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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden On Verge Of Monumental Day With House Votes Pending; Pfizer: Experimental Pill Highly Effective In Treating COVID-19; Democrats Speak Ahead Of Possible Vote On Biden Agenda; Former DOJ Official Refuses To Answer January 6 Committee's Questions; Arbery's Mother Sobs As Video Of His Death Played In Court. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired November 05, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And somebody who lived in Georgia for nine years, and I am just celebrating with all of the Braves fans there.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Vicariously. So the Braves were underdogs all season as I can tell you. But they kept barreling through obstacles to bring home the trophy for the first time in 26 years.
BLACKWELL: Yes, congratulations.
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts now.
CAMEROTA: Have a good weekend.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I mean, I'm running out of ways to say, is this vote really happening today?
THE LEAD starts right now.
House Democrats say they really want to vote on Biden's agenda this time. I mean really, but progressives rejecting the latest plan. We'll bring you all the action.
It could be another tool against COVID-19. Pfizer says its new pill is 89 percent effective against hospitalization and death for those who are infected.
Plus, an emotional day in court. Ahmaud Arbery's mother sobs as new video of her son's shooting was played in the courtroom.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We start with breaking news in our politics lead. And theoretically, a great day for Joe Biden's presidency. But it could nonetheless be remembered for continued Democratic dysfunction on Capitol Hill, even with votes, theoretically, pending any moment now on the house floor.
Today, the U.S. Labor Department delivered Biden a strong jobs report that U.S. economy outpaced estimates and added more than 531,000 jobs in October. Plus, revised August and September reports, also show many more jobs added than had previously been believed. In addition the Federal Reserve is now signaling it may jump in and help slow inflation prices.
There's even more good news today in the fight against COVID with a new oral medication that is highly effective, Pfizer says, in keeping those infected out of the hospital. And out of the morgue.
But right now, on Capitol Hill, the Democrats continue their long streak of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with no agreement as of now on a way forward on Biden's legislative agenda even though Speaker Pelosi began this process of getting to a vote this morning.
Let's start this hour off with CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
Kaitlan, President Biden spoke briefly this morning, touting the economy. He said he'd be back later to speak when the two bills in the House of Representatives passed. It sure did sound like his morning at least this morning was on these bills clearing the House today.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was, but maybe the White House saw what was coming because they did later clarify after the president spoke that he did not necessarily mean he would speak later today, Jake. So, of course, they are waiting to see once both of these bills get passed and if that's still going to happen today because White House officials woke up this morning very much of the mind this vote was going to happen this afternoon. They worked late into the night and the president has essentially about on the phone all day yesterday and today with a lot of these Democrats, including some of these moderate holdouts who say they want to see the score of the financial impact of this bill before they vote yes on it.
But this morning, the president came out and very enthusiastic about these jobs numbers, of course. It's very good news for a White House that desperately needs some good news. But also during those remarks, Jake, he used those jobs numbers to urge Democrats to vote and to vote right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm asking every House member, member of the House of Representatives to vote yes on both these bills right now. Send the infrastructure bill to my house. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, of course, Jake, he says right now. That is something you have not heard from the president before. Instead saying when Speaker Pelosi brings these bills to the floor for a vote, vote yes on them, today he's saying that needs to happen in the immediate future. Of course, part of that is spurred by the election night losses that happened on Tuesday night but the White House wants to see action on this and believes now is the time to do so.
Of course, we're seeing progressives now threatening to blow up the latest plan by Democrats to vote on at least infrastructure as soon as today and send it to the president's desk. Just to give you a sense of how much the White House is waiting and watching to see what's happening on Capitol Hill, President Biden is initially scheduled to leave the White House to go to Rehoboth Beach for the weekend. They've not set a departure date for that yet, Jake, as we wait to see if he even goes at all.
TAPPER: Yeah, I'm not sure that now is the time for ice cream.
Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.
Let's go to Jessica Dean now on Capitol Hill.
Jessica, key leaders were in and out of Speaker Pelosi's office all day, seemingly trying to shore up a final deal. Does a vote tonight still appear likely with Pelosi and the progressive caucus now locking horns?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's really hard to see a path forward. So, here's where it stands right now, Jake. Democratic leadership has come out with their plan. What they would like to do is to do a vote on the infrastructure bill and then a vote on what's called the rule for the Build Back Better Act.
That's essentially a procedural vote to move forward on it.
