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Erin Burnett Outfront

"McConnell Caved": Sen. Minority Leader Offers Temporary Debt Limit Solution to Avert "Devastating" U.S. Debt Default; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Discusses About Mitch McConnell's Proposal of Temporary Solution; CNN: Panel Investigating Jan. 6 Riot Can't Find Ex-Trump Aide to Serve Subpoena; Deadline Tomorrow to Comply with Doc Request; Lawmakers Clash Amid New Dem Push on Voting Rights; Police Mak Sudden Return to Nature Reserve in Hunt for Laundrie; Voters Frustrated with Dem Infighting As Biden's Agenda Stalls. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, McConnell blinks after weeks of stalling and refusing to act on the debt ceiling. McConnell appears to be giving Democrats an out tonight. Should they take it?

And Stacey Abrams is OUTFRONT on the new push for voting rights. Donald Trump says she'd be better than the current Georgia governor and all the speculation about what she's running for next.

Plus, heavy police presence today at the Florida nature preserve where Brian Laundrie went before vanishing as the Laundrie family lawyer changes the timeline of events surrounding Laundrie's disappearance. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, McConnell blinks. The GOP Minority Leader offering Democrats the shortest of short-term options to avoid an American debt default, with 12 days to go until the first U.S. default and U.S. history, he blinked giving Democrats until December or up to December to find a way to raise the debt limit on a hundred percent party lines. Despite saying today, yesterday and a whole bunch of times before that that Democrats are on their own here.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Democrats need to tackle the debt limit.

There's a clear path to achieve raising the debt ceiling, which must happen, America must not ever default and doing it with Democrats only.

There is no chance, no chance the Republican Conference will go out of our way to help Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, sure, tonight's delay is better than defaulting in 12

days. Okay. So let's just be clear, it's better than that. But it is an embarrassment. You don't run a business or a household and you certainly shouldn't run a country this way. Oh, another six weeks to worry about the default. Well, we'll do this all again.

But for lawmakers, it's all a game of political brinksmanship while America is losing big. Because just to lay out these numbers right now, the United States is carrying $28 trillion in accumulated debt. The size of debt in this country dwarfs the size of the entire U.S. economy. Debt is 125 percent of the entire gross domestic product of the United States.

Now, that would be beyond a crisis for any other country on Earth. We need to be able to borrow money. Instead, we're going to go through a few more trillion on. The U.S. saved - it's been saved so far by being, well, frankly, the United States. But it won't stay that way forever and the massive debt pile isn't going to go away in a matter of weeks.

I mean, yes, it is true, Republicans need to help fix the problem, because by the way they ran up trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars of this entire mess to begin with. Under Trump's watch, the nation's debt rose $7.8 trillion, almost 40 percent higher debt he left than when he started. And it's true, Mitch McConnell himself has had no problem voting to raise or suspend the debt limit in the past, 32 times to be exact according to The Washington Post count.

But it is also true that Democrats have refused to help Republicans when they didn't want to take the heat. I want to quote one Democratic senator in 2006 when George W. Bush was president, when not a single Democrat joined Republicans to raise the debt limit, right? It was, okay, you're going to do it all on your own, all on your own, on your own just like happening now.

Well, here's what the senator said. He said, "Because this massive accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against the debt limit increase." That was Sen. Joe Biden. Every word could be said now.

But now President Joe Biden wants Republicans to take some of the blame. He and leaders from every corner of government in business sounding the alarm today in just how important this issue is.


BIDEN: We need to act. These leaders know they need to act. The United States pays its bills. It's who we are. It's who've been. It's who we're going to continue to be, God willing. That's what's called the full faith and credit, the United States.

JAMIE DIMON, JPMORGAN CHASE CEO: An actual default would be unprecedented. The things we know that it would do are very bad and it could be potentially far worse.

JANET YELLEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Even delaying action can cause harm to business and consumer confidence, raise borrowing costs, disrupt financial markets and cause a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. Second, let me be clear, this would be a catastrophic outcome.


BURNETT: Well, it is the U.S. economy at stake. That's also the U.S. military dominance. And a bipartisan group of seven former defense secretaries writing a letter to Congress that failing to work together and raise the debt ceiling would lead to 'catastrophic consequences for the Defense Department, our military families and our position of leadership in the world'.

