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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pres. Biden Has Two-Hour-Plus Call With Chinese President Xi; Interview With Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); Chinese Warning To U.S. On Taiwan: "If You Play With Fire, You Get Burned"; Speaker Pelosi Possibly Set To Travel To Taiwan; Biden Urges Congress To Pass Energy & Health Care Bill; CHIPS Act Passes House Despite GOP Opposition; Biden: Manchin, Schumer Deal Will Lower Inflation. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 17:00   ET



M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Now that's obviously more muted than what we have gotten from Chinese state media. According to Chinese state media, Xi told Biden during this call, if you play with fire, you get burned. Now, I asked this official whether that was perceived as a direct threat, and the answer I got back was that the administration is not going to parse metaphors coming out of Beijing, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: M.J., do we know if the two leaders discussed Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

LEE: We do. We are told that they did indeed discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But the readout again from the White House on this morning was not terribly detailed. They said that the two leaders talked about where things stand, because possible concerns about where things could go in Ukraine, the senior Administration official telling reporters that they didn't see any particular breakthroughs, though, on this front.

Obviously, the very big context here is that Beijing has so far not condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. And I will just end by saying that, according to officials, there was a discussion of a possible face to face meeting going forward. There's no timeline for that, but the two sides are going to follow up and potentially set up that meeting. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, M.J. Lee, thanks so much.

Let's turn now to CNN's Selina Wang in Beijing gathering Chinese reaction to the President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping's phone call.

Selina, what did China have to say about Pelosi's possible trip to Taiwan?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, while the readout from the Chinese side did not specifically mentioned Nancy Pelosi as M.J. Lee just said there, they gave a very strong warning about playing with fire when it comes to Taiwan. In that readout Xi Jinping said, quote, "We firmly oppose Taiwan independence and interference of external forces and will never leave any space for Taiwan independence' forces in any form. If you play with fire, you get burned. And I hope that U.S. side can see this clearly."

Now, Jake, from Beijing's perspective, America sending in one of its top politicians to Taiwan is treating Taiwan more like an independent country. And that is a clear red line for Beijing. There is concerned that Xi Jinping could make some kind of rash move that includes a show of military force in order to not appear weak at home.

This is also a very sensitive political timing in China, because we're just three months away, a few months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expected to seek an unprecedented third term.

But on the other hand, Jake, I've spoken to many experts, including here in Beijing who say, look, all of this coming from Beijing, this is just fiery language. China does not actually want to escalate or risk a military conflict. And it is not in a position to do so especially with all the challenges at home, given the pandemic and the economic devastation from that. And of course, they say, if Beijing were to make a move on Taiwan, they would do it on their own terms and their own timeline, not on someone else's timeline, Jake,

TAPPER: What else did the Chinese government have to say about the call?

WANG: Well, they did call it candid and in depth. We did hear this often used phrase that the United States is basically miscalculating, misjudging the U.S.-China relationship, and that Americans should not see China as this key strategic rival. They basically said that this does not help the global development that the U.S. and China need to cooperate on global issues such as energy and other key security issues.

Now another key point here is that the backdrop is that from Beijing's perspective, they see all the moves that U.S. are doing, whether it's the August (ph) submarine patch, whether it's growing alliance of the quad, they see all of these moves as trying to suppress China's rise, as trying to stifle them. So again, Beijing, Xi Jinping here warning that look, the way you're looking at this relationship is not right. Don't see us as your main rival, Jake.

TAPPER: Selina Wang, thank you so much.

Should Speaker Pelosi move forward with her trip to Taiwan? The Pentagon is developing a plan using ships and aircraft to try to keep her safe. CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now from the Pentagon.

Barbara, what do we know about this security plan for the Speaker if she goes to Taiwan?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what Pentagon officials are telling us of course, this is pretty typical, the President, the Vice President, this Speaker, it would be typical that they would develop a standby, if you will, security plan that they would have assets in the region if needed. So, the aircraft carrier. Ronald Reagan is in the South China Sea with its wing of aircraft on board. There are other aircraft in the region, other ships, there are satellites that could be moved into place to conduct reconnaissance, to keep an eye out for any Chinese military moves.

