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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Durbin: Tax Hikes For Corporations, Wealthy Individuals Are Likely Off The Table After Opposition From Sinema; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), Is Interviewed About Tax Increase; Nine Republicans Voted To Hold Steve Bannon In Contempt Of Congress; V.A. Governor's Candidates Urge Early Voting In high-Pressure Race; New Poll: Youngkin Seizes Momentum, Now Tied With McAuliffe; Russia's Putin Makes Series Of Attention-Grabbing Decisions; FBI Identifies Human Remains As Brian Laundrie. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 17:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden going all in with an optimistic public push for his sweeping domestic agenda.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The core of our administration's economic vision and it's a fundamental paradigm shift for this nation.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Easing (ph) as he grapples with major hurdles ahead of tonight's 90 minutes CNN Town Hall.

BIDEN: Hello, hello, hello.

It's good to be home.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): One day after a rally in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: House has been on schedule.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Biden's top advisors and allies on Capitol Hill in an urgent scramble to reach an agreement by weeks end.

PELOSI: We've rounded the turn, and we're almost a stretch.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Even as sources say Biden has inched closer to clinching an agreement with one of the key central holdouts, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia progress with the second Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona significantly slower going. Frustration with Sinema boiling over with progressives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear Senator Sinema --

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Five members of Sinema's unpaid veterans' advisory council resigning. And one House Democrat pulling from Saturday night live (ph). SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): -- because I didn't come to Congress to make friends.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): To make a not so subtle point. Sinema's private opposition to tax rate increases on corporations and individuals setting off a scramble to pay for the bill.

PELOSI: The bill will be totally prayed for and the matter is in the hands of our chairs of the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): White House officials now talk with congressional tax writers hoping to ease Sinema's concerns.

PELOSI: Her position is well known.


MATTINGLY: And that position well known as it is. It's part of the reason White House officials were once again on Capitol Hill today. The President's top advisors meeting with Senators Manchin and Sinema, also meeting with the chairs of the tax writing committees trying to figure out a way to get this deal together.

Now there's a lot of skepticism, Jake, about whether or not something can actually get done by weeks in. But as one official here put it, now is not the time to take their foot off the gas. They are going to continue to push forward from the White House and from Democrats on Capitol Hill, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, CNN's Philip Mattingly at the White House, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Here to discuss is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State. She is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has been an integral part of these negotiations.

So, Congresswoman, as you heard the Senate ranking -- the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, just told CNN that he believes the proposed tax increases on the wealthiest individuals and the corporate tax increase, they're now off the table because Senator Kyrsten Sinema opposes them and they need her vote. Is this also your understanding?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Jake, it's good to see you. Good to be back with you.

I don't know that to be the case. I will say that I agree with the Speaker, I think this bill is going to be paid for. And I will also say that, you know, we now have 49 Democrats in the Senate who are ready to do those tax increases, the American people overwhelmingly support them. And I would certainly hope that the last senator could come along with us. But either way, we're going to get this thing paid for and we are going to get it done.

TAPPER: Is there an alternate way to pay for it? When Senator Elizabeth Warren was on the show yesterday, I asked her about Sinema's opposition to the highest ranking, the taxpayer's tax increase and the corporate tax increase. And she said, well, there -- she had a legislation that would make corporations pay at least something in taxes if they made a profits that year, minimum tax for corporations.

Is that one of the things being discussed? Like what are other ways you can get Kyrsten Sinema on board while also getting this bill passed?

JAYAPAL: There is a whole set of options. And Senator Warren is absolutely right. I'm completely in favor of the real corporate profits tax that she has proposed.

And there are some other ones as well that Senator Wyden has put on the table, the Ways and Means Committee has a whole list of options. So, I do think we will get this paid for. And I think that there will be agreement around it.

I do hope that it can include making the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest individuals pay their share -- fair share. I'll tell you, Jake, I have a lot of them in my state who have called me to say, you know what, we're willing to pay our fair share. We're OK with this. We think it's a good thing.

