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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Spotlight On A.G. Garland As He Decides On Bannon Contempt Charges; Former DOJ Official Who Pushed Baseless Election Fraud Claims Expected To Testify Before January 6 Committee; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D- CA), Is Interviewed About Steve Bannon; Jeffrey Clark; Dan Scavino, Jim Banks; Walensky: Pregnant, Nursing Women Should Get Booster If Eligible; Pfizer: Vaccine For Kids 5-11 Is Nearly 91 Percent Effective In Preventing Symptomatic Infection; Pelosi "Hopeful" For Vote Next Week On Key Bills; Biden Spotlights Manchin, Sinema On Spending Deal Holdups; Biden On Visiting Southern Border: "I Guess I Should Go Down"; Biden Open To Altering Filibuster On Voting Rights; FBI: Determining Laundrie's Cause Of Death Could Be Difficult; Sotomayor Criticizes Colleagues For Allowing Controversial TX Abortion Law To Remain In Effect; Ohio Messes Up New License Plate Design. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 17:00   ET



RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the committee had set a date of next Friday for Clark to come forward. And we are being told that both Clark, his attorneys, and the committee are prepared for him to come in next Friday, that it looks as though he is going to do that.

And Clark isn't the only person that we're learning about that is talking to the committee or preparing to talk to the committee. Alyssa Farah, the former director of Strategic Communications at the White House, she has voluntarily come before the committee talking specifically with Republican members of the committee about what she knew and what happened during the time of January 6. We don't know specifics about what she detailed or how -- if she could come before the committee before, but both Farah and Clark, two significant names that the committee looking to get information from here, Jake, is their investigation moves forward.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In addition, Ryan, you're reporting that the investigators associated with the committee are trying to follow the money. What specifically are they looking for?

NOBLES: Yes, Jake, this is a pretty interesting detail that we've learned, that the committee has essentially broken up their investigative teams into different groups with specific areas of focus. And one of those groups, which they've labeled the green team, is specifically looking into the money trail, they want to know who funded some of these rallies that took place on January 6, and in the days leading up to January 6 to see if there's any coordination between the former president, the Trump campaign, and others to see if that played some role in contributing to the violence and chaos here on Capitol Hill on January 6. The committee members telling us specifically that they want to know who paid to bring the travel for people to get here to Washington for hotel rooms, bus trips, and et cetera. They believe that there is something that they can learn about this money trail, and how it contributed to what happened here on January 6.

TAPPER: Also yesterday, we saw conspiracy theorist and Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, approach on a cost (ph) Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Well, tell us about that.

NOBLES: Yes, Jake. I mean, this is just an example of how things are very tense here on Capitol Hill. And this happened during the debate over the criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon. And Taylor Greene walked behind a Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Jamie Raskin during that debate, and it basically accused them of making too much out of this and saying that they were focused on the wrong things. It delved into a shouting match on some level between the three of them. And Liz Cheney, actually calling Marjorie Taylor Greene a joke and bringing up the fact that she had talked about Jewish space lasers at one point, a claim that Greene very much deny.

So, this just shows the acrimony here on Capitol Hill, Jake. A lot of tension, especially when it comes to issues like what happened here on January 6.

TAPPER: Right. It is a fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene posted on Facebook a crazy accusation that a number of notable Jewish Americans, and this is all just an insane anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, but that these Jewish Americans had control of some sort of laser and we're causing forest fires to profit or something. I mean, that's just a fact. She did do that.

I mean, anyway --

NOBLES: Yes. Yes and yes.

TAPPER: -- Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.


TAPPER: Attorney General Merrick Garland will have to make the ultimate decision about whether or not to prosecute Steve Bannon. And CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now live.

And Jessica, it is rare for the Department of Justice to prosecute somebody for not complying with a subpoena. So how do you think this process will play out? And should Democrats be managing expectations about hear about what Attorney General Garland is going to do?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think they should be managing expectations. This could play out and really one of three ways and it might not happen quickly. So right now, prosecutors, they're likely examining some legal issues, also maybe building out a legal case to determine one of three things that could happen. They could decline to bring charges against Steve Bannon, of course. They could also quickly bring a criminal complaint against Bannon or they could bring it right to the grand jury, which could then determine whether or not to indict.

