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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Dem Leaders Project Optimism As Key Deadlines Approach; More Than 3,600 Migrants Still Camped Under Texas Bridge, Waiting Processing; "Washington Post:" Biden White House Leaning Toward Release Of Information About Trump's Actions On Jan. 6; CDC Advisers Recommend Pfizer Boosters For Most High-Risk Groups; Federal Arrest Warrant Issued For Gabby Petito's Fiance. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 23, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The party's congressional leaders joined by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen say they have found a way to pay for the party's $3.5 trillion budget package.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: The White House, the House and the Senate have reached agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement.
ZELENY (voice-over): But the fine print of any agreements remains a wash in uncertainty with Senator Kyrsten Sinema and other moderates not only grimacing about the price tag, but saying they've not agreed to a deal to raise taxes to pay for it. At the same time, many progressives showed little appetite for scaling back at the ambitious proposals.
All sides air their views during nearly five hours of Oval Office meetings Wednesday at the White House.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He felt encouraged by how constructive the conversations were. He's going to have his sleeves rolled up and he'll be very engaged moving forward.
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet the President's schedule didn't indicate that today with all meetings being conducted at the staff level.
(on camera): The President will not be meeting with lawmakers today.
PSAKI: We'll see, Jeff. The President's always open to meeting with, discussing, communicating with lawmakers. There's a lot of work that needs to continue. That can happen with senior staff members.
ZELENY (voice-over): A lot of work indeed, with the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan up for a vote early next week, along with a broader $3.5 trillion plan to expand education and health care, address climate change and more.
On Capitol Hill, CNN's Manu Raju press Speaker Pelosi on the plans cost. MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Have you settled on an overall price tag?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: No, no, we didn't talk about that. This is not about price tag. This is about what's in the bill.
ZELENY (voice-over): It is of course about both. But Pelosi remained optimistic Democrats would find consensus to pass legislation that would touch the lives of nearly all Americans.
PELOSI: The President put us on a course we intend to stay the course and pass both of these bills as soon as possible.
ZELENY (voice-over): A separate challenge comes one week from tonight when the government runs out of funding at midnight, unless Congress acts.
The Office of Management and Budget began issuing agency contingency plans, detailed instructions to prepare for a government shutdown. The White House said it was hopeful such a scenario could be avoided.
PSAKI: The fact is, shutdowns are incredibly costly, disruptive and damaging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Now, as for a potential shutdown, President Biden has instructed his advisors to do whatever they can to avoid that, because they believe Democrats would indeed be blamed for that, despite the messy politics on Capitol Hill.
But Jake, as for his economic agenda, I am told by officials that the President is still upbeat about getting this passed, but they do not know exactly what the path forward for that is.
As from not having meetings today, it was actually to spear more discussion amongst the aides who are actually getting this work done. But I'm told he will likely have more meetings in the coming days, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Jeff Zeleny at the White House for us, thank you.
Let's bring in CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju live for us on Capitol Hill.
And Manu, we just heard your exchange with Speaker Pelosi from earlier today. What's the reaction from Democratic lawmakers? Are they any closer to an actual deal that everyone understands what it is?
RAJU: Well, the short answer is no, Jake. There are just so many details they still have to work out.
Even though Chuck Schumer went out there and said there was an agreement between the House, the Senate and the White House, he later came out and made clear that that agreement is actually between Speaker Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, and the administration about a menu of options about how to play for the plan. They have not resolved all of their issues about how to pay for it.
And then they also have to get an agreement among this members of the House and the senators themselves about whether they would actually agree for the financing, not to mention all the policy initiatives that are laid out in this massive proposal dealing with climate change, and even healthcare, dealing with education, impacting all walks of life. All of those major issues have not been resolved.
Nevertheless, and the price tag, too, is something that is still a major divide between the moderates and the progressives. So what the Democrats hope going forward is that the White House and the leadership can find those some sort of resolution with some of the key factions within their respective caucuses to move forward behind one specific approach. But Jake, so many details and still uncertain how quickly that can come together.
TAPPER: And the amount of moderate Democrats say they still expect a vote on the infrastructure bill, the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday, you just talked to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Democrat from Maryland, what does he say?
