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Don Lemon Tonight
House Passes Bill to Avert Shutdown and Suspend Debt Limit; Internal Feuds Among Dems Threatening to Sink President Biden's Domestic Agenda; DHS Investigating After Video Shows Border Patrol Agents on Horseback Confronting Migrants; Donald Trump Sues Niece; FBI Director: 'Domestic Terrorism Caseload has Exploded"; Study: Two Dose Version of J&J Vaccine Substantially Boosts Protection; Search Intensifies for Gabby Petito's Fiance, Brian Laundrie. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 21, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Also, tonight, is the FBI director on the spike in domestic terrorism and the growing role of social media in the rising caseload.
And the coroner in Wyoming is confirming that human remains found on Sunday in Grand Teton National Park are those of Gabby Petito and ruling her death a homicide. Police in Florida are still searching for her fiance, Brian Laundrie.
There is a lot to get to. I want to bring in now CNN senior legal analyst Ron Brownstein and Kirsten Powers. I got the 18 here with me. Good evening. Hello, Ron. Hello, Kirsten.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello, Don.
LEMON: Ron, I'm going to start with you.
LEMON: The House voting tonight along party lines to prevent a government shutdown and to suspend the debt ceiling, but it seems like this bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. Are Republicans really willing to let the country default?
BROWNSTEIN: It sure looks that way. Look, I mean, people have to understand. You know, the debt ceiling, when you raise the debt ceiling, you are not authorizing future debt and future spending. You are in effect acknowledging the debt and the spending that has already occurred.
And of course, most of that occurred under President Trump and republican-controlled Senate. So it is kind of the high point of hypocrisy to now refuse to pay the bills that you ran up, you know, while you were -- while you were in control.
You know, there are just a tiny number of Republicans who have indicated any openness to this. In the end, Democrats may have to figure out a way to do this, like almost everything else on a party line basis. But as usual, we are sailing into crisis without a clear port in sight.
LEMON: Yeah. Kirsten, democratic factions are really at a standoff over infrastructure, the entire agenda in peril right now. Sources are saying the president is going to meet with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer tomorrow as well as some of these Democrats, that he thinks that he can salvage this. What do you think?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's in peril. I think that this is part of the deal-making that happens in Washington and that both sides are going to stake out these -- I mean, we started out with these really astronomical numbers, you know, and then it ends up shrinking down a little bit. And that's what happens.
You have -- this battle between progressives and moderates has been around for as long as I've been around. The progressives have just become a little more powerful. But in the end, I think what will happen is that each side is going to have to give a little and they're going have to do something that's going to work for the president.
And I don't really see Democrats making it impossible for President Biden to get not just have a win, not just to have a political win, but to be able to effect the kind of change that very few presidents get to do, especially in this era where it is so difficult to get enough votes to get anything done.
So if he has a chance to do anything, I think that you will see Democrats come together.
LEMON: Okay, who is going compromise to see them do that? Are the Democrats going to compromise?
POWERS: Well, I think both people -- both sides will have to compromise a little bit.
LEMON: What did you say, Ron?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, no, I think she is right. I mean, you know, look, the perils of Pauline is not unusual in these legislative fights. The ACA was declared dead many times in 2009. The Clinton budget survived in 1993 by the barest of margins. Even the Bush tax cut faced a 25 percent reduction in 2001 because of defection from some Senate Republicans.
Almost always, almost always they find a way to come together because the alternative is so damaging if really both sides are negotiating. The progressives obviously don't want to see too much of this $3.5 trillion spending package cut away. It's been described as the great society in a single bill. I think that's a fair comparison.
But, look, if the Democrats look to be in total disarray, it is the frontline moderates who are probably going to pay the biggest electoral price. So it is in everyone's interest to find an agreement. As I say, usually as you look back at the big legislative fights, the history is that they do. The counter example would be that the Republicans never found a way to come together on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
So there is the risk of failure, but the cost, the downside of failure is so high for both factions in the party. It is really hard to believe that would be illogical enough to let it all crush and burn.
LEMON: How many votes have we stayed up late into the night to cover about the Affordable Care Act and then John McCain --
LEMON: -- coming in and going. I mean, they tried. They really, really did try. But listen, this isn't new. We've gone through this whole debt ceiling thing before.
