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Erin Burnett Outfront

"Betrayal": Pelosi Reverses Course, Moves Forward with Infrastructure Deal Without Larger Bill, Irking Progressives; Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) Discusses About Speaker Pelosi's Reverse Course on Infrastructure Deal; Top Generals Contracting Biden Over Troop Presence in Afghanistan; Official: Laundrie Family Together at Campground in Early Sept.; Petito Family Atty to Brian Laundrie: "Turn Yourself In"; Laundries Camped Together After Brian Returned Without Fiancee; New Book Suggests Trump Had Colonoscopy During 2019 Hospital Visit. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 28, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, cancelled. President Biden abruptly canceling trip to Chicago as negotiations with his own party intensified. Can he keep his own party from killing his agenda?

Plus, the nation's top military officials under oath contradicting President Biden on Afghanistan. This as Gen. Milley says his calls to China at the end of Trump's term were approved by then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

And we now know new details about Trump's mysterious visit to Walter Reed Medical Center in 2019. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, showdown. Multiple battles coming to a head in Washington tonight as the clock ticks for President Biden and his party to save his entire agenda. And the President knows what's at stake, he's just announced that he's canceling a trip to Chicago as negotiations between the White House and top Democrats reach a feverish pace tonight.

There is a make or break vote, a day away on the President's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan that's set for Thursday. And progressive say they won't vote for that bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they get a $3.5 trillion spending bill too. And that bill is a bill that touches almost everything; health care, childcare, climate change. It's an everything and the kitchen sink bill for Democrats.

And tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says, nope, sorry. She is going to split the two bills apart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you disappointed that you had to de-link the

bills and it's taking longer than what you thought it was the initially?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Am I disappointed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That the bills are de-linked and what could happen, that anything could happen.

PELOSI: Well, I thought we were on a path. Then, there was an intervention as you know in the past week or 10 days of saying, well, we can't go there.


BURNETT: It's a 180 for Pelosi, because here she was in June.


PELOSI: Let me be really clear on this, we will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.


BURNETT: Okay. And now, obviously, that is not at all what's going to happen. And progressives are livid, they're revolting.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Our caucus is strongest when it's unified and decoupling these bills. It starts to pick priorities against one another and that's why I disagree with separating them.


BURNETT: So Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continued to say she plans to vote against the infrastructure deal, the bipartisan one, because they're not getting their other spending bill and she's not alone in that. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeting, "Let me be clear; bringing the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote without the Build Back Better Act at the same time is a betrayal. We will hold the line and vote it down."

And Illinois Congressman Chuy Garcia, "I've been clear from the start, these bills move together or they don't move at all."

Sen. Bernie Sanders egging everybody on weighing in now, tweeting, "No infrastructure bill should pass without a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. That is the agreement that was made and that is the agreement that must be kept."

All right. So this is, obviously, a big problem for Democrats. But it's not the only battle that's intensifying in Washington, because as all of this is happening, all this talk about trillions and new spending, the government is now on track to shutdown in a little over 48 hours and the U.S. is weeks away from its first ever default on paying its debt. Because Republicans were united in voting no to avert a shutdown and a default, they wouldn't raise the debt ceiling, even though that, of course, needs to go up because of a lot of spending that they themselves voted for in recent years. So Democrats are on their own on the entire debt ceiling crisis.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. So Manu, we saw both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House today. Are we any closer to knowing when a deal on the spending plan might be done? And I suppose I must predicate that upon with there can be a deal between those two senators and the White House that isn't a deal at all, because progressives don't like it.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we don't really know if that deal is even close at that point. Joe Manchin told reporters they are still not talking about a specific price tag. We said after his meeting with Joe Biden, that did not come up even though he and Kyrsten Sinema both have said the $3.5 trillion plan to expand the social safety net, they both have demanded that come down.

Now, Sinema came back from the White House. She would not respond to my questions and others questions about exactly what happened. And the conversations between the two sides are ongoing but concern is growing within the ranks. Democrats in both the House and the Senate want Sinema and Manchin to detail exactly what their demands are at this moment. But they are holding their cards close to the vest.

