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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Time Is Running Out On Funding The Government And Pushing The Biden Agenda; Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) Is Interviewed On Deadline Of The Debt Ceiling, Infrastructure Bill And Reconciliation Bill; Trump Appointees Downplayed White Supremacy Threats And Russian Interference; R. Kelly Guilty Of Sex Trafficking; Migrants At Del Rio, Texas Cleared Out; N.Y. Hospitals Brace For Staffing Fallout From Vaccine Mandate. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 17:00   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meanwhile, a government shutdown looms at weeks end if Republicans and Democrats can't reach a deal to keep federal agencies open. The key day now Thursday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a final House vote on the infrastructure bill that the Senate approved last month.

Sources tell CNN that House progressives want moderates like Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to sign off on an outline of the larger plan including a final price tag in order to vote for the infrastructure bill. Without such a commitment, the source tells CNN that at least 40 progressives have vowed privately to vote to block the infrastructure bill.

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): We have to have the reconciliation passed first. Absolutely.

RAJU (voice-over): But Manchin cast doubt when asked by CNN on Monday about the prospects of a Thursday deal.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): That's a heavy lift and you know there's a lot to do. A lot to talk about.

There's a lot in that bill, the $3.5 reconciliation bill. Tax codes, climate change, social reforms. There's a lot. And people need to know what's in it. So it's going to take a while.

RAJU (voice-over): The larger safety social net plan deals with issues spanning the gamut. An expansion of Medicare, tuition free community college, measures to deal with climate change, an extension of the child tax credit and tax hikes on corporations and high earners to pay for it. This hour, Pelosi convening a closed door meeting where she will try to get Democrats in line and make the case that her party must stay united or risk seeing everything collapse along with their narrow majorities in Congress.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Failure is not an option. "D" for Democrats is delivery and we're all going to have to come together.

RAJU (voice-over): All this as a potential economic catastrophe also awaits. Senate Republicans plan to block a bill this hour to keep the government open past Thursday because it includes a suspension of the federal borrowing limit, something Congress must do to avoid an unprecedented debt default by the middle of next month.

(On camera): Will there be any chance there'll be 10 Republicans would vote to raise the debt ceiling?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Not 10, no.


RAJU (on camera): But that last point critical because the current process in which Democrats are doing to raise the debt limit would require 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. There are 50 Democrats and Republican leaders are clear. So now what do the Democrats do? They're still trying to hash out their legislative strategy both to keep the government open past Thursday, as well as to avoid the debt default.

Number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, just told me moments ago that that discussion is still ongoing and I said will they -- will you keep the government open past Thursday, strip out that debt ceiling increase and do the -- and extend government funding for a few weeks? He said Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority, will make the decision and inform the rest of the caucus. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us. Thanks so much.

Let's stay on Capitol Hill and talk about all of this with Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan. She's a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

So, if House Speaker Pelosi on Thursday turns to you and says I tried but the reconciliation bill, the $3.5 trillion bill is not ready but still you have to vote for this bipartisan infrastructure bill, we need to deliver it for the American people, what will you tell her?

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D-MI): I'm also co-chair of the Women's Caucus and we have been extremely firm and focused. We must get invest in our families with child tax credits, with child -- with care for our elders and early childhood, Pre-k. Those are things that we cannot walk away from.

I have a lot of confidence in Nancy Pelosi's ability to negotiate and to make sure that we are moving this forward. When you take away the dollars and talk about these programs, you can be very hard pressed to find a single member of Congress who say we don't need this investment in our community and in our families.

TAPPER: Right. Now, I understand the $3.5 billion -- I'm sorry -- trillion reconciliation budget, that's big. It's important to you. But will you vote no on infrastructure on Thursday if there isn't an agreement when it comes to that larger bill?

LAWRENCE: We're getting ready to go to a closed door meeting where we're going to talk about that. I am positioned to demand that we move both at the same time. I understand that there may be some haircuts along the way. That $3 trillion that we're asking may not be the reality, but those programs need to survive. They need to survive so that we can take care of our elderly and our children and the Pre-k.

