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The Lead with Jake Tapper

House GOP Leadership Silent As Members Tweet Murder Fantasies, Praise Farrakhan's Anti-Vaxx Campaign & More; Investigators Working To Determine Causes Of Death; Biden To Tout Bipartisan Bill In Baltimore Wednesday; Biden To Tout Bipartisan Bill In Baltimore Wednesday; 11 Senate Dems Call On Biden To Tap Strategic Oil Reserve To Help Bring High Gas Prices Down; Migrants Gather On Border Of Belarus And Poland As 14k Polish Troops Line Other Side; Pregnant Women & Children Sleeping On Freezing Ground Along Belarus Border; N.J. Republican's Islamophobic & QAnon Tweets Taint Upset Win. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 17:00   ET



REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): It's a terrible way. You know, we've seen civility really downslide here.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of those Republicans, Congressman Fred Upton, blaming Greene after receiving numerous disturbing phone calls, one of which his office provided to CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Bleep) traitor. That's what you are. You're a (bleep) peace of traitor. I hope you die. I hope everybody in your (bleep) family dies.

UPTON: That truly is frightening and a real, real bad mark in terms of the civility across the country as we've seen these issues like this junk.

SERFATY (voice-over): Former President Trump is amplifying Greene's message at a Florida fundraiser last night according to a GOP source who heard the remarks blasting the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill, a bill that will improve America's highways, bridges, airports and trains and will get broadband internet to more Americans.

On the airwaves, House Republicans put out a deceptive ad this week. Using images from Trump's presidency to depict chaos under Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All Democrats can't protect our street and Democrats can't protect us.

SERFATY (voice-over): Democrats are calling out Republican leaders framing their silence as a choice to support violence and chaos.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): They are repeatedly glorifying violence. And it's not as if this is without the backdrop of the violence of January 6.


SERFATY: And there's such a stark contrast here in how Republican leaders are responding. They have been silent when it comes to go SARS (ph) video and these other examples. And they're focusing instead on speaking out against members of their own party who voted for the infrastructure bill, including a small effort, Jake, underway to retaliate against those members potentially trying to strip them of their committee assignments, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.

Let's bring in two former House Republican members of Congress, former Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah and former Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

Congressman Love, let me start with you. The actions of these current House Republicans, Gosar, Greene, and others, they're indecent, they're uncivil, they're even sickening. We haven't heard Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy say a word about it. Meanwhile, there's talk of retaliating and stripping from the committee assignments from the 13 people who voted for the -- Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill. And McCarthy has his allied lobbyists out there trying to get consultants to drop Liz Cheney as a client, because she's speaking out against the big lie. These are very bizarre priorities.

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. So let me start off by saying this, what Gosar did is absolutely, I -- it's more than inappropriate. It's childish. It's just not something that I would want a fellow Republican putting out there.

And, by the way, the staffer that that took the time to do this, I mean, I would assume that he had better things to do. I would also wonder what time he was using, because these people are paid for by the taxpayers. So, I think that it's absolutely at the very least such an inappropriate use of time, especially when we have so many things that we have to handle as members of Congress and as a government.

The other thing I would say is that, you know, people have to start holding themselves accountable. I don't know if Kevin is going to be able to fix all of these things. I think that the people that should really hold Gosar accountable are the people that elected him.

He is -- that's the reason why he is there. They need to call him out and say this is not appropriate, this is not what we send you to Washington to do. There are so many things that are affecting our lives that we need you to take care of. The last thing we want you to do is retweet these types of more than childish. It's absolutely, I have no other words, but asinine. It's horrible to think that somebody that I worked with would retweet something like that.

TAPPER: Well, he didn't just retweet, he tweeted it. It was from his account.

LOVE: Yes, tweeted it. Right. TAPPER: Congressman Dent, do you agree or do you think that Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, need to clamp down on this and make it clear? Look, I mean, we call this stuff out when Democrats do it. We can't call it out when Republicans do it. But these are members of Congress doing it repeatedly with no comment even from Kevin McCarthy?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's incumbent upon the Republican leadership, particularly Kevin McCarthy, to set standards of conduct and to enforce them.