The interesting thing is, there's not a lot of precedent about this. The U.S. Attorney back in 2015, declined to bring charges against an IRS official, Lois Lerner. And then way back in 1983, it did only take eight days from the time of referral to bring it to a grand jury. That was in a case involving an EPA official Rhea Lavelle (ph). She was ultimately, though, acquitted.

But in this case, there's a lot more at play here, we have this whole executive privilege issue, which of course, the former President has directed Steve Bannon and others not to comply with the subpoena, so that could potentially serve as a defense for Steve Bannon. But either way here, Jake, the US attorney here in D.C., Merrick Garland, neither of them tipping their hand at all. They continue to say in statements, and we saw Merrick Garland testifying yesterday, that they will follow the facts and law to make an independent decision as to what they ultimately do here.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Let's discuss all of this with Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. She's a member of the House Judiciary Committee, also a member of the January 6 Select Committee.


Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

We just learned that your committee is going to hear from Jeffrey Clark, the former Trump Justice Department official. What do you want to hear from him? What is he going to testify about?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), MEMBER, JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, our posture has been that we're not going to discuss publicly or with the press, the witnesses, what we're going to ask and the like. But we said from the beginning that we want to find out what was planned, what was the intent, who paid for it? And I think Mr. Clark certainly has information about what was planned, and what the intent was. So we will hopefully learn even more from his appearance and his discussion.

You know, we're very committed to getting to the bottom of everything about January 6, and leading up to it, not only to understand what happened, but to make sure we take whatever steps we can to make sure that nothing like this happens again.

TAPPER: Congressman, you've said that part of this criminal contempt referral about Steve Bannon is to send a message to Bannon that he violated the law, but you're also trying to send a message to other individuals who might be thinking about defying your committee's subpoenas. So far, Dan Scavino's lawyer, Dan Scavino being the former Trump White House Deputy Chief of Staff.

Scavino's lawyer says this committee is not ready to testify. How likely is it that there will be a vote for a criminal contempt referral for Dan Scavino as well? LOFGREN: Well, I can't get ahead of ourselves, there will be additional discussions. But let's just say this, the law is clear, there's no absolute immunity even for the lawyer for the White House. The Don McGahn case made that clear.

And I asked the Attorney General when he was before the Judiciary Committee yesterday, whether in his view, that was still good law, and he said it is, it's still good law. You don't have absolute immunity.

If you have a privilege that you want to claim, you have to come into the committee and claim it. Let's take it out of the executive privilege area and say that you have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. You have to go in and assert that claim for each question. And for all, you know, the Congress may grant you immunity from prosecution, and then you would have to answer the question.

You can't just say to the Congress, no, thank you. That's not what a subpoena is all about.

TAPPER: You just heard our reporter, Jessica Schneider, note that is -- it is extremely rare for a prosecution of somebody who defy -- defied a subpoena. What will you do if Attorney General Garland decides to take a pass on prosecuting Bannon?

LOFGREN: I'll just say it's extremely rare for a violent mob of 10,000 people to attack the Capitol and try and overturn the Constitution and the counting of the votes of the Electoral College. So I think, you know, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice will take a look at the facts in the law. But the law is very clear, Bannon doesn't have the right not to appear, not to respond to this subpoena to blow off the Congress.

And I'm not going to speculate what if the DOJ doesn't take action. I'll wait and see what they do.

TAPPER: We heard from Congresswoman Liz Cheney on the floor of the House that Congressman Jim Banks, the Republican who originally had been named to the committee, the committee you're on, the January 6 committee, but then Pelosi said she wasn't going to seat him because he's an election liar. And then, even regardless of that, McCarthy withdrew his name. That he has been sending letters to government agencies, every agency that your committee has requested information from, and he's claiming that he's a rank -- he is the ranking Republican on the committee.

He writes that in his signature. He's not obviously, Liz Cheney is, vice chair of the committee.

Lying to the government usually does not go unpunished. I'm sure if I did this, I would get in trouble. What do you make of this?

