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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Autopsy Tomorrow On Remains Believed To Be Gabby Petito; FBI: Gabby Petito's Body Likely Found, Fiance Still Missing; Ex-FDA Chief: Vaccine For Younger Kids May Be Available By Late October; San Francisco Mayor Defiant After Breaking City's Mask Rules; Taliban Fighters Go From Front Lines To Financial District; Samuel Adams' New Brew Is So Strong It's Illegal In 15 States. Humanitarian Crisis at the Southern Border; Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) is Interviewed on the Crisis at the Southern Border; Divisions in the Democratic Party Over Biden's Economic Package; A Doctor in Texas Sued for Violating New Abortion Law in Texas; FBI Searches Brian Laundrie's Family Home. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 20, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTOPHER OLIVAREZ, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: So right now we're going down to the international bridge here in Del Rio.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN rode along with Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
OLIVAREZ: So right now we're here at one of the -- this is the area. This is the main area that they were crossing.
FLORES (voice-over): Our first stop, an area where from the air, CNN cameras had captured migrants crossing freely just days earlier.
(On camera): They were crossing to and from the U.S. via this dam. Just take a look. That's Mexico. You can see the flag flying.
(Voice-over): And now, the flow has stopped. Olivarez says the sea of Texas State Troopers helps secure the river.
OLIVAREZ: But just be careful.
FLORES (voice-over): And moments later, we see the shocking scene under the Del Rio International Bridge. Thousands of migrants, mostly Haitians, say officials, living in squalor like James Sentiles (ph) who says he left his home country for Chile in 2015 with his wife and two children.
(On camera): He says that someone assaulted him in Haiti and someone shot at his aunt.
(Voice-over): And two months ago, they started the trek to the United States. (On camera): And you say the route is open to enter in the United
States. What does that mean? Family, friends, he says? Que hieron la -- frontera esta abierta. The border is open?
UNKNOWN: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
FLORES (voice-over): (Inaudible) voice breaks as he talks about his family.
(On camera): Why is it so painful?
UNKNOWN: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
FLORES (on camera): Because you're suffering.
(Voice-over): He says food is hard to come by and the weather is tough to bear.
(On camera): If you look closely you'll see that these are men, women, children, I see pregnant women, infants.
(Voice-over): Border Patrol's top cop announcing this weekend a surge of 600 agents, officers and other personnel.
(On camera): Why Del Rio? Why now? What does your intelligence tell you?
RAUL ORTIZ, CHIEF, U.S. BORDER PATROL: Traditionally it's because of word of mouth. Certainly what happened this time is that number doubled and then tripled relatively quickly.
FLORES (voice-over): And to expedite processing, removal flights to Haiti have increased says border patrol. And word about this is spreading quickly under the bridge.
(On camera): You don't want to return to Haiti. It's too difficult you say?
(Voice-over): Where the immigration waiting room into the U.S. is quickly turning into a gate back to Haiti.
FLORES: I talked to the local hospital CEO here and she says that the hospital is at the brink of being overwhelmed because the EMS calls coming from under the bridge just don't stop. And we have video of this. We've witnessed ambulances going back and forth.
Now, the CEO says that most of the calls for help are due to dehydration and also pregnant women. Jake, she says since Thursday, 10 babies have been delivered. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Rosa Flores at the border. Thank you so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. Senator, you just heard a migrant telling Rosa that they thought the border was open. Is the notion that Biden is more of a humane president than his predecessor making this crisis worse? We're hearing that anecdotally from undocumented migrants?
SEN. BEN RAY LUJAN (D-NM): Jake, the border is not open. There is a process that was established under Republican President George W. Bush for refugees to present themselves to officials in the United States, federal officials. It's important that there is also a humanitarian response here.
But, look, make no mistake. There's a broken immigration system that we have in the United States and its incumbent for all of us to working together, Democratic and Republican members not just in the Senate and the House, but also with governors across the United States of America.