LEMON: And, you know, people not getting their checks and, you know, all kinds of things. We've gone through this before. Who gets the blame for this, do you think, Kirsten, if it is shut down?
POWERS: Well, I mean, if it's shut down, the blame should go to the people who are responsible for shutting it down. In this case, it clearly would be the Republicans.
POWERS: I don't see how anybody could look at it and see -- say otherwise. They haven't really even given a credible reason to oppose it.
POWERS: It's just that this is what they do. They just oppose everything.
LEMON: Well, the difference, Biden is in office.
POWERS: Exactly what they want.
LEMON: There is a Democratic president in office. That's the difference.
POWERS: But this is -- but this has been -- since Obama, this has been their strategy, right? I mean, this wasn't always the way that they operated and their strategy has just been just oppose, oppose, oppose, just make things difficult as possible. Forget that we actually were sent here to be helping run this country. It's just all about preserving and gaining power.
And I'm not saying like -- I'm not saying Democrats don't care about power. Of course, they do. But there is this -- there is this dynamic where the Democrats are the grownups and the Republicans are acting like children. And it's just incredibly tiring and it's incredibly dangerous, and it harms a lot of people.
LEMON: But that's why it gets so frustrating, I'll let you jump in a second, Ron, when people try to both sides all of this.
LEMON: There is honestly one side who is acting like the adults in the room. And everything else is politics as usual.
LEMON: You have what's happening at the border. It's terrible. It's politics as usual. Most of it is politics as usual, right? We can deal with it. But there is one side now that is really not operating in reality. So it's hard to kind of both sides all of these issues. Go ahead, Ron. Sorry.
BROWNSTEIN: Even more fundamentally, there is one side that is, you know, turning away from being a small "D" Democratic Party in kind of the western tradition and kind of moving openly to both suppress the rights of the people who vote and potentially to subvert the election result.
The only thing I was going to add, doesn't it seem like everything that was happening in the last few weeks underscores how ridiculous it is that we are still being held hostage by the filibuster? The reason we are at risk of crashing the domestic and global economy and defaulting on our debts is because of the possibility of the filibuster.
The reason Democrats are tying themselves in knots, trying to negotiate an entire legislative agenda in one bill is because it's the only way they can avoid the filibuster. The reason it is unclear whether Democrats can respond to this anti-democratic push going on in so many red states is because Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may not let them get around the filibuster.
I mean, the anachronism of the filibuster in a quasi-parliamentary system where the president can basically count on no votes from the other party and allowing 43 percent of the country represented by Republicans at this point in the Senate to basically veto the agenda of the majority, I just think everything that is happening is pointing Democrats toward having to confront whether the filibuster still makes sense in this era.
LEMON: All of this for this relic of an idea of bipartisanship, for the sake of bipartisanship. Not going to work. Thank you both. I appreciate it. See you soon.
POWERS: Thank you.
LEMON: I want to turn now to CNN contributor Evan Osnos. He has been covering Joe Biden for years and he has a new book. It is called "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury," another book on my reading list. Evan, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us this evening. Look, you literally wrote the book on Joe Biden. Will this go down as the biggest make or break week of his presidency or too soon to tell?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this really is everything that he has been training for. I mean, if he was an athlete, you would say this is sort of the Olympic gold medal event, because it's relying on some of those closed door interactions, which he has always prized.
The ability to, you know, let's be honest, get Joe Manchin in a headlock and get him to say, okay, I'll reach a deal, or to figure out how to use the power of the pulpit and try to push people.
But look, Don, the truth is the reason why it's such a make or break moment is precisely because there has been so much deferred maintenance in the fullest sense of the word, not just in infrastructure terms, but in the most basic political terms, addressing these huge overwhelming challenges for the United States.
It shouldn't have to have rested on a single bill, but we find ourselves in that moment. And he is -- he would probably be -- he would be able to admit this, he is too old and he has been at this too long to let a moment like this go by. So, yeah, it's all on the line.
LEMON: All right. Well, listen, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters tonight that he hopes that Biden has the secret sauce to bring all factions of the Democratic Party together behind these two bills. Is this the plan? Hope it works out?
OSNOS: The secret sauce in this case is his approach to negotiation, which is actually quite specific and a bit odd in Washington. His whole view is, don't get people into the room and focus immediately on what you don't agree on.
