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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Right Now: Biden, Moderates Meeting On Key Priorities; Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA); Jan. 6 Committee Vote On Bannon Criminal Contempt Report; NYC Mayor De Blasio Dodges Questions On Running For Governor; North Korea Confirms It Launched Ballistic Missile From Submarine; West Virginians Hit Hard By Climate Change As Sen. Manchin Fights Legislation That Could Help Combat Floods, Drought; Source: FDA To Recommend Pfizer, Moderna Boosters For People 40-Plus. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 17:00   ET



JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President's basing this approach on five decades of Washington, which is a pretty good guide for how to get things done.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His dual prong multi trillion dollar domestic agenda hang in the balance, Biden watching into a week designed to break the logjam.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Politics is the art of the possible and President Biden is someone who understands how to bring people together.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Or Monday calls with key moderate Senator Joe Manchin, as well as Democratic leaders.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Last night, I continued my discussions with Speaker Pelosi and President Biden as we work to an agreement on legislation we can bring to the floor.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And today, separate morning Oval Office meetings with Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the two critical moderate holdouts. Afternoon meetings split by ideological leanings, nine progressives who have urged Biden to go big on his signature economic and climate bill, followed by eight moderates focused on securing the infrastructure bill in a more tailored approach to the economic and climate package.

PSAKI: These are serious policy discussions, often on nitty gritty details and they aren't duals between factions.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Underscore a moment that calls for equal parts personal touch, and tough choices, but Biden facing a cold vote count reality. In order to secure the support of moderates, he will need to cut at least $1.5 trillion from his $3.5 trillion, plan and significantly reshaped key elements on climate paid leave and health care. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The American people want us to act. And I think we're going to have to aggressively come together to do that.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Manchin and Senator Bernie Sanders meeting behind closed doors, Monday, to make amends after a weekend of public sparring. To sell the deal, Biden prepares to take his pitch on the road to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, before taking part in a CNN Town Hall in Baltimore on Thursday, with Biden and Democratic leaders steadfast on the road ahead.

SCHUMER: We still have work to do, but we're going to continue at it until, until the job is done.


MATTINGLY: But Jake, White House officials have been very cautious about setting a new deadlines. But Senate Democrats were very clear after their own two hour meeting earlier today. They want to have an agreement on a framework by the end of this week.

There's no question, there's a lot of work left to be done. But clear momentum at this moment behind an effort that to this point has had very little, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Phil Mattingly at the White House for us. Thank you so much, sir.

Here to discuss, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He was part of that meeting with progressive Democrats that the President had that just wrapped up at the White House.

Congressman Khanna, good to see you. What can you tell us about your meeting with President Biden and why so many of your fellow progressives seem so optimistic?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Jake, this was a president in charge, he's taken over the details of the negotiation. He said he is confident that he can get Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin to a place on a framework. And the framework he outlined was an inspiring one and one that I think progressives can get behind. So, you saw him in full command of the details. He was going through in detail on the chart, every program.

TAPPER: Can you give us an idea of what this compromise might look like? What the total cost will be, whether or not programs will be cut or whether or not it will just be for allocated funds for a shorter number of years? Any details.

KHANNA: I think most of the programs, almost all of the programs will be there in some form. It's no secret that the President has thrown out a number around 2 trillion. That is, I think, where we will end up around that number. And almost every priority will be funded.

Some of them will be funded last -- for last year, some four more years. But overall, there was a sense that the priorities that the progressives care about are in the framework.

TAPPER: Give us an idea of some of the specific programs that will be in this compromise, theoretically.

KHANNA: I appreciate your raising that, because one of the things we talked about is we need to be more specific about what's in there. There is going to be universal preschool.

The President was the most passionate about this, saying all these other countries do that this is going to give every kid in America a fair starting point. There's going to be a child tax credit continued. We will have vision, dental hearing, that is going to be in there.

There will be some funding for community college scholarships. There will be funding for the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. So, it is a robust program. And there are going to be climate investments, massive investments and extensions in solar, in wind, in water.

