Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

FDA Vaccine Panel Votes To Recommend Moderna COVID Booster; Sources: White House Vetting Former FDA Chief To Run Agency Again; Jan. 6 Committee Pursues Criminal Contempt Referral For Bannon; Ten- thousand John Deere Workers Go On Strike After Rejecting Deal; Trump Becomes Central Figure In Upcoming Virginia Election; SC Lawyer Alex Murdaugh Arrested On New Charges. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think that Prince Harry is saying let's put all of our best scientific minds on fix -- sorry, Prince William, because that's -- on fixing it because that's going to take a while what you described.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, and a lot of money.


BLACKWELL: Bezos has it though.

THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts right now.

So will every U.S. health agency on the same page this time?

THE LEAD starts right now.

A key FDA panel just voted moments ago recommending who should get a Moderna booster shot and when.

Criminal contempt. The January 6th committee pursuing criminal charges against Trump ally Steve Bannon after Bannon refuses to comply with the committee's subpoena. What might Bannon have to hide?

Plus, one GOP candidate apparently will not appear in person with Trump during a rally as we get new CNN reporting this hour on the headache Trump is causing Republican leaders with the latest iteration of his sore loser anti-democracy campaign.

Hello. Welcome to the LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with breaking news in the health lead moments ago, a major vote by a panel of vaccine experts which could impact the lives of millions of Americans who got the Moderna shot. The FDA advisory panel voted to recommend authorization of the Moderna COVID booster shot for individuals in key demographics that have elevated risk of disease, including the elderly.

Now, the same panel tomorrow will debate and possibly vote on a Johnson & Johnson booster shot which has come under some scrutiny.

As CNN's Nick Watt reports for us now, the booster news comes as President Biden is cheering on the progress his administration has made in the fight against the virus.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do have a unanimous 19 out of 19 yes votes.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A thumbs up for Moderna vaccine booster shots from FDA advisors. So Moderna could soon join Pfizer with boosters authorized for the over 65s, all adults at high risk of severe disease and adults whose institutional or occupational exposure puts them at high risk of infection. The CDC still needs to sign off.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We expect a final decision from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, in the next couple of weeks.

WATT: Data suggests that protection from those first two Moderna doses does not wane as fast as with the Pfizer vaccine, but still wanes.

DR. JACQUELINE MILLER, THERAPEUTIC AREA HEAD, MODERNA: This has the potential to address breakthrough disease due to the highly transmissible delta variant.

WATT: An NIH study found mix and matching vaccines between initial doses and boosters is safe and effective.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is the data that the FDA is going to be consider, the advisory committee in the next few days. I would be cautious about in interpreting on its own right now.

WATT: Israel already widely rolled out boosters. Today, advisors got a status report.

DR. SHARON ALROY-PREIS, ISRAEL MINISTRY OF HEALTH: In summary, the booster dose in Israel was effective and so far had safety protocols similar to the other doses. I am hoping we are in herd immunity before the delta strain, but I am not sure we know it yet.

WATT: The same advisors meet tomorrow to talk second shots of Johnson & Johnson, which could be a more complex discussion. Some wish all this went further.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: A lot of people don't want to get sick. They don't want to get long haul COVID. They also don't want to end up missing work or potentially infecting their family. And so, give everybody the option to get that booster dose. I think it should be the recommendation.

WATT: Later this month, FDA advisors will talk vaccinations for kids under 12.

BIDEN: If authorized, we are ready. We are purchasing enough vaccines for all children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the United States.


WATT (on camera): Now, I kept watching those FDA advisors after their vote. They were discussing whether all adults should be eligible for boosters and they do not sound in favor of that at all. So, don't hold your breath there. But the FDA, we have just heard, are going to meet, FDA advisors going to meet end of next month to talk about that very promising antiviral pill that could be rolled out to treat COVID-19 -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles -- thanks, as always.

As the FDA panel holds these critical votes this week, we are learning that the White House is vetting a former FDA chief to lead the agency once again.

CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlin joins us live.

And, Kaitlan, the FDA has been acting under an acting commissioner since Biden took office. She has been highly criticized for her role in the FDA in the opioid epidemic. So, what do we know about this possible replacement?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Dr. Janet Woodcock, who is acting commissioner, ran the drug division when many critics say liberal -- or say opioids were too liberally approved by the agency.


And so, that is some criticism she's faced. That's why she has fallen out of contention for this job.

And so, now, the White House is vetting several candidates, including Rob Califf, Dr. Robert Califf. He's a cardiologist who, as you noted, previously served as the commissioner of the FDA under Obama for a short period of time.

And so, now, the White House is closing on him potentially as their next pick for the FDA commissioner. This has been a position, Jake, that has gone unfilled even though since Biden took office, of course, he has been battling a pandemic and the FDA has a lot of critical decisions ahead of them, many of the ones Nick was just talking about there, including on booster shots for all people from vaccine shots just for children who have not been able to get them yet and other treatments for COVID-19.

So, it's a very critical role, but the struggle has been for the White House, Jake, is finding someone who not only is qualified for the job and meets their standards for what they want to be as FDA commissioner but also someone who can get support on Capitol Hill. And that was the problem for the acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, is that senators like Joe Manchin were opposed to her because of her previous work at the FDA. Some people have said that is unfair criticism of hers. A lot of

people in the FDA have told me personally that like her as an acting leader. But the bottom reality for the White House was that she wasn't going to be able to get confirmation.

And so, here we are in October and the White House is still searching to find someone for this role but they are up against a deadline of November to put someone in that position because she can no longer serve as acting if they have not, Jake.

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

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now live.

Sanjay, I want to get your reaction to the news that the White House is vetting former FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to run the agency once again. It's obviously incredibly important to get somebody into that role during this pandemic.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, the stability of the FDA at this point is critical for all the reasons that both Kaitlan and Nick were talking about. I mean, boosters, I mean, these decisions are happening real time.

Kids vaccines -- I mean, these are going to be big decisions, these other therapeutics, like the new oral pill from Merck. Testing, all of that. And that's to say nothing about the other issues out there. Opioids, vaping, things like that that the FDA typically would be spending a lot of time on.

So, it's a critically important time for the FDA and they haven't had that stability now for, you know, obviously, nine, ten months.

TAPPER: Today, vaccine experts at the FDA, the advisory panel vote today recommend the authorization of a booster shot from Moderna for certain groups of the population. How is this request different from what Pfizer requested from the FDA?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting because the request is more specific but what the outcome is, what Pfizer's, you know, sort of authorization is similar to what it looks like Moderna's authorization going to be in terms of who would be most impacted by this.

Like Pfizer, it is for people ages 65 and older. It is people 18 and older who are at high risk of severe disease, and that could be a large number, Jake. You are talking about cardiac disease, diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma. It could be half the country, half the adults in the country. And then add into that people at high risk of exposure because they are taking care of COVID-19 patients.

When Pfizer put in their request they said they wanted to get boosters authorized for people, everybody 16 and older and it got pared back through the FDA and the CDC. Also, Pfizer put in the request to give another dose at the same dosage, 30 micrograms, of their vaccine. Moderna has said their booster would be half the dosage of the current two-dose regimen.

So a few differences there, relatively minor, but it looks like the outcome will be similar to what we saw with Pfizer.

TAPPER: And, obviously, millions of Americans got the Moderna vaccine.

Should we expect a spike in demand for booster shots nationwide even more so now?

GUPTA: I really think so. You know, it's really interesting, Jake. What you're seeing is, if you look at boosters versus people getting their first vaccinations, you go back to the end of September when the Pfizer emergency use authorization came about for the booster, and you see the trend line, that was September 24th, I believe, when the CDC voted on that. September 27th. You see the numbers sort of cross over where boosters actually overtook first doses of the vaccine and that is just Pfizer.

