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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Appeals Court To Determine Future Of Special Master In Docs Case; Supreme Court Clears Way For House Committee To Get Trump's Taxes; Biden Extends Student Loan Repayment Freeze As Debt Forgiveness Program Stalls In Court; Colorado Shooting Suspect Released From Hospital, In Police Custody; Still No Suspect 9 Days After 4 Idaho Students Stabbed To Death; Shortages Of Antivirals & Antibiotics As Flu Season Hits U.S. Hard; FAA: Today Is Busiest Day Of Thanksgiving Travel Period. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 16:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Some sad news to bring you that hits close to home for us here in the CNN family. John Brown, the former Democratic governor of Kentucky, has died at the age of 88. He served in the Army reserve and helped make Kentucky Fried Chicken a nationwide chain. In a statement, his daughter and our CNN anchor and colleague Pamela Brown wrote --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yeah, she wrote that he was a true Kentucky original, who beamed with pride for his home state and its people. He had many prominent accomplishments, but most of all, he loved his family with all of his heart. And we, in turn, loved him with all of ours.

Our hearts go out to Pam and her family.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: They say don't talk politics at the holiday dinner table, but in a year like this, how can you not?

THE LEAD starts right now.

The Justice Department today challenging the need for a special master. Does a third party really need to review the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago? That is the question today, as a close Trump ally appears before a grand jury.

Plus, the takedown of a Colorado nightclub shooting suspect. A decorated Army veteran and active duty Navy sailor and a woman using her heels likely saved lives.

And on this busiest day for Thanksgiving air travel, how airlines are trying to keep up with the demand and save you from air travel misery.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake Tapper. A legal storm swirling around former President Donald Trump. Federal

prosecutors arguing in court today that a special master is not needed to review the materials seized by the FBI from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. A move that if granted would supercharge the pace at which the newly appointed special counsel could review the 22,000 pages of documents recovered.

Prosecutors are looking to determine whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, mishandled government records or violated the Espionage Act.

And in Georgia today, one of Trump's closest allies, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, was forced to appear before the Fulton County grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said that Graham called him in 2020 and suggested he discard some ballots.

Plus, a big loss today for Trump at the Supreme Court. The justices cleared the way for the release of Trump's tax returns to the Democratic-led House committee. And in New York, a judge setting a trial date of October 2023 for the state's $250 million lawsuit against Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization. The trial would begin just a few months before the 2024 primary season.

And we start our coverage now with CNN's Paula Reid, who is at the federal courthouse in Atlanta.

So, Paula, if a judge rules in favor of prosecutors and removes the special master, how would that change the special counsel's investigation?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that would be a big win for the newly appointed special counsel, Jack Smith, as it would help him move this investigation along a little bit faster. And speed and time, those are key issues here. You heard the attorney general on Friday assure people that appointing a special counsel was not going to slow this down. There are concerns about how long this investigation will extend into the 2024 presidential cycle and if they can get this special master removed, that would help them move along a little more quickly. It was interesting, though, today, even though this was a panel of three Republican-appointed judges, two even appointed by former President Trump, the arguments did not appear to go very well for Trump attorneys.

Now, the judges asked for example, they asked why the special master was set up when the search has never been declared to be unlawful. They also expressed concerns about whether if the former president can get this kind of intervention to slow down an investigation, if all criminal defendants are going to try to get this. There was even a moment where a judge corrected one of the former president's attorneys when he referred to what happened at Mar-a-Lago as a raid. We did not get a decision today, but this has enormous consequences for this probe.

KEILAR: And Trump submitted a new filing today asking for an unredacted version of that affidavit that the FBI used to search Mar- a-Lago. Is this going anywhere?

REID: It's possible. That will first go before a judge who has been very differential to the former president, but any decision there is likely to be appealed. The Justice Department says it does not want this to be shared, because they want to protect the witnesses and the evidence they've collected in this investigation.

KEILAR: All right. Paula Reid live for us in Atlanta, thank you so much.

Senator Lindsey Graham testifying today before the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, amid its ongoing investigation into efforts by former president and allies to overturn the 2020 election. The testimony coming after Graham for months tried to avoid showing up, taking that fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

CNN's Sara Murray is following this case for us.