Well, the problem with that is progressives have long said we're not voting on the infrastructure bill before we vote on build back better. They are connected. And it is no surprise that progressives are now pushing back on that saying they will not support this infrastructure bill if they are not voting on Build Back Better.
So, what's holding up Build Back Better where there's a handful of moderates that want a score from the CBO on how much this would cost. There are other scores they've been given from the White House and other sources but they want this CBO score. That does not just come out of the air. That takes several days, it takes a while to get that.
So, progressives are now saying, fine. We'll just wait until you get your CBO score and vote on these together. So the question is, how does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proceed?
We're expecting to hear from her this afternoon on how they move forward because, as I said, they have announced, this is their path forward, but they intend to vote for infrastructure and then this rule. But if they don't have the votes, then what do they do? That's the key question right now.
TAPPER: Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, thanks.
Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is one of nine deputy whips on the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Thanks so much for being here, Congressman. So, Speaker Pelosi just announced she had adopted a proposal from the Congressional Black Caucus and the proposal looks like this. There will be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a vote on the rule to allow a vote later on the Build Back Better Act than in the intervening time, 7 to 10 days, the congressional budget office would finish analyzing the Build Back Better Act. That could take 7 to 10 days. Then there would be a vote on the build back better act with the expectation the moderates will vote for it, if the CBO analysis matches what the White House analysis is.
Why is that not good enough for you and the progressive caucus?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Jake, first of all, what we want is to have the vote on both bills. That's what the president wanted. He wanted the vote on both bills today. And those votes, I believe, would pass. I mean, I think six people would not -- when push comes to shove, actually vote no on the House floor.
So I still believe they should put those up for a vote. In terms of the compromise, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Whip Clyburn and he says it could be forward progress. We're open to having that conversation. But the question is, if we have that conversation and vote on the rule, how do we know that we have the caucus' commitment to vote for Build Back Better two weeks from now? It would take convincing the Progressive Caucus of that case. But I'm open at least to the conversation of how we get forward progress.
TAPPER: So do you understand how this might all look to an independent voter who maybe swings back and forth during election seasons and voted for the Democratic Congress right now but maybe voted Republican in the last election? They might look at this and say, Democrats cannot govern.
KHANNA: I'm from the governing philosophy. And I say to them, what we're trying to do is help the working class. We're trying to get tax cuts for the working class. Trying to get child care to be affordable and we will come together.
We're very, very close. There's six folks who still have some concerns. I think it will be overcome. I'm open to Whip Clyburn's suggestion. Obviously we're negotiating in real time. I have no doubt we'll get this done. And what people will remember is when we deliver.
TAPPER: So, Speaker Pelosi wrote a letter saying this is what they -- she intends to do. She intends to put the bipartisan infrastructure bill out on the floor and then there will be a vote on the rule for the Build Back Better Act and everything will play out as I said earlier. You are telling me, though, you are suggesting and Congresswoman Jayapal is suggesting that if she does that, 45, 50, maybe even more members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will vote against the infrastructure bill, right? If she brings -- without build back better being voted on at the same time, will you vote no on infrastructure?
KHANNA: I am open to having that conversation. I think the chair would be open to having the conversation. But our recommendation is, have the vote on both bills. That's what the president wanted. If there's an alternative path, let's have that conversation. You can't just say let's announce the vote and see if we can come to consensus on how we move forward.
But I hear people that we have to get something done. And I want to be very clear that progressives aren't standing in the way of getting something done. There were six folks standing in the way of that and we're open to having a conversation with leadership about how to go forward.
TAPPER: Look, I don't speak for the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus or moderates but my understanding is, there was a study that came out from the University of Pennsylvania Business School, Wharton, right, and that study suggested that the White House analysis of Build Back Better wasn't quite accurate.
And so, members like Josh Gottheimer and other members of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party said, all right, can we get the CBO to score this, which is a pretty basic thing to have happen when it comes to legislation, much less legislation this big.
Can you understand why they would want that?
KHANNA: No, I can't because the Joint Committee of Taxation has scored it. The actual deficit is the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That adds to the deficit. This actually raises revenue. And frankly, the economists working for the president are much better than many of the economists at the CBO. I mean, it's not like the CBO's analysis is that impressive. They missed some major things on the minimum wage.
So, I don't really get it. It's pretty simple, Jake. Do you believe we should help the working class and tax the very rich? If you're for that, then you should be for Build Back Better. If you are for Trump's vision that we have should tax cuts for the very wealthy and shaft the working class, then don't vote for it.