I watched both Speaker Boehner and Speaker Ryan force resignations of members became embarrassments and distractions. That's where we are now.

I do think that what should happen with Gosar is what Kevin McCarthy did with Steve King, he took -- he kicked Steve King off his committees, he did the right thing there. And I think Gosar is now approaching that territory. They need to do this. It's wrong.

And what's even worse, while they fail to go after those who are distraction embarrassment like Taylor Greene and Gosar, they're coming down on Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. In fact, we're even hearing that the 13, as you just pointed out in the earlier piece, that the 13 Republican infrastructure votes, House Republican infrastructure votes, are under tremendous pressure and it's for a vote. I mean, Taylor Greene called them "traitors," for voting for an infrastructure bill that Mitch McConnell, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham voted for --


DENT: -- for Pete's sake. I mean, what is this coming to? I mean, it's really have -- they have to set standards. I was chairman of the Ethics Committee and we used to have to clamp down on members who did things that brought this credit upon the House.

TAPPER: Congressman Love, today, Congressman Gosar seemed to double down on that photoshopped animated tweet about Biden and Democratic Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and about undocumented immigrants. He tweeted yet another cartoon, one characters caption reads, quote, "You're cartoon anime scares me." And the other caption replies, quote, "It's a cartoon, relax."

This is a 62-year-old member of Congress tweeting this. A group of House Democrats today told Kevin McCarthy in any other job, a person who made a video that joked about killing a coworker or if not two coworkers if you count Joe Biden would be fired. Don't you think that McCarthy needs -- I mean, I understand it's up to the voters, sure. But don't you think McCarthy needs to set a tone here as the Republican leader and potential Speaker of the House next year?

LOVE: Well, like -- I think that McCarthy, one of the things that I do agree with Charlie on is that he has to -- we have to look at standard of conduct across the board. So that way, any member of Congress, whether it's on the right side or the left side has a standard of conduct.

I would assume that it would already be there. I mean, we've got -- these are adults. You would think that adults would act like adults, especially members of Congress who are representing a constituency. So, I would think that he would go back. That's what I would do, if I were Kevin. I would go back and say, listen, we obviously need to have a standard of conduct that everybody needs to be held accountable to so we don't have to deal with these issues.

He shouldn't really have to babysit every single member of Congress and their conduct. There should be some sort of at least baseline of decency in Washington. It just goes to show the dysfunction where we have so many different things that we obviously can disagree on that we're putting out, tweeting these cartoons and then doubling down on them. I would think that his constituents would think that he has better things to do than that.

TAPPER: And Congressman Dent, I mean, Trump told this fundraiser for the NRCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee at a dinner last night in Florida that the real insurrection wasn't January 6, it was Election Day 2020. And as Maggie Haberman from the New York Times pointed out that comment, even though people in the room were there on January 6, when that mob stormed the Capitol, and people died, and there was horrific violence, people cheered last night. House Republicans this is -- I fear that this is now just part of the DNA.

DENT: Well, yes, the former president has this very unhealthy obsession about the election. Everybody knows it was a free and fair election. In fact, Republicans did extremely well in that election who are not named Donald Trump.

Everyone knows that former president can't deal with it. And now he has just been on his tear ever since trying to undermine American public's faith and confidence in our electoral system. He's doing enormous damage to the country. He's doing enormous damage to the democracies, a threat to the constitutional order.

And Republican leaders must speak out and say the truth so that Republican voters here, you know, hear an alternative narrative. And that's why so many Republicans are believing Donald Trump's nonsense, because they're not hearing the truth from respected Republican leaders. They need to say it more often, clearly and loudly because Donald Trump will never change.

TAPPER: All right, former Congresswoman Mia Love, former Congressman Charlie Dent, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

LOVE: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, an attendee says the Astroworld Festival was a deathtrap as investigators tried to find out exactly what happened. We'll talk to an event safety expert next.