So I am one that knows sausage is a very difficult combination of things and that we're in the middle of making sausage. And I want to see what the climate is because I was formally a mayor and I know how important our investment is and needed for our infrastructure. The last time we did was a new deal, which was 1930. So I'm very committed to that as well.


TAPPER: So just to make sure our viewers watching and people listening understand what the congresswoman is saying when you refer to a haircut, you're talking about the price tag coming down from $3.5 trillion.


TAPPER: So you would be willing, if there is some sort of agreement to be had, to come down from $3.5 trillion?

LAWRENCE: I am extremely focused on the programming on the issues and if I can get there with a haircut, let's keep it moving and let's make it happen and take care of the American families.

TAPPER: And when it comes to the commitment, the agreement that would need to be made before you would vote for infrastructure, an agreement on the larger $3.5 trillion bill, what would you need from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the two more moderate Democrats in the Senate who say that this bill, the reconciliation bill, is just too much money. What kind of commitment do you need from them in order to vote for infrastructure?

LAWRENCE: You know, one of the things that I think is being discussed and is misleading, it's not a one-time. It is over $3 trillion. It's over 10 years.

TAPPER: Right.

LAWRENCE: And what I want is a commitment. Like I said, for early education, Pre-k. We know that every other competing country, their children are outperforming us when they invest in early childhood development. Care for our elderly. We know that those who are caregivers for our children and nursery schools and our elders and nursing homes, they are not being given the salaries and it's not a benefit and people need to have that child tax credit. Those are things that are extremely important to me.

TAPPER: Senator Sinema has been among those raising concerns about corporate tax increases to pay for the programs you're talking about. That's according to a person familiar with the matter. What would you say to her?

LAWRENCE: I would say to her, the gift that was given in the previous administration that lowered the taxes for these large corporations, this is a time for corporations to step up and to be treated equally and their contribution to moving this country forward and increasing our economy.

So, you know, you say tax the rich. You're taxing the middle class and you're taxing the poor. Let's tax everyone at that same rate. And we know that that gift that was given created part of our deficit that we're dealing with right now in our budget from the previous administration. So I am -- I'm not losing any sleep over that. It will be a fair tax. It's one that can pay for the investment in our communities that we need.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence from the great state of Michigan, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

LAWRENCE: Thank you, Jake. Have a wonderful day.

TAPPER: You, too. Coming up, one Afghan woman's story of getting to safety. Details on one of the most secretive operations in the Afghanistan evacuation run in part by the CIA.

Plus, prepare for sticker shock. One of the most popular foods is getting a lot more expensive.



TAPPER: In our "Politics Lead," members of the January 6th committee tell CNN that they have not ruled out involving the Justice Department if Trump allies refuse to testify after they have been issued subpoenas. And while that battle unfolds, a whistleblower who once worked at the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump has come forward

saying he was told to lie to manipulate intelligence about issues that made Trump look bad including threats from white supremacists. And he believes that directly affected how prepared the government was for the January 6th insurrection.


BRIAN MURPHY, WHISTLEBLOWER, FORMER DHS OFFICIAL: From the moment I arrived there, there was three main topics that really would draw the ire of the administration. They were anything to do with white supremacy, Russian disinformation and the southwest border.

BRIANNA KELLAR, CNN HOST: Do you think this denialism affected preparedness for January 6th?

MURPHY: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: We should include and while I discuss this with my panel, we should note, this is a self-described conservative Republican who came forward to describe all this. Jackie, I mean, we've known former President Trump didn't like information that might make him look bad, including the idea the white supremacist threat was getting stronger, perhaps partly inspired by his rhetoric and seeming support for their cause, but to hear it directly impacted the response to January 6th, that's shocking.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: And yet it isn't in a way because of what we know about --

TAPPER: Right. Shocking yet not surprising as always?