TAPPER: So, universal pre-K would suggest, just for anybody out there who's not paying incredibly close attention to this, that there is not any means testing, meaning that doesn't matter how much money you make. You can send your kids to this universal pre-K the same way that any wealthy person can send their kids to the local high school, the local public high school. So that would stay universal. Is their means testing for anything else, because obviously Senator Manchin has been and has been pushing for that?


KHANNA: That will be universal and that's a big win. There will be means testing for the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. As you know, Jake, there was means testing for those programs, even in the American rescue plan that we passed.

The question is, what is the threshold going to be? I believe it will be higher than the 60,000 that Senator Manchin proposed, it will be significant. There wasn't the level of detail on exactly what that number will be. That will be worked out. But I'm confident a lot of working class and middle class families will be covered.

TAPPER: Now, you just said that there will be climate change provisions. We have heard and read that one of the big sticking points for Senator Manchin, who we should note, represents West Virginia, a coal state, is that he opposes a lot of the climate policies, climate change policies in the bill. Where is that going to land?

I mean, there is this provision that would give federal money to companies who increase their share of electricity from clean sources and penalize carbon tax those who do not. Is that going to be in the bill?

KHANNA: The good news is, there's going to be about 300 billion of investment in solar, in wind, in hydro, the tax credits to be able to develop that.

The CEPP program, that you refer to, is probably not going to be in the bill. That is a disappointment. But the President said that he has committed to finding alternative means to get to the 50 percent reduction in emissions that he is committed to and to make sure that he delivers that before he goes to Glasgow. So that is a work in progress.

One of the things we discussed is how important it is to make sure West Virginia is a winner in this, that the jobs, the new jobs are actually in West Virginia and other fossil fuel dependent states.

TAPPER: Now, the provision, the bill that you're talking about, the Build Back Better Act, proposes paying for, if not all, most of these programs by raising the corporate tax level, by raising the very highest level tax level. But we've also heard that this is a nonstarter or at least the corporate tax increase for Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Is that true? Is there any change in what Washington, D.C. calls the pay for or the revenues or what most human beings call tax increases?

KHANNA: The President said that it will be completely paid for. We didn't get into the specifics of how.

Now, half of the plan is basically a tax cut, the part of it that's an earned income tax credit, a child tax credit, that's putting money in the pockets of the working class, especially if it's refundable, it's a tax cut. So that part, Senator Sinema may not be opposed to that spending.

For the other parts, the President is confident we'll be able to raise the revenue. I obviously think we should be raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy in the corporate tax rates. I believe some of that will be in there.

TAPPER: What happens if Democrats cannot make a deal before the self- imposed deadline of October 31? Again, there's nothing magic about that deadline. It's something that Democrats put as a goal. You guys have already blown through multiple deadlines.

And as you know, moderates already frustrated that the vote didn't happen last month as promised, but do you think this will happen by October 31? And if not, when?

KHANNA: Jake, I used to think probably not until I met the President this afternoon. And I'll tell you what struck me, he wasn't focused on October 31, but he was focused on delivering something before he goes to Glasgow.

And he made a very compelling case, he said, and he looked people in the eye and he said, the prestige of the United States is on the line. I need this to go represent the United States overseas. I need people to see that the Democratic Party is working, that the country is working that we can govern. I think that is a very compelling appeal.

It appealed to me that we need to compromise and give this president a win. And I hope it will appeal to every American that we want this president to succeed on the international stage.

TAPPER: Right. Glasgow where there will be a big international discussion on how to combat climate change.

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

KHANNA: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: President Joe Biden join CNN this Thursday for an exclusive Town Hall. He's going to answer questions from the American people and from my colleague, Anderson Cooper. That's this Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. only on CNN. Be sure to watch.

As Joe Manchin stands in the way of some of the climate change provisions in the bill, his home state is being transformed by climate change. That's ahead.