So, I'm not sure what the problem is here because we're not talking about something unreasonable. We're actually talking about something that used to exist before the Trump tax cuts and rolling back the Trump tax cuts. So, hopefully we can -- we get that. But if not, listen, there's lots of ways to pay for this. That is not the problem. We will get it done.

TAPPER: President Biden has promised the American people that the bill will be entirely paid for and it will not cost anyone one penny if they make under $400,000 a year. Are you going to be able to keep that promise even without the tax increases that Kyrsten Sinema opposes?


JAYAPAL: Yes, we will keep that promise. I know how strongly the President feels about this. I've met with him a couple of times this week, he has been fantastic on this issue.

We're not going to increase taxes on people earning under 400,000. We will find other ways to do it. And it will be paid for.

And I hope again, that it is just making the wealthiest pay their fair share. But we'll have to see where we get to.

TAPPER: You have been meeting with Senator Manchin, you spoke to him again yesterday, I'm told. Have you spoken with Senator Sinema at all during any of these negotiations?

JAYAPAL: I spoke to her several weeks ago, but I haven't spoken to her recently. She's really been negotiating with the White House directly. And that's fine. I'm always available to meet with her if she wants to.

And yes, I have had some very good conversations with Senator Manchin about where we can agree and where we have some differences and how we bridge those differences to get to a place where, you know, everyone may not get everything they want, but that we will get something that will really be significant in terms of childcare, universal childcare, universal pre-K, home and community based care, a significant investment in climate change. Even though it's again, not going to be everything we would have wanted in there. Housing infrastructure, really important, the child tax credit, and many other things.

So, I think this is going to be a really, really significant bill for the American people to know that government's got their back and that democracy actually works.

TAPPER: Your fellow progressive, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, had some rather harsh words about Senator Sinema earlier today. Take a listen.


REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA): Kyrsten Sinema, I think is someone that really doesn't have a policy center. She's all over the place. I don't really know what she wants.


TAPPER: Is that fair criticism? And is that constructive? I mean, you are trying to win her over?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, I have been very clear, I don't criticize anybody, even when I might disagree with them, even when I'm frustrated. But this is the frustration, we have 49 senators who are ready to do these tax increases, we have the American people, you know, this package becomes even more popular than it already is, which is very high approval rating Independents, Republicans, and Democrats. But it becomes even more popular when you tell people that you're just going to make the wealthiest pay their fair share.

And I think that the level of wealth inequality in this country, and particularly during COVID, more billionaires created even as people were wrapping around in food lines around the blocks, I think people just feel like come on, we elected Democrats in the House, the Senate and the White House, why can't you make this more fair, so that I, a working person, do not have to pay more than my fair share, because the richest won't pay.

So that's the frustration you hear from Jimmy. He's on the Ways and Means Committee that put together the list of tax provisions. And so, you know, he's very close to that piece as well. And I understand the frustration.

But obviously, I'm trying to be, you know, we got to get everyone to the table. So, we need everybody in this, and we're working to get there.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

JAYAPAL: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Be sure to tune in tonight to CNN's Town Hall with President Joe Biden. It starts at 8:00 p.m. You can see it only on CNN.

Moments ago, the House making a decision that could theoretically send Steve Bannon to the pokey. What's the former president thinking right now?

And asking for a friend, Republicans channeling Trump as they grill the Attorney General today. The fireworks, next.



TAPPER: We have breaking news for you in our politics lead. In just the last hour the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the January 6 committee's report recommending that Trump ally, Steve Bannon, be held for criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the insurrection.

That contempt referral soon, we're told today, will head to the Justice Department with Attorney General Merrick Garland given the decision as to whether or not he will actually try to prosecute Bannon.

The House vote fell largely along party lines, though, nine House Republicans voted with all 220 Democrats to pass the resolution.

Let's go right to CNN's Paul Reid.

