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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pfizer: Vaccine is Safe for Children 5-11, Generated "Robust" Antibody Response; Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Insists She's a "No" Vote on $1.2 Trillion infrastructure Bill if Larger $3.5T Package Not Included; Biden's Domestic Agenda Enters Pivotal Time on Capitol Hill; Fight With the French. Right Now: Canadians Voting in Race Pushed by Prime Minister Trudeau As His Poll Numbers Drop; CNN at the Border as Almost 12,000 Migrants Wait for Processing. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 20, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Your kids' Halloween treat could be a COVID vaccine.

THE LEAD starts right now.

It's the news so many parents have been waiting for. Pfizer says its COVID vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. What you need to know, ahead.

Opening up. The U.S. makes a big move to ease international travel, but there are some confusing caveats.

Plus, France is furious with President Biden and calls a nuclear submarine deal with Australia a betrayal. How President Biden is trying to clean things up with America's oldest ally.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're keeping a close eye on the markets after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed nearly 615 points down today. Earlier today the market plunged more than 900 points after American investors were spooked by new concerns about China's economy.

But we begin with breaking news in our health lead. Moments ago, the U.S. death toll from coronavirus surpassed the total death toll during the 1918 flu pandemic. The U.S. COVID death toll is now 675,446 Americans lost to the virus. A horrific milestone.

But, today, we did get some positive news for families with elementary school-aged children. Pfizer announced that a lower dose of its COVID- 19 vaccine is safe and generates a robust antibody response for kids age 5 to 11. There are still some steps that need to be taken before the FDA's expected emergency use authorization is asserted in a matter of weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: My hope is they'll move quickly because a lot of kids are getting infected and sick. School is in session. I have a 9-year-old. My hope is he'll get his first shot by Halloween. I think we're going to be able to make that deadline.


TAPPER: COVID infections among children have risen exponentially since July as more and more kids get tested every week before going to school. Right now, more than 54 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. That's about 181 million people.

If the FDA grants emergency use authorization for kids, age 5 to 11, that would make an additional 28 million people in the U.S. eligible. Though we should note, what happens after that is up to parents. Adolescents age 12 and up, they've been eligible since May, but only 46 percent of them are fully vaccinated.

As CNN's Jason Carroll reports, we're still waiting for important details about when shots will go into these arms.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's information parents of younger children have been waiting for. Pfizer sharing data that shows its vaccine is safe for 5 to 11-year-olds and elicits a robust antibody response.

DR. TANYA, ALTMANN, PEDIATRICIAN: I think this is going to make a huge difference in the fight against COVID-19 and parents, pediatricians and teachers are waiting for this.

CARROLL: Pfizer plans to submit its data to the FDA for emergency use authorization as soon as possible. Medical experts say if all goes well, the shot could be available for 5 to 11-year-olds by Halloween.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Depending on how long the FDA takes to review the application, whether it's a four-week review or six-week review, you could have a vaccine available to children as early as probably by the end of October.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR (RET.), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: We know there are lots of cases in children but the risk of dying is still very, very low.

CARROLL: While parents wait for the FDA to look at the new Pfizer data, school districts around the country are focusing on slowing the spread of COVID in the classroom.

New York City's mayor says starting September 27th, students attending school in the city will be tested weekly for COVID-19, as opposed to biweekly.

And in the nation's capital, the mayor getting rid of the testing option and mandating all teachers, staff and child care workers must be vaccinated.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: This applies to D.C. public schools, public charter schools, private schools, parochial schools, and child care facilities.

CARROLL: San Francisco's mayor, London Breed, now at the center of a firestorm over her own mask mandates. Mayor Breed defiant after she was caught on camera not wearing a mask inside a nightclub.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO: And I was sitting with my friends, and everyone who came in there was vaccinated. So, the fact that we have turned this into a story about being maskless. No, I'm not going to sip and put my mask on, sip and put my mask on. Sip and put my mask on. Eat and put my mask on.

While I'm eating and I'm drinking, I'm going to keep my mask off. So the fact this is even a story is sad.

CARROLL: Some signs of improvement in the hardest hit parts of the country, cases in the south appear to be stabilizing.


But states such as Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina now seeing surges in cases.