And as we saw with Secretary Mayorkas, agents have been sent to Del Rio. We're also seeing the importance of how the federal government is working together, whether it's State Department, HHS or other federal agencies to make sure that we are taking this seriously, including the number of flights where a number of Haitians have returned to Haiti as well.
TAPPER: But you know the desire to help these people, it's not only -- I mean, how to say this? The fact that some of them believe that the border is open because President Biden they believe is a more humane person than President Trump. That -- do you dispute the idea that then encourages people to make this journey? And I get that they are fleeing poverty, they're fleeing violence, but to make this journey that can be dangerous and, in fact, fatal for some of them.
LUJAN: Well, Jake, while we also saw a number of undocumented people present themselves under President Trump, under President Barack Obama, and even under President Bush, we know the numbers are higher now than they have been. But it also shows the violence that families are fleeing from different parts of the world.
With that being said, it's also important for the United States to make it abundantly clear when working with other countries and getting word out to educate families that there's in-process or in-country processing where we can also work to make sure that families have a safe way to present themselves to make their cases as opposed to making this journey which is dangerous, filled with people that are killing others, that are raping children and even worse.
It continues to bring attention to how we need to take on this broken immigration system in the country, but also address the root cause of immigration, Jake. It's why bipartisan group of senators earlier this year, a few of us travelled to Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador to visit with the presidents of those countries and officials in those countries to see how we can work on the root causes of immigration and also protecting the rights of women and children.
TAPPER: What does the Biden administration need to do right now to tackle this crisis at the border, the higher numbers of border crossings -- illegal border crossings than we've seen in more than 20 years?
LUJAN: The president is working through Secretary Mayorkas right now and other federal officials to make sure that more resources are being sent to the border area, number one. Number two, we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform policies. And number three, I also believe that we need to continue to modernize our ports because it's not just land ports, its water ports and airports.
And Jake, what I'll also say is as we talk about the larger immigration challenges that we're facing in the United States, while we have to make sure that we're responding to what's happening right now at the border, remember, about 11 million undocumented people are currently in the United States and about half of them are here on expired visas.
So, again, while we look at the issue that is currently upon us, especially with our Haitian refugees, that we also need to take this larger issue on. And that's something we're trying to do. And while I'm encouraged we can get this done through budget reconciliation as well and provide a path forward to be able to solve many of these challenges.
TAPPER: We've heard these reports, border agents using lassos on these undocumented migrants. Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about it at the White House. She said the pictures were "horrific" and if true, the agents should "never be able to do that again." Do you agree?
LUJAN: Jake, there needs to be humane treatment of people. And we're talking about people here. And that's just not right. Using lassos? I had not heard of that. This is the first that I'm hearing of this. I think that's unacceptable. What's needed are the resources that Secretary Mayorkas has sent to the region, to Del Rio and to other areas.
And we need to, again, we need to make sure that we're passing these immigration reform policies that will address so many of these challenges. As opposed to just the partisan bickering that continues to prevent the Congress from acting and getting legislation to the president. But what you just shared with me is absolutely unacceptable and that's just wrong at so many levels.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
Coming up, he just can't let it go. Up next, former President Trump's big lie push again and again as he reportedly tries to push a major Republican out of office.
Plus, the new reality under Taliban rule. CNN's in Kabul with sudden changes in Afghanistan. Stay with us.
[17:10:00] TAPPER: In our "Politics Lead," today, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told CNN again she's a no vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package next week, if the House and Senate don't also approve a larger $3.5 trillion economic package by then.
This is one of the most high-profile members of the progressive wing and her insistence today only underscores the divide that her party has in a critical week of negotiations. And Kasie, Democrats are digging in their heels. I don't even know -- I have no idea how this is going to sort itself out.
KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think anyone does at this moment, Jake. The White House in particular is kind of what I'm looking to here to figure out, okay, what is the strategy? They know they can only lose a handful of votes for either --
TAPPER: Only three to give in the House and none to give in the Senate.
HUNT: And zero in the Senate. Yes, I know. But the House is actually somewhat amazingly the place that's really become the center of the action. And, you know, I think that the White House's attitude and, Paul, you I know have been behind the scenes in many strategy sessions like this.