They've raised certain concerns in certain areas over issues ranging from climate change. And Manchin had raised those concerns, Sinema has been concerned about the corporate tax hikes in the plan.


Those are among the things that they're trying to negotiate. But a lot of the specifics the members don't know about and that is what's causing concern, particularly among the liberals who are now threatening to vote and en masse against that bipartisan infrastructure plan when it comes up for a vote on Thursday.

And during a private caucus call among the Liberals on the House earlier today, dozens of members spoke out against Nancy Pelosi's strategy to move that infrastructure bill on its own. And they are saying they have enough votes to scuttle that bill on Thursday, forcing Pelosi to potentially have to recalculate her plans.

So Erin, the next 48 hours is so critical here for the Biden agenda, what does Pelosi ultimate decide to do, they just had to punt on that bill, uncertain as of yet or even if a deal can be reached. But at the moment, a deal between Manchin, Sinema and the White House by Thursday seems unlikely.

BURNETT: It's pretty amazing. I mean, so as for the fight over the debt ceiling, which is urgent, this isn't debating a spending bill. This is urgent. This is money that has to be paid for money already spent that we don't have. Republicans are saying, no, they won't help Democrats raise it. Okay. So then what happens now? RAJU: It's unclear, because October 18th is now the deadline. That

will be, if the Congress is not able to raise the debt ceiling, it would be the first ever default in American history and there's no clear resolution. Republicans are demanding that Democrats go through what's known on Capitol Hill as the budget reconciliation process. So that's a process that takes about two weeks, some estimate longer than that to go through, but it also opens up Democrats what number of politically charged votes that had to take in the Senate.

Democrats do not want to go that route even though they could raise the debt ceiling on Democratic votes alone. Instead, they're calling on Republicans to join them, vote for it through the regular order. That would require 60 votes because any one senator can demand a 60- vote threshold.

And in the 50-50 Senate, there are not 10 Republican senators who plan to break ranks and vote to raise the debt ceiling. So as a result, a major staring contest happening here who will blink first, unclear. But I can tell you, Erin, behind closed doors, Democrats don't want to give in to Republicans. At a lunch today, they hope that Republicans would break as public pressure intensified. We'll see ultimately, if that happens.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you. And I want to go now to Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, because she is the Deputy Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. So in the heart of this and, obviously, a crucial decision maker, Congresswoman, so Speaker Pelosi today made that big move. She has separated the infrastructure bill, the bipartisan one and the reconciliation bill, the possible $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Obviously that was not the deal earlier this summer. Do you agree with Congresswoman Tlaib when she called this a 'betrayal'?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Well, look, I think that we want to vote yes on infrastructure, but we also want to vote yes on childcare, and on health care, on climate policy. This is the President's agenda. These items were never intended to be in two bills. And so whether they're split up into two bills or 10 bills, we need to pass them all. And I think that is what we're trying to accomplish.

And right now we're simply waiting for the Senate to come back to us and say what will they vote for, what is acceptable to Joe Manchin, what's acceptable to Kyrsten Sinema. We can't negotiate against ourselves.

BURNETT: All right. But that's what seems to be what's happening right now. I mean, you're the Deputy Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Chair of your caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, issued a statement after a meeting with your group this afternoon saying, "A majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill, after the President's visionary Build Back Better Act passes."

So look, this is this is really crucial, because as of now that is not how this is going says the Speaker. I mean, anything can happen in the next 36 hours, but that's not how this is going. So you have a big decision to make. I know you say you want to vote yes on both, but will you vote no on infrastructure if it comes first?

PORTER: I've said that I'll vote no on infrastructure until we have a framework and then an agreement and a path forward on the rest of the agenda. And I think it's really helpful to use an analogy here to help people understand kind of how the legislative process is working.

Often Congress is kind of like a crock pot. These bills simmer for a very long time, months after months. People go and have six snacks, you're not even hungry by the time that dinner is over cooked. This process is more like an instant pot. It's more like a pressure cooker. The pressure is building today, tomorrow, Thursday.