Paula, tell us more about these nine Republicans, not an easy votes, not easy to go against your party.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Not easy at all, Jake. And as you noted, the vote was largely along party lines, but in addition to committee members, Representative Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, seven other Republicans also voted to find Bannon in content, including Representatives Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Fred Upton also of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington.

And also interestingly, Representative Greg Pence, the brother of the former vice president did not vote.

Now, Representative Mace spoke after the vote. And she said for her, this is about being consistent about enforcing the subpoena power. She even signal they might use it to investigate issues currently facing the Biden administration.

Now this bill, you have Speaker Pelosi, the authorization to ask the Justice Department to prosecute Bannon, we were told she will sign it and then send it to the Justice Department. We're told it would be delivered by clerk staff.

TAPPER: Now what might this mean, Paula, for Trump's former deputy White House Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, who we're told has not cooperated with the committee yet?

REID: Well, now he knows how this ends if he doesn't cooperate. Now he is in a little bit of a different position than Steve Bannon because he was in the administration at the time in question. So it is possible that he could potentially get some additional protection of privilege, but it's not clear at this point if President Biden will be willing to invoke that on his behalf.


Now we know he still has a couple weeks, even though his attorney has signaled he's not ready to cooperate. He has documents due next week and then the week after. He has been asked to do a deposition, but at this point, it's just not clear if they're going to come to an agreement, a compromise, or if you too, could potentially be found in contempt.

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

Speaking of Steve Bannon, Attorney General Merrick Garland stuck to the Justice Department's talking points at his hearing on Capitol Hill today saying that when it comes to Bannon he will apply the facts and the law as to whether or not to prosecute him for contempt of Congress.

The smorgasbord of hearing also heavily featured Republicans pressing the Attorney General on this October 4th memo from his office stating that the DOJ is worried about threats and attacks against teachers and school board members and will prosecute people, even parents, making those threats, quote, "when appropriate."

As CNN's Jessica Schneider reports, Garland was asked today about everything ranging from Trump to investigating sales of Hunter Biden's art.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A snitch line on parents.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Attorney General facing rapid fire from Republicans about an early October memo that has morphed into a rallying cry for conservatives.

REP. TOM TIFFANY (R-WI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Are we, my friends, neighbors, constituents, are we domestic terrorists?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This memo from the Attorney General directs the FBI and federal prosecutors to meet with local school boards to discuss strategies to stop threats that some educators have faced when it comes to COVID protocols like mask mandates and the teaching of racial issues in class. Republicans are portraying the directive as an order to arrest parents who criticize school boards, a false narrative Garland repeatedly pushed back against.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to be clear the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish.

No, I do not think that parents getting angry at school boards for whatever reason constitute domestic terrorism.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Democrats voice their frustrations that the DOJ is still defending former President Trump in at least one case where he's been sued for defamation by magazine writer E. Jean Carroll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet we're defending President Trump's defamation lawsuit by a woman who is defamed?

GARLAND: We are not defending the defamation made by the former president. As I've said publicly several times, sometimes being the Attorney General and sometimes being the judge, that means taking positions with respect to the law that are required by the law, but which you would not take as a private citizen.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Republicans refocused the conversation on the current president and his son Hunter.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The third painting, you may recognize this name, is a Hunter Biden.

GARLAND: I don't recognize the painting.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Congressman Ken buck of Colorado spotlighting Hunter Biden's artwork as part of his push to get the DOJ to appoint a special counsel to look into the sale of these pieces of art for as much as $500,000. And into Hunter Biden's placement on the board of Ukrainian energy company for $50,000 a month.

BUCK: I am asking you now, will you appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden?

GARLAND: For the same reason that I'm not able to respond to questions about investigations of the former president or of anyone else, I'm not able to discuss any investigations pending or otherwise with respect to any citizen of the United States.


