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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Texas Border Town Slammed with Nearly 9,000 Migrants, 30,000 More Could Be on the Way; Biden Urges Global Unity in First United Nations Address; NYT: GOP Lawmaker Who Voted to Impeach Trump Now Needs Extra Security for Himself and Family; Debt Ceiling Fight; Interview With Bob Woodward and Robert Costa; Experts Worry Upcoming Flu Season Could Be Severe; Any Moment: Biden Meets with UK Leader Amid Spat with France. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 21, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It is a vote that could put the economy at risk.

THE LEAD starts right now. President Biden's agenda is hanging in the balance and it's not just because of Republicans. Coming soon, a vote to try to avert a government shutdown.

And a crisis getting worse by the hour on the U.S./Mexico border. Now CNN has learned up to 30,000 more migrants may start heading that way.

And promising news. Johnson & Johnson touting the results of a booster shot just as health experts warn how bad things could get this fall and winter and not only because of the unvaccinated.


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

We begin today in the national lead, on the crisis on the border that just keeps getting worse. These are live pictures of Del Rio, Texas, (AUDIO GAP) migrants are currently camping out, mostly refugees fleeing the devastation of Haiti. Up to 30,000 more could be joining them coming to the United States through South and then Central America. And, of course, now, all eyes are on the Biden administration as border patrol agents are aggressively threatening migrants, and their bosses, from President Biden and Vice President Harris, to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, say that they are horrified to what they see.

All of this as the border town bursts at the scenes, hundreds of migrants every day being sent 430 miles west to El Paso, just to be flown back to Haiti. Senator Chuck Schumer is pleading with Biden to immediately halt the deportations.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us in Del Rio.

And, Rosa, President Biden said today, quote, we're getting it under control. Where you are, does the situation on the ground look under control?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jake, here the beauty of live television, we can show the American people with live pictures. Take a look at this dramatic footage. This is live drone footage from above this bridge. You can see there are thousands of people still waiting to be processed by U.S. immigration authorities.

I just got a message from the Del Rio mayor, who says there are 8,550 migrants still waiting here. Is the situation under control? Here's what we know from Secretary Mayorkas telling "NEW DAY" this morning, that in the next 48 to 96 hours, they're expecting a dramatic shift. They say they've already moved out 4,000 people and at least four flights will leave today.

Here's what I can tell you from being on the ground, from being on the ground and on the river with Texas Department of DPS, one thing they have accomplished here in Del Rio is to stop the flow of migrants that was -- the flow of migrants that was going to and from Mexico right by this bridge. I saw it with my own eyes. That's what they've accomplished after a mini army of both federal and state agents descend descended on Del Rio to make sure they could stop at least the immediate flow.

But, Jake, I can tell you from talking to state troopers, that creates another problem. That is, with all of the resources dedicated to Del Rio, it creates gaps along the border, and that is the worry now -- Jake.

TAPPER: Secretary Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security said that the encampment is going to be cleared in about ten days. What might that mean for the 30,000 migrants planning on coming to that same camp?

FLORES: You know, that's one of the big complications here, because those 30,000 individuals who might be coming to the U.S. southern border, we don't know exactly where they will be trying to enter the United States. That complicated the situation for both state and federal authorities here who are trying to secure the border. First of all, because we don't know where they will be coming. Will they be coming to Del Rio where this bridge has already been set up as a camp?

Will they go to the Rio Grande Valley where there's another similar bridge? We've been there. We've seen those processing centers underneath bridges.

Or will they go to another area where there is no processing available? Jake, that's one of the big questions and big concerns. Where exactly are these people going to go and what complications is that going to create for both state and federal agents? Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Rosa Flores for us in Del Rio, Texas, thank you so much for that reporting.

Let's discuss with my panel of experts.

Rachel, let me start with you. Obviously, the crisis at the border has been going on literally for decades. But it's also true that abductions at the border or law enforcement arresting individuals who have crossed the border illegally is at the highest level it's been in 20 years.