You know, right now, the Pentagon is adamant that they do not expect hostile action from the Chinese. They just don't see that in the cards. But that said, what is so interesting just a short time ago, my colleague Oren Liebermann and I were had been told that Chinese warships are already shadowing that aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan, in the South China Sea.


It is a typical move by the Chinese. They often shadow or trail U.S. ships in the region. But China very much sticking now, clearly, to its standard play. To go ahead and do that, the U.S. sticking to its standard play to keep its ships and aircraft in the region. Nobody's backing off, but the U.S. officials are saying, don't look for hostility.

What they do worry about is miscalculation with so many ships, so many aircraft out there. They don't want any inadvertent accidents. They don't want any unsafe, unprofessional encounters. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, has been tracking all of this, and he says that Chinese dangerous, aggressive, if you will, actions in the region are way up. So that is a concern. Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Colorado Democratic Congressman Jason Crow. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. So the White House says these phone calls with President Xi are important to help maintain a personal relationship with China to help avoid future conflicts. But do you think practically this two hour phone call really did anything to lower tensions between the two countries?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, it's always good to be talking, Jake, than not. You know, President Biden has a long history with President Xi and understands him, knows him well. So it's good to be talking.

And you know, we are adversaries with China right now. We're competitors with China right now, there's no doubt about that. But we also have mutual interests. We have a lot of mutual interests. And we have to make sure that we avoid escalation on flashpoints that we pursue mutual interests where we can find them.

So, yes, it's good to be talking. And I'm glad that President Biden had this call. TAPPER: A Chinese news agency released their version of a summary from the call. And on the issue of Taiwan, it said, quote, "The position of the Chinese government and Chinese people on the Taiwan issue has been consistent, and if you play with fire, you get burned. I hope the U.S. side can see this clearly."

How much stock do you put in China's warning here? I mean, that's a pretty pretty tough thing to say, given that Speaker Pelosi is planning on going to Taiwan.

CROW: Yes, I don't really put stock and that. They can say what they want, we're the United States of America, we're in a position of strength here. And we don't let other countries tell us when and where we can visit our partners and our friends. And we visit our partners and our friends, we have high level diplomacy and visits all the time. I went with Speaker Pelosi to Ukraine to visit President Zelenskyy in April.

This is what we do. We reach out, we engage, we show up around the world. We are the leaders of the free world. And we're not going to let other people tell us what we can and can't do.

TAPPER: CNN's Stephen Collison wrote an analysis today warning about potential consequences if Pelosi does go to Taiwan, quote, "China has vehemently warned that it will take resolute and forceful measures if Pelosi visits. An attack on her aircraft is unthinkable. But there is speculation in Washington that China might shadow her U.S. military plane with fighter jets or even send aircraft flying over Taiwan itself, a highly volatile scenario fraught with the possibility for miscalculation," unquote. How concerned are you about that?

CROW: Well, we're very good at this. The United States Department of Defense does this all the time. We have congressional delegations that were used to going into Afghanistan all the time, I was part of them. We go into places of Africa all the time. We've been to Ukraine numerous times since the war is kicked off.

Again, when you are a leader, you go where you need to go and you visit. And that's never without risk, right, but that is the cost of leadership. That's what you do. You figure out how to mitigate that risk. You work with the professionals at DOD with the administration to do it responsibly. But we just don't let other countries veto that with threats and deciding what they're going to do in response to what we do.

We set the terms of our engagement, and then we mitigate that risk, and we make sure we put guardrails in place. And that's what we'll do in this instance if Speaker Pelosi decides to do this trip.

TAPPER: Well, she kind of has to now, right? I mean, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said if she doesn't go to Taiwan, it will be seen as weak, as acquiescing to China's bombast.

CROW: But one thing I know about Speaker Pelosi is she does what she wants to do, and what she needs to do, what her obligation is. So, if the logistics work out, if the timing works out, there's a lot of things that go into this, aside from diplomacy and Chinese power politics. There's a lot of considerations that go into it.

But if she does end up doing it, it'll be done well. She'll be a great ambassador along with the other members of the delegation. And I have confidence that they'll be able to represent the United States and support our partner in Taiwan.

TAPPER: It's not just Speaker Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, there are other issues the U.S. is having with China as you acknowledge. Biden is considering whether to lift or to ease those Trump era tariffs. There's also been escalated Chinese military activity in this South China Sea. I mean, do you think today's call with Xi Jinping work to solve any of those other problems?