So, Sara, what does the grand jury want to know from Senator Graham?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they want to really know were about his interactions with the Trump campaign around the 2020 election and about outreach he made to Georgia officials, including this call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Raffensperger comes away from that call thinking Graham asked him to toss ballots. Graham has denied that.

Now, as you pointed out, this has been a long time coming. Lindsey Graham didn't want to appear today. And essentially what the courts did, they said, if you feel there are questions related to your legislative activity, you can challenge those. But with interaction, coordination with the Trump campaign, trying to cajole election officials, that is not part of legislative activity.

And Graham's office said he was there for just over two hours, he felt he was treated with respect and they said he answered all of the questions.

KEILAR: He answered all of the questions.

MURRAY: What they say.

KEILAR: Interesting.

So, earlier this afternoon, the Supreme Court actually cleared the way for the release of Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. What do we know about this?

MURRAY: That's right. I mean, this has been a fight that is years in the making. It was 2019 when the committee first started trying to seek Donald Trump's tax returns. And it is just today that the Supreme Court said, we are not going to stand in the way of this, essentially, as you said, paving the way for these tax documents to be handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee, which is led by Democrats. They are going to have a short time frame to pour over these returns. The House changes hands in January. KEILAR: Yes, time is of the essence here.

Sara Murray, thank you so much.

And I'd like to bring in Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson now to discuss a little bit more about this and some other topics.

I do want to ask you, Governor, about the special counsel that is now overseeing these DOJ investigations involving the former president. I know you're not a fan of the special counsel, in part because it delays things. Do you think, though, that it makes Trump vulnerable as a candidate?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, all of the reporting that you just did on the myriad of lawsuits and criminal investigations is problematic. It's dizzying for the public to see this kind of chaos surrounding a candidate for president. And he's already announced.

So, to me, it's very problematic and just is reflective of all of the challenges that go with a Trump candidacy. You mentioned the special master and, you know, for -- that's my concern, is that this will delay the proceedings and the ultimate conclusion on this investigation, and that's been the history of it. These are complex matters, you've had the department of justice engaged in it and we don't want this -- it's not good for the public, it's not good for anyone, to see this all go into 2024 and be in the middle of a presidential campaign.

That's my concern, it's obviously something that's done and the special prosecutor, I'm sure, will try to move things quickly, but there's a lot of mountains to move and the likelihood is that it's going to take some time for them to get the final conclusion.

KEILAR: We're awaiting this runoff race in Georgia between Senator Raphael Warnock and his challenger Herschel Walker. And you and I had actually spoke just ahead of election day and I asked you whether you believed Herschel Walker's denials that he paid for his former girlfriend's abortion and you told me this --


HUTCHINSON: I take what he says at face value and the people are going to have to judge that, but I think it's too important of a race, simply to take what happened in the past and say that's going to define his future. I give him the benefit of the doubt.


KEILAR: Do you still take him at face value? Do you still give him the benefit of the doubt?

HUTCHINSON: Well, my comments are the same as I articulated on the interview that we had. And obviously, the voters there in Georgia were a split decision on it. He's running against an incumbent. He got it into a runoff. We'll see what happens the next 30 days, and to a large extent, the election there is about who is going to represent Georgia, but it's also about the national direction and whether we're going to have more or less support for Biden's agenda in the last two years. So, all of those are factors that have to be weighed in the final decision of the voters.

KEILAR: I do want to ask you, in light of this shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.


Do you think that members of your party need to tone down some of their transphobic language? We've heard some people, some elected officials, you know, talking about pedophilia, grooming, demonizing trans people.

HUTCHINSON: Well, in all of our society, we need to tone down harsh rhetoric that causes others to hate. That's not what our society should be about. And that is horrific, what happened in that nightclub. Our hearts go out there, as it should.

And hopefully, it will cause us all to be more reflective about what we say, how we say it, and how we might stigmatize certain elements of our population which is not good. While most people handle that --

KEILAR: Can I ask you governor specifically, just about those kinds of comments that I was highlighting, because we are talking specifically about a situation here with the suspect facing hate crime charges. Specifically, is there room in your belief for that kind of language in the Republican Party?

HUTCHINSON: You mean harsh language in reference to the trans community?


HUTCHINSON: No, I think that we need to show compassion for all elements. There is a debate as to -- we had this in Arkansas as to what you do with trans children that are struggling with gender identity and how you handle the medications and things like that. Those are fair points of discussion in the policy arena. But you don't have to translate that into hate or harshness that again stigmatizes.