LOFGREN: Well, obviously he lies not just about the election, but about himself. That's -- it's a ridiculous thing that he's done, and highly improper. Whether the Ethics Committee will initiate an inquiry, I cannot know. But certainly, his behavior has been improper, highly improper, and I was glad that Congresswoman Cheney called him out on it.

TAPPER: Earlier this week, the former Secretary of State during the Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice said on "The View," that the January 6 right at the US Capitol was an assault on Law and Order. But she also said this.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: What happened on January 6 was wrong. I also know that as a government and as a country, we've got to be concerned about the thing that are making life hard for Americans and hard for American families.



TAPPER: This is an argument we're hearing a lot from Republicans. The idea that the January 6 committee is focused on something that isn't going to change the lives of Americans one way or another. It doesn't help with daycare, it doesn't help with jobs, et cetera. What do you say to that?

LOFGREN: Well, as you're aware, I think, Jake, we are pursuing the Build Back Better agenda in a whole variety of things, the infrastructure plan, that will have a very important impact on the day to day lives of Americans.

But let's say this, if the plotters succeed, if our democratic republic is not preserved, I think that will matter a great deal to the American people and have a profound impact on the lives of every American.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, thanks so much. Good to see you again.

LOFGREN: Good to see you.

TAPPER: Ready for a weekend boost? What you need to know before your third vaccine shot or second if you've got the J&J. And what we need to still worry about in terms of the rest of the world.

Plus, the search is over. But the discovery of Brian Laundrie's remains is unearthing new questions. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead today, on your marks, get set, boost. The CDC director's final sign off for eligible adults who got Moderna or Johnson and Johnson means a booster shots can start going into your arms right now.

And good news when it comes to vaccinating children, too, Pfizer says it shot is safe and nearly 91 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID in kids' ages five to 11.

Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha, I want to get your opinion on what we heard from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky earlier today. Take a listen.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If you are eligible for a boost, and you're pregnant, you should also get your boost during that period of time. And I would say for nursing as well.


TAPPER: Would you also encourage pregnant women to get a booster?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Now, Jake, first of all, thanks for having me back.

Absolutely. Pregnant women are at very high risk of bad complications of COVID. COVID is very dangerous in pregnancy. And so, I completely agree with the CDC director. If you're pregnant, you've been vaccinated, good time to get a boost if you are six months out from your second shot.

TAPPER: Pfizer says it has data showing that its smaller dose vaccine, about a third of the size of the vaccine for kids is nearly 91 percent effective in preventing the kids from getting any sort of symptomatic COVID infection. Put that in perspective for us. How promising might this be for ending the pandemic?

JHA: Two things on this, Jake. First of all, it's phenomenal. It's a really high level of efficacy. This is the kind of stuff we saw early days of Pfizer before the Delta variant, other variants of concern came into effect. So, I thought that was pretty compelling.

Kids need to get vaccinated because it's going to be good for them. It's going to protect them. Obviously, it's also going to add population immunity to our broader population, it will help bring infection numbers down. It is going to be one more important step towards getting to the end of this pandemic.

TAPPER: Dr. Jay Varkey of Emory University said this morning, quote, "Vaccines don't end pandemics, vaccinations do."

A World Health Organization official says, countries mostly in the southern hemisphere are still 500 million doses short. This is a global virus, not one that doesn't care about borders. We know the U.S. has shared more doses than any other country in the world. But does the U.S. need to focus more energy on vaccinations overseas before boosting at home?

JHA: Yes, so the good news is we can do both. I mean, should we be doing more global vaccinations? Absolutely. We should be focusing more on increased production, sharing more. We still have too many doses that are expiring in our pharmacies and going to waste, we should be getting them out more efficiently and effectively.

We have so many vaccine doses here right now that we can share them and vaccinate or boost the vulnerable Americans who need that additional shot. So, I don't see it as a tradeoff, Jake, but I absolutely agree we need to do more on global vaccinations.

