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Concerns Of Staffing Shortages Over Vaccine Mandate Disputes; Trump Gives Deposition In 2015 Trump Tower Assault Case; January 6th Committee To Vote This Week On Bannon Contempt Charges; Ex-U.K. Spy Defends Controversial Trump-Russia Dossier; Texas Deputies Ambushed Outside Houston Bar, 1 Killed; Manchin Takes Heat From Sanders, Draws Red Line On Child Tax Credits & Climate Initiatives; Trump Web Site Hacked, Replaced With Pro-Erdogan Content. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two-thirds of all eligible people are now fully vaccinated. COVID-related deaths are trending down. Cases and hospitalizations are falling to nearly three-month lows.

But health officials are still expressing concerns over the danger of failing to vaccinate more people.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There's always the danger that there will be enough circulating virus that you could have a stalling of the diminishing of the number of cases.

And when that happens, as we've seen in the past with other waves that we've been through, there's the danger of resurgence.

FIELD: This morning, as new signs emerge of a different version of the Delta variant seen in the U.K., former FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is calling for urgent research.


FIELD: And now a little bit more on the new version of the variant. According to Dr. Gottlieb, it is not cause for immediate concern though it is gaining prevalence slowly in the U.K. There's no evidence that it is more transmissible.

But, Alisyn, he's drawing attention to this because he's saying we have the tools in place to characterize these new variants.

There needs to be a global robust effort to do just that, to do it quickly so that we could try and keep up with this virus that is throwing so many curveballs.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And of course, a new variant does get out attention every time, for sure. FIELD: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Alex, thank you.

OK, so Donald Trump is being questioned on camera today in New York. This is part of a 2015 assault case at Trump Tower. New details on his deposition, next.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And there's a lot going on today. Here is what to watch.



BLACKWELL: Today, former President Trump is facing questions under oath in a video deposition. This stems from an alleged assault of protesters outside of Trump Tower in 2015.

The lawsuit alleges that Trump's then head of security hit one of the protesters who was demonstrating against Trump's immigration rhetoric.

CAMEROTA: This is not the first time Donald Trump has been deposed. In December of 2015, as part of a lawsuit over Trump University, he claimed he did not recall 35 times.

And he had this exchange with the attorney questioning him.





TRUMP: Could I see it?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: I could play you a video of --


TRUMP: Did I say I have a great memory or one of the best in the world?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: One of the best in the world. That is what we quoted for you.

TRUMP: I don't remember that. As good as my memories are, I don't remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: So you don't remember saying that --


TRUMP: I don't remember that.


CAMEROTA: Elie Honig is a CNN senior legal analyst and a former assistant attorney for the U.S. Southern District of New York.

Elie, great to see you.

Donald Trump has a well-documented history of obfuscation and lying. As a prosecutor yourself, today, how would you cut that? How would you cut through all of the "I don't remembers" though "I have a fantastic memory?"

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Alisyn, so first of all, you want to remind someone in that situation that you can lie to the public, you can lie on Twitter, you can lie at rallies. That is not good but that is also not a crime.

However, when you're under oath, even in a deposition, even in a civil case, that is potentially a crime. So the stakes are different.

The other thing you need to do is use other evidence, documents, recording and emails, like you saw the lawyer trying to do there, to discipline the witness.

So, say, I will show you this other piece of evidence and to keep the witness in line.

The last thing you could do is shape your questions. One fact per question. Very specific questions. If you get a nonresponse, ask it again.

But the bottom line is you're not going to get someone, say, who is untruthful to suddenly admit, "Yes, I've been a liar and I'm lying now." That's not going to happen.

All you can try to do is incrementally move them towards the truth.

BLACKWELL: Elie, let's turn toward the January 6th committee. They're going to vote on whether or not to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for defying the subpoena. He didn't hand over the documents or show for a deposition.

What are the consequences potentially for Bannon? What could he actually face?

HONIG: Yes, so the bottom line here is, if the Justice Department choose to charge him with contempt of Congress -- that is a big "if" - the maximum penalty here is 12 months, a year behind bars. It is a misdemeanor.

But interestingly, this is an unusual misdemeanor because there is a minimum of one month behind bars. You don't usually see that with a misdemeanor. So, if he's convicted.

But the big question is, what will Merrick Garland do? Will he bring these charges? Very unusual, historically, for A.G.'s to bring this charge.

But we've seen something interesting over the last several days, which is high-profile politicians, all the way up to Joe Biden himself, the president, saying they believe Merrick Garland ought to charge.

Now, DOJ pushed back. They said we will make our decisions completely independent of the president or anyone in politics.

But I think Merrick Garland understands the gravity of this decision coming up.

CAMEROTA: Elie, as I'm sure you heard, this weekend, Congressman Adam Schiff reiterated that no one is off the table in terms who have they might subpoena.