But don't hide behind CBO and this bureaucracy. That's not truthful. Take a position. Are you for the working class or not for the working class?
TAPPER: So, but just to be clear here, because I'm not the one that announced this deal. Speaker Pelosi is. If she goes forward with the plan right now, you will vote against it and the Congressional Progressive Caucus will sink the infrastructure bill?
KHANNA: No, I'm not saying that. She just announced this is one intention. I'm going to talk to her. I haven't had a chance to talk to her yet or to Whip Clyburn. If they believe that this actually will guarantee both passing, I'm open to listening. I think many progressives would be open to listening.
But I believe that the best way to put both bills on the floor because push comes to shove. I don't think you can be a Democrat and vote against the president and vote against the working class. And I think those six folks may say something publicly but when they have to cast that vote, I think they'll be a yes and that's my recommendation. But, look, I have tremendous respect for the speaker, for Whip
Clyburn. If they think there's forward progress, I'm open to giving them a hearing.
TAPPER: Just to be clear. What the moderates are saying, these six members you're talking about, is, and just so people out there understand, the narrow -- the chasm between Democrats and Republicans is so narrow in the House, they can't afford to lose what, more than three or something like that, right? So, six Democrats voting no would sink it.
But just so I understand, you are saying they're not honest, that they're hiding behind --
KHANNA: I'm not questioning their honesty. I'm just saying they may be saying one thing publicly, threatening one thing but vote -- when it comes down to voting, they may vote for the president. I believe they likely will do that. That happens all the time. I'm not questioning their integrity. I'm just saying how are they going to vote when the vote is called?
TAPPER: But the six members, if they say to you, Ro, brother, I will vote for the build back better act as long as the CBO analysis is -- resembles what the White House says it is. You don't have to worry. Will that be good enough for you?
KHANNA: What does resemble mean? I mean, I don't think this is about the CBO. Tremendous economists have looked at this. Nobel laureates, Paul Krugman, Stiglitz, Jared Bernstein, everyone knows the bill is paid for. This is a values question.
Here's the basic issue. Do you believe we ought to tax the rich, have corporations pay more taxes to help the working class with child care, to help the working class with universal preschool, to help have climate investments?
Now if you say, no, I don't think those are worthwhile investments, vote no. If you think they are worthwhile investments and we should increase taxes on the rich, vote yes. But don't hide behind bureaucracy, CBO.
Everyone watching this knows that that's Washington speak. Let's be real here. Where do you stand? I have no problem raising taxes on the very rich to help the working class. Where do they stand? Just answer the simple question and vote your conscience.
TAPPER: I hear what you're saying but when I ask you where do you stand if Pelosi brings this to the floor, you won't answer that.
KHANNA: Well, I haven't had a conversation on the procedural vote but I'm for the bipartisan bill and I am for the Build Back Better Bill. I said I'm going to be a yes on both. Now whether we should bring both together today or whether we should do a rule and if we do a rule, what does that mean?
It's not just my vote. It's what others will do. Even if the speaker convinces me that this is going to make progress, does that mean she's going to convince others?
But I have always been of view that we have to deliver for this president. We have to come together. People are sick of the bickering and I'm for anything that makes progress.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you for coming on in the thick of it. We appreciate it. We'll continue to follow the story. We're awaiting Speaker Pelosi. She's expected to speak on the next steps on Biden's agenda.
Plus, Pfizer promoting what it says is a highly effective pill against COVID once people are infected. And there is new hope that the pandemic could soon be behind us.
Plus, a key figure in Trump's effort to pull off a coup faces the committee. Did he give them anything?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Topping our health lead today, drugmaker Pfizer is having its new experimental pill to fight the coronavirus. Pfizer says its trials shows a risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent for people already at high risk of severe COVID. We should note, this data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published, but Pfizer says it is moving forward to submission to the FDA.
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now live.
Elizabeth, what jumps out at you from this new data?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Really, Jake, what jumps out at me is that they stopped the trial early. An independent board of experts monitoring the trial noticed that people taking the drug were doing so much better than people in the study who were given a placebo they said, hey, we need to stop this. It's called stopping for benefit and we need to give Pfizer the chance to apply now or soon to the FDA for emergency use authorization.