So, again, to me, it's very important whether you are Republican or Democrat, I know you're talking about Republicans, that we use rhetoric and words that try to bring people together and not divide us. And it's true whether you're talking about race or whether you're talking about, you know, sexual identity, you don't want to say things that's going to cause others to hate more and they might respond with violence.

That is not what we need. We need to suppress that every chance we get.

KEILAR: Governor Hutchinson, always a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much for your time today.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Good to be with you. KEILAR: So ahead, the big announcement today on student loans, as

President Biden tries to cancel debt for millions of Americans.

And as the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush gets going, the rather perplexing find when a suitcase went through an X-ray unit at JFK.



KEILAR: Back now with our politics lead and just in, President Biden has extended the pause on federal student loan payments originally scheduled to pick back up in January.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is joining us now.

So, Arlette, this announcement comes as the administration's student loan relief forgiveness program, of course, is tied up in court.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Briana. And that is a large reason why President Biden said he decided to move forward with extending the pause on federal student loan payments. The president, in a video this evening, saying he believed it would be unfair to those who qualify for the relief program to have to start those repayments as his relief program remains tied up in the courts.

Now, the Department of Education said they are going to extend the pause until June 30th, or until there's a decision from the Supreme Court. But this comes as the administration has appealed, has gone to the Supreme Court to ask them to allow their program to be implemented while these court challenges continue to take place. About 26 million people have applied for the president's student loan relief program and 16 million of those applications have been approved.

But the Department of Education is not able to discharge any of that due to these legal challenges that are under way. But this really comes as so many Americans have been facing questions about whether these student loan repayments would be resuming and for now, at least, they have an answer.

KEILAR: You're joining us from a beautiful twilight scene there on Nantucket in Massachusetts ahead of Biden and his family heading there for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I know it's going to be hard for the Biden family to avoid politics at the dinner table, especially this year, I would think.

SAENZ: Yeah, you know, the Biden family has been coming here to Nantucket for decades and they have had so many important family conversations when it comes to the president's political aspirations here over Thanksgiving and also over the holidays. And that is something that is expected to continue over the course of the next few weeks. And a bit earlier today, Vice President Kamala Harris talked about the prospect of a 2024 run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the president said, he intends to run. And if he does, I will be running with him, and I have no doubt about the strength of the work that we have done over these past two years.


SAENZ: And the president has said he expects to make a decision about a 2024 run early next year. And if you've been following Biden for a long time, you know that it's not going to come down to just one conversation at the Thanksgiving table this coming week.

KEILAR: No. Certainly is not. Arlette, thank you so much for that report from Nantucket. We appreciate it.

So, how will the 2024 election play out? Well, if we've learned anything, it's that we really have no idea. But maybe the past few elections could provide some clues. In 2016, Trump surprised political pundits and pulled off wins in three previously blue Rust Belt states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In 2018, Democrats gained momentum in key governors' races and then Democrats solidified their recovery in 2020, which brings us to the 2022 midterms.

In the House, of course, Republicans narrowly won the majority.


In the Senate, Democrats held onto the majority, but Republicans retained seats in swing states that are trending more red, like Florida and Ohio.

So, now to the 2024 outlook. I want to bring in CNN's Ron Brownstein.

Ron, you have a really fascinating analysis that's out today and it focuses on just four states that could decide 2024. Which ones are they?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the general trend, Brianna, as you're noting, is that the number of real swing states that are truly up for grabs, between both sides in a presidential race, has been steadily shrinking since 2000. I mean, from 2016 to 2020, there were five states that switched from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 and made him president. And three of those, I think, are still very much up for grabs after the 2022 results. And those include Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia.

Michigan and Pennsylvania also moved from 2016 to 2020, but when you look at the magnitude of the Democratic wins in those states this year, even at a point where three-quarters of the voters there were saying the economy was in bad shape, that suggest suggests, it's going to be very difficult for Republicans, particularly one who wants to restrict access to abortion in 2024. So, you have the three that moved -- Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

And then you have Nevada, which is probably the only state that voted the same way in '16 and '20 that looks like it is truly within reach for both sides in 2024. It's split between a Republican governor narrowly winning and the Democratic senator winning by the narrowest possible margin.