And Democrats finally trying to scale the stone wall as the committee investigating the Capitol riot is about to vote to possibly hold Trump acolyte, Steve Bannon, in contempt of Congress. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back in our politics lead. Just hours from now, the House Committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection is expected to take the first step toward holding Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the subpoena.

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

Paula, do we know when the Full House of Representatives will vote on whether or not to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just learned, Jake, that the committee expects that full vote in the House to happen by Friday. If it succeeds, then this issue would move on to the Justice Department, specifically the US Attorney in D.C. But the decision on whether to proceed would lie with the boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland. And at this point, it's not clear exactly what he will do. Now he is facing considerable political pressure.

Even though the White House and the Justice Department are supposed to be completely separate, President Biden weighed in late last week saying yes, he believes Bannon should be prosecuted.


And of course, we've seen Democratic lawmakers also calling on the Justice Department to proceed with this, arguing that if they don't, then Trump associates won't have any incentive or need to cooperate.

Now, it was interesting, Jake, in speaking with legal experts on both sides of this, including people who used to work for the former president, they suggested that Bannon could have made this a lot more difficult for the Attorney General. He could have shown up and invoked privilege on some questions, he could have taken the fifth, it would have been harder to argue that he wasn't complying.

But instead, he and his attorney sent this letter with a blanket refusal, citing privilege, even though many of the items the committee is seeking are not related to conversations with the former president. And that is why the committee says it is likely to proceed on this issue. And they just rejected a last minute request by Bannon's lawyer to delay tonight's vote.

TAPPER: And Paula, former President Trump is suing the January 6 committee so that he can keep his documents private. What does the committee have to say about that?

REID: Well, the committee has dismissed this lawsuit as an effort to delay and obstruct their efforts. They argue that the former president is trying to prevent them from getting facts about January 6.

They argue that privilege is not absolute. And they note that President Biden, so far, has agreed with them and has not invoked privilege.

Now the archives has told former President Trump that unless he can get a court to intervene or agree with him by November 12, they are going to hand over this first batch of documents.

Now in his lawsuit, Trump does raise some novel issues, some novel questions about the rights that a former president has to raise executive privilege. It's possible that a court may want to engage on those, which would at the very least, delay these proceedings and at most potentially block lawmakers from getting some materials. But legal experts I've spoken with, Jake, say it's a long shot.

TAPPER: All right, Paul Reid, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with my august panel.

And Brendan, as the august stir (ph), let me ask you, the actions of the -- of this committee have already become very, very partisan, even though Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two Republicans are on the committee and a former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman is on the staff, do you think that this is going to, this debate about whether or not Bannon is going to be held in contempt of Congress is going to just split down partisan lines generally speaking?

BRENDAN BUCK, FORMER ADVISER TO SPEAKERS JOHN BOEHER AND PAUL RYAN: Yes. So the next step is obviously after the committee is allowed to vote it on the floor to held -- first, have Congress hold someone in contempt, the entire body has to vote on this. So that will actually be a really interesting vote.

I think most Republicans will vote against it. You know, they have successfully made this partisan. And I think that was the goal of Republicans in the first place.

We see Bannon is not particularly popular among a lot of Republicans. Remember, Steve Bannon spent a lot of time attacking a lot of Republicans. But I think ultimately, yes, it will fall on party lines. I think what Steve Bannon is trying to do, I think what Donald Trump is trying to do, is they're trying to buy time to get past the next election, the midterm. I think they realized that if Republicans take back the House, which seems increasingly likely at this point, this all goes away. So they're going to hide behind the courts until you get there. And I think Republicans are probably going to go along with them and hide behind some type of political fig leaf.

TAPPER: And Carrie, you're the attorney on this panel, this could be, as Brendan notes, a lengthy, potentially years long legal fight to make Bannon testify. Do you think ultimately he will be prosecuted by the Attorney General?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's hard to prejudge what the Justice Department is going to do with this. But I tend to think that at this point, it really is less about actually obtaining the testimony of Steve Bannon than it is about setting the precedent that criminal prosecution is the potential for all the other witnesses who don't comply.