TAPPER: A study published on the CDC website today shows that people who got any COVID vaccine were less likely to die from any cause, not just COVID, compared to unvaccinated people. That tells us the vaccines are definitively safe. What else does it tell you about maybe just the kinds of people who decide to get the vaccine?

JHA: Yes. So first of all, right, it is absolutely clear that vaccines are incredibly safe. At this point, again, half of humanity has gotten at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, three and a half billion people, that's extraordinary and very safe.

I think on the issue of what that overall mortality impact, some of it is maybe that the people are getting vaccinated tend to lead safer lives. Some of it is, I think, that because when you get COVID it can trigger so many other health problems and complications, that it's really having a profound effect in all sorts of different ways.

TAPPER: The CDC director says they might need to update the definition of fully vaccinated. Do you worry that updating the definition to include boosters might further discourage the 64 million eligible Americans who haven't even gotten their first dose?

JHA: Yes, you know, this is a really good question. We've seen some evidence on polling that that might happen. At the end of the day, we've got to do what the scientific evidence says. And you know, there are other vaccines, (INAUDIBLE), for instance, which are three dose vaccines. If the evidence says this is a three dose vaccine, we should treat it that way, and then work to help people get comfortable getting it. That's, I think, the right approach. We've just got to let the evidence drive this.


TAPPER: All right, Dr. Ashish Jha, thanks so much. Good to see you again.

Coming up, it's go time, what can bring Democrats together to save Biden's agenda, maybe even his presidency. That's next.


TAPPER: Topping our politics lead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is hopeful she can get a vote next week on either the bipartisan infrastructure bill or President Biden's sweeping social safety net package. Pelosi says they are more than 90 percent of the way there, but time's running out. And as President Biden joke last night, there are a lot of folks in this town with their own priorities, so it is a battle to get on the same page.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you're in the United States Senate and you're president of United States and you have 50 Democrats, everyone is a president. Every single one. So you got to work things out.



TAPPER: Joining us live to discuss Kaitlan Collins at the White House, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Kaitlan, you have some new insight into how these final steps, these final negotiations are going forward. What are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, essentially, the White House says they're viewing this through a very realistic lens here because they know that there is going to be -- there are going to be some hard choices when it comes to what's actually going to be in the final framework of this.

And the way that the Press Secretary Jen Psaki described it earlier was either there is no alternative for a larger bill here. The only alternative in their eyes is that there's no bill at all.

And so that is why you're seeing President Biden speak so candidly, as he did last night during that town hall about realistically what's going to be in this bill, and what's going to be cut from it. Including one of his biggest priorities that he touted time and time again on the campaign trail, which was his two-free years of community college. The President openly saying that it is because Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema are opposed to that, that that is not going to make it into this bill.

And so, it's not just that, Jake, of course, there is also the paid family leave being slashed from 12 weeks to four weeks. Of course, the idea of not raising corporate taxes, which is polling is one of the most popular aspects of this proposal now seems unlikely to be the way that the White House is going to pay for it as Democrats are trying to figure out a new way to do so.

And so, the final hours are ticking on, the White House is saying there's not really a deadline here, even though Democrats do have that self-imposed deadline of today to make an announcement about an agreement for a framework. The White House says, they're not really coming up with any deadlines, Jake, they're just going to have the President continuing to speak to lawmakers throughout this weekend.

TAPPER: And Manu, some progressives are telling you that they're feeling exasperated. Tell us more about that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because of the concessions that they've had to make. And a lot of them feel powerless at this point in the talks, because the talks are all revolving about whether or not Senators Sinema and Manchin can be ultimately satisfied and signed on to a deal and making concessions on some of the key priorities, whether it's ranging from an expansion of Medicare, to climate change, to other issues, such as the how far to extend the child tax credit. All those issues now coming to ahead. And all this also tied to that other big issue, the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is awaiting action in the House.

There's a reason why there's a deadline of today of sorts to reach a larger agreement. And just an outline of that larger bill is because they want to try to assuage progressives, that it's OK to vote yes on that bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Democratic leaders want to bring to the floor next week. But in talking to progressives, some are warning that they will vote against an infrastructure bill if that larger bill is not approved by both chambers of Congress.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS: I think it'd be dangerous, and I don't want to think it do anything dangerous for the American people.