And then when we get this done, we're going to be able to take these votes in about 15 minutes. So even though it's difficult to wait, that is what we're doing. We're waiting to give a chance for that pressure to build so that all parties will come to the table with what they're really willing to do.

BURNETT: So two sources in the room during the Democratic caucus meeting today said Pelosi said that the reason for separating the two bills is that there is no agreement on the number, the $3.5 trillion.


What's your response to that? And ultimately, if Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema come back, and I mean obviously I'm making it up, but let's just say they come back with what they're willing to do and it's well below $3 trillion, is that something you ever get behind?

PORTER: Well, I think we have to see what that $3 trillion or lesser number is going toward. And so right now, we have neither a top line number nor a list of programs that they're willing to support. Once they put those things on the table, we are here, we are in Washington and we are working, we are listening and we are ready to get behind an agreement that can pass both the House and the Senate.


PORTER: But we need the senators to come to the table and tell us what they want.

BURNETT: So one thing that always troubles me about this, when anybody comes up with a bill is that people put in an estimate of what this is going to cost and it's over a certain arbitrary time period for things that people expect to last forever. It happens on both parties.

In this case, I want to talk about something specific, because we talk about what this cost. It actually costs a whole lot more than the number out there. Child tax credit as an example, right now, the estimate in the bill is that will cost $556 billion, half a trillion dollars for that and it continues to 2025. That's it. Then it goes away. Now I know that you don't want it to go away. I would assume you want

this to be permanent, correct me if I'm wrong. But if it's permanent, then the cost is a heck of a lot higher than 556 billion. What are the real numbers here? Does anyone even know?

PORTER: Well, I think part of the reason that we use time limited estimates is because the world changes. So as we are lifting kids out of child poverty today with the existing expanded child tax credit, we know that kids who grow up in good circumstances with real opportunity have the best chance of having families themselves who don't need that kind of help.

So it's important to make a reasonable, accurate estimate. And to do that, we have to put some kind of realistic timeframe. We can look ahead at what we think our economy is going to be doing in a year or five years, but we don't know what kind the economy is going to be doing. We don't know the population size looking ahead much further than that.

BURNETT: But you do in 2025 and that's only a few years away.

PORTER: That's correct. That's only a few years away and that is pretty typical in trying to think about how long to have programs last. You're right, some programs, by the way, do expire. There are programs that Congress goes back and revisit and that we might want to adjust, we might want to make changes, especially when it's a very substantial program. I think it's appropriate for Congress to have those have a firm time limit, so we can go back and assess and do that important oversight work that I love to make sure the program is functioning as it should be, to guard those taxpayer dollars by asking did this program work, did we get our money's worth and if not be willing to either revise the program or if it's really not working scrap it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congresswoman, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

PORTER: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the nation's top military officials telling a very different story when it comes to President Biden's claim that he was never advised to keep a small number of troops in Afghanistan.


GEN. KENNETH FRANK MCKENZIE, U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.


BURNETT: Plus breaking news, CNN learning Brian Laundrie and his parents went camping in the days after Brian returned home without his fiance, Gabby Petito but with her van. And a former Trump insider shedding new light tonight on Trump's visit to Walter Reed that was shrouded in secrecy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden's top military advisors contradicting him on Afghanistan and saying he was advised to keep a small U.S. Military presence there. The White House though refusing to say who told Biden to complete a full withdrawal. Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): The U.S. Military's most senior leadership, in charge of the war in Afghanistan today facing tough questions from a Senate committee.


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We certainly did not plan against a collapse of a government in 11 days.


MARQUARDT(voice over): Questions about the chaotic evacuation, the decision to withdraw, troop levels and how the Afghan army and government imploded so quickly.


AUSTIN: The fact that the Afghan Army that we and our partners trained simply melted away in many cases without firing a shot took us all by surprise and it would be dishonest to claim otherwise.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I think there was a lot of intelligence that clearly indicated that after we withdrew, that it was a likely outcome of a collapse of the military and collapse of the government.