CROW: Well, I wasn't on the phone and I'd haven't seen a readout of the call yet. So, I don't know. I know President Biden has spent many, many decades dealing with issues like this, dealing with Chinese leaders, leaders around the world. He has, you know, a great team surrounding him.

So, again, the engagement matters, but we live in a very complicated, very volatile world. There are no simple issues anymore, whether it's Russia and Ukraine, China and Taiwan, or issues in Africa, Central America, South America, it's all complicated, it's all tough. And that's why governing matters. That's why having good leaders in the right roles matter.

TAPPER: Congressman Jason Crow, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

CROW: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, exclusive new reporting on the Justice Department's investigation into January 6, the possible challenge from Donald Trump that federal prosecutors are now preparing for. But first, the new warning aimed at slowing the spread of monkeypox and the concerning data coming in about testing for the virus. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In are health lead, the World Health Organization is advising that men who have sex with men, who are most at risk of catching the most monkeypox, should reduce their number of sexual partners for now. And although the CDC says there's only a small number of cases diagnosed outside the population of men who have sex with men, it's important to note that anyone can contract this virus which primarily spreads through close contact. This as the demand for monkeypox testing in the U.S. is shockingly low despite more than 4,600 reporting cases across the United States. Let's bring in CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.


Elizabeth, explain this lack of demand for monkeypox testing that's meant to help get this outbreak under control. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jake, it's crucial to have good testing to get a handle on this outbreak. And the numbers are just growing and growing, and so there's a real concerted effort. The CDC learned its lesson from COVID and got capacity at five commercial labs. Lots of capacity, but what's happening when we've talked to these labs is that they're not getting a lot of samples from doctors. They're just not being sent in.

Let's look at two examples. One of the five commercial labs is Mayo Clinic laboratories, they can process 1000 samples a week, 1000 samples a week. So far, they've gotten 45 samples over the past two weeks, so not per week, but over the past two weeks, they've gotten 45 samples. That's it.

Aegis, which is another lab, they can do 5,000 a week, but they've gotten zero, they've got none, they haven't gotten any. And this as monkeypox cases are climbing.

If you take a look at this graph, you'll see the numbers are going up, up, up. A month ago, there was about 250 cases. Now, there are, as you said, about 4600. And so, it's that -- those numbers are just climbing and climbing. There's a real need to get this under control.

It's unclear exactly why doctors aren't sending many in. Part of the problem is that you mentioned, Jake, that this is an outbreak mostly among men who have sex with men. A lot of those men go to sexual health clinics, 50 percent of those clinics, about half of them, they can't use these private labs because they don't have enough money. So there seems to be a disconnect here in some of these details. Jake.

TAPPER: Over the over the weekend, Elizabeth, the WHO, the World Health Organization, declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. The U.S. has yet to do the same despite the increase of known cases. Why the wait?

COHEN: So, the Secretary of Health and Human Services says, look, we've got capacity at labs, we've got quite a bit of vaccine out there, let's see how the response goes. Because it is possible that things could turn around. But there are some people who are thinking, you know, really, they ought to be doing this sooner rather than later.

When you declare a public health emergency, you get funding, you can get some of the bureaucracy goes away, and states will have to report certain data that makes it easier to get the outbreak out of control. But a downside to declaring a public health emergency is, well, frankly, it scares people.

When you say that, people are going to think, oh my gosh, this could be another COVID. When that is not the case, monkeypox will -- is not going to be another COVID. It spreads much more slowly. It's much more difficult to get monkey pox. But the American public, you know, years into the pandemic might perceive this as being something sort of more of a terrible wildfire kind of outbreak than it really would be.

TAPPER: After weeks of delay, the FDA recently signed off on nearly 800,000 additional monkeypox vaccines. Do we know where they're being distributed?

COHEN: So states and the cities are allowed to order these vaccines, Jake. And they're going to be distributed according to where there are the most cases and also where there are the most men who have sex with men who would be at high risk of getting monkey pox. Now, the lack of testing at these commercial labs is sort of an issue here, because how do you know where there are the most cases if doctors aren't sending them in.