CARROLL (on camera): And, Jake, late today, this development on the Pfizer front. It turns out that the Pfizer vaccine is the most administered since the FDA fully approved it about a month ago. The Pfizer vaccine now accounts for some 70 percent of all doses administered. That according to the CDC -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

Joining us live to discuss, Dr. Peter Hotez. He's co-director at the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Hotez, let's take a step back for a second. The U.S. death toll from coronavirus just passed the total number of deaths in the United States from the 1918 flu pandemic. How preventable was it for the U.S. to reach and surpass that horrific milestone?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT AT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Jake, you know, what I'm focusing right now are on the deaths that have occurred after April and May because, by April or May, any American who wanted to get vaccinated and was eligible to get vaccinated. So we've lost 100,000 Americans since April or May. Almost all of them unvaccinated, almost all of those deaths preventable. Those were unnecessary deaths.

And we're still on a terrible trajectory. The estimates are from the Institute for Health Metrics and other organizations, is another 100,000 deaths on top of that by the end of the year. So, 200,000 Americans who are needlessly going to lose their lives. We're at 2,000 deaths per day. We never should be in this place right now.

TAPPER: There is some good news today. Pfizer has promising data suggesting that a low dose of its vaccine is safe and effective for kids age 5 to 11. How crucial is it at this point in the pandemic to get shots in arms for that age group, and what is the primary purpose, do you think? Is it to stop the spread?

HOTEZ: Well, it's both. I think, first of all, the key is we're seeing so many children in this delta wave get hospitalized. So here in the south where the vaccination rates are really, really low among young people, among parents and teenagers, we're seeing high levels of hospitalizations in children's hospitals, even in pediatric ICUs because of this delta variant. So, number one, it's important to vaccinate kids in order to protect them and protect their health, prevent long COVID. But also the fact that if we could -- fully vaccinate the schools, we could really halt transmission in the schools.

So, what's happening now is kids are coming home, infecting their parents. Parents are infecting their kids. Kids are infecting each other. It's making it impossible to get our kids through the school year so vaccines would get our kids through the school year. And ultimately if we're serious about halting this epidemic in the United States, we need 85 percent to 90 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated. That means all of the adults, all of the adolescents and large numbers of young kids. I still believe we could get there. But those are the three goals that I see.

TAPPER: This vaccine trial data for Pfizer is just for kids aged 5 to 11. Why did they limit it to that age group? What's the difference between vaccinating a 4-year-old and vaccinating a 5-year-old?

HOTEZ: Well, it's not so much that, but this is pretty standard in vaccine development that we do step down studies. So you start with the adults. Then pivot to the teenagers, adolescents and then start moving to younger age groups in segments. And so 5 to 11 makes sense since these are all K through 12 school-aged kids. And then we'll look at the younger age cohorts as well.

And then the question is always going to be, how young do you think this will go? And I think there are a couple of scenarios. One, down the road, maybe a year from now, we could give this like measles vaccine or like flu vaccine, anyone over 6 months. But this is a well- tested approach to do this in stages.

TAPPER: Dr. Hotez, stand by for a minute, I want to quickly turn to the Biden administration's plan to ease travel restrictions on all fully vaccinated foreign visitors flying into the United States. That will start in November. If you plan on driving, however, across the Canadian or Mexican borders, you might still be out of look.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

And, Priscilla, explain this to me because I don't understand it. Why allow people to fly into the U.S. if they're vaccinated but not allow people who are vaccinated to drive across the border? PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: This has been the question among

lobbyists, lawmakers and residents of border towns. What the administration has to say is that they are fully guided by the assessment and analysis of public health and medical experts. What that fails to answer is why there's a different public health risk for those flying into the U.S. and those driving across the land borders.


And here's what the representative of New York, Brian Higgins, he is the chair of the northern border caucus put it simply. He said, continued closure of the U.S. border to vaccinated Canadians is completely unnecessary and unexplained. So, clearly, frustration over restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.

TAPPER: Yeah, the Canadians have surpassed the United States when it comes to vaccine rates.

How much of this has to do with the crisis of undocumented migrants crossing the border?