MARQUARDT(voice over): The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, also in the hot seat over a series of revelations from the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa called Peril. The book reports that Milley reached out to his Chinese counterpart in the days before the presidential election, assuring him that all was okay and that the U.S. would not attack China.


MILLEY: I am certain that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese and it is my directed responsibility and it was my directed responsibility by the Secretary to convey that intent to the Chinese. My task at that time was to deescalate. My message again was consistent, stay calm, steady and deescalate. We are not going to attack you.


MARQUARDT(voice over): He spoke with Gen. Li, again, after the January 6 insurrection. Milley says he told not just his boss, the Acting Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary of State and the White House as well.


MILLEY: I personally informed both Secretary of State Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff Meadows about the call among other topics. Soon after that, I attended a meeting with Acting Secretary Miller where I briefed him on the call.


MARQUARDT(voice over): The hearing highlighted that the top generals thought that at least 2,500 U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan, putting them at odds with President Biden over his decision to withdraw all troops.


MCKENZIE: I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. And I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 at that time. Those are my personal views. I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.



MARQUARDT(voice over): Biden had told ABC News he didn't remember anyone recommending those levels to him.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: So no one told you, your military advisors did not tell you, no, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No one said that to me that I can recall.


MARQUARDT(voice over): Today, the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters, there were a range of viewpoints presented to Biden.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would note today in the testimony that was given by Secretary Austin, by Gen. Milley, they made clear Secretary Austin specifically said if you stay there at a force posture of 2,500, certainly you'd be in a fight with the Taliban and you'd have to reinforce.


MARQUARDT(voice over): Milley told lawmakers that right after the November election, he got an order from Trump to pull out all troops by January 15th right before Biden's inauguration. That order was rescinded, but the Pentagon officials said today that Trump's deal with the Taliban last year to withdraw had demoralized Afghan forces and contributed to their collapse.


MCKENZIE: The Doha agreement did negatively affect the performance of the Afghan forces and in particular by some of the actions that the government of Afghanistan was required to undertake as part of that agreement.



MARQUARDT(on camera): Gen. Mark Milley faced significant criticism from Republican senators today for speaking with reporters writing books. He admitted that he'd been interviewed for at least three books that were critical of former President Trump. Sen. Josh Hawley asked if Milley was distracted from Afghanistan as a result and told me that he should resign, Erin.

Milley told the senators that transparency is important for the American people to understand how the government works, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you.

And I want to go now to Max Boot. He is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. So Max, Gen. Milley rejecting GOP criticism of revelations in that new book, Peril. The revelation, of course, is that he called his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li, twice to assure him the United States would not be attacking China and furthermore said that he would tell them if we were going to. He says the former Defense Secretary Esper and others were completely in the loop. How important is that?

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think it's very important because that diffuses one of the incendiary charges that Republicans have been making against Milley. I mean, remember when the excerpts from the Woodward-Costa book came out, you have people like Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump accusing Gen. Milley of treason. That was the word that they used for this decorated combat veteran, claiming that he went behind Trump's back to undermine him talking to this Chinese general

And clearly, there was a lot less to the story than they thought. And I think Gen. Milley offered a very persuasive explanation that nobody has really rebutted to show that actually you kept everybody in the administration in the loop. He wasn't doing anything untoward. He was just doing his job.

And so I kind of wonder, Erin, when are Sen. Rubio and former President Trump and others, when are they going to apologize to Gen. Milley for the aspersions they have cast on his character?

BURNETT: Well, I can answer that question. Never.

BOOT: Yes. That's right.

BURNETT: But you heard, obviously, in that piece, that President Biden saying that no one had told him not to take all the troops out of Afghanistan and his top military advisors appear to contradict his claim that he was never advised and George Stephanopoulos did ask this directly, he was never advised to keep a small U.S. Military presence in Afghanistan. He said that he didn't get that advice. Let me just play again some of what we heard today.


MCKENZIE: I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

MILLEY: My assessment was back in the fall of '20 and remained consistent throughout that we should keep a steady state of 2,500 and it could bounce up to 3,500 maybe something like that.