So, you know, Pfizer is the vaccine that is most commonly used in the United States, but there's a lot of people who use Moderna as well. So, I think we're going to definitely see a significant increase overall in shots going into arms. But it looks like shots going into arms of people who already had shots as opposed to new shots.

TAPPER: And, Sanjay, there is a new study from the National Institutes of Health showing the mix and match approach to boosters is both safe and effective. For instance, getting the Pfizer shot and then for the booster getting Moderna.


Do we know if there are any drawbacks at all to mixing vaccine types?

GUPTA: It really doesn't look like it. I mean, you know, people have sort of speculated for some time there could be an advantage to doing that. The way thaw think about it is that you are creating antibodies to a specific part of the spike protein of the virus. And Moderna and Pfizer, as you point out, very similar.

But, you know, they also have some differences that might actually give you a broader immunity. So it doesn't seem like there is any drawbacks. There could be some potential advantages to having more robust or more at least widespread protection by mixing and matching. We'll get more data on that, but talking to some of these trial investigators, that's what they seem to have been seeing so far. We will see how it sort of plays out in the real world.

TAPPER: And from what we know now about the boosters being considered, is there one that you think is better than the others?

GUPTA: Well, again, we have been following these trials for sometime, and I don't know that we could say that for sure. There has been a lot of interest with J&J, should it be boosted with an mRNA vaccine. But as far as better, does it offer broader or more durable protection, I don't know if we can say that yet. We can convincingly say you don't necessarily get the same shot. Does it offer an advantage? I think the jury is still out on that.

TAPPER: Pockets of the United States right now are experiencing new waves of the virus. Take a look at Vermont, for example. New cases are spiking, close to 250 new cases every day.

Vermont, of course, has the highest vaccination rate in the entire United States. So what's going on there? And can booster shots help?

GUPTA: Yeah. So it's interesting. When you look at a place like Vermont, first of all, one of the most vaccinated states in the country. It's more vaccinated than Israel, which is a place that we often look to for data on highly vaccinated areas.

So, you see cases, as you point out, and we can show that again in terms of what the case trends really are. They have gone up. But to the sort of impact of the vaccines, you see that the hospitalizations are 60 percent lower. Deaths are 40 percent lower at the same time that cases have gone up about 46 percent.

So, you know, in some ways this makes the case. That screen right there gives you the case of what vaccines do. They protect people from getting sick, but not necessarily from carrying the infection. People can still carry the virus. They are much less likely to get infected, about you they still can. Do the boosters make a difference?

Well, now, let's look at Israel because Israel has been doing boosters for a longer period of time and you can sort of break it down by age. The yellow lines over here are people who had -- did not have boosters, had two shots. The green lines are what happens in terms of cases after they get a booster.

It does make a difference, Jake, at least for a period of time. People are less likely to develop a breakthrough infection if they get boosted. They are probably getting a significant surge of antibodies.

I think the question, and this is one that nick alluded to, the FDA still sort of grappling with giving a sudden sort of surge of antibodies, does that make a big difference overall for the patient in terms of severe illness? Should it be recommended more broadly?

They are still saying no. But based on Vermont data, base on what we see out of Israel, that may change at least in terms of bringing cases down overall.

GUPTA: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much as always.

A showdown over a no-show. The January 6th committee now moving to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt.

Plus, that big time South Carolina has been arrested. The new charges he's facing with the scandals and tragedies around him growing.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, the committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection is officially moving forward, recommending that the U.S. Justice Department pursue criminal contempt charges against former Trump aide Steve Bannon for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena. Today, the chairman of the committee said Bannon is, quote, hiding behind the former president's insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke, unquote. Now, of course, it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, how is this process going to work?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, on Tuesday, they say they are going to get to work. They are going to have a meeting where they will adopt a report detailing how they tried to get Bannon to comply with the subpoena and how he refused. Now, they adopt that report, it will move to the house for a vote. If that succeeds, it will be referred to the Justice Department. So, ultimately, it's up to Attorney General Merrick Garland whether he actually wants to move forward with a prosecution. And right now, it's unclear how he's going to handle this.