ALVAREZ: So, we are learning that the U.S. previously relayed to the Canadian counterpart they want the land restrictions on the same timeline. This as you mention, even though the situations are completely different. You have overwhelming number of migrants at the U.S./Mexico border and, frankly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials who are concerned about dealing with that, as well as processing people at the ports of entry.

Different situation in Canada. In fact, in Canada, as of early August, U.S. citizens and residents fully vaccinated can cross. Canadians, however, can't and won't until October 21st when we'll learn if they renew them or not.

TAPPER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.

Dr. Hotez, I want your reaction to the travel restrictions reiterating some context here. The U.S. reported more than 42 million COVID cases over the course of the pandemic. Canada has had nearly 1.6 million cases. We have 28 times the number of cases Canada has. Our population is ten times the size of Canada's. In addition, the Canadians are more vaccinated than the Americans are.

So do these travel restrictions make any sense to you when it comes to our northern border?

HOTEZ: Jake, travel restrictions have never made any sense to me, period.

Look, when it's -- if you remember at the very beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, we were obsessing about travel restrictions from China and then the virus came in from southern Europe. And that's what ignited that horrible first wave in New York City.

So that should have been a sign that we just don't understand how travel restrictions would have any positive benefit restricting from Europe is absurd. Look at the COVID infection rates in the United States right now. Places like West Virginia, Tennessee, they are the highest in the world and we're talking about travel restrictions.

And so I think this is failed policy and we need to open up our borders as much as we can, at least on the northern side and from Europe and elsewhere in order to not hurt our economy because it's certainly not helping us with COVID-19.

TAPPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Democrats are fast approaching a self-imposed deadline and the cracks in the party are widening. What did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just say about Biden's big agenda items? We'll tell you in a second.

Plus, this all comes amid a major week for the Biden presidency here and abroad. The headwinds the president is facing. That's ahead.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, one week and counting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pull off what right now seems a bit impossible, uniting enough Democrats to pass both a trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill and something else. She promised the vote by next Monday but even today, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among the progressives in the party insisting again they will not vote for the infrastructure bill unless it comes accompanied by a larger $3.5 trillion economic package.

That's what the progressives are saying. Many moderates are saying they're not willing to go that far.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us on Capitol Hill.

So, Ryan, where are we today? Is it all or nothing? Is it maybe something? What's going to happen?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's maybe something, Jake, but maybe not as soon as we thought. It seems pretty clear here that Democrats are going to have a very difficult time cobbling together all these different factions in order to get something passed by next week, which was their original intention. Part of that is because, you know, the Democratic Party is a big tent and within it, there are a lot of members that have their own desires as to what they want to see as the ultimate outcome here.

And so, Nancy Pelosi is attempting to shepherd through this legislation and please all of them. On the left, she has progressives who are insistent they aren't going to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure package if it doesn't mean that the $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill pass and within that, it means people want to see changes to climate change, immigration and others.

In the middle she has rank and file members who are loyal to her but also have their own pet projects like for instance getting rid of the cap on state and local tax deductions and then, of course, on the right, those are the moderates. They are insistent that bipartisan package be passed but they're also concerned about the big price tag for that $3.5 trillion plan and how it's going to be paid for and if it's going to impact the deficit.

Jake, the speaker has to convince all of them they have to get on the same page because you can't have one without the other. And right now, Democrats have not figured out a way to get across the finish line and do both.

TAPPER: And that's just the House. I mean, whatever they pass, if anything, they're going to have to get through the narrowest of majorities in the Senate.

NOBLES: Yeah, that's absolutely right, Jake. That's also part of Speaker Pelosi's charge. She's not a member of the Senate but she has to deliver a bill that comes out of the House that the senators will at least be -- consider -- they will at least consider voting for. In particular, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, both who have said they're uncomfortable with passing something that is as pricey as $3.5 trillion. If they don't pass that, all those progressives get off the vote.

Jake, that is why this has been such a difficult task for the Democrats in Congress.

TAPPER: Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

As President Biden faces opposition at home, he's heading to a United Nations gathering where the situation with foreign partners is also a bit rocky.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead now, with a growing list of problems on his plate and a dipping approval rating, President Biden is hoping for a reset this week as he presents his global agenda to a gathering of world leaders in New York. But here in Washington, D.C., the president's biggest domestic priorities are on the clock. And as CNN's Phil Mattingly reports, the White House is fully aware that the next few weeks could really make or break the Biden presidency.



