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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Coroner: Gabby Petito Died By Strangulation; Democrats Divided On How To Scale Down Biden's Agenda; Texas Governor Bans All COVID Vaccine Mandates In State; Schiff Vows Quick Action If Trump Insiders Defy Subpoenas; Gas Prices Skyrocket To Highest Levels In Seven Years; Pelosi Warns Dems: "Difficult Decisions Must Be Made Very Soon". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 16:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We now know how Gabby Petito died.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Just minutes ago, a coroner revealed the cause of death in the Petito case. But still so many questions remain unanswered and her fiancee Brian Laundrie is still missing.

And then -- the Texas governor is saying no one, no school, no restaurant, no business, no one is allowed to impose a vaccine mandate. But today, two major companies in that state are telling the governor, don't mess with us?

Kyrie Irving benched. The Brooklyn Nets star will not play or practice because of a matter he calls private.


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

And we begin today with breaking news in our national lead. Just minutes ago, we finally learned Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old woman found dead in a Wyoming national park three weeks ago, was killed by strangulation. Her death, according to the Wyoming coroner, was ruled a homicide. Petito was first reported missing more than a month ago after spending the summer travel with her 23-year-old fiance Brian Laundrie.

The couple extensively documented their adventures on social media and stoked nationwide conversation about the tens of thousands of missing persons stories that do not garner such an intense interest. They also brought attention to the issues of domestic abuse and apparently inadequate police training on the matter of domestic abuse.

CNN's Leyla Santiago starts us off from Florida where investigators continue to search from Laundrie, the fiance who disappeared after he became a person of interest.


DR. BRENT BLUE, TETON COUNTY CORONER: Cause of death by strangulation and the manner is homicide.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Teton County coroner releasing the autopsy results of 22-year-old Gabby Petito. The coroner initially determined Petito's manner of death was a homicide. But the cause of death had not been announced. Today, Dr. Blue says he was limited in what he disclosed from his report.

BLUE: Who committed the homicide is really to be determined by law enforcement. This autopsy included a whole body Cat scan, an examination by forensic pathologists, anthropologists, so it was pretty much covered all the bases.

SANTIAGO: The coroner would only say the official autopsy report shows the body was out in the wilderness before the remains were examined.

BLUE: As far as the time of death, we are estimating three to four weeks from the time that the body was found.

SANTIAGO: After an extensive search, Petito's remains were found September 19th in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. She was first reported missing by her parents on September 11th, more than a month ago.

Petito spent the summer traveling across the country in a van with fiance Brian Laundrie, documenting their adventures on social media.

The couple was stopped by Moab police during their trip to Utah in mid-August after a 911 caller told dispatchers he saw a man hitting a woman.

Petito was emotional during the stop.

OFFICER: Is he usually pretty patient with you?

GABBY PETITO, YOUTUBER: Yeah, but I guess it just makes me upset. He gets frustrated with me a lot because I have a lot of anxiety and --

SANTIAGO: Appearing to take some responsibility for the incident.

OFFICER: We want to know the truth. If he actually hit you because, you know --

PETITO: I guess, yeah, but I hit him first.

OFFICER: Where did he hit you? Don't worry. Be honest.

PETITO: He like grabbed my face.

SANTIAGO: Weeks later when Laundrie returned to the Florida home they shared with his parents, Petito wasn't with him, police said. Now, Brian Laundrie is missing. While he was indicted for allegedly

using a debit card without permission just before returning home alone, he has not been named a suspect in Petito's death. The FBI and local law enforcement have been searching the 25,000-acre Carlton reserve near his Florida home based on information from his parents who told authorities Brian planned to hike there in mid-September. Now nearly a month later, investigators still don't know where Laundrie is.


SANTIAGO: And, Jake, in this press conference, the coroner was really limited in what he could say. He wouldn't answer the question if the body had been moved, if she was buried. Wouldn't even answer if she was strangled by hand or an item.

But we have just obtained a record through a public records request signed by the coroner in which he maintains that this was strangulation and manual strangulation in the case of Gabby Petito in the autopsy.


We have also reached out to the attorney for Laundrie's parents, and they say that this is just a tragedy, a death at such a young age. They point out at this point, Brian Laundrie is only charged with unauthorized use of a debit card that belonged to Gabby Petito and say he's missing. And when he is found, they will address the fraud charge.

