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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden White House Won't Assert Executive Privilege in January 6 Investigation; Bogus Arizona Audit Backfires on Trump, Confirms Biden Won; CDC Director Breaks with Advisory Panel, Expands Booster Eligibility. Sources: Afghan Evacuees in Europe Straining U.S. Bases; Biden Admits Dems Are at A "Stalemate" Over His Economic Plan; CDC Director Breaks with Advisory Panel, Expands Booster Eligibility. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 24, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That sham audit of Arizona votes backfired on Mr. Trump.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Trump praised them as, quote, highly respected auditors and then he deleted the statement once the bogus results came in concluding, again, anyway, that Biden won. So why is the Republican Party continuing to push these nonsensical election lies in even more states?

A shot of confusion. The CDC director just broke with her agency's own independent vaccine advisers to allow more Americans to get a third COVID shot.

Plus, even President Biden admitting now that his massive agenda is at a, quote, stalemate. Can his big spending plans make it through his own party?


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

And we begin this hour with some breaking news in our politics lead. This just in. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the Biden administration will not assert executive privilege and will not shield Trump-era records from the January 6th select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Simply put this means, the select committee can potentially access documents and other information relating to what then-President Trump and his top aides were doing before, during and after the Capitol insurrection on January 6th.

This development comes after the committee issued its first subpoenas compelling testimony from four close Trump allies seeking information about the insurrection, Trump and his supporters' most brazen and violent attempt to overturn the 2020 election, though not their only attempt.

And, meanwhile, former President Trump fighting to keep his big lie alive is still remarkably able to push Republican state legislators to conduct these not credible, bogus audits in places that he lost despite the fact that one of these attempts, so-called Arizona fraudit, has just ignominiously backfired on Trump and his fellow conspiracy theorists. That partisan exercise resulted now in the conclusion that President Biden, guess what, did indeed win the state of Arizona.

That setback, of course, is not stopping Trump and his mignons from continuing to undermine the 2020 election in apparent hopes of laying the groundwork to steal the upcoming election in 2024. For instance, the Texas secretary of state's office is now pushing what they are calling a forensic audit.

But wait you say. Didn't Trump win Texas? Yes. But this audit only looks at four big counties in Texas. Three of which were won by, that's right, now President Biden.

Relitigating the election in battleground states and counties cannot and will not change the outcome of the 2020 presidential race, but as CNN's Paula Reid reports, election watchers say the constant questioning and auditing and lying about the election is an unprecedented effort to undermine the American democracy.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his quest to spread the big lie, Trump has focused on the vote count in Arizona. His allies paid a company to find fraud. But five months and more than $5 million later, the results are in. They found none. In fact, a hand recount actually found more votes for Joe Biden.

Late last night, Trump posted a statement online calling the firm, reviewing the Arizona results highly respected auditors. But after the results confirming his loss were widely reported, the statement was deleted from his website.

The sham process was conducted by the Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas which has no experience in auditing but a hand recount by the company showed Biden got 99 more votes than Maricopa County originally reported and Trump received 261 fewer votes.

Maricopa County supervisor, Republican Bill Gates, bucked his own party to reject the sham process.

BILL GATES, MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Those behind this, they don't have reverence for democracy. They are trying to sow doubt so that down the road they can again question elections if they don't turn out the way they wanted them to.

REID: But the former president continues to spread the big lie. On Thursday, Trump published a letter to the Republican governor of Texas, a state he won by more than five points, demanding an election audit while making baseless allegations. Hours later, the secretary of state announced that Texas would carry

out audits in four of the state's largest counties.

Trump's efforts to undermine confidence in the system is being embraced by Republicans. In a recent CNN poll, most Republicans said they want Trump to remain their party's leader. And most Republicans also consider support for Trump and his false claim to have won the 2020 election to be an important part of their own partisan identity, alongside support for conservative principles. Nearly ten months after the 2020 election, the former president continues to trash even his closest allies if they don't support the big lie.

In a new book, "Peril", authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa document how senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee questioned Trump's claim that the election was stolen.

BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, "PERIL": These two Trump supporters come up with the conclusion it's bogus. There is nothing there.