REP. CORI BUSH, (D) MISSOURI: Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin, like, come to my district and visit with my folks. You know, come and talk to the people who actually live out what you're trying to overlook. You don't care, but we do.

RAJU: Medicare expansion might not get in this, tuition free community college is not going to get in this. Are you disappointed about that?

REP. TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO: Well, of course, we're disappointed. You know that we want all of it.


RAJU: So, as Sinema has been opposed to raising the corporate tax rate, as well as the tax rate on the highest earners, there is discussion about a number of other tax provisions that could help finance this package that Democratic leaders have been promised to be fully paid for. One of those proposals, Jake, is a billionaire's tax. One of the -- some of the details that are now being circulated would affect about 700 individuals who have income of more than $100 million for three straight years, as well as assets of that much, as well as the $1 billion in assets here.

So, Jake, the question is, will that be enough to satisfy someone like Senator Sinema? I'm told that she is optimistic that a deal could be reached within days. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, Manu Raju, thanks to both of you.

Let's discuss with my panel.

Astead, let me start with you. Speaker Pelosi says she's hopeful there could be a vote on infrastructure next week. That's not a commitment that there will be a vote.


TAPPER: But then again, she's made some commitments before that she had to take back. Do you think there are any consequences if the Democrats blow through the October 31 self-imposed deadline?

HERNDON: Yes, I mean, we've heard a number of these deadlines. That's the thing about these self-imposed deadlines is that you can also blow straight through them.

I do think there's a risk of consequences, though. One, President Biden has talked about that climate summit in Glasgow as a reason to get this done quickly, partly because so many folks in the international community are looking for the U.S. to have a real leadership in law and not just these executive actions. I think there's consequences to that.

But there's political consequences, too. When you have Democrats talking consistently about what's not going in this bill, about what they're cutting down, about what they have -- what they're stripping away. I don't think that that's the message they want to take into next year in the midterms.

The hope of this, the promise of this was that they were going to be able to say this is what we have done. This is how President Biden has expanded past (ph). There was that FDR moment, right? What we are coming at now is not another new deal. And that is going to be a challenge for Democrats to be able to go back and say, hey, because this is, again, just the start of the agenda. There are still voting rights, there are still police reform.

And this is just showing the challenges that President Biden will have to face on that front. If infrastructure is going like this, you know, the rest of the agenda will be also an uphill climb.

TAPPER: Francesca, do you think that Sinema and Manchin ultimately are going to come go along with the deal? Do you think that there's -- there is a deal to be had?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Well, the President seemed to lay out really clear areas where he was going to have to move off of the things that he wanted to see in this bill in order to get them on board. And the White House today spent a lot of time, by the way, trying to explain what some of those things might be in how they would end up paying for the bill. And Kaitlan mentioned free community college, for instance, the President last night conceded that that would not be in there. Instead, he would have to come back and get that later.

Things like paid family leave. Now it's down to four weeks, but the White House left open the room today that that could potentially be more than four weeks. So there's still a lot of outstanding questions, Jake, about what Manchin and Sinema with support and from there what the White House is willing to give up.

TAPPER: And Paul, Astead raises also an interesting point about how much of the conversation in the last week or so has been about what's not going to be in the bill.


TAPPER: So, how upset could that leave progressives ultimately, if -- even if there is what would be empirically, a significant legislative achievement? I mean, whether or not you like it, it will be in the legislative achievement. But if it doesn't have increased taxes on the top bracket, if it doesn't have an increase in corporate taxes, if it doesn't have free community college, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, how much will progressives be demoralized?

BEGALA: That's a great question. Right now, they're -- members of Congress are telling them to be demoralized and that's a terrible message. But that's a tactic not a strategy, right? Once they get it, you watch, they will pivot and say, this is the greatest thing that ever happened. And there'll be right about that, too.

You know, the -- politics are very good at this, right? It's right now they're in this negotiating, but if they do get this kinds of things we're talking about, this could be huge and transformational. Everything that the progressives want. One of the rules that I've learned in politics is, though, is, you never oppose a bill because of what's not in it.

