turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Should any specific lawmakers be worried?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead now, promising images out of Afghanistan. A second passenger flight departing today from the Kabul airport with the National Security Council confirming that American citizens and American legal permanent residents were on board that flight. On Thursday, the first international passenger flight took off carrying more than 100 foreign nationals also including Americans. But still, the U.S. State Department says at least 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan and want to get out.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now from the State Department. And, Kylie, with at least 100 American citizens still left in

Afghanistan, not to mention legal permanent residents, Afghan allies, et cetera, are more flights expected to leave Kabul in the coming days and weeks?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. The State Department says they are hopeful that that will continue to happen. They're not putting a fine point on when these flights are going to happen, how many Americans they expect on the flight because this is a largely fluid situation. We've only seen two flights leave this Kabul airport for Doha in recent days.

But in this week, during this week in the last six days or so, there have been 35 Americans who have left Afghanistan. There were 19 Americans on the flight that left today. But significantly, Jake, we have just learned from the White House press secretary that all of the incoming flights to the United States with Afghans on them have been paused, and they have been paused because there were four cases of Afghans with measles found here in the United States.

Now, Jen Psaki said that the pause was recommended by the CDC. We don't know when these flights are going to resume. But that is significant because there are still thousands of Afghans at U.S. bases in Germany and Qatar waiting to come to this country.

TAPPER: We had on one of the Digital Dunkirk individuals yesterday talking about just how incredibly challenging this is logistically. How is the State Department coordinating these flights getting Americans on board?

ATWOOD: Well, right now the state department is really focused on this one way out of the country. This is the Qatar Airways flight that we have seen. But they are also coordinating, they are starting to formalize that coordination with these outside private groups who have been involved and tried to do their best to be involved.

At times, that has been a tense relationship between the State Department and these outside groups, with the outside groups saying the state isn't doing enough to work with them. The State Department saying privately they are complicating the efforts, that they are trying to carry out here.

The bottom line is that they are getting to a place now where the State Department is going to be working more formally with those groups. But we should note it also came after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley met with some of these outside groups who were saying that they wanted to be more formally involved.

Now, the State Department is going to be doing that. We'll bring more details to you as we get up.

TAPPER: It seems like good news.

Kylie Atwood, thanks so much.

Join us this Sunday for a CNN special report "America's Longest War: What Went Wrong in Afghanistan". I'm going to post questions to most of America's generals who oversaw the 20-year.


That's at Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, a Giuliani associate whose name you may remember from Trump's first impeachment. He pleads guilty in a campaign scheme. What might that mean for Giuliani and former President Trump? That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, a Washington favorite called a document dump. The select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection and House of Representatives just confirmed that the committee received thousands and thousands of pages of documents, and the committee may want more, lots more.

Let's go to Capitol Hill and CNN's Ryan Nobles.

And, Ryan, the committee just issued a statement about what was handed over. What else are they saying?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not telling us what's in those documents, but they say they've received thousands of documents from different government agencies and social media companies related to their investigation into the January 6th insurrection. And even though the committee says they are happy with the cooperation that they're getting from these agencies and from the social media companies, they say they want more.

In a statement on Friday to CNN, the committee said, quote, the majority of the social media companies are cooperating with the probe. However, we need to receive much more information, and the select committee will use whatever tools are at our disposal to get the records we are seeking.

And what they're saying without actually coming out and saying it is that they're prepared to use their subpoena power if they have to, to get this information from both the agencies and from the social media companies. Jake, we should also point out that in the statement, they talked about their request from the national archives. This would be the information that they're seeking to obtain from the Trump White House.

They point out that the archives are working with them, but there are some procedural hoops they have to jump through. This likely means that a fight over executive privilege is about to happen between the committee and both the Biden and Trump White Houses.

TAPPER: And, Ryan, they don't have an unlimited staff. This is a lot of material to sift through. How much longer will this make the investigation last?