It is possible that those four states, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, the Sun Belt, Wisconsin, in the industrial Midwest, may be the only ones that are truly jump balls at the start of the 2024 election.

KEILAR: And, you know, we say every vote counts. But you drive home that some are counting more than others, because you write the 2024 presidential election could rest on, quote, a minuscule number of people living in the tiny patches of contested political ground. White color suburbs of Atlanta and Phoenix, working class Latino neighborhoods in and around Las Vegas and the mid-sized communities of the so-called Bo counties in Wisconsin. That's kind of the details of what you were just telling us about the states there.


KEILAR: Is there any historical precedent for so few Americans potentially deciding the outcome of the election?

BROWNSTEIN: Not in recent history. I mean, you have 20 -- basically, 80 percent of the states, 40 of the 50 states have voted the same way in at least the past four consecutive presidential elections. That is the highest level of continuity we've had since at least the turn of the 20th century.

Even when Franklin Roosevelt won four straight elections from 1932 through 1944, only about two-thirds of the states voted the same way. And as we said, of the ten that have flipped at any point since 2008, most of those are -- at least half of those are now securely in one side of the other, which leaves us with just a tiny number of states that are themselves divided almost exactly in half between the parties.

And you think -- I keep thinking about the cat in the hat or something, about, you know, kind of a structure where you're standing on a beach ball balancing a goldfish bowl on an umbrella. It's a tiny number of states for a nation of 330 million people and it's a tiny number of people within those states that basically get to decide the nation's direction at any given moment.

KEILAR: Yeah, it's really amazing. And just quickly, I have a Pennsylvania question for you, of course, because this is Jake Tapper's show. It was --


KEILAR: It was huge for Trump in 2016. Has it lost its swing, I guess, commonwealth status?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it has moved towards the Democrats, clearly, since then, particularly with abortion as an issue.

One thing we saw very clearly, a dramatic pattern in this election. In the states, the red states that have actually moved to restrict abortion, there really wasn't much of a backlash at all in places like Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. But in the states where it's legal, there's a lot of resistance to any agenda that would restrict it and Pennsylvania, Michigan, even Wisconsin fall clearly under that umbrella.

KEILAR: All right, Ron, always great to have your analysis. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me. Happy holiday.

KEILAR: Happy holiday to you, as well.

Next, the heroic actions of the people that just happened to be at that Colorado nightclub when a gunman opened fire.



KEILAR: In the national lead, the suspect in the Colorado shooting has been released from the hospital and is now in police custody. This comes after he allegedly shot and killed five people and injured 17 others inside an LGBTQ+ club.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Colorado Springs, where one of the heroes who helped subdue the shooter is sharing his story.


RICHARD FIERRO, VETERAN WHO TACKLED GUNMAN: I told him, I'm going to kill you, man, because you tried to kill my friends, my family was in there.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan prepared army vet Rich Fierro for a night out back home.

FIERRO: I was done doing this stuff.

WATT: He had a helper.

FIERRO: I told him, get the AR away from him. The kid pushed the AR, I don't know what his name was.

WATT: Now, we do. Information Systems Technician Petty Officer Second Class Thomas James. Injured. According to the Navy, James is currently in stable condition and we remain hopeful he will make a full recovery.

Another patron took over, kicking the gunman in the head with her heels, identified by a survivor as a trans woman. We don't know her name.

Fierro's daughter was hurt. Her boyfriend, Raymond Vance, killed.

FIERRO: I still feel bad -- it's five people -- it's five people that didn't come home. And this guy -- this guy --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they breach, I'm going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) blow it to holy hell.

WATT: Apparently this is the suspect. Summer of last year, surrounded after his mom told authorities he threatened her with a bomb. Big talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, go ahead and come on in, boys. Let's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) see it.

WATT: He gave himself up to deputies, hands raised and a year and change later, allegedly murdered five defenseless people here at Club Q.


CROWD: Kelly.


CROWD: Daniel.


CROWD: Ashley.


CROWD: Raymond.


CROWD: Derrick.

WATT: Today, Derrick's friend remembered him and fellow bartender Daniel Aston.

JESSI HAZELWOOD, FRIEND OF DERRICK RUMP: Derrick and Daniel were the light and heart of Club Q. It's a facility that gave us a safe space to be who we are all the time, and Derrick and Daniel especially were always the glue.