Get people into the room and say these are the eight things we agree on and now we'll talk about the two we don't agree on, which sounds like it is okay and too obvious, except that what he is trying to do when you get the Joe Manchins of the world and you get progressives into the room is to say to them, this is our moment. If we fall short on this, not only do we leave the country behind, but we also will fundamentally imperil the credibility in the future of the Democratic Party's ability to attract young people.
OSNOS: You have record turnout in 2020, Don, for people voting because they said this is an opportunity to try to turn the tide. And if they fall short, then they're falling short of something beyond just this individual bill.
LEMON (on camera): I hope they're listening to you. I really do. Evan, this all comes as President Biden addressed the U.N. General Assembly today defending his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I stand here today for the first time in 20 years with the United States not at war. We've turned the page. All the unmatched strength, energy, commitment, will and resources of our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what's ahead of us, not what was behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, I mean, this is the foreign policy pivot Biden wants to make to focus on future threats like China. The president still has major questions to answer about the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, does he not?
OSNOS: He does. I mean, turning the page is the goal, but some of his allies are not ready to do that. But you know what's interesting, don, if you go and you talk and you look at what he is actually saying, he is saying it is time for us to focus on the challenges of the next 20 years, not the last 20 years.
I decided to go back and look at the comparison between the U.S. and China 20 years ago. The U.S. economy was eight times the size of China's economy when the United States went into Afghanistan. Today, our economies are about equal.
The words that you heard him say today in his UNGA speech, the most important ones were democracy. He mentioned it a dozen times, and competitiveness. He kept referring to this question of competition. He didn't talk about China by name, but he said we want to avoid a cold war, but we must be competitive.
And what he is trying to do is to say to the allies, look, I get it. You're not on the same page with me about how we did it. We probably could have done this a lot better. But now we have to shore up this alliance if we want to be prepared for the next 20 years.
LEMON: Here is what President Biden also promised. He promised an era of relentless democracy in his speech, while France, one of our key allies, is calling the United States' new submarine deal with the U.K. and Australia a stab in the back. Will Biden be able to repair this critical relationship?
OSNOS: He will. It's going to take a lot of work. There is some real bruising on the U.S.-France relationship. But it's one of the oldest diplomatic alliances in the world for a reason. I mean, between the United States and any country. And that's because we've been through a lot.
And if you really press the White House on it, they would probably say to you, is France going to turn against the United States and join up on another team? It doesn't seem like it.
Part of the reason why France is responding the way it has been is because it has its own domestic political demands and issues. And Joe Biden would be the first one to tell you that as he knows -- I think they underestimated just how much of a reaction this would generate in France. But there are reasons why France is responding the way it is, and the Biden administration has work to do.
Look, Tony Blinken as secretary of state who speaks French, there was a lot of excitement about him coming into office when he did. I think he is going to be on the phone to Paris a lot over the next few weeks and months.
LEMON (on camera): It's not London calling. It's going to be Paris calling. Thank you very much -- or him calling Paris. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Evan. I'll see you soon.
Thousands of migrants still crowded along the Rio Grande and we're learning border patrol agents being investigated over that confrontation with the migrants are now on administrative duties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I was horrified by what I saw. I am going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The crisis on the border getting worse by the hour tonight. Del Rio, Texas sits on the border with Mexico, where thousands of migrants are camping out under a bridge, most of them refugees fleeing violence, poverty and earthquake devastation in Haiti.
CNN is now learning today that more than 30,000 migrants may be on their way through Central America. Now the Biden administration is under fire after images of mounted border patrol agents aggressively confronting migrants after those images emerged. Administration officials are saying they're horrified by the video.
Tonight, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas announcing the people involved have been moved to administrative duties while investigation moves forward.
So joining me to discuss are CNN political commentators Bakari Sellers and Scott Jennings. Good evening to both of you.
Bakari, we talked about some of this, right, last night. Seeing those border patrol agents on horseback confronting Haitian migrants are shocking. You tell me that they bring to mind images of slave catchers. How do you think this could have happened?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's the policy, Don. I mean, I think that while we are talking about and investigating the perpetrators of this particular incident, what the administration is not talking about is ending the Trump era policy that got us here. It's title 42, which Stephen Miller used to crack down on migrants coming across the border.