TAPPER: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

Let's discuss this with Erik Hall, the director of forensic science at St. Louis University. He previously worked at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Crime Laboratory.

Erik, thanks for joining us.

I want to get your reaction to the news. Investigators found that Petito died by manual strangulation. Is there some -- does that mean something in particular, manual strangulation as opposed to a different kind, and does that surprise you?

ERIK HALL, DIRECTOR OF FORENSIC SCIENCE, SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY: Yeah, hi, Jake. It's a pleasure being on your program. Yeah, so manual strangulation is generally when hands or some sort of body part are used to, you know, cut off the circulation of the blood versus a ligature strangulation which would be some sort of object, whether it's clothing or, you know, a string or something like that.

So, in this case, now that we confirmed it's manual strangulation, it could only be assumed it was probably with the hands. And that potentially is significant. If there's some sort of struggle going on, that could indicate that close contact and, really, maybe some of the trace evidence that we've been looking for in forensic investigation. TAPPER: The writer Kate Manne wrote an essay about strangulation a

few years ago. She said strangulation can also be used to send a powerful message from the perpetrator, from the abuser, to the victim. She writes, quote, what strangulation effectively communicates to a victim is that an abuser is willing to exert punitive control by preying on her most visceral needs, such as the bodily imperative to gasp for air. This presupposes, you know, I'm guessing, that it's not necessarily homicidal and intent, although it could obviously become that.

Does the way that she died tell you anything about her assailant?

HALL: Potentially. I mean, that's something that law enforcement is definitely considering at this point, I am sure, looking at that, exerting that power, that control over somebody is definitely something that they'd be looking at versus somebody who, you know, maybe a ligature, they're not confronting the person directly. Maybe they're grabbing them from behind or something like that, typically with that manual strangulation, yeah, it's going right at the person, exerting control over them.

So, yeah, that is definitely consideration that law enforcement will be looking at moving forward as far as the person of interest in the case.

TAPPER: The coroner was limited in what he said he could say, comment on in terms of the cause and manner of her death because of Wyoming state law. What do police need to know now to advance the investigation because obviously it's beyond Wyoming police who are investigating because of all the other police looking for Brian Laundrie?

HALL: Yeah, so police from the start have been working with that coroner's office to try to get any leads they might be able to provide to them. So they have been taking those leads and going back to the forensic evidence that may have been collected in the case. I know the doctor did mention that DNA samples were collected from -- presuming the body of Gabby. We don't know exactly what those are at this point but I'm sure, you know, the FBI or whoever is doing that work is actively working on those.

In addition, you know, what type of other evidence was collected from that crime scene there. They are working that evidence in real time, whether it's hairs or fibers, with manual strangulation, potentially that transfer of evidence, what was left behind after three or four weeks, I think that's a matter that we're going to find out in the coming months in this investigation.

TAPPER: The coroner also said he believes she died three to four weeks from when her remains were found. What might that tell you?

HALL: So from a manual strangulation standpoint and potentially obtaining DNA samples, that's probably going to lessen the likelihood that DNA is going to be obtained. A body out for three to four weeks, you know, is in some sort of stage of decomposition at that point, which may make it pretty challenging to obtain any DNA from an assailant who may have committed this crime.

So I think that's going to make things a lot more challenging and obtaining some of the forensic evidence that maybe the FBI and the other investigators were hoping to obtain.

TAPPER: Can you explain to our viewers who might be wondering why Brian Laundrie hasn't been charged with any crime given the fact that he was with her and then he went back to Florida, left her in Wyoming and then has disappeared?


I mean, obviously, his behavior looks very suspicious, if not worse. And then all these obviously tapes and complaints of individuals who saw them physically fighting, who saw him hitting her. What do you think is going on behind the scenes when it comes to the investigation into Brian Laundrie?

HALL: Sure. The FBI, whoever is taking the lead on this investigation, they're looking at a lot of different fronts. Maybe they don't want to tip their hand. Maybe they think they have something. Maybe they don't.

But, yeah, at the end of the day, why they haven't come out, I think that's going to be a good question for them. In the end, if it does end up being Brian Laundrie who is the ultimate suspect in this case, it appears from all accounts that that would seem to be the most likely person at this point.