How bad a crisis is this for president Biden politically? And can anything actually be done to stop it?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that it signals, it's a huge problem if the majority leader in the Senate who is a member of your own party is in the middle of this huge government crisis in terms of getting legislation passed, but uses his first speech of the day to criticize your own administration. I mean, Chuck Schumer went to the floor today and said these images are horrifying and they need to do something about that. He characterized the Biden administration for basically keeping the Trump era policy of not letting people claim asylum.

So, if you have Democratic leaders at a critical time when they're trying to get infrastructure done, they're trying to get this big reconciliation thing passed, criticizing your own administration, that signals they're in big trouble. Meanwhile, you have Republicans very much latching onto this and they're going to use this in 2022 to flip the House. So, it's a tough position either way. We'll see how they get out of this on this.

TAPPER: And, David, it's not just Leader Schumer. The Biden/Harris administration is being criticized by Biden and Harris. Take a listen to the vice president.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were is horrible. I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there. But human beings should never be treated that way and I'm deeply troubled about it.


TAPPER: It is odd to hear the Biden/Harris administration criticize the Biden/Harris administration.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is, right. And they have to acknowledge that they are in charge ultimately of the immigration enforcement apparatus. Vice President Harris is completely right that those images that went around the world yesterday were horrific. Whether or not we know what the intent of those border patrol agents were, the horses, the reins, the cowboy hats, it all looks like something out of another century.

To follow up on what Rachel was saying, I think part of the problem for Democrats and why they're getting criticism from within and outside the House is because they haven't decided big picture where they want to go on immigration. What they could do, it can't happen overnight, is decide to either disappoint their own base and continue to toughen up on enforcement and not let people claim asylum at the Del Rio crossing and other points, or they could say, look, we're Democrats, we want to revive the idea of America as a nation of immigrants and then disappoint potentially Republican and swing voters.

But not doing anything is hurting them right now.

TAPPER: And that choice, I have to say, they haven't really decided what their position is and that's kind of a mixed message, which is one of the reasons why the border crisis exists, because, you know, I think some migrants -- and we should note they're desperate. They're fleeing poverty, they're fleeing violence, they're fleeing natural disasters. They want a better life, the overwhelming majority of them, they heard Biden say, we're not going to be Trump, it's going to be a different policy. Of course, it doesn't look like it right now.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, unfortunately, the Democrats don't have a great record when it comes to these kinds of things. They are better in wanting to have some sort of immigration reform. But when it comes to dealing with these issues, Obama really wasn't that great and Trump was worse, though.

And so, now, what we have now is Biden endorsing a Trump era policy that's at odds with international commitments we've made. It's at odds with humanity, which is basically that, you know, he issued this executive order that said you could just deport people the minute they show up. You don't have to -- you're not obliged to screen them and put them before a judge, which is what you're legally supposed to do, and he used COVID, right, as the means to do it.

And it was completely bogus. The CDC was saying this is ridiculous. The borders are open to people traveling. We don't have to keep people out. Now you have the Biden administration, a judge ruled against this. And the Biden administration is appealing it.

So, the vice president, what she's really doing, I think, was criticizing the border agents basically, saying what they're doing is inhumane, but ignoring the fact that the administration supports this policy. And that was disgusting and horrible, the way they were being treated. But even if they weren't being treated that way, it's still inhumane.

TAPPER: Right, beyond the photos.

POWERS: If you're trying to say the problem is the Border Patrol agents, yes, they're a problem, but, hey, you guys are a problem too.

RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: So, let me speak up for a moment for the Border Patrol agents, who are tasked with enforcing a policy that they did not themselves come up with and that our political class in Washington has not been able to resolve its differences over and they are outnumbered.

[16:10:01] And yesterday when this story became a big story on twitter, it was a lot of reporters claiming falsely that they had been using whips on these Haitians, which Mayorkas had to actually go out and contradict and explain that's not, in fact, the case.

TAPPER: Right.