Now, Bannon has said he is not going to comply unless he is ordered to do so by a court and he notes the fact that the former president has directed him not to comply because he wants to raise issues of privilege. But today, the committee said we reject that argument in its entirety. Now, if he is prosecuted and found guilty, he could be looking at a fine and even jail time.

Look, Jake, this is not a common kind of proceeding. It rarely results in jail time, but I've spoken to the lawyers, even in the Trump orbit, who say here, jail could be a possibility if he is found guilty.

TAPPER: Interesting. And then, of course, there are other Trump allies, Mark Meadows, former chief of staff, Kash Patel, who is a Pentagon advisor and Dan Scavino who work at the White House. How about them?

REID: So, lawmakers have agreed to a short postponement of the depositions for all three of those Trump allies. Now, does that mean that any of them are going to cooperate? It's unclear.

Now, look at our reporting on Kash Patel, for example, the former Pentagon official. Multiple sources say he's still engaging with the committee, but we also heard earlier today on a podcast, Representative Adam Schiff referred to Patel as an evil zealot. And just yesterday, Schiff said that look, not all engagement ends in a positive resolution.

But he says, look, these witnesses are going to comply, either voluntarily or through compulsion, and what we saw today with Bannon, it's clear, though, they are sending a message to the other witnesses.


You're going to comply.

TAPPER: Interesting. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Also in our politics lead, details about an obscure state lawmaker's significant role in the run-up to the January 6th insurrection. According to a newly released Senate report, Doug Mastriano, a state senator from the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, area was a critical behind the scenes player peddling Trump's baseless election fraud claims throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He's even captured on video passing barricades and police lines during the capitol insurrection.

And as CNN's Sara Murray reports for us now, Mastriano continues to spread Trump's big lie, even trying to launch another fraudulent election audit.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As Donald Trump leaned on the Justice Department to help him overturn the 2020 election --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Make no mistake: this election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country.

MURRAY: He also leaned on GOP allies, like retired army colonel and Pennsylvania state senator, Doug Mastriano, to back him up.

DOUG MASTRIANO (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE: Are we going to stand aside as these shenanigans go on in Philadelphia and Atlanta. It's time to rise up, Americans.

MURRAY: The new Senate judiciary report highlights Trump's faith that Mastriano was in his corner. According to the testimony from Richard Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general, Trump told DOJ officials something to the effect of people were trying to address this problem, Scott Perry and Mastriano, but they can't do it in their own capacities.

Now, the Democratic-led Senate judiciary committee says Mastriano's ties to January 6th are particularly notable and warrant further investigation. In the days after Trump's call with DOJ officials, Mastriano wrote to Donoghue. Election fraud is real and prevalent in Pennsylvania, Mastriano says, laying out his evidence of fraud which has been repeatedly debunked, and adding, this election is an embarrassment to our election.

Mastriano had already held an election in Pennsylvania in late November, featuring Rudy Giuliani and Trump by phone spreading election lies.

TRUMP: This was a, very sad to say it, this election was rigged and we can't let that happen.

MURRAY: He went on to organize buses to travel to Trump's January 6th rally in D.C. And while he condemned the violence later that day --

MASTRIANO: I join with all the other Americans in condemning what happened in the Capitol. What happened today should never have happened. It's unacceptable.

MURRAY: The Senate report says he and his wife took part in the January 6th insurrection, with video footage confirming that they passed through breached barricades and police lines at the U.S. Capitol. Mastriano has said police lines shifted during the day and no evidence has emerged showing him inside the Capitol. In a statement to local news outlets, Mastriano called the Senate report biased and inaccurate.

According to Mastriano, the hyper-partisan Senate judiciary committee report is another attempt to distract from real issues that need attention at the federal level.