WATT: I hate to name the suspect, but maybe it's relevant, because in 2016, just before he turned 16, court records show he changed his name. Nicholas F. Brink became Anderson L. Aldrich. Unclear why, but he was the subject of online bullying on a parody website in 2015.

Back to a hero. This morning, thanks.

NIC GRZECKA, CO-OWNER, CLUB Q: Richard, thank you. You were a big part of saving many more lives and stopping this from being worse than it already was. We applaud you. And I can't wait to give you a big hug.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WATT (on camera): And as you mentioned, the suspect throughout of the hospital and in custody. Charges are expected to follow soon. And the police chief here in Colorado Springs, he says that meanwhile, investigators are writing warrants, they're looking at technology including computers. They're conducting interviews -- all to try to nail down a motive.

What happened here certainly looks like hate, but prosecutors and investigators want and need to prove that -- Brianna,

KEILAR: All right. Nick Watt live for us in Colorado Springs, thank you.

Next, what CNN just heard from police investigating the killings of four college students in Idaho.

Plus, what an FBI profiler makes of the case.



KEILAR: And we are back now with our national lead. We're hearing from police nine days after four University of Idaho students were brutally stabbed. So far, investigators have only given incremental updates.

Last night, Moscow police confirmed they found a dog at the house where the killings took place, seen here in one of the room mates TikTok videos. They say the dog was unharmed and is now with a, quote, responsible party.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Moscow with the very latest here.

Natasha, I know you spoke with police today. What did they tell you?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Brianna, they are telling me they are definitely making progress, and that was an answer to my question of whether they are any closer at all to finding out who did this.

Granted, a lot of people have been frustrated with the information that's come out of the police department, with some people in the neighborhood telling our colleagues last week that they were not reassured at all by the information they're getting.

At the same time, we're being told by the public information officer here, they are trying very hard to vet every piece of information and forming a complete picture before divulging more information and they are also trying to dispel rumors that have been popping up among the public, as well.

Now, there have been over 90 people interviewed in this process so far. They have been following 700 leads. And today, we also learned that ever since the FBI set up a portal online for people to submit any surveillance videos they might have, they've been getting a lot of submissions.

So, they're going through all of those videos right now, it's just taking some time, because those videos are very large files.

I also asked about why there was the initial comment from the police department about the threat level to the community. After a couple of days, after the incident, they did say they couldn't definitively say there was no threat to the public, and what we're being told is that, you know, because the suspect is still out there, of course, there is still a possible threat.

So, people need to be aware of that, and hopefully we'll learn more when they hold a press conference on Wednesday, tomorrow, at 1:00 p.m. local time, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be waiting for that with you. Natasha Chen in Moscow, Idaho, thank you.

I do want to bring in now, Mary Ellen O'Toole. She's a forensic science professor at George Mason University and she worked as a senior profiler at the FBI.

Mary Ellen, this is a tough case. We just don't know that much and it seems like police are struggling to get information.

If you had to mock up a profile on a potential suspect knowing what you do, what would it look like?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I'd focus on a couple of things. And one of them is that going into the house that night with multiple people there sleeping was very high risk for the offender. And he was able to stealthily commit four murders. That tells me the offender has a background or history of being in other people's homes.

The other thing that I think is really important is, this offender did not go in there to scare these young people, nor did he go in there just to hurt them. He went in there to kill them. And that's what makes somebody like this quite dangerous.


And then finally, I would say, this is a very unusual kind of violence. We call it instrumental violence. It's not your typical -- you hit me in the nose and I hit you back in the nose. This is a specific violence that's characterized by predatory behavior. It's very coldblooded. And there's no guilt or remorse after the offender left that residence.

That kind of behavior is more consistent with somebody who is psychopathic, that's a personality disorder, hallmarked with a profound lack of guilty of guilt or remorse for anything they do. When these individuals are out of prison for six months or more if they've served time, they cannot continue to be pro social. So, they will break the law. I would looking at people that have burglary in their backgrounds, as

well as people who have recently got out of prison that have the same kind of features in their background, because this is really quite unique.

KEILAR: Is there anything, Mary Ellen, that would lead you to believe the perpetrator knew the victims?

I think -- Mary Ellen, can you hear me? I think we might be having -- can you hear me, Mary Ellen?

