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Schiff Vows Quick Action on Contempt if Subpoenas Ignored; Schiff: Would Be a "Disaster" if McCarthy Becomes Speaker; Trump Calls on Supporters to "Protest Michigan Election Results"; Texas-Based Southwest & American Airlines to Keep Vaccine Mandates Despite Gov. Abbott's New Ban; Prices at the Pump Hit 7-Year High; Netflix Stands by Chappelle after Critics Slam "Transphobic" Jokes. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A member of the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection is promising quick action on criminal contempt charges for ignoring the committee's subpoenas.

Congressman Adam Schiff says the panel is engaging with attorneys for former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former Trump adviser, Kash Patel. But Steve Bannon remains defiant.

Just as Trump's party remains defensive. Republican lawmakers are even trying to distance themselves from Trump and the Big Lie. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

House minority whip, Steve Scalise, is still refusing to say whether the election was stolen. It wasn't.


And the longest serving Republican, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, just this weekend, appeared alongside Trump at a rally in Des Moines.

Let's bring in CNN political commentator and former GOP Congressman Charlie Dent.

Congressman, good to see you.

Why do you think the Republican leaders are getting closer to Trump right now?

Especially when we have this new poll showing less than half, just 44 percent of Republicans, want Trump to run again in 2024, and about a third of Republicans, 32 percent say they would not like for Trump to remain a national political figure?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Ana, I think the reason why is because it's fear, fear, fear. They are afraid that Trump will sick the base against them. They are fearful that Trump will sabotage their mid-term prospects. Remember what Donald Trump did in the Georgia runoffs, how he went

down and bad-mouthed the Republican governor and secretary of state.

Undermining -- basically, told voters that the election was rigged and depressed Republican turnout in those runoffs, costing Senate Republicans the majority.

I think House Republicans are worried that Trump will try to sabotage their midterm prospects if they don't, you know, remain on bended knee before him.

CABRERA: But is that a concern over the primaries in those election races?

DENT: Yes.

CABRERA: Or is it the broader election?

Because, again, can we put up the -- the graphic here that shows the polling.

It's less than half of Republican voters who want Trump to have a major role in the party. And I'm paraphrasing there, like we said. I laid out the specifics.

But when you look at that, he doesn't have the majority of Republicans with him, according to this poll when it comes to the future of the GOP.

DENT: No question, Ana. The reality for many Republicans is they need Trump in a primary but they also realize he's an obstacle and disaster in many of the districts in the general election.

They need him in a primary but they realize what a bodanker he can be for many of those Republicans running in those more competitive areas.

They are in the no-man's-land. They can't win with him or without him. That seems to be -- that seems to be their calculation.

I think it's a miscalculation. I think they need to, you know, distance themselves quickly from former President Trump because elections are about the future, not about the past.

But Donald Trump, of course, wants to play a very destructive role within the party and certainly within the primary.

Donald Trump realizes he has leverage and he's using it. And that's how he's able to keep so many of these members acquiescent and cowed to his wishes.

CABRERA: It's not just about the future of the party. It's really about the future of the country and America's democracy.

Congressman Adam Schiff was asked what would happens if Trump allies regains power and if one person in particular takes the speaker's gavel? Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: What happens if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): A disaster, because he'll do anything that Donald Trump tells him. And we cannot have someone with absolutely no reference for the truth, no willingness to uphold his oath in that position, in line to the presidency.


CABRERA: Schiff went on to say McCarthy was essentially being an insurrectionist in a suit and tie.

What do you make of that?

DENT: Well, I -- I think, right now, House Republicans are focused on getting back the majority. Now should they get the majority, what are they going to do with, it is the question.

And I don't think anything is guaranteed that -- that you know, Kevin McCarthy becomes the speaker or anybody else.

You have to remember --


CABRERA: You don't think that's guaranteed?

DENT: No, I don't. Because I -- I remember what happened after John Boehner stepped down. Many of the members -- several of the members, frankly, from the Freedom Caucus wing of the party, they undermined McCarthy and prevented his elevation to speaker. Paul Ryan had to step in.