KUCINICH: Well, right. Yes, exactly. I mean, that's kind of like the epithet for the Trump administration. But I think that we know that this is a president who didn't want to punish that group, who didn't want to say anything bad about neo-Nazis marching at Charlottesville, for goodness sake, because there were people within that movement that supported him. That didn't -- that said nice things about him. And at the end of the day that's all that mattered.

And look what happened in the aftermath of January 6th. He went from not saying anything to kind of tacitly supporting this failed rally that went on a couple of weeks ago on the Hill.

TAPPER: And Amanda, Trump continuing his efforts to undermine democracy, setting the stage for 2024. This time he's defending his efforts to get state officials to audit or question the 2020 results. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They say I'm being aggressive, but you have to be aggressive to weed out this horrible election corruption. You have to be aggressive. In truth, they're not after me. They're after you. I just happen to be in the way. That's what's really happened.



TAPPER: I mean, once again we just have to underline the president is lying, former president is lying. There was no evidence of widespread fraud that would have changed the election result and the only person who sought to disenfranchise legal voters was Trump and his team and yet it seems like it doesn't matter. The Republican base now believes this.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Yes. I mean, this is an exercise in facts and logic. What Donald Trump is doing, this is a continuing act of election subversion. It's happening in Arizona. I don't even like calling what's going on audits. These are partisan sham investigations meant to delegitimize the election and prime the base to overturn the results of a duly -- of a credible election.

This is ongoing. We could fact check this all day but this is an exercise in power in the way that he gets other Republicans to do what he wants to do. And that's why these sham investigations are spreading to places like Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, because this isn't about votes. It's not about counting them. Its raw power and setting the stage to cancel elections that Republicans don't win.

TAPPER: Yes. And every time we cover Trump on this show, I always hear feedback from liberals who say or progressives who say stop giving him oxygen, stop giving him air. All you're doing is what he wants. But the truth is this is a continued threat to democracy. And take a listen to what Liz Cheney said about this on "60 Minutes" yesterday.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Those who think that by ignoring Trump he will go away have been proven wrong. When you look at the spread of these mistruths and the spread of the disinformation, you know, silence enables it. Silence enables the liar. And silence helps it to spread.


TAPPER: I don't think that factually anybody can argue with that.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: Yes, that's right. And I think when you heard the initial results of that audit, the kind of sham audit --

TAPPER: The sham audit, yes.

TALEV: The thinking was, well, see, even the sham audit found that there was no -- so isn't that a good thing? But the truth is, as we all know, we all cover or are involved in politics, that just the fact that there is an audit raises that question and people couldn't hear what they want to hear, they take away what they want to take away, it validates the idea when you do an audit like this.

Even if the ultimate audit finds what we already knew, which was that there was no fraud where the result is legitimate. Just doing the audit as a government body, as a state board of whatever or a county board of whatever, legitimizes an illegitimate idea. And that's part of the concern.

The other part of the concern is that it's taxpayer money that we're talking about, and time and resources that are being used to kind of have a discussion around a thing that isn't really real. And what's hanging over all of this is two things. It's the 2022 midterms and it's the 2024 presidential elections.


KUCINICH: But there are real consequences, right? I mean, there are states who are passing laws that are curbing the access to vote. TAPPER: Absolutely.

KUCINICH: And so these things are being used to, you know, to promote that.

CARPENTER: And also I'm just going to add, election officials are under attack.


CARPENTER: I mean, they are threatened on a regular basis.


CARPENTER: People who did their job who are not safe.

TAPPER: So Michael, this headline from "Politico" sums it up why so many experts are concerned. "What if 2020 Was Just a Rehearsal?" Now, I don't think it was just a rehearsal. I think they actually tried to subvert democracy and overturn a legal and fair election. But I think it is clear if you listen to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and other Republicans who care about this issue, Amanda is one of them, Trump is going to try again and he's going to be better positioned.