BURNETT: And Defense Secretary Austin then confirmed President Biden did receive those recommendations. So how does the White House clear this up?

BOOT: It's very mysterious and obviously they're trying to spin around it and there was a little bit of ambiguity in President Biden's comments to George Stephanopoulos where at first he said that the advisors were split and then he said nobody had ever given me that advice. I honestly don't know why he would say that.

Because, I mean, there's a reason why Stephanopoulos was asking that question, because it was widely reported that the advice was given and nobody can deny that and today you had the generals themselves confirming that they had done that. So I don't know why Biden would deny that. I mean, there's no scandal in saying, yes, I got that advice and I rejected it because I decided that there were other considerations that were more important, which is clearly what happened.

So this was just kind of a ridiculous misstatement that President Biden made for no good reason and now they have to play clean up on that.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, it is because obviously they're all testifying under oath that it's not true.

All right. Max, thank you so much. I always appreciate you. [19:25:01]

BOOT: Thanks for having me, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next breaking news, new details about where Brian Laundrie went with his parents in the days after he returned from a road trip without his fiance who had been living with him but with her van. This as Gabby Petito's family has a new message for Laundrie.

Plus, what Trump said to Putin behind closed doors, Trump's former Press Secretary opening up about what she witnessed.



BURNETT: Breaking news, CNN just learning Brian Laundrie and his parents stayed together at a campground 75 miles from their home in early September, right after Brian returned home to Florida without his fiancee, Gabby Petito, who, of course, had been living with him there. So he showed up with her van but without her. They all went camping.

It comes as the lawyer for the Petito family accuses Brian's parents of not doing enough to find their missing son. Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice over): As the FBI leads the search for Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito's family speaking out, still searching for answers and justice for their Gabby.


RICHARD STAFFORD, PETITO FAMILY ATTORNEY: The Laundries did not help us find Gabby. There sure is not Going to help us find Brian.


For Brian, we're asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Petito's fiancee, Brian Laundrie, was reportedly last seen two weeks ago today. Police say his parents claim he left the house with a backpack to go to a nearby-nature reserve. They reported him missing three days later.

The Laundries releasing a statement through their attorney Monday night denying they helped their son get away, saying, in part, Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.

It comes as the family attorney tells CNN Brian Laundrie went camping with his parents at the park Ft. De Soto from September 6 to the 7th, shortly after Laundrie returned to Florida and just days before Gabby was reported missing. According to Petito's Instagram page, the couple visited the same park back in February, posting these images.

Local officials say they are not actively searching the park, and a former Park Ranger tells CNN it would be hard to stay hidden there.

JAMES WILSON, RETIRED SUPERVISOR, FORT DE SOTO PARK: With today's technology, probably damn near impossible in that small, little area.

SANTIAGO: The search for Laundrie intensifying. The mystery, deepening. After more than a week of the authorities focusing their search in the 25,000-acre nature reserve near the Laundrie's home, law enforcement officials say the FBI operation is being scaled back and targeted based on intelligence. All, while Gabby's family shares with the world their grief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, got behind a car yesterday and there was a Wyoming sticker. And the -- the letters were GBZ.



SANTIAGO: The parents and stepparents using tattoos, Gabby's own designs, to honor their daughter.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to have her with me all the time.


SANTIAGO (on camera): And, you know, Erin, you could really get a sense of the struggle within the Petito family to make sense of all of this. You heard the dad at one point saying during that press conference that they are just trying to find any way to find positive things that can come of this. One of the things they talked about is they are hoping to start a foundation in her name that could help others who have disappeared.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Leyla.

And now, I want to bring in Jim Clemente. A retired FBI profiler who has been analyzing this horrible case for us from the very beginning.

So, Jim, look, this is kind of getting at something you have been, I know, thinking about and circling around here for quite a while. And that is, the -- the -- the Laundrie family. And now, we are finding out that Brian and his family stayed at a campground 75 miles from their home and they do this after he returned to Florida without his fiancee who lived with them all in Florida but with her van. And he comes home and -- and they all go camping together.