Plus, 1000s of people including children freezing in migrant camps. Activists say that these individuals are being used as pawns. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our national lead, investigators in Texas are now examining whether illegal drugs played any role in the horrific concert tragedy in Houston. The "Wall Street Journal" reports police are looking into whether some of the deaths or injuries were caused by counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

CNN's Ed live and dare Ed Lavandera is live in Houston for us.

And Ed, the investigation also includes whether some of those killed were crushed in the crowd search.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and obviously, you know, that the reporting on whether or not these laced up pills might have had something to do with. It is really not clear if it gets to the heart of what has happened in this situation because what we have heard repeatedly from people is that they felt trapped, that they struggled to breathe. And so they're much more focused on just how difficult of a situation it was for those people who really felt like they were suffocating to death in the middle of that crowd.


It will take weeks to get the toxicology, the full toxicology reports back to get a better understanding of this new wrinkle to the investigation. But Houston police remain tight lipped about the investigation, not really commenting at all as to where things stand as of now, Jake.

TAPPER: And Ed, what do we know about the victims who were injured and are still in the hospital several days later?

LAVANDERA: Well, there are six people still hospitalized. Five of those people are in intensive care in hospitals here in Houston, including a nine-year-old boy who has asked -- the family has asked that we identify him by the initials E.B., we understand that the father was trying to get the young boy out of the crowd. We spoke with a witness who saw the father and son. They said that the Father had the boy on top of his shoulders and was desperately trying to get out before he passed out and fell into the crowd. But a horrifically tragic situation is that that young boy, nine years old, remains in a medically induced coma, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera in Houston, Texas. Thank you so much.

Here to discuss event safety expert, Mark Herrera. He's the Director of Education for the International Association of venue managers.

Mark, thanks for joining us.

How can one begin to secure a venue like this where there are 1000s of people, no rows of seats to keep them in one place, and all of a sudden people start rushing the stage? MARK HERRERA, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF VENUE MANAGERS: Listen, Jake, first of all, I don't consider myself an expert, but I've just aligned myself with great people. But thank you for that. It is truly a pleasure to be a part of your day.

First of all, I think I need to begin by first saying I think it's truly important that we need to show respect for those people that have died, and then were injured. You know, I always say that before we cast any judgment, it's important to know that an investigation will uncover those areas of deficiencies, and allow everyone to make sense or to make sense of what actually happened.

Preventative measures, a lot of the things that go into place, right? Obviously crowd management, but crowd density is so high can be a challenge, even when you have the proper span of control. You know, I'm telling you right now that the facilities, you know, that I've been exposed to, they do a really good job in trying to identify, you know, what are the protective measures that need to be in place, so at the end of the day, protect those massive crowds. And not only just the larger crowds, but your smaller crowds as well.

TAPPER: When you look at just the image and it's just a sea of humanity there, does that trouble you just those -- that image in and of itself? Should there have been dividers? Should there have been, I don't know what the term would be, but more restraining pens for want of a better word, places so that the crowd would be split up. So you can't have everybody charging towards the stage, that just seems like an untenable situation. But I'm not an expert on concert venues.

HERRERA: Correct. There's a lot of things that when you look at a crowd, that you can try to use or implement in regards to those physical security barriers to try to control that crowd movement.

You know, the density of a crowd can be very limited as we know. So with measures to force gaps or barriers to kind of break up -- break it up in the middle to smaller crowds, that seems to work. You know, and this is what we speak to whenever we do some of this train crowd manager training.

But such barriers can also ensure access and movement for event staff when they're broken up into segments, right? So they're corralled into different segments where you have walkthroughs so that your event staff in security detail can actually monitor the crowd, right? Because the idea is to try to identify the behavioral patterns that are not conducive to that particular event, right?

Because if you think about this, it began somewhere, right? Something went wrong at some point in time that caused or created the crowd to shift or surge.

TAPPER: Right.

HERRERA: It could be tension, it could be influenced, whatever the case was that caused that crowd to surge and move could have been detected at the very onset or at the very beginning. If you had folks that were dispersed appropriately and trained, you know, appropriately trained to identify those --

TAPPER: Right.

