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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Admin Sets Jan 4 Vaccine Deadline for 100M Americans; Pelosi Adds 4 Weeks Paid Leave to Bill, Manchin Quickly Rejects; Judge Deeply Skeptical of Trump's Executive Privilege Claim; Voters Say Education was Key Issue in Virginia Governor Race; Nearly All-White Jury Seated in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial; Intel Bulletin Reveals Apparent Plot Against U.S. Electrical Grid. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 04, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Groundhog Day on Biden's agenda. Are we going to see Joe Manchin's shadow?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Speaker Pelosi tells the Democratic caucus she wants a vote on the two major pieces of Biden's legislative goals before they all hit happy hour tomorrow. But once again, we have to ask: is this actually going to happen?

Quote, don't mess with moms. The anger so many parents have been feeling about shut down schools burst open this week as voters went to the polls in two states where classrooms remained empty for longer than most.

Plus, just one black juror selected to hear the case of Ahmaud Arbery's killing and the judge even acknowledging intentional discrimination. So, why is the trial still proceeding?

Hello and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin this hour with our health lead.

President Biden imposing a January 4th deadline for more than 100 million Americans to get fully vaccinated. The controversial move by the Biden administration applies to private businesses with at least 100 employees as well as to certain health care workers and federal contractors.

This mandate would go further than any other U.S. vaccine mandate so far during this pandemic, and it is already facing fierce resistance from Republican governors and lawmakers who say this is clear federal government overreach.

Trade groups oppose the rule as well. The national retail federation arguing today it is, quote, burdensome for retailers during the crucial holiday shopping season.

This announcement comes just after an embarrassing election night where the president and his party were punished by voters for not ending the pandemic or passing their agenda to help struggling Americans. Pressure is mounting on Democrats to deliver for the American people.

As CNN's Phil Mattingly reports the Democratic party is increasingly desperate to have something they can show case to their constituents.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It was not a good night.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With fingers pointed in every direction after tough election losses for Democrats, the party gathering around at least one response. They need results now.

PELOSI: There is no question if we -- the more results we can produce in a way that people understand in their lives the better it is.

MATTINGLY: Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling her members a vote on the $1.75 trillion economic and climate package could come tonight one day after President Biden delivered this parting message to Democrats.


MATTINGLY: Biden's top negotiators on Capitol Hill as Democratic leaders presented the latest version of the bill to members behind closed doors.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We are ready to continue to work as we have been with members to get this done.

MATTINGLY: Making clear that even with the decision to put paid family leave back into the proposal it will be fully paid for sources told CNN, a critical message to wary moderates as Democrats race to count the votes.

PELOSI: We're going to pass both bills but in order to do so, we have to have votes for both bills and that's where we are.

MATTINGLY: But those new additions to the bill create clear hurdles in the Senate

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don't think it belongs in the bill.

MATTINGLY: All as the issue White House officials attribute as the driving force behind the president's low poll numbers hit a mew milestone, 750,000 U.S. deaths due to COVID-19. The Biden administration setting January 4th as the deadline for companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or regular testing.

JEAN-PIERRE: First of all vaccine requirements work.

MATTINGLY: The most aggressive move to date from Biden to ramp up vaccinations with administration officials already preparing for GOP legal challenges.

JEAN-PIERRE: The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop spread of COVID.


MATTINGLY (on camera): Jake, that grim milestone of 750,000 lives lost to COVID part of the reason why the administration believes they have the authority to move forward on this. The administration officials saying they believe under that authority they have the ability to act quickly to try and protect workers from any grave danger, something they say COVID-19 very clearly is making them very comfortable in terms of the legal basis of what they're moving forward on now, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you so much.

Joining us now, live to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, as you heard Phil just report, the Biden administration has this new January 4th vaccination deadline. It also applies to facilities that receive Medicare funding or Medicaid funding covering 17 million health care workers.

I know you're not a political guy. You're a doctor. You're a medical guy.


How effective could this vaccine be in getting the remaining millions of holdouts vaccinated?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These mandates. Yeah, I mean, they could be very effective, Jake. It doesn't come without some holdouts still remaining and some fights as Phil just alluded to in his piece. They could be very effective.