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing Democratic opposition at home and blowback from allies abroad, President Biden departing the White House today as he grapples with one of the most consequential weeks of his first year in office.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president's view having been on the world scene for 50 years is that you always have to work on your relationships.

MATTINGLY: Back in Washington, his legislative agenda hangs in the balance.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Right now, what we are doing is we are engaging with the House and the Senate. It's a complicated proposal.

MATTINGLY: With no agreement on a path forward between moderates and progressives. And his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and his $3.5 trillion expansion of the social safety net. Biden set to ramp up his push to bridge the gap with meetings and calls this week, officials say.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: I think we'll get there. It's going to take some work. And we are going to do the work.

MATTINGLY: But the White House also grappling with a looming government shutdown. And the threat of a catastrophic U.S. default, all as Biden heads to the U.N. general assembly in New York looking to make amends and set his diplomatic agenda.

PSAKI: The president is going to lay out the case for why the next decade will determine our future, not just for the United States but for the global community.

MATTINGLY: The president seeking to have a call with French President Emmanuel Macron amid fury over a U.S. deal with Australia that short circuited a French submarine deal worth billions.

PSAKI: What I expect the president will do on that call is reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners.

MATTINGLY: All as he plans to use his highly anticipated Tuesday remarks to defend his Afghanistan withdrawal and lay out the need for intensive diplomacy to address challenges from climate change and the pandemic to a rising China, officials said.

PSAKI: We have an opportunity to work together on the global issues that the world is facing. That's what he expects the focus of the next few days to be.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Jake, far from running away from the Afghanistan withdrawal decision, the president, according to senior administration officials, is going to point to it. Basically make the point this is a critical moment of transition. Transition away from two decades of war and towards what this official said was intensive diplomacy.

You're going to see that play out over the course of this week. Several bilateral meetings with key world leaders. Obviously, the speech as well -- a recognition that for the Biden administration, for the president himself, as he seeks to rally allies, this is a key moment, particularly in the wake of a bumpy last several weeks -- Jake. TAPPER: Phil Mattingly at the White House, thanks so much.

Joining us to discuss is Evan Osnos, who not only wrote one of the most in-depth biographies of Joe Biden, but written if the most, but he's out with a new book "Wild Land: The Making of America's Fury" and is on sale now.

Evan, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Good to have you here.

Let's just take a look at some of the issues on Biden's plate from the exit to Afghanistan and the Americans and Afghan allies still trapped there to the anger from France because of that deal with Australia and the U.K., to the crisis at the southern border, to the battle over booster shots. The Democratic Party infighting over whether or not his agenda will get passed.

How is he handling all of this do you think? He promised competence.

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a very full plate. And part of what you're seeing right now is also the accumulated effect of the end of the honeymoon, combined with the fact that he inherited a lot of underlying issues, from the previous president. Not just things generated by Donald Trump but the very fact that Trump became president reflected some of these underlying divides and he is now contending with that. Just look at the pandemic of the unvaccinated.

This is not something that was just entirely a product of Trump. It was also a fact that Trump was the agent, the center of this really nasty sense of divide in this country.

TAPPER: Yeah, and skepticism, sometimes earned, often not, with anything institutions had to say, including the CDC. President Biden's approval rating is the lowest since he took office. Recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found 44 percent of adults approve, 50 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.

How do you think that factors into his decision-making if at all?

OSNOS: Well, he is in this position of having, as we all know, run for office saying, look, I can bring people together. For a long time, he's used some of that language. And what you heard from him recently is he's running out of patience. I mean, he said he's kind of redefining what he's going to do.

Most Americans are unified when it comes to the vaccine, 75 percent of American adults want it. There are 25 percent who won't get it yet and he said that's the part that, look, we are unified as a country when it comes to the science. So, that's how he's putting it.

TAPPER: So, in your new book, you write this about President Biden's inauguration. You wrote, quote, Biden turned over and over to the prospects for national reunion. What he called the way of unity, but if Biden's speech contained one argument above all it was the belief in the sheer possibility of change. However, a FOX poll of registered voters last week found 37 percent

think the country's become more united since Biden took office; 54 percent say it is less united, 54 percent, less united under Biden.