HERRERA: -- different -- types of behavior patterns.

TAPPER: So, the concert continued for more than 30 minutes after a mass casualty event had been declared. I asked the Houston fire chief of Travis Scott, the performer should have stopped the show earlier than happened. Take a listen.



CHIEF SAMUEL PENA, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: I truly believe, you know, that at some point if the lights would have been turned on, the promoter or the artist called for that, it would have chilled the crowd. And who knows, who knows what the outcome would have been.


TAPPER: Ultimately, whose responsibility was it to shut down the show when it was very clear things were getting out of control and the crowd needed to be told, stop where you are, stop pushing towards the stage?

HERRERA: I think the question is at the time that you did a, you know, obviously your entertainer your performer has a really great view of the crowd, right? Typically those that are stationed in position in such a way that they can monitor and have a really good eyes view of the crowd can identify anything that's unusual.

But you know, to the reporter of the individual that just reported, I can tell you this right now that could the lights have come on? Could the entertainer have, you know, entertainers are known for being able to defuse a lot of bad situations because we've seen it, it's happened in the past.

On the flip side, can they agitate a situation? It can actually work both ways. So, could there have been someone that came out and maybe turned the lights on, maybe had a calming effect on the crowd, that's a possibility. These are a lot of things that are going to be uncovered and revealed to identify what are those best practices to try to control that crowd behavior. And again, knowing that the crowd dynamics are different, the behavior is different based on the show.

TAPPER: Mark Herrera, thank you so much for your expertise and your time. Appreciate it.

Coming up, it's a key element needed to pass the second part of Biden's 2021 agenda, but it could be delayed. We'll explain next.


[17:26:18] TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden is making a major push to try to sell his newly past infrastructure deal to Americans who have not been feeling the benefits of an economic recovery. Yesterday, the President acknowledged more needs to be done to help struggling families, even though almost 6 million jobs have been created since Biden took office.

Let's get right to CNN's Phil Mattingly live at the White House.

And Phil, Biden heads to Baltimore tomorrow. There are other stops across the country for his Cabinet officials. What's the strategy? What are they going to be saying?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, what I've heard from administration officials is essentially nothing short of a full court press over the course of the next couple of weeks. The President will be at the Port of Baltimore tomorrow to talk at least in part about the $17 billion for ports and waterways that are in the infrastructure proposal the House passed late last week.

As cabinet secretaries will be spreading out across the country, not just in necessarily Democratic, friendly territory, also in red states, red counties, red areas as well, to try and make the pitch that this isn't just something that benefits cities or benefits necessarily Democratic constituencies, this $1.2 trillion dollar proposal on roads, bridges, waterways, infrastructure, broadband, benefits everyone. And I think that's what you hear more than anything else from White House officials, this idea that they need to ensure that people know what's in this proposal and why this proposal will help.

There's an alignment between the national Democratic Party and state Democratic Parties. Members of Congress are also reaching out to the White House to align on events as well. They want to make sure that this isn't just something they pass and move on from, but it becomes a critical focus over the course of this next year, particularly leading up to the midterm elections, Jake.

TAPPER: And then, Phil, obviously, there's this other part of Biden's domestic agenda in 2021, the Build Back Better Act, which expands social safety net programs, does more to combat climate change. It's still a work in progress, though.

The Congressional Budget Office today said that they might not have a final cost estimate in time for the deadline that Democrats set for next week. So, what happens next?

MATTINGLY: It's a great question. It's the exact reason that you saw six of the Progressive House Democrats vote against the infrastructure proposal. They were afraid that the CBO score, which moderates have made clear as a necessity to be able to move forward showing that proposal is paid for, won't be ready in time.

Now, it's interesting, I bounced us off a couple of administration officials over the course of the last couple hours, they made clear in those very carefully crafted statements that basically unlock the infrastructure proposal on Friday night, it said that they wouldn't move forward without a CBO score that corresponds with what White House officials have projected on the revenue side or no later than the week of November 15. They're making clear they believe they will still move forward. And they also note that the CBO has said they will be releasing various pieces of their analysis over the course of the coming days, including some this week.