You know, they are going to run the forensic testing. That may be completed. That may not be. So they'll get information from that as well. Did they obtain DNA from somebody else? Did they obtain DNA that potentially matches to an unknown?

If they don't have Brian Laundrie's DNA sample, all of those things, they may not want to jump the gun until they have some of those loose ends tied up, but, yeah, knowing the inner workings of what they are thinking is definitely challenging at this point.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, they have called him a person of interest but that's not the same as saying somebody is a suspect.

Erik Hall, thank you so much for your expertise. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, trillions of dollars in ambitious plans. Will Democrats need to scale back their goals? We'll talk to one progressive lawmaker next.

Plus, one mom calls it a COVID-19 snake pit. Why is she now suing? That's ahead.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making it official -- plans for an historic spending bill that delivers on President Biden's agenda are still up for negotiation but the Democrats need to scale back their very long wish list.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have some important decisions to make in the next few days so that we can proceed. I'm very disappointed that we're not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative.


TAPPER: That old wish list included everything from provisions to help fight climate change to expand Medicare to provide community college tuition.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House where President Biden will need to mediate round two of Democratic negotiations over what stays in the bill and what he'll have to live without.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't get too glum around here, even if things look challenging.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden's challenges are piling up with his domestic agenda on the line.

PSAKI: We recognize the challenge of timing. That's why there's so much work happening behind the scenes.

COLLINS: Democrats are still divided over thou put the president's top priorities into law.

PELOSI: I'm not asking members to vote for something that has no chance to pass in the Senate.

COLLINS: House Speaker Pelosi conceding they will have to scale back their broad safety net ambitions and make tough choices about what to include.

PELOSI: I'm very disappointed that we're not going with the original $3.5 trillion. The fact is that if there is -- are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made.

COLLINS: The president navigating his party's internal split ad he also faces other challenges with no easy solutions. Gas prices are skyrocketing. His poll numbers are falling. And new figures from the Labor Department show that nearly 3 percent of the U.S. workforce quit their jobs in August as companies grapple with a worker shortage.

PSAKI: People have made more -- decided they have more choices they can make.

COLLINS: As the economy struggles to overcome the pandemic, more Americans are losing faith in the president when it comes to COVID-19. Only 45 percent of people now trust him to provide accurate information on coronavirus down from 58 percent when he took office.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We have obviously been trying very hard. We're trying to get trusted messengers out there and try and get this away from being an ideological or political statement.


COLLINS (on camera): Now, Jake, when it goes back to those negotiations that are still happening over the reconciliation package, progressives have said today they want to know clearly in clear terms what it is that Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema and other holdouts want to see included in that package. But the White House says they are not expecting those senators to make any formal counteroffer as they are talking and negotiating behind the scenes.

But Jen Psaki did acknowledge, now, they're at the point, Jake, where choices have to be made over what they want to see in this package if it's going to happen.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. He's a member of the House Progressive Caucus.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

So, last time we spoke, you thought a deal could be worked out in the next few weeks. Is that still a realistic timeline?

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): Yeah, thanks for having me, Jake.

Again, what I've always said is what's most important is what's in the plan, not what day we do the plan. I think everyone is working to try to get to something. I think by the end of the month. So, you know, hopefully, still in the next several weeks, but what really matters is, you know, that content. We're waiting for a few of the senators to be a little more clear on what they see as important.

We've been very clear. The House has a bill that we're ready to vote on that shows the priorities. But I still think we're going to get this thing done hopefully by the end of the month.

TAPPER: So, obviously, Pelosi has said it's not going to pass the Senate at $3.5 trillion. She's not going to ask anybody in the House to vote for anything like that. When asked what may be the first program to go to pare it down she'd not offer any specifics but did say this. Take a listen.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PELOSI: The timing would be reduced in many cases to make the cost lower. But it only would be in such a way that does not undermine the transformative nature of it.


TAPPER: So the timing, meaning instead of this -- this is $3.5 trillion over ten years. So maybe over four years, five years.

But she also seemed to suggest the opposite in a letter to you and other house Democrats last night saying overwhelming the guidance I'm receiving from members is to do fewer things well. If spending more on fewer programs is a way to get this done, would you be willing to go along with that?