PONNURU: I think it's a mistake -- I mean, look, if we don't like what's going on at the border, and not many people do, I wouldn't blame the agents for the problems that we're having here. I think we have a problem in this administration politically because Biden's always had some of his lowest numbers in immigration.

And any day where there scenes of chaos at the border, where he doesn't seem to have control of the border or even of his own administration is a bad day for him.

TAPPER: And what's -- as somebody who's a little older than I think everybody at the table, I have to say, I've been covering this for decades and there is a solution right there and you could make an argument -- I've heard the argument made that neither side really wants it solved because it gives Republicans something to run against Democrats, they're weak on the borders, they support crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, and it gives Democrats something to try to raise their profile with Latino voters and people more concerned about humanitarian efforts at the border. Look how cruel and racist the Republicans are.

And the incentive structure, as is always a problem in this town, is completely wrong and nobody wants a solution. I don't think nobody wants it. I've seen people, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, others try to solve the problem.

But do you ever envision Congress trying to solve this problem and getting there in a way that could actually get a bipartisan vote?

BADE: Well, they've tried to multiple times. It always implodes. I mean, Democrats were trying to provide a pathway to citizenship in this huge reconciliation bill. It was just struck from the bill. The parliamentarian said you can't do it.

But I -- you know, just to bring this back again to present day and this unsolved crisis, Biden is going to be having this huge vote a week from yesterday on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. He really needs this legislative win right now.

But the progressives in the house are furious about what's happening on the border right now. He needs to whip these members to vote for this bill and they don't even want to vote for this bill. It's not just the border. It's going to complicate everything they're doing in Washington right now and that creates a big problem for the president.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

SWERDLICK: Oh, no, I was going to say, every -- right, just like Rachael said, every bad issue creates less space for the administration to do what they want on the tougher issues.

I was just going to add if you go back at least to the Obama administration, the last Democrat, you had a situation where President Obama tried to have it both ways, come to your point. Rhetorically he was good, right? He gave that speech in 2014 where he quoted from the Old Testament and said we were once strangers too, this is still a nation of immigrants. He had that message going out there, tried to move forward on DACA and DAPA, but at the same time at the border, he was deporting more people than the prior bush administration had done and he never got a clear policy about where Democrats stand on asylum, refugee status, legal and illegal.

TAPPER: Jorge Ramos called him the deporter-in-chief, I think, famously.

POWERS: Right.

PONNURU: Over the last ten to 20 years Democratic voters have moved more to the left on immigration issues and Republican voters have moved more to the right on it. And so, this is not just a problem with Washington politicians, even though they deserve their share of the blame. It's also that the voters are polarized over these issues much more than even other issues.

TAPPER: Final thought?

POWERS: Oh, I just think Democrats, regardless of politics, there does come a time when you actually have to stand up and do the right thing and this is not okay. They should not be going forward with a policy that was instituted by Trump, which isn't even supported by the health experts. You know, they're using this law to engage in inhumane treatment and they're responsible for that. And I think Democrats need to get serious about having their rhetoric match their policies.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Appreciate it.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Losing reelection may not be the scariest threat facing Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. The frightening new numbers.

Then, promising new information for the 15 million Americans who got that Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, President Biden addressing the U.N. General Assembly for the first time as president today with an appeal to world leaders, we're either all in this together, he said, or there could be terrible consequences when it comes to another global pandemic or the climate crisis or human rights and more.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports for us now, it's hard to ignore the awkwardness of president Biden delivering this message of unity today at the same time a growing number of key allies have been publicly expressing their unhappiness with the United States.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. As we close this period of relentless war, we're opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his United Nations debut, President Biden committing to a new era of international diplomacy and international cooperation to tackle everything from climate change to cyber security as he looked to turn the page on America's longest war and some of the most tumultuous weeks of his presidency.

BIDEN: Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.

DIAMOND: But in the wake of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a recent rift with France, Biden also looking to quell doubts about his commitment to restoring U.S. leadership and alliances.