REID: Now Trump is taking aim at the two lawmakers who were staunch allies and frequently seen by his side while in office.

I spent virtually no time with them, Trump wrote in a statement. Lindsey and Mike should be ashamed of themselves for not putting up the fight necessary to win.

This comes as the house select committee fired off its first round of subpoenas in its investigation into January 6th to four Trump loyalists. Investigators want to know what Trump and those around him did try to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In addition to what was known in Trump's orbit about the planning leading up to the insurrection and how the administration responded.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) : We're moving with great alacrity and essentially no one is off the table.

REID: The committee has targeted officials they believed would be uncooperative. They include Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then-acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller.

SCHIFF: These are four different witnesses. All very close to the former president, somewhere in direct communication with him on January 5th, on January 6th. They are reportedly in communication about how to overturn the results of the election.

REID: On January 5th, Bannon predicted on his podcast --

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: All hell is going to break loose.

SCHIFF: In a letter to Meadows, the committee noted he was allegedly communicating with the president on January 6th and they also want to know more about his efforts to plan and prepare to contest the presidential election and to delay counting of electoral votes. The committee is looking for a quick turnaround. And all four Trump

associates are expected to produce relevant documents by October 7th and appear for depositions the following week.

CNN has reached out to Meadows, Scavino and Bannon for comment. Patel said in a statement late Thursday he was disappointed but not surprised that the committee had subpoenaed him before seeking voluntary cooperation.


REID (on camera): Now that it appears that President Biden will not invoke executive privilege to block some of these requests, if these Trump allies still refuse to comply, the committee can refer them to the Justice Department, try to get this matter into court, arguing potential criminal contempt. That could lead to delays. Now even if these Trump allies eventually appear, there is no guarantee lawmakers will get any answers as they each have the right to invoke a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Paula, thank you so much.

Let's discuss. So, let me start with you, Hilary Rosen. The White House has decided that it would be inappropriate to assert executive privilege and block all this Trump information. What they were doing, what they were saying, what they were emailing, who they were calling from the committee. I will confess I'm a little surprised because Biden is generally an institutionalist. And who knows -- this precedent has been set after Nixon, but still, I am surprised.

What do you think?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the calculation inside the Biden White House is that they campaigned on being different, on transparency and telling the truth to the American people, and I think letting these documents go out reaffirms that. That's what he promised to do.

TAPPER: And, Alice, late last night, you can't make this stuff up, late last night, former President Trump sent out a statement before the audit results came out praising the, quote, highly respected auditors in Arizona. Those are his words, highly respected auditors.

Then the audit came out. It doesn't really matter because it's bogus but it concluded Biden won by even more votes. And again, none of it is credible to me. It doesn't matter but then Trump goes in and deletes the statement from his website. I mean -- I guess nothing matters is the --


ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oops. It's a pattern, right? When you are supportive of the president, you're brilliant. When you're critical, you're an idiot.

And the problem with Arizona, those are the president's own cyber nimrods who could not produce a kraken --

TAPPER: I think you misspoke. They call themselves Cyber Ninjas.

STEWART: They are ninjas but they are not in this particular case.

TAPPER: Not cyber nimrods, Cyber Ninjas.

STEWART: I know, but I have my own --

TAPPER: Oh, you know. Okay, okay. I just wanted to make sure that wasn't a mistake.

STEWART: It was -- I meant to say that because, look, here's the situation is we knew we had free and fair elections across the country. We know we had free and fair elections in Arizona and this exercise in futility is a complete and absolute waste of time.

And Republicans should not continue to feed into the big lie. We should not continue to support people that will investigate allegations of false election and we should instead focus on past grievances of 2020, let's focus on our policies of the future because that's the only way we're going to do well in 2022.

TAPPER: And there's plenty to criticize of the current administration.

Olivier, you think this is more about 2024.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, that's right. What's important here is not the relitigation of 2020 but the pre-litigation of 2022 and 2024. You have seen it in the president's remarks, casting doubt on the legitimacy of future Democratic victories.

That's why this is -- I don't -- I'm going to disagree with --


TAPPER: -- big D democratic victories, or small D democratic victories or both?