What questions does this raise for you? JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: Well, obviously, if this is a

campground that he's familiar with, and I believe Gabby and he also had looked at that campground at some time before, that this could be a place that he might go to or stay at to hide out. But I think what's really interesting is the lawyer's statement was that Brian and his family went to this campground and his family left together.

I don't -- I don't know why he would drop out Brian and his family left together unless that maybe was a particular choice that he made, but he didn't say that they all went back home together. He said they left the campground together.

So I would wonder whether or not he departed from them sometime after they left that campground just based on the statement that the lawyer made.

BURNETT: All right. So -- and -- and, you know, as -- as you point out, right, the lawyer has been choosing his words very carefully. And so, it is important to -- to think about it that way. So the Laundrie family attorney denied that Brian's parents have helped him evade arrest.

And in a statement that says in part, quote, Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him.

Okay. So they say they hope the FBI can locate Brian. Now, have -- have you seen the Laundries act or behave in a way that would indicate they are -- they are frantically looking for their -- their son?

CLEMENTE: No, I haven't. In fact, I would wonder whether or not -- I mean, the only way that that could be possible is if they are doing things behind the scenes with the FBI because publicly they are not. They are not appearing to be interacting with the FBI at any time other than when the FBI knocks on their door with a search warrant.

And this is very troubling because if they actually want the FBI to find their son, they need to actually be active. And giving them access to all their phones, all their records, all their vehicles, and all their friends and family. And I just don't see that happening at this point.

BURNETT: So, there -- they're -- in the meantime, they are focused, obviously, on this nature reserve. And I spoke with a rancher who has worked near that nature reserve for 30 years, right? He -- he knows it like the back of his hand and this is now, of course, as you know, Jim, where police have been searching for Brian for the past ten-plus days. So I asked him, is there any way that Brian could -- could still be in there? And for -- alive, for one -- and here's what he told me about that.


ALAN MCEWEN, LONGTIME FLORIDA RANCHER: There is just no possible way to survive in there with the mosquitoes and everything else and the wetness, I mean, there's very few dry spots in there. There's just -- there's no way.


BURNETT: So, he says that -- that he couldn't be in there alive. He also told me he didn't think he could be in there dead because there had been no buzzards and because of the way -- first of all, he said large reptiles would -- would go away. They wouldn't attack. But if that had happened, they then drag a body underwater where it sits for ten days before they eat it.

Okay. So I'm -- I'm being gruesome here but he is making the case for their infrared would have found him, right? So, dead or alive, they would know if he was there. He says he is just not there. What do you think?

CLEMENTE: Well, I think, as the days pass, that probability is increasing that he is not there. But you also have to understand that -- that Brian Laundrie is fairly young, and obviously used to camping out and using his own survival skills.


CLEMENTE: Not just, you know, sort of a weekend camper. And so, he may be able to avoid detection for a while, especially if he had a head start and plenty of supplies and he had survival gear.

BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you.

CLEMENTE: All right. Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we are learning new details about why Trump took that secret trip to Walter Reed hospital, and why he kept it under wraps for so long.

And the tragic results of misinformation about COVID. One state reporting deaths linked to Ivermectin. That's the drug commonly used for livestock, after false claims that it's a COVID cure.



BURNETT: New tonight, we may finally know the reason behind former President Trump's mysterious visit to Walter Reed Medical Center in 2019.

Former Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham implying in her upcoming book that it was a routine colonoscopy, saying the visit was a, quote, very common procedure where a, quote, patient is put under. She points out former President George W. Bush, who had multiple colonoscopies as president, had a similar procedure while in office. Grisham also saying Trump did not reveal why he went there because, quote, he did not want to be the butt of a joke, pun intended, or to have Vice President Pence in power while he was sedated and that, obviously, very significant.

OUTFRONT now, Katie Rogers, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" who has read a copy of Grisham's manuscript.

All right, Katie. Appreciate your talking to me. So former President Bush puts then Vice President Cheney in charge when he had a colonoscopy because, yes, it's routine but you do have to be put under for it.