You know, Lyndon Johnson famously took the voting rights section out of his civil rights bill in 1964. That was the worst thing he could have done, but he had to to get it passed. Guess what, he came back the next year, and got it. The 64 Civil Rights Act was still a terrific piece of legislation, I think came back the next year.

Progressives will come back the next year in the year after, and they'll keep coming with -- trying to fulfill their agenda. And that's what they should do.

TAPPER: Linda, as a conservative at the table, what do you think of all these? Is this -- I mean, are you -- Mitt Romney was talking about this is just an incredibly, reckless, irresponsible amount of money that's being spent. What do you think?

LINDA CHAVEZ, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think it is too much money that was originally proposed. I also disagree with my friend Paul, on the question of this being, you know, a great social program like the Great Society. The Great Society programs went through after debate, after there were hearings, after there was consideration of what was in them.

Civil Rights Act had enormous debate. And you were able, during that process, to win over the American people. Part of the problem with this is that we heard Joe Biden as candidate talking about being a deal maker, talking about listening to the other side. And then at least as this, you know, originally came out, it was like, trying to force down the throats of people like me who voted for him, like independents who voted for him, who were not going to buy into these and certainly needed to be persuaded on it. And they have done very little persuading.

TAPPER: Well, you didn't realize that the other side meant Kyrsten Sinema. You thought him that's Mitch McConnell.

Let's turn to something else that President Biden said during the town hall, and comments he made about visiting the U.S.-Mexico border.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been there before and I haven't -- I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down. But the whole point of it is I haven't had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down. I've been spending time going around looking at the $900 billion worth of damage done by hurricanes and floods and weather and traveling around the world.


TAPPER: I mean, he did go down there before in 2008, which is a few years ago. But you -- somebody in Texas or Arizona or New Mexico, California, they could be forgiven for thinking this is not a priority for this guy.

CHAMBERS: And he was pressed on or not he -- Jen Psaki was pressed on that today during the White House press briefing, especially the part where he said, I should go down. So I would expect that the White House will continue to get press on this.


The question is whether it rises to the level of like we saw with Vice President Kamala Harris where eventually she did go down to the border because there was so much political pressure on her do that. Once she did that, the issue mostly went away for her for quite a long time until tell some more of the recent issues. So, that's an outstanding question also.

CHAVEZ: Could I just say the problem is not at the border. The problem is in Washington. We could solve the problem at the border tomorrow, if we pass sensible immigration reform. We have 10 million jobs going wanting in the United States.

Our population is not growing in the way it has in the past. We need an infusion of immigrants into the United States, and it ought to be legal. But you can't do that unless you change immigration laws, and allow some of the people who are trying to come in as asylees to come in simply as people who are willing to work and to take jobs that Americans won't take.

TAPPER: And Paul, you're from Texas.

BEGALA: I agree substantively, but politically, no way. We couldn't get comprehensive immigration reform when we had Ted Kennedy and John McCain and President George W. Bush. Couldn't get it then. There's no chance in the world you get it now.

So my view is you work in the White House and you are choosing everyday between the urgent and the important. You know, the trivial doesn't get to you. This is important, but it's not urgent. The infrastructure bill is urgent. Health care is urgent. COVID is urgent. The Build Back Better plan is urgent.

He's doing the right thing in focusing on that. The border is an issue to be managed. It is not legislation to be passed.

TAPPER: Astead, I want to bring up something else that President Biden said yesterday in terms of whether or not he would be open to getting rid of the filibuster, at least just to pass some sort of voter protection or voting rights bill. One of the reasons we'd like interviewing Joe Biden is because sometimes he accidentally says what he actually thinks. Take a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: But when it comes to voting rights, you --

BIDEN: Voting rights usually (ph) is consequential.

COOPER: When it comes to voting rights, just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue, is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.


TAPPER: And maybe more. But he said he wasn't going to bring it up now. I mean, again, telling the truth, because it could piss off the three Democrats he needs to pass his Build Back Better Act. But that's the farthest he's gone on getting ready --

HERNDON: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- getting rid of the filibuster, not just for voting rights but for other legislation as well.