KNOX: In this case, there's a considerable overlap. That's why this is important. I understand what you are saying about a waste of time but that's why we can't look away from this because what you are seeing in the post-election Republican Party is two systematic efforts to rewrite voting rules to pare back practices that benefit Democrats, and the other one, which is turn over more election powers to partisan Republican office holders. You know, a handful of Republican office holders held Donald Trump at bay in 2020. And the party is now structuring it so that those people won't -- those checks and balances won't be there next time.

So, look forward, not backward in the great cliche of American politics.

TAPPER: And, Tia, one of the things that's remarkable. There are so many conspiracy theories about this election, all of them bogus. But, you know, you had the Italian military was using satellites to change results. You had the people in the fraudit looking for bamboo in the ballots because supposedly they came from China.

But then also the craziness about dominion voting systems and "The New York Times" obtained new court documents showing that officials working for the Trump re-election camp were aware that the voting machine claims being pushed by pro-Trump attorneys were baseless. This is in the context of dominion voting systems suing Giuliani and FOX News for defamation. Yet the lie is still out there.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Yeah, I find it fascinating that dominion has taken the role of being very aggressive in suing the people that they say have lied about them. And if it were not for dominion's lawsuits, a lot of this may not have been uncovered because Republicans in Congress have been very, you know, have put up road blocks to the investigations in a lot of ways.

But I think it shows again, if you are with Trump, you have to be with him 100 percent. And there were people willing to be with him so desperate to be with him that they were willing to lie.

TAPPER: Yeah. Not worth it.

ROSEN: That's why the fact they are going into Texas now trying to push a recount is super interesting to me because Texas is the first state where actually they elected a Republican senator the same time that Donald Trump got defeated.

So John Cornyn now has to go out there and defend Trump and say, oh, yeah, the election results in Texas aren't valid. Does that mean he's questioning his own election, too?

TAPPER: Remember, he's only doing four counties. Three of which are counties Biden won. One of which is a county that Trump won. Why? Why would that be?

STEWART: Well, they want to show any and every place they can possibly find voter irregularities or fraud in the election process. And let me just say this. I've worked in the secretary of state's office on the state level and elections are run state by state, county by county. These are people that work very hard to have free and fair and accurate elections. And there's not widespread voter fraud.

And any time in any time and money we spend on relitigating in the past is just time and money not well spent. And I think the fact that the numbers came out even more in favor of Joe Biden in Arizona is a classic case of it's time to move on and focus on the future.

TAPPER: But all of this, including the death threats is chasing good people out of the process of working for secretaries of state office, election boards and the rest.

ROSEN: Mostly civil servants. Not necessarily partisan people. They are literally civil government workers. TAPPER: Yeah.

ROSEN: But Olivier is right. There's going to be litigation in over 11 states, I think, on voter access and on these claims.


So it might just be that for 2022, the courts will matter more than the state legislatures.

MITCHELL: And the other thing is more partisans are replacing those civil servants. That's the other point is that, especially in Republican-led states or in states that, you know, at the very granular level, pro-Trump Republicans are starting to say sign up to be your precinct captain. Sign up for your local election board and that's what could be scary in the future when those checks and balances are supposed to make sure the right thing happens.

But again, the pattern is, if you're a Trump Republican you may not always stand for what's right. You might stand for what he wants you to do if those don't match up.

TAPPER: For instance, in Georgia, where your paper is, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who is a Republican, a partisan, a conservative, he is being challenged by Republican Congressman Jodi Hice not because Raffensperger isn't conservative, isn't Republican, isn't a devout Christian, but because he abided by the rule of law.

MITCHELL: Right, and because he said Biden won. Now he has a challenger for someone who questions whether Biden won in Georgia. If Jodi Hice becomes the secretary of state, he's the one who will be in charge in that 2024 race.

STEWART: And Raffensperger is, like me, would have prefer forward Donald Trump to have won this election but he didn't. And Raffensperger counted the votes, not once, not twice but three times and came to the same conclusion. At some point, you have to realize it's time to go.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Appreciate your time.