POCAN: Yeah, I think what she said is inclusive of both of those statements. While they may seem they're contradictory, I understand what she's saying. We've said have some of the most important programs that are out there and have a shorter term, but the ones truly transformative, let's do things that can impact people the quickest and also as universal as possible.

So that way the majority of our constituents are benefiting from the many good things in the bill. And I think that's what you just heard Nancy Pelosi say but I think what she also was referring to in the letter is there's all kinds of other things in here that aren't maybe the ones that are the big items that I think the average person is going to feel for their family.

No doubt, 40 million Americans are going to get that tax cut through the child tax credit. You're going to clearly see people benefit from only paying 7 percent of their income on child care and on some of the provisions that we have around expanding Medicare and provisions around family medical leave and prescription drug prices. So we want to keep the big ones that people are going to see but then there's a lot of other buckets out there that there's money in that perhaps some of that can be repurposed to keep those programs I just mentioned and some others really doing well.

We also have some priorities around things like housing and immigration and some other issues but it's not at all out of line with what Speaker Pelosi said today.

TAPPER: So, you just noted, keeping the enhanced child tax credit is important to you. Families will be able to get up to $3,600 a year for each child they have under 6 years old, $3,000 for each child 6 to 17 years old. Parents who qualify are getting half now in monthly payments and then the rest when they file their taxes next spring.

Now look, you're not going to negotiate this on national TV, but to you, this is kind of one of the untouchables, no?

POCAN: This is one of the ones that our constituents will feel. They are get something help in this way because of the COVID package we passed earlier this year. This will extend it for years. This program alone lifts half the children in poverty in this country out of poverty. That's why it's so important.

But Jake, I'd also argue those child care provisions when you look at what people are paying for child care and what I was told by business groups back home, the number one barrier to people going back to work and everyone is trying to hire people right now is child care. So, if we can address that, not only do we get people into the workforce but in the money we put out there for COVID, 6 of the 7 jobs that were created went to men. This makes sure that everyone is benefiting from the money we're putting out there. So child care also is something that's really important to a lot of us.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. Thanks so much, good to see you, again, sir.

POCAN: Sure. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Two major companies already saying, not so fast, after the governor of Texas says the state is banning any business or school or anyone from imposing a vaccine mandate. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead today, Republican governor's latest political prescription to a real-life health crisis. Texas Governor Greg Abbott's new order forbidding vaccine mandates in his state raises all sorts of questions, legal and business issues, as well as health and science questions of course. Abbott's action contradicts the position he took in August when his spokesperson said private businesses don't need government running their business, quote, now apparently he thinks they do as CNN's Nick Watt reports.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott just doubled down. Now no one, not even private companies, can mandate COVID-19 vaccines for staff or customers.

Vaccines, he says, must always be voluntary for Texans. New York state has mandated vaccines for health care workers. Today, a judge ruled they can at least temporarily claim a religious exemption.

New York City mandates vaccines for pro athletes. So the Brooklyn Nets just announced Kyrie Irving won't be playing. He could have played away games but the GM doesn't want a part-timer.

SEAN MARKS, GENERAL MANAGER, BROOKLYN NETS: The hope is that we have Kyrie back. We'll welcome him back in open arms under a different set of circumstances.

WATT: Most Americans support vaccine mandates for larger businesses and health care workers. So says the brand-new poll.

FAUCI: We don't like to be telling people what they need to do with regard to vaccines but we know that mandates work. We have seen that they are working. They are working in schools, universities and colleges.

WATT: In Wisconsin, a mom whose son caught COVID is suing the school district which will not mandate masks. She claims they are throwing students into a COVID-19 snake pit.

GINA KILDAHL, MOM SUING SCHOOL DISTRICT: I am just hoping that they will start masking and take some responsibility to keep our kids safe at school.

WATT: And at a school board meeting in Virginia --

NICOLE SPERRY, DAUGHTER DIED OF COVID-19: I was sitting next to my healthy daughter's death bed. She died five days after showing symptoms.

WATT: Her daughter Teresa was 10 years old.

SPERRY: COVID is not over. No matter what people who have been standing up here have said.