RAJU: Well, he can't actually guarantee that that vote will happen on Monday. I asked him, can you absolutely guarantee that will happen? He said, I'm not going to go that far. But he did say within the next 72 hours, it will be critical to determine whether they can have the vote at that point. The vote is still scheduled, he said.
Now, this is all contingent, of course, on what the progressives in the House do. They are threatening to sync that bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed in the Senate last month because they want leverage and try to pressure the moderates in their House and the Senate to support that larger Democratic only approach to expand the social safety net. They believe that that could pressure them to back that and they'll give their support them for the infrastructure plan.
But given that the negotiation over that separate major Democratic only proposal is still not even close to finish, it is uncertain what the progressives ultimately do. So that's why the Democratic leadership, Jake, is saying that they have significant negotiations that have to be had over the next several days to determine whether there'll be enough progressives ultimately to push us over the finish line. But at the moment, the progressives have still threatening to sync it. We'll see if that changes come Monday.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.
Let's discuss it.
And just to remind people, one of the reasons why this is so messy, is because Democrats can only afford to lose three votes, right? The margin between Democrats and Republicans is so narrow, and Republicans are not going to vote for the budget bill. Who has the power in these negotiations? I can't tell. Can you clear that up for me?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it's very confusing, Jake. And so, right now you have the moderates that are saying, if you do not hold this vote, when you promise to hold this vote on --
TAPPER: The infrastructure vote.
BARRON-LOPEZ: -- the infrastructure vote bill, when you promise to hold it to Pelosi and to leadership, then we're not going to carry reconciliation. So they have leverage on that front because they don't want to vote for reconciliation.
Progressives do have some power. The question is, are they actually going to decide to vote in block, as Manu was saying, to sync the infrastructure bill, knowing that that can very well ruin the chances of the reconciliation bill? I don't know if progressives are fully there yet. They're threatening to be there. But we haven't seen them in the past take that big of a step on such a big agenda item for, you know, President Biden.
BARRON-LOPEZ: One thing that sort of also is that with this oppose it announcement of pay for is for the reconciliation --
TAPPER: Tax increases.
BARRON-LOPEZ: This revenue reasons that they quote, that's what the White House calls them. The White House didn't provide any additional information either today. They said, we're going to let that play out and seems to be saying that's like, you know, Pelosi and Schumer saying right now and provided no details on what exactly is in here or how they're talking to members about that.
TAPPER: And Seung Min, Speaker Pelosi said multiple times today, quote, "this is not about the price tag." But when it comes to the budget reconciliation bill, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but it really seems to be about the price tag.
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And for moderates, it's about the price tag.
KIM: Has they want to know how much this cost? They want to know how much of -- is it -- they want to know, is it worth putting or investing political capital in it depending on, you know, what it funds and how much it costs overall, which is the point that the leadership was trying to get to earlier today. But let's make it clear, a menu of options is not an actual meal that you can sink your teeth into. There is no meal right now. They are still -- the leaderships announcement was a little bit befuddling, because they weren't able to offer details of what they had come to an agreement with.
So it was clearly an attempt to move some sort of -- show some sort of forward momentum after yesterday's meetings with President Biden and various groups of lawmakers. But there hasn't been that much development since yesterday.
TAPPER: Yes. Speaker Pelosi promised moderates that the infrastructure bill would come up for a vote this coming Monday.
Take a listen to one moderate Democratic Congresswoman who met with Biden yesterday said on CNN this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SUZAN DELBENE (D-WA), CHAIR, NEW DEMOCRATIC COALITION: If we put a bill on the floor, we have to have 218 votes, that's the important criteria.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And if you don't have those on Monday, you're OK with waiting?
DELBENE: We have to make sure we get a bill passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. You know, I'm thinking about this idea, the menu of options. You know, a menu is important, because it does tell you what you might be able to do and what you're not going to do. And getting progressives to say, OK, we won't do certain things and getting moderate to say, OK, we will include certain tax increases. That's actually a pretty big deal.
Now, where they get to, we'll see. This is a mess for Democrats. It's not the Chinese Communist Party, right? People are arguing in public about what's going on.