It's the same policy that -- it's the same Trump policy that this Biden administration is going to court to fight for, which allows you to expel migrants quicker when they're coming over, looking and seeking asylum. And it allows for things like what we saw to happen.
Anyone who looks at what we saw at the border and the crisis that we saw with these Haitian migrants, anyone who saw that and whose stomach doesn't turn does not truly understand what this country stands for.
SELLERS: And until we get rid of these Trump era policies, I mean, you can't blame Trump anymore, he is not the president, but until you get rid of these Trump era policies and add some humanity to your immigration policy, none of this really matters. It's all talk.
LEMON: Scott, one of the videos, let's put it up, it shows a patrol agent swinging a horse reign in a way that looks like to many a whip. Is that troubling to you?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I tell you what's troubling to me, candidly, Don, is the instant attempt to vilify these border patrol agents that are clearly overwhelmed.
We have -- you showed the pictures. Thousands upon thousands of people are trying to stream into this country illegally. These border patrol agents are doing the best they can in an impossible situation. Then you have all these people swooping in, trying to vilify them. And now they've been placed on administrative leave.
There was an instant sort of reaction, oh, they're using whips. They're not whips. They're reins, as you correctly call them. And so I don't like the idea that we ask these public servants to do an impossible job and then we vilify them because people don't know the difference between whips and reins.
I mean, I don't like this whole situation. I don't like thousands of people. I don't like the fact that the Biden administration has failed. I don't like the fact that Kamala Harris is MIA on all of this. But I don't these border patrol agents ought to take the brunt of our anger about a failed policy.
Bakari is right. It is a failed policy. And Joe Biden is the president. And he is going to have to do something about this because this is a disaster and a disgrace.
LEMON: Go ahead, Bakari.
SELLERS: Nothing that Scott said outside of the fact that it's a failed policy actually rings true. First, Kamala Harris did speak out against it, but they have to do more. She has to not only speak out, but hold Mayorkas accountable, and I agree with that.
But the fact that you -- I mean, look, I have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for our law enforcement in this country. It's a very difficult job that they have. But when you start whipping people with -- you want to split hairs between reins and whips? I don't care what it is, that lacks humanity. And if you don't have the compassion or the ability where you blow a gasket and you can't do the job, then don't do it.
But my god, you can't beat people. You can't separate them when they're in your custody and yell at them and treat them like they're less than human. No one is asking border patrol to do anything other than treating them with their humanity. We know they're put in a very difficult situation. There is no doubt. But the point is you can't treat people like they're less than just garbage or trash. And that's the biggest problem that we have.
LEMON: You don't think they're outmanned, Bakari? You don't think that there is some truth to the border patrol agents being outmanned?
SELLERS: There is no question that border patrol probably needs to be paid more. They have positions that need to be filled. I mean, I'm sitting near a hotel room in Petersburg. I'm not on the border with them. I completely understand all of that.
But all I'm talking about, Don, is common decency. You can't whip people's ass with the whip or a rein and say you're doing your job simply because your job gets difficult. You treat people with humanity.
None of those migrants were any type of lethal or deadly threat to any of them. But instead, they treated them like garbage. And I don't care about what anybody says about how difficult your job is. You better get some compassion or you better get some empathy because that's just not right.
JENNINGS: I would just say you've got a few guys on horses and thousands of people streaming across the border. What is the alternative, Bakari? Are they supposed to stand back and let people stream across the border? I know that's what a lot of Democrats think is the correct policy. But I don't think that's what the American people want. There has to be some order to this.
I actually believe we ought to be taking in refugees, people seeking asylum. I believe in that. And a lot of Republicans do. But what we don't believe in is letting people stream across the border, come into the country illegally outside of any recognized process. That's what we don't have.
And you put these border patrol agents between a failed policy and thousands of people that want to come in, and then you show up and try to vilify them for riding a horse, and you can't tell the difference between whips and reins.
I think it's disgusting. We have to have compassion, but we have to have laws in the process. That's why these border patrol agents are in such a rough spot here.
SELLERS: Nobody -- nobody is -- first of all, Democrats don't want people to stream in without a process.
JENNINGS: Some do.
SELLERS: We want a process. Nobody wants open borders. We actually want a process that has humanity, a process that allows these individuals to seek asylum as they should, and not just be rounded up and shipped back and not know where they're going when they're actually trying to come and seek asylum and they need a process to be able to do it. That's first.