So, I think because he might be able to stretch his potential testimony out while the Justice Department considers it. And I hope the Justice Department goes through the normal prosecutorial chain of deciding whether a case would be prosecuting starting with the AUSA to the US attorney and then up to main justice so that there is a regular order about making that decision.

TAPPER: While we're on the topic of Donald Trump, let's just remind people who Republicans are lining up behind, Republican officeholders. He just released a statement about the death of General Colin Powell who died, we should say he was fighting cancer and Parkinson's, but his death was something of a surprise.

He and his wife, Alma, although they were both vaccinated, tested positive for COVID and almost OK, but Colin Powell regrettably died because he had these problems with underlying conditions and a compromised immune system.

That said, here is what Donald Trump had to say about this decorated trailblazing Vietnam War veteran and general, quote, "Wonderful to see Colin Powell who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the fake news media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO," meaning, Republican in name only, "if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!"


And that was immediately followed by a link to donate money to Donald Trump. It's hardly the first time that Trump has acted this way. He did it to John Dingell. He did it to John McCain. It's still shocking that Republicans are lined up behind this guy.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: It is still shocking. And you know, at the end of the day, these statements over and over again, it all comes back to himself. He points to himself and the fake news media over and over again, and it is still equally shocking.

And I guess we shouldn't really expect Republicans at this point to really criticize him over something like this. But you know, Liz Cheney, and I think a few others did come out, but we, I think, we're not going to see top Republicans against it.

MICHAEL STARR HOPKINS, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: Is this shocking, though? Because I don't think anything about this is shocking. I mean, Colin Powell --

TAPPER: Shocking, but not surprising.



TAPPER: That's a lie (ph), that's a lie (ph).

HOPKINS: I mean, Colin Powell is someone who dedicated his entire life to serving others. Donald Trump is someone who dedicated his life to serving himself. I mean Colin Powell was the first black chief of staff. Donald Trump is the first twice impeach president.

I mean, I don't want to attack Donald Trump personally, because that takes it down to his level, but he talked about being remembered. He will be remembered as one of the most graceless people who has ever graced this country. Colin Powell is anything but.

BUCK: And it's actually a political gift for Democrats. Every time he does this, he reminds people who revolted from the Republican Party, the suburban, the educated, the women voters who used to be so important to our coalition, who now have run very far away. Every time he does this, every time he invokes racial undertones as some of his statements, they go further and further away. So I'm sure, you know, while Democrats are upset that he did this, it's also an, once again, another gift.

TAPPER: It is a gift. Republican Liz Cheney, as you note, one of the few Republicans to speak out about this, calling this in a Wyoming newspaper, saying Trump's comments were pathetic, garbage. But again, there's a very hotly contested gubernatorial race in Virginia right now.

And I'm sure Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee, who put out in that very nice statement about Colin Powell is going to be asked, well, what about this, that the leader of your party said? What about this? What about this?

CORDERO: Well, and two thoughts on this. So with respect to the Virginia Governor race, Glenn Youngkin is already on record saying that he would vote and he would support Donald Trump if he was the nominee in 2024. So I think that lets you know where Glenn Youngkin stands as it relates to Trump, and that's after the insurrection. With respect to Colin Powell, as you know, I work in my day job at a national security and defense think tank, and Colin Powell has inspired generations of national security, defense and foreign policy leaders. And so I just hope, as you know, the continuing conversation over the legacy that he leaves, the more important piece is the legacy that he has left in terms of his lessons of leadership, his inspiration to generations of a more diverse representation in the national security and defense community.

TAPPER: And we should just remind people, Trump didn't have to put out a statement about Colin Powell. Obviously, they didn't like each other. Obviously, Colin Powell endorsed Hillary Clinton in '16, and endorsed Joe Biden and '20. Obviously, you know, they were not each other's favorite. He could have kept quiet.