HERNDON: That moment of openness is what a lot of folks have been looking for, for a long time from President Biden, particularly the progressive side who has been hoping that he would openly push for the end of the filibuster, and that he would also put pressure on the Manchins and Sinemas and even others in the Senate Democratic caucus who aren't open there.

But we -- this still has a huge road ahead of him on this front. I think it's amazing that the President was just openly willing to admit that the reason he won't do it now is because he needs these votes. But down the line, he'll think about it. But this is a big concession from President Biden.

I remember when he was on the trail saying that he was popular and these folk's homes districts, that he was popular in conservative areas and he thinks they will come around to working with them. What I hear in that answer is that he has gotten a reality check about where Washington is now versus where it is then. And that means that there might be some different structures he has to embrace that he wasn't willing to on the trail.

TAPPER: Mike Kinsley (ph) says it used to -- a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth.

CHAMBERS: I was going to say, but he also brought up the debt-ceiling when we're talking about how far away from this he could be. He could probably be until December before he could potentially change his position on this if they do not have the votes to extend the debt- ceiling beyond that.

TAPPER: I don't know how much --

BEGALA: (INAUDIBLE) a huge mistake here.

TAPPER: Yes, yes

BEGALA: Senator McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate by giving no votes --


BEGALA: -- whatsoever to Joe Manchin's voting rights bill. Joe Manchin was Secretary of State of West Virginia. He was very progressive on voting rights, always has been. I've talked to him about this. He believes in this. He's not, you know, going to kill voting rights. He's sponsoring it with Amy Klobuchar now.

McConnell didn't give him a single vote. And I think that can start to push Manchin into reforming the filibuster for voting rights. And I think that's why President Biden said that last night. I think he's having those conversations right now.

TAPPER: Thank you so much to my panel. Have a great weekend.

Did the Laundrie family lawyer just reveal too much? Potential giveaway after Brian Laundrie was found dead, that's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the search is over but key questions remain. A medical examiner is working to determine a cause of death for Brian Laundrie after his remains were discovered and identified in a Florida swamp this week. Experts tell CNN that process can be tricky, Laundrie vanished last month after his fiance Gabby Petito was reported missing. But before her body was found, her body, of course, was found strangled to death.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us now live from Sarasota County, Florida. And Leyla, the family attorney took a -- told a local news crew that his parents, Brian Laundrie's parents, "Knew their son was grieving the last time they saw him."


TAPPER: But when you look at the calendar, Gabby Petito's body had not yet been discovered, according to that timeline, the last time they saw him. So is that essentially an admission that their son killed her?

SANTIAGO: Well listen, we have reached out to the attorney Steven Bertolino about that. He has not responded to our request for any sort of clarification. But this morning on Good Morning America, he was asked what exactly would do the parents think that Brian Laundrie was grieving given what you're saying that the calendar, the timeline, right, because their timeline indicates that Brian Laundrie was last seen Monday, September 13th. Gabby Petito remains were found September 19th, that was the following Sunday.

So what exactly was he grieving? Well, he didn't address the time discrepancy there but he did say that Brian was very upset so much so that his parents were concerned about him and they regret not having stopped him from leaving. He also provided some insight as to some of the possibilities that the family has discussed. Remember, we are all, including the family, waiting for more information from the medical examiner as to the cause or manner of death of Brian Laundrie.


But apparently, between the attorney and the parents, they have discussed the possibility that Brian could have killed himself. Now he has been asked by multiple reporters, the attorney, if they have anything to say to the Petito family or to the FBI regarding Gabby's disappearance, and on both of them, he has declined to make any further or additional statements.

In the meantime, Jake, we are continuing to wait for more information from the medical examiner here in Sarasota County to get more information as to how Brian Laundrie died here in this reserve, where he was found. And also from investigators to find out what information they have been able to gather regarding the belongings they found near his body, a notebook, a book bag, the clothing he was wearing. A bunch of unanswered questions still today, and they're hoping that that can provide some insight.