But let's take a look at the number of vaccines that are needed and the number that are going out there. So the CDC says that 3 million doses are needed for the eligible population, that's 1.5 million people who would be eligible and they each need two doses. Three hundred thousand doses have already been distributed, another 800,000 are expected this week. But you can see that's not even half, if you put the 300 and the 800 together, it's not even half of what's needed. Now more will come down the road, but there still is not enough vaccine out there for everyone who's eligible.

TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

Coming up, two big developments just coming in on the Justice Department's investigation into the January 6 investigation. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead. In two major developments in the Justice Department's investigation into January 6 including this news, first on CNN, a former Justice Department staffer who worked with Jeffrey Clark is now cooperating in the probe. A reminder, Jeffrey Clark is the man who Trump tried to, wanted to install as Attorney General when other top officials were pushing back on his false voter fraud claim. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez joins me now.

Evan, tell us about this Justice Department staffer, why this is a big deal.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Ken Klukowski worked with -- very closely with Jeffrey Clark, as you pointed out, this is during a time late in December of 2020 when this effort to try to find a way to support former President Trump's claims that there was a vote fraud, certainly enough vote fraud to try to delay the certification of the election results. Klukowski, we're told, is now cooperating with the Justice Department. He had his electronics search several weeks ago and he is now fully cooperating.

We have a statement from his lawyer who says, we've been fully cooperating with both with the Justice Department and with the select committee and we will continue with that cooperation. Klukowski now adds, Jake, to the number of people who are cooperating. Of course we know Cassidy Hutchinson has been cooperating with Justice Department prosecutors. And it really gives you a sense that prosecutors are trying to make sure they talk to as many people as possible who are involved with this effort to prevent the transfer of power.


TAPPER: Evan, you also have some exclusive new reporting on actions that federal prosecutors are preparing to take to force former White House officials to testify about Trump's conversations and actions around January 6.

PEREZ: Right. Jake, this is about executive privilege. And we know that the prosecutors are trying to go deeper into the ranks of former White House officials, people who would have had direct interactions, direct conversations with the former president. Now we know this showed up recently in the testimony, grand jury testimony of Greg Jacob and Marc Short, these are the aides to former Vice President Pence. And they were in very key meetings, including one, on January 4, 2021 when the former president was pushing Pence to find a way to delay the certification or not certify the results of the 2020 election.

And we know that during their appearance before the grand jury, both Jacob and MarcShort declined to answer certain questions about their direct interactions with the former president. What we expect to happen, Jake, is that the Justice Department is going to go to court and fight this out. They expect that they're going to win this, a court fight.

Obviously, if the former president decides to litigate this, perhaps all the way to Supreme Court, there could be some delays. But this is really untested, right, the idea of a former president, how much power does he have to try to shield his conversations when he was president at the time, especially in a criminal investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: What does this tell us, these interviews about where the Justice Department is in this criminal investigation?

PEREZ: Well, what this really tells us is that prosecutors, these criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department are homing in on former President Trump's direct actions, the actions that he was taking, to try to prevent the transfer of power, to try to remain in office. We can tell that this is a part of the investigation that is still really at the beginning, Jake.

But you know, we know that other parts of the investigation departs having to do with Jeffrey Clark, for instance, John Eastman, appears to be in a much advanced stage because we've seen searches of Jeffrey Clark, of course, at his home, they took his electronics. We know John Eastman, they stopped him outside of a restaurant in New Mexico and they searched his telephone. So, we know that those parts of the investigation are certainly at a more advanced stage.

When it comes to things directly having to do with Trump, it appears that the prosecutors are in a much earlier stage, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Also in our politics lead today, President Biden is urging Democrats to act quickly and pass a breakthrough deal addressing many of his agenda priorities. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled the long sought after agreement yesterday. They say the bill would lower health care costs and combat climate change and reduce the deficit.

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now live on Capitol Hill.

Manu, tell us what obstacles this bill will face as Democrats try to get it signed into law. Did they even have 50 votes for it yet?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Jake. And that is the biggest obstacle at the moment because Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat, someone who had helped scuttle parts of the Build Back Better, the larger Build Back Better bill because of our concerns over how some of the taxes were structured, well, on this issue, this deal was cut exclusively between Joe Manchin and the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Sinema was not part of this deal. And she has refused to say where she will ultimately come down. Her office is saying that she's declined to comment. She would not answer our questions about it today. She doesn't even -- she did not even go to a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting earlier today where they discussed these issues.