Listen, I talked to some folks in the White House today. And one of the things I'm being told is that -- and I talk to progressive member of Congress, the progressives feel like they are doing -- they have been carrying the Biden water. They want to see some -- a little help from the moderates.
The moderates and the folks in the White House will say perhaps a number is one of the ways to get there. If the moderates --
TAPPER: How much are you willing to spend on a budget? If not (INAUDIBLE) 5 trillion? Yes.
SIMMONS: That's right. It gets toward a common number, that might be enough for the progressives to feel like, OK, now we're all in this together. Right now, the progressives feel like they're the only ones that are moving.
TAPPER: So --
KIM: And that's one of the -- sorry to interrupt. But that's one of the details that came out from our reporting out of the meetings yesterday, and that afternoon meeting with the moderate lawmakers.
President Biden, our sources tell us, really pressed on them to come up with a number, come up with something, come up with something that I can present to these other guys. And the moderates in that room refused to do it. So that -- you're certainly right.
And what progressives have said over and over, and you saw Bernie Sanders say this several times, today alone, that we have already come down, we wanted $6 trillion, and most of our caucus was on board and it's only a handful of people that kind of forced us to come down to that 3.5 number.
TAPPER: So, Bill, for, let's say suburban former Republicans in Virginia or wherever, watching this like yourself, for example, people who historically have supported Republicans but had a change of focus during the Trump era, what does this all look like to you?
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I mean, yes, it's a Democratic Party, right? Someone said that, congratulations, you voted for a Democrat last time, this is what you get.
But look, I think the White House, honestly, I know this decision (ph) to get involved, do a lot of meetings. I think they should, frankly, should just do the opposite. As you get the C.R. pass, the government stays open. I think --
TAPPER: That's a continuing resolution just to keep the government up and warm (ph).
KRISTOL: Keep the government up. OK?
KRISTOL: You don't want the government to close by at this point with a pandemic and other stuff going on. I think they could back the Republicans down on the debt limit and dare the Republicans to oppose it.
And if they, honestly, 50 Republicans and Senate voted against moving the debt limit, they should bust the filibuster on that. That is unbelievable -- anything, why is there a filibuster on extending the debt limit which have not extended, would destroy the credit and credibility of the U.S.?
TAPPER: Right. And most of the spending was under previous presidents?
KRISTOL: Yes, that's --
KRISTOL: -- just -- everyone agrees that has to happen. Even McConnell says it has to happen --
SIMMONS: That's got to be what the vote --
KRISTOL: No, it should bust the filibuster, either. It's a good excuse to, frankly, to begin to erode the filibuster. And then, Biden just say, you guys work this out. These deadlines are ludicrous. Where did September 27 come from? That is not a real deadline.
This 3.5 trillion, that can get appropriated four months from now or eight months from now. Most of it is not going to be spent for years. And then, what the Biden wider should do is, you know what we're going to do, we're going to really focus on the virus. We're going to get the -- more people vaccinated, we're going to get the five to 11-year- olds vaccinated as soon as possible. We're going to get the boosters done. We're going to get the rapid testing finally here, and two months from now the economy will be good.
KRISTOL: We'll turn the corner on the virus. And Congress, that's kind of a mess, but I'm president.
TAPPER: But on that note, John Podesta, who worked in the Clinton White House, sent a memo to every Democratic member of congress yesterday, it was obtained by "The New York Times." Podesta writes, in part, "The historical trend makes it clear that Democrats will face severe headwinds next November, but nothing will guarantee a political reckoning faster than if the Democrats fail to pass anything."
You're in touch with a lot of people who are working on these Democratic House races, Democratic Senate races, is Bill's plan, an option? Do they need to pass something?
SIMMONS: They need to pass something. I mean, I think I was here at this table a week or so ago saying it would be oblivion if they didn't, because what would you run on if you have a Democratic president, House and Senate and you can't pass a bill to help the American people? How do you go back and argue to the American people to vote for Democrats?
KRISTOL: How about solving the pandemic and having a strong economy? Honestly, they really, you know, and these are bridges that's going to be built by districts --
TAPPER: What do you think?