NOBLES: Well, Jake, the resolution that created this committee specifically did not give it a deadline to complete its work. And there's a reason for that. It's because they have so much information to sift through. This is just the beginning of this process. The committee has said in the past that they're not going to through all these documents, and that will lead to witness testimony, subpoenas to bring people in front of the committee.

It could take some time before they draw a conclusion. And the big question is, Jake, can they get that work wrapped up before the 2022 midterms? That remains an open question -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Also in our politics lead today, a guilty plea today from one of the shady characters who have been working with Rudy Giuliani before the 2020 presidential election, as Giuliani was trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani denies any wrongdoing.

But today, Igor Fruman confessed having broken campaign finance laws.

CNN's Kara Scannell is in New York where Fruman went to court today.

Tell us more about this particular case, refresh our memories.


Well, you know, you think Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, they were synonymous with Giuliani and those efforts in Ukraine. But Fruman pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. In court earlier today, Fruman entered a guilty plea to one count of soliciting donations from a foreign national.

And what prosecutors allege what he and others did is raise a million dollars from a Russian and use most of that money to donate to local campaigns where they hoped to get a cannabis business off the ground.

Now, Fruman said in court today that he deeply regretted his actions. He faces as much as five years in prison when he is sentenced in January. But a key thing here, Jake, is that Fruman is not cooperating with the government. He will not be helping them in their investigation into Giuliani's activities in Ukraine where Fruman had a front row seat.

The prosecutors, some of the same very prosecutors are still investigating Giuliani and those activities in Ukraine, scrutinizing whether he violated foreign lobbying laws when he was involved in those efforts.

Now, Giuliani has vigorously denied any wrongdoing. He said that he was working for one and only one person, the former President Donald Trump. Now, the investigation into Giuliani is still ongoing. The FBI had raided his home and office in April. They collected 18 electronic devices, and a review of those materials is still ongoing -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell in New York, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a military family is called to serve. How the heroes who save children at the Pentagon daycare on 9/11 inspired their lives 20 years later today.



TAPPER: In our national lead, September 11, 2001, tomorrow marks 20 years since that single day changed so many lives forever. That day started the war on terror when then President George W. Bush vowed to defeat every terrorist group of global reach that they changed air travel forever after 19 hijackers took over cockpits and sent commercial planes on suicide missions.

And that day changed, well, so many families, including my next two guests, Second Lieutenant Hanna Born, who was only 3 years old on 9/11. She and her infant sister were at daycare inside the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. Her mother, Dana Born, is a retired Air Force brigadier general. She was working just across the Potomac River at Bolling Air Force Base in D.C.

I want to talk about service and I want to talk about that day. But first, General, I have to start. I'm a dad, I can't even imagine your feeling from across the river and you see this explosion at the Pentagon, your two little girls are there.

BRIG. GEN. DANA BORN (RET.), MOTHER OF DAUGTHER IN PENTAGON DAYCARE ON 9/11: Yeah, Jake, it's still a very raw emotions come through and a lot of mixed emotions. And yet at the same time we train for that. I was a lieutenant colonel, so pretty much 18 years of service.

And in that time frame, I thought about three things. First was we had people in the pentagon, and I had a first sergeant that jumped and went there.


So he was our eyes and ears, called my husband and said, honey, the Pentagon's been hit. He said I'm on my way so I could trust that they were going to be hopefully rescued, although we didn't know.

And then, finally, I actually had to do the mission, which we had been training for and never thought we'd have to. And I had great young men and women who stepped up and surpassed expectations. But, yes, it was mind-racing and lots of emotions and mixed emotions on that day.

TAPPER: And thankfully, both of your daughters were okay.

Lieutenant, do you remember anything from that day? You were 3.