But they seem to think that the economic package is simply too big to fail and that that's going to win the day. That everyone at the end of the day will come around and say, okay, look, if we don't actually get this over the finish line, then that's it for the Biden agenda and therefore, for our electoral prospects come the midterm elections.
I'm just not sure if that's going to hold considering how dug in people are right now and how it seems so difficult to actually get to an agreement here.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I was speaking with a Democratic pollster who does a lot of polling for a lot of candidates in these. And look, the argument is that Biden has to succeed. If he fails, you fail.
HUNT: Yes, exactly.
BORGER: And we're all in this together. And so, if infrastructure doesn't get passed or some form of build back better doesn't get passed, it's not going to be everything you want. But if the president is perceived as a failure, then his popularity, which is already going downhill, is going to go downhill even further and you're going to be in more danger no matter what your political persuasion is, whether you're on the left or the right of the Democratic Party.
TAPPER: What do you make of the idea that there is no political downside really for Democrats to vote for a $3.5 trillion package because voters, including Republicans, don't really care about deficits anymore?
It's just not something you can really run against.
MONA CHAREN, POLICY EDITOR, THE BULWARK: Yes, but the Democratic Party won in 2020 and it won in some of those smaller elections that we've seen since like in Louisiana and then New Mexico and in New York City. You've had moderate Democrats winning. That's a message to the Democratic Party that they need to tack more to the center.
And if they're going to be successful in 2022, by which I mean not losing 20 or 30 seats which is the normal for a midterm, they have to appeal to those voters who are not really hard-core Democrats, but the suburban voters who do worry about deficits and who will be put off by some of the huge reaches in this $3.5 trillion bill besides which neither Manchin nor Sinema is going to go along with it.
So since they know they don't have 50 senators, they have to find some kind of a compromise. So that's just in the cards.
TAPPER: The Manchin/Sinema argument is the strongest one I think. No matter what you like, you have these two as an issue. If you were running the White House war room right now, what would you say? What would the strategy be?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A couple of things. First, I have copies of the last balanced budget that I helped President Clinton put together. I really believe in that. I think it was very good for America. Having said that, voters don't care about it. They really don't. What they care about -- they like Democrats when Democrats run on economic issues. Middle class economics. Help make child care a little cheaper. Help make prescription drugs a little cheaper. Help your grandma get Medicare covering her dental and eyes.
Where they lose is when Republicans are running on these cultural populous (ph) issues. Immigration, you just talked to Senator Lujan about that. Defund the police. Whatever knucklehead came up with that, thanks a lot, croaked a bunch of Democratic congressional candidates.
So, they got to keep the focus on these economic issues. And Gloria is exactly right, the argument -- the best argument is we have to pass this or something like it or we're not going to be swinging any gavels. You'll have a lot of time to work on your golf game or spend more time with your family as they all say when they get beat.
TAPPER: And one of the things that a lot of Democratic strategists think that they have in their -- to their benefit is Donald Trump. Is the fact that Donald Trump is still out there chasing out of the party or out of a job, Congressman Gonzalez of Ohio, for example, a Republican whose only sin was that he doesn't want to lie about the election.
The "Wall Street Journal" had a very powerful op-ed or editorial in favor of Gonzalez and pointing out the more that Trump does this, the harder it is for the Republican Party to win elections.
CHAREN: Which ties us back to Gloria's point which is Biden needs a win. He needs to be seen as successful. The Democrats are acting as if, if they lose, if they are unsuccessful, that the Republican Party that's going to take over is the party of McCain and Romney. It's not.
It's this nutty Republican Party that Donald Trump is even now forming in his image with, you know, Secretary of State races and local races where he is trying to put in place the kinds of people who will not do what -- who will do, rather, what Republicans refuse to do in 2020, namely overturn a fair election.
TAPPER: And Kasie, Trump has this letter that he wrote to the Secretary of State of Georgia who one might remember he actually tried to strong arm into finding votes for him to overturn the Georgia election, which by the way, Biden still would have won. Georgia is not enough, but I guess the idea of doing it state by state by state, he's still in a rather untethered manner trying to do this.
