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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Former President Trump; Russia: Deadly Ukraine Strikes Hit "Civilian Crossing" In Kherson; Pediatric Hospital Beds Filling Rapidly As Respiratory Virus Rages; EPA Opens Civil Rights Probe Over Jackson Water Crisis; Surprisingly Close Governor's Races With 18 Days Until Election. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 21, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Trump got served.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Former President Donald Trump is subpoenaed by the January 6th House Committee. A look at what they want from him. All this just hours after his former adviser Steve Bannon is sentenced to prison for ignoring a subpoena from the same committee.

Then, a warning for every parent. The respiratory virus that's not COVID sending kids to the hospital across the country. In some places, it's so bad, pediatric hospitals are running out of beds.

Plus, there are more than 200 missing people in just one state, but there are fears their stories are going unnoticed. CNN goes behind the scenes of a new FBI program attempting to change that.


BERMAN: Hello and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.

And we begin with our politics lead. The January 6th House Select Committee has officially subpoenaed former President Donald Trump. The committee is trying to compel Trump to sit for a deposition under oath and to provide documents, a lot of documents. It's not clear if he will comply but a source tells CNN that Trump and his legal team have been discussing how to respond to the subpoena.

We also have stunning new developments in the Mar-a-Lago document investigation. "The Washington Post" reports that several of the classified documents recovered during an FBI search at Mar-a-Lago included, quote, highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China.

"The Post's" sources say at least one document contained information about Iran's missile program. Remember, the FBI seized nearly 22,000 pages while conducting a search warrant in August, including more than 100 with classified markings.

CNN's Sara Murray starts us off this hour with a look at rising stakes for the former president along multiple legal fronts.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That man Donald Trump now issued a formal subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Looking --

CHENEY: Both for his testimony under oath as well as for documents.

MURRAY: The committee writing, in short: You were at the center of the first and the only effort by any U.S. president to overturn an election and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. The evidence demonstrates that you knew this activity was illegal and unconstitutional and also knew that your assertions of fraud were false.

The committee calling for Trump to hand over documents by November 4th and appear for testimony November 14th. They are calling for a broad range of records, including calls made by Trump or at his direction on January 6th, calls to members of Congress, documents related to the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, communications about blocking the certification of the election and anything on destroying materials or contacting witnesses.

But it's unclear if Trump will comply.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you, and I don't think that's going to happen.

MURRAY: The former president tapping two lawyers to take the lead on responding to the subpoena and risking possible contempt of Congress if he ignores it.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): U.S. law is if you are subpoenaed by congress, you're expected to come in and speak to us.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, Trump and the Justice Department still battling over documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

TRUMP: They should give me immediately back everything that they have taken from me because it's mine.

MURRAY: But "The Washington Post" now reporting among those documents seized include some of the most sensitive information the U.S. has on two of the biggest threats on the global stage, Iran and China. According to "The Post", at least one of the documents describes Iran's missile program, and others detail highly sensitive work aimed at Beijing.

Trump arguing whatever the FBI seized from his Florida estate belongs to him. According to court filings, among the documents Trump kept from his presidency are six clemency requests and a couple of papers related to immigration and border controls. Prosecutors say those are federal records that belong to the government. Offering a glimpse at how Trump lawyers and DOJ are locking horns as they sift through thousands of documents.

TRUMP: Mine. They took it from me in the raid. They broke into my house


MURRAY (on camera): Now I want to go back to that new subpoena because the committee really lays out the former president took to overturn the 2020 election, including pressuring Justice Department officials, spreading these false allegations of voter fraud and then sitting and watching on television as his supporters ransacked the Capitol for hours and doing nothing to call them off.


Of course, we've reached out to Trump's lawyers for comment about how they intend to respond to this subpoena. We're waiting to hear back -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray in Washington, thank you very much.

Ex-Trump adviser and perpetual wearer of many shirts, Steve Bannon was sentenced today to four months in prison plus a $6,500 fine for defying a congressional subpoena from the January 6th Committee. Four month is less time than prosecutors fought for. The judge also said that Bannon does not have to serve of his sentence right away. He is allowed to remain free until his appeal plays out.

CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz joins us live.

Katelyn, what else did the judge have to say, and how did Bannon respond?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, John, today in court, Judge Carl Nichols at the federal district courthouse, he essentially endorsed the validity of the House Select Committee. He said that the investigation that they are doing, trying to get information about January 6th and the attack of the Capitol, it was valid. Bannon clearly never turned over any document, didn't show up for testimony.

He could have potentially turned over something, anything. Not everything would be protected by confidentiality or privileges, and he said in his view, Bannon had not taken responsibility for his actions, was not showing remorse, and, indeed, Bannon himself didn't speak in court. He said I'm going to let my lawyers speak for me by his lawyer David Schoen stood up and spoke for half an hour, almost, a very long time, the longest unadulterated speech that anyone gave in court today, and much of it was railing against the House committee saying Bannon has no apologies at all.

After court, here's what Bannon said as well, even though he didn't say anything inside. Here he is.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: Today was my judgment day by the judge. On November 8th,there's going to have judgment on the illegitimate Biden regime and quite frankly, quite frankly, that Nancy Pelosi and the entire committee, and we know which way that's going.

This is democracy. The American people are weighing and measuring what went on with the Justice Department and how they comported themselves.


POLANTZ: Bannon knows he doesn't need to go to jail right now. His team is vowing to appeal and so they are going to wait that out.

John, you mentioned his shirt. It was not lost on regulars of this courthouse that Bannon looked a little bit different and acted a little bit different than what he was before a jury. He was smiling before the jury but wearing a suit, very respectfully or at least a suit jacket. Today, not at all. A barn coat. He sat stoic and did emerge from court with a smirk whenever the judge said that he wasn't going to have to report to jail very soon -- John.

BERMAN: Wearing a casual coat and a smirk.

So you mentioned appeals, Katelyn. What happens next?

POLANTZ: Well, now, his team does have a chance to appeal. There is a deadline, if they don't do that in November.

And also, there is always the possibility that Bannon could be subpoenaed again, either by the Justice Department or the House. Today, as the judge was looking through this, weighing the different options that he could do, he did say that there was the possibility Bannon could flout another subpoena and have recidivism, commit another crime. Right now, that doesn't appear to be on the table and it doesn't appear that the House Select Committee is going to be getting any information from Steve Bannon in their continuing January 6th probe -- John.

BERMAN: Safe bet.

All right. Katelyn Polantz in Washington, thank you very much.

CNN senior political correspondent Abby Philip and criminal defense attorney Caroline Polisi join us live to discuss.

Abby, I want to start with the January 6th subpoena to former President Trump. Having had a chance to digest it now, what do you think they get out of it? And what does maybe Donald Trump get out of it?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think the reality is that the January 6th committee is probably not going to get anything concrete out of this subpoena. It's probably not going to be testimony or documents from the former president, but I do think that they lay out what they are looking for, which is anything that he might have said or -- or had other people say on his behalf, on devices.

They reference Signal a lot which is an app that was used by White House officials to communicate surreptitiously. Did he use those? Did he have other people use them on his behalf? Did he destroy any documents?

And, of course, they want to actually hear from him. They made the case in these hearings that this is all about Trump. He walls at the center of this conspiracy, and now I think that it is fair and valid to say, well, now Trump has an opportunity to answer those accusations.

Trump, on the other hand, what he gets out of it -- I mean, this document could have said blah, blah, blah, and Trump would have said this is all a witch hunt and I think that's exactly what you're going to hear from him no matter what the substance of the subpoena was.

BERMAN: That's a safe bet, too.

Caroline, the committee is looking for a huge range of documents especially communications around December 20th to early January 2021, including communications with a long list of people.


Any member of Congress, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Christina Bobb -- I've got to take a breath here -- Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Boris Epshteyn, Cleta Mitchell, Patrick Byrne and any witnesses or their counsel.

So what does this very long list tell you? What point is the committee trying to make with this and really could Trump even gather all of this together in the month they're giving him?

CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL AND WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, no, and I think the point is that those are all would-be co- conspirators, John. But the answer is no, I agree with Abby. There's virtually no scenario in which this subpoena gets resolved prior to the sunset of the committee, which we all know is the end of December, which has really opened the committee up to a lot of criticism in people saying this is just political theater. Why did they wait so long to subpoena Trump if they were going to do it?

But I really do think that the committee needed to sort of put a punctuation mark on the end of the public hearings at least with this, and this is really a pre-cursor to, you know, the report that they are going have to submit to the American public at the end of the year, and, really -- you know, they are not pulling any punches in this cover letter making it pretty clear that they think that Trump was the key player here, Trump orchestrated, you know, a conspiracy to defraud the United States of a free and fair election, and I would note potentially Trump had a hand in a seditious conspiracy.

Remember, that's sort of the big question lingering here at the end of the hearings.

BERMAN: I suppose that list also sends a signal about the size of the web of conspiracy that they are alleging.

Abby, I want to turn to "The Washington Post" reporting if I can. The documents seized in August at Mar-a-Lago, including secrets about China and Iran, including Iran's missile program. This is potentially extraordinarily sensitive stuff, so how does this now affect the prism with which we look at this?

PHILLIP: Look, it has always been a true mystery, why on Earth Trump would have these documents at Mar-a-Lago at all, and that still remains very much an unanswered question. One of the things we've seen Trump and his associates try to do was suggest that, A, the information was already declassified, that, B, maybe it pertained to things that people already knew about like the -- the Mueller probe and the kind of fact-finding behind -- behind that.

But what this "Washington Post" report suggests is that it had to do with things that are of actual present day national security concerns, and there has been no answer, none, from the Trump camp to explain why that is, and I -- this process with the documents is slow and it's kind of a little bit of a maze. But at the end of the day, the Trump team is going to have to explain, is there any evidence that he actually declassified these things, and if he did, even if he did, was holding them at Mar-a-Lago still something that would have violated the United States' national security interests, and I think that's a very serious concern.

BERMAN: Potentially life and death stuff that we're talking about here.

And, Caroline, how would that impact the likelihood of whether Trump could face charges over the possession of these documents?

POLISI: It certainly has an impact in terms of sort of the level of just how serious the information is, and I do think that, you know, the Mar-a-Lago documents case is a much more straightforward case for the DOJ to make than say the January 6th case, the January 6th committee is perhaps more interesting, but, you know, Trump would sort of have you believe that this is just sort of a procedural dispute between him and the National Archives.

I think this news and all prior news about potential nuclear secrets being involved there really lays that argument bare uncertain big deal, and the Department of Justice would have every reason to move forward with an indictment here.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you both very much.

Caroline Polisi, Abby Phillip -- we'll watch Abby Philip this Sunday on "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY". Great to see you both.

Coming up, a new look at how Russian troops are preparing to stop Ukraine's military from taking back territory.

Then, a long-running problem with one city's drinking water, leading to a federal investigation. This is long overdue.



BERMAN: By topping our world lead, police in Ukraine say they have completed a process of exhuming the largest mass grave found in Lyman. This is a recently liberated eastern Ukrainian town.

Many of the 146 bodies showed signs of a, quote, violent death, according to police, 111 of them were civilians. Now people who live there are coming back to see the destruction while others like this woman find new life among the rubble.

CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward joins us from Kryvyi Rih now.

Clarissa, Ukraine's infrastructure is still under attack. The 40 percent of the energy capacity destroyed, and there's still a distinct fear that Russia could blow up this dam in Kherson.

Tell us about the new intelligence you're hearing about this.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So this is the Kakhovka dam. It is a critical dam, a critical piece of civilian infrastructure, and as you know, the Russians and Ukrainians have been going back and forth the past few days sort of accusing each other of being prepared to blow it up imminently.

Well, today, intelligence officials from the Defense Department have come forward and said that essentially the Russians mined this dam quite some time ago, but now they see more preparations, more mines being laid, particularly on the slew gates with the ultimate objective, they believe, of damaging just the dam or destroying it even potentially, but also the hydroelectric power plant that is attached to it.