One thing that her office is saying is that they're waiting for the Senate parliamentarian's review of this bill to go -- to move ahead and what happens with that. And that is the other big obstacle here, Jake, because the Senate parliamentarian needs to decide whether this can actually pass muster under the Senate's budget rules. And that is significant, because if she does say that, then the bill can pass along straight party lines and be in avoid a Senate filibuster. Meaning, you could pass by just all Democratic votes, they don't need any Republican votes to get this done. So those are the two chief hurdles.

Nevertheless, the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is optimistic that this will move ahead big after Joe Manchin and him reengage in talks over the last 10 days and cut this deal. Now Manchin told me and a group of other reporters today that he was alarmed at the inflation numbers that came out on -- in June -- in mid-July about the June numbers that's why he initially stepped back. But he said he ultimately continued to talk and a deal was reached. Take a listen.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): When that 9.1 came in, I just can't. I just can't do it. Our tempers get a little bit ahead of us at times and by Monday we passed each other and said something, "Hi, how you doing?"


You're still upset and this and that. And I said, I haven't walked away. I said, this is ridiculous as we recalibrate, see for something can be done. And to his credit, he said, OK, and then he put his stamp back with our staff and we start talking and told him what we thought could work.


RAJU: And the other big question is, if it does get out of the Senate, what will happen in the House, a handful of Democrats, and particularly from Northeast states are concerned about how some of these tax provisions have been dealt with, namely whether or not to allow for the deductions of state and local taxes, increase the caps that were put in by the GOP tax law that could hits their constituents. So uncertain, Jake, one of the votes will be there, even as Democrats are optimistic they'll get there by the end of the day.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It seems as though this deal has had ripple effects on other legislation. Tell us more about that.

RAJU: Yes. We saw that earlier today, when House Republican leaders tried to get their members in line to oppose this bill to bolster semiconductor chip production in the United States. That bill had already passed the Senate. It was waiting action in the House. They said because of this Manchin-Schumer deal, they wanted their members to scuttle this in the House. But two dozen House Republicans defied House Republican leaders, they joined Democrats. That bill was passed and it's gone into law.

And yesterday in the aftermath of the deal being announced, Senator Republicans reversed their position and blocked legislation to allow veterans who have been exposed to toxic burn pits to get access to sort of health care under this legislation. But the Republicans are denying the connection between the Manchin-Schumer deal and their decision to reverse the position. They're saying they simply want amendment votes. And right now, it appears it's -- that can get resolved sometime early next week.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with our panel. First, Ramesh, let me start with you because I'm curious as to your take on the Biden administration trying to say we're not in a recession, even though the traditional colloquial definition of recession is two successive quarters of negative GDP growth and we're in that. They're saying, well, the job growth is too strong for this to be an actual recession. It's not the real definition. What do you make of all that?

RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think that they would be better off saying something more like, look, if this is a recession, it's a very unusual kind of recession. And we're hoping it's going to be mild, and we're doing our best to make it as short as possible. The problem with contesting the definition of a recession, politically, I think, is that voters make their own judgement about the conditions that they're under.

And voters have been unhappy about this economy for a long time. And it sounds -- it begins to sound like the President and his team are arguing with the voters about how they're feeling. That's not a good position to be in.

TAPPER: What do you think? I mean, there is a risk, I think, of looking as though they're in denial.

NAVIN NAYAK, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Yes, I actually agree a lot there. I think they should be out there talking about what they're doing to strengthen the economy. And there's -- this week isn't a week where they actually have a great story to tell about the investments they've made. The job market is really strong.

And so, I don't think the average person gets caught up in these definitions and so I don't think it's worth them trying to have that fight with the media. I think there's a great story, and they should just be talking about what they're actually trying to do to strengthen this economy.

TAPPER: All right, let's talk about the Manchin Schumer deal, which I think took everybody by surprise, including Democrats in the Senate. Do you think this thing actually could pass? I feel like I've told this story 100 times before. Now, we're going to hear from the parliamentarian, which is important, of course.