Right now, when you talk to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and White House officials, the plan in the House is still to move forward on that proposal next week. But obviously, if those six moderates don't come on board, they will be short of the votes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democrats, Jake.

TAPPER: That's right. And they're expected to be no Republican votes for the Build Back Better Act as opposed to the infrastructure bill.

Phil, thanks so much.

Let's discuss. Let me start with you Laura Barron-Lopez because you were shaking your head. And I'm not sure what you're shaking your head about. Clearly not about Phil's report, but about administration officials, maybe what they were telling him? What?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, just an addendum to what Phil was saying is that they didn't say, if you look very carefully at the moderate statement, they don't say CBO score in the statement. They say fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office. So a lot of Democrats today have been saying to me that they think that that is really key because a score is very different. A final score, a very permanent final estimate --

TAPPER: It's a very intricate process by the Congressional Budget Office.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is. And having the final score which could vary will not come until closer to Thanksgiving is very different than having more fiscal information of the Congressional Budget Office.

And if you look at that statement, it was so carefully worded. And I think that's why a lot of Democrats, including the Progressive Caucus, felt really good.

The majority of the Progressive Caucus felt really good about voting for this last week, knowing that those Moderates would be there in the end, whether it's beyond November -- during the week of November 15th, you know, barring any major -- big major changes to the bill. So that to me, that language a lot of Democrats are saying could give Moderates a way to vote for it is early as next week.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, who's a Democrat from right outside Philly, she told CNN, precisely what Laura just said, that a delayed CBO score will not necessarily delay the vote next week. What do you think?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it doesn't matter. I think they've got to deal with the table, talking to a pollster today who has been doing focus groups who said, listen, people out there just want to know, are you solving these particular problems? And so the pollster was telling me they were running through issues, and voters were like, oh, yes, I like that. I like the other thing. Seven out of 10, five out of 10 in different cases. But they didn't know that that's what Biden was working on, right?

So the President has to go from being the legislator and chief to being the marketer and chief. Remember, Donald Trump talked about the wall forever. He didn't put like he put like two bricks up on the southern border. And that's all he talked about. And people believed he was building the wall. The President can't be so interested in dotting i's and t's, crossing t's. He's got to be out there selling.

TAPPER: Jamal Simmons praising Donald Trump. I never thought (INAUDIBLE). No, but he makes a good point. Because whatever you think of Donald Trump, he was really good at communicating his issues to his base to the American people.

SARAH LONGWELL, PUBLISHER, THE BULWARK: Absolutely. And I remember this, you know, he would -- you know, he would rip off a bunch of executive orders and then he would go out and say, see, we're cutting red tape. And he would send out Jim Jordan and all of his people, and they would be able to tick through a list of issues and they weren't even concrete wins. They were just things that they could say that they -- that were wins.

And this is like the inverse of what Biden does. Biden thinks, but pass legislation, you'll make people happy. And then they don't spend any time selling it. I do focus groups all the time and I was just did a whole line of them with Democrats.

TAPPER: But just to explain to our viewers, what a focus group is as you take a sample size of 15, 20 voters in a particular group and ask them questions, just --

LONGWELL: That's right.

TAPPER: -- people don't.

LONGWELL: Find out what they --


LONGWELL: Find out what they think about them. And I've done hundreds --

TAPPER: Right.

LONGWELL: -- over the last couple years. And over the last few months, I've been mostly doing them with Democrats. And what's clear is that they have no idea what's in any of these bills. They'll just -- they'll tell you, I'm worried about inflation. I'm worried about gas prices, and I don't feel like Joe Biden's doing anything about it.

They'll say, I don't feel like I see Joe Biden. I don't feel like I see Kamala Harris. And I think that there's something about, you know, Donald Trump was in all caps in your face all the time. And Joe Biden is, I think, he thought people wanted something, you know, more sedate than that. But I think maybe he took it a step too far.