And they -- they talk about seeing two trucks unmanned military tented trucks that they believe are full of explosives which have been placed on the dam.


So this is now a very much area of high concern for Ukrainian authorities, and it really is part of this broader picture, John, that we've been talking about these last few nights of a relentless focus on the Russian side, on civilian infrastructure, the U.N. today warning that millions of Ukrainians could face severe deprivation and potentially even life-endangering conditions as a result of all of the damage that has been done to Ukraine's civilian infrastructure -- John.

BERMAN: Yeah, attacking the civilian infrastructure because Ukraine refuses to be occupied by Russia. It really is stunning when you step back and look at it.

Just south of where you are, Clarissa, Russian officials are claiming a Ukrainian strike killed civilians. What are you learning about that?

WARD: So, this is in Kherson, and this is the famous Antonivskyi Bridge, it is vital crossing for Russian forces as they try to resupply their troops and what they are basically saying is that there was a heavy Ukrainian attack on the bridge late last night. We started to hear reports of that when it first happened.

And they say that there were two Russian journalists who were on the bridge who were killed as a result of this sort of shelling attack on that bridge.

Now the Ukrainians say, listen, we attacked the bridge, but it was well after curfew. There are not supposed to be any civilians out in public or on the streets or certainly on the bridge at that time of night. So we can't really take responsibility for the death of any civilians who may happen to have been there.

We're already hearing reports of more attacks, although we've not been able to confirm them. Tonight on that same bridge which I think really underscores for you just how vital that resupply route is for the Russians and just how focused the Ukrainians are on trying to eliminate it -- John.

BERMAN: And it's just one of the fronts where there's fighting now. CNN just obtained new pictures courtesy of Maxar Technologies which appeared to show the new anti-tank trench, which is more than a mile long and was dug apparently by Russian mercenaries in an eastern Ukrainian town near Luhansk.

So explain what this new tactic might be about, Clarissa.

WARD: Well, I think as much as anything else, this is the infamous Wagner Group, ran by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the sanctioned man known in Russia as Putin's chef who runs this band of mercenaries, and a lot of their tactics are based on doing things that are showy and they get a lot of attention. They have built trenches like this in the past elsewhere.

I guess the real question is what is the ultimate effect of this sort of massive trench because while it might be difficult to overcome, it is not that difficult to circumvent. So it's difficult to see what the real impetus is here beyond trying to just entrench themselves and harden and hold those front line positions -- John.

BERMAN: Yeah, defensive in nature which is interesting in and of itself.

Clarissa Ward in Kryvyi in southern Ukraine -- Clarissa, thank you so much. Stay safe.

Children's hospital around the U.S. running out of beds all because of a respiratory virus sickening kids in alarming numbers right now.



BERMAN: Topping our health lead, pediatricians across the United States are overwhelmed as a respiratory virus known as RSV sweeps through the country. The HHS says children's hospital beds are more full than they have been in the past two years. One Ohio pediatrician told CNN, quote, I hope we're peaking right now because if we're not, then holy hell.

Highly contagious RSV usually shows up in babies and kids with a runny nose, loss of appetite and cough. Adults are much less susceptible.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.

Brynn, experts think cases might be rising now because of the COVID immunity gap. What are you hearing from the doctors there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, just what you said. This is very common respiratory virus that usually kids get younger than 2 but what the doctors here are telling us is that since, you know, the younger kids under two, two years ago during COVID, they were wearing masks, now kids are wearing less masks and now they are seeing patients that are about 2 to 5 years old, getting this RSV because they were protected when the they were younger, usually getting that virus.

Not the same mask wearing wasn't great, but still that's probably what they think might be causing part of this surge, at least. But what an overwhelming situation as you just said. That's how doctors and nurses and staff are feeling here hat this hospital in Connecticut.