There's been examples of thousands of police workers in New York expected to no longer be working by November first because they would not abide by mandates. So far the number is 34 people who have taken unpaid leave. United Airlines, they put in vaccine mandates and had some 59 percent of their work force vaccinated before the mandates now close to 99 percent.

So, it makes a difference. It is unfortunate that is what the response has to be in order to make this happen but we see it in the health care world as well. We've talked about this even pre-pandemic with flu shots for example across the board if you look at health care workers who have been vaccinated against the flu. It is around 80 percent. If you break it down in terms of where you have requirements, close to 94 percent, 95 percent in those places, 70 percent if you don't have requirements. So, it makes a difference. You would think people would just do it on

their own because the vaccines are so effective. This will make a difference.

TAPPER: Yeah, miracles of modern science started during the Trump administration and they are their way out of the pandemic. This is exciting news for parents of young kids. The CDC has given the green light for COVID vaccine for kids age 5 to 11.

Some families remain anxious leaning toward a wait-and-see approach. Look, we can't begrudge their fears about kids and vaccines 5 to 11. But what's your message to them?

GUPTA: I've talked to a lot of scientists and pediatricians, people involve in the field who have children that age. One thing I'll tell you is they're all getting their kids vaccinated. I mean, people who are looking at the data like I did, you did when our kids got vaccinated, they're doing the same thing. And that's the decision they're all making pretty universally.

I think there's a few things. One is that, right now, the numbers are, as you pointed out, about 27 percent or so of people, these parents say they're just going to do this right away. But that leaves a lot of people who are either waiting and seeing or so far saying definitely no. Those numbers will change with time. Sometimes people want to wait and see and then when everything is going okay, they'll go ahead and get the vaccine.

I think the other thing to remind, Jake, is that, you know, when we talk about the story of this pandemic it's often been told as a story of elderly people primarily being affected by this disease. And that is true. Kids are less likely to be affected.

But they are affected. Hundreds have died. Thousands have been hospitalized. Tens of thousands have gotten the disease, 100,000 kids were diagnosed with COVID last week alone, 100,000. Think of the ramifications on society over all.

Also, you know, like I think of the chickenpox vaccine, which was this big deal when it came out. But before we had the chickenpox vaccine, around a hundred children a year died of chickenpox. It was too many. They said, we need a vaccine. Now we have one and chickenpox is a far less sequential disease.

COVID is far more consequential than that. This vaccine works. Get your kids vaccinated. I look at the studies, most parents who have looked at the studies have chosen to get their kids vaccinated.

TAPPER: And speaking of getting kids vaccinated, you interviewed the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, at a CNN event this morning for CNN Citizen and he had exciting news about vaccines for kids under the age of 5. Take a listen.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL: I have a vested interest in that as well as I have a 3 1/2-year-old daughter at home. I've been waiting for that, too. Look, the trials for kids under 5 have been under way and we anticipate that in early 2022 is when we may see a vaccine available for kids in that range. And I'll tell you, I can't wait for that. That's going to be an important day for as well.


TAPPER: So, for kids under 5, a vaccine coming. Huge news for so many families. Could that also make a big difference in bringing the pandemic under control? Because what I've been told is right now, the big vectors, the big spreaders are kids.

GUPTA: That's right. That's the issue. Again, make it clear that the vaccines are to help protect the kids themselves. Kids can get very sick of this disease. And I just, you know, I want to keep emphasizing that point. They can also be significant vectors going into the holidays, you know, people are spending time with elderly grandparents, maybe the first time in sometime indoors, hopefully unmasked for these kids 5 to 11 who can get vaccinated.

After that, you know, the younger kids if they can get the vaccines it will help decrease the spread overall and hopefully finally get the pandemic under control.

One thing I do want to point out, Jake, we are -- we are -- obviously, a lot of vaccine availability in this country. If we are talking about pandemic control globally, we do have to really start thinking about these shots around the world.


These numbers are sort of jumped out of me. We've given out close to 52 million boosters in wealthy countries between August and November, while total doses in low income countries have been 36 million.