This is not good for anyone. In fact, it's bad for everyone and it will be equally bad, a few weeks from now, when we're back to Groundhog Day and Democrats have to go through the same process and figure out all over again how to get this done without Republican help.


Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. So Manu, okay, this is sort of like delaying the death penalty here for a few more weeks, what happens now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is kicking the can down the road, no question about it because they are likely to avert the immediate crisis. But what are they going to do come November, I asked Bernie Sanders, the Budget Committee Chairman that exact question. He said, we'll see things can change in a couple of months. But it's unclear if the dynamics will change in any way.

Now, the immediate issue is likely to be resolved, because they still need to draft in legislative language what this short-term debt ceiling increase would be. Likely it will be up until about December or so. And then once that's drafted, it has to go to the actual process, they have to have votes in the Senate and in the house, get it approved, get it done before that October 18th deadline. They likely will do it but we'll see if there are any hiccups along the way.

Then the question too then will become how do they deal with the long- term issue. Mitch McConnell wants Democrats to use that budget process that would allow them to circumvent a Republican filibuster and raise the debt ceiling on both by their own. But Democrats say they don't want to go that route, because it's a circuitous and labor intensive route and it would force them to take a whole host of votes that they don't want to take on amendments in that budget process.

So the question will be how will they do that, because going the regular order requires 60 votes in the Senate. That means 10 Republicans are going to have to vote with 50 Democrats and they don't have any Republicans that will vote with them at the moment. But Erin, importantly, Mitch McConnell made clear one reason why he

was offering a short-term debt limit increase. He told his colleagues behind closed doors, I'm told, that he's concerned that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were getting a lot of pressure and they ultimately changed their position and got the Senate's filibuster rules to make it easy to pass a debt ceiling increase on a simple majority of 51 senators.

That is one reason why he told in this conference, he's making this short-term offer to ease pressure on them. And Erin, I am told that Manchin and McConnell have spoken several times this week, including over the debt ceiling and the filibuster. Erin?

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

OUTFRONT now Democratic Senator Chris Coons. So Senator, I appreciate your time tonight. Okay. All of this happening sort of fast and furiously today, would you accept McConnell's proposal?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Erin, as best as I understand it, what's happened late this afternoon is McConnell has blinked. President Biden and a unified Democratic caucus has consistently refused to move forward through reconciliation with raising the debt ceiling. Sen. McConnell is now offering to have his caucus step aside and let Democrats, all 50 of us, come to the floor and vote for a short-term debt ceiling raise. And I think we will accept that so we can move forward with finishing the work to pass the Build Back Better Act agenda.

BURNETT: Okay. But you use the word blink and I think it's a fair one as opposed to cave.


BURNETT: Because sure, you get this little delay but, I mean, you use the word short-term. I mean, this is short-term. We all know, this is not the way this should be done. You're getting six extra weeks from where you would have had a default until there's a default.

So then what happens? They're saying Republicans aren't going to help you again when this happens in a few weeks, so are getting back to Groundhog Day?

COONS: So two things, Erin, Sen. McConnell put out a statement that he expects over the next six weeks, we will use reconciliation to deal with the debt ceiling. We won't. We wouldn't do it this time. We won't do it next time.

BURNETT: So you're categorical on that.

COONS: So we will be back in exactly the same position in six weeks. Part of why I think he blinked was that Democrats, almost all of us or perhaps all of us are willing to change the rules to end these debt ceiling standoffs. And my hunch is over the next six weeks, we'll have conversations both in our caucus and with Republicans who don't see any positive value in these debt ceiling standoffs. In the 11 years I've been a senator, they've happened far too often.

The debt ceiling standoffs don't produce fiscal discipline, they produce political fingerpointing and put at risk our whole economy.

BURNETT: You're totally right about that. Every time there's a debt ceiling, there's a giant fight. It goes up so to spending. So you're categorical here on the reconciliation issue, but then you said something or almost all of us, talking about Democrats. So let me ask you about that point because one option that many Democrats have mentioned here would be to change the filibuster rules so that you could do this.

COONS: That's right.