And it's not just Trump. If you look at this recent CNN poll, 78 percent of Republican voters, Republican-leaning independents, 78 percent don't believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected. If you are a Republican, you are a Democrat, you are -- what do you make of that?
HUNT: I mean, what's the phrase we've already used a couple of times? Stunning but not surprising. I think because, obviously, Donald Trump is the person that they're all listening to. He is -- with his supporters, discredited any other sources of information. So, they are -- yes.
TAPPER: It's not just him, right? It's all his enablers.
HUNT: Exactly. All the people that stand to make money off of him. All of the candidates who are in office because they supported him and they're willing to say all of those things. I mean --
TAPPER: That other channel.
HUNT: -- he's creating that machine and keeping it alive. And it is taking over the Republican Party. I mean, the McCain's, the Romney's -- I mean, Mitt Romney is going to continue to be a voice, but for the
most part they're getting kicked out one by one. That's still the case.
And, you know, I think it's worth underscoring here, Raffensperger, like Gonzales also has a family that was getting death threats because of his role in actually saying, nope, I'm going to do my job here. And the "Journal" I think touched on this as well saying, hey, this is a real problem for our country.
BORGER: Well, and then --
CHAREN: Yes, when Republicans have to worry that if they stand up to Trump their families are going to be in danger and that's where we are. BORGER: Well, yes, and then, you know, Trump sends this letter to
Raffensperger and says, you know, you've got to say the election was absurd and, you know, I won, and you think this is pathological because that was a year ago and he's writing this letter because what he wants to do is keep this front and center.
He knows it's, again, he just is writing this letter. We're talking about it. It's published. And he just wants to keep that narrative out there that he won for some reason and speaking of Republicans, where are they saying no? No, no, no. This letter is wrong. You did not win. This is under investigation right now.
HUNT: I mean, they're afraid.
BORGER: What you see is the --
HUNT: They're afraid.
CHAREN: The prestige (ph) conservative media will say actually this isn't good for Republicans. This could harm us. Remember what happened in Georgia when Trump discouraged people in the runoff from voting saying it was all rigged.
CHAREN: Therefore, they shouldn't do it, which is not the point. The point is not --
TAPPER: It's bad for America.
CHAREN: -- it's bad for America.
CHAREN: That's the point.
TAPPER: Paul, how do you reach -- how would one hope to reach the 78 percent of Republican voters out there? They've been lied to, right? They've been lied to for about a year now by Trump and his mignons in MAGA Congress and MAGA media. How do you reach them? How do you convince them the vaccine is safe, the election was not stolen? How do you convince them?
BEGALA: Well, that's the problem. They're not going to listen to me. Frankly, they're not going to listen to you.
TAPPER: They're not going to listen to anybody at this table.
BEGALA: Principled conservatives --
TAPPER: No offense --
(LAUGHTER) BEGALA: I know. We've disagreed on many issues but you and I share commitment to democracy.
BEGALA: And I think this is my frustration, is that we just -- we started this discussion with a split within the Democratic Party. Some want to spend more. Some want to spend less. That's a typical argument in a functioning democracy. The split in the Republican Party is between principled conservatives who believe in democracy and Trump thugs who believe in the big lie and it's permeating. I just was looking at the AP story.
CHAREN: I'm not sure there's a split. There aren't that many who are principled conservatives left.
HUNT: Well, there's a big middle that's just afraid to say anything in the Republican Party. There's the Romney's and people that are willing to speak out. There's MAGA and then there's a bunch of --
BORGER: And then there is --
HUNT: -- the self-preservationists who want to win.
BEGALA: There's this great story, amazing story, heartbreaking story that AP is running about Adam Laxalt, the grandson of Paul Laxalt.
CHAREN: We all remember.
BEGALA: Ronald Reagan's best friend in the Senate. Laxalt is running against Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. He's running on the big lie according to this AP story. He's saying I'm going to be there, we're going to undermine this election. That's a heartbreak. With someone being Laxalt in Nevada is lowering himself to that kind of lie, I think it's a heart break for Republicans.