Now, we've known disparity exists for a while, but when we talk about pandemic control, we need to make sure more vaccines go all over the world.

TAPPER: Not just humanitarian reasons to make sure there aren't other forms of mutations.

GUPTA: The variants.

TAPPER: Yeah, the variants that come forward.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.

Could investigators soon learn what Donald Trump was doing during the insurrection? The hearing today on the matter, next.

Plus, a terrifying first. CNN learning a drone targeted key energy infrastructure and authorities are not sure who might be responsible.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, we are awaiting a judge's decision in a high stakes legal fight, dealing with the investigation of the January 6 insurrection.


Former President Trump's attorneys are trying to keep the January 6th committee from obtaining hundreds of pages of documents that are currently held by the National Archives. They are arguing Trump can claim executive privilege to keep them secret.

As Paula Reid reports for us now, the judge criticized both sides during today's hearing.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In a high stakes court hearing in Washington, Trump lawyers arguing the former president should be able to keep more than 700 pages of his White House records secret from lawmakers investigating the January 6th riot.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We fight. We fight like hell. If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

REID: But Federal Judge Tanya Chutkin at times appeared deeply skeptical about Trump's case. Are you really saying that the president's notes, talking points, telephone conversations on January 6th have no relation to the matter on which Congress is considering legislation? The January 6th riot happened in the Capitol. That is literally Congress's House.

The House Select Committee insists these records are essential to its investigation.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We want to document a complete record of everything that was going on really minute by minute during the day of insurrection.

REID: President Biden who has sitting president has the power to withhold previous administration's documents so far has declined to do so, pointing to the extraordinary circumstances of January 6th.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The former president's actions represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don't feel can be swept under the rug.

REID: Trump has asked the federal court to block the committee's requests arguing that the January 6th investigation is illegitimate and that even as a former president he should get control over access to his records.

The committee wants to see documents from top White House advisers, handwritten notes about January 6th, Trump's daily schedule, White House visitor logs, and call records. Trump's lawyer Justin Clark arguing the requests are overly broad and

failure to block them would open up the door for the partisanship of document requests and blowing a hole in executive privilege that should concern everybody.

While the judge asked Clark to dial down the rhetoric a bit, she challenged lawyers on the House committee on the breadth of documents requested, saying some of these requests seem very narrowly tailored but some are alarmingly broad, and there has to be some limit.


REID: The National Archives says it intends to hand over the Trump documents next Friday unless the judge blocks them which she did not appear willing to do.

Now, this is such an historic case with implications for future presidents it is likely whatever decision the judge makes will be appealed. We also learned today that the committee has interviewed over 150 people so far in its investigation.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thank you so much.

Let's talk to somebody who knows a little bit about executive privilege. John Dean was White House counsel during President Richard Nixon's administration. He's obviously a key figure in the Watergate investigation.

Mr. Dean as always, great to have you here.

So, the judge criticized the Trump team's executive privilege claim. Give us a quick background on executive privilege. And do you think it can be successfully invoked in this case?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Executive privilege comes from the separation of powers that the fact we have three branches of government and each branch can do its own thing within its own powers and the other branch has limited rights to look at what they're doing.

For example, we can't look at what the judge's law clerk is doing in this instance. The president is saying even though I'm no longer president this is stuff that happened while I was so therefore I have a right to withhold it. Well, I don't think that is going to hold up. I think the judge sounds like she was trying to narrow the breadth of the inquiry or the request for documents a little bit but she is not buying that because this was a very unusual, if an insurrection isn't criminal, it is certainly out of all boundaries of democracy.

That's pretty hard privilege to claim you can't let the Congress see that material.

TAPPER: And the judge as you know called the January 6 committee's document request alarmingly broad which feeds into the Trump team's argument this is just a fishing expedition. They just want to get as many documents as possible and find a crime in there.

What do you think specifically the committee might be looking for?

DEAN: Well, I think they are trying to find out what Trump's role was in this. I think the reason you always start with an overbroad discovery request knowing it is very likely to get peeled back. What you don't start with, while Trump has actually let some documents be released, his is much more narrow.