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And I think that there could certainly be bumps along the way as there always are with big pieces of legislation. But this is sort of the last train out of town. And sometimes when it's the last train out of town, Democrats or the party in charge, running the train station, finds a way to make it happen. And usually, it's like a Thursday night, and it seems like it's going to be impossible, and then magic happens. The timing here is not Thursday, but there's a recess, and that can cause magic to happen.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, WASHINGTON JOURNALIST: I think it will pass, and here's why I think that. Senator Manchin is a shield or has been a shield for Senator Sinema. She's been real quiet, but she's already leaked some information, including that she might support this minimum corporate tax rate. So then we're just talking about carried interest, right? That was a big bullet for Senator Schumer to bite.

And if she no longer has that shield of Manchin, and Schumer is going that way, I just think the pressure of the knives being out in some kind of a primary contest against her would just be so sharp. And then getting over to the House, I spoke with a prominent Democrat who said that it's going to be hard for the moderates to vote against it because of the deficit reduction measures. And the progressives are never going to vote against these climate progressions, which are really historic.

And that's why if Pelosi was able to get the votes for the American Rescue Plan, I'm told, she's confident she can ultimately get the votes for this, as long as it makes it through these hiccups in the Senate.

TAPPER: A lot of people out there probably don't understand why Senate Republicans excited about this CHIP Bill, you know, to have more semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, would hear about this deal between Manchin and Schumer and then say, oh, well then I'm not going to support the, you know, CHIP Bill, like they don't get it.


PONNURU: Yes. And, you know, maybe the public is right not to get that. The thing is this is sort of thing, people mouth off when they're frustrated, and when the other side is making games that they don't want them to make. But actually that kind of pretty petty tit for tat retaliation doesn't really happen that much. And, you know, you were talking earlier about this causing a ripple with the chips. That's exactly right. It was a ripple, it wasn't a wave.

There were a lot of Republicans who voted for that in the House. I don't think that whether BBB or some version of this reconciliation bill passes, is going to affect the fate of other legislation, except in the sense that time is limited before the election.

NAYAK: Yes. I like the -- it's beyond petty. Petty, like that's trivial. The fact that they then turn around and vote against PAC, that those are people's lives. And, you know, that conversation with Jon Stewart just reminds you that they are willing to play politics with people's lives. It's in their interest. And then you had Todd Young on your show yesterday saying this bill is a big win.


NAYAK: Why are you -- for America. Not for -- this is a big win for America and the\ Republicans voting (INAUDIBLE).

PONNURU: I don't think that that's a retaliation thing. I think this is going to get taken care of over the weekend.

TAPPER: The PAC, the burn pit bill, yes.

PONNURU: Yes. And the spending problem that Republicans have is going to get fixed.

TAPPER: So just to remind people with Jon Stewart, he did a really good job of explaining what the issue was. Pat Toomey doesn't want this money to be discretionary. He wants it to be mandatory, meaning you have to spend it on burn pit, help for veterans. You can't -- and it's just a technical thing that a lot of Americans probably don't understand.

KEITH: Right. And so, what Americans see is that this bill that was on a glide path suddenly hit the skids. And Americans have a have a very low view of Congress. And it's things like this where it just doesn't make sense from the outside. Why in the world would this suddenly be a problem?

And then, you know, come Monday, they'll probably resolve the problem. And you have a weekend of really bad headlines like Congress can't get its act together. Republicans, you know, gotten away of this thing that would help veterans. Sometimes it boggles the mind.

PRZYBYLA: You know what appears to have happened here? And I wonder if Ramesh would agree, is that after all these years of watching the master tactician Mitch McConnell maneuver, and on the floor in this parliamentary procedure that Chuck Schumer learned something. He moved the bill first that he knew the Republicans would support on China competition, weighted literally hours and kept completely secretly this other big blockbuster deal that he knew they would hate.

Cut the deal, put the bill out, it's not even a draft. It's a final bill. And now the Republicans are retaliating and self-emulating, if anything, voting for these bill -- against these bills, like burn pits.

TAPPER: Yes, although, I mean, Ramesh, a lot of Republicans say there isn't actually, that's not why they're retaliating.


TAPPER: But I do wonder, look, Pat Toomey has always had this objection to this legislation. But as Jon Stewart pointed out accurately, it already passed.


NAYAK: Well, that's the part that's really to be honest -

TAPPER: That's the part that's weird, yes.

NAYAK: Toomey was opposed to it when it passed 84 to 14. So he has the same objection.


NAYAK: What happened to the other side?