BURNETT: And McConnell told Republicans today that he made his proposal because he's worried about that. You do that and there's big, big problems as he sees it.

COONS: That's right.

BURNETT: And obviously many on your side see it as well. But you said, I quote you, Sen. Coons, "They're very well may be enough votes to change the filibuster rules to let the debt ceiling advance." So to do that though you'd need every single Democrat.

COONS: That's right.

BURNETT: But here's what, of course, Sen. Manchin said today.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I've been very, very clear where I stand, where I stand on the filibuster. I don't have to repeat that. I think I've been very clear, nothing changes.


BURNETT: To be clear, he opposes changing the filibuster, so ...

COONS: Right.

BURNETT: ... what happens there? It seems you're at an impasse.

COONS: So, Erin, I don't speak for Sen. Manchin, but my strong sense is that there was unanimity in our caucus that we weren't going to let the country default and that we didn't have the time and we weren't willing to take up going through the whole reconciliation process again. That only left one other option, which was McConnell blinks or caves or we change the rules.

So I think part of the backstory what happened today is that McConnell got the message loud and clear that although Sen. Manchin is unwilling to change the filibuster rule for general legislation, there may have been a conversation and I'm just guessing here about a willingness to change the rule just for the debt ceiling. Because all of us who've been here for a decade or more and Sen. Manchin and I came in together on the same day, all of us are sick and tired of the debt ceiling games of chicken.

BURNETT: So I want to ask you one other thing, Senator, if I may before you go, because you're on the Foreign Relations Committee as well here and there are big things happening with China right now. Today Taiwan's Defense Minister warned that China may have the ability to mount a full scale attack against Taiwan in the next three years.

Obviously, there's been military incursions there increasingly menacingly over the past few weeks. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken strongly urge China to stop its military activity around Taiwan. He has reiterated the U.S. commitment to Taiwan. But clearly, China's testing that. So do you believe the U.S. should do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan against China even if that means using the military?

COONS: Well, Erin, I recently traveled to Taipei to Taiwan in a bipartisan delegation to deliver badly needed COVID-19 vaccines to a nation that was facing an unexpected spike. And I think it's important that we continue to push back on China on the PRC and their aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

They have in recent days, sent wave after wave of a jet fighter aircraft, of bombers all around the perimeter of Taiwan and we need to do more to strengthen our competitive posture with regards to China here at home by passing through the House and sending to President Biden's desk the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act that we pass on a bipartisan basis here months ago.

And in that bill, there are significant investments that will help strengthen our Indo-Pacific partners like Taiwan and other countries in the region that are doing their best to defend democracy and to stand up to an increasingly assertive China.

BURNETT: Sen. Coons, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

COONS: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And join me tomorrow night for a very important interview with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the debt ceiling, the economic recovery and what the U.S. can do about China. That's tomorrow night right here on OUTFRONT.

And OUTFRONT next, Trump attacks the January 6th investigation claiming the real insurrection was on Election Day. This as several of his top aides face a deadline tomorrow to hand over documents. Will they defy the subpoenas?

Plus, a development in the search for Brian Laundrie with law enforcement suddenly returning to the area he reportedly went to before he disappeared three weeks ago.

And Lindsey Graham speaking to a crowd of his own supporters booed and shouted down after encouraging them to get the COVID vaccine.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): But I'm with you on let's don't mandate it.


GRAHAM: I'm with you that it's probably unconstitutional.





BURNETT: Tonight, former President Donald Trump issuing a remarkable statement even for him as he calls for an end to the House investigation into January 6th saying, "The real insurrection happened on November 3rd, the Presidential Election, not on January 6th, which was a day of protesting the Fake Election results." The election he calls fake, of course, was and I quote the person in charge of the security there for him, for Trump, "The most secure in American history." That's what his own election officials said.

Of course, several people died following the Capitol insurrection on January 6th, provoked by Trump's election lie that he now is putting out there in black and white, all in one complete sentence. This as former top Trump aides have until tomorrow to turn over documents in response to subpoenas by the House Committee.

People like former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and adviser Steve Bannon, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, who hasn't even been physically served his subpoena because the Committee cannot find him.