I can tell you that they are telling us that no patients are getting turned away. However, if we think what the hospitals were like during the COVID, when the hallways were filled with patients, now imagine the fact that all those hallways are filled with pediatric patients, young kids, pre-schoolers, kindergartners, that's what they are seeing. Play rooms are being turned into hospital beds.

We're seeing patients 15 to 25 they say here at the hospital a night that are having to be boarded in triage beds in the emergency department just because they can't get admitted to the actual hospital. This is the worst month that they have seen with RSV in the last several months, so it's a major issue here, John, but, of course, it's not just here. It's nationwide, Ohio, Illinois, seeing the same thing in D.C. as well.

BERMAN: All right. Brynn Gingras for us in Hartford. Talk to any parent of young kids in the country, like you I'm sure everyone is concerned about this and watching it very closely.


Turning to our national lead, the Environmental Protection Agency has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the state of Mississippi over the water crisis in its capital city of Jackson. You'll probably remember the pictures of people in long lines waiting for bottled water after torrential rain shut down a water treatment plant last August, as well as the disgusting pictures of dirty brown water people were getting from their faucet and flushed toilets, but that's only part of the story.

Jackson's water problems go back a long way.

CNN's Rene Marsh has been keeping up with that.

Rene, why a civil rights investigation?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the EPA investigation is in response to a complaint filed by the NAACP and nine Jackson residents, and in that complaint the NAACP said that the state violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which essentially prohibits recipients of federal funds from engaging in any discriminatory practices.

So now the EPA is focused on whether Mississippi discriminated against the majority black city of Jackson, based on race when it doled out federal funds for a critical water infrastructure improvements. In other words, did Mississippi funnel federal dollars to white communities for projects that ensure safe and clean drinking water and denied Jackson its first share? That is the question.

Both the Mississippi Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Quality are under the microscope with this investigation. They have responded to EPA, acknowledging the receipt of their letters about this investigation. CNN did reach out to both agencies. We have not received a response, but we are hearing from the NAACP which originally filed this complaint, and they say that this EPA investigation is, quote, a significant first step in holding the state accountable for its role in exacerbating the Jackson water crisis.

For far too long, the residents of Jackson like Black communities across this country have had water access weaponized against them. Now, this investigation, John, is coming two days after two congressional committees launched their own probes into the water crisis there. We should note that if the EPA does find wrongdoing, it can withhold federal funds from the state -- John.

BERMAN: How long at this point, Rene, is this investigation expected to take?

MARSH: Well, at this point we're expecting it could be and should wrap up within four months, and we also know that if these agencies for whatever reason do not cooperate with this investigation, the EPA can and is prepared to refer this case to the Justice Department -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Rene Marsh with this reporting, thank you very much.

MARSH: Sure. BERMAN: We're just 18 days away from the midterms and there are

several governors races to keep an eye on. A look on where there could be a couple of surprising upsets.



BERMAN: In our politics lead, we're now just 18 days away from the midterm elections where in addition to control of Congress at stake, 36 governor seats are on the ballot this year with many of these surprisingly competitive.

CNN's Harry Enten joins us to break down the key races.

You know, Harry, we're so used to extreme polarization in recent elections, blue goes blue and red goes red, but there are some blue states that Republicans are doing pretty well.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, there are two that I'm looking at, one is right here where we are right now in the state of New York. Another one is out on the West Coast, and you take a look at New York. Lee Zeldin in a number of polls has been quite competitive.

Remember, this is a state where Joe Biden won by 23 points. Oregon another state where Christine Drazan, the Republican candidate has actually led in some polling. That's a state that Joe Biden won by I believe 16 points, and we have real competitive races here, races that are within ten points in the polls and even have the Republican candidate ahead, this is surprising.

If you had spoken to me, you know, a few months ago the idea that Lee Zeldin would be competitive in this race, I'd be nutter butter. But he's running on the issue of crime, it seems to be working. You see a similar thing in Oregon, running on homelessness, an unpopular incumbent governor in Kate Brown who's term-limited, and it seems to me that in both of those races, the Republicans have real shots of winning.

BERMAN: Now, there are some red states where Democrats are doing better than some might expect.