Now, I don't know how many of those people say that that's Biden's fault. But it's hard to argue that the country is any more united than it was.

EVAN OSNOS, "THE NEW YORKER": You know, I think one could argue that this is the point in the process where the patient is on the operating table.

Biden's view would be, the only way he begins to restore confidence in people who don't agree with him politically is by putting facts on the ground, begin to get shovels digging again, begin to get the infrastructure bill actually happening. This is the case he's making to Congress to say, if we want to get people to buy into politics again, not just me personally, we have got to do something. They elected us here to do something.

So that's why so much is riding on his work over the next few weeks in Congress.

TAPPER: But, as you note, President Biden didn't create 25 percent of the country refusing to get vaccinated or a majority of Republicans believing the election lie, and on and on.

OSNOS: Right.

TAPPER: Your book goes into a lot of the root causes of this, at least over the last couple decades.


TAPPER: You could argue it dates back farther than that.

It's a great look at anger and conspiracy theories and radicalism and more. I guess, I read the book, and I think, God, can you even really unify the country as, for instance, it was unified after 9/11, briefly?

OSNOS: Well, you're right. We all had that memory just a couple weeks ago of that feeling of that moment.

I will tell you, though, there are very definable ways in which you can begin to build some unity. It's not a panacea. But I will give you one fact. In 1940, if you were a kid born in United States, you stood a 90 percent chance of outearning your parents. Today, a kid born in America has less than half as much a chance.

Our intergenerational mobility is now lower than China's, which is not a compliment to China. It's a reflection of how much we have lost sight of a core American attribute. And if we focus on that -- there are a lot of things that go into, as you know, Jake, but if you can begin to say, look, we agree on the power of social mobility, let's try to rejigger our economy, our tax code in ways that can restore that, that's a start.

TAPPER: Well, one of the other problems -- of course, we can talk for two hours on this -- is the incentive structure is -- in the media and in politics is right now completely built around alienating and attacking, as opposed to building coalitions.

Anyway, Evan Osnos, it's a great book, "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury." It's on sale right now.

If you get in a fight with a really good friend, do you usually take several days to call them to hash it out? When will President Biden call French President Emmanuel Macron?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead: a tense tete-a-tete coming up for President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is furious with the U.S. because of a surprise snub on a $65 billion diesel submarine contract. Originally, France and Australia had shaken hands on the deal, but just last week Australia changed course and went with the U.S. and U.K. on a new contract for nuclear subs.

France was so offended by the faux pas, Macron pulled the French ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now from New York, where the U.N. General Assembly meeting is about to take place.

And, Kylie, the two leaders, Macron and Biden, plan to speak in the next few days. How much rides on this call for these two allies?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a critical call, because the French have been very outspoken in just how angry they are about this. And a senior administration official said that the president reached out to Macron to set up this call because they want to chart a productive path forward.

The Biden administration clearly hoping that the two partners can move on past this spat between the two of them. But it's very clear from the French position that they are angry about this. They have recalled their ambassador. And they plan to take more of a response, because they are meeting with the ambassador for consultations to see kind of just how they're going to respond.

So this is an important call because it gives President Biden the chance to speak about how he authentically wants to work with the French in the Indo-Pacific sees them as a key ally. And it is yet to be seen if that will be enough to assuage President Macron and kind of then curtail what may be an even further response from the French here.

TAPPER: I have to say I think it might be popular with a certain segment of the French population for Macron to slap the United States.

Macron has an election coming up in the spring. And I wonder, are there any domestic politics for France playing into this reaction?

ATWOOD: Well, American and Australian diplomats have told me that they do think that politics at home are at play here for President Macron. His presidential election is early next year. So this could be something that he could use to get something from the Americans, to get something from the Australians that puts him in good standing.

So we will have to see if President Biden is going to play hardball and not give him anything or if he's willing to give him something that he can declare a victory here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser and Seth Jones. He's the senior vice president for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of the book "Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran and the Rise of Irregular Warfare."

Susan, what is your reaction to Kylie's reporting about Macron's upcoming election? Some diplomats suspect that might be playing a role here.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, Jake, I thought that was an excellent point you made.