Still ahead -- getting everybody on the same page when it comes to a third shot of the COVID vaccine. Can you roll up your sleeve now?

And breaking on THE LEAD, U.S. military bases grappling with evacuees, including 2,000 pregnant women and just one U.S. base?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, a shot of confusion rather than go with the booster recommendations of the CDC's independent board of vaccine experts, President Biden's top doctor at the CDC, the CDC director agreed with the FDA and expanded third shot eligibility to those working in high-risk jobs such as people who work at grocery stores and schools or frontline health care workers. The issue is not just about who should get boosters. It's also about the confusion and possibly even undermining the vaccine effort.

Take a listen to former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FDA COMMISSIONER: The split between the two agencies I think creates a perception that the government doesn't really have its act together and there's confusion. And the recommendations ultimately issued by the CDC, I think, will be hard for the medical practice and patients to interpret and actually implement.


TAPPER: Confused? Let's try to clear it up.

Here is who is officially eligible. First, you have to have had the Pfizer vaccine, not any of the others. Second, you must be six months out from the second dose. Third, you have to be 65 years and up. Or you have underlying health conditions in which case anyone 18 years and older qualifies.

Then, of course, CDC Director Walensky's addition for the FDA. Anyone working or working in a high-risk environment is also eligible.

Joining us to discuss is Dr. William Schaffner.

So, Dr. Schaffner, one of the reasons for the confusion and for some skepticism about Dr. Walensky's announcement is that a month ago, President Biden announced this --


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The plan is for every adult to get a booster shot eight months after you got your second shot. Pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC's committee of outside experts will be ready to start this booster program during the week of September 20.


TAPPER: So Biden was, in fact, pushing every adult to get a booster. Every adult who had a Pfizer shot. But that's not the case. Do you understand how people are confused and maybe some people are even skeptical about whether or not the CDC is following the political operatives at the White House instead of the CDC advisory committee?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, sure, Jake. Actually, I think it's a work in progress, right? And we anticipate that, as we get more data, it may well be that the recommendations are expanded even further. And actually, I anticipate that on down the road. As you said, Pfizer today will expect Moderna to come along pretty

soon and behind them J&J. So that I think fairly soon we will have recommendations for everyone who has been vaccinated previously.

And in the meantime, while we're talking about the third doses for people, these booster doses, we have to pay attention to all the people who haven't gotten their first dose yet. That continues to be public health goal number one.

TAPPER: Well, that's just it. We have 70 million eligible Americans who need to get their first shot and all this discussion and debate about people like you and me who have already had two shots and are pretty protected as these things go. Shouldn't the priority still be the focus still be trying to convince skeptics and focus on these 70 million who haven't gotten even one shot?

SCHAFFNER: Well, as I say, I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have two goals. Continue to focus priority number one, the point of view of public health is getting people vaccinated who have not yet been vaccinated. In the meantime, we can extend protection even longer down the road to people who have already been vaccinated who continue to have very, very good protection against serious disease and hospitalization.


Yes, it's waning a little bit. But that's why the boosters are also recommended for those folks.

TAPPER: So, these breakthrough cases for people who are fully vaccinated, get infections and we should note they are still largely protected and people who have got be these breakthrough infections say, so many of them say, thank God I was vaccinated because if I hadn't, I would have ended up in the hospital instead of just like having a cold or just feeling a little tired. But these breakthrough cases are becoming more common.

This morning, Vice President Harris was supposed to be on set with the ladies of "The View." Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need the two of you need to step off for a second.

JOY BEHAR, THE VIEW CO-HOST: Ana and Sonny have to leave.


BEHAR: Shall I introduce the vice president?


BEHAR: Okay. So vice president --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. BEHAR: No. OK. Shall we dance? Let's do a tap dance.


TAPPER: Live television has its hazards.

Obviously, this doesn't mean the vaccines are not effective. They are. They are keeping people who get infected out of the hospital. Sonny and Ana looked great, I'm sure felt great.

Will a booster cut down on the amount of breakthrough cases, though?