BIDEN: As we look ahead, we will lead. We will lead on all the greatest challenges of our time, from COVID to climate, peace and security, human dignity and human rights. But we will not go it alone.

DIAMOND: Even as he vowed to vigorously compete with adversaries like China and Russia, Biden stressing he doesn't want a new Cold War.

BIDEN: We'll stand up for our allies and friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones.


But we're not seeking, say it again, we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.

DIAMOND: The president's speech coming against the backdrop of a new security partnership with Australia that will provide them with nuclear powered submarines, an effort to counter China's growing footprint in the Indo Pacific, angering not only China but also France, which has its own submarine deal with Australia implode.

BIDEN: The United States has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia.

DIAMOND: After sitting down with Australia's prime minister, Biden returning to the White House to meet with his British counterpart, also party to the U.S./Australia pact. As for Biden's call with French President Emmanuel Macron, still nowhere to be heard.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DIAMOND (on camera): And, Jake, we know that President Biden has requested a call with the French president. But so far, the White House still saying just a couple of hours ago, it will happen soon. They are working to finalize those details.

But the president this hour will be meeting with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But just like in the Australia meeting, I wouldn't expect the subject of France to be spoken about, at least not explicitly -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a page by page look at the memo that a Trump lawyer sent to convince Mike Pence that he could, in fact, overturn the results of the election. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead now, a concerning rise in threats that go well beyond the Capitol beltway. Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio says he now needs extra security for himself and his family, according to "The New York Times." Gonzalez is one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Gonzalez took on verbal attacks from the former president, but nothing like what's facing him now.

As CNN's Paula Reid reports, Gonzalez is sadly not alone.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez is the latest Trump critic to leave Congress rather than face a Trump-backed challenger.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: He's a fake Republican and a disgrace to your state.

REID: The two-term Ohio lawmaker was one of ten House Republicans who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump for incitement of the insurrection on January 6th, a decision that put him on Trump's list of targets.

TRUMP: Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That's another beauty. Get rid of them all.

REID: Still, Gonzalez continued to call out the big lie.

REP. ANTHONY GONZALEZ (R-OH): They're continuing to perpetuate falsehoods, especially ones that are dangerous to led to the violence on January 6th is a recipe for disaster for the party but it's also horribly irresponsible.

REID: But that pushback has come with a price. In an interview with "The New York Times" about his decision to retire, Gonzalez recounted an eye-opening moment when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after he voted to impeach Trump.

Prior to the impeachment vote, Gonzalez was a Trump ally.

GONZALEZ: I supported I don't know what the percentage, 90 percent of President Trump's policies, because I think they're good for northeast Ohio.

TRUMP: He's a tough cookie and a friend of mine, Representative Anthony Gonzalez. Thank you.

REID: When he announced he was stepping down amid threats to his family, the former president responded by saying, one down, nine to go.

Among the other nine, Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming.

TRUMP: Hopefully, they'll get rid of her with the next election.

REID: Cheney has become a vocal critic of the former president and his rhetoric, costing her a leadership position in the House.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language.

REID: Cheney has even said other lawmakers privately confess that concerns for their safety affect the way they vote.

CHENEY: There were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security, afraid in some instances for their lives.

REID: According to the U.S. Capitol police, this year alone, there has been a 107 percent increase in threats against all members compared to 2020.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: This year I think we'll be up close to 10,000 threats that we're investigating against members of Congress.

REID: As lawmakers from both parties face increased threats of violence, the former president continues to focus on attacking Republicans that he believes betrayed him. Like Representative Peter Meijer, the freshman Republican from Michigan who says death threats are just now part of the job.

REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Our expectation is that folks will try to kill us. To me, the important thing is not to let that intimidate you because loyalty to the Constitution should supersede everything else.


REID (on camera): Jake, the loss of lawmakers like Gonzalez only increases the former president's grip on the party as it makes for fewer dissenting wishes within their ranks. Now, the U.S. Capitol Police are opening regional field offices in California and Florida to help investigate threats against members of Congress.