O'TOOLE: I can hear you now. Go ahead.

KEILAR: Okay, great. I was asking, is there anything that would lead you to believe the perpetrator knew the victims?

O'TOOLE: He could have. He or she could have known the victims. But the word targeted has to be understood very carefully. This could have been somebody that ran into the victims, knew them for awhile and targeted them some days or weeks ago.

But on the same part of the continuum, this could have been someone that ran into them the day before the homicides. And they could still have been targeted. So, targeted is a dimensional concept.

But I would say this, there's probably more likely than not that only one of the victims was truly targeted and that will be evidenced by the amount of damage to the victim or what happened to the victim in that house. So, I doubt that all four were targeted. It's more likely that one, possibly two were the targets of this offender's actions that night.

KEILAR: The coroner said multiple victims here had defensive wounds. Would you expect the killer to have left some DNA evidence?

O'TOOLE: There is so much DNA evidence that this offender likely left at that crime scene. When you stab somebody that many times, blood is slippery, your hand slides down over the blade. So, it's very likely that he cut himself, but in addition to the DNA evidence, he's likely left hairs, fibers, footprints. So, this will be a forensic case.

KEILAR: Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank so much for your insights. We appreciate it.

O'TOOLE: Thank you.

KEILAR: So, next, the supply shortage hitting just as the influenza cases hit elevated levels so early in the season. What is behind the lack of antiviral medication?

And it was a summer of travel chaos with tens of thousands of flight cancellations. But what about now as we begin the busy holiday travel season, why things are actually looking up? Next.



KEILAR: In the health lead, the FDA is urging manufacturers to increase supplies of antiviral medication. This year's flu season is hitting so early and so hard, many pharmacists nationwide say they can't keep these prescriptions on the shelf. The shortage has left many parents scrambling with younger children among groups at higher risk.

I want to bring in CNN's Dr. Tara Narula.

Dr. Narula, tell us what is behind this shortage?

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as you said, it's really a demand issue. We're seeing this unprecedented time where we have RVS, COVID, and the flu surging. The CDC reporting very high levels or high levels of respiratory virus in half or more than half of this country.

So, you know, pharmaceuticals companies didn't really anticipate this when they were filling orders many months ago. And here we are in this situation where we need several of these medications for upper respiratory illness.

So, we're talking about Tamiflu, which is an antiviral medication that's used to treat the flu in the sense that it reduces symptoms, reduces the length of your course with the flu virus and potentially decreases complications. We're also talking about antibiotics, which are used to treat strep throat, ear infections and pneumonia, and then finally, albuterol, which is used in inhalers for individuals of asthma-reactive airway disease.

Now, they are ramping up production. So, hopefully we will see some of this shortage and its concern ease over the next couple months, and also as hopefully respiratory viruses decline. But I think the big picture message is parents really don't need to worry. I don't want people to be afraid by hearing this.


NARULA: I think there's always an option, which is kind of one key message here.

KEILAR: If a parent does go to a pharmacy and the prescription that their child has been prescribed, if it's not there, what can they do?

NARULA: So, first of all, pharmacists, for example, are getting guidance from the FDA for how to take amoxicillin in a pill form and put it into a liquid form.

Also, there are other formulations that they may be able to give. There are other types, classes of antibiotics that we can give in place of amoxicillin many times. It may not be exactly the same, it may be broader spectrum, which is not always ideal, have different side effect profile. It may be more costly, but there is an option.

And parents may have to drive farther and, you know, call other pharmacies to be able to find what they need.

And then finally, the point we've been trying to make is, parents should definitely get their kids tested. We know that a very high percentage of antibiotics are given inappropriately, when the actual patient or child does not have a bacterial infection. So, we can test for RSV and COVID and the flu that will help as well in a time right now where we are seeing these shortages.

KEILAR: All right. All important information. Dr. Narula, thank you so much.

NARULA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Before retiring next month, Dr. Anthony Fauci made what's likely his last public appearance at the White House today. He was there to stress the in importance of COVID vaccines as more people gathered indoors in these colder months. Fauci who advised every president since Ronald Reagan and a revered and controversial person during the pandemic is retiring from heading the national institute of infectious diseases.

(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DIEASES: Every day for all those years I've given it everything I have and I've never left anything on the field. So if they want to remember me, whether they judge rightly or wrongly I've done, I gave it all I got for many decades.