PARTI: He doesn't have a Twitter account anymore, but he's still like, clearly likes to be part of this -- part of the conversation. And he's going to keep putting out these statements.

And as we mentioned, there's a reason why Terry McAuliffe in Virginia is continuing to tie his Republican opponent to Donald Trump. The more he keeps putting out these statements, the more perhaps beneficial that strategy could be.

TAPPER: Do you think it actually works, though? Do you think the idea of trying to tie Glenn Youngkin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Virginia, to Donald Trump, do you think that works on suburban voters? Or do people think it's not the same person?

HOPKINS: I do. I think it works in Northern Virginia. I think, you know, in Southern Virginia, the Richmond area, I think it's a little more complicated. But you know, now Virginia has become basically Northern Virginia. And so that's the makeup. And so I think that's why you're starting to see this distance put in the poll numbers.

TAPPER: Do you?

BUCK: I don't think it works when Donald Trump is off the stage. But when you haven't seen Donald Trump in a few weeks, and Glenn Youngkin does not present as a Donald Trump type person. But when Donald Trump inserts himself in this and you remind them and you see him every day, it's going to stick a lot more. And so I'm sure Glenn Youngkin would love Donald Trump would just, for the next two or three weeks, just shut up.

TAPPER: You know, it was interesting, though, there was an interview where Senator Cassidy, I think it was, a Republican of Louisiana said he would not want Donald Trump to be the nominee, he would not support him. But yet, at the same time there's a new poll I just saw out earlier today showing a significant amount, and in fact, a higher percentage than just a few months ago of the Republican voters want Trump to run for president in 2024.

CORDERO: Well, look, he has a popularity with the Republican Party. And so, in our Virginia governor's race, the candidate, Glenn Youngkin, he has said he will support Donald Trump in 2024. He has aligned himself with the antimasking, anti-vaccine requirement provisions that have been in place.

In Virginia, as a resident there, it's been a pretty good place to ride out the pandemic. It's been a pretty safe place the policies that have been in place have made families feel pretty comfortable in living throughout the pandemic.


TAPPER: You have a Democratic governor?

CORDERO: Yes, we have a Democratic governor right now. And so Terry McAuliffe would -- have said that he would continue those policies. So, I think when it comes to actual policies, that's what Virginia voters are looking for when it comes to that race.

TAPPER: Basic swing of races, New York Mayor, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dodged questions today about whether or not he's going to run for governor of New York State. He's been putting this out there, you might remember he also ran for president, that didn't go so well.

According to polls, only one in four New York voters view him favorably. Do you think he's going to run?

HOPKINS: I mean, I'm sure he can run, but I mean, Cuomo has better poll numbers than de Blasio. I wish him the best. (INAUDIBLE) probably played before he wins.

TAPPER: What did -- what about you? Do you think de Blasio has any shot?

BUCK: I mean, yes. But look, I think what's motivating him is his rivalry with Cuomo. There are two more -- two politicians who hate each other more, I don't know who they are. And so I think he wants him -- his probably motivated just kind of to one up --

TAPPER: Oh, I see. So Andrew Cuomo --

BUCK: Yes.

TAPPER: -- was forced to resign, now I'm going to take it. It's not that petty, is it really?

PARTI: Well, I mean, poll numbers didn't really even hold him back from jumping into the presidential race. I mean, we forget that at this point that he ran for president at one point even though I think at best he was pulling at 1 percent in the primary.

TAPPER: Oh, I don't even think of that. I think that was an inflated percentage that you just gave.

Thanks one and all. Really appreciate it.

The latest threat from North Korea shot out of the sea. That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, tensions are escalating on the Korean peninsula. Moments ago, North Korea confirmed that it had successfully fired a ballistic missile from a submarine earlier today. This test is the latest in a series of, frankly, ominous moves in recent weeks, including what the Kim Jong-un regime claims was a hypersonic missile test last month, which would be theoretically capable of traveling from Pyongyang to Washington, D.C. in less than two hours.