So it is realistic they could subpoena former President Trump?

HONIG: I don't think that is realistic. I don't see that happening.

First of all, as another member of the committee, Representative Adam Kinzinger, said, it is going to be a circus. And I think the committee wanted to avoid that.


Now should they subpoena Trump? Logically, of course. I mean, the main thrust of their inquiry is, what did Donald Trump know and what did Donald Trump do, leading up to and during January 6th.

But it seems what they're doing is they're going for all of people around Trump who would have had access to him. And that is why they've chosen Meadows and Scavino and Bannon and Kash Patel for subpoenas.

So I think it's unlikely that we're going to see a subpoena to Donald Trump.

And by the way, the committee understands that if they do that, they are in for a long, dragged-out battle in the courts.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about Christopher Steele. The former British intelligence officer, the man behind the Steele dossier, who claimed that Russian officials held compromising information on former President Trump.

He defended that claim and the claims he made in the dossier with his interview with ABC News. Let's watch.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So you stand by the dossier?

CHRISTOPHER STEELE, FORMER BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I stand by the work we did. The sources that we had and the professionalism which we applied to it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, today, do you still believe that that tape exists?

STEELE: I think it probably does. But I wouldn't put 100 percent certainty on it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you explain, if that tape does, indeed, exist, that it hasn't been released?

STEELE: It hasn't needed to be released.


STEELE: Because I think the Russian felt they got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was president of the U.S.


BLACKWELL: Well, first, Elie, what do you make of the decision to speak out now?

HONIG: Yes, it is interesting. The timing is interesting. The Steele dossier itself has become a lightning rod politically for both sides.

But I think the most important thing to remember is we have already seen, thorough investigations by three different entities, all of which concluded that there was ample basis for the FBI to open its investigation of Russian interference.

Robert Mueller concluded that. The Justice Department's inspector general concluded that.

And I think, most importantly, the Senate Intelligence Committee, last term, when it was under Republican control, concluded that as well.

So I think that is really the most important thing here.

CAMEROTA: OK, Elie Honig, thank you.

HONIG: Thank you both.

CAMEROTA: OK, so the Justice Department is now asking the Supreme Court to block that new Texas abortion ban, which, as you know, bans most abortions in the state at the first sign of a heartbeat.

That's at around six weeks, and that's before many women even know they are pregnant.

BLACKWELL: Legal challenges are pending. But the DOJ is asking the Supreme Court to step in immediately.

Saying that allowing the law to remain in effect would, quote, "perpetuate the ongoing irreparable injury to the thousands of Texas women who are being denied their constitutional rights."

The Supreme Court has given Texas until Thursday to respond.

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, an urgent manhunt for a gunman in Texas after three officers were ambushed outside of a bar in Houston. One of them was killed.



CAMEROTA: A manhunt is underway right now for gunman who ambushed three Texas deputies, killing one and wounding the other two.

Deputies Juqaim Barthen and Darryl Garrett and Kareem Atkins were attempting to detain a suspect outside of a bar in Houston early Saturday when a man with an A.R.-15 reportedly came out of nowhere and shot them.

BLACKWELL: Deputy Atkins, who just returned from paternity leave, was killed. Deputy Garrett was shot in the back. He's in the ICU.

CNN's Rosa Flores is joining us now.

Rosa, what latest on the search?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I talked to the Houston Police Department, which is the investigating agency in this case. And they tell me that the search is ongoing. No arrests have been made.

Here is what we know. At about 2:15 a.m. on Saturday, three deputies were working at an extra job at a bar here in Houston. They were in their uniforms.

Two of the deputies were outside of the establishment addressing a possible robbery when, out of nowhere, someone with an A.R.-15 started shooting.

The third deputy that was inside heard the shots, ran out, and was shot as well.

Here is what we know from Precinct Four about these three deputies.

And 30-year-old Kareem Atkins died. He's survived by his wife and 2- month-old. He worked at the Precinct Four since 2019.

And 26-year-old Juqaim Barthen was injured. He's worked with the precinct since 2019.

And 28-year-old Darryl Garrett was shot in the back. He's been a deputy there since 2018.

His fiance telling CNN that the three men were very good friends. Take a listen.


LAJAH RICHARDSON, FIANCEE OF INJURED HOUSTON DEPUTY DARRYL GARRETT: They're really close. Everybody called them the three amigos. They are -- they call each other brothers. They're best friends.

The love that they have for each other, you would think that they grew up from kids, even though they just met when they all got on the force. But they love each other so much.

It hurts me to see that now their friendship has to be broken and that they have lost a friend.


FLORES: The Precinct Four Constable's Office tells me that they've set up GoFundMe pages for all three deputies.

And authorities believe that the suspect in this case is a man in his 20s.