SCHNEIDER: And the Justice Department is coming under fire from both the left and the right, and sometimes on the same issue. In fact, the prosecution of January 6 defendants has been a flashpoint with the left asking questions about whether rioters are being punished enough. Republicans though, asking, Jake, if prosecutors are being fair.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. Appreciate it. A look at how Republicans are being forced to embrace the same voting rules, they spent the past year attacking in a critical governor's race. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have more breaking news for you now. Just moments ago, a group of CDC advisors voted to recommend booster shots for eligible adults who got the Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Now, that decision goes to CDC Director Dr. Walensky for the final OK.

So who is eligible for these boosters? The guidelines from Moderna are the same ones as for Pfizer, anyone 65 or older, anyone 18 years and older who has a preexisting condition, or anyone whose job puts them at higher risk for COVID exposure.

For Johnson and Johnson booster shots, it's different. They're recommended for anyone 18 years and older who got a J&J shot more than two months ago. These booster shots could be available theoretically as soon as this weekend.

Now to our politics lead, President Biden will join Virginia Democratic candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe for a campaign stop next week in the D.C. suburb of Arlington. The governor's race is getting too close for comfort for Democrats.

A new Monmouth poll shows Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, has seized the momentum. He's improving his numbers so much that he is now neck and neck with McAuliffe.

The final few weeks of campaigning before Election Day are crucial in every race. But they're especially crucial in this race because early voting began in mid-September, as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports. That means there have already been 35 election days in Virginia so far.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a month now, that's been true in Virginia, which is why Debbie Weber is greeting voters outside the county election office.

WEBER: Hi there. How are you?

ZELENY (voice-over): And fielding questions about early voting. She's a GOP volunteer and is getting an earful from many of her fellow Republicans.


WEBER: They question the -- are these Dominion voting machines? As far as I know, no, they're not. OK. But that doesn't lessen the concern they have that voting machines in general can be tampered with. ZELENY (voice-over): That concern is unfounded. Yet this is the irony in the nail biting Virginia governor's race, as Republicans are scrambling to urge their supporters to take advantage of early voting after casting aspersions on it for the last year.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin have already cast their ballots early


ZELENY (voice-over): Along with more than half a million Virginians in counting. It's a critical part of both campaigns strategies, despite deep skepticism alive and well in the GOP.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They used COVID in order to cheat with all of these ballots and all of this early voting and late voting.

ZELENY (voice-over): Fueled by former President Trump who's still spinning conspiracy theories that come alive in conversations with Virginia Republicans like Colin Hayes.

COLIN HAYES, YOUNGKIN SUPPORTER: There's no reason to do mass early voting. I think that the -- a lot of the Democrat run states have taken advantage of the pandemic to expand it into their favor.

ZELENY (voice-over): He met Youngkin at a rally this week and plans to vote for him on the traditional Election Day November 2.

There's no such skepticism from Democrats. Top party officials tell CNN that McAuliffe's best chance to win is by banking such a sizable share of early votes that Youngkin can't catch up.

MCAULIFFE: Those that have not voted make me a promise you'll go vote this week. We got to get early vote.

ZELENY (voice-over): Tonight, Vice President Harris is joining McAuliffe at a campaign rally to encourage Democrats to vote early, a message to be amplified in the days ahead with visits from President Biden and former President Obama.

The Youngkin campaign has been aggressively promoting early voting, far more than most Republican candidates, trying to keep Democrats from building an insurmountable margin.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, early voting is really important.

ZELENY (on camera): Is there any hesitancy that you think you have to overcome early voting?

YOUNGKIN: I don't think it is --

ZELENY (on camera): It's a new thing there.

YOUNGKIN: I don't think it's a skepticism. I think there's a lot of people who like going on Election Day and voting.

ZELENY (voice-over): Outside the early voting center, Weber says she and other volunteers have been instructed to turn any suspicions about election security into part of their sales pitch.

WEBER: The early voting is encouraged. Vote early. They're making voting easy, cheating hard. That was the design from the Republican perspective.