So let's take a look at the data that made this monitoring board say hey, this is looking so good. Let's stop this trial now. So there were about 775 patients in this trial. And, Jake, these folks had very early COVID. They were within three days of the first -- of having the first symptoms of COVID.
And the folks who received a placebo, which is a pill that does nothing, 27 of them ended up in the hospital over time and 7 of them died from COVID. Those who received the pill, though, only 3 of them ended up in the hospital and none of them end up dying. And I think that that, obviously, speaks volumes. Obviously experts from the FDA and CDC really need to pore over this
data. And another number that stands out to me is that 774 people in the trial. That's a relatively small number and antivirals can have side effects.
I think there's going to be some discussion among experts -- gee, it was a small number. Might there be things we don't see in this group. What do we want to do about that? Should this be limited for example only to people at high risk for severe COVID? That's what they did in the trial if we put this out on the market. Should it only be for people at high risk for severe COVID, maybe if someone is not at high risk, if they're going to get COVID and probably do just fine, maybe they don't need to be taking a pill that might possibly have side effects -- Jake.
TAPPER: Elizabeth, when could this drug potentially be available for folks that are infected.
COHEN: You know, it's interesting because Dr. Bourla, who is the CEO of Pfizer told our colleague John Berman this morning, he said we're going to apply to the FDA for emergency use authorization as soon as possible. It could be, he said, by Thanksgiving even which is just three weeks away. And if that happens, then, really, we would expect to have the FDA look at it within sort of a month or so and then the CDC would look at it.
So, really could just be a matter of weeks before this goes on the market. Remember, Merck has an antiviral with some similar results. And they've actually already applied to the FDA. They already have an FDA adviser's meeting set up for review on November 30th. So, that one if it comes would likely come out first.
TAPPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.
Joining us to discuss, Dr. Jennifer Caudle, who's family physician and associate professor at Rowan University.
Dr. Caudle, this new experimental pill sounds very promising, the company is finding so significant, they stopped the trial early. What does that tell you?
DR. JENNIFER CAUDLE, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: It tells us that it looked really good. Honestly, I'm so excited about this. I'm excited about this one as well as Merck's.
As a family doctor, the concept of having an antiviral to treat conditions is not unusual. We have antivirals for hepatitis, for HIV, for other conditions, even the flu. So to have an antiviral for COVID actually is very exciting. It would really open up the landscape for how we're able to treat patients, treat them more efficiently and save more lives.
This is very exciting and, yes, according to Elizabeth's report and what we're seeing, this pill is looking very effective.
TAPPER: I want to play a sound bite from Dr. Carlos del Rio with Emory University School of Medicine, with a great reminder on CNN this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSIYT SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated and avoid getting infected and more importantly, avoid getting very sick and dying if you get infected with the vaccine. The pills are there, are available, are good thing to have. But at the end of the day, prevention is better than cure for any disease.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Definitely true but that shouldn't stop us about being excited about this treatment, right?
CAUDLE: Absolutely not. And I know you would agree with that as well. We need everything and anything we can use against this virus. He is exactly right. The vaccine is our best bet to beating this pandemic. Everyone who is eligible should be vaccinated.
However, when we think about where these pills will fall, right now in terms of treatment, all I have as a physician is I got monoclonal antibodies for people who meets certain criteria, who are out-patients and that has to be given IV. It's expensive. It's an expensive drug and has to be gone through an infusion center.
Then, there's remdesivir but that's only for hospitalized patients. To have a pill as an option to help treat patients that reduces hospitalization, reduces deaths, et cetera, might even be able to be used as prophylaxis. For me and I think to a lot of my colleagues, this is a game changer.
TAPPER: Turning to the rollout for vaccines for young children, 5 to 11, parents can now search vaccines.gov for nearby locations to find places where they can get shots for their kids 5 to 11 or 12 to 18. What should parents do if all the appointments are booked up nearby?
CAUDLE: Yeah, so, well, first of all this is also exciting news. So many kids and parents and doctors have been waiting for this day. And the response has been tremendous. So, trying to get that vaccine is the right thing to do.
I would say, as a family physician, to be persistent.
To check with different sites multiple times. And sometimes if you go to your local pharmacy or local doctor, they can tell you about the cancellation schedule. They might advise you to come at the end of the day when some shots may be left over if not already given.