TAPPER: The other 25ers.

PONNURU: Because we only got the CBO score that said it was 680 billion and not 280 billion in June, was before that final vote. But, look, we all know that people don't focus on every aspect of legislation. Sometimes they don't focus on it until pretty late in the game. I think that's what happened here with Republicans. But again, I think this is going to be resolved and it's going to be independent of what happens on other pieces of legislation.

TAPPER: So one other thing. I just want to get your take. You said you think this is going to pass, but I will say Pelosi's warning of landmines -- I'm talking about the Manchin-Schumer comm -- Warnock warns about Republican, booby traps. Are you saying it's going to be easy, or you just kind of --

PRZYBYLA: I don't think it's going to be easy --


PRZYBYLA: -- but I do think that, ultimately, it will pass for the reasons that I outlined. Now there are very clearly going to be challenges even the Ways and Means chairman, Richard Neal, as on the record being against the carried interest provision. There's all these --

TAPPER: Explain that if you would, the carried interest provision.

PRZYBYLA: Hedge fund managers, you know, investment, folks pay a lower tax rate because --

TAPPER: 15 percent or something?

PRZYBYLA: It's like 15 percent.


PRZYBYLA: And we just see kind of --

PONNURU: (INAUDIBLE) little gains.

PRZYBYLA: Yes, right. So, thank you. Sorry if you explain that. And so, this would just be kind of evening it out and making them pay a normal income tax rate. This is something that has been toxic in the past. I know, I got on the wrong side of Chuck Schumer once and I wrote a story about him and why he wasn't supporting, doing away with this.

And so, there's also all of these other provisions that Northeastern Republicans or Democrats want to see passed on assault --


PRZYBYLA: -- taxes and --

TAPPER: State and local taxes, yes.

PRZYBYLA: -- and state and local taxes and mortgage deductions and things like that.

PONNURU: Yes. I think this helps really the Democrats cutting their losses. This is going to be a difficult election for them.


PONNURU: One of the things that this does is they get new health care subsidies that keep people from getting premium heights right before the election. So I'm not in the camp that says this is going to help the Democrats. Look, I think it's going to help them cut their losses a lot.


TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all. Great panel. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, the enraging remarks today from Donald Trump as he tried to defend and hype the tournament funded by Saudi Arabia starting tomorrow at his golf course.


TAPPER: Former President Donald Trump trying to defend his partnership with the Saudis regarding the LIV Golf tournament just told an ESPN reporter, quote, nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately. An asinine comment coming as 9/11 families are protesting the Saudi- funded tournament at Trump's Bedminster resort.


Much of the funding for 9/11 and 15 of the nine hijackers were, of course, Saudi as was Osama bin Laden. Obviously, the 9/11 Commission and the FBI would strongly disagree with Trump's comment and it prompts the question, who does Trump think was responsible for 9/11? He doesn't think the Saudis were responsible at all?

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the tournament, where Trump and golfers are focused on the green.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump teeing off in a ProAm at his namesake golf course in New Jersey amid controversy that's testing both the sporting world and international relations. The third event of Saudi-backed LIV Golf starts Friday at Trump's Bedminster golf club, attracting big name athletes with millions and guaranteed pay days.

Two-time masters champion Bubba Watson reportedly the latest to join in. The breakaway league has drawn criticism over concerns that it provides international legitimacy to Saudi Arabia's regime, which has been accused of human rights violations for years. It includes a 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

U.S. intelligence maintain Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have approved of the operation that targeted the Washington Post journalist. Bin Salman denies that allegation.

TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIR, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: It is a multibillion-dollar public relations stunt bought and paid for by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Critics claim it's a moment of, quote, sports washing, using this league to help improve the kingdom's image, something on full display yesterday with players claiming Saudi Arabia is correcting its human rights record.

PAUL CASEY, PLAYER, LIV GOLF INVITATIONAL BEDMINSTER: So I can confidently say that change is happening and that what we do is having a positive effect.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Families of 9/11 victims point to Saudi Arabia is home to 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the terror attacks, though the Kingdom denies that involvement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost my husband in the North Tower, Tom Strata.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Donald Trump's golf club just 50 miles from ground zero. The former president defending the tournament to ESPN today. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): It's the first of two LIV competitions on Trump's properties.