ZELENY: Now both sides believe there will be record turnout in this race surpassing the 2.6 million people who voted in 2017. And Jake, that is driven largely by the early vote. It's why the Vice President is on her way here for a rally tonight.

And as you said, President Biden coming Tuesday. The White House keeping a very close eye on this race on November 2nd, as a harbinger of things to come for next year's midterm election. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny on the campaign trail in glorious Virginia.

Let's discuss with my august panel.

Tia, as Jeff reported, the Republican Party, Republican voters seem to have some rather existential questions about early voting, about the reliability of voting machines. Do you think that could actually hurt the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTE: I think so. And as we see the continuing effects of the big lie, and the continued lie that we hear from former President Trump and his allies when it comes to elections and voting. It can because what we're hearing from Republicans is that they're not as confident, particularly when it comes to voting by mail and voting early.

The question is whether Republican hesitance will be offset by Democrats frustrations --


MITCHELL: -- with their elected officials.

TAPPER: And Laura, one Democratic group leader told Politico, your publication, quote, "I think we're on track to be a blue state for years and years, because the growth here in Virginia makes that inevitable. But until then, we have a lot of suburban voters who are very swingy and they decide these elections up and down the ticket. We will win this if folks turnout, but everyone should be very worried."

And take a look at this. This is all the surrogates that the Democrats are bringing in. You got at least a couple presidents there, first lady, second husband, V.P., Klobuchar, a mayor, Stacey Abrams, and current governor. I mean, that's a lot of heavy hitter. LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, they're bringing in the big guns. The, I mean, 2018 speaks to exactly what that lawmaker was saying, which is that Elaine Luria's district, Abigail Spanberger's district, those were won by tight margins, especially Spanberger's . And so, turnout in a district like hers is going to be key for Democrats.

Because, again, I remember going there in 2018 and they were Independent, swing voters who were deciding that they were tired of Donald Trump and that they were going to move towards Democrats and some of that was based on gun control, and some of it was based on immigration. But right now, they -- a lot of voters are frustrated because they're waiting for some action from Biden. They also are still dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic, which is clearly what is impacting Biden's numbers as well as McAuliffe.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The problem with the all- star panel, you can't deny it's an all-star panel Democrats. Their names are not on the ticket.

TAPPER: Right.

STEWART: It is Terry McAuliffe, who was on the ticket, and he is not doing well, there is no momentum behind him. And to be honest, the Democratic Party doesn't have a lot of momentum, given their inability to get things done in Washington. On the flip side, Glenn Youngkin, does have momentum, they've run a really smart campaign, in terms of not peaking too soon. And slow and steady wins the race. They've gone from five points behind, four points behind to now it's a virtual dead heat.

And the key to his success is he has been encouraging early voting. Speaking with the campaign, they have early campaign models, he needs to get about 34 percent of the early campaign -- early voting numbers. He's already at around 40. So they're looking at early voting numbers are strong. And the good thing what he's doing is speaking to the people of Virginia about what they care about jobs, pocketbook issues, public safety, and education.

Whereas, we have Terry McAuliffe, who is campaigning against Donald Trump who's not on a ticket and cleaning up comments he said about public education, and parents should not be involved in those decisions.

TAPPER: Maria, I know you're eager to get in here. But I want you to take a look at this new ad from the McAuliffe campaign which does get to what the McAuliffe campaigns basic messages, take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Virginia, you have a lot of responsibility this year. Not only are you choosing your next governor, but you're also making a statement about what direction we're headed in as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm glad you showed that because that is exactly right. Even though Alice says that it's Terry McAuliffe on the ballot, there's no question that Donald Trump should also be on the ballot. Look, Glenn Youngkin ran when he first started running in the primary. He cuddled himself so tightly embraced Donald Trump, and now he's trying to have it both ways. When he started running on conservative media, he said up and down, that Donald Trump represented so many of the reasons as to why he's running for governor.