TAPPER: Just awful. Paula Reid, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Page by page, the new book "Peril" out today documents how then- President Trump and close associates cooked up a scheme to try to overturn the 2020 election.

The authors, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, obtained a memo written by a lawyer on Trump's White House legal team. CNN also obtained that two-page memo. It outlined step by step how former Vice President Mike Pence could subvert the Constitution January 6, and throw out electors from seven states, basically, a how to stage a coup memo.

Let's bring in the authors of "Peril," who originally got ahold of that memo, of course, the legendary Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Good to see you both, gentlemen. Congratulations on the book. It's an amazing, intense and very troubling read.

Bob, let me start with you.

Ultimately, Pence did not go through with that election scheme, which I think is unconstitutional anyway. But it is remarkable how many chapters in your book detail just how many senior aides and advisers were willing to at the very least humor this notion of overturning the election.

BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": And what this memo exposes is the constitutional and legal fantasy that Vice President Pence, as president of the Senate, the person designated to count and certify who's going to be the next president -- and if you look at it, if somebody just not through any partisan lens realizes that it makes claims that are -- do not exist.


WOODWARD: And this memo was investigated by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, a big Trump supporter.

And he looked at this and he said, well, let's see what's here, and then spent days calling legislators in these states that allegedly had dual slates of electors. And total fantasy. Did not exist.

And he talked to Trump. And he finally went on the Senate floor and said, there is nothing to this. This is not Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. This is the most conservative, bedrock Republican senator, saying zero on this claim that the election was stolen.

TAPPER: And, Robert, in the book's opening pages, you two write that Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley -- quote -- "believed January 6 was a planned, coordinated, synchronized attack on the very heart of American democracy designed to overthrow the government to prevent the constitutional certification of a legitimate election won by Joe Biden. It was indeed a coup attempt, and nothing less than treason" -- unquote. That's what Milley believed. I mean, was he wrong? Or do you agree

that's what it was?

ROBERT COSTA, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": Our book carefully documents, based on our reporting, what Chairman Milley believes, but it also documents how close the United States came to having a presidential election thrown to the House of Representatives.

And it comes back to this memo and other efforts behind the scenes. One of the key scenes is January 4. We all think about January 6, but January 4, John Eastman, this conservative lawyer, confronts Vice President Pence in the Oval Office in front of President Trump at the time, and says: You have to listen to us on this. Try to consider maybe just pushing things to the House. See if there's time for alternate electors to emerge.

And this is based on different sources who are familiar with these events. And that shows the pressure Pence was under to try to pause what was happening on January 6.

TAPPER: And, Bob, the day after the insurrection, Trump condemned the violence on January 6, kind of.

You detail a conversation between General Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Trump the next day. According to the transcript that you obtained in your book, she told Milley -- quote -- "You know he's crazy. He's been crazy for a long time. So don't say you don't know what his state of mind is. He's crazy. And what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness," to which General Milley replies: "Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything."

This is a challenge for journalists, because we are not medical professionals, but you have interviewed President Trump. How would you characterize his emotional state?

WOODWARD: Well, look, how I might characterize it, I'm unqualified.

But here we have the speaker of the House, the senior military leader, General Milley, concluding that they believe he's crazy. And the issue in that transcript is not some abstract problem. It's, do we have control of nuclear weapons? And if there's a catastrophe that could befall the United States or the world, it would be the use of nuclear weapons.


And Nancy Pelosi is all over -- now, she knows about this because she's second in line to become president. And she knows about the procedures here. And she says, what -- how do we find guarantees that President Trump will not start launching nuclear weapons?

And Milley says, oh, we have got procedures. And then he realizes that the procedures are not enough.

In one of the most dramatic scenes we have ever reported on, he calls the people from the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon, calls them to his office and says, you will not take orders from anyone, Trump, the White House, without involving me, putting me in the loop. And he goes around the room and looks each person, senior officer, in the eye and says, got it? And, yes, sir. Got it? Yes, sir. Got it? Yes, sir.