ENTEN: Yeah, so the other side of the coin is take a look here. Take a look in the state of Oklahoma, for example. Take a look at the state of Kansas, for example.

In Oklahoma, Joy Hofmeister has actually led in some of the polling. What is she running on? She's running on vouchers, the idea that public schools in the rural areas would be hurt by voucher programs.

In Kansas, the incumbent Laura Kelly, perhaps not nearly as surprising, but again, that's a state that Joe Biden lost by 15 points. Oklahoma was a Joe Biden loss by over 30 points but local issues in these states seem to be driving some voters who normally vote Republican to in fact wanting to be cast a ballot for Democrat gubernatorial candidates. BERMAN: So, Harry, you and I talk a little bit off-camera sometimes in

the office and you were telling me actually when you look back, this really isn't that uncommon.

ENTEN: No, it's not that uncommon. You know, you and I have these wonderful discussions. I bother you in your office.

And, you know, you look back over the last few election cycles and off-year elections, and what do you see? You see, there are a number of states, Kentucky in 2019, Louisiana in to 2019, Kansas in 2018, Massachusetts in 2018, Vermont in 2018, Maryland in 2018, off-year gubernatorial elections where the candidate who won was the opposite of the candidate who won the last presidential election by more than 15 points.

So it really is not that unusual, but this year, it may not be that unusual yet again, John.

BERMAN: All right. Harry Enten, thank you very much. Have a wonderful weekend, Harry.

ENTEN: You, too. You work too hard.

BERMAN: Let's discuss with CNN's Gloria Pazmino, along with Philip Bump of "The Washington Post".

Nice to see you both here.

Philip, let's me just start with New York.


BERMAN: Right? How nervous do you think Democrats are about the governor's race, Kathy Hochul, and what is at issue here?

BUMP: Yeah. I mean, I think that they are probably still feeling fairly confident, but this is a really good example of one thing the parties don't want to do as a big election is coming up is worry about places that they think they have to worry about, right? They don't want to have to put resources in New York. They don't want to have to turn attention in New York.

Obviously, this is a bigger deal when we talk about Senate and House races, where they -- you know, things may not be going the way they want to.

But, yeah, no, this is -- this is not where Democrats want to be. It is certainly a signifier that there is something broader working against the Democratic Party this year. I think it's important to remember that there's a very different sense that people come into voting for a governor with than they do going to vote for Senate or House, right?

People understand that the federal stakes are different than state's stakes, which are obviously plays a role here, but, yeah, Zeldin, you know, he's had these two incidents that are crime-related that are sort of been in his orbit which is strange, and he's managed to, you know, talk about crime in a way that people are finding compelling.

But also, Hochul is, you know, she's an incumbent that people don't really know her. She's sort of back into the job. So, there's a lot of factors at play. Zeldin absolutely also benefitting. In fact, this is a state race, not a federal one.

BERMAN: You mentioned the things that Democrat are facing, the obstacles they are facing. President Biden sort of put on a political pundit hat today and was asked whether Democrats can maybe turn the momentum around before Election Day. Listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Back and forth, we've been ahead, us ahead, them ahead, back and forth, and the polls have been all over the place. I think that we're going see one more shift back to our side the closing days. The election is not a referendum, it's a choice. It's a choice.

And the Republicans can criticize my economic record and look what I've inherited and what I've done and look at what they are offering.


BERMAN: It's almost as if the president was reading the stage directions. He needs the election to be a choice, not a referendum.

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NEWSOURCE NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he certainly wants momentum to be shifting back to the Democrats and he's trying to highlight what he's been doing. Gas prices have been going down. Job numbers are looking good.

But whether or not Americans are feeling that, that's a very separate question. Inflation should be a main concern. So is the economy.

And as long as Americans are concerned about that, the economy as a whole is going to be running into those problems.

BERMAN: One of the things that President Biden likes to say or Joe Biden has said for years is don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative, and he's sort of attacking Republicans on their economic plans. He calls them mega MAGA trickle down. I have to read that so I get it right there.


BERMAN: How effective might that be or how would that be effective?