And you're giving people a false choice. No one is simply saying that either we have laws and you get to beat people with reins or whips, there is no real clear discernment between the two, or you don't. My only point is, look, do your job. And I know your job is difficult, but how difficult is it for me to ask you to give people the benefit of their humanity and not whip them? Not whip them. I don't understand why that's so difficult.
LEMON: All right, gentlemen. Thank you so much. We'll be continuing this. I mean, listen, the pictures and the images are horrible, but the reality of what those people are dealing with even worse than the images.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LEMON: The FBI director coming out with a warning everyone should hear today, saying domestic terrorism has -- quote -- "exploded over the past year and a half." So what are they doing about it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR OF FBI: Today, terrorism moves at the speed of social media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So here is the breaking news right now. The former president has filed a lawsuit in New York state court against his niece Mary Trump as well as several "New York Times" journalists for the disclosure of his tax information that was published in several "New York Times" articles.
Remember the damning reports included many details like Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 out of 15 years, beginning in the year 2000? Well, the (INAUDIBLE) former president is seeking damages in the amount to be determined at trial, but believed to be no less than $100 million.
A "New York Times" spokesperson says the lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and the paper plans to vigorously defend against it.
In a statement, Mary Trump said, and I quote, "I think he is a loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can. It's desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that he thinks will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he'll try to change the subject." And that's a statement from Mary Trump.
Also happening today, FBI Director Christopher Wray is testifying that his agency's domestic terrorism caseload has exploded since last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: Since the spring of 2020, so the past 16, 18 months or so, we've more than doubled our domestic terrorism caseload from about a thousand to around 2,700 investigations. And we've surged personnel to match, more than doubling the number of people working that threat from a year before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Joining me now is former director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He is now a CNN national security analyst. Thank you, sir. Appreciate you joining us.
Director, it's hard to believe that it wasn't so long ago that people were shocked by the idea that domestic terrorism is such a major threat. What happened?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, count me among those who were shocked. You know, it's hard not to think back 20 years ago and what we just commemorated, the anniversary of 9/11, and we were completely focused on the foreign terrorist threat. And now at a very high volume and velocity, that's all changed. And it is a profound -- profound thing, it really is.
The thing that struck me, Don, about Director Wray's testimony was this skyrocketing caseload of domestic terrorist cases and the manpower, resource, special agents, analysts, support people that have been put on these cases. Well, what is it that's not getting done now?
So the big worry for me, frankly, is does the FBI, with all that is expected of it, have sufficient resources? Because he also talked about the cyber threat, the China threat, in addition to the very profound threat posed by domestic terrorism.
LEMON (on camera): Yeah. He spoke about the role social media plays in domestic terrorism. Let's listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: Some of these same people before might have been stewing away in the basement or the attic, one part of the country, and not communicating with the other. But today, terrorism moves at the speed of social media. And you have the ability of loan actors, disgruntled in one part of the country, to spin up similar like-minded individuals in other parts of the country and urge them into action or inspire them into action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So director, we know social media was used to help organize the January 6 attack. Are officials focusing enough on what is happening online?
CLAPPER: I believe the FBI certainly is. I don't know if people appreciate what a weapon social media can be. This is something I saw very dramatically in the run-up to the 2016 election and how the Russians use social media to exploit the divisiveness and polarization in this country.
And of course we used to worry about foreign terrorists radicalizing people here in this country. Now, we have our own people radicalizing other U.S. citizens.
CLAPPER: It's to me a very scary development, and particularly given its magnitude and the speed with which this radicalization process can happen.
LEMON: Director, we have discussed this before, but considering, you know, today what the director of the FBI is saying, Director Wray testified that the biggest chunk of racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism the FBI tracks is now favouring white supremacy.
LEMON: What is going on with that? What is driving that?
CLAPPER: Well, I think, you know, our last president, I think, had a lot to do with this. I think the dog whistling that went on for four years brought out an element in this country that I think had been suppressed, tried to stay below the radar, and now it has come into prominence where in their minds it's okay to be an overt white supremacists. And it's a very disturbing trend.
LEMON: Yeah. You know, just last week, Capitol police caught a man with a machete and a bayonet near the DNC headquarters, director. I mean, his car was outfitted with neo-Nazi symbols and a swastika. Are these lone wolves a bigger threat than the larger organized groups, do you think?