MICHAEL STARR HOPKINS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at what happened on January 6th, the intention was to stop the vote so that then they could overturn the election. It was a coup. That was an attempted coup. And now when you look at 2022 and you look at 2024, they are putting in place not just laws to make it easier, but they are putting in place Trump supporters in states who are going to run those elections who now people like Brad Raffensberger aren't going to be there --

TAPPER: The Georgia's secretary of state, yes.

HOPKINS: -- to protect the election.

TAPPER: Yes. Because the Jody Hice, a MAGA congressman who believes the election lie or pushes it no matter what, he's running against him. I just saw an interview with Youngkin, the Republican who is running for governor where he refused to say that he would have certified the Virginia votes for Biden. This is now a litmus test even for "mainstream" Republicans.

CARPENTER: Yes. I find this extremely troubling because a smart political consultant will tell you that a person like Glenn Youngkin who is kind of an establishment rich guy will be the one to unite the forever Trump and never Trump. That is not the case. When he indulges this election conspiracy nonsense, there can be no coming together because he is indulging the worst actors.

Like you are a part of this process. This is not a matter of staying silent. If you are not crystal clear in the fact that Joe Biden was duly elected, he should have been certified, the attempted coup was a disaster and a stain on our democracy, then you have no place to be there. [17:20:06]

You are just giving the bad actors room to come back into the process and assert themselves even further.

TAPPER: I have to say, I'm surprised -- maybe you guys tell me what you think. I'm surprised at how many Republicans are failing this basic test. You ask them, did Joe Biden win the election? And it's like, yes, he did. But they don't say that. They -- half of them --

CARPENTER: They say he's president.

TAPPER: -- half of them say no and the other half are like, well, he is president and they just -- they play little games.

KUCINICH: But what's the political incentive. Look at someone like Congressman Gonzalez. He is under -- he --

TAPPER: In Ohio, yes.

KUCINICH: -- in Ohio, who just decided to resign and -- excuse me, to retire.

TAPPER: Not run for re-election, yes.

KUCINICH: He's not going to run for re-election. Being challenged on the right by a MAGA accolade. But his family is getting threats. There is -- if Trump turns against you and this Republican Party that we are currently seeing run things, there is just no path forward or, I mean, Liz Cheney I guess is going to be our next test --

TALEV: You know, Youngkin told Axios in our interview with him last week that he did believe that President Biden had legitimately won the election. He affirmatively said that, but he did try to dodge on that other question.

TAPPER: Right.

TALEV: Since then, today, our understanding is he told a local reporter in Virginia, no, he wouldn't vote to certify but it is that constant tightrope, that threading the needle. This is even someone who under -- is in a close race and understands the market that he's running in and is still constantly reassessing how to couch this answer.

HOPKINS: Trump has spent his entire career trying to delegitimize the press and now he's been delegitimizing the government. It's working. SO now we have a problem. What do we do when half the country doesn't believe our elections are legitimate? That's how you end up breaking down a democracy. So we have to do something.

TAPPER: On that positive note, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

TALEV: Happy Monday.

TAPPER: R. Kelly found guilty. We've got the details on the conviction and the sentence the singer is now facing. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our "National Lead," disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly was found guilty late this afternoon for a series of serious crimes including recruiting underage girls for what amounts to statutory rape. It did not take the jury long to convict the singer of "I Believe I Can Fly" among other hits after hearing weeks of emotional and upsetting testimony including from a woman who said Kelly raped her when she was only 17. CNN's Jean Casarez has been following this story literally for years. And Jean, Kelly was not convicted of all charges there, right?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was not convicted of some acts within the racketeering count. And so it's a distinction without a difference because there was count one, which was racketeering. It involved 14 acts. The jury had to find beyond a reasonable doubt on two of them. They found 12 of them. So that was a clear conviction right there, and then the man statutes which are the sexual trafficking on a federal level.

But what the prosecution is saying that there was sexual exploitation of a child. There was bribery. There was coercion. There was forced labor. There was also the sex trafficking within the racketeering counts. And it was the emotional testimony, six weeks of trial, and the emotional testimony as an example.