TAPPER: Yes. I want to introduce you to a guy name George P. Bush in Texas.
BEGALA:Oh, the worst!
TAPPER: Thanks, everyone. Coming up, where is the missing fiance? The FBI is searching Brian Laundrie's family home just one day after the likely remains of Gabby Petito were found. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our "Politics Lead." A lawsuit was just filed in Texas against the doctor who publicly admitted to performing an abortion in what could be the first legal test to that state's new controversial abortion ban. The law bans abortions after six weeks, often before most women even know that they're pregnant and also allows private citizens to sue anyone who they think might have violated the law, even if they don't know the person. That's apparently what happened here.
CNN's Paula Reid joins us with the breaking details. Paula, let me get this straight. There's a convicted felon in Arkansas who filed this lawsuit?
PAUKLA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That is absolutely right, Jake, but let's go back a few days to this weekend where a San Antonio OB-GYN, Dr. Alan Braid, wrote an op-ed admitting that he performed an abortion in violation of Texas' restrictive new abortion law.
Now, what's so unique about this law is that it is not enforced by the state, but it deputizes any citizen to sue or take civil action against abortion providers or anyone who helps facilitate a woman getting an abortion.
Now, yes, in this lawsuit, the plaintiff admits that he is a disgraced former Arkansas lawyer, a convicted felon currently on home confinement serving his sentence, and he has sued Dr. Braid seeking damages of up to $100,000. Now, the law specifically says that anyone that brings a lawsuit could potentially receive a reward of $10,000. Now, he is demanding at least $10,000, but up to $100,000.
Now, stepping aside from the problematic life of the plaintiff, the fact is, this the first known legal challenge to the constitutionality of this law since Dr. Braid wrote this op-ed. And what we're looking for now is whether a court will accept this challenge under the Texas law, the most restrictive abortion law in the state, in the country, and whether this will start working its way through the court and really help us get to this larger question of whether this law is constitutional.
So far, this law has survived other challenges. And majority of conservative justices allowed the law to go forward. They declined to block it with the first challenge they've got to their desks saying that the folks trying to block it were not suing the right people.
The Justice Department has also subsequently sued. There will be a hearing on that at the end of the month and we'll see where this first very unusual lawsuit winds up.
TAPPER: All right. Paula reed, thank you so much for bringing us that breaking news.
In our "National Lead," today the FBI is carrying out a search warrant at the home of Brian Laundrie's family a day after investigators found what they believe are the remains of his fiance, Gabby Petito. They found her in a national forest in Wyoming. CNN's Athena Jones reports for us now. That warrant comes as law enforcement is still searching for Laundrie.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive search for the fiance of Gabby Petito. FBI agents and local police surrounding the North Port, Florida home of Brian Laundrie carrying out a search warrant and questioning Laundrie's parents, who said they have not seen him since Tuesday. Meanwhile, authorities in Wyoming plan to conduct an autopsy of the body found over the weekend believe to be Petito, a 22-year-old from New York who went missing weeks ago while on a cross country road trip with Laundrie.
CHARLES JONES, FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Earlier today, human remains were discovered, consistent with the description of Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito. Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100 percent that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery.
JONES (voice-over): Petito's father tweeting this picture of his daughter with the message, "She touched the world". On Sunday --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we came across a white van that had Florida plates.
JONES (voice-over): -- YouTube vloggers posting new video of what appears to be the White Ford van with Florida plates that Petito and Laundrie were travelling it. They said they saw it on August 27th while searching for a camping spot in Bridger-Teton National Forest, the same area with a body was found.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The van was completely dark. There was nobody there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The van looked like it was pretty much kind of abandoned.
JONES (voice-over): Laundrie returned alone to the home he and Petito shared with his family on September 1st in the white van. Petito's family reported her missing 10 days later. Laundrie has not talked to investigators.