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The Supreme Court steps in the ring in the Texas abortion fight. What that might mean for women's health? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, today we learned that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the controversial Texas abortion law on November 1st. In agreeing to hear the case under an expedited timeframe, the court said it would focus on the unusual way that the Texas legislature crafted the law. The law, as you might recall, it bans most abortions in the state after six weeks before many women even know they're pregnant, and it turns private citizens into something like bounty hunters. But in a move angering critics, the justices will allow the Texas law to remain in effect for now.

CNN's Ariane de Vogue joins us now live for more on this. And Ariane, this is a very quick timetable for oral arguments. What does that suggest to you?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: This whole thing could have been a compromise of sorts, right? This law remains in effect. So Roe is a dead letter right now in the state of Texas. But they have these hearings really, really quickly for them to be able to weigh in. And that's maybe why you didn't see the Liberal Justices Kagan and Breyer dissent here.

But there was a big clue in today's order. Just what you said, the fact that they are going to look at how this law is structured, because as you know, Texas officials can enforce it. These private individuals can and Texas and all these lawsuits keep saying, look, we can't -- you're suing the wrong person, we can enforce this. That could worry the justices.

And I know it worries some conservatives, because what happens if a liberal state then decides to pass a very similar law, say on gun rights, then you'd see the conservatives racing to the Supreme Court. So maybe that's why they're interested in taking this up just that question and dealing with it as quickly as they can.

TAPPER: Justice Sotomayor, one of the liberal justices, she sharply criticized her colleagues for, once again, allowing the ban to remain in effect. She called the expedited scheduled for arguments a cold comfort for women in Texas, who might need to get an abortion for whatever reason. How should we interpret what she says?

DE VOGUE: Really shows you her role on this court. She's not like the other liberal justices. She's not trying to find compromise. She is coming out with this fiery dissent. And she said, Look what the courts doing here, I'm not going to try to minimize it. Look at the impact of this law on poor women, on minors, about the fact that the law has no exception for rape or incest.

She really wants to push those points. And of course, it comes at such a fraught time with this court because they're trying to sort of publicly say that everything is simple, and they're communicating well. But behind the scenes, you've got those three conservative justices who want to move fast to the right. You've got Barrett and Kavanaugh, two of Trumps nominees. We're not quite sure where they are. And then you've got the chief justice.

He's trying to move more incrementally because, of course, he's worried about the institution of the court. And then the liberals are always in this perpetual dissent. So that's where things are now, it's a really fraught time and they're in the spotlight. That's a place they hate to be.

TAPPER: And even if they get rid of the Texas law, and who knows if they will or not, there's still the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban?


TAPPER: That's coming their way --

DE VOGUE: Yes. TAPPER: -- regardless. Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

File it under whoops. The aviation state messed up the launch of a new license plate and the jokes while they took off. Buckle up. That's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, I'm not sure if you notice anything off about Ohio's new license plate design there. The Wright brothers' plane flies a birthplace of aviation banner over an Ohio skyline, grassy hills and fields of weed but North Carolina, the first in flight state was quick to point out, why a little mistake. That banner is flying from the front of the plane not the back.

North Carolina tweeting this humble brag, "You all leave Ohio alone. They wouldn't know. They weren't there." And apologize is for -- apologize -- apologies now for this actually. But just to correct the record here, in 2003, Congress officially recognized Ohio as the birthplace of aviation because the Wright brothers grew up in Dayton, that's where they had their bike shop. That's where they develop their first manned powered aircraft.

But Ohio wasn't there when the plane lifted off from the sandy beaches of North Carolina in 1903. And actually, despite popular misconception, that wasn't in Kitty Hawk, it was in the more ominously named Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

So I guess we'll let you decide who should claim bragging rights North Carolina. But Ohio's Bureau of Motor Vehicles did make sure to correct the mistake and they tweeted out this updated version of the design. Nice work, Ohio.

Be sure to tune in to CNN's State of the Union this Sunday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join me for an exclusive, as well as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, plus Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson. We'll be here live, that's 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. A reminder, if you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.

And until Sunday morning, I bid you adieu. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Be nice to him now. He's a good guy.