So this is a moment -- if there's a way to summarize what we found, this was a national security emergency, not just about control of nuclear weapons, but about whether there might be a war with China, again, another catastrophe possibly.


And, Robert, another episode with Hope Hicks, the Trump aide, in the days right after the November election gets at Trump's state of mind. According to your book, Hicks told Trump -- quote -- "You have a huge amount of goodwill and you can capitalize on it in lots of different ways."

You write that Trump glared at her and frowned and later replied -- quote -- "I don't care about my legacy. My legacy doesn't matter. If I lose, that will be my legacy. My people expect me to fight. And if I don't, I will lose them," Trump said.

And even today, you see evidence of him still trying to keep up this election lie. And if you listen to Liz Cheney and other Republican lawmakers who are bold about this and brave about this, they think he's going to try again, except, next time, he will succeed.

COSTA: This is a reported story, not just about the past, but about the times we're living in.

President Trump could run for president in 2024. And whether it's Gina Haspel, more of a lesser known figure from the transition, saying, we're maybe on the verge of a right-wing coup, are we going to lash out against Iran for his ego, and to other more well-known people, like Hope Hicks, at least in the president's inner circle, you see people trying to either contain President Trump, even though many of them have enabled him for years, or there are officials who are trying to say, what's going on here?

But no one really has control. And that's the Milley crisis on January 8, is how did the system, the American system function if a president with his immense amount of power is, in the view of his advisers and other officials, out of control?

TAPPER: A book that is historical and also a caution, a warning about the future, Bob Woodward, Robert Costa.

The new book out today called "Peril," it's a fantastic book.

Thanks so much to both of you and best of luck.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

COSTA: Thank you.

TAPPER: Will Republicans vote against raising the debt ceiling, Even if that could put the economy at risk? We will soon find out.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead: Tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on whether to fund the U.S. government for a little over two months to avoid a catastrophic default by mid-October.

The so-called continuing resolution, or C.R., is expected to pass right down party lines before it heads to the Senate, where Senate Republicans might put a stop to it, putting the U.S. credit rating and the state of the already unstable economy at risk.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ryan Nobles, live for us on Capitol Hill.

And, Ryan, let's start with the key vote tonight in the House. Will any Republicans vote for this?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Jake, it does not seem as though anybody in the Republican Conference is going to support this plan that will allow the government to continue spending and keep the government open and, at the same time, lift the debt limit, so that the government can play -- pay its credit card bill.

This is something that Democrats are insistent that Republicans join them in doing, and particularly because much of the money that was spent on the government's credit card was done during the Trump era.

But Republicans believe that this is an issue in which they can lay all the blame on Democrats. The big question, of course, is when that bill makes its way from the House to the Senate, will there be any Republicans that vote for it on the Senate side? Of course, it would require 10 Republican votes in order to pass.

Now, there are some provisions within this continuing resolution, that spending bill, that Republicans do support. For instance, there's millions of dollars in disaster relief funding for some of these states that were impacted by the hurricane. But the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is insistent that his Republican Caucus will not vote to raise the debt ceiling.

And because Democrats have put both of these measures together, it seems likely that this bill does not have a very certain future -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Ryan, Democrats are also facing an internal struggle, a push and pull between progressives and moderates.

Break down what's going to happen, what's going on with the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget plan.


And, Jake, you will remember that, in just six days, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had promised moderates in the House of Representatives that the House would vote on that bipartisan infrastructure deal, which has already passed the Senate.

The problem, though, is that Pelosi made a deal with progressives that said that they weren't going to pass that bipartisan deal if they also weren't prepared to pass that $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill.


Right now, that human infrastructure bill is stalled in the House as they negotiate and try to find a path forward. There's some open question as to whether or not Democrats themselves will even support as much as $3.5 trillion.

Those negotiations continue. The big question right now is, will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put that bill on the floor, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, before the reconciliation package is passed by both houses? There are some progressives including Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez who say they won't support the bipartisan bill until they know that reconciliation package is going to be passed.