PAZMINO: Well, he's warning that should Republicans get back into the control, that they could be looking at increasing taxes and the wealthy will get tax cuts that they don't have right now and that -- that's what he means by those mega MAGA -- mega MAGA trickle down economics, right? It's a tongue twister on purpose.

BERMAN: Yeah, but you didn't have to read it. You're showing off. PAZMINO: So, that's what he's talking about. He's saying, if those

guys get in here and they take over, these benefits that I have been trying to bring to you may go away. Whether or not people believe that is a different question. The economy look very different, not that long ago when there was another person in charge at the White House.

BERMAN: So, obviously, Phil, obviously, President Biden has not been doing big rallies and hasn't appeared that much with particularly Senate candidates in key wing states and very tight races. He was with John Fetterman in Pennsylvania yesterday but that was the exception, not the rule.

Ron Klain, the chief of staff at the White House, to Anderson last night basically said we're doing this on purpose. We're doing this because we want to, not because we have to. Listen.


RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Both President Obama, I was here, I'll share responsibility for it, and President Trump got walloped in the midterms. So I don't think it should surprise anyone that we're not using the strategy that failed in 2010 and the strategy that failed in 2018. Instead what you're seeing is the president's traveling the country with Democrat elected officials.


BERMAN: We're just trying something different this time, he says.

BUMP: Right.

BERMAN: Believable?

BUMP: You know, I mean, obviously, Ron Klain is trying to put the best face on it that he possibly can. But there is -- I'll note this. There is research that was done after 2018 in which they looked at where Donald Trump had gone at the tail end of the election and they found that he may actually have had a suppressive effect on Republicans.

BERMAN: Suppressive.

BUMP: Suppressive, and the reason why is because Democrats saw him on TV and they are like oh, right, he's for that guy, the heck with that. I'm going out and voting, right?

So there actually was a detectible effect in research. It may be the case. Biden obviously his whole camp knows he's not super popular. That's, of course, the primaries he's not going out, but by not going out, he doesn't then exacerbate that sense of partisanship potentially and make things worse.

BERMAN: We've been talking in this show already about Donald Trump's legal problems, myriad legal problems. People are wondering whether or not that may make it more or less likely that he will run for president again in 2024, and people looking for any signs of what he might be doing. Well, we have pictures I want to show you of his 757, his plane.


BERMAN: Basically. That's been more or less parked for the last few years.


Apparently, it got a new paint job, and they have been taken it out for test flights. This plane played a big rule in the 2016 election.

New paint, what does that tell us?

PAZMINO: Well, if it flies, will he campaign, right? And what are they doing? It's been flying. They've been doing test flies like you said, and they are getting it up to speed so they can meet all the requirements that an aircraft has to meet in order to be up in the air, and is he going to be pulling this out?

It's on its way to West Palm Beach, not far from where Mar-a-Lago, is and is he going to be using it. It may not say anything, but is he going to show up with this to campaign on behalf other candidates. I think that's something to be watching out for. It is -- has historically been a very massive prop.

BUMP: I'll just note very quickly, when he went to the Iowa state far in 2015, he very pointedly took his Trump branded helicopter and flew it around the fairgrounds. He sees that actually as a sort of campaign advertisement.

BERMAN: Also possibly need it to fly to depositions. He's been doing those a lot lately.

Philip, Gloria, great to see both of you. Thank you very much.

Their stories don't make national headlines but that doesn't make them any less important. How the FBI is launching a new tool to help find hundreds of missing native and indigenous people.



BERMAN: Now for our buried lead, stories we think deserve more attention than they're getting. This month, a Navajo woman completed a 2,400-mile walk from Arizona to Washington, D.C.

Seraphine Warren did it not only to draw attention to the unsolved mystery of her missing aunt who disappeared 16 months ago but also to highlight the appalling numbers of missing Native Americans. Appalling.

The victims often are women and the disappearances have been going on and overlooked for decades.

But as CNN's Josh Campbell shows us, that is finally changing. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to believe that amid so much beauty --


CAMPBELL: -- there could be so much pain.