KEILAR: Fauci's next public appearance very well may be on Capitol Hill because Fauci said today, if there are any oversight hearings led by the incoming Republican majority, he plans to fully cooperate and testify.

Well, you got to give TSA credit for creativity on this next one but don't try this one yourself for sure. TSA's tweet here today a historic find at JFK International Airport in New York. This catch had our baggage screening officers saying come on, meow.

Take a closer look. You see it, right? That orange fur, that's a cat.

Somehow the animal made it all the way to an x-ray unit. TSA says a traveler packed it on purpose. It belonged to someone else in his household. This last one is courtesy, TSA, again, not me, quote the cat is out of the bag and safely back home thankfully.

And we're back with our national lead on what the FAA says is the busiest day of the thanksgiving holiday period; 48,000 flights scheduled today. Holiday travelers experiencing few cancellations, a far cry from this summer when daily cancellations sometimes climbed into the thousands.

As CNN's Pete Muntean reports, that's thanks to an airline hiring boom.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Airlines have been preparing for a rush at airports with a rush of their own, hiring thousands of new workers from the front desk to the flight deck. Twenty-four-year-old Ellie Gall is about to fly in her dad's footsteps as a new commercial pilot.

ELLIE GALL, NEW HIRE FIRST OFFICER, PIEDMONT AIRLINES: This is probably one of the best times in history to become a pilot.

MUNTEAN: Ellie is joining Piedmont Airlines, which operates thousands of regional flights for American Airlines.

At its Charlotte training center, 400 new pilots have been trained here since June.

EDDIE LEVERTON, VP OF FLIGHT OPERATIONS, PIEDMONT AIRLINES: We have ambitions to grow the airline, essentially double the size of the airline.

MUNTEAN: Seasoned pilots are also in demand. Piedmont just announced a $100,000 signing bonus for new captains.

DOUG MCFARLANE, NEW HIRE CAPTAIN, PIEDMONT AIRLINES: The opportunities have never been better.

MUNTEAN: New industry numbers show staffing at the major airlines has now exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The hiring blitz came after airlines struggled this summer, cancelling 55,000 flights due to staffing shortages. But hiring is happening beyond just pilots. American Airlines says it has hired 12,000 employees this year companywide. Southwest Airlines says it has hired more than 15,000 and at United Airlines, 2,000 new customer service representatives are helping passengers in new ways.


MUNTEAN: Called agent on demand. You scan a QR code for a video call. Agents can now connect with a stranded passenger at O'Hare when they're not busy at another airport like Dulles.

REYNOLDS: I think this is going to be a great help especially now that we're having snow everywhere.

BEATRICE WIGGINS, UNITED AIRLINES CUSTOMER SERVICES: We want to be there for our customers, support them, make it easy and make them feel good about the trip and take off some of the stress.

MUNTEAN: Airlines insist they now have the right people in the right places. Now, the pressure is on them to perform.

Are you worried at all?

NICK CALIO, CEO, AIRLINES FOR AMERICA: I'm worried about the weather. I always worry about the weather because that's the number one thing that can ruin a flight. I think we're flexible enough now if there are cancellations or delays, we will be ready to try to get people where they want to go.


MUNTEAN (on camera): The big question now is will all this hiring pay off?

So far, things have been pretty smooth at airports across the country and here at Reagan National Airport, which is pretty good considering so many people are traveling. The TSA has been averaging about 2.3 million people screened at airports nationwide for the last few days.

But the busiest days are still ahead, Brianna. The TSA anticipates 2.5 million people at airports tomorrow. That could be the highest number we've seen since COVID hit -- Brianna.


KEILAR: Wow, that is something.

Pete Muntean, thank you.

We have some very sad news to share. John Brown Jr., the former governor of Kentucky, has died. He was also the father of our dear friend and colleague Pamela Brown. And she tweeted today, quote: My dad not only dreamed the impossible dream, he lived it until the very end. We are heartbroken by his passing but find comfort in when he wrote in his find days. I have never be so happy.

John Brown built the fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken into a national brand. He went on to serve as the state's governor from 1979 to 1983 and leaves behind two sons, three daughters and 12 grandchildren. John Brown was 88 years old. May his memory be a blessing.

Our coverage continues here in a moment.