TAPPER: And Tia, some of the stuff is not a comms (ph) problem, right? I mean, there are -- there is inflation, there are high gas prices, you can't really explain your way out of that. But some of this stuff is a comms (ph) problem. Most Americans have no idea. And I think I saw you do a tweet on this, about how many kids were lifted out of poverty by the Child Tax Credit that was part of the stimulus bill earlier this year.

The Biden White House is very proud that schools are open. You can get into the mask debates or critical race theory at another time. But the fact that a year ago, a lot of parents, myself included, were frustrated, the schools were closed.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yes, I think the Biden administration has a lot on its table, it's trying to do. And as a result, they can't do everything, they can't accomplish everything. And I think they're having a hard time making the case that they have accomplished something.

And, I mean, look, you can go back to the American Rescue Plan, and all the COVID relief money going to states and school districts and now infrastructure, now we're looking at the Build Back Better Act. But the message -- because they are understated, they're not traveling as much, even as previous presidents partially because of the pandemic still. But I do think that it's harder to translate what they're doing because they're doing a lot of legislating on so many different fronts.

TAPPER: Right.

MITCHELL: -- into something that is easy to grasp for people at home when they're not in your face as much.

TAPPER: And Laura, this part is not the comms (ph) problem. Eleven Senate Democrats called on President Biden to fight at least one issue, the rising gas prices, through executive action today. The national average of price of gasoline rose to $3.42 a gallon, that's up from $2.11, one year ago. This is something he could, you know, they could stop exporting gasoline. They could open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. There is not a ton beyond that, however, that the President can do.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And even experts have said that if the administration were decide to go the route of, you know, opening up crude oil exports or not that it's not sure that it would actually have the immediate impact act on lowering those gas prices.


So, the administration right now continues to say that they're evaluating all those options that you laid out but they haven't made a decision yet. Ultimately, you know, the decisions that they have made to date are dealing with the supply chain issues, which they know are impacting a lot of Americans and that Americans are not happy about. It's one of the biggest things that voters mentioned, whether it was in Virginia or New Jersey, which is about the fact that the pandemic is impacting their pocketbook still, and that they're having trouble with just everyday necessities and purchasing them.

SIMMONS: Jake, you know, the other thing that's happening here is that some voters -- there's a list of issues of voters care about your poll hasn't, other people have them. Top 10 issues most people don't care about an issue like voting rights. But you go to a state like Georgia -- I'm talking to the pollster again today. In Georgia, voting rights is the number three issue for Georgia voters, right?

So somebody like Raphael Warnock we've talked about before, he needs to win those voters and get them to turnout. They've been a bunch of voters who've been turned out and organized around that issue and they've got to get those voters out and support them. What you've seen on President Biden is that his numbers have fallen out with Democrats. If he can get his Democratic number back to where it was a couple of months ago, his poll numbers overall would do much better.

LONGWELL: Yes, I mean, I agree with that. But I'd like to go back to the COVID relief bill, because I think sometimes, you know, Joe Biden seems to think if you put a lot of money into things that that's going to be a solution to the problem. But there was almost 2 trillion in that COVID relief package. And if you ask people, did you like what was in there? They say, I don't know what was in there. I think actually, businesses got a lot and that -- and I don't like that.

And so, they have got to get -- and I actually agree on voting rights. It's really about going on offense, right? It's not just PR, it's about, are you pushing things forward? Because right now, you are giving Republicans a massive opening on the issue that they are most comfortable with, which is that we're going to get -- we're going to be on the economy. And we're going to ride that all the way through 2022. And gas prices high, supply chain issues, inflation, it's sitting right there on the table for them to take.

TAPPER: And it's not just a question of politics, right? Because I mean, consumer confidence is an important metric. I mean, it's important for voters, for consumers to feel good about the economy, to want to spend money, to feel confident that they're not going to lose their jobs. This is all part of governing.