ACEVEDO: I pray that if somebody knows something, that they would say something.

CAMPBELL: She lived an endless cycle of grief. Her sister Anthonette Cayedito went missing from her family's home in Gallup, New Mexico, one evening in 1986. Never to be seen again.

ACEVEDO: I have a whole inside of my life because we don't know where she is.

CAMPBELL: Anthonette is one of nearly 200 Native American and indigenous people in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation listed as missing today according to the FBI.

ACEVEDO: I believe that number is higher. I believe that a lot of it is overlooked.

CAMPBELL: It's a crisis that has spurred the FBI to action, enlisting the agency's intelligence resources best known for fighting crime and terrorism to create a master data base of those missing, connecting their faces with the public, in hopes of bringing victims home.

To you, this is more than just data.

DON METZMEIER, FBI INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: It is more than just data. These are individuals, and these are individuals that are either in pain or missing or in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to be able to learn the land. You've got to be able to learn the cultural norms.

CAMPBELL: We rode along with an FBI special agent who worked with tribal police to solve cases on much of the nearly 30,000 square miles of Navajo nation land spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

We agreed not to name him since he searching for violent criminals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our number one challenge is access. For certain crimes out here, it will be some sort of family on family crime, and they may not want the individual to go to jail.

CAMPBELL: So one challenge on working in missing persons case here compared to a big city is that you're limited on what evidence might be available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely. There is not a neighbor with a door bell camera. There's not going to be any exterior security cameras.

CAMPBELL: The bureau and the tribal police acknowledge the database was long overdue. Prior to the FBI's new database, law enforcement didn't have a firm grasp of the number of people actually missing.

RAUL BUJANDA, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Native Americans, everywhere we go, they're embedded in our fabric of who we are as a society here. We consolidated everything. That was kind of the biggest thing, right? So it is not that this work wasn't being done. It was being done by everyone in different ways.

CHIEF DARYL NOON, NAVAJO POLICE: We recognize that maybe we weren't doing something the best we could have. This is a result of that. And we want the public to understand we get it.

CAMPBELL: Few no better than Chief Noon whose family member went missing in California.

NOON: I understand, you know, the frustration and the need for closure. Because just having that hang over the family as a whole, the family unit, it's just -- it's horrible.

CAMPBELL: Police say the answers often lie within the Navajo Nation.

MICHAEL HENDERSON, DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS, NAVAJO POLICE: We're not looking at a boogeyman coming from the outside of the Navajo nation stealing people. When people go missing, we're looking at domestic violence, or we're looking at sexual abuse cases.

CAMPBELL: Sadie Acevedo thinks her sister's disappearance may have been tied to a relative. The FBI says it's considered all options but needs new leads.

ACEVEDO: Just give us closure.

CAMPBELL: Acevedo hopes the public will scan the photos of the missing and perhaps end the family's pain.

What is your message to viewers who say I don't have time to see if I know who these people are?

ACEVEDO: Time, if was your child, it would be important. It is somebody else's child. Make it important.

CAMBPELL: Josh Campbell, CNN, on the Navajo Nation.


BERMAN: And important indeed. And our thanks to CNN's Josh Campbell for that remarkable report.

Coming up, a warning for the aliens out there.


The bureaucrats are coming for you. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Attention extraterrestrials, the bureaucrats are after you. In our out of this world lead, NASA just announced a team of experts will take part in its independent study of unidentified aerial phenomenon to look at how NASA can improve its analysis of data gathered by government, civilian or commercial entities. The 16 experts include astronomers, astrophysicist, biologists and former Pentagon officials. The truth is out there in cubicles.

Be sure to tune in for "CNN TONIGHT" with Jake Tapper. Jake will speak with one of Steve Bannon's attorneys, David Schoen. That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

And join Jake this Sunday for CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION". He will speak with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace from South Carolina. That's at 9:00 and noon Eastern.

You can follow me on Twitter @JohnBerman. Tweet the show @TheLeadCNN.

Our coverage continues now, Wolf Blitzer in "The SITUATION ROOM".