There are ways to get vaccines sooner. I would not give up. Remember, you know, we know that COVID is less likely to affect kids seriously, but it does. They still have the risk of serious progression and hospitalization. We've lost over 700 kids to COVID since the pandemic began. This is tremendously important that they get vaccinated. So, parents,
TAPPER: How are family doctors like yourself handling the influx of vaccines and influx of families wanting them?
CAUDLE: Yeah. So I tell you, it's been a little jigsaw puzzle for my practice. I'm an associate professor at Rowan University. I'm at a university practice.
So it's been a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle but with that said, we're really, really excited. We are giving the boosters for adults. We're giving the primary vaccine series. We'll soon start rolling out vaccines for kids. We're sort of doing it in a staggered approach.
Pediatricians' offices are already giving them, pharmacies as well. And what I would suggest to parents as well is check online. Sometimes my first instinct is to tell people to call. Don't clog up the phone lines. Try jumping online to find out.
TAPPER: Exactly. Dr. Caudle, thanks so much.
Let's go to the House of Representatives where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: -- an opportunity to proceed down a path to advance a very historic and transformative agenda. The president's agenda to build back better and also to pass the bipartisan infrastructure framework, create good-paying jobs across the country. Building the infrastructure of our country with mass transit, to help clear the air, with safer bridges, for safety for the American people.
For broadband to help people communicate better, whether it's distance learning, telemedicine or commerce, or just family relations. There's many other elements in the legislation. They are very important, very important to the success of our economy.
But in order to build back better, we wanted to do that and pass the Build Back Better bill. I call it build back better for women because it makes a big difference in being transformative for women in the workplace.
We had hoped to be able to bring both bills to the floor today. Some members want more clarification or validation of numbers that have been put forth. It's top line, that it is fully paid for. And we honor that request.
So today we hope to pass the bill and also the rule on Build Back Better with the idea that before Thanksgiving, it should take them another week or so to get the numbers they are requesting, as, I don't know, that's how long it takes. As we do, then we'll have a Thanksgiving gift for the American people.
I do want to thank the Black -- Congressional Black Caucus for the creative alternative that they presented today that advances the agenda to do so in a way that, again, is historic and transformative.
With that, I'll yield to the distinguished Democratic majority leader, the majority leader of the House, Mr. Hoyer.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, and thank you, Jim Clyburn, for the hard work that you and your whip organization, you in particular, have put forward in terms of getting the work done.
What is the work? The work is two bills. They are the president's vision of a better and stronger America, more competitive America, an America that reaches out to its working men and women, its families, to its children, to educate them, to seniors to care -- make sure that they're cared for properly.
These two bills will make, as the president says, a generational change for our country. I believe that the votes today to pass the build -- infrastructure bill and to provide for a path forward by adopting the rule for the passage of the Build Back Better legislation will be a giant step forward. And I am absolutely convinced beyond a doubt that before Thanksgiving, the week of the 15th, we will pass the Build Back Better legislation.
All members of our caucus have indicated they are for BIF. All the members have indicated and I believe we'll have an overwhelming Democratic vote and pass on our side of the aisle the Build Back Better legislation.
I now like to yield to my friend Jim Clyburn who has been so important in moving this forward - Jim.
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: Thank you for their vision getting this to where we are today.
What we're about to do is hopefully pass a piece of legislation that will be very transformative to many of our communities. If you look at this bill, the so-called infrastructure bill, we see funding that gets us to about 70 percent of the way with a 100 percent bill out for broadband. That to me is very, very important.
You're not going to be able to have the kind of medical care that we need unless we have telehealth and telemedicine. We'll not have the adequate education for our children unless there's online learning that has took place and rural businesses are not going to be able to thrive unless they have just in time delivery of their services and their presidents. So broadband alone does a big, big deal for me.
But if you look at the communities that I represent, rural communities, these communities with this bill, water, sewage, the kind of development that is needed to make these communities attractive for future growth and development. This bill gets us a long ways and not to mention what it does for our ports, the Charleston port is in my district, our ports. When you see a state like South Carolina building and now we do more tires in South Carolina than they do in Ohio.
And we've got Mercedes-Benz, their sprinter is made in north Charleston. Volvo, and these plants, BMW, they've got to have the ability to get these products out. So this bill, this infrastructure bill is huge for my state and the community that I represent. And then that gets us to the rule on Build Back Better. And in Build Back Better, the reason we've got to have that bill is because that's where so much of what we need for families to get to where they need to be.