SCHAFFNER: That's a hope. And we would like to see that going down the road. We'll have to assess that. Remember, the main goal of these vaccines continues to be keep the -- your infection from being so severe that you have to be hospitalized. Obviously, our health care facilities are being stretched. Over 90 percent of the people who are in the hospital now with COVID are unvaccinated. We've got to get those people on board.

TAPPER: Yep. Get vaccinated, folks.

Dr. William Schaffner, always good to have you. Thanks so much. Have a good weekend.

Coming up next, brand-new reporting on what's becoming a dire situation. U.S. bases across Europe are strained by the thousands of Afghan evacuees who are now calling those bases home, for now.



TAPPER: Our world lead now, it was a dangerous scramble to get them out of Afghanistan after the United States left and the Taliban took over. And now thousands of Afghan evacuees are facing yet another challenge at American military bases across Europe. Two sources familiar with the situation at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany say there are not enough resources to handle all of the evacuees, and predicting things will only get worse as it begins to get colder.

Adding to the challenge, the sources tell CNN that approximately 2,000 or two-thirds of the female evacuee evacuees at that base are pregnant.

CNN's Oren Liebermann brings us this news from the Pentagon.

And, Oren, there are obviously growing concerns about all sorts of resources but also medical resources.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Ramstein air base was never supposed to be a base where 10,000 Afghans stayed for weeks. They were only supposed to be there ten days after their arrival. They're supposed to go through screening and processing, in a matter of days, relatively quickly. And then move on to the United States where they'd stay at a military base as they continued applications for a visa or some other way to stay in the U.S.

But because of a small number of measles cases discovered among the Afghan population in the U.S., those flights have been paused for weeks and what was supposed to be a short stay at Ramstein and other bases has become weeks, more than a month straining the resources, the medical resources and ability of Ramstein to hold this many people on its flight line where there are normally taxiways and parking spots for airplanes. There are more than 200 tents housing some 10,000 refugees.

One of the sources says this is the forgotten ten as the efforts in the focus shift to some 53,000 Afghans already in the United States and those at Ramstein and other bases are effectively just sitting there. In the weeks they've been there, there have already been 22 pregnancies, according to those sources, and there are 2,000 pregnant women amongst the population at Ramstein, even if they're not all due in the immediate period. Some of them are. And that strains the medical abilities of Ramstein as well as surrounding bases, according to the sources.

As these flights are paused, at least one got through. A State Department flight Omni Air stopped in Italy, Ramstein, Qatar and then flew to Chicago where it let off 58 Afghan youths. The sources frustrated that State didn't let more people onto those flights. Germany is confident the flights will restart soon.

TAPPER: Uh-huh. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thanks so much for the update.

President Biden admits his spending plans are facing a stale mate but he's confident they'll get through Congress. Can that stand up to a reality check from Capitol Hill?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead now.

President Biden acknowledging today his agenda is at a, quote, stalemate on Capitol Hill, as progressives and moderates in his own party feud over the final price tag of his multitrillion-dollar budget bill. President Biden said, however, that he is still optimistic that more than $4 trillion worth of economic plans which includes funding for not just roads, bridges and public transportation but also child care and expansion of Medicare will get passed.

We're covering this story from both ends of Pennsylvania avenue starting with CNN's Phil Mattingly live for us at the White House.

So, Phil, what was President Biden's message to Democrats and the public today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, the message to Democrats was actually take a look what's in the package. What's in the $3.5 trillion proposal the president put on the table. He provided a window into what's been a simmering frustration for White House officials over the course of the last couple of weeks that the battles over just the top-line expense has really obscured popular issues inside. Whether it's paid leave, whether it's climate change, proposals, whether it's universal pre-K and that Democrats have been focused not on those but issues that don't define what the package will be, and that has left them in a stalemate as the president laid out.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we're at this stalemate at the moment, and we're going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Both need to be passed. And some of them when they go through their priorities, it adds up to a number higher than they said they were for. Because I think this is -- we're getting down to the, you know, the hard spot here.


MATTINGLY: There's certainly a hard spot and a critical moment with real time pressure. Now the president, obviously, met with Democrats earlier this week for nearly five hours. More meetings are expected. Staff meeting with key lawmakers over the last 24 hours. Everybody knows this is an inflection point moment for the agenda.