WATT: Later this month, FDA advisers will discuss vaccines for kids 5 to 12. Today in Buenos Aires, Argentine, they start vaccinating kids 3 to 11. Transmitting, more tranquility to the families, tweeted one official.

Here in the U.S., the average daily COVID-19 case count hasn't been this low since early August. The delta tide on the ebb, but --

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think we still need to be careful through the winter. This is a winter pathogen.

WATT: Colder weather for at least a few more months.

DR. RICHINA BICETTE, ASSOCIATE MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: The numbers are going down but they're still abysmal. While we're going in the right direction we're still not where we need to be in order to curb this pandemic.


WATT (on camera): And, of course, fighting this pandemic is as much about politics as public health. Bad news for President Biden on that front. A new poll finds that only 42 percent of Americans now trust him to relay accurate information on COVID. That number was 58 percent back on Inauguration Day -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thanks so much.

There may be huge political and business fallout from Governor Abbott's order. Dozens of big, highly visible companies including CNN's parent company AT&T have their headquarters in Texas.

Ed Lavandera joins us now.

Ed, we've already heard from two of these companies, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. What are they saying about Governor Abbott saying they cannot impose vaccine mandates on employees?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those two companies that have been so hard hit by the pandemic over the course of the last year and a half, they are saying that they are going to follow the federal vaccine mandate put in place by President Biden so they will continue that.

And this, Jake, has really put businesses across the state in quite the bind as they're trying to figure out what they can and can't do. But it's also important to point out as Governor Greg Abbott is facing primary challenges next spring, facing two different opponents that are basically coming at him from the extreme right wing of the Texas Republican Party, that the governor has issued other mandates in reference to masks in schools.

There were a number of organizations and entities that simply ignored the executive orders and have been in legal fights over it. So there's a real question as to whether even many of these Texas businesses will comply or take this to court. We'll see how this plays out in the coming days.

TAPPER: Ed, what other reactions are you hearing from businesses in Texas?

LAVANDERA: You know, one of the reactions we got was from the Houston Methodist hospital system in Harris County. You might remember this is one of the first hospital chains in the country that required all of its employees to get vaccinated. They issued a statement saying today that they are extremely disappointed in the governor's actions.

It won't necessarily affect that hospital chain because so many of its employees were already vaccinated. But they are concerned about other hospital systems across the state and whether or not that will block them from continuing the push to get employees mandated, especially those health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic.

TAPPER: All right. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, Texas, thanks so much.

A congressman facing new scrutiny for his alleged role in fueling the deadly insurrection. We'll explain, next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed today as an insurrectionist in a suit and tie. That coming from House Intelligence Committee chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff, who's part of the House Special Committee investigating the deadly insurrection.

Four people in Trump's inner circle have already been summoned to testify under oath. Steve Bannon says he's not going to show up.

Joining us, CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, what's going to happen to those who decide to not comply with congressional subpoenas.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, according to Schiff, people who don't cooperate can go to jail. People who don't observe their subpoenas are going to be referred for criminal contempt. And the committee is prepared to urge the Justice Department to prosecute anyone who refuses to comply with subpoenas from the panel.

Now, there are some signs of what could potentially be progress. Schiff said today the committee is engaging with lawyers for former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Pentagon official Kash Patel to try to secure their testimony. As you noted, longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon has indicated he will not appear until a judge resolves questions about executive privilege.

Now, Bannon was not part of the executive branch at the time in question and his blanket refusal to cooperate is unlikely to hold up. Now, Bannon is scheduled to appear for a deposition on Thursday. And if he does indeed made good on his threat not to show, just how fast could a criminal referral happen? Let's take a listen.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Days, weeks, months in terms of when the criminal referral will come?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, it will come very fast if people refuse to cooperate, have to basis for their refusal, It will come very fast.


REID: And, interestingly, Schiff noted unlike the past four years, Democrats are now in charge of the House and the Justice Department.


While Trump was in office, it was a lot easier for advisers like Bannon to get away with obfuscation because Attorney General Sessions and Barr would not pursue criminal contempt. But now, the decision on whether to pursue proceedings will go to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Now, Schiff would not comment on whether the teams already started drafting criminal referral for Steve Bannon but it is expected the committee will wait at least until the end of the week after the deadlines have passed before pursuing any additional recourse against any witnesses who don't show up.