I love it when Terry McAuliffe is trying to tie or is tying young guns to Donald Trump every chance he gets because there is no question that if Glenn Youngkin wins, it is going to be a place where Donald Trump is going to say, look what happens when you tie yourself to me, and that is going to put our democracy in peril.

STEWART: That's not the case. What Glenn Youngkin campaigned on was the policies of Donald Trump and certainly not the persona. If you want to talk about what kind of a candidate Glenn Youngkin is, he is more of a Ronald Reagan in terms of his tone and tenor. He's certainly not the temperament of Donald Trump. And that is why he is doing so well. He has also been out in the suburbs where those swingy people are and speaking with women and speaking with people that were disaffected by Donald Trump, and he is making tremendous inroads with him. And that's why he's doing so well.

And the education, that is such a bad issue for Terry McAuliffe is one that Glenn Youngkin has been very strong on, and making sure that parents have input in their education and making sure that safety in the schools is imperative. And Terry McAuliffe has really lost a lot of ground on education.

TAPPER: I want to give you the final word on this.

CARDONA: Hopefully, my mic -- my mic is not working.

TAPPER: Yes. Go ahead.

CARDONA: Look, education is absolutely a key issue. And the fact of the matter is, is that Donald Trump is along with Glenn Youngkin, focused on trying to take away money and funding from public schools. Terry McAuliffe talks about a $2 billion investment in public schools. When you look at the growth of the demographics in Virginia that is what they care about. Let's also take a look at the mask mandates. If you look at all the polls, that is almost number one, a huge, huge issue for Virginians. And that is not a place where Glenn Youngkin is I think doing very well.

TAPPER: I bet there are a lot of viewers we have in Virginia who right now wish that you two were the candidates. That's what I think. But this is the debate, right? The debate is whether or not Youngkin is doing better with some of these local issues and whether or not Terry McAuliffe's basic idea, his basic pitch like this isn't just Youngkin, this is Donald Trump, this is the direction of the country on the ballot. And whether or not these suburban voters who do swing back and forth whether which argument they'll find more compelling. TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: And I think the race has really been nationalized in the way that they're talking about COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mask mandates and critical race theory, things that aren't necessarily.

TAPPER: Which is not taught in --

MITCHELL: Which is not taught in schools, but it's one of those things that pushes people's buttons, gets them riled up. And what Youngkin is hoping is that gets them to vote for him. So they're not necessarily based in the reality of what's going on in schools, but it's based in what right now gets people active and activated.


BARRON-LOPEZ: I think one important piece though, one big story here in Virginia is about Trump because of the fact that Youngkin needs Trump's base.


BARRON-LOPEZ: And needs those loyal Republican voters to vote for him. And so you've seen Youngkin say on one hand that Biden won the election, but then just this month also said that there needed to be an audit of the Dominion voting machines. And so that is the wink and a nod to the Republican voters who even though Youngkin is not saying he wants Trump to go out there and campaign for him. At the same time, there are Trump advisers going to Virginia, former advisors, who at a rally pledged allegiance to a flag that they claimed was carried on January 6th.

TAPPER: Which Youngkin distance himself from.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, he called it weird and wrong.

TAPPER: Right.

BARRON-LOPEZ: But those voters he is expecting to vote for him. And so there is a wink and a nod that is happening with Republican voters.

CARDONA: And that's why I think this final ad is so important because I actually do believe that nothing less than our democracy is on the line because if Youngkin wins, that does not bode well for Democrats in the midterms.

TAPPER: Final word.

STEWART: I think the key is the ad that McAuliffe had to do to say that his words that parents should not be involved in their children's education. He had to do an ad to correct that the fact that he's doing that goes to show that he realizes the education is a bad spot for him and he's not in a good position.

TAPPER: All right, well, we're not going to resolve it right now. But this was a great debate. I appreciate it.

Coming up RSVP, no, Vladimir Putin skipping some key upcoming global events, it's raising eyebrows, stay with us.