KRISTOL: I don't buy that.
BARRON-LOPEZ: What's interesting about the moderate progressive divide is that a lot of the moderates are not necessarily invulnerable seats. Stephanie Murphy from Florida is, but there are a lot of moderates in the House side that are frontliners that want this done and they want it done fast. And they're involved in the House --
TAPPER: The -- you mean the infrastructure?
BARRON-LOPEZ: No, they want not just infrastructure, they also want reconciliation.
TAPPER: They want it all just for today.
BARRON-LOPEZ: There's a lot that want --
BARRON-LOPEZ: -- like that prescription drug price negotiation to go through, to lower costs for that. They want to see a lot of that to go through because a number of Democrats have said, if any one of these things in this package would be able to pass it would give me a ton to run on in reelection. And so, they really do want to see all of it go through.
TAPPER: Oh, is that what you're hearing too?
KIM: Right. Definitely. And because and for -- on so many levels, this reconciliation package failure is not an option for Democrats. They are facing significant political headwinds next year, which is why with all the turmoil right now, and this is just part of the messy legislative sausage making process, it's hard to see Democrats let perfect be the enemy of the good, but we'll see what happens.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, they are as of right now.
KIM: Right now.
TAPPER: A lot of them, it seems to me.
SIMMONS: I think one of the things that doesn't matter --
SIMMONS: -- what happened with the Haitians down in the south, I'm hearing --
SIMMONS: -- for progressives, they're very concerned about that. African Americans feel like none of the rest of this matters or we don't do (ph).
TAPPER: We're about to cover that. Thank you so much. Thanks all for being here.
Some migrants are being sent back to Haiti. Some are being let into the United States. What's going on at the border? We're going to go live on the ground in Mexico and on -- in Haiti, next. Plus, do you qualify for a third COVID shot? A CDC panel just voted to approve booster shots for some Americans, but not everyone. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, more than 1000 Haitians have been deported from the U.S. Mexico border, but 3600 remain under the Del Rio International Bridge right now.
And as the Biden administration struggles to try to get a handle on the situation, 1000s of migrants are currently left in something of a limbo situation. Let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers live from the border.
Matt, at one point today law enforcement in Mexico formed a human chain trying to stop migrants from making the trip across the river. What are you seeing now?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and basically they succeeded in doing that, Jake. What we've seen over the past couple of days here are people from that encampment on the U.S. side coming across pretty freely from the U.S. here to Mexico to actually get supplies, easier to get that here in Mexico, less people less chaotic.
Food, water easier to get. Bathrooms are easy to get. We've even seen people come here for diapers. But that stopped this afternoon.
And I want to show you what it looks like on the other side of the border there. That group of migrants on the other side, those are some of the last people that were actually made able to make it across into the U.S. They will eventually make their way to that encampment where there are 1000s of Haitians remaining.
But I can show you why. If you come up here with me this way, coming up the embankment from this river. You know we talked a lot about Governor Abbott's in Texas, his wall of steel, all those troopers and Border Patrol, kind of preventing people from coming in. This is a mini Mexican version of that. So you got municipal police, you've got immigration police, you've got state police.
And if you look over here, there's some relatively, you know, more armed police officers here, more or less. Basically what happened, Jake, is when they initially started this chain of people to come and try and stop migrants from coming in, basically, you had six or seven immigration agents. They came here and prevented people from the Mexican side here from going across.
A couple people came up said, why can't we cross? Initially, word spread very quickly through the camp, then came dozens of migrants. Some of whom had come here simply to charge their phones quite literally and they said, we don't want to stay in Mexico. We don't want to go through the immigration process here. We want to
go back to the United States. They quickly overwhelmed the six or seven agents that were here, which is how we saw those more chaotic scenes around the 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. local hour here.
Few dozen Haitian migrants are able to make it across, but now there's more enforcement here. Again, with these vehicles here, we've seen several Haitian migrants come here recently arguing with the police saying, please let us through. One man said I've got a child on the other side. They are not letting anybody through right now.