And I think that the committee is probably going to prevail on pretty much all that they -- Trump is trying to withhold. Jake, let me add one other thing. You've got a -- two solo practitioners with little experience in this area representing Trump.

On the other side, you have some of the best Washington lawyers representing the January 6th committee and the National Archives, as well as four amicus briefs. There are a dozen top lawyers involved in this case.

So that shows you that Trump, he's not taking it very seriously. He didn't get a top tier, experienced firm to handle this. He is just trying to slow the process down.

TAPPER: So, assuming the judge rules in favor of the January 6 committee that will no question be appealed probably potentially all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. How do you see it playing out?

DEAN: I think in the long run that there will be a limited right for a former president to withhold documents. Otherwise it makes his privilege meaningless but not an overbroad privilege like Trump is trying to block everything that he did even if it wasn't presidential or as a part of his official duties is not going to hold up.

TAPPER: There is another legal issue going on, a little less high profile. But the special counsel probe into the origins of the Trump Russia investigation produced an arrest today. There is a Russian analyst that was a source for the 2016 Steele dossier, that dossier of unproven, disproven, and lurid allegations about Trump. That analyst has been indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI. This follows the indictment of a lawyer for lying to the FBI also about the Steele dossier.

What do you make of this?

DEAN: Well, it is hard to put all these pieces together since you typically don't investigate the investigators. And if there were some mistakes made they should be corrected and people should be held responsible. That may be what happened with the DNC lawyer who said he wasn't representing a client but, rather, was just representing the greater good.

We'll find out about that. He has pled not guilty. On the latest one I don't know. But there are things coming up about the fact the server between Moscow and the Trump headquarters was real and there is more information coming out about that by experts who say, hey, this wasn't a bogus report. There really were communications going on. So, Jake, all that has yet to be shaken out, and I'm sure we'll hear

more of it.

TAPPER: All right. John Dean, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

And join me tomorrow night for a new CNN special report, "Trumping Democracy," an American coup. Key Republican officials sharing with me never heard before details about how close American democracy came to crumbling. That's tomorrow night 9:00 p.m.

CNN's S.E. Cupp says Terry McAuliffe lost because he ignored a key rule -- don't mess with moms, she says. We'll discuss, next.



TAPPER: A reckoning for Democrats trying to figure out how they got schooled in this week's election. In Virginia, a clear mandate from parent who voted, spend more time focusing on education. CNN exit polls show education was the second most important issue for Virginia voters at 24 percent trailing only the economy.

And a "Washington Post" poll shows in the last few months leading up to the election the number of voters who said education was their top concern rose nine points from 15 percent to 24 percent.

Let's discuss with CNN's S.E. Cupp, conservative commentator Mary Katharine Ham, and Kerry Rodriguez, the co-founder of the National Parents Union. Mary Katharine, let me -- let me start with you because this was a personal race for you as not only a Virginia voter but a Virginia parent.

You pulled your daughters out of school to home school them during the pandemic because you were worried about how they would do in virtual school.

How much of this vote in Virginia this week, Mary Katharine, was parents just plain angry with how long schools had been closed?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a large part of the story and you hear a lot about critical race theory and you hear a lot about Loudoun County issues and stories out there, but I want to remind people that schools were closed physically for in person learning for more than a year in every Virginia metro area, northern Virginia among the least attended schools in the nation during 2020 to 2021.

At the beginning parents were willing to give grace, but I watched that grace in all of these Facebook groups trying to get schools back open turn to frustration and turn to real anger. And the reason was that parents looked around and their kids were hurting particularly those with disabilities who were deprived of things they are legally required to give them in schools. They looked around and saw private schools opening with not many issues. They watched other countries open schools. They watched other states open schools, and school boards were -- to put it charitably -- nonresponsive to sometimes hostile to parents.

And I think that is a new relationship that they hadn't realized the boundaries of before. A lot of these parents hadn't been engaged and became very engage and very upset with the way they were being treated.