CNN's Will Ripley is live for us now. Will, how significant is this latest move?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If it is true that North Korea launch from a submarine and these images that they just released a few minutes ago are strikingly similar to the images from their testing in 2019, where they said it was a submarine, but it turned out to be an underwater kind of platform. So we don't really know for sure, but it is suspected.

According to South Korea and Japan and others who were analyzing this that the launch did happen out in the sea and the pictures do show, you know, a ballistic missile coming out of the water, and then they show this submarine.

The significance is that if North Korea now has the capability to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine, even though their submarines are not like the U.S. or the U.K., or what Australia's nuclear submarines will be down the road, or even China, they're old, they're clunky, they're noisy, they're pretty easy to detect.

But still, it gives North Korea potentially the capability to sneak up on enemy shores and launch, you know, a ballistic missile. And that is a -- not a good development considering that just last month, they said that they also developed a hypersonic missile, which they claim can travel more than five times the speed of sound, change direction, fly low under the radar.

These hypersonic missiles that are currently deployed in China and Russia are basically impossible to shoot down. So all of the missile defense systems in place to protect the 125 million people in Japan and more than 50,000 U.S. troops would be virtually useless against a hypersonic missile.

So if North Korea is moving, you know, towards that technology even if they're not quite there yet, and now they also have submarine launched ballistic missiles, it's really extraordinary this small impoverished country, Jake, has invested so much in its weapons program. Of course, we know it comes at a great cost in terms of many other things in that country that need resources that don't get them.

TAPPER: All right, Will Ripley, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The senator from coal country blocks President Biden's climate change plan as floods wreak havoc at his home. That's next.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, just two weeks to go until Election Day in a critical race for Virginia Governor. Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe on the campaign trail today in the solidly blue, Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C. And if you want to get a sense of the headwinds in the race, well, look no further than the airwaves.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now. Jeff, the ads really tell us a lot about where this race is at.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, every election, of course, is about exciting your supporters and turning them out to the polls. But that takes considerably more work during these off-year elections like the Virginia governor's race. So as you said, these TV ads speak directly to the strategies of both campaigns.

Democrats are trying to drum up enthusiasm by making this a referendum on Donald Trump. Republicans are trying to fire up their supporters by focusing on schools, highlighting an intense debate happening over in- person learning, mask mandates, and frankly, whether schools are simply too woke. But in this new ad today, the McAuliffe campaign showed again, they believe their fortunes must be made by linking their opponent to Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we end up here? The lies, the division. It starts when we give room for hate to grow.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also had very fine people on both sides.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But leadership requires taking a stand.

GOVERNOR TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA: I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today, go home.


ZELENY: So it's unclear how many voters that will actually motivate but it is also clear school arguments and parents' involvement in schools is now a critical issue in the closing stretch of this race. Youngkin has been seizing upon an assertion from McAuliffe at a debate last month that parents can be too involved in their children's education.

The McAuliffe campaign so concerned about this. They are also airing an ad today explaining his comments saying he believes parents should be involved and he's opposed to government overreach. Jake, listen to this for nearly half a million Virginia voters, the race is already over. They've already early voted. That number will rise over the final two weeks in a race that's being closely watched as an indicator of which way the winds are blowing for next year's midterm elections. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Now from Virginia to West Virginia, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's home state. Manchin today saying, no way that yet another potential climate change provision and the President's sweeping social programs package but back home in West Virginia, climate change has become a growing threat to West Virginians.


CNN's Rene Marsh joins me now live. And Rene, you traveled to West Virginia this week. What did you learn from his constituents?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I learned, Jake, is that it's not just Senator Manchin who doesn't want quick and aggressive action when it comes to climate change, it's many of his own constituents who in real time are feeling the impacts of climate change. So we traveled there to peel back the layers and figure out just why climate change is so complicated in that state.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our house is about ready to fall and there's a set of babies here and one, two, three, four, five adults.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're in a car, and the car's flooding full of water.