So if you are a Haitian migrants in Mexico right now, even if your family is on the other side of that border, and you just came here to charge your phone, you're stuck. You're going to go through the immigration proceedings here and maybe get ported -- deported back to Haiti from Mexico instead of the United States.
TAPPER: Matt Rivers in Mexico for us. Thank you so much for the great reporting.
Turning now to Haiti, President Biden's own envoy to Haiti quit in disgust with the Biden administration's handling of Haitian migrants on the U.S. Mexico border. He called Biden's policies inhumane, he called them deeply flawed.
And in the last hour Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida told me that she's quote, "pissed."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: There is no need to deport Haitians to Haiti. That's inhumane. They cannot accept that.
They have no functioning government, no Senate, no parliament, no president. And the Prime Minister is being investigated for murdering the president. So, the government is in tatters.
Why would you deport people back to a country that's just trying as hard as they can to stay afloat and take care of the people that are there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And now CNN's Melissa Bell speaking one-on-one with some of those desperate Haitians deported back to a country filled with just that economic and political strife.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A scathing letter of rebuke to the U.S. government and a high-level resignation, the American special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, leaving his posts in protest. Telling the Secretary of State Antony Blinken Wednesday, he will, quote, "Not be associated with the United States' inhuman counterproductive decision to deport 1000s of Haitian refugees from the U.S. Mexico border." It comes as chaos intensifies that the poor (ph) who passed airport. Migrants arriving in droves from encampments at the U.S. border with Mexico, they were deported almost back to Haiti by the American government. Many longed for a better life in the U.S., desperate to escape devastating poverty, political unrest, and escalating gang violence in the Haitian capital.
The former U.S. envoy describing the situation as so dangerous that American officials in Haiti are confined to compounds. But these Haitian citizens have nowhere to hide, forced to return to the homeland they were trying so hard to escape.
(on camera): Those words by the U.S. Special Envoy about the grinding poverty, the endemic violence and the lack of basic resources here in Haiti, also reflected in the assessment made by the Department of Homeland Security in the spring when it decided to accord special protected person status to those Haitians already in the United States. And yet, the Haitians being returned at the moment here in their hundreds every day, haven't even been given the chance of applying for asylum.
(voice-over): Many return after a treacherous, sometimes deadly journey. Winding through South and Central America, some crossing nearly a dozen countries on route to the U.S. Some of those we spoke to tell us that once at the border, U.S. officials treated them more like inmates than exhausted refugees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we got to the U.S., they closed all the access points, and we could not go to buy food.
EDDY TEVERME, DEPORTED TO HAITI FROM THE U.S. (through translator): When we arrived in the U.S., the authorities put us on a bus and sent us to jail and said we would be relieved in two days. They put chains on our feet around our stomachs and our hands. They put us in cars and took us to the airport.
BELL (voice-over): Some deportees tell us they didn't know where they were being taken when U.S. authorities ushered them onto a plane. It wasn't until landing back in Haiti that they discovered it was a return to where they'd started. A seemingly tragic end to a long and desperate journey, it appears was all for naught.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BELL: Jake, the International Office for Migration has given us the latest figures. It is just under 1500 Haitian migrants that have now been returned to Haiti. Each with their own tragic tale of many years spent on the road and a return to a country that is worse now even than when they left it, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Melissa Bell in Haiti, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.
The Biden administration may be seeing a huge fight with former President Trump over unanswered questions about the Capitol insurrection. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, the Biden White House is seriously considering releasing details of the actions taken by then President Trump and his senior aides on January 6th, that's according to The Washington Post. The Select House Committee investigating the Capitol attack made the request and the Post reports today the National Archives sent its first tranche of documents to Biden and Trump lawyers back on August 31st.
Let's start the discussion with Jacqueline Alemany, who's one of the two that wrote The Washington Post story today. And Jackie, you write that the Biden White House is leaning toward releasing this information to Congress. From your reporting, how close is this do you think to actually happening to a done deal?
JACQUELINE ALEMANY, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, Jake, that's a really good question. And I think it's worth running through really quickly how exactly this works, which is that after the January 6th Select Committee that's investigating the insurrection that happened at the beginning of this year, they requested White House documents from President Trump, from the National Archives.