Mastriano who won a state senate in the 2019 special election represents a GOP dominated district in southern Pennsylvania. He gained notoriety in 2021 from his protests again the Democratic governor's COVID restrictions.

MASTRIANO: It's time to open up Pennsylvania now.

MURRAY: In the months since the insurrection, Mastriano continues spreading doubt about the election, visiting Arizona's partisan audit.

MASTRIANO: I was impressed by what I saw in Arizona.

MURRAY: And trying to launch a similar effort in Pennsylvania.

MASTRIANO: As we go through the ballots, my desire to recount them and forensically analyze with photographic material whether the ballots were copied or filled in by a human.

MURRAY: But after irking members of his own party, Mastriano was stripped to the state senate committee chairmanship. Now, one of his GOP colleagues is leading the election review.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Mastriano may no longer be leading the so- called audit, but we're still seeing as other Republicans in Pennsylvania try to subpoena voter information and move forward with an audit 11 months after the election. Of course, we reached out to Mastriano's office with a bunch of questions. They didn't get back to us, Jake.

TAPPER: Sara, you know, Mastriano was re-elected on the same ballot by the same voters as Joe Biden was elected.

MURRAY: Somehow he's not concerned about that.

TAPPER: Yeah, no election fraud for his re-election. Just for -- just for Joe Biden.

Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, why your favorite TV series or upcoming movie might be delayed. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead today, John Deere's motto is nothing runs like a deer. But right now, 14 different locations aren't running at all after 10,000 workers went on strike this morning. They decided to walk out after a deal to bump their wages fell through.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik.

Alison, John Deere's stock is doing pretty well. Why did they reject this deal to increase their workers' salary?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, salary is a big part of this. You know, members voted to actually reject the proposal that was on the table two weeks ago between the UAW, the United Auto Workers, and John Deere because most didn't think it was good enough.

And now, they are calling for higher wages. Now, these negotiations are happening at that time when things are going very well for John Deere. This year, so far, stock for John Deere is up more than 22 percent. Revenue for the first three quarters of Deere's fiscal year rose to more than $32 billion.

So the current financial success at Deere, that may have led to some union members believe they deserved a better package than the one that was rejected.

TAPPER: Hmm. And it's not just farm equipment that could be on a production delay, of course. Our favorite TV shows, movies, they could also be taking a hit, too. Tell us about that.

KOSIK: Yeah, you're right. Sixty thousand members of a film and TV production union, those who are behind the camera, they will actually go on strike beginning this Monday if an agreement can't be reached with a group representing Hollywood producers.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have already authorized a strike just in case negotiations didn't come to an agreement. So far, an agreement has yet to be reached on issues that include meal breaks, higher wages, and longer turnarounds for crews. And if those workers actually walk off the job, it's going to have a widespread effect on the entertainment industry, bringing most major TV and film productions in North America to a halt.

And this isn't the only strike on the horizon. Kaiser Permanente, one of the country's biggest health care providers, 38,000 workers could go on strike soon if no agreement is reached. Now, although the Labor Department is saying that the number of worker strikes so far this year is actually down compared to the year before the pandemic, we are seeing kind of an inflection point in the labor market, where workers feel like they have more of a voice, that they want better. And these strikes across the country, they are really emblematic of the leverage that American workers realize that they have. They know employers are struggling to find workers because as of August, there are more than 10 million job openings in this country and workers are saying take this job and shove it. They are quitting at a record pace thinking that they could afford to quit for a better opportunity and better compensation -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the message Donald Trump sent that's becoming a massive headache for Republicans. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, Donald Trump is becoming a dividing factor in Virginia's tight race for governor. Trump called in to an event last night and sang the praises of the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin who wasn't even there. When CNN asked Youngkin about the call today, it took him nearly two minutes to offer gratitude and then it was only brief gratitude, in another sign that Youngkin is trying to publicly for now keep Trump at arm's length.