2ND LT. HANNA BORN, RESCUED FROM PENTAGON DAYCARE ON 9/11: I was young so most of my memories are a bit fragmented where I have bits and pieces that are really vivid. And others that are maybe a bit blurry in my time lapse. But I think the common theme across most of my memories is just overwhelming confusion as I struggled to process what was happening. And on top of that just sensory overload with the sights and sounds and smells of the day. But I think regardless of how young you were then or how many years

have passed when you have a sensory experience like that, it's a memory that never leaves you.

TAPPER: Yeah, I can't even imagine, confusing for anybody, much less a 3-year-old.

So, a few days after your husband who's also a general, we should point out, went on his frantic search, found your daughters. He went back to the daycare to thank workers and to ask them how they were able to move so many of these young kids and the confusion, some of them were in cribs to this remote area. It turns out there were a lot of unsung heroes that day at the Pentagon.

D. BORN: There were. And the way he retells the story. The care providers were being told the Pentagon daycare was going to close. So they were kind of getting their pink slips.

And he said how in the world did you get 100 plus infants and toddlers to a remote site so beautifully secure with, like, guards protecting them a half a mile a way? And he said as soon as the plane hit, there were people -- she said a marine was the first she saw. And my husband is a retired marine, so he likes that part of the story

But several people who came and just helped. They said, how can we help? And they lifted them and took them all to a circling of the wagons. And they were in a peaceful spot in the middle of chaos when he found them.

TAPPER: And, Lieutenant, I mean, tragically, you had classmates who lost parents that day.

H. BORN: Yes, sir. I think that's one of the things that has always stuck with my sister and I about this story is as much as our story is unique in our proximity to the attacks, it's also not unique because it's not our story, it's a nation story. And recognizing how blessed our family was that day and also in the 20 years since is something we keep in mind in our service in just how we can honor and remember the lives lost and so many families who are changed.

TAPPER: So six weeks after 9/11 your family got to celebrate your belated, understandably, fourth birthday, instead of a Dora the Explorer theme, it was changed to, you insisted on an American flag- themed party. You became known as the little patriot. Is that what led to you two where you are now as a second lieutenant?

H. BORN: Yes, sir. In a sense I think so. I think it was less about the flag as a physical object and more that I understood it to be a sense of community. It seemed like in the weeks after 9/11 everywhere you went there was an American flag on display. And I saw that as a visual indication of people communicating their support for one another and how we were going to come together and grow and heal together.

And so that extrinsic focus in supporting others is what inspired my sister and I now to want to serve in a position that will better others and be part of something bigger than ourselves.

TAPPER: Yeah, your other daughter is --

D. BORN: She's a midshipman at the Naval Academy right now, in her third year.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's incredible.

And you don't have to call me sir, I have not earned anything. You can just call me Jake.

General, in the days and weeks since 9/11, we saw a lot of the best of this country, not just patriotism, but people coming together, people helping each other, people being there for each other, celebrating first responders, a sense of unity.

Is that gone, do you think? It feels very far removed from where we are today.

D. BORN: It's one of the things that I hope that 9/11 does is takes us back to that time where there is that sense of unity where we are coming together in that common purpose. And I would like to believe that purveyor of hope that we can get back to that. And that's a way that we can honor those that paid the ultimate price that day and 20 years since.

TAPPER: And what did this tradition of service come on your family.


You're a general. Your husband's a general. You have a midshipman. You're a lieutenant.

I mean, do you have family going back centuries that served? Where did it come from?

D. BORN: On her father's side, on the paternal side, we do go back to the Civil War. And --

TAPPER: On the right side, I hope.


D. BORN: And his father, as a matter of fact, we lost both patriarchs this COVID season. But he was a World War II Navy pilot, one of the last single-wingers flew airships.

And then my father who we also lost this year was a Coast Guard radioman just after World War II. So, there is some legacy of service in our family.

TAPPER: Did you lose them both to COVID?

D. BORN: My father-in-law, we did lose to COVID in an early wave in a nursing home. And my father was to complications of Alzheimer's.

TAPPER: I'm so sorry. What a horrible year.