TAPPER: In our World Lead, Russian President Vladimir Putin making waves around the world this week. He pulled out of a global climate conference. He ended Russia's relationship with NATO and he declined to raise natural gas exports to Europe even amid skyrocketing prices. So what's behind these confusing decisions as CNN's Sam Kiley reports, Putin's behavior may just be his way of distracting attention from worsening problems inside Russia.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's refused to attend the Global Climate Conference. He's cut communication with NATO. He's accused of strangling Europe's natural gas supplies and of snubbing the G20 Summit. Is Vladimir Putin a Russian bear lashing out or a wily arctic fox spreading the blame?

Skyrocketing European gas prices are up over 500 percent this year. Putin says that's not Russia's fault. And it's easily fixed if Europe allowed gas to flow to Germany down Russia's new pipeline Nord Stream 2.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Of course, if we could increase deliveries through this route, this would substantially ease tension on the European energy market.

KILEY (voice-over): The Europeans have been slow to adopt the pipeline, fearing dependence on Russian gas. Russia closed its diplomatic mission to NATO on Monday, officially in response to NATO's expulsion of eight of its diplomats whom NATO accused of spying earlier this month. But Putin is also reacting to tensions in the Black Sea and NATO muscling into alliances in Eastern Europe, which he sees as Russia's back garden.

PUTIN (through translator): We did not come to the suburbs of Washington or New York to conduct drills. They came to us and conducted them at our borders. How should we react to this?

KILEY (voice-over): Russian troops illegally occupied territory in neighboring Georgia and Ukraine.

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: United States will continue to provide assistance to enhance the maritime capacities of not only Ukraine, but also Georgia, Romania, and Bulgaria. We have long understood the importance of cooperation and unity among allies and partners to deter Russian aggression.

KILEY (voice-over): Not perhaps an incentive for Putin to play nice at the G20 and the global COP 26 climate summits.

DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: This is a positive message to those who are inviting him. If he decides that he would rather have a video conference with a certain group of people that also tells you something.

KILEY (voice-over): Raising tensions abroad may be a useful way for Putin to distract attention from the critical COVID crisis at home, where death tolls are breaking records daily. Putin has ordered all Russians of work for a week at the end of this month, and Moscow will face tight restrictions on movements next week. Russia's vaccination program still hasn't reached about two-thirds of the Russian population. That it seems is the fault of Russians.

PUTIN (through translator): Unfortunately, we see the dangerous consequences of the low level of vaccination in our country.

KILEY (voice-over): But as winter approaches and Russia suffers international isolation, many Russians may begin to tire of their leaders snarls.


KILEY: Now Jake, it's quite difficult to assess in this country how Russians are really feeling because the domestic press has been increasingly muzzled. We're very aware of the crackdowns that have been seen in the past. Now legislation recently introduced being implemented to a designated an awful lot of local media as foreign agents drastically restricting their abilities and self-identifying in some cases, as traitors. It is having a very substantial effect on the local media here. So as these criticisms are getting louder internationally, they're more muzzled here in places like Moscow, Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Sam Kiley in Moscow. We have some breaking news for you on the hunt for Brian Laundrie. What did the FBI announced just moments ago, stay with us.


TAPPER: Breaking news, just moments ago the FBI announced that after comparing dental records they have confirmed that the human remains found in the Florida Nature Park are indeed those of Brian Laundrie. Let's get straight to CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Sarasota County, Florida for us. Leyla, what else does the FBI saying?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, let me send you straight to the tweet from FBI that confirms this. It says on October 21st, 2021. A comparison of dental records confirmed that the humane or excuse me, the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie so a very big question answered in just the last 10 minutes in terms of who did these human remains belong. We now know that they are of Brian Laundrie. We have also learned that not too long ago police visited the home of Brian Laundrie's parents. So we're waiting to get more information on exactly what sort of exchange they had.