CLAPPER: Well, I think -- in fact, I think Director Wray in his testimony mentioned this, that their concern is the lone wolf, the lone actor. And this is something in common with, I think, domestic terrorism and that which is foreign-inspired is someone who becomes radicalized and doesn't evince any signatures, to use intelligence term, that alert you to them. And that -- and Director Wray pointed out what a challenge that is for the FBI.
LEMON: Yeah. Director Clapper, thank you, sir. It's always a pleasure to see you.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: It's good to see you in a studio instead of in your house.
CLAPPER: In New York City, of all places.
LEMON: Thank you, director. I appreciate it. Be well.
CLAPPER: Thank you.
LEMON: New information about COVID booster shots out tonight. We're going to tell you who else might need to look into getting another shot. That's next.
LEMON: Johnson & Johnson announcing 94 percent effectiveness for two doses of their COVID vaccine, and there is good news for people who have already received one shot of the J&J vaccine. Adding a booster shot could provide them with even more protection. This is with warnings of twindemic for the upcoming flu season. Doctors are recommending adults and children six months and older get their flu vaccines by Halloween.
Let's break it down with Dr. Michael Osterholm. It's good to see you. Wow, it's been a minute. You doing okay?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: I am. Thank you. It's good to see you again.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much. By the way, the author of "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs." We got to get that in there. Again, doctor, thank you.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
LEMON: So two doses of the J&J vaccine, 94 percent effective against COVID. You remember the huge appeal of the shot was that it was only one dose. Does this study surprise you at all?
OSTERHOLM: No, it doesn't. And I think one of the things we have to understand is we're living in a world right now what I call corrected science. You know, we learn, we apply it. Then we learn again, we apply it, and we learn again.
Originally, when we first had these vaccines available, we were all so excited about the fact that they were 90 to 95 percent effective and it was going to be two doses or one dose J&J.
But as time went on, we learned that in fact there was waning immunity, and that with the third dose, you might very well be able to have a major boost, one that could last for quite some time for the MRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. And I think the same thing now as the J&J data would show us is two doses for that vaccine are really going to give us the ideal response.
LEMON: This study also found that a 12-fold increase in antibodies after a booster shot six months or longer after the first dose. What should people do? People who got the J&J shot are wondering if they need a booster.
OSTERHOLM: Well, at this point, you know, I hate to say wait to get the direction from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, but that's what we want to do. They're meeting tomorrow, Friday. We're going see, I think, some very important information coming out that will say exactly what to do.
And so wait until then. But I can give you, I think, a sense that yes, particularly if you're older, you are going to be recommended to get a booster, even with the J&J vaccine.
As we await the FDA's final decision on booster shots, doctor, do you expect that they'll do anything other than adopt the recommendations for a limited rollout?
OSTERHOLM: I don't think so. I think they'll go right with that recommendation. And that's what we have the data for. But what we have to also understand is we're going to continue to follow people more and more months after their second dose for the MRNA vaccines and the one dose for J&J.
Remember, the first people to get the vaccine eight months ago were health care workers and those who were in long-term care facilities, the older population. They're the ones now that have been out six to seven to eight months where they could see more waning immunity.
We're going start having 25, 45, 55-year-olds who will also get out there eventually. And I think the data will show that they too have more breakthroughs. And not even just breakthroughs, but potential for more severe illness.
OSTERHOLM: And if that's the case, I think you're going to be seeing booster recommendations are going to take it down to potentially very young ages.
LEMON: Yeah. I can't believe we're talking about this again this year, doctor, but this warning that doctors are giving us about the potential of twindemic this winter between COVID and the flu, why is it expected to be so much worse this year?
OSTERHOLM: Well, you know, you may not recall, but I actually said on this show a year ago, when people were predicting twindemics then, that you had to be careful because we don't exactly know why this virus does what it does or why the flu virus disappears. Why did it disappear last year?
Remember, we just have come through the winter season in the southern hemisphere, and they didn't see any twindemic at all. They saw no increase in influenza again. I think we can have the same situation, but it's better to be prepared. So get vaccinated now. Don't wait for it to happen.
But don't expect necessarily that it is going to be a twindemic. You know, this is where we need a lot of humility. We're learning a lot about this virus.