So, you're in the Air Force. Your younger sister's in the naval academy.

Big question, who is the family going to root for when the Navy plays the Air Force tomorrow in Annapolis? I mean, are you --

H. BORN: I think you have a bit of bias here today. We'll obviously say Air Force. But my sister and my dad will be on the Navy side tomorrow.

TAPPER: But are you able to watch a game like that in a healthy environment?

H. BORN: We'll talk afterwards.


TAPPER: Well, thank you both so much for sharing your story. I'm so glad that you're okay, that your sister's okay. And thanks to the whole family for your service. Appreciate it.

D. BORN: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Tune into CNN tomorrow morning for special coverage. Wolf Blitzer will be in Washington. I'll be in New York City. We'll remember "9/11, 20 Years Later". That starts at 8:00 a.m. and tomorrow night, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, H.E.R., Brad Paisley, Maroon 5 and Common will join me for a special tribute for the families of 9/11. "Shine a Light," that's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Saturday evening.

Coming up, China seeing lots of red these days as their communist leader takes controversial steps to change everyday life including going after some celebrities.

Stay with us.



MADDOW: In our world lead right now, contrasting views about a 90- minute phone call between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. This is the second time the two have spoken since President Biden entered the White House, although they met extensively when Biden was vice president.

This afternoon, the White House described the call between the two leaders as candid in tone but not lecturing or condescending, and that human rights and the origin of the coronavirus were among the topics discussed.

This sounds quite a bit different from the version we're hearing from Beijing. They say President Xi told Biden that U.S. policy towards China has, quote, caused serious difficulties and relations and runs counter to the best interests of both countries and to the world. The tough talk fits right in with steps President Xi has taken recently to assert Chinese nationalism at home and abroad.

And as CNN's David Culver reports for us now, this harkens back to past crackdowns on western influence.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China's ruling communist party, having just celebrated its 100th birthday, is implementing a series of drastic policies, upending everything from multibillion dollar businesses to pop culture.

JEAN-PIERRE CABESTAN, RESEARCH PROFESSOR, HONG KONG BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: It's back to socialism. And the party, I think, wants to remain ahead of the curve.

CULVER: Socialism with Chinese characteristics, as it's called here, the parties returning to, quote, serving the people led by an increasingly powerful Xi Jinping.

DALI YANG, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: He really wants a disciplined regime, a disciplined people all dedicated to the party, in many ways, and making China strong.

CULVER: And it means weakening some of the country's biggest tycoons. In recent months, Beijing has targeted some of China's most successful companies, imposing harsh regulations and fines on ride-hailing Didi, and tech giants Alibaba and Tencent. It's coincided with restrictions on materialism and the flaunting of luxurious living.

President Xi has gone a step further calling for a redistribution of wealth to close a widening income gap.

CABESTAN: It means that businesses are going to be much more under the control of the government and the party. It means that the rich are going to be also much more under check.

CULVER: The crackdown has also extended to Chinese celebrities, those accused of tax evasion or simply being unpatriotic and sometimes even without explanations not only canceled but also erased from Chinese social media and online streaming platforms.

JENNIFER HSU, RESEARCH FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE: You can't get too high, you can't get too famous and you can't get too wealthy.

CULVER: Some are calling it a new cultural revolution, harkening back to the '60s and '70s when then communist leader Mao Zedong led a movement to purify the party as he put it. But many say an obvious effort to reassert his control in a power struggle. It led to brutal crackdowns on free thought, mass imprisonments and death. In today's China, there is no question who's in charge.

YANG: A comment by Xi has massive consequences nowadays because the bureaucrats, the party officials today are eager to please him, are eager to follow through on his instructions nowadays.

[16:50:02]And that's actually fared also in the capital markets as well.

CULVER: And it spread into China's already heavily patrolled cyber space, from celebrity fan pages to university LGBTQ groups, profiles from past posts deleted. These policies to purify the Internet and preserve party control seeming to target any person, company, or group with suspected forward influence, most especially from the United States.