But Trump refused to do that, right? He didn't want Pence to know about it. According to Grisham's new book, Pence knew nothing about it even though the president of the United States was sedated and it all came down to two words for Trump, according to Grisham, his ego.

KATIE ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. Well, I think that -- so basic -- he was not sedated for the procedure, Grisham writes, to be clear. It's sort of a --

BURNETT: Like put under is the word she used? He was put under?

ROGERS: Was not put under in the end. So, yes, so -- so then-Vice President Mike Pence was told to hang around town just in case but not told the actual reason and Grisham goes on to write, you know, what I could not tell anybody was that he had undergone this procedure. He didn't want anybody to know about it.

And she also makes the point that her time with then-First Lady Melania Trump made it very clear that the Trumps were very secretive about their health. You'll recall that the former-first lady had her own visit to Walter Reed where she was treated for a kidney condition which Grisham does not write about in this book.

But, yes, she chalks it up to then-President Trump's delusions of his own invincibility to paraphrase her writing.

BURNETT: Which is interesting. And, you know, the whole book, I do just want to point out, this is a press secretary who never talked to the press. So, you know, I just think it's important. Nobody can confuse here that she is some whistle-blower. You know, during -- during all this time.

ROGERS: I think that's important to point out. I think that's really important to point out and she is also -- if you read the book which I did -- she -- she points out several times where what she told the press was actually not what was really happening.

Case in point, when Melania Trump wore the "I don't really care, do you" jacket to the Texas border facility. Do you remember they said at the time it's just a jacket, there is no hidden meaning and they really drilled that into the press that this had no reason to it. And she writes about how that actually was -- was not the case. So there are several moments in this book where she details her lying, you know, to the public as part of her job and not briefing as you point out.

BURNETT: So I want to talk about that moment because Grisham does write about, you know, at the time writes she said that there were no issues. But she writes allegations of Trump having affairs with women angered the first lady. She didn't believe his -- his denials about it and Grisham writes after the Stormy Daniels broke and all the allegations from the other women, I felt that Mrs. Trump was basically unleashed.

She had always been independent from her husband but now as a wronged and publicly humiliated first lady, she seemed liberated to do whatever she wanted or didn't want to do. I know that the jacket, "I really don't care, do you," you know, she -- she says that was specifically a message to the president about this.


But also, other things.

ROGERS: Well, I think that the jacket was actually the end result of something that had started when the Stormy news first broke and the news of Carrie McDougal broke. Like, that time period during her first ladyship, so to speak, they told all of us that Mrs. Trump didn't mind. She was fine. It doesn't get to her. She doesn't believe it.

But behind the scenes, as Stephanie Grisham writes, the first lady is telling her aides to omit the president from her written tweets, from photos of the two of them. She has them delete the word wife from a tweet. She wants to be known as first lady and mother, not wife.

There is one instance right after one of the first Stormy Daniels' interviews where Melania Trump posts her own tweet marking the one- year anniversary of her husband's inauguration. There's no -- there's no image of him. Instead, she is with a military aide which was also on purpose.

BURNETT: All right. Wow.

All right. Well, Katie, thank you very much. I appreciate your sharing the details that you know.

ROGERS: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, tonight, deaths linked to Ivermectin as false claims spread that the drug that's often used for livestock is a miracle cure for COVID.

And former President Obama on what he thinks is becoming the biggest threat to democracy.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Start seeing more division and increasingly bitter conflict.



BURNETT: Tonight, misinformation kills. New Mexico reporting that at least two deaths have been tied to Ivermectin. A drug commonly used to treat worms in livestock as a treatment for COVID. This comes as Media Matters of America, a liberal watchdog group, found 60 Facebook groups dedicated to Ivermectin with tens of thousands of members. Twenty-five groups have already been reportedly shut down from messages like this one, Ivermectin is clearly the answer to solve COVID and the world is waking up to this truth.

The surgeon general, among others, have warned while Ivermectin can be prescribed for humans as an anti-bacterial dewormer, it is not a cure for COVID.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. David Scrase, the human services secretary and acting-health secretary for New Mexico.