TAPPER: Well, Paula, tomorrow, also is a key deadline for other subpoenas, right?

REID: That's right, Jake. Trump advisers are not the only ones who received subpoenas. Tomorrow is the deadline for a group of people associated with the January 6th rally to turn over requested documents. Multiple sources tell CNN that several of those people intend to comply but the committee has warned that anyone that does not could face consequences up to and including criminal contempt.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Also in our politics lead, new details on the role played by a key House Republican in spreading Trump's big lie. A new Senate report into January 6th zeros in on Trump ally and Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry. He's a promoter of baseless election lies. Connections to stop the steal rallies.

Democrats in the Judiciary Committee called this little known congressman who represents the Harrisburg area a critical player in Trump's efforts to overturn the election. Perry went so far as to vote to disenfranchise millions ever his fellow Pennsylvanians on the day of the insurrection.

And as Sara Murray reports, Senate Democrats say further investigation is needed to probe the full scope of Perry's involvement in the run up to that deadly day.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Pennsylvania congressman trumpeted baseless claims of election fraud --

REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): Oftentimes, they say, well, there's not enough to overturn the election. First of all, we don't know how much there is.

MURRAY: -- Donald Trump was laughing them up. The president was saying that these local officials or I guess in Scott Perry's case, a federal official, had all kinds of information about fraud and problems and things that impacted the election.

Former associate deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now the five-term congressman and army veteran is facing scrutiny as new details emerge about his role in Trump's plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Scott, thank you.

MURRAY: Perry has said he's unaware of any GOP lawmakers playing a role in the capitol insurrection.

PERRY: I don't know of any. We're here and open for the investigation. If people are culpable, they need to be -- justice needs to prevail in that regard.

MURRAY: But a report from the Democrat-led Senate panel says Trump allies, including Perry, have particularly notable ties to January 6th. And these ties warrant further investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does the president incite an attack that was preplanned and already under way before his speech concluded?

MURRAY: And the House Select Committee investigating January 6th wants phone records of several lawmakers, including Perry.


MURRAY: Perry has admitted introducing Trump to Jeffrey Clark who led the Justice Department Civil Division. Clark tried and failed to press other top DOJ officials to announce election fraud investigations in battleground states, and attempted a near coup of Justice Department leadership.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Jeffrey Clark became Donald Trump's big lie lawyer.

MURRAY: The same day Trump told DOJ officials to just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressman.

CROWD: Stop the steal! Stop the steal!

MURRAY: Trump dispatched Perry to convince Donoghue the election had been stolen. Perry Donoghue. POTUS asked him to call, according to notes Donoghue provided to the Senate panel. According to Donoghue Perry talked up Clark, effectively saying Jeff Clark is great. He's the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this.

And as for Donoghue's email saying, can I send you stuff? We've got a lot of evidence. He sent a document of debunked claims like this one.

PERRY: Over 205,000 more votes were cast in Pennsylvania than people who voted in the November election.

MURRAY: Claims Perry clung to as he objected to the 2020 election results just hours after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

PERRY: Sadly, but resolutely, I object to the electoral votes of my beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

MURRAY: An objection he still stands by as he continues to cast doubts on the election.

REPORTER: Would you vote the same way now?

PERRY: I absolutely would. It's not about President Trump. It's not about President Biden. It's about the process.


MURRAY (on camera): Now it's still unclear whether the House Select Committee will want to talk to Scott Perry. We reached out to his office with a variety of questions and asked them for comment. Jake, they didn't get back to us.

TAPPER: Yeah. All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it. It's not just you. Prices really are up at the pump. Next, why gas prices are skyrocketing and how long it might last.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead today, sticker shock at the gas pump. The national average is now up to $3.28 a gallon. A year ago when most of us were working from home, we were riding relatively low at $2.18. Fast forward last month, prices jumped up a whole dollar, mid- September, through $3.17.

And now, we're up in just a month.


CNN's Pete Muntean is live for us in Northern Virginia just outside DC.

Pete, what is driving this spike?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, simply put, the price of crude oil is up. Just closed at higher than $80 a barrel. The highest it's been in the last seven bars and analysts say it could be as high as $85 or $90 a barrel by the end of this year.