One young woman testified that she actually went to the state trial in 2008 in which he was acquitted. She was in high school and wanted to watch it. Apparently he found her, his handlers found her and one year later, she was at his house and she was sexually assaulted.

Aaliyah, who was as we know, a very famous artist, CNN has reported that she was Jane Doe number one and she was a minor, but they got her an I.D. so they could get married fraudulently.

TAPPER: Shocking. And when will he be sentenced? How much prison time is he looking at here?

CASAREZ: It is May 4th and the prosecutor said during the original bail hearing, he is facing decades in prison. And I think the headline today is the superstar R. Kelly, for three decades, according to these jurors, amassed these acts and he is now a convicted felon.

TAPPER: CNN's Jean Casarez, thank you so much for that.

Also on our "National Lead" today, one crisis is over but a much larger problem remains. The before and after pictures from Del Rio, Texas are striking. In the space of a week, the Biden administration cleared out about 15,000 Haitian migrants who had been camping under a bridge linking the U.S. and Mexico. Most of those migrants now face U.S. immigration courts. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez covers immigration for us. Priscilla, so what happens to those who are facing these immigration courts? PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: So, they will go through a months-

long, if not, years-long process where an immigration judge will ultimately decide whether they remain in the United States or whether they will be deported.

And Jake, the reason this process is so long and these hearings might be so scattered in terms of when they occur is because the U.S. immigration court system is currently dealing with a backlog of more than 1 million cases. So some people may not have a hearing for years.

TAPPER: And most of these quick expulsions came because of this Trump-era rule. Tell us more about that.

ALVAREZ: This is a public health authority known as Title 42. It was put in place at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020 and it allows border authorities to turn migrants away. Now, it's also the subject of a lot of controversy. Immigrant advocates, public health experts and the United Nations Refugee Agency have criticized this because they say it bars people from seeking refuge in the United States.


The Biden administration saying though that it is important for public health purposes and they're not only saying that publicly, but also in court where we are waiting for an appeals court to decide whether families will ultimately still be subject to this authority or not.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right for so long for us, thank you so much appreciate it.

As for those Haitian migrants, who have been sent back to Haiti, Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas told me yesterday that as of late July, it has been safe for them to return to their home country.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We made a determination based upon the facts that in fact, individuals could be safely returned to Haiti. We work closely with the Haitian government, and we have provided $5.5 million in humanitarian aid to assist in their humanitarian and safe return.


TAPPER: CNN's Melissa Bell is in Haiti and reports that in reality, those returning migrants are finding Haiti to be a much more dangerous place than when they left.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here, even church is no sanctuary. The blood still marks the steps of this Baptist Church in the very heart of Port-au-Prince. As Sunday service began, an armed gang attacked, wounding several the congregation and killing one man who tried but failed to stop his wife from being kidnapped.

Who will pay the ransom now asks Maryolan Jill (ph), a human rights advocate who explains that nothing in Haiti is now sacred and no one's safe.

We are in peace, nowhere she says. Not even in the president's house, he was executed. The most protected man in the country, she says, referring to the assassination of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, in July.

Jill says this kidnapping is at least the 10th in the Haitian capital since Tuesday, the very week that has seen 1000s of deportees returned to Port-au-Prince. A city many had left in the years following the 2010 earthquake, fleeing both its poverty and insecurity. Now that is only getting worse.

BRUNO LEMARQUIS, DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Each time there is an uptick in the number of kidnapping the authorities react by having more patrol in the streets.

BELL (on camera): You can see on the streets of (INAUDIBLE) that increased police presence. And yet, as visible as it is intended to be, it doesn't seem to be doing much to reassure Haitians that it's safe to go out onto the streets once again.

(voice-over): It's like a boat on the ocean with no captain says Jill. The country is left to its own devices, gangs rule and keep gaining ground. So we are abandoned to our fate.

Since much of it was leveled in 2010, Port-au-Prince is a city that has struggled to stand up. Now, gang violence has forced entire neighborhoods to flee what little they had like the 219 families living inside this dilapidated school building, one of seven camps for internally displaced people or IDPs in the capital. Camps that are not designed to accommodate the returnees.