TAPPER: And, S.E., you say Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor who lost Tuesday, you say he ignored a key rule, don't mess with moms.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, right. Imagine -- I was a Virginia mom before I moved back east and imagine all the conditions MK just laid out. Then imagine being a candidate for governor and getting up on a debate stage and saying to those moms, you shouldn't really have a say in your kids' education.

That is insane, should be politics 101 not only did he double down on it he defended it two days before the election. It was a huge misstep. You don't mess with moms.

And it's a lesson that both parties have learned the hard way. Trump learned that the hard way in 2020 when a huge usually reliable voting bloc for Republicans white suburban moms, you are looking at one, left the party in droves. And he lost without suburban moms and so did Terry McAuliffe.

TAPPER: It is interesting. We should note I think when it comes to kids deprived classroom -- in-person classroom education. Virginia was seventh worst in the country. And New Jersey was tenth worst in the country.

Keri, you hear directly from parents every day. What's the message they want politicians to hear right now?

KERI RODRIGUES, CO-FOUNDER, NATIONAL PARENTS UNION: We're fed up and tired of being treated disrespectfully. I have been to school board meetings, met with parent advocates across this country. I did a tour across the country in the last six weeks and what they are frustrated about is the transportation crisis we have. We can't get kids on reliable buses to get them into classrooms.

We have COVID-19 quarantine protocols that are insane. Some kids have test and stay. Some kids stay home for two days. Some days, 14.

We have kids in a social, emotional crisis after a period of isolation. These schools just got hundreds of billions of dollars and we're not seeing it actually used in the ways parents and families have asked them to use it. So, we are frustrated and we're not going to take it lying down.


CUPP: And, Jake, just to clear up any sort of false notions here this is not just happening in red states. This is happening all over the place. You mentioned New Jersey, in my state, Connecticut. We have local elections in my town. They were mostly framed around the issues of education.

They might be disparate and different -- different issues but education is still a huge issue and when it looks like Democrats are either taking their voters for granted or talking over them or trying to impose federal will over parents, that's never, ever going to go well.

TAPPER: Go -- go ahead.

HAM: I was going to say, at the end, when people wonder about the momentum in this race changed in Virginia, Terry McAuliffe's comment at the debate was one of those things and then the letter to the DOJ that mentioned parents and talked about them in this hostile way that frankly parent had felt that way being treated by their public servants.

It added gasoline to this fire of parents being angry about the entire year. And it's just important to remember public schools closed for a year, while private schools were operating, while other schools in other states were operating.

It's historically anomalous. It's anomalous on the world stage. Children here why not served well. Parents were mistreated in many cases with sometimes, the school board saying you just want your babysitters back.

And they wanted to be heard. They often couldn't be heard because they had virtual meetings with limited speaking time in. And so, the ballot box turned out to be the place they were heard.

By the way, Terry McAuliffe, in his wisdom, decided to bring Randi Weingarten, the head of the National Teachers Union, to the state of Virginia as his closer when she is literally the closer of the schools for a year and she fought tooth and nail to keep them closed. Parents were ticked and they had a right to be.

TAPPER: So, Keri, let me ask you. Democratic Congressman Donald McEachin who represents the Richmond area of Virginia, he told "The New York Times," quote, you cannot tell a group of people who have had for 18 months or so to home-school their children that their opinion about their children's education doesn't matter. I do think that we as a party need to acknowledge that people have been through a lot in the last 18 months.

Keri, this increased focus on education, is it too late for Democrats? Is it too late for school boards? Or do you think that this could this be a moment where people learn from experience?


RODRIGUES: I think this is an incredible moment of reckoning because for the past 18 months, parents have been the co-facilitators of education and, frankly, we were horrified by what was a catastrophic failure of the entire system in our living rooms. And the idea that you want to say to parent across the country just

ignore that, ignore the fact that your kid is now in third, fourth, fifth grade and cannot read, has no idea what they're doing in math, don't worry about it. We've got it from here when quite clearly you did not have it over a period of 18 months. I mean, you're seriously under-estimating the crisis of confidence that parents and families now have in our entire public education system.