So those documents requested are being -- were identified by the National Archives personnel, they're then sent to Biden and his lawyers, as you just noted, that first tranche has already been sent by August 31st. It was sent August 31st.
There's likely more to come in terms of those document dumps that are going to be happening throughout the next few months. And now Trump, the former president has 30 days following the delivery of those documents to decide whether he's going to object to that release, according to the statute.
But this White House does have the current White House, the sitting White House Counsel, has the power -- some members of the committee argue -- to overrule any potential objections that the President might take here. We've already seen him claim executive privilege.
But something else that we revealed today is that this Select Committee has sort of come to a consensus, arguing that Trump no longer enjoys the protection of executive privilege. So they have been encouraging the White House, actively pushing them to put aside those institutional concerns.
Look back at former presidents like in 1977, Supreme Court ruling in Nixon versus the General Services, and move forward with the investigation by providing some of these documents which they think are really key to putting together a comprehensive historic record of what exactly happened during the insurrection and what the President was doing, which is still a big unanswered question. TAPPER: It is indeed. And Gloria Borger, if the Biden White House would -- did that, it would surprise a lot of people because, usually, you know, Joe Biden is an institutionalist and traditionally, quite often White House's stick up for this principle of executive privilege because they know if they don't, that could ultimately come back to bite them.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. But, you know, look at recent history. I mean, this White House said to two former Justice Department officials, you can testify about your conversations with the White House regarding the election. And they did. And so it gives you kind of an indication of where this White House is at this point.
TAPPER: You mean Biden -- the Biden White House has said that about Trump White House officials --
TAPPER: -- the Trump administration officials. Right, yes, yes.
BORGER: Sorry. Trump -- right, Trump administration officials.
BORGER: So, you know, they said go ahead and testify. This is a former president. This involves potential wrongdoing. There is precedent, as you just spoke about with Richard Nixon, and his tapes. And I think this is a matter of history. People want to know what this former president was doing in the days leading up to the insurrection. What was he doing that day? What conversations was he having?
So this is really important. They've done it before. They've said you can testify. So, to me, it's sort of like history. And I think the Biden people may be inclined to say, look, we're not going to stop this.
TAPPER: Rakesh, you worked as an Associate White House Counsel in the Obama administration. I want to read you what a Trump spokesperson told the Post, "The highly partisan, Communist-style Select Committee has put forth an outrageously broad records request that lacks both legal precedent and legislative merit".
The statement goes on to read, "Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of President Trump and his administration, but also on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our nation".
So ignoring for a second the histrionic rhetoric if we can, does executive privilege in your view still apply even though he's no longer president?
RAKESH KILARU, FORMER OBAMA ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Thanks, Jake, it's a great question. First, I should just note for full disclosure that my law firm Wilkinson Stekloff, I represent someone who's suing former President Trump, but not about any of these issues.
To answer your question, I think it's an uphill battle for a claim of privilege if President Biden doesn't agree with former President Trump. First of all, under the traditional understanding, executive privilege is something that only the current president can formally invoke. The second, I think there are some questions, potentially tough questions about whether privilege would apply here at all.
So in these communications, was former President Trump speaking more as the president or more as a presidential candidate? Were there any discussions of wrongdoing or potential criminal activity? If the answer to those questions is yes, the claim for privilege might be a lot weaker and those are some issues that I think but ultimately have to be confronted, if former President Trump wants to push forward.
TAPPER: Jackie, quickly, if you could, because we're running out of time, if the Select Committee gets a hold of these documents, what might be the political consequences?
ALEMANY: That's a really good question, Jake. And we've already heard very lightly veiled threats throughout our reporting from people like Johnny Smith (ph), who actually penned a memo outlining how former President Trump could potentially delay the certification of the election saying that current White House officials should be really looking ahead to the future already to 2023 to 2024.
And then if they set this precedent here, then their communications with President Biden might come out into the open just as this might potentially happen right now with former President Trump.
TAPPER: Mr. Eastman, the famous author of the how to stage --
TAPPER: -- an American coup memo. Very interesting. Thanks to all of you, really appreciate it.