MARSH (voice-over): Floodwaters submerged people, cars and homes in what was dubbed the 1,000-year flood. The town of Clendenin, West Virginia almost wiped off the map in 2016. And this past summer, part of the state saw more flooding. From raging deadly floods to widespread drought, West Virginians over the past few years have faced weather whiplash, and scientists predict it will get worse.

JIMMY RADER, ELK VIEW, WEST VIRGINIA RESIDENT: It was rising about 1 foot an hour.

MARSH (voice-over): Jimmy Rader, a retired Iraq war veteran survived the deadly 2016 West Virginia flooding, but his home did not. Five years later, he's still rebuilding. In the meantime, he, his wife and three dogs called this camper home.

RADER: It's really tough with my PTSD being in such tight quarters.

MARSH (voice-over): Look around the small West Virginia town of Clendenin and it's still without a grocery store, bank and elementary school. Yet Senator Joe Manchin is blocking the most aggressive climate change legislation in U.S. history.

This neighborhood lost safe access to their homes after the 2016 flood weakened the foundation of this bridge and rested it out.

MARSH (on-camera): If someone dials 911, could not come across this bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they'd be afraid that they wouldn't make it, that the bridge might collapse.

MARSH (voice-over): This bridge is Connie Richards lifeline to everyday life, including medical care.

CONNIE RICHARD, CLENDENIN, WEST VIRGINIA RESIDENT: You just keep moving along and praying you get to the other side.

MARSH (voice-over): But even in the face of severe weather and its costly destruction, neither Rader nor Richard blame climate change.

RADER: I'm not bad (ph) into the whole climate change thing.

MARSH (on-camera): So somebody said in order to make sure a flood like this never hit your community again, we need to get rid of coal. What would you say?

RICHARD: Let it flood again.

MARSH (voice-over): In the second largest coal producing state in the nation, climate change is a complicated issue. Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key lawmakers blocking the most aggressive parts of climate legislation that would drastically curb greenhouse emissions linked to climate change is currently ranked the top congressional recipient of campaign donations from the coal mining and fossil fuel industry. Manchin's personal investment in Enersystems, a coal brokerage company he founded and later put in a blind trust, is valued between $1 and $5 million.

(on-camera): Will you be OK knowing that West Virginia could continue to get hit by severe flooding because we, as a country, failed to curb greenhouse gases?

CHRIS HAMILTON, PRESIDENT, WEST VIRGINIA COAL ASSOCIATION: I think the premise is filled with malarkey. I really do. Now, again, you know, we're sensitive to the fact that if we're contributing towards climate change, but you can't blame every undesirable weather event on West Virginia call.

MARSH (on-camera): But it truly --

HAMILTON: We don't have serious droughts here. We don't have serious fires here.

MARSH (on-camera): You do.

HAMILTON: We have a little bit of flooding --

MARSH (on-camera): The doctor (ph) order to state of emergency because there were multiple counties going through droughts, and almost every county in West Virginia has seen massive flooding. HAMILTON: None. But it's very, very difficult to blame that on coal because, again, we've cleaned up every airborne constituent and to the extent we're contributing towards greenhouse gases, we're doing everything imaginable and humanly possible.

MARSH (voice-over): Senator Manchin echoed this Monday.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Want to make sure we have reliable power, we have basically cleaned up the environment more than any other time in the history of this world.

MARSH (voice-over): West Virginia University Professor Nicolas Zegre has studied the state and climate change for 11 years. He says, "Breaking through the complexity of the issue feels impossible."

NICOLAS ZEGRE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: Climate change is so complicated here in West Virginia because West Virginians perceive it as a direct attack on their livelihoods. But it's also interesting too, that inaction of our business leaders and inaction of our decision makers is also a direct attack on livelihoods.


MARSH: Now coal, the bottom line, is coal is very expensive, there are cheaper and energy sources and the industry is shedding jobs because of automation, Jake, but they are holding on to this dying industry.