LOUBY GEORGE, INTERNATIONAL OFFICE OF MIGRATION: Clashes between different gangs have really ballooned out of control. And so, we find persons like the IDPs that are here, they had to leave their permanent village or campsite, which they were residing in since the earthquake in 2010. So imagine that.

BELL (voice-over): In all the United Nations says the 20,000 people in Port-au-Prince have been displaced by gang violence in the last year. A homeland even more dangerous to those being deported by the United States this week than the one they fled.


BELL: Jake, this is the city that those deportees are being returned to. And it isn't just the very obvious and painful poverty that you can see all around the Haitian capital, that's the problem, it is the sheer violence of it.

As you were just hearing, more than half of the capital now in the hands of gangs, kidnappings that happen on a daily basis. Just today, there was a kidnapping at the end of the street, we were standing up, people blockaded it so fed up are they with the fact that the police is not intervening in time or enough.

Another kidnapping also today at Cite Soleil, one of the slums of Port-au-Prince (ph). This is a city that essentially lives with a sense of insecurity 24 hours a day. And it almost doesn't matter who you are, whether you're rich or poor or what neighborhood you're in, this is not a city that feels safe at any time of day, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Melissa Bell in Haiti for us, thank you and stay safe.

Getting fired instead of getting the shot, the 1000s of health care workers putting their jobs on the line by defying state vaccine mandates. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our health lead today, New York State bracing for severe hospital staffing shortages, because today is the deadline for all healthcare workers in the empire state to be vaccinated against COVID or lose their jobs. Eighty-four percent of all hospital employees are in compliance statewide, and that might sound high, but it also means 10s of 1000s of workers are refusing to get the shot.

Joining me live to discuss, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Sanjay, what will happen to the quality of care at New York hospitals if the state suddenly loses 10s of 1000s of health care professionals?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's going to obviously be affected. I mean, we've been talking a lot about bed potential shortages because of COVID patients. But really the problem is you survey around the country, including what you're describing in New York, is staff. And it's a significant problem.

What happens is that hospitals will oftentimes then go on diversion, meaning they're not taking anything that is not emergent or urgent, regularly scheduled operations, things that are not urgent operations, those things get postponed, delays. So it just -- it has a really significant downstream effect. We're seeing that at hospitals here in Atlanta as well. That's part of the issue.


You know, the mandate in New York went out sort of middle of August and they said by today, health care workers needed to be mandated and that's why these numbers are now coming to light in terms of what the shortages may look like.

TAPPER: New York City teachers also were facing a mandate, but right now it's on hold in the courts. Mayor de Blasio of New York City, he today said an additional 7000 Department of Education employees got their shots because of the mandate. That was obviously the intent of the health care mandate as well. This comes after the CDC director said this morning that vaccine mandates do indeed result in people getting vaccinated, more people getting vaccinated.

So lay it out for our viewers, do these mandates work because of the health care shortage? That seems troublesome.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, and this is a really interesting question. And there's data on this that even predates the pandemic, because the idea of healthcare workers being vaccinated, I think makes sense to the vast majority of people. And if you dig into the data that you're talking about in New York, 95 percent of nurses vaccinated, 98 percent to 99 percent of doctors vaccinated, but there's obviously a lot of people who make up the health care workers.

But go -- take a look at what was going on with flu, for example, the 2019 and 2020 flu season. And what you find that is across the board, about 80 -- 81 percent of people were vaccinated overall. This is health care workers we're talking about.

But a significant difference, Jake, in places that mandated it, they had a requirement versus did not. It close to 94 percent, 95 percent in those areas that had mandates. Seventy percent if it didn't exist.

So, I mean, this surprises people, Jake. And you go to hospital, you say, wait, 30 percent of your health care workers are not vaccinated, don't get a flu shot every year? That's true, that's been happening. But in places where the mandates are in place, it goes, you know, very high, mid 90s percent.