On Friday, his parents told police he left home Tuesday with a backpack saying he was going to the nearby Carlton Nature Reserve. Police believe the vehicle he was driving may have been at the reserve too, but has since been returned to the Laundrie's home.
JOSH TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT FLORIDA POLICE: There's an enormous amount of pressure I'm sure on him to provide answers and what's going on him.
JONES (voice-over): Some 50 officers from five local agencies joined the FBI in scouring the more than 25,000 acre reserve over the weekend. Authorities saying today they would be shifting their focus after having exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there. And with the likely discovery of Petito's body, more questions now surround the couple's August 12th encounter with police in Moab, Utah captured on body camera after police say the pair were engaged in an altercation.
GABBY PETITO, YOUTUBER WHO IS MISSING: We've just been fighting this morning, some personal issues. And he wouldn't let me in the car before. JONES (voice-over): No charges were filed. Law enforcement so far not saying what if anything they believe the incident has to do with Petito's ultimate fate.
JONES: An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow, meaning, we could soon learn if the remains found in Wyoming are, in fact, Gabby Petito. And this afternoon, we learned that the attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Athena Jones, thanks so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Sergeant Dorsey, what exactly do you think law enforcement is looking for at the Laundrie family home, just any clue?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Anything that would tie this young man to the disappearance, what may have happened in the interim in the weeks following, what we saw on social media of them. And we know now that his car allegedly was driven to the reserve and then it made its way back to the house, as well as what role, if any, the parents may have played in this. I mean, this kid is 22 years old. I get that he's a grown man, but he's 22 years old. What influence, if any, do they have over him? He decides to go backpacking and they couldn't stop him?
TAPPER: Police say that he returned home without Gabby on September 1st. Gabby's family reported her missing 10 days later, September 11th. Why is it only today, nearly three weeks after she disappeared, that the home where Gabby and Brian lived is being searched?
DORSEY: Probably because information that was given to the police by the family did not give them pause. And evidently, they've learned something, they've stopped the search in certain areas, his car's back at the house. And perhaps, I don't know this to be true, but is the family pointing them in a direction different from where they should be looking? All of this is, you know, begs to be answered.
And so while, you know, the family is giving information, we have to trust the verify that it's correct. Their obligation and onus is to their son first, I would imagine.
TAPPER: What do you think, what goes through your mind when you watch the body cam video after police, I think, in Utah pulled them over. Gabby and Brian had been fighting. She had apparently scratched his face. I'm not exactly sure all the details of what actually went on. But, obviously, she's alive and upset but alive. Is there anything police could have done differently, should have done differently if a woman police officer had been there, if somebody trained better in domestic abuse had been there, would things have turned out differently?
DORSEY: You know, that's a lot of what ifs, right? But I certainly think that police officers, I've witnessed it firsthand, have a tendency to downplay domestic violence, discord, particularly male officers. You know, it just is what it is. And maybe had there been a female officer there, they would have handled the situation more differently, they maybe would have given more credence to whatever was going on or asked particular questions that may have led them in a direction that would have put this young woman in a safe place and away from this guy.
So, I mean, there's a lot of supposition, but I think that maybe -- hate to second guess on -- but maybe those officers kind of dropped the ball over there in Utah.
TAPPER: How could Brian Laundrie just go missing? Nobody would be keeping track of his whereabouts given that his fiance was missing?
DORSEY: Well, again, that's the question that begs to be answered. I mean, he's 22 years old, these young people can't hardly be away from their social media devices for a moment, let alone for weeks and days on it. And this is your fiance, someone that you were, you know, about to vow to spend the rest of your life with and you're not concerned about her well-being and her whereabouts so you decide to go backpacking? All of it stinks to high heaven to me, and again, I wonder what kind of influence, if any, his parents have over him and how come they weren't more influential and getting him to stand down?
TAPPER: It's such a tragic story. Just awful. Retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, thank you as always, for joining us and for your expertise.
Your young child may be able to get a COVID vaccine next month, the new Pfizer announcement. What it means for your family, that's next.