While as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports for us now, the Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is constantly trying to link the two Republicans together.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump loves standing at the front of a big rally.


ZELENY: But in the Virginia governor's race, the former president can be heard but not seen.

TRUMP: I really believe that Virginia is very, very winnable, but everybody has to go out and vote.

ZELENY: As Republicans hope to launch a comeback in the biggest campaign of the season, Trump is not invited, at least for one of his signature rallies. Instead, he called into an event last night.

TRUMP: We are going it take it all back.

ZELENY: In the latest sign of how Republican Glenn Youngkin is walking a tightrope, embracing the Trump energy to fire up his base and keeping his distance to avoid alienating other voters.

In the final days of a race that has Democrats on edge, Terry McAuliffe is calling in the cavalry. President Biden this summer. First Lady Jill Biden on Friday and former President Barack Obama next weekend, reprising a visit he made in 2013 when McAuliffe narrowly won.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The next governor of the great commonwealth of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe!

ZELENY: This time, McAuliffe is blasting Youngkin as an extreme Trump clone, releasing a new ad today to link the two.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I was honored to receive President Trump's endorsement.

ZELENY: But Youngkin is trying to stand alone.

YOUNGKIN: All eyes are on Virginia.

ZELENY: Mindful he needs to win over some of the very Virginians when previously voted Democratic, including for Biden, who won last year by ten points. In a race that would turn on enthusiasm, it's a tricky balancing act with Trump.

Would you like to see him campaign here?

YOUNGKIN: Well, so, no. The person that is going to be campaigning here for the next two and a half weeks is Glenn Youngkin. I'm on the ballot.

ZELENY: Do you hope he stays out of the state?

YOUNGKIN: You're going to see me campaign as Glenn Youngkin, the candidate who is marching to victory and you will see my opponent bring in everybody he possibly can because he can't win on his own.


ZELENY: Now, as much as Youngkin does not want to talk about Donald Trump, Terry McAuliffe does want to keep the former president alive in this race. Jake, it is all because of those independent voters who voted against former President Donald Trump just last year. Joe Biden again winning this state by ten percentage points a year ago.

But it is an open question if those independent voters really align Youngkin with Trump. Many I talked to here this week said they simply don't. Other issues are driving this race like parental choice, school guidance, government intervention and so many other things.

So Trump is hanging over this race heavily, but it's unclear if it's weighing Youngkin down as much as McAuliffe had hoped.

TAPPER: Yeah. A bunch of Democrats are trying to bait Trump into campaigning for Youngkin in Virginia.

Jeff, you mentioned McAuliffe wants to bring First Lady Jill Biden and former President Barack Obama to Virginia to help campaign. Is he going to have President Biden come?

ZELENY: In fact, White House Press Secretary Psaki said just a short time ago that President Biden does to campaign here in Virginia at some point before leaving for a foreign trip. He'll be doing that at the end of this month.

So, we do expect him here. Among Democrats, that's likely to help McAuliffe because, of course, the president standing is quite good among Democratic voters. At this point of the race, it is all about energizing your representative bases.


So, we do expect President Biden here.

Jake, the bigger question, will President Trump actually stay away or will he be drawn into holding one of his famous rallies? Jake?

TAPPER: Interesting. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Sources tell CNN that Trump's repeated cries of election fraud in the 2020 race have taken another bizarre turn which frustrates the Republican Party leaders. Last night, Trump said in a statement, quote, if we don't solve the presidential election fraud of 2020, Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24.

Again, there was no significant election fraud in 2020, but still telling Republicans not to vote?

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us now.

Melanie, Republicans are generally speaking afraid of calling out Trump when he makes statements like that, but you are hearing they are riled up behind the scenes?

MELANIA ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, that's right, Jake. Republicans are privately frustrated that Trump keeps trying to rehash the 2020 election. They would rather keep their midterm message focused on Joe Biden, the economy, or the border, and even some of Trump's most loyal supporters in Congress want to put 2020 in the rearview mirror.