Coming up, a CDC panel just voted on who can get a boost to see a COVID booster shot and who cannot. We're going to break it down for you next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Breaking news in our health lead, the highly anticipated COVID Pfizer vaccine boosters are one very important step closer to reality for some Americans. In the last hour, a CDC panel voted in favor of recommending a third Pfizer shot for Americans over age 65, for residents of long-term care facilities and for adults 18 and over with underlying medical conditions. But the panel voted against third Pfizer shots for those who work in high-risk jobs such as frontline health care workers.
Joining us now with more, our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, we'll get to the employees and high-risk jobs in a minute. But first, what's your reaction to the recommended Pfizer boosters? And what happens next and how quickly?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is going to cause some confusion. My sort of overall reaction to it is that I think that the recommendations that we're hearing are following the science. But you got to keep in mind that what most people have heard over the past month or so is initially everyone was going to get boosters, right? Everybody.
TAPPER: That came from Joe Biden, we should say. From Joe Biden, not from the science.
GUPTA: That came from the White House --
GUPTA: That it came from the White House and that's what Pfizer applied for it too, they wanted approval from the FDA for boosters for everybody. FDA said, we're going to do an Emergency Use Authorization and it's going to be for people who are over the age of 65 or at high risk, and people who are high risk of exposure as well, like health care workers and teachers.
CDC has dialed it back even a bit more now. So we can show you, and there was some contentious discussions going back and forth here. There was sort of a few major questions they were asking. First of all, they voted unanimously, yes, people over the age of 65 and long- term care facility residents recommending a booster for them. Ultimately, not unanimously, but ultimately, they recommended that 18 plus, 18 years and older also, with underlying conditions, get a booster.
That went back and forth, I can tell you, Jake, for a while, they kept going down by age and when they got to this point, there was a lot of discussion, do people that young need it. But as you saw on the bottom there, they're basically saying no for people who are just high risk of exposure. If you're a healthy person, 18 and older, high risk of exposure, they're not officially recommending a booster for them.
TAPPER: Why not?
GUPTA: You know, it's interesting, and this is, you know, we're seeing some of the process of science and how people interpret the data and sort of unfold. I think that they felt that the evidence wasn't clear enough to provide a benefit there.
What was interesting is that when the FDA talked about this issue, they basically said the reason we would authorize it for people who are in high exposure jobs, is to cut down on the likelihood of severe illness. People are going to get a lot of exposures, they're more likely to get sick.
What the CDC seem to focus on is, does it make a difference with this population in terms of transmission overall? Yes, if you're sick, you're high risk, because you have underlying conditions, that's different. But for a healthy person, they just didn't think the data was clear, even if they're in some sort of frontline job to recommend a booster.
What you kept hearing over and over again were two things. One is that the vaccines do work really well as they are, two shots. So we need to be very specific about who we think would get additional benefit. And the second thing is because it's so confusing, it's almost going to become an equity issue. People who know how to navigate the system can figure out the pharmacy, go and get this, they're the ones who are going to go get the shots.
But people who don't have that kind of knowledge or those kinds of connections won't. So that's part of the reason they also wanted to be very, very specific about who they thought, you know, would actually benefit from this.
TAPPER: And we should, just underlying, this is for the Pfizer vaccine, it is not for people who got the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So let me ask you, so I'm -- I know the next step is that the head, the Director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, she makes her decision basing it however she wants to on the advisory board. How soon will that happen? How soon will it be approved for the -- these booster shots to go into the arms of those who are in these vulnerable groups?
GUPTA: Well, and she could actually sign this as early as tonight, you know, by tomorrow. And, you know, part of the reasoning that we heard from the White House initially, you know, a month ago or so, was to get these boosters ready in pharmacy so they could be ready to roll out.
So the answer to your question is if Dr. Walensky signs this tonight, then by tomorrow, these boosters could start. If she signs tomorrow, then the next day. It's going to happen really, really quickly, because I think they got a lot of the infrastructure in place now.