MITCHELL: Yes, but it's also -- some of it's counterintuitive. You know, wages are going up, their jobs are being created under the Biden administration, you know, and then there are safety nets that are in place that are helping lift children out of poverty with the Child Tax Credit, for example. So it's not like all the indicators are negative --

TAPPER: Right.

MITCHELL: -- and under the Biden administration. But the messaging and the perception is a little bit different. Because when you ask people, they are focused on the inflation, the rising prices at the grocery store, the rising prices at the gas station, and that's where the disconnect is.

SIMMONS: And just one fact before we go, we lost my old boss, Max Cleland today. I just want to say fantastic man, better human than he was a senator perhaps, but a fantastic man that we all should remember on a day like today.

TAPPER: And a war hero and as a big loss, a big loss, Senator Max Cleland. I'm glad you did that. Thank you so much.

Coming up, a border crisis unfolding that could lead to war in Europe. That's next.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, thousands of innocent people are apparently being used as political pawns in Europe and a move that could theoretically lead to acts of violence, possibly even war, at least, according to the leaders in the region. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is accused of sending thousands of migrants to the Polish border as a way to lash out against sanctions placed on his country a few months ago. Many of those migrants are pregnant women and children who are camping out in freezing temperatures forced to sleep on the ground, with 14,000 arms pull a soldier standing on the other side.

Where our CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports, the Polish Prime Minister is warning Belarus's action could provoke a possible war.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A migrant crisis on NATO's eastern flank that's threatening to destabilize this region. The European Union accuses Putin ally, Belarusian strong man Alexander Lukashenko, of unleashing a massive rush on Poland's border. The country's Prime Minister calling on Polish troops to get ready.

"Lukashenko's regime uses civilians as weapons of a hybrid war," he said. "What we can see today are new methods and you are a key bastion against them."

Poland says around 4,000 people, mostly from Iraq and Syria have a mass at its border with Belarus, squatting under inhumane conditions repeatedly trying to push across. The E.U. says the Belarusian regime has lured them here falsely promising they could enter E.U. territory. Poland called it state sponsored human trafficking and says it will not allow the migrants to enter.

"It's a matter of fulfilling our duties as member states of the European Union as well as ensuring the safety of Polish citizens and the Polish Republic," Poland's President said. Alexander Lukashenko denies the allegations and accuses Poland of escalating the situation.

Lukashenko spoke to his biggest backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, by phone and later seem to indicate the situation that could lead to war.

"In the modern world, taking up arms is like death, it's suicide, you must agree," he said. "And even more so here in the center of Europe, and even more so with Belarus. After all, here on this piece of land in the center, all wars have always unfolded. From here everything began. Does history teach you nothing?"

Most of the migrants who have made it across want to go to Germany. German authorities say, "We were on hand as several new arrivals were being processed after arriving in Germany."

(on-camera): The German police has drastically stepped up checks here at the border with Poland and they say they are increasingly coming across. People looking to claim asylum in this country that the vast majority of those people came into the European Union via Belarus.


(voice-over): Caught in the middle of this standoff, the thousands of desperate people stranded at the border as winter fast approaches.


PLEITGEN: And that winter in many of those places, Jake, is already there. The temperature as we speak right now in the middle of the night in that area is already well below freezing. You can see from those pictures that problem is not going to go away anytime soon with those people massing there at the border. In fact tonight, the Polish defense minister came out and said he believes that the attacks on the Polish border as he called them will most definitely continue. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.

A shocking election upset in New Jersey put a truck driver in the political spotlight but that light is bringing attention to some past hateful statements. Stay with us.



In our politics lead, quote, "I've got a big mouth and I don't shut up." That's how one of the biggest surprises of last week's election describes himself, New Jersey truck driver turned Republican state Senator Edward Durr, shock the political world when he unseated one of the state's most well-known and powerful Democrats. But now, as CNN's MJ Lee reports, it's that big mouth that's putting Durr on the defensive.


EDWARD DURR (R), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATOR-ELECT: Hello. My name is Edward Durr. I'm running for New Jersey State Senate.