TAPPER: Topping are health lead, at a sigh of relief for concerned parents of elementary school aged kids, Pfizer releasing today highly anticipated news, saying its latest trials show a low dose of the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children aged five to 11. Experts say a vaccine for this age group could be theoretically available by Halloween.
Joining us to discuss Dr. Megan Ranney, she's the Associate Dean of Public Health at Brown University. Dr. Ranney, the Pfizer trials seem encouraging especially since school is in session seems like huge good news for parents and for kids.
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: That is right. You know, as the parent of a child who is too young currently to get vaccinated, I read this press release with -- as you say, a huge sigh of relief. But also with a caution that this is just a press release, right? We still have to wait on the data to be submitted to the FDA for them to review it and then for the CDC to approve it for these younger age groups. So my plea to parents is please do not rush out and go get your kid vaccinated today. But take a sigh of relief that it looks like a vaccine is coming and it's likely effective and safe based on what we know so far.
TAPPER: Assuming that all goes according to plan that Pfizer's data is correct, et cetera, when do you think you'll be able to go get your kid vaccinated?
RANNEY: My hope is before Halloween. Wouldn't it be nice to have a first dose in before the kids go out trick or treating? Of course, that first dose does not provide full protection, right? You need to have the two doses and then wait another week or two after that second dose before you know that your kid is fully protected. But that means that before Thanksgiving, many of our children could be fully protected from severe illness from COVID-19.
TAPPER: Children now account for nearly a third of all cases reported nationwide, how big of a difference could a vaccine make for this age group?
RANNEY: I mean, it's huge. There have been tens of thousands of kids in this age group who've been hospitalized. We also still, of course, have 50 percent of the older age group, that 12 to 17 year olds, who've been eligible for the vaccine for a while who have yet to get it. So if you combine this younger five to 11 group plus getting more of those 12 to 17 year olds vaccinated, it would make a difference for them staying in school, it would make a difference in terms of their ability to play sports, do extracurriculars, go to sleep overs. And the most important thing is, it will make a difference in terms of community spread, because we're increasingly seeing the kids serve as sources for COVID.
Even if they don't get really sick themselves, they spread it to those around them. And with these breakthrough infections that we're sometimes seeing, they can then drive illnesses in their parents, in their grandparents and in the larger community. So we'll have a really big impact.
TAPPER: Do you think that schools should mandate that any students that attend in person who are eligible to be vaccinated, so 12 and over now and potentially soon five and over, that they should be vaccinated? Do you think that schools should impose mandates like that?
RANNEY: So I do think that mandates should come but only once there's full FDA approval. I think it's really tough for a public school, in particular, to put a mandate in place under an EUA or an Emergency Use Authorization. But I anticipate that within a year or so, COVID-19 vaccines are going to join the large group of vaccines that we do mandate already for our kids before they go to kindergarten and then throughout their school career. It's a way to keep not just them, but everyone else in the school safe.
TAPPER: During -- throughout this pandemic, we've seen a number of politicians who talk about the need for masking, for vaccination, et cetera, et cetera, caught doing otherwise, whether it's the mayor of Washington, D.C., whether it's other politicians. We just saw over the weekend new footage of San Francisco Mayor London Breed being filmed caught on video in a nightclub without a mask on. Obviously, local public health guidance in San Francisco requires everyone to wear a mask indoors at all times including those who are vaccinated unless they're actively eating or drinking, neither of which she's doing in the video. She's standing and dancing. Listen to Mayor Breed's defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LONDON BREED, SAN FRANCISCO: I was there. I was eating and I was drinking and I was sitting with my friends and everyone who came in there was vaccinated. The fact that this is even a story is sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, I don't think that it's sad, I think it's a story about a politician, you know, not practicing what she preaches. What do you say?
RANNEY: I mean, I think that politicians are in the same boat that parents are, which is you can't say one thing and then do another. If you're out there telling folks in your community that they have to follow certain public health measures, you sure as heck should follow those same measures yourself. Now, could there be exceptions, like everybody who showed up got tested and they prove that they were vaccinated, you can come up with a series of events where this could be OK. But in general, in just a general nightclub, you got to do what you tell the people underneath you to do.