JAY MONAHAN, COMMISSIONER, PGA TOUR: We welcome good healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf league is not that.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The PGA has gone as far as suspending golfers who joined LIV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it were backed by any other entity, then it would just be a rival tour. In this case, there's a direct business relationship between each of these golfers and the Saudi regime.


SANDOVAL: The families of those 9/11 victims expect to speak out again tomorrow. They maintain that they're holding every president responsible since the attacks of 911 for not doing enough to hold the Saudis responsible for their alleged role in the attacks, Jake. And 21 years ago, the tournament itself, it gets officially underway tomorrow here in Bedminster as planned. Jake?

TAPPER: Polo Sandoval at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, thank you so much.

An alarming warning today from the governor of Kentucky, quote, hundreds will lose their homes, just one of the ravaging effects of the climate crisis. That's next.



TAPPER: In our Earth matter series, the climate crisis is making wildfires more frequent and more dangerous. CNN's Bill Weir reports from California now where the wildfire season is already unprecedented. And things could soon get even worse.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): It actually started right around here?

JOE AMADOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, OAK FIRE INCIDENT: It started right over here, this ridge over here.

WEIR (on-camera): OK.

AMADOR: And in the first 24 hours, this fire grew 10,000 acres.

WEIR (on-camera): Put that in perspective. That's crazy fast, that's --

AMADOR: That's crazy fast.

WEIR (voice-over): The Oak fire is the biggest fire in California. And because fire season winds haven't really started blowing yet, there are almost 4,000 firefighters here from all corners of the state. They managed to keep flames out of Yosemite National Park, but not the smoke. And they say they won't fully contain this blaze for weeks.

(on-camera): So what makes this Oak fire especially scary, though, is it devastated a lot of land really fast and the winds aren't howling like they would be --

AMADOR: Correct.

WEIR (on-camera): -- for Santa Anas or Diablos, right?

AMADOR: Correct. That's correct. And we're in extreme conditions, but things can always get worse.

WEIR (on-camera): Any ecologist will tell you that a healthy forest needs occasional fire to rejuvenate itself. But ever since World War II, Smokey the Bear has been preaching fire suppression. And across much of California, all this fuel has been loading up over the decades. A fire drought really just in time for the old-fashioned drought. A 22-year mega drought.

This combination now making Californians rethink everything they know about property values, and insurance markets and defensible spaces.

BRIAN VITORELO, CAL FIRE MENDOCINO UNIT: In the course of my career. I've seen the biggest fire happen year after year after year.

WEIR (on-camera): Yes.

VITORELO: It's impressive.

WEIR (on-camera): Now no offense, you don't look like a grizzled veteran. But it's not the years, it's the fires these days, I guess, right?

VITORELO: Yes, it's the fires. Yes.

AMADOR: But -- and to that back, you know, they're -- these fires have been happening with the last 10, 15 years. I mean, you can go back to, you know, 2003 and then all of a sudden, something happened.

WEIR (on-camera): I wonder about folks who live in amazing spots like this, a great find in the 70s when the fire like this was once in a lifetime.


WEIR (on-camera): Now it's once every couple of years.

VITORELO: Yes sir.

WEIR (on-camera): Did you see a change in the psychology of folks in these wild places?

AMADOR: It takes a special person to come live out here and we just hope that if you do decide to live out here, that you learn how to prepare yourself, prepare your property, get -- you know, prepared emergency escape plan and create some defensible space like as you see here. This person did a great job at clearing out some combustible --


AMADOR: -- vegetation and brush away from this fire.



WEIR: The numbers are staggering, Jake. 22 helicopters, 300 fire engines, 81 bulldozers, but in the end, whether they save your house could come down to how much yard work they have to do by your house. It's the new age of living with fire, Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Bill Weir., thank you so much. From fires to floods. Extreme weather taking a real toll. That's next. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Also in our Earth matter series today, more than 8 inches of rain from overnight and this morning inundated Eastern Kentucky killing at least three people, knocking out power, transforming roads into rivers and forcing swift water rescues. Preliminary data shows the river in Whitesburg, Kentucky rose 20 feet in a matter of hours. Kentucky's Governor expect hundreds of people will lose their homes. More rain is expected tonight and tomorrow.

You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and the TikTok. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen The Lead from whence you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in the place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."