China's also challenging the U.S. for full control of strategic supplies, from electronic chips to solar panels to vaccines. It wants access to these key items unimpeded by Western nations and eventually to become self-sufficient.

Meantime, some are tapping into China's rising nationalism, winning favor by promoting patriotism, morality, and more than anything else, a communist party ideology. Starting with children as young as 6 years old with the recent introduction of a new mandatory academic subject, Xi Jinping thought.

The Chinese president already eliminated term limits in 2018, opening the door for him to rule for life.

As for the companies that are feeling growing squeeze from Beijing, they're suddenly paying it forward in a very public way, pledging to donate billions of dollars to further Xi's social causes, whether voluntary or compelled, it seems they have gotten the party's message.

In China, there is only one boss who really counts.


CULVER (on camera): Jake, the crackdowns we're seeing playing into an obvious restructuring of both social and home life, a purification of the party with the goal for both its ideology and leadership to sustain. A century after its founding right here in Shanghai -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. David Culver in Shanghai, thank you so much.

Republican governors vowing to battle President Biden's new vaccine mandate. Legal experts weigh in on whether they have a shot in court, next.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, just four days until the critical California recall election with close to 50 gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. But today, Democratic Governor Newsom taking on his toughest opponent perhaps, voter confusion.

Then, the attacks of 9/11 changed the world, especially the way we fly. But 20 years later, strong concerns that security on airplanes may still not be sufficient. And leading this hour, Republican governors promising a legal fight,

one saying he'll challenge a Biden proposal to the gates of hell. This after President Biden issued new mandates on businesses for testing or vaccines that could cover 100 million Americans. The president blaming those same Republican governors for putting American children at risk by ignoring the science and scolding the unvaccinated who have been overrun with misinformation for the current surge that is claiming 1,500 lives every day.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, the move is a significant departure for President Biden who insisted lathe last year that the coronavirus vaccine should not be mandatory.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden is defending his sweeping new vaccine mandates and brushing off Republicans accusing him of overreach.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're playing for real here.

COLLINS: Vaccines are now required for all federal employees and the labor department is drafting a rule requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to vaccinate their workforce or test them weekly.

Within hours, Republicans were already vowing to defy Biden's plan.

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: What the Biden administration is doing is government overreach, pure and simple.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: This is a president who has acknowledged in the past he does not have the authority to force this on anybody. And this order would result potentially in millions of Americans losing their jobs.

COLLINS: In his first remarks since unveiling new proposals to vaccinate more Americans, the president pushed back on GOP resistance.

BIDEN: Particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities.

COLLINS: For those threatening to sue, Biden offered these three words.

BIDEN: Have at it.

COLLINS: Still, the move is a significant shift for the president who was once hesitant to impose any mandates.

BIDEN: No, I don't think it should be mandatory. I wouldn't demand it to be mandatory. I'll do everything in my power as the president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing. COLLINS: Nine months later the pandemic is still raging out of

control. And a new CNN poll found that 56 percent of people now approve of Biden's handling of the pandemic. A ten-point drop from 66 percent in April.


COLLINS (on camera): And, Jake, there are obviously a lot of questions about what this labor department rule is going to look like. That's the rule that is going to require private companies with a hundred or more employees to either have that workforce vaccinated or have them tested at least once a week.

And that is a rule that's still being crafted. It hasn't actually been officially unveiled yet, even though you're already seeing a lot of that GOP push back. It's still being crafted at the Department of Labor. And obviously there are a lot of questions of what it will look like, how the enforcement mechanism will work, and who will pay for the test, for those who choose not to get vaccinated, the employee paying for the test is the business.

Those are still big questions. But the White House says we should learn more about that in the coming weeks once the process is already done and they do actually formally unveil it, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, what about other possible vaccine mandates? White House officials were asked multiple times.