Roger Williams, a Texas Republican, told me, look, I'm a Trump guy but we have got to start focusing on 2022. And, Jake, there is also some concern that Trump's false claims of voter fraud and false talk of a rigged election could actually depress voter turnout among Republicans and turn off moderates and independents just like we saw in the Georgia Senate races earlier this year when Republicans lost both seats.

But even as Republicans privately have fears of a Georgia repeat, none of them, as you mentioned, have been willing to call out Trump's election lies, including GOP leadership. And that's because Trump has made it a litmus test in the party and many Republicans are still scared to cross the former president.

TAPPER: Right. And so even though they know he might go rogue and keep repeated deranged lies about the election, Republicans are still eager to use him in the upcoming elections to get the base out to vote. ZANONA: That's exactly right. I mean, Trump is actually going to be

headlining to fundraising events for the House and Senate GOP campaign arms in the coming weeks and GOP leaders have made clear, especially in the House, that they feel like they need Trump and he can help with fundraising and can help animate the base. But sometimes, Trump's behavior runs counter to the GOP's strategy and mission when it comes to winning back the House and Senate. He said in a recent radio interview he would rather have Democrats win some seats where Republicans represent the seat who voted today impeach him.

So, you get the sense that in some cases, Trump might care about his own image rather than the success of the GOP.

TAPPER: Hmm, you really think?

Melanie Zanona, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

ZANONA: Thank you.

TAPPER: That prominent South Carolina lawyer embroiled in multiple scandals and deaths is now in police custody. What are the charges he is facing? That's next.


TAPPER: In our national lead, Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced attorney from South Carolina, recently accused of a suicide for hire plot was arrested once again. This time, he is accused of stealing settlement money from his late housekeeper's family. Her death has come under renewed scrutiny following a series of tragedies tied to Murdaugh.

CNN's Martin Savidge has been following every chapter in this bizarre story. He joins us now.

Martin, Murdaugh was arrested in Florida. What was he doing there and tell us more about these new charges.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he was arrested outside of a drug rehabilitation facility. It's believed that's where he has been getting treatment for a self-admitted opioid addiction he said goes back decades. The charges against him now include two felony accounts of obtaining property by false pretenses. According to the South Carolina law enforcement division, these charges stem from a SLED investigation in a misappropriated settlement of funds in the death of Gloria Satterfield.

So, who is she? She is the housekeeper for the Murdaughs for decades, who died in a fall on the Murdaugh property in 2018. Alex Murdaugh suggested her surviving sons file a lawsuit against the family. They did. And the settlement was for some $4.3 million.

But the sons say they never received any of that money. The attorney that represents the sons subsequently said that Murdaugh allegedly took the money of the settlement which came from an insurance company and transferred it into his own private bank account. That seems to be where the SLED allegations for now stemming today. Alex Murdaugh expected to be in court tomorrow.

TAPPER: And remind our audience, Murdaugh was accused of a suicide for hire plot just months after his wife and son had been found dead. What's the status of those investigations?

SAVIDGE: Okay. Big breath. Here we go.

So the murders of his son and wife, which occurred in June of this year, when Alex M Murdaugh found them shot to death on his own property. Recently, by his own admission, the attorney that represents -- one of the attorneys that represents Alex Murdaugh implied that Alex Murdaugh is a person of interest.

He then went on to say he can't be a person of interest because he has an alibi. He alleges that Alex Murdaugh at the time, that his wife and son were murdered were with his mom and there is another witness to verify time and place. Meanwhile, then on September 4th you have another strange twist, which is when Alex Murdaugh reports he had been shot in the head as he was attempting to replace a tire on the side of the road.


We now know that he confessed to saying that, no, it was an attempt to actually pull off on insurance fraud, that he would be killed by a man he hired and thereby his one surviving son would get millions of dollars of insurance money. Of course, it all went awry because Alex Murdaugh was not killed. He has been charged with attempted insurance fraud and insurance fraud and also filing a false police report.