Don, if you could explain to me why New York and L.A. right now are seeing very little activity relative to what the rest of the country has seen, given they have the same rates of vaccination, they have the same activities going on, we can't explain it. And I think this is the part where humility really is a very important part of our science approach.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, there you go. Humility. Thank you, doctor. I appreciate it.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you. Good to see you.
LEMON: You as well.
The search for Gabby Petito's fiance picks up again in the morning. And now, one woman is speaking out, saying that she and her boyfriend picked up Brian Laundrie as a hitchhiker. Her story after this.
LEMON: Tonight, the coroner in Wyoming confirms human remains found in Grand Teton National Park are those of Gabby Petito. The FBI says her death is homicide and that final autopsy results will determine the actual cause of death. Meanwhile, police in Florida are still searching for Petitor's fiance, Brian Laundrie.
CNN's Randi Kaye is in Wyoming, retracing some of their steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MIRANDA BAKER, DESCRIBED PICKING UP BRIAN LAUNDRIE AS A HITCHHIKER: Hi. My name is Miranda Baker. On August 29th, my boyfriend and I picked up Brian at Grand Teton National Park at 5:30 at night at Colter Bay. I'm hoping this can help someone identify him.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Miranda Baker, sharing her story on Tiktok on social media about how she believes she and her boyfriend picked up Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, when he was hitchhiking.
BAKER: We picked him up at Colter Bay, like I said, at 5:30. He approached us, asking us for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson, which we were going to Jackson that night. I said, you know, hop in. He hops in the back of my jeep. We then, you know, proceeded to make small talk.
KAYE (voice-over): She says the chance encounter happened on August 29th, five days after Gabby last FaceTime her family. Miranda says before he got in her jeep, the man offered to pay her $200 for the ride. She says he offer this explanation for what he was doing out there on his own.
BAKER: He then told us he has been camping for multiple days without his fiancee. He did say he had a fiancee. And that she was working on their social media page back at their van.
KAYE (on camera): This is Colter Bay where Miranda Bakers says she picked up Brian Laundrie. It is about 17 miles from the entrance of the Spread Creek, disperses camping area, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, where human remains were found on Sunday.
Miranda says Brian Laundrie was carrying a backpack, wearing long sleeves and hiking boots. She also made a few other observations.
BAKER: He had told us that he and Gabby were not camping on a regulated campsite in the National Park, that they were camping basically out in the middle of nowhere, along Snake River. This is key information. He said that he hiked for days along Snake River. But when I was looking at his backpack, it wasn't full. He said all he had was a tarp to sleep on.
KAYE (voice-over): She said he asked to go south to Jackson, Wyoming. When she told him she was heading to Jackson Hole nearby, this happened.
BAKER: He freaked out. He is like, nope, I need to get out right now. You know, pull over. So we pulled over at the Jackson Dam, which I don't know if you're -- if you know, like Teton Park, but it's not very far from Colter Bay. He kind of like hurried out of the car and said he was going to go find someone else to hitchhike. We're like, okay. It was a weird situation.
KAYE (on camera): This is Jackson Lake Dam, where Miranda Baker says she dropped Brian Laundrie off. It's less than 10 miles from where she picked him up, so he wasn't in the car very long. She said that he told her he was going to walk across the street to that parking lot and look for another ride to keep on hitchhiking. Where he went from here is still a mystery.
(Voice-over): In another video, she provides evidence of her encounter.
BAKER: Okay. This is the text I sent my mom when we drive him off. This had the date in it and time stamp. We dropped him off at 6:09. As you can see, we picked him up at 5:54. This is off my mom's because my text just don't go back this far.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Moose, Wyoming.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): And thank you, everyone, for watching. Our coverage continues.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The remains of a woman found over the weekend in a Wyoming National Park are those of Gabby Petito. The manner of the death is homicide.
John Berman here, in for Anderson. Those are the two grim central facts of the initial autopsy results. Now, the FBI is asking for your help in finding her missing fiance, Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest in her killing. He and she, as you know, have been traveling out west and posting frequently on social media. That stopped late- last month. And early this month, Laundrie returned home to Florida without her.
In a moment, we will be joined by crime fighter, John Walsh, whose efforts and viewers have led to the capture of so many suspects over the years.
First, though, our Randi Kaye in Moose, Wyoming with the very latest. Randi.