Many say the reason for that is simply because of the undiversified economy in West Virginia. So, you know, even despite the impact of climate change, you heard the people in that piece say let it flood.

TAPPER: Let it flood again. That was remarkable. Rene Marsh, excellent report and it's so good to have you back.

MARSH: Thanks.

TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

Coming up, a private school bands children who got the COVID vaccine. Yes, you've heard me right, got the vaccine. The junk science behind this bizarre move and what parents are saying, that's next.



TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you on our health lead. Now, the U.S. government will soon recommend COVID booster shots for everyone, 40 years old and older who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. That's according to a source familiar with the plan.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now with the breaking details. And Elizabeth, this means tens of millions more people can get a booster shot. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jake. If this goes to, that's what that means. And that's because U.S. health officials say that they are seeing new data that shows that fully vaccinated people in their 40s and 50s are sometimes getting severe disease that was happening in Israel. Israel deployed boosters and they didn't have any kind of an age limit, and the Israeli say that it really helped. And so the U.S. is now likely headed in that direction.

Right now, boosters are recommended for folks who had Pfizer only starting at age 65, universally. Younger people are also eligible, but only if they fall into certain categories. So that age should be moved from 65 to 40, or possibly 50 for folks who got Pfizer and for folks who got Moderna.

Again, it's because new data is emerging as it has during the pandemic. There's always new data coming in showing that as the vaccine wanes, seeing more hospitalizations among people in their 40s and 50s, even though they're fully vaccinated. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, interesting.

Now to our national lead, it feels like opposite day. One private school in South Florida where kids are being told to stay home for 30 days if they get a COVID vaccine. You heard me right, if they get a vaccine. The school is citing totally bogus, quote, voluminous anecdotal reports that the vaccine could negatively impact others. It's complete nonsense.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is outside the school in Miami for us right now. Leyla. How are parents reacting to this?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know, Jake, a lot of parents we approached didn't want to talk to journalists about this. But of those who did talk to CNN, they were supportive, supportive of the school wanting students to stay home for 30 days if they get vaccinated.

Now, in a letter that went to parents, that was obtained by our affiliate WSVN, they went on to say that if parents are considering vaccinating their students, they're asking them to hold off until summer when, and I quote, "There will be time for the potential transmission or shedding on to others to decrease."

That is not true. There is not a single, credible science base study out there that indicates that the COVID-19 vaccine in any way contributes to transmission or shutting on to others of COVID-19. Jake?

TAPPER: Leyla, the school has a history of -- to put it nicely -- rejecting science. How were they handling vaccinations for teachers when the vaccinations were first approved?

SANTIAGO: Remember, Jake, I was on your show in April talking about this very school behind me. And it was because in April, six months ago, I spoke to the CEO and co-founder of Centner Academy, a private school here in Miami, when they were asking teachers to hold off. And yes, to your point, even then, they were using false claims, a slew of misinformation to ask teachers not to get vaccinated.

And so, this misinformation comes as they claim that they want more information on the vaccines. But if you talk to anyone from the medical community, they'll be quick to tell you those studies exist and those studies are favorable to COVID-19 vaccines being not only safe, but also effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

TAPPER: I can't imagine what science class is like in that school. Leyla Santiago, thanks so much.

The movie that killed Bond and the Marvel Universe at the box office and why it may be bad news for the U.S., that's next.



TAPPER: In our pop lead, move over 007, the most popular movie in the world right now is a Chinese propaganda film glorifying the defeat of the United States in a key Korean War battle. So far, "The Battle at Lake Changjin" has grossed nearly $770 million at the box office globally, well ahead of the new Bond film "No Time To Die," as well as Marvel's new release "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

The Chinese government commissioned the propaganda film which plays up China's role in helping to defeat American troops by North Korea in a pivotal battle in 1950. The success of the film comes at the same time as tensions between the United States and China, not to mention North Korea, are increasing.

You can follow me on Facebook, or on Instagram, or on Twitter, or on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. And I just want to remind you, if you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I will see you tomorrow.