There is just a myriad of problems for a man who once was so prominent, so powerful, and now in so much trouble -- Jake.

TAPPER: What a horrible story. Martin Savidge, thanks so much.


TAPPER: Yesterday was a big day in America's hideous opioid epidemic. The CDC announced that the highest 12-month total yet of a drug overdoses in the U.S., more than 96,000 dead Americans, according to preliminary data, and almost 30 percent increase from the previous year. The primary driver of this all was, of course, opioids.

Also late Wednesday, a federal judge allowed work to continue on a very controversial bankruptcy and settlement plan for Purdue Pharma, that's the manufacturer of the opioid OxyContin.

Now, the justice department had asked the judge to stop the plan which shields the Sackler family which owned the company from opioid lawsuits.

Also yesterday brought the premier of "Dopesick", the Hulu TV series that hopes to bring attention to this scandal and the role of the Sacklers in it. Now, despite all of this momentous news, we here at CNN heard from

attorneys representing the Sacklers. They took issue with a banner we aired that tried to reflect this sentiment from writer Danny Strong about the purpose of the show "Dopesick."


DANNY STRONG, WRITER, DOPESICK: We really wanted to show their crimes and in many ways I want the show to be the trial that Purdue Pharma has not gotten.


TAPPER: Now, the Sacklers are asking that we make clear what we made quite clear in the segment. The Sackler family has not faced any criminal charges.

And the Sacklers are right. This is an important point for us to make clear for you to understand. The Sacklers have not been charged with any crimes. That's not to say that they won't be or that they shouldn't be. The folks behind "Dopesick" think they should.

Remember the company that the Sacklers ran, Purdue Pharma, they pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said, quote, Purdue admitted that it marketed and sold the dangerous opioid products to health care providers even though it had reason to believe those providers were diverting them to abusers.

Quote, the company lied to the drug enforcement administration about steps it had taken to prevent such diversion, fraudulently increasing the amount of its products it was permitted to sell. Purdue also paid kickbacks to providers to encourage them to prescribe even more of its products, unquote. They, themselves, personally, the Sacklers, have not been charged with any crimes. It's a fact that critics find outrageous.

We hope this clears up any misunderstands. We are not going to stop covering this story. Stay tuned for more.

Coming up, five people killed in a bow and arrow attack. That's now been treated as an act of terror. What we're learning about the suspect ahead.



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

This hour, a key FDA panel just recommended booster shots for COVID vaccines. So, will you be eligible and when?

Plus, five people killed in a bow and arrow attack. What police are saying about the suspect and his apparent radicalization? And leading this hour, a showdown over January 6th. This afternoon, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection announced they are pursuing criminal contempt charges against Trump ally Steve Bannon. Bannon was a no-show at his scheduled deposition today after being subpoenaed. The chairman saying the committee will, quote, use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks and witnesses who try to stonewall will not succeed, unquote.

Now, as CNN's Ryan Nobles reports, all eyes are on the Department of Justice to see if it will prosecute Bannon.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On deadline day for Trump allies to cooperate, the January 6th select committee made good on their threat to, quote, not mess around.

The committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, announcing the committee is moving ahead to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt. The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt, Thompson said in a statement.

That kicks off a process. Once the committee votes on it, it will go to the entire House of Representatives before being referred to the Department of Justice to act on.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Today, we have an attorney general that respects the rule of law, who upholds the principle no one is above the law. And we expect those subpoenas to be enforced and are enforced with prosecution.

NOBLES: The former White House counselor and Trump booster, Bannon went to great lengths to defy the wishes of the committee, sending them two different letters so say he was deferring to former president who directed him not to testify because the information is protected by executive privilege.

A claim legal experts don't buy.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The other thing about Steve Bannon is his legal claims and defenses here are the weakest because he was not in executive branch employee at the time of these events.