Marine Le Pen is a hard right challenger to Macron, is sort of the French version of America first, in a way. And this is an opportunity to shore up your anti-American bona fides, which are always welcome in a French political context.


I do believe that's part of what's going on here. I don't think that it's realistic for the French, and I don't think at this point they do expect that President Biden is going to reverse course in any way. In fact, tomorrow at the U.N., he's going to double down on the idea that this kind of diplomacy and this kind of challenge to China and the autocracies of the world is at the core of his foreign policy.

But I have been really struck by the volume and noise with which the French have made, have registered this complaint, whether it's political or not. Remember that through the whole four years of troubled relations with Donald Trump, they never took such a step as withdrawing the ambassador for consultations.

TAPPER: No, indeed, they never did.

Seth, take a listen to the recalled French ambassador to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILIPPE ETIENNE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES (through translator): A few days before the announcements last Wednesday, we had a meeting of the two ministers of defense and foreign affairs of France and Australia.

We absolutely weren't informed of the new course chosen by Australia.


TAPPER: Do you think this was intentional or an unforced error?

SETH JONES, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think, in terms of the U.S. decision, I think it was absolutely intentional.

They made a decision with the Australians and the British to move forward with those nuclear-powered submarines. Had they told the French beforehand, I think we would have had a lot of French effort to get the U.S. before making a decision to reverse course. And the U.S. had made a decision not to reverse course.

As we see right now, Biden's committed to this. So I think waiting until it was too late was the decision. I think it was purposeful.

TAPPER: And, Susan, as you note, no matter how troubled the relationship was between the United States and France during the Trump years, Macron never recalled the ambassador.

Biden got elected promising, basically, the Biden doctrine is not that dissimilar from Trump's in terms of the position of the U.S., but plus allies. That's how they talk about it. It's doing what's best for America, plus we have these alliances.

But things are now worse with France than they ever were under Trump.

GLASSER: Well, look, the U.S. and France have a long history, going certainly back to de Gaulle, of posturing with each other when it comes to foreign policy, often at the expense of NATO and other parts of the Western alliance.

So it's not entirely a new phenomenon. I think the question is, how long will it go on? How serious is the rift? There already were a number of tensions between not just France, but other European allies and the new Biden administration as well, for example, over Afghanistan.

There were bruised feelings, both about the initial decision of the president's withdrawal in April, and then also the way in which it was executed. And that makes it a bit awkward for Biden, then, to go to the U.N. and sort of proclaim, as you said, that his doctrine is essentially a strong presence of the U.S. in the world, but also with more allies.

And I think that's why you saw this announcement today about lifting the ban on Europeans and other travelers to the United States, if they have been vaccinated. That was something that Europeans have been demanding for months. And they have been very frustrated with the Biden administration.

So at least it was something to offer them in advance of this U.N. speech.

TAPPER: And then, Seth, a phone call seems like a pretty easy thing to schedule and get on the books if you want it on the books. Why is it taking so long to schedule?

JONES: Well, it's not entirely clear how quick the French -- it looks like the French want to drag this one out, Jake.

I would just say, more broadly, I think the challenge, as Susan noted, is that this is coming right on the hurdle of the Afghanistan decision. It was very clear that the U.S. did not conduct significant planning or even alert most of its NATO allies, many of which had forces in Afghanistan, of the withdrawal.

So there wasn't this consultation there. Now there hasn't been a consultation with the French. I think the big question is, what is the Biden administration going to do going forward in its -- it's got a national security strategy, a national posture review, a national nuclear posture review all out by the end of the year.

And to what degree will we actually see movement down the road on dealing with allies?

TAPPER: Susan Glasser, Seth Jones, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

You could call it political hubris -- why Justin Trudeau's decision to call an election now could backfire and potentially cost him his job.

Stay with us.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: In our world lead, a show of strength that could backfire for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau tried to capitalize on his popularity over the summer calling an early snap election hoping his liberal party might win control of Canada's parliament.

That decision 36 days ago has escalated to this. Take a look.



TAPPER: Ugly protests. Trudeau's poll numbers sank. Rivals called the election nothing more than a power grab.