And so, when Democrats are turning around and saying, well, we don't want to hear from you, we don't want to hear your concerns -- we're your constituents. We are the people who actually put you into office. It is incredibly tone deaf.

TAPPER: S.E., take a listen to what progressive chair, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, told CNN last night about all of this.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We have to pay attention to local politics. I think Democrats are the party of parents not Republicans. We are the ones that are looking to pass child -- universal child care, universal pre-K, to cut prescription drugs costs. As soon as we get that done, I think people will see that.


TAPPER: S.E., what do you think?

CUPP: Yeah. This is a new Democratic message I first heard my friend and former "CROSSFIRE" colleague Stephanie Cutter say this on another network a couple nights ago. And she said we cannot let the GOP become the party of parents. That is what this is sort of setting up.

So, I think Democrats realized just how high the stakes are for this if Republicans get to win on this issue which cuts across issues of education, and health, and safety. This is eating into a huge, huge piece of the pie. And women to some extent are still swing voters.

I think Virginia and even as close as New Jersey was made that very clear. Democrats should be worried.

TAPPER: And, Mary Katharine, I just want to make sure everyone understands nobody is calling for violence or threats against teachers. Nobody wants teachers to get sick. Nobody wants the schools to be unsafe for teachers to learn at.

And there has just been a very tangible frustration for at least a year. I've seen a lot of it in Virginia just living in D.C. and you hear it about lack of empathy toward the children that has been expressed.

HAM: Yeah. No, there was -- there was really almost a hostility toward those arguing that it was safe to go back. In fact, in somewhere like Fairfax, a slap in the face where teachers advocated for by the unions were allowed to jump the line and get their vaccines early which all the parents were like, great. Then we can get school back and then they declined to go back to school.

So, that's the dynamic you're looking at when you have people at home teaching their kids. Many of them, numbers are astounding for women who left the work force partly because they have to be home and facilitating this, I call it Zoom butlering where you have to bring everything to your child while they're on Zoom and hit all their buttons for them, this was not acceptable as a public service. This is a very basic thing that your city and county should offer to you.

And when you address them with your grievances they shouldn't be telling you that you just want your brunch and babysitters back which is far often, far too often the message parents got. That is why they were mad.

TAPPER: Democrats can ignore these --

HAM: They dig themselves in the hole on this.

TAPPER: Democrats can ignore these three women on my show right now. They can if they want at their peril. Thanks all for being here. Appreciate it.

Quote, devastating, that's how the mother of Ahmaud Arbery is reacting to the jury selection as three men face murder charges.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, protests are under way in Georgia right now amid growing outrage after a nearly all white jury was selected in the trial of the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man shot and killed while jogging last year.

Of the 16 jurors picked including four alternates, only one black juror will hear the case. Prosecutors accuse the defense of deliberately striking prospective black jurors, a charge the judge appears to agree with but he said he will seat the panel anyway.

Arbery's mother reacted to the jury selection process outside of court yesterday.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: I was very shocked we only had one black, African-American man. I mean, it was devastating.


TAPPER: As CNN's Martin Savidge reports, race is front and center in this highly contentious case, as opening statements begin tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, reaction to the overwhelmingly white jury ranges from disappointment to outrage.


SAVIDGE: 11 white jurors and one African-American will decide the fate of the three white men accused of killing the 25-year-old black man Ahmaud Arbery while he was out jogging. The jury chosen at the end of a grueling two and a half week selection process that had originally summoned a thousand residents, drawn from a county where a quarter of the population is black.

The revelation immediately drawing emotion from the prosecution suggesting that the defense's decision to remove eight African Americans from jury consideration was based solely on race.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: So African-American jurors made up one- quarter of the jury panel.


But the actual jury that was selected has only one African-American male on it.

SAVIDGE: Defense attorneys vehemently denied that, arguing their decisions to strike black potential jurors were based on what they called race neutral reasons, saying they removed them because they didn't believe they'd be impartial.

Then the judge spoke, at first seeming to side with the prosecution.

JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, SUPERIOR COURT, STATE OF GEORGIA: This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination.

SAVIDGE: But ultimately ruling based on the defense's statements the case could go forward with the selected jurors.