The point is from AAA, we are only just seeing the start of these high prices.


ANDREW GROSS, AAA SPOKESMAN: What people should know, this is not a shortage. People think prices are going up. There must be a shortage. No, we have plenty of supply and there's plenty of oil. It's just that the price of that oil is going up.


MUNTEAN: The highest prices across the country are out west. Gas buddy says the metro area with the highest price is the San Francisco area, $4.60 a gallon on average there. Although the most common price across the country, $3.09 like this gas station here in Alexandria, Virginia.

TAPPER: And, Pete, obviously, high gas prices have a ripple effect across the economy.

MUNTEAN: That's right. Has a direct impact on the price of goods. Milk and eggs but it also has this effect that makes inflation a little worse, just continuing the theme of life getting more and more expensive in 2021. It's so interesting this time of year gas prices typically slump between labor day and Thanksgiving because demand for driving levels off, although now we're seeing more and more people driving again so this will make the sting of all of that a bit worse.

TAPPER: Pete, you also cover aviation quite a bit. Has there been any noticeable impact on that industry of these fuel prices increasing.

MUNTEAN: Well, the biggest thing that is changing ticket prices are just the level of interest in flying again. We've seen as the pandemic subsides, there's more and more interest in people wanting to fly again. One study says that the average price for a Thanksgiving trip was $360 last year. Now it's about $404. Just one indicator.

And United Airlines says interest on its website for traveling for the holidays is actually even higher than it was back in 2019 before the pandemic.

TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Will Democrats need to make hard decisions on Biden's big agenda. What we're hearing from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that's next.



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

So many older Americans have been advised to take daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks. But there's new evidence the harm might outweigh the benefit.

Also, the racist, sexist and homophobic things he said when he thought only a few fellow bros would see it. The Las Vegas Raider head coach Jon Gruden stepping down after his old emails surfaced. And one of his former players is here to tell us who coach Gruden really is.

And leading this hour, soon, the House of Representative is expected to extend the nation's debt limit through early December averting, for now, an economic crisis. This comes as Democrats also try to get President Biden's massive spending plans through Congress, and now, Speaker Pelosi is signaling there are some hard choices ahead.

Let's get right to CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

And, Manu, is this going to be a permanent solution this vote or a Band-Aid?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. At the moment it's unclear, Jake, because what we know is that this would essentially raise the national debt limit by $480 billion. That would really only last until early December.

This vote will be approved by almost straight party lines, barely approved in the House but how they deal with that larger package extending the national debt limit potentially through next year's elections is uncertain because Mitch McConnell, the Republican later in the Senate says he'll not provide any Republican votes next time to allow that process to move forward, calling on Democrats to use a separate process that would allow them to do it along straight party lines.

It's uncertain whether Democrats will ultimately have to go that route or they'll take other measures such as changing the Senate's filibuster rules to do it on their own. All major decisions Democrats face in the weeks ahead as uncertainty will continue to linger.

TAPPER: And, Manu, Speaker Pelosi wrote a letter last night to her fellow Democrats addressing the shrinking price tag on Biden's big- ticket legislation. They need to shrink it down in order to get it through the Senate. She said, quote, overwhelmingly, the guidance I'm receiving from members is to do fewer things well so we can have a transformative impact on families.

So how are progressives in Congress seeing that letter?

RAJU: Well, what they are seeing that they need to pare back the numbers of years. It's a ten-year proposal, potentially limiting the scope of the benefits but they say the benefits still need to remain. Things such as universal pre-K, expansion of the child tax credit, tuition-free community college, the paid medical -- family leave proposals, the expansion of Medicare. All these key provisions that some moderates in particular say need to be dropped. Some of them need to be dropped.

But progressives say keep them all in. Limit the time frame so they can limit the overall price tag. Now, Nancy Pelosi is unclear where exactly she stands.

After she said we need to do, quote, fewer things well, I asked her today specifically which of those provisions she's willing to drop and she indicated she's in line with the progressives.


PELOSI: If there is -- are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made. And members have said let's get the results that we need, but we will not diminish the transformative nature of what it is. Mostly, we would be cutting back on years and something like that.