Just take for instance children in that bill is where we made it permanent for another year the tax credits for children. Tax reduction I call it, for families with children. These things are very, very important. Not to mention the other parts of the family that are taking care of that bill.
And so, when I think of what we've got to do for the cost of pharmaceuticals, I have to use -- I try to use the word pharmaceuticals rather than the drugs. The cost of pharmaceuticals -- the cost there is in build back better.
So I think there's strong support, if not unanimous support in our caucus, for Build Back Better. And so today for us to do the infrastructure bill, give the president this bill to sign so that he can keep the job growth that we just heard about this morning moving forward, that huge deal for us and then we'll go on to do the rule so we can go home and await these final numbers coming from wherever they've got to come from and do whatever we've got to do to pass that bill sometime out into the future and I'll let the speaker tell us when that will be.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let me just say how important it is to have a vote. Once we have the rule vote, we had the path to the floor. And all of our members voted for the rule so that we will pass, as Mr. Hoyer said, will pass the bill and the distinguished whip said as well. So, the rule vote, people have to understand. This is the threshold. And so we'll cross the threshold that will take us --
REPORTER: Do you have enough Republican votes to pass the bipartisan plan?
PELOSI: Well, we hope to have as many Democrats as possible to pass the bipartisan plan.
PELOSI: Yes, ma'am?
REPORTER: A couple of questions on that. Congresswoman Jayapal came out with a statement indicating she will not support -- her caucus, the progressive caucus, the infrastructure bill if it goes without Build Back Better. She'd rather wait until the CBO score comes. Have you spoken to her, and do you have the votes right now for the infrastructure bill?
PELOSI: We all speak to each other quite regularly. In fact, it's not a chance to say I spoke once or twice. It's a constant conversation among all of us in our caucus. And the fact is we believe it is necessary to pass the BIF so that these jobs can come online as soon as possible. We have waited awhile. We had hoped to pass it sooner. But we can't wait too much later for the legislation.
I do believe there are a large number of members of the progressive caucus who will vote for the bill. That is my understanding. My own -- Mr. Clyburn has the official whip count.
I have speaker's secret whip count. I don't tell anybody. Not even you my dear good friends, but I have a pretty good feeling.
REPORTER: Speaker Pelosi, do you have --
PELOSI: We'll see.
PELOSI: Anybody else here?
REPORTER: We've seen there's going to be -- there's going to be a vote, not going to be a vote, going to be a vote. At a certain point, do you worry it starts to look like the Democrats can't get out of their own way?
PELOSI: No, welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party. Will Rogers said it. And it is a party with vitality and diversity. It's something that we all respect and admire. We're not a lockstep party. We are not just speaking as one person and nobody else needs to show up. And that's the vitality of the party which we respect and treasure the different opinions within our party.
One of the challenges that we have, though, because I've been here a long time, as have all three of us, in those days, all of this would be done, but not on 24/7 platforms where there are opinions going out, characterizations going out before anybody even knew what was going on. So it's an additional challenge, but I see every challenge as an opportunity.
REPORTER: Speaker Pelosi --
PELOSI: Yes, ma'am?
REPORTER: Why is your message to progressives who say they will not vote for this infrastructure bill --
TAPPER: So, obviously, a little technical difficulty there, but you got the message. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leaders are updating reporters. Oh, let's listen in. We got the technical problem fixed.
PELOSI: -- each and every one of us. And I hope it would weigh heavily on them that the American people want to see progress in their communities with job creation. But not only that, but what those jobs will create in terms of mass transit to protect the water projects, to protect the water the children drink. Broadband so that we can have fairness in how people learn and buy and sell and get health care online.
The list goes on and on. And it's very important that we pass it. So I hope that they would make a judgment on the merits of the legislation.
REPORTER: This inability of Democrats to pass this today. What does this show to the American --
PELOSI: What inability?
REPORTER: Inability to pass the Build Back Better plan.
PELOSI: It's not -- we're moving the build back better along. This is the first major step. We have never -- with all due respect to your characterization, this is -- we're in the best place ever today to be able to go forward. We have not had this level of progress in terms of where we are on build back, the BIF, bipartisan infrastructure framework, the jobs creation legislation, and the opportunity to have a path to build back better for women.
And for women, because there's so much in there that is liberating for women. Women in the workplace, and dads, too, who have home responsibilities. Whether it's child care, whether it's elder care and home health care, whether it's children learning, parents earning, the child tax credit that helps pay the bills, in so many ways.