[17:50:15] But this came just before the FBI tweeted out the new information that those human remains that were found yesterday belonged to Brian Laundrie. Still a lot of questions here, Jake, we know that the remains the remains belong to him, but we don't know how he died. And we also have a lot of questions about the belongings that police say they found near where those skeletal remains were found, which by the way, I actually just spoke to North Port police, one of the assisting agencies in this investigation, they tell me that it was about 40 minute walk from where we are right now and that they not only found a backpack, which we learned yesterday from the FBI, as well as a notebook but that they also found clothing that belonged to Brian Laundrie that was consistent with what he was wearing when he was last seen.

So a very major development as to knowing now that it was Brian Laundrie's remains that were found here near the Carlton Reserve or in the Carlton Reserve, that 25,000 acre area where teams have spent weeks searching for him.

TAPPER: All right, a sad end to a horrible story. Leyla Santiago thanks so much.

And our Earth Matters series destabilizing effects of climate change are a growing threat to national security. That is the stark warning in a series of new reports from the U.S. intelligence community on the challenges that the climate crisis poses to global stability. Among the challenges outlined in the reports is the critical role climate change is playing in creating refugees and driving migration worldwide and at the U.S. southern border.

Let's get more on these new dire warnings with CNN chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir. Bill, you've been traveling the world covering climate change for CNN for years, what do you say to this new climate change assessment from the intelligence community?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's -- really what's striking is that there's not all that new here. Back in 1990, 31 years ago, the Naval War College just started using the term climate change as a threat multiplier. The first President Bush had it in his national security strategy. There have been dozens, dozens of warning reports from NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon, everyone in federal government, and this is more urgent, of course, because now we have a lot more specifics to put on those multiple threats. What happens when 80 million people who depend on the Nile Delta for food and water, lose that and head for Europe, what happens when the Himalayan glaciers melt, giving less water to Pakistan and India, what happens when climate migrants from Central America surge North after droughts, or hurricanes, we know that the naval base in Norfolk has to be moved now as a result of rising seas. But of course, the gap between the warnings and the action in Congress is stark.

TAPPER: Pretty stark indeed. The Homeland Security and Defense Department both released separate reports outlining the extreme threat posed by the climate crisis. Yet as you know, there doesn't seem to be a matching urgency from elected officials to do anything with some exceptions of course. WEIR: Of course, you know, the Biden's Build Back Better Plan is the most ambitious sort of climate package in there. It costs about $350 billion a year. The most effective analysts say would be incentivizing power companies to get off of coal and gas and get to clean sources of energy, solar, and wind. There, the Joe Manchin is the world say that is too expensive. But it's interesting that just this week, they gave the Pentagon $10 billion more than they asked for and twice as much as what that Build Back Better Plan would cost. So at least, you know the Pentagon is getting the money their going to need to fight these multiple threats.

TAPPER: Future generations are not going to judge these decades kindly. The Biden ministration says, Bill that current policies and pledges are insufficient to meet the goals laid out in the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, what's the effect of that?

WEIR: Well, to put that in perspective of the almost 200 countries that signed on to Paris, only one of them is actually on target to meet their promise. And that is the Gambia, the tiny country in Africa. Nobody is really doing the practical work, the hard work of decarbonizing their economies anywhere really in the world. Of course, the United States has put more planet cooking pollution in the atmosphere than any other historically.

So it should take the moral lead, but at the same time I'm in Charleston shooting a documentary. They're planning a billion dollar seawall here. They're completely rezoning how and where to build in this city here, because the reality --


TAPPER: We just lost Bill Weir but thanks to Bill Weir from South Carolina for that report. We're just two hours away from CNN's town hall with President Joe Biden your questions at this critical moment coming up.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening Now, President Biden is about to face tough questions that a critical moment for his presidency. We're coming down to CNN's exclusive Town Hall, and I'll ask a key Democrat about a new sticking point in urgent negotiations on the Biden agenda.


Also tonight, the Full House of Representatives just voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the insurrection investigation, it's now up to the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute the Trump loyalist.