Well, the president made clear this may go on a lot longer than the next couple of weeks. That's how much they need to get it done. Certainly time is of the essence right now.

TAPPER: Uh-huh, between a progressive rock and moderate hard place, as it were.

Phil Mattingly, thanks.

Let's get a "reality check" from CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill for us.

And, Ryan, Speaker Pelosi said she expects both of these bills to pass next week. Is that realistic?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just from a procedural perspective, Jake, it really isn't very realistic to think they'll be able to cobble together an agreement between the progressive wing of the party and the moderate wing of the party on this big $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan, have the bill written and ready to go by next week and then also vote on that other $1.2 trillion infrastructure package by as soon as Monday. There's just too much work to do and not enough time to get it done.

And that doesn't even take into account the fact that they really aren't anywhere near an agreement. We were outside Speaker Pelosi's office a couple of hours ago. A group of moderate lawmakers emerged. Among them, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who is the lead negotiator on the moderate side.

We saw him in an earnest discussion with the majority leader, Steny Hoyer. Steny Hoyer telling us they still plan to bring that bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor on Monday. The problem is, Jake, that progressives have said repeatedly that they will vote no if the bill comes to the floor on Monday without a clear path to understanding how that reconciliation piece is passed and then eventually put into law.

So we're really not in any better of a place than we were just a couple of days ago. Time is ticking away to the Monday deadline. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to insist and tell everyone to remain calm. That she has a plan to get all this done.

Jake, at this point she's just not sharing with us what the specifics are.

TAPPER: Right. Ryan nobles, thanks.

In the next hour, we're going to look at what exactly is in that $3.5 trillion budget bill.

Coming up, the nationwide interest in the disappearance of Gabby Petito is raising questions such as why there isn't as much media or law enforcement attention or seeming urgency in the search for some missing people of color.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Tragic news in our national lead today.

The body of a missing Illinois graduate student has been identified a month after he went missing. Jelani Day was 25 years old. He wanted to become a speech pathologist. His mother has been critical of law enforcement saying she didn't think there was any urgency in solving this case and it wasn't getting the attention it deserved. She says she had to organize her own searches for him. Police say recent national public exposure may have helped them find Jelani's body.

As CNN's Adrienne Broaddus reports, missing persons cases are often treated very differently in the public eye, depending upon the race of the missing person.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disappearance of Madeleine McCann --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba.

BROADDUS: -- murdered or missing white women and children who captured national media attention. The most recent -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still on the hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance.

BROADDUS: Gabby Petito found dead in Wyoming eight days after she was reported missing.

In Chicago, Karen Phillips is fighting to make sure the world knows her daughter, Kierra Coles, a mail carrier missing for almost three years.

KAREN PHILLIPS, DAUGHTER MISSING SINCE 2018: I believe that if Kierra was a different color, we'd have more results by now.

BROADDUS: This photo of Coles holding an ultrasound after learning she was pregnant is one of the last pictures taken of her in 2018.

PHILLIPS: We couldn't wait. We could not wait.

BROADDUS: Phillips is among dozens of black and minority families struggling to get attention on their missing person cases.

PHILLIPS: I just miss her. She was doing so good in everything she wanted to do. Then for her to just come up missing.

ZACH SOMMERS, CRIMINOLOGIST: There are thousands of cases out there of folks missing we don't know about.

BROADDUS: Zach Sommers, a criminologist specializing in missing persons cases, says only a fraction of minority cases receive nonstop news coverage compared to white people.

GWEN IFILL, TV ANCHOR: If there's a missing white woman, we're going to cover that every day.

BROADDUS: A systemic issue the late longtime anchor Gwen Ifill coined missing white woman syndrome in 2004.

SOMMERS: Missing white woman syndrome is the idea that young white women and girls, they get much more news coverage than other folks in different demographics when they go missing.

BROADDUS: According to 2020 FBI data, blacks only make up 13 percent of the U.S. population. They account for nearly a third of the missing persons cases in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you see her, tell her we love her.