And, of course, we're very proud of the fact that in this legislation, we have the opportunity for people in the 12 states that did not embrace the Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act to be taken under the Affordable Care Act. This is transformational.
And everything I mentioned, everything I mentioned, is supported by Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, everything that I just mentioned. There's some things they may add, subtract or whatever. But over 99 percent of the bill was built, House, Senate, White House.
So if there are a couple of things at the end that are different, we'll deal with those. But this is, again, transformative, historic and, again, this is a giant -- two giant steps forward today.
PELOSI: No, no. Watch the vote when it comes up, OK?
REPORTER: But some voters think --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
TAPPER: That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders Jim Clyburn and Steny Hoyer updating reporters amid a contentious and seemingly endless negotiation over the president's legislative agenda. Pelosi has said that a vote will indeed happen on the infrastructure bill as well as the start of a procedural step on the Build Back Better Act.
That is not what progressives wanted. This is what moderates requested.
Let's bring in Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill. So the day started. Let's bring everybody up to speed. We thought there was going to be a vote both on the bipartisan infrastructure package, which the moderates want --
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Uh-huh.
TAPPER: And the build back better act which has a number of initiatives for social spending, such as child care and the like as well as a climate change options. Build Back Better, which the progressives want. We thought there was going to be both. Then the moderates said, no, no, no, six moderates to be precise. We want the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the build back better act and then we'll vote. So the Congressional Black Caucus came up with a compromise, and the compromise was, take it from there.
DEAN: And the compromise was what leadership is going forward with, Jake. And that is that they are planning a vote on the infrastructure bill tonight. And that then they are going to do this procedural vote on build back better.
And essentially what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leadership were doing are staring down progressives who have said for a long time now, since this all started, that they see these bills as tied together and they want to vote on them at the same time because they do not trust, and this is what this is. It's a lack of trust between these different parts of the party. They do not trust that they have any leverage. That this will get done the way they want it to. That they feel like holding their vote on the infrastructure bill gives them leverage, some control over this.
So what house speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership is now doing is looking at progressives and saying, okay, we're going to see if you're bluffing or not. We're going to hold this vote and we're going to see if progressives will tank a major part of President Biden's agenda. What's important is that in progressives have said they support the infrastructure bill. They just want it voted on at the same time.
So here we are. And we're going to find out. The progressive caucus just had a meeting not too long ago. It dispersed. No one really talked to the cameras. There were reporters there. They did not speak to anyone. So it remains to be seen if they have the votes.
Nancy Pelosi didn't answer that directly, Jake. She said she had a good feel about it. But we're going to find out.
TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi and her office always say they will not introduce legislation on the floor that they want to pass unless they have the votes. I don't know that that's the case right now.
TAPPER: Do you?
DEAN: Right. I don't either. I don't know that anybody up here on our side does. She seems to think she has a good feel for it, Jake, but we're going to find out. You're right. That's generally her take on this. We're just going to have to let this play out.
TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean, thank you so much.
Also developing on Capitol Hill today, today, the House January 6th committee called in a former Trump Justice Department official who turned out to be a key figure in Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election. Jeffrey Clark is his name.
He not only pushed election fraud theories that were completely untrue. A Senate Judiciary Committee report by Democrats says that Clark was part of Trump's attempt to use the Justice Department's power to unconstitutionally force states to trash already certified election results.
As CNN's Ryan Nobles now reports, Clark today refused to answer any questions.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, the January 6th select committee has been trying to talk to this man.
JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL: Good morning. I'm Jeff Clark. I'm the head of the civil division.
NOBLESD: Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump-era Department of Justice official, was seen in this exclusive video Friday morning entering a House office building to answer questions from the committee. The meeting did not last long.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Clark did not answer any questions.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): My understanding is he did not cooperate. And we'll look forward after our meeting this afternoon as to the next steps. I have, as chair, the ability to rule on some of the issues that were raised.
NOBLES: One of those steps could be a criminal contempt referral of Congress.
Clark is a key figure in the January 6th probe, a Trump loyalist who peddled false claims about election fraud within the department with the goal of getting the agency to investigate the claims.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Clark had a lot to do with this plan for January 6th. And he also was apparently making a play to become the attorney general. NOBLES: Clark's efforts were rebuffed by the two men running the DOJ
at the time. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donahue, both men have already sat before the committee for lengthy interviews.