Now I'm not saying the same thing will happen again. But depending on how large that majority is, if there's a very substantial majority, then I think Kevin McCarthy's chances of becoming speaker are much greater.

But if the majority is fairly slim, it won't take much, it will only take a few to prevent him from ascending. So I don't think anything is a lock right now.

And the bigger question for Republicans going forward is, what do you do with the power once you have it?

Biden will still be president and they will have to make accommodations with Joe Biden, should they recapture the majority.

And obviously, if they are acquiescent to Donald Trump, I think we could see, you know, some gridlock like we haven't seen in a long time.

CABRERA: We're already seeing massive gridlock.

DENT: Yes.

CABRERA: We should note, Trump is still spouting dangerous lies about the election. As we speak, protesters are gathering at the Michigan state capitol, calling for a forensic audit of the 2020 results in that state.

Officials even had to take additional security measures after Trump issued a statement calling on supporters to attend this protest.

And that police lieutenant in charge of security said Trump is just pouring fuel on the fire.

Do you agree with that?

DENT: I do. Look, Donald Trump is a threat to the constitutional order. And he's a threat to the continuity of our institutions and our democratic way of life. Democrat with a small "D."


This is -- we've seen this. I mean, if the insurrection wasn't enough on January 6th, you know, we -- this -- this is just further proof that Donald Trump is on this wrecking-ball mission to destroy institutions.

He has very little reverence for democracy itself, which is what this republic is.


CABRERA: People in your party don't seem to be believe that. People in positions of party currently in your party -- Trump is out of office.

DENT: Yes.

CABRERA: And yet, the people who have the power right now are going right along with him.

DENT: This is the grand miscalculation. This miscalculation has been, oh, if we simply bide our time. We'll outlast Trump. If we're quiet, somehow this will work.

Silence has never worked with Donald Trump. Silence has empowered him. Because there's not been a counternarrative to Trump from within the party from leader.

Yes, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and a few others are standing up. But they need to be reinforced by many members, elected officials, who can change that narrative.

Like you said, there are a third of Republicans who don't want any part of Donald Trump. Over half of Republicans don't want him to run again.

I mean, there's fertile ground here for strong voices to lead. But they need to be supported. And they are not. And that is the tragedy of this. Because these members all know that

Donald Trump is not good for the party --

CABRERA: Well --

DENT: -- nor good for the country, and that he's a threat to the order.

CABRERA: You've got to wonder, what's going to be the wake-up call? What's going to be the slap in the face of one of these people?

DENT: Yes.

CABRERA: And for some members or former members of your party, they don't think it's going to happen unless Republicans are voted out of office.

You have people who were -- former members of the Trump administration, former New Jersey governor, who are now publicly calling on Republicans like yourself to vote for Democrats in the midterm.

Will you join them?

DENT: No. Look, there are -- I think we have to exercise judgment.

I am all for empowering the center of the political spectrum. So center-right, pragmatic Republicans are a good thing. And center-left Democrats, I think, are also a good thing.

But I think it would be unwise just to simply poll straight Democratic because the -- the far left is ascendant within the Democratic Party right now.

We just saw that recently with many of the reconciliation negotiations, how the moderates are pushed aside on the infrastructure bill in recent days. I mean, I think that's a little too much of a scattershot approach.

I think we have to be smarter and support Republican candidates, you know, who are going to support the rule of law. And if you feel that they are not doing that, well, then do what you have to do.

I supported Joe Biden in the last presidential election because I thought he was -- he was a legitimate alternative to Donald Trump. I didn't think we could take four more years of Donald Trump and this -- this never-ending chaos.

But I think the congressionals, we have to be a bit more discriminating.

CABRERA: Former Congressman Charlie Dent, thanks for talking with us. Thank you so much for joining us.

DENT: Thank you, Ana. CABRERA: More breaking news. Texas-based Southwest and American

Airlines both vowing to keep their vaccine mandates for workers in place despite Governor Greg Abbott's new ban on vaccine mandates. Details just ahead.