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the truck driving Republican from South Jersey who has everyone talking. DURR: We deserve better. New Jersey, it's time for a change.

LEE (voice-over): Edward Durr is about to become a New Jersey state senator. In a shocking political upset, Durr defeating Steve Sweeney, the state Senate president and one of the most powerful well-funded Democrats in the state.

DURR: We're just taking it all in. That's the best I can explain to you because this is a little overwhelming.

LEE (voice-over): Durr has never held elected office. His campaign reported last month spending less than $2,500.

DURR: I worked there for Senate.

LEE (voice-over): He's campaign ad shot by a family friend. But his message resonated as he attacked New Jersey's COVID-related mandates.

DURR: Governor Murphy with his lockdown and mandates forced the closing of over one-third of our small businesses.

LEE (voice-over): And the state's notoriously high taxes.

DURR: I believe we need to cut taxes, cut spending.

LEE (voice-over): And called on an end to business as usual.

DURR: People's voice needed to be heard. They were tired of being ignored.

LEE (voice-over): Durr even receiving a congratulatory phone call from former President Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well you take care. Anything I can do, you let me know, OK? Let me know.


DURR: Thank you very much, sir. And you know you can call me anytime.

LEE (voice-over): Now some of Durr's past statements coming under scrutiny. In one archive 2019 tweet uncovered by CNN, Durr referring to the Prophet Mohammed as a pedophile and Islam as a false religion and a cult of hate. In another tweet from last year, Durr using a well-known QAnon phrase in a hashtag. That means, where we go one we go all.

His social media accounts appear to now have been deleted. Durr issuing an apology for his previous Islamophobic comments saying in part, "I'm a passionate guy and I sometimes say things in the heat of the moment." Sweeney has yet to concede the race, but the veteran lawmaker widely talked about as a future gubernatorial candidate blaming the national political environment.

STEVE SWEENEY (D), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATE: It was a tight. It's frustrating to watch what's happening in Washington. LEE (voice-over): Just last week, the state's Democratic Governor Phil Murphy re-elected but with a much thinner margin than Democrats had expected. Murphy expressing shock about Durr's victory.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): I'm stunned. This guy who is apparently winning is a dangerous sky.

LEE (voice-over): Durr is making this promise to his future constituents.

DURR: I don't know what I don't know so I will learn what I need to know. And I'm going to guarantee you one thing, I will be the voice and people will hear me because if there's one thing people will learn about me, I got a big mouth and I don't shut up.


LEE: Now, when CNN reached out to the Durr campaign about some of his past Islamophobic comments, we received a statement where Durr said, in part, "There is absolutely no way he would ever appear on, quote, "leftist cable network CNN."" Certainly we hear some echoes of the Donald Trump playbook here, Jake.

TAPPER: OK. Interesting. MJ Lee, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Two families have swapped babies after a nightmare situation at a fertility clinic. We'll tell you the story next.



TAPPER: Back now with our national lead and frankly a nightmare for two families. A lawsuit filed by one California couple says a Los Angeles fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryos. Meaning two women gave birth to children who did not genetically belong to them. The babies were reunited with their respective genetic parents at four months old but one family says the pain remains.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was robbed of the ability to carry my own child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALTE: It was truly my hell (ph).


TAPPER: The Cardinale family first felt something was off when the baby did not resemble them or their oldest daughter. A DNA test ultimately confirmed that the child she had given birth to was not actually genetically related to her or to her husband. CNN has reached out to the doctor and the clinic involved, but we have not heard back.

Finally from us today, please check out the Homes For Our Troops Fifth Annual Veterans Day Celebrity Auction. We have a lot of great items up for auction on eBay, including incredible items from George Clooney and Will Ferrell and Mindy Kaling, zoom calls with Jimmy Kimmel or Connie Britton or Jason Sudeikis. Lots of great stuff. All proceeds go to build specially designed homes for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

You can find all the items at, Homes For Our Troops. Bidding closes on Sunday.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in SITUATION. See you tomorrow.