So it'll make a difference. It'll come with, you know, I mean, at some resistance or some people who will say, I am not going to continue working in this profession anymore if you mandate that I get a vaccine. And we're going to see, at least, you know, a certain impact of that in states all around the country.

TAPPER: Today, President Biden got his COVID booster shot, his third shot in front of the cameras, no less. Does the visual of the commander in chief getting his booster shot still hold the same weight that it might have done at the beginning of the pandemic? Or even if anybody out there knows that this history, the impact that Elvis, when he got his polio shot, had on the country?

GUPTA: You know, I think we're in a different phase of the pandemic now. It's interesting, I think, in the beginning there was a, obviously, a lot of interest in seeing this, it was novel. I think there's sort of three messages now. It's a different dynamic.

Supply of the vaccine is not an issue right now in the United States. There's plenty of supply.

Two is I think, you know, seeing the president now get a booster, sort of, I think does remind people that, you know, we're not through this. I don't think people need reminding of that, but this is an endemic virus. It doesn't mean, by the way, that this is going to be every six months or even yearly. There are some vaccines for which you get your booster and you're covered for a long time, years, if not lifetime. We'll see what happens with COVID.

But I think there's also this message, you know, which we've talked about in terms of equity around the world. People in the United States getting boosters, there are places around the world that don't have enough first shots yet. President talks about this a lot saying, hey, we're trying to do our part here. But I think those are sort of the three messages that really stuck out to me, as I was watching that today.

TAPPER: The CEO of Pfizer says that the company plans to apply within days for this FDA emergency use authorization for the COVID vaccine for children five to 11. Right now, less than half of eligible U.S. adolescents, 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated against COVID. Do you expect that's also, that that insufficient number percentage for young children, too?

GUPTA: I think it might sadly, Jake, be a little lower. I mean, let me show you sort of step wise. What you see is you sort of look at age groups here for vaccination. It follows a stepwise pattern down, youngest at the left side of the screen, oldest at the right side of the screen. And as you said, only about 50 percent have received at least one dose in that 12 to 15 range.

Now, when you look at some of the polling going younger, five to 11 years old, you basically have a situation where about a quarter, this is parents now being polled say a quarter would absolutely get it right away and about a quarter say, definitely not. I mean, they're pretty polarized and 25 percent on each of those categories. And then it's the middle you know, 40, percent sort of wait and see. That's what you hear for the five to 11-year-old parents, and only if required, going back to the mandates, about 9 percent.

This is all -- these are questions, you know, polls that are given to these parents ahead of any kind of authorization. They tend to change as we saw with the adult vaccinations as well and once the vaccine has actually released and authorized. My guess is going to be lower. It's going to continue that stepwise function, Jake.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks. And don't miss Sanjay's new book "World War C, Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One." That comes out October 5.


Coming up, a CIA plot to get Afghans out. CNN spoke to one woman who was able to escape. Her stunning story, next.


TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, the U.S. State Department is working to extract about 100 American citizens and green card holders from Afghanistan who say they're ready to leave. That's according to a senior official at the State Department.

Thousands more legal permanent residents of the U.S. and Afghan special immigrant visa applicant remain stuck in Afghanistan.


CNN's Alex Marquardt brings us now the harrowing story of one woman's daring escape with the possible help of American spies.



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As the Taliban took over Afghanistan's capital, Shaqaiq Birashk was filming their fighters from her balcony.

BIRASHK: OK, so they are here trying to get into that person's house to --

MARQUARDT (voice-over): She was in a high rise overlooking downtown Kabul as American and NATO forces were desperately trying to evacuate people just like her, an Afghan American who worked for the Afghan government and on a U.S. funded project.

Birashk was born in Afghanistan and moved to the U.S. at 13 years old. She returned as an adult spending most of the past four years working with local organizations.

Now, she's back in Denver after taking part in one of the most secretive operations in the entire evacuation, which a U.S. official tells CNN was, in part, run by the CIA.