WALMSLEY: They have been able to explain to the court why separate from race those individuals were in fact struck from the panel.

SAVIDGE: Defense attorneys who only 24 hours earlier had been complaining how the potential jury pool did not sufficiently reflect the defendants in the case now saying they were satisfied with the 12 jurors and four alternates.

JASON SHEFFIELD, ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: We are very pleased we have been able to select now 16 members of this community.

SAVIDGE: The case has been racially charged from the start with the three white men accused of pursuing and killing a young black man jogging through their neighborhood in 2020 suspecting that he committed a crime.

An armed Gregory McMichael and his son Travis chased an unarmed 25- year-old Arbery in a truck eventually confronting him. In the resulting struggle prosecutors say Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times with a shotgun.

Their neighbor William Bryan authorities say joining the pursuit, recording the incident on his cell phone. It wasn't until two months after the shooting when the video was made public that the men were arrested. All three have pleaded not guilty to multiple state charges including felony murder.


SAVIDGE (on camera): And all day long, Jake, the court has been hearing last-minute arguments that have been made on the part of both the defense and prosecution fine tuning the kind of evidence that jury will finally get to hear. The judge is still confident. Opening statements tomorrow morning -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Martin Savidge, thanks so much.

New, alarming details about how a drone apparently targeted part of the U.S. electric grid.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Some disturbing news in our tech lead. New details about an apparent plot targeting the nation's power grid.

A drone that crashed was likely targeting a Pennsylvania power substation. That's according to a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by CNN.

No damage was done to the substation thankfully, but authorities are not sure who was responsible and officials are increasingly concerned about the threat that drones pose to critical infrastructure.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The threats to the most critical parts of U.S. infrastructure are only growing with advances in technology from the ever present fears of cyber attacks to potentially devastating physical attacks. Highlighted by an apparent attack at a Pennsylvania power station reported in an intelligence bulletin just obtained by CNN.

It says that in July, 2020, a small, modified drone which crashed was likely intended to disrupt operations by creating a short circuit to cause damage to transformers or distribution lines. The intelligence report says the drone did no harm but that it is the first known instance of an unmanned aircraft system likely used to attempt to deliberately damage energy infrastructure in the United States.

MARTY EDWARDS, FORMER DHS SENIOR OFFICIAL: We have to keep in mind that these physical threats such as this drone attack are very, very real and with the rise of domestic extremism and other national, foreign national types of involvement, you know, I think we can only expect these types of threats to rise.

SAVIDGE: The drone was a simple, very popular consumer model. There were two long pieces of rope attached to it with thick, copper wire. The camera and other identifiers were removed indicating the operator was trying to hide their identity and probably flying it with line of sight near the power sub station. A successful attack could result in widespread regional loss of power.

EDWARDS: Some substations would probably feed a few hundred people whereas others, you know, it could be thousands or hundreds of thousands of households. It just depends on where it is within the power grid itself.


SAVIDGE (on camera): This joint intelligence report goes on to detail numerous other incidents over the past few years in which drones were flying over critical energy infrastructure sites for unknown reasons like, Jake, back in 2017 in California a drone flew into power lines knocking out power for three hours for some 1,600 people. It is believed most of these incidents are not malicious but they are not ruling it out and say they do believe the illicit drone incidents around these critical sites will only grow in the coming years.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Is President Biden out of the loop or just not keeping his promise? The accusation from the head of a powerful group, that's ahead.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to the lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, will it send a message? A few unruly airline passengers will face severe consequences for their behavior partly as a warning to fend off future offenses.

Plus, long-time Hillary Clinton aide Humana Abedin opens up and tells her story. She will join us live.

And leading this hour, get it to my desk is President Joe Biden's message to Democrats, again, as they continue to wrestle over the key elements of his agenda. Still, sources tell CNN House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier today in a closed door meeting with Democrats that the hope is to vote on the social spending bill tonight and then hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan tomorrow. Haven't we all seen this movie before?

Let's get right to CNN's Manu Raju. He's on Capitol Hill.

Manu, it's going on 5:00.