This is the difficult chore that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has right now. But Jake, on the other side of this for these moderates that want the bipartisan bill passed, if she put it on the floor tomorrow, it wouldn't have enough votes. This is a tension rod. We've used that descriptor before.

Essentially, if Democrats want to get this done, they've got to get both of them passed.

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

COVID is not the only virus that doctors are concerned about. Fears of a possible twin-demic coming up.



TAPPER: Tapping our health lead, Johnson & Johnson now says a two- dose version of its COVID vaccine provides 94 percent protection against infection. That is promising news for the nearly 15 million Americans who received the J&J vaccine.

But it's not all good news. As CNN's Jason Carroll reports, public health experts are raising concerns about the upcoming combination of COVID and flu season.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, an encouraging development for the nearly 15 million Americans who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The company now says that adding a second dose of the shot provides 94 percent protection against symptomatic infections.

It's a big day for Pfizer as well. FDA authorization on their booster shot for some people could be coming at any moment. CDC advisors will meet on the matter tomorrow.

This as it looks more and more likely the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 could come as soon as Halloween.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: We've had 225,000 kids with COVID. It's a serious issue among children and the best way to protect them is with this vaccine.

CARROLL: Many hospitals seeing an increased number of children infected with COVID-19. Doctors had to put up a tent outside an emergency room of a children's hospital in Pittsburgh to help meet demand of patients. The hospital's chief of emergency medicine writing on social media, the number of children coming to the emergency department at UPMC Children's is historic.

In all, ICUs are still over 90 percent full in at least six states.

DR. STEVEN NEMERSON, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, IDAHO'S SAINT ALPHONSUS HEALTH SYSTEM: Currently, across this state we've activated crisis standards of care. This means the ability to deliver community standards of care using conventional means has been exhausted.

CARROLL: Two-thirds of hospitals in Kentucky are reporting critical staffing shortages.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: I start my day every day with the situation room from hospitals. And it hurts to see the hospital has every single person, every single ventilator in use and we have to send them more. That's a trend that we want to reverse.

CARROLL: This, as medical professionals are now sounding the alarm about this year's flu season. Doctors say it could be particularly harsh given how little exposure people had to it last year.


CARROLL (on camera): And, Jake, it seems getting vaccinated is still very much a tough sell for a number of people out there. A health care provider in North Carolina says it had to suspend hundreds of its employees because they were not vaccinated. Novant Health says that they had to end up suspending 400 employees because they weren't complying with the health care rule there is. But despite that number, they say the overwhelming majority, 98 percent of their employees are vaccinated -- Jake.

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

We're learning more about the final days between Gabby Petito and her fiance as the search continues for him, for Brian Laundrie. That's ahead.


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

This hour the manhunt for Brian Laundrie is still on as investigators piece together what seemed a toxic relationship with a 911 call, a hard drive and Gabby Petito's final messages.

Plus, Democrats locked in a battle over President Biden's agenda. I'll talk to the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Jayapal, who just met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead.

And leading this hour, any moment, we expect to see President Biden meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. President Biden fresh off his speech to the United Nations General Assembly earlier today where he touted unity with foreign partners, yet the president has France fuming as he's embroiled in a spat with the America's oldest ally over a nuclear powered submarine deal. Germany just came out and sided with France against the U.S.

Let's get straight to CNN's Jeremy Diamond, who's at the White House for us.

And, Jeremy, do we know what these two leaders plan to discuss?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Jake, we do know that the British prime minister has walked into the West Wing. We haven't heard anything yet from that meeting between President Biden and the British prime minister. But we know that there are a few things certainly on the agenda. The British prime minister was one of those European leaders calling for the United States to reopen travel.

That is set to happen now in November, allowing vaccinated foreigners to come into the United States. That announcement made by the White House just a couple of days ago. But, of course, the big elephant in the room will be this situation, this diplomatic rift between the United States and Australia and France.