And Victor and Alisyn, as I said, this search is still ongoing. No arrests have been made.

BLACKWELL: All right, Rosa Flores, for us there in Houston, thank you.


CAMEROTA: OK. Now to Washington and the ongoing impasse over President Biden's infrastructure and social safety net agenda. So this battle between Senators Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin has burst into view. And we have the details next.


BLACKWELL: President Biden met with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal at the White House today. She is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Democratic leadership wants the president to take a more forceful, public role toward reaching a deal within the party. They know the stalemate between progressives and moderates threatens to sink his social safety net package.

CAMEROTA: So moderate Senator Joe Manchin is taking heat from Senator Bernie Sanders over the hold up.

We are learning more about Manchin's red lines, especially on climate change provisions.

CNN chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is here.

So, Manu, tell us about is Manchin willing to compromise? Has he dug in? Where is he today?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really unclear whether they can resolve his concerns and do it as quickly as the Democratic leaders want.


Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a private call last week, discussed what they both share here. They want the talks to end.

What is less clear is exactly how they will end. There's significant differences between progressives, who want a massive expansion of the social safety net.

They're willing to come down on the $3.5 million price tag. But they want to keep the number of programs but just limit the number of years in which they can offer those benefits.

But Manchin and along with Kyrsten Sinema want fewer programs. And Manchin, in particular, has pushed back on the climate change provisions, including reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next decade.

He, of course, hails from a coal-producing states. He does not support the program to do that, according -- from that Democrat proposal.

Also, other things Manchin has resisted, including expanding Medicare, tuition-free community college, paid family and medical leave, as well as he's raised concerns about the rate in which they want to increase corporate taxes.

All of which is uncertain how they will be resolved, which is one reason why Democrats, who are getting very anxious, are saying they want Joe Biden to make it clear what he is and is not willing to accept at this stage of the talks.

He is having Democrats over at the White House over the next day or so. We'll see if anything can be resolved.

But in talking to the number-two Democrat, Dick Durbin, moments ago, he told me it's, quote, "high anxiety" among Senate Democrats right now.

BLACKWELL: Manu, we know Senator Manchin does not like when party leaders come into local West Virginia media to try to influence him.

He didn't like it when Vice President Harris did it through local interviews on television there. He certainly didn't like it this weekend when Senator Sanders published this op-ed in a local paper.

How is Senator Manchin responding?

RAJU: Well, not well. In fact, he pushed back in a statement Friday night saying that no op-ed from a self-declared Democratic Socialist is going to change his opposition to supporting, quote, "reckless spending."

When I caught up with Joe Manchin earlier today, I asked him about Bernie Sanders calling him out.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): What we've done and what we continue to do for this country. And I want to make sure I respect it properly.

RAJU: He said you're holding up the Biden agenda.

MANCHIN: There's 52 Senators who don't agree. And there's two who want to work something out if possible, in a rational, reasonable way. The only thing they want us to do is pay $150 billion for what's

already happening. And to give utility clients $150 billion for what's already transitioned? We've transitioned.


RAJU: That last part is critical. What he's referring to is the provision that would provide about $150 billion to electric utilities and power plants that force them to transition away from using fossil fuels.

He says it is not necessary because they are already transitioning away from fossil fuels.

So he is drawing a red line in the central client components of that plan.

How does this get resolved? It's still a question months after negotiation having been ongoing -- guys?

CAMEROTA: OK, Manu Raju, thank you for the status report.

All right, this is just into CNN. The Web site for former President Donald Trump appears to have been hacked. A section of the Web site has been replaced with a religious slogan and a speech from Turkish President Erdogan.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is tracking this for us.

So, Alex, what happened?


Like you said, it is a section of the Donald J. Web site. This is his main Web site these days. This is the site he uses to communicate from because, of course, he has been kicked off of Twitter and Facebook.

This is part of the action section of this site, which is where there are calls to action, there are petitions on there, there are ways for people to reach out to the Trump office.

And people first started noticing this morning that it had been replaced with this page. It's a black page in which there's a lone figure holding an Islamic flag.

And some wording in Turkish, which reads, in part, "Do not be like those who forgot Allah. So Allah made them forget themselves."

Then there's a link to a video of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, giving a speech in which he quotes from the Quran.

Now, the person, the hacker who has claimed responsibility for this, is Root Ayyildiz. This is a name we have heard before. This is someone who claims to have defaced the campaign site for President Joe Biden several weeks after Biden officially won the election in November.

And the Intelligence Community actually referenced that defacement of the Biden site back in a report in March saying that it was part of a handful of unsuccessful hacktivist attempts to influence or interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections.


This is, Alisyn and Victor, part of the rise of hacktivism, in which hackers who feel strongly about a certain cause or a political cause, will take down and deface various Web sites.

BLACKWELL: All right.