CNN's Paula Newton is covering this election from Montreal.

And, Paula, Trudeau says the pandemic was the motive for this election. How so? PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, his argument, Jake,

was that, look, Canada, voters need to weigh in. What do you want Canada's comeback to look like post this pandemic? There were serious issues on the table, $10 a day daycare. Meeting and exceeding climate targets for Canada. All that was there.

But so quickly, as you said, Jake, voters saw through it and thought we're still in the middle of a pandemic. Not only that, our western provinces are having a hard time with the pandemic. We're still talking about having to bring in the military.

All of it wore thin. And there certainly was an ugly underbelly to this election I haven't seen before. Some of the protesters were anti- vaxxers. They stalked Trudeau's campaign. It certainly energized him through this and made him inched up a little bit in the last few days of the campaign.

But all in all, voters said, what is this about? You were governing just fine in a minority parliament making coalitions with another left-wing party. So far so, good, right? And for that reason it will be interesting now to see if voters end up punishing him.

I have to tell you, too. We are in a pandemic, right? COVID-19 restrictions right now at this hour, lineups, voting booths across Canada. The problem being that those COVID restrictions mean there are fewer workers, longer lineups. Social distancing and people are wondering how much turnout could also end up impacting this election.

TAPPER: What happens if Trudeau's party loses the election? What happens next?

NEWTON: Well, normally, if you get the most seats you get to form government. That would mean Trudeau is out. Having said that, though, this could get more complicated. There are six national parties at this point in time. So, of course, cliche, right? A long night.

More than that, this could be hours or even days until we get a result. Jake, I think you're familiar with that scenario. And so, we will wait and see what happens.

Right now, if you believe the plurality of polls it's that Justin Trudeau will end the night or tomorrow exactly where he started five weeks ago at the beginning of this campaign. And believe me, that will still be politically bruising, especially when Canadians know this pandemic isn't over yet.

TAPPER: Six months ago when you and I talked about this, things weren't as -- well, things weren't going as well in Canada as they are now in terms of -- Canada has a better vaccination rate than the United States does. Fewer COVID deaths than the United States does, even proportionally. Isn't that enough? Is that not something that people are excited about?

NEWTON: Not on your life, Jake. And why? In the middle of this campaign, what are the headlines saying? That the province of Alberta might need the military to come in because they are peaking in ICU admissions. I know this sounds very familiar to many people.

The issue here is that the pandemic isn't over. Canada's top doctor last week just said, look, 7 million Canadians who should be vaccinated are not. Put that together with a publicly funded universal health care system that just does not have enough ICU beds and staff and you still could be looking at a nightmare scenario in the weeks to come.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Newton in Montreal, keep us posted on what's going on up north. Appreciate it.

The FBI searches the home where Gabby Petito and her fiance lived in Florida where investigators find what they believe is her body in Wyoming. But where is her fiance?

Stay with us.



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

This hour, the fiance is still missing. The FBI surrounding and searching the family home of Brian after Gabby Petito's likely remains were found over the weekend in the Wyoming's Bridger Teton National Forest.

Plus, a major step to getting kids 5 to 11 vaccinated. How soon they can get shots into the arms.

And leading this hour, the crisis unfolding at the U.S./Mexico border. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is visiting Del Rio, Texas, as 12,000 migrants, many from Haiti, officials say, are gathering, waiting to be processed by U.S. immigration agents. Families and children sleeping on dirt surrounded by garbage without much food or water. The situation just one part of the larger immigration crisis going on right now. The number of apprehensions at the border is at the highest level in two decades.

CNN's Rosa Flores is at that border town of Del Rio, Texas, for us right now, bursting at the seams, the town, attempting to deal with the influx of undocumented migrants.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Have you seen anything like this before?


FLORES (voice-over): This is what the U.S.'s immigration waiting room looks like in Del Rio, Texas, a border town 150 miles west of San Antonio. Thousands of migrants living in makeshift huts, sleeping in the dirt, waiting their turn to get processed by U.S. immigration authorities, a sight DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas witnessed today.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed and you will be endangering your life and your family's lives.

OLIVAREZ: Right now, we're going down to the international bridge here in Del Rio.

FLORES: CNN rode along with Lieutenant Christopher Olivares.