TAPPER: So let me ask you hypothetical. Let's say there's somebody who isn't in the 65-year-old, or let's say he's 63 or 64. Let's say that he works in a grocery store. So kind of in a frontline position, but not. Let's say he has mild asthma. So he doesn't actually qualify, but he's like almost able to qualify in any one of these groups. What does that person do? Should that person get a shot? Should he talked to his doctor first? What do you think?
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, I think cut offs are always going to be challenging, right, because people are going to come right up against the cut off and ask these sorts of questions. What I would say is based on the science and now based on the recommendations from the CDC, if that person is healthy, doesn't have moderate asthma, because moderate asthma, for example, would be considered a risk factor for severe COVID.
They just have mild asthma and no severe risk factors. They wouldn't qualify necessarily for getting a shot. Now, the good news is they should feel comfortable that their vaccine works really well for them. That's I think where the conversation kept going here. We have to figure out what the cut off is. And based it on some sort of data, some would have argued that it should have been 60 and older.
When I looked at the data coming out of Israel and some of the cohort data here in the United States, you could make that argument. But for someone like that, maybe he waits, you know, until he turned 65. Frankly, you know, a lot of people are just going out and getting the shots. That's not the recommendation from the CDC. But we know 2 million people have already gotten the shots, Jake.
TAPPER: That's right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. And Sanjay has a new book coming out, "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One" comes out October 5th. You can pre-order now on Amazon.
Coming up next, a major flight attendant union wants passengers to start behaving better on planes and to get harsher punishments if they do not. That story next.
TAPPER: In our money lead today, a new pitch today to crack down on the skyrocketing number of unruly and obnoxious airline passengers of Flight Attendants union called for a zero-tolerance policy and to put problem passengers on a no-fly list. Given the 4,000 plus complaints log just this year alone, that would be quite a costly policy for airlines to adopt in the name of safety and security.
CNN's Pete Muntean has the pitch that was made the Congress and why some say it is so desperately needed.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ugly air rage is out of control, according to flight crews who say they are the target. This video is from a September 8th JetBlue flight. The airline says two people on board refused to wear masks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One warning, that's it. You give me one -- warning.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): It is an issue now too common for American Airlines Flight Attendant Teddy Andrews. He now expects problem passengers since he has already dealt with them.
TEDDY ANDREWS, AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT: He said, inward I can't tell him what to do. You and the government can't control men (ph). It's a free country.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): The story is just one told the lawmakers during Thursday's first ever hearing on unruly incidents that had been spiking during the pandemic. The Federal Aviation Administration says cases are still high, but it insists the rate has slowed since it put a zero-tolerance policy in place earlier this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's still too high.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unruly and illegal behavior shall not be tolerated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seat down now.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): Flight crews have reported another 101 incidents in just the last week, bringing this year's total to 4,385 cases. More than 70 percent are over the federal transportation mask mandate.
SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Everyone is under stress level 10.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants says the FAA's no tolerance policy must be made permanent since too many passengers are walking free, never facing prosecution or even fines.
NELSON: There needs to be criminal action right away because otherwise we're sending the message to these workers that they are on their own.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): Flight attendants are also demanding that airports stop selling to go alcohol. They say too many passengers are illegally drinking booze they brought on board, further fueling the soaring number of problems in the air.
ANDREWS: You can't just get away with it. You can't -- there's got to be some accountability for the behaviors that we're saying.
MUNTEAN: The federal mask mandate on planes is in place for now until at least January but some lawmakers use today as an opportunity to say with most unruly incidents having to do with mask, this problem would go away without a mask mandate. Jake?
TAPPER: Pete Muntean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Breaking news, a federal arrest warrant just issued for Gabby Petito's fiance Brian Laundrie, that's next.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our national lead. The FBI announced just moments ago that a federal arrest warrant has been issued for Brian Laundrie. The warrant is, quote, related to Mr. Laundrie's activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito, unquote, according to a tweet by the FBI Denver office. Gabby Petito's remains were found in a Wyoming National Forest last Sunday, near where the couple had been vacationing.
Laundrie returned home to Florida at the beginning of September without Petito and did not cooperate with investigators. He then went missing. And search teams have been combing a Florida nature reserve to try to find him.
Our coverage continues right now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room next door. See you tomorrow.