BIRASHK: The airport was absolute chaos. It was as if or if you would have had to gone through a death valley in order to make it and survive.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Birashk was in her apartment when she got a call from an American.

BIRASHK: And I said, who is this? He said, I'm a government -- U.S. government official.

MARQUARDT (on camera): But no details about who he worked for.

BIRASHK: No, nothing at all.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The American wanted Birashk to leave, but she said she wanted to bring Afghans with her.

BIRASHK: He said, well my priority is you. I understand that you're -- you feel this responsibility towards the people that you have worked with, but unfortunately my priority is you.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Hours later, she changed her mind after a friend who was evacuated convinced her.

BIRASHK: I got my passport and then I just head downstairs.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): A driver in a Toyota Corolla picked her up, but they didn't know exactly where to go.

Just tell me where you are and I will help, the American texted. Birashk shared her location as they drove through the dark and the Taliban checkpoints.

BIRASHK: The Taliban members came in to smack the front of the car and, you know, kind of waved at us and said, don't move stop here. And then our driver was like, I'm not going to listen to him.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The American official was tracking them. I see you, he texted. Just follow the road until you see a gas station. Then you will see my guys.

BIRASHK: I wasn't scared because I wasn't -- I didn't have the time to be scared. I had no -- I -- being scared was not an option.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): They went the wrong way. The American texted, you missed the left turn. Around midnight, they finally arrived at Eagle Base, a CIA base just east of Kabul located by "The New York Times" where helicopters were ferrying people inside to the airport. Birashk was met by Afghan Special Forces and then Americans, including the American guiding her.

BIRASHK: I've mentioned his name and I said, is that you? He said, yes, that's me. And then there was a sigh of relief at that point that I knew that we have made it, you know, there's no more checkpoints.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): On the base, their phones were taken away. They were asked not to reveal the base's location.

The next day, they were flown to Kabul airport, and out of the country to safety.

(on camera): What's your friends and colleagues who are still in Kabul, still in Afghanistan, telling you about what they think the future is going to look like?

BIRASHK: They continuously say life -- Afghanistan is now a body without a soul. Seeing the way that everything that they had worked for the past 20 years has been just shattered in front of their own eyes. The promises of the international community never leaving them behind. And now they're left with nothing.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Birashk says she, and others like her, are now suffering from significant survivor's guilt.

BIRASHK: To this day, I'm still processing the information and processing the reality on the ground. It just feels like it's an ongoing nightmare that, you know, I haven't been woken up from.

(END VIDEO TAPE) MARQUARDT: And Birashk told me that she felt blessed and privileged to have been evacuated the way that she was, as she says, Jake, without a scratch. She knows that is not the case for so many people who tried and some who did get out of the -- from the airport in Kabul and others, many 1000s of others who still want to get out of Afghanistan.

TAPPER: Does the State Department have an idea of how many, not just American citizens but legal permanent residents, green card holders remain in Afghanistan and want to get out, do they have a number?

MARQUARDT: They have a firm number, firmer number we should say, about those who have expressed desires to get out. Less so in the overall population. So they say now, today, State Department officials said they're around 100 Americans and legal permanent residents who are ready to leave.

That number is constantly in flux they say because people are changing their minds. Of course, there are many more American citizens who live there who don't want to leave. There are many at risk Afghans who do want to leave and can't. The State Department official said that the biggest obstacle is the unpredictability of who the Taliban will allow to leave.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for the excellent report. Appreciate it.

You'll need to bring home the bacon to be able to bring home the bacon. The details on the highest prices in decades, next.



TAPPER: In our money lead, bringing home the bacon is getting a lot more expensive. Prices for the food that makes everything better have skyrocketed to the highest level in 40 years, forcing American families to dig deeper into the piggy bank to make ends meet. Consumer price index data showing the cost of a slab of bacon has spiked 28percent in the last year. That's not kosher.

Analysts say supply chain issues related to the pandemic are disrupting the nation's pork supply and sparking the soaring cost which they warn may not get better anytime soon.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and to TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you tomorrow.