Clark's current attorney is Harry McDougal, a Georgia-based lawyer with connections to Sidney Powell.
Powell and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were part of the public push by Trump allies to spread the big lie and sow doubt in the 2020 election results.
New video obtained by CNN shows Powell and Giuliani testifying under oath in a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems in August. At one point, Giuliani concedes that he often had no proof to back up his wild claims about the election.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: It's not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me. Otherwise, you'll never write a story. You'll never come to a conclusion.
NOBLES (on camera): And the January 6th Select Committee has a lot of decisions to make. They're huddled behind closed doors hashing out many of these including the next steps toward Jeffrey Clark. As you heard the chairman say, there is a possibility that criminal contempt could be on the table for Clark. They're also trying to bring in information from other witnesses. Thompson has said there are as many as 20 subpoenas could go out to people that they need information from as soon as next week -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Lots going on, on the Hill. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.
Join me tonight for a special report, months in the making, "Trumping Democracy: An American Coup." Key Republican officials share never before heard details about just how close the United States came to losing democracy, as well as what Trump is planning for 2024. It all begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight only on CNN.
The prosecution and defense both laying out their cases in the murder trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, including new video and a moment that caused Arbery's mother to gasp.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, an extremely emotional first day in the trial of three white men charged with killing a black jogger in Georgia. Ahmaud Arbery's mother sobbed as new portions of the video of her son's death were played in court today. Prosecutors describing how one defendant told Arbery, quote, stop or I will blow your f'ing head off, unquote.
CNN's Martin Savidge breaks down all the key arguments from today's opening statements.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a community on edge, the trial for the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery began. A day Arbery's family had prayed for and dreaded.
JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, SUPERIOR COURT, STATE OF GEORGIA: Ladies and gentlemen, you shall well and truly try the issues --
SAVIDGE: Addressing 11 white jurors and one black juror, the assistant district attorney outlining how she'll prove three white men chased down and killed 25-year-old Arbery simply because he was black and running in their Georgia neighborhood, that according to the prosecution.
LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: In this case, all three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. Not on facts, not on evidence, on assumptions. And they made decisions in their driveways based on those assumptions that took a young man's life.
SAVIDGE: Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and a neighbor William Roddie Bryant Jr. are facing charges of murder. It was Bryant who captured the picture on his cell phone. In their opening statement, prosecutors played the cell phone video. Among those watching and listening in the courtroom was Arbery's mother, who said it was the first time she had ever seen the video in its entirety of the moment her son was fatally shot.
WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I decided to remain so I could get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud the last minutes of his life.
SAVIDGE: At no time during the five-minute chase the prosecutors say did the defendants tell Arbery they were performing a citizen's arrest. Instead the prosecutors maintain Gregory McMichael shouted threats.
DUNIKOSKI: How do you know Mr. Ahmaud Arbery was under attack by strangers with intent to kill him? Because McMichael told the police this: stop or I'll blow your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head off.
SAVIDGE: In the first of three opening statements for the defense, Travis McMichael portrays a very different story.
ROBERT RUBIN, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This case is about duty and responsibility.
SAVIDGE: Describing Travis McMichael not as a vigilante but a ten- year veteran of the Coast Guard who felt a duty and responsibility to protect his neighborhood.
RUBIN: It is scenario-based training. You're relying on muscle memory.
SAVIDGE: The defense argued Arbery was seen on video inside a neighborhood home without permission, including the day that Arbery was killed.
RUBIN: The evidence shows overwhelmingly that Travis McMichael honestly and lawfully attempted to detain Ahmaud Arbery, according to the law, and shot and killed him in self-defense.
SAVIDGE: Bcause there are three defendants, of course, there would be three opening statements that would be coming from the defense team. With one exception, Kevin Goff, the attorney who represents William Bryant decided not to give an opening statement, at least not now. He's waiting for the state to present their entire case and then he says he will make his opening statement. Some consider that a rather risky maneuver.
And just before the testimony began today, the judge finally ruled on the issue of the Confederate flag emblem that was on Travis McMichael's pickup truck the day he pursued Ahmaud Arbery.
The judge says the jury can see it and make their own distinctions based upon it -- Jake.
TAPPER: Martin Savidge, thanks so much.
President Biden today touting good economic news as Democrats in Congress begin to move on his agenda. But are they really going to do it?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, new clues revealing why law enforcement was so unprepared on January 6th, the rapid police overhaul just before the insurrection.