And, Doctor, I appreciate your time. Look. It -- this has had consequences. I know you are aware of two people at least, whose deaths have been tied to taking Ivermectin for COVID. Can you tell me more about those two deaths, and how widespread the use is of this drug as a, quote/unquote, COVID treatment?

DR. DAVID R. SCRASE, NEW MEXICO HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY & ACTING HEALTH SECRETARY: Well, we first heard about these patients a couple weeks ago. They were in the hospital. And as a result, our department of health put out a requirement for all facilities to report any kind of Ivermectin-related events.

We also partnered with our poison control center in New Mexico here at the University of new Mexico to track these. And so, the two deaths were -- one was in a 38-year-old woman. Another, in a 79-year-old man.

They weren't -- they were -- they were both cases where the patients were not seeking appropriate medical care for active COVID infections because they were taking Ivermectin instead.

And so, the -- while people had toxicities from the Ivermectin itself and we have had, actually, 15 patients just in the past two months here in New Mexico, call the poison control center with symptoms. These two deaths were related to delayed care from relying on an unproven treatment, rather than seeking out medical care.

BURNETT: I mean, it's tragic. And, you know, another Facebook post -- another group about Ivermectin "The New York Times" quoted this way. Ivermectin paste, do you take orally? Or rub into your skin? Read one recent post in a Facebook post. Another one, put it in a cracker with a dab of peanut butter was a response.

And I don't say that to be funny. I say that just to prove how pervasive it is, and how powerful it is. You are talking about the poison control. In Texas, they say that poison control hotline calls from Ivermectin exposure have more than tripled. Just so far this year.

How do you -- I mean, how do you even start to combat kind of this widespread misinformation? I mean, you are talking about people who died because, instead of seeking qualified-medical care, they chose to take Ivermectin. SCRASE: Yeah. You know, I think the best analogy that I use is if I,

as a middle-aged man, have crushing sternal chest pain that goes into my jaw, down into my arm. And feeling short of breath and feeling dizzy. I can take anti-acids, but that's not going to help me. There is proven treatment for a heart attack. It's taking an aspirin and calling 911.

And so, I think what's -- we are seeing -- we've seen 20 calls this year, 15 in the past two months. More than half of the folks ended up going into a hospital or urgent care to get treatment. Ten of them were using a veterinary-type of medication, paste, tablets. One used an injection, but fortunately they drank it, they did not inject themselves.

And so, we had even one person who took an overdose of Ivermectin in a suicide attempt.

Now, I am still a practicing physician. I recently prescribed Ivermectin to a patient with a rare parasite infection, at least rare here in America. The dose we give is, like, a 3-milligram tablet. And the folks that call the poison control center had taken between 1.7 -- just less than 2 milligrams -- up to 117 milligrams. So that's 30- times more the recommended dose.

And so, those are the folks that had some of the symptoms we've heard on the hotline.


And -- and I just -- briefly, agitation, confusion, drowsiness, lots of GI symptoms, fever, hallucinations are common. Also, seizures, vomiting, and then our two patients went on to develop renal failure, kidney failure, and liver failure which was a combination, we believe, primarily of the COVID infection that -- that was not treated in time.


BURNETT: Well, Doctor, I hope -- I hope that people -- that people hear this. I mean, it is just so tragic when you have these I mean just totally needless deaths. Deaths that are needless, anyway, because of the vaccine being available. But then, people choosing this.

It's just awful. Thank you so much for taking your time to share with me. Thank you.

SCRASE: Happy to be here. Thanks for the great questions.

BURNETT: All right.

SCRASE: And next, former President Obama with a warning tonight to the country as he broke ground on his presidential center.


BURNETT: Former President Barack Obama with a warning today about the threat to democracy as he broke ground on his presidential center in Chicago.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The politics that feeds anger and resentment towards those who aren't like us. And starting turning away from Democratic principles in favor of tribalism and might makes right.


BURNETT: He also talked, of course, about starting his political career right there in Chicago.

Thanks so much for watching.

It's time for Anderson.