TAPPER: When we saw images at the Emmy's last night as well, comedian and actor Seth Rogen even made a joke about it. There are too many people in that room, we're told that it did not violate local ordinances. But there does seem to be, and we see this well, you know, with 25 percent of the country refusing to get vaccinated, they see these images, Democratic politicians, actors and directors, et cetera, not necessarily adhering to the same instructions that they publicly support. I think it probably hurts the cause of getting everybody vaccinated.
RANNEY: Oh, I agree completely. I think that the idea of hygiene theater, right, that idea of doing things just to make a show where you wear a mask up until you're on a podium, and then you take it off, those types of things do not have a place in the public space right now. We owe it to our community to, if we are telling them to do something, that we do the same thing, right? That's why I'm telling folks, if you are with a small group of fully vaccinated people, you can take your mask off. But in these large public spaces, unless you're outdoors, please don't.
TAPPER: Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
So how is life transforming in Afghanistan under Taliban control? CNN went to the streets of Kabul to find out. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Breaking news, President Biden arriving in New York just minutes ago as he prepares for a big speech tomorrow at the United Nations General Assembly. A senior administration official tells CNN that Biden plans to laud his own decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, where as CNN's Nic Robertson found out there's a new push by Taliban fighters to control Kabul's business district.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Taliban Commander Mansour Haqqani is on a public relations offensive. Winning he hopes hearts and minds in the Kabul police district he now runs. He doesn't carry a weapon. But his backup does. Taliban fighters' fresh from the front lines toting American weapons wearing U.S. combat gear.
(on-camera): This is one of the most important neighborhoods in the central of Kabul, the financial district. Its security is a priority for the Taliban.
(voice-over): With the Taliban's well justified reputation for brutality, it should be an easy job for the 17-year veteran Haqqani to get control, but it's not.
(on-camera): How does it feel to be policing the streets rather than fighting to take control of the country? He says he's happy to serve the nation just as before, to bring Sharia religious law to the city. But there are lots of people, a lot of corruption and a lot of thieving to get rid of, he says. Haqqani's posting used to be the city's plum police job, lots of money, lots of shakedowns.
(on-camera): You get the feeling walking along here that people are still being a little bit cautious about the Taliban. But at the same time, they're out on the streets, they're trading, they're doing business. So it feels like it's settling down. But it's that kind of uneasy feeling which where's it going to go.
(voice-over): We are happy, this gold trader tells me, no corruption so far. I can leave work after dark. It's safer.
(on-camera): So how is the situation here now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is very very good. If you see like one year ago, two years ago, we see thieves and robbery here, and no safety here. Now with the Taliban, I hope, God willing, life is, very good.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): With the Taliban within earshot, it's hard to know for sure how people really feel. But despite their presence, several brave women approaches.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).
ROBERTSON (voice-over): This woman close to tears, tells me she is a widow with six children. The Taliban fired her from a government job, sent her home without pay.
As we talk, another woman comes forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Also out of work, she says, because the Taliban stopped girl, she talked from going to school. She has been paid for next month, but has no idea what happens after that.
It's up to Haqqani to choose whether he'll be firm and respected or forceful and feared like the Taliban before. Which way he'll tip of bellwether for the country.
ROBERTSON: I asked him that very important question, what is he doing with these thieves? Is he cutting their hands off the same way that the Taliban used to do? He told me, no, no plans for it right now. Jake?
TAPPER: Not right now. Nic Robertson in Kabul, thanks.
You may want to get your hands on a new beverage releasing next month but it's illegal in 15 states. We'll tell you what it is next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Back now with our money lead. Do you need a stronger drink? Well, Samuel Adams just said hold my beer. Sam Adams is releasing a new brew so strong, you may have to hop over state lines to drink it because it is illegal in 15 states. The limited edition Utopias contain 28 percent alcohol by volume, 28 percent. That's more than five times the company's Boston Lager. Only 13,000 bottles are brewed. The suggested price, $240 for one bottle.
Our coverage continues right now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.