BROADDUS: In Washington state, Mary Johnson's family is still waiting for answers. Johnson went missing late last year from the Tulalip preservation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a Native American woman. I'm not racist or anything but she deserves the same treatment.

BROADDUS: Online, black and brown families are using #gabbypetito to post about their missing loved ones hoping to gain momentum.

A move that helped the family of Daniel Robinson raise awareness. Robinson went missing in June.

ROGER HOLLY ROBINSON, BROTHER MISSING SINCE JUNE: We shouldn't have to depend on other stories or other cases to push our own story. And I'm just -- we just want answers just like anyone else.

BROADDUS: Those families saying they didn't get the same allocation of resources or treatment from law enforcement.

SOMMERS: There's data that suggests that when people of color go missing, especially young adults, teens, adolescents, they're more likely to be classified as runaways by police. They're more likely to be considered missing of their own accord by voluntary means.

BROADDUS: How do we balance the coverage?

SOMMERS: No one is saying Gabby that isn't worthy of coverage. It doesn't have to be Gabby Petito or someone else gets coverage. The same spotlight should be getting shown.

BROADDUS: Today, Phillips should be celebrating her daughter's 29th birthday. Instead she, made flyers with the message "Find Kierra Coles."

PHILLIPS: What can we do other than try to keep her name out there. Keep doing interviews and hopefully one day somebody will just call it in and just leave a tip. We grieve every day because we don't know where she is or what's going on.


BROADDUS: And in Wyoming, where Petito's remains were discovered this week, more than 700 indigenous people were reported missing between 2011 and September of 2020. And, Jake, over half of them were women.

TAPPER: Yeah, as you noted in the piece, Gwen Ifill, the late great news anchor talked about a missing white woman syndrome. And it was part of her push for diversity in newsrooms but it also applies to diversity in law enforcement, diversity in prosecutors' offices. This is one of the reasons why it's important to have diversity.

BROADDUS: Absolutely, across the board no matter the profession. I remember when Ifill made those comments back in 2004, we were at a journalism conference in Washington, D.C. It was the Unity Conference.

And she said what so many people were thinking and back then, quite frankly, were afraid to say. Diversity and representation matters because if you have different groups at the table, these conversations will happen. And we see people are listening now and people are speaking up, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, indeed. Adrienne Broaddus, appreciate it.

The migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, that once held thousands of migrants, it's now been cleared out. Where did they all go? We're live in Texas, and in Haiti.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD.

This hour, the huge migrant camp in Texas has been cleared out by border patrol authorities. So where did all the migrants go?

We're live in Haiti where many have been sent back by the Biden administration.

Plus -- Democrats still wrestling over essentially the entire Biden agenda. But what's even in the $3.5 trillion budget plan? Well, we're going to tell you coming up.

And leading this hour, booster shots are officially here for some Americans, notably those over the age of 65 or adults with underlying medical conditions. And in an unusual move, the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky broke with her own agency's own independent vaccine advisers to follow the lead of the Biden White House and the FDA advisory committee to recommend boosters also for people who work or live in high-risk environments such as health care workers.

This all comes after President Biden first suggested that all Americans would be eligible for these third doses before letting the health experts and the FDA and CDC weigh in first.

And as CNN's Nick Watt reports, President Biden is telling eligible Americans to go get their shots now, setting the example by telling reporters he's getting his third jab any moment.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The booster shot is free and easily accessible.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And the roll out ramps up today.

BIDEN: When to start the shot and who will get them is left to the scientists and the doctors.

WATT: For now, only those who got the Pfizer vaccine and not all of them. The CDC now recommends these people should get a booster at least six months after their second shot. Everyone 65 and up and 50 to 64-year-olds with underlying medical conditions.

Also, these people may get the booster, 18 to 49-year-olds with underlying medical conditions and adults at increased risk of infection in their occupational or institutional setting.

The CDC's vaccine advisers did not vote in favor of that last group. DR. PABLO SANCHEZ, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS: We myself as well just

say give it to everybody 18 and older.

WATT: The CDC director disagreed. Why?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Our health care systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country. Our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom. It was a decision about providing rather than withholding access.