CABRERA: We're back with breaking news. Two major Texas-based airlines, Southwest and American, say they will continue implementing their employee vaccine mandates despite a new executive order from Governor Greg Abbott, which forbids any company in that state from doing so.

CNN's Matt Egan has reporting on this.

So what are the companies saying, Matt?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Ana. This is a really big deal because, just yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed this executive order banning all state entities, including private companies, from enforcing vaccine mandates.

And now you have both American and Southwest Airlines, two of the best-known brands based in Texas, come out saying they are going to continue to push ahead with vaccine mandates.

They found that the Biden administration's order supersedes the one coming out of Texas.

And, you know, I think that this could give political cover for more businesses to do the same here and go ahead with the vaccine mandates.

I suspect that we're going to see some of them do just that because, you know, they are worried. Companies are worried about keeping their employees and their customers safe from COVID.

And they want to move past this pandemic, which obviously is not good for business.

Ana, all of this shows how companies are increasingly being caught in the middle of this unfortunate political battle over vaccines.

CABRERA: But it also shows that companies are now more and more starting to embrace these vaccine requirements.

I mentioned earlier, you know, United has had a lot of success with their vaccine mandate with employees. And 99.-something percentage of employees now with the vaccine.

Let me ask you about gas prices, paying at the pump right now. Prices up $1 or so over this time last year. Why are we paying so much?

EGAN: You know, Ana, I think more than possibly any other product, Americans pay attention to the cost of gasoline. I mean, we see it every time we drive by the gas station. We feel it whenever we fill up.


So that's why it is so important that we've seen the regular price of gasoline go up to $3.27 a year ago. That is up from $2.19 a year ago. It's almost double the lows of April 2020.

And some people in states, including Illinois, in Washington State, California, of course, they're paying more than $3.50 a gallon.

U.S. oil prices have gone up and closed above $80 a barrel for the first time since 2014.

And demand has returned. People are driving and flying and commuting. But supply has not recovered nearly as quickly.

So that's why we're seeing all of this energy price sticker shock right now.

CABRERA: Matt Egan, good to see you. Thank you.

EGAN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Netflix is standing behind comedian, Dave Chappelle, despite the uproar over his transphobic jokes in a new comedy special. What they're saying, next.



CABRERA: Today, Netflix is standing by stand-up comedy legend, Dave Chappelle, as the comic and his new special, "The Closer," faced criticism of being transphobic.

CNN's Chloe Melas is following this for us.

Chloe, Chappelle's new special includes several minutes of jokes about trans people but Netflix says his special does not cross the line on hate.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hi, Ana. Thank you for having me.

And, listen, Dave Chappelle's new special, which debuted last week, is causing a lot of controversy, like you said. Many people not happy with it.

Take a listen to a clip from the special.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Canceled J.K. Rowling. My god, J.K. Rowling, who wrote all the "Harry Potter" books by herself.

(LAUGHTER) CHAPPELLE: She sold so many books, the Bible worries about her.


CHAPPELLE: And they canceled her because she said in an interview -- and it's not exactly what she said, but it is effectively. She said that gender was a fact.

And then the trans community got mad as (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and they started calling her a TERF. And so I looked it up. TERF is an acronym. It stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

I'm Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.


MELAS: All right, so, let me explain here. So we have GLAAD, who's come out and released a statement condemning the special.

You have celebrities and members of the LGBTQ community coming out and saying that they're not OK with this comedy that Dave Chappelle is doing.

And then you have Netflix, which has not taken a stance publicly.

But an email, Ana, has been leaked from CEO Ted Serandos. And we have part of that for you. Saying, "We don't allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence. And we don't believe 'The Closer' crosses that line."

So if you think about it, though, there are members of the Netflix company who have come out and posted on social media that they do not support this special. And that they identify as queer and trans and that this really offends them.

So as of now, Netflix not saying anything publicly but we know, behind the scenes, they're standing by Dave Chappelle.

CABRERA: Chloe Melas, thank you.

And thank you all for joining us. We're back tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern. Follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.