OUTFRONT now, Elie Honig, former Federal Prosecutor and, of course, our Senior Legal Analyst. I mean, Elie, this is pretty incredible. These former Trump aides, they are supposed to turn over documents tomorrow, so let's just start with the basic question, is there any way any of these people are going to comply and what happens if they don't?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, I'm virtually certain they will not comply. And if and when that happens, Congress is going to have three options. First of all, historically Congress has had something called the inherent enforcement power. Meaning they used to send out the sergeant at arms. He would arrest people and then lock them up in a prison on Capitol Hill. However, that power has not been used in nearly a hundred years. It's very unlikely to come back now.

Second, Congress can go to the courts ask a federal judge for an order requiring these people to testify under potential civil and even criminal penalties. The problem with that is Trump and his people are very likely to fight that in the courts. They're likely to lose, but they also could drag this out. The courts move very slowly and Congress in the courts need to move quicker.

And then third, Congress can refer this matter over to DOJ and then it's up to DOJ whether they bring a criminal charge for contempt of Congress. So if that happens, Merrick Garland is going to have a really consequential decision to make.

BURNETT: Right. Which, of course, I know it's important, I know the power, but I know of course it's not a decision he wants to make, because you don't want to put in the position of being called political. The Committee though still can't find Dan Scavino. Two weeks after issuing him a subpoena. This was the social media guru of the Trump administration. Obviously, Scavino is keeping himself scarce, not necessarily easy to do, but that's the strategy here.


How unusual is that and will it work?

HONIG: Well, it's bizarre but it's also deliberate. Let's be clear about what this is. This is the delay strategy. It is a strategy and it is intentional. And the thing is, Erin, it has worked for Donald Trump and his people before.

If you look at when Congress tried to investigate after the Mueller report, when they tried to investigate the first impeachment over Ukraine, these things got bogged down in the courts and they took months, even years. And as a result, Congress really got next to nowhere with those investigations.

So it seems clear, this is what Scavino is trying to do. If he was willing to testify or even play ball, he can easily make himself available. And so again, Congress needs to be ready to fight here and they need to be ready to move very quickly, because Trump and his people are trying to run out the clock.

BURNETT: Right. And so then how does this end? I mean, is there any way you really believe, Elie, that this ends with we, the people, hearing anything from any of these people?

HONIG: Here's the big question, how hard is Congress willing to fight and are people like Merrick Garland willing to make bold and courageous and really unusual decisions? For example, if Merrick Garland has to make this decision about whether to charge criminally, nobody has been charged criminally for about 50 years under contempt of Congress.

The last several times these decisions have come to DOJ, they've passed. Well, is Merrick Garland just going to say, this is the way it's always been done. It's the easier way out. Or is he going to stand up for accountability and for full disclosure here, that's going to be up to him and not the Congress, ultimately.

BURNETT: All right. Elie, thank you.

HONIG: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Next, the search of Brian Laundrie intensifying today with a sudden surge of police at that massive nature reserve as Gabby Petito's family speaks out saying that they hope that he is captured alive.


JOE PETITO, GABBY PETITO'S FATHER: I just hope he's found. I really do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll be found.

PETITO: No, I mean, like alive.

NICOLE SCHMIDT, GABBY PETITO'S MOTHER: I want to look in the eyes.


BURNETT: Plus, Stacey Abrams on the fight over voting rights heating up again tonight and this ...


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course having her I think might be better than having your existing governor if you want to know the truth.

Stacey, would you like to take his place? It's okay with me.




BURNETT: Tonight, a cynical power play. That's how Republican Sen. Ted Cruz describes the push for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as Democrats make a renewed push for the voting rights with the bill, which would make it easier for the Justice Department and minorities to challenge election rules that they believe are discriminatory.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): If state legislators and others are going to defame and diminish our democracy, we in the Congress have a duty to defend it.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): This bill is a disaster. Why change what has worked for 240 years.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): We know that John Lewis bill, let me just step back, will stop states with a history of racial discrimination from rolling back voting rights in the future.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): This bill is an assault on democracy. This is a power grab, it's cynical and it's wrong.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Stacey Abrams, former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia and the founder of Fair Fight Action which fights voter suppression. So you heard Sen. Grassley say this bill is a disaster, Sen. Cruz calling it an assault on democracy, a power grab by Democrats, what do you say to them?

STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT FOUNDER: Well, I would first point out that Sen. Grassley referenced a 240-year history where it has taken multiple constitutional amendments, multiple federal laws and untold number of court cases to ensure access to democracy. And unfortunately, in the wake of the 2020 election, we have watched 48 states tried to pass laws, we've had 19 successfully do so to rollback access to the right to vote.

And so it's been 240 years of fighting to simply have access to the right to vote for so many Americans who should be entitled to it via their citizenship.

As for Sen. Cruz, the only cynicism is the cynicism to stand in a state like Texas which has taken it upon itself to outdo almost every other state with its attack and assault on democracy and access for communities of color to suggest that protecting access to the right to vote and defending the freedom to vote, that those are cynical access - unfortunately, is a partisan response and not a patriotic response.

Patriotism says that we defend the right to vote no matter who needs to use it and that's the work that we're doing and that's the work of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, because there's some people watching who may say, okay, Democrats tried really hard and Congress failed to get this done, so that just was another thing they failed to do. But this is the fourth Senate hearing on this session of Congress on voting rights. And as I said, they failed before to push through the more sweeping For the People Act.

There have been no signs since that failure that 10 Republican senators are going to back this bill, because you need that filibuster proof majority in order to get it through. Why do you think this time will be different and this will succeed?

ABRAMS: I would reject the notion that we've seen failure, what we've seen is movement. Each time there has been the argument that there is no way to move this bill forward. We have seen senators come to the table and take action. We have seen Sen. Joe Manchin put forward a framework and when we were able to work collectively to meet those concerns, we saw his name go on that bill and we saw the Democrats in the Senate stand up and say together they are willing to protect the freedom to vote and what we need to do now is to continue to push this forward.

I watched the earlier segment on the debt ceiling and the reality is we are in a bit of a Groundhog's Day with the conversation of democracy. We keep having to have these fights. But luckily for me, luckily for millions of Americans, when we continue to fight, we win.

And then this fight, this fight for fair elections, this fight for freedom to vote, we believe that if we keep pushing and if we invoke the spirit of those who pushed this so hard, we will get to the promised land and we will get to the finish line and finally have a minimum set of standards for the right to vote in the United States. And we will have the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that restores a pinnacle of achievement for our democracy and that is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to the right to vote.

BURNETT: So as you speak out, there are many who listen; some who support you and some who do not.


So one of those or at least one of those used to be former President Trump. But he recently invoked your name multiple times at a rally in your state of Georgia and he slammed your Republican governor, Brian Kemp, for refusing to back Trump's big lie and overturn the election.

Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: When Stacey Abrams says I'm not going to concede, that's okay. No problem. Oh, she's not going to concede. She's not going to concede. Of course, having her, I think, might be better than having your existing governor if you want to know the truth.

Stacey, would you like to take his place? It's okay with me.


BURNETT: Okay, so, of course, you ran against Governor Kemp. But now, you have got the former president out there saying these things about you.

Does him invoking your name like this help or hurt you?

STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT FOUNDER: It's irrelevant. His posture is not relevant to the work that I'm doing or to the positions I take. My responsibility is to do what I can to ensure that no matter who you are, and no matter who you choose, that you have the freedom to vote in the United States.

And that is why we have to keep laser focused on the assault on our democracy. An assault that not only happened on January 6th but has happened again and again since that time in statehouses that have restricted access to the right to vote and constricted not only that but the ability of election workers to do their jobs. We are seeing election workers being put under direct assault and that is something we have to push back against. We have to stop this aversion of our elections. And because we're in a generational moment of redistricting, we have to ensure that every single voter has the right to pick their leaders, not have their -- not be picked by their politicians based on who they think they'll vote for.

BURNETT: So, you know, but on this front, you know, and obviously, you pointed out the violence about -- against election workers. You have seen that in your own state, right, against election workers at every level regardless of their politics and regardless of who they voted for in the last election. There has been so much speculation about what you're going to do now that you may run again against Governor Kemp this year. You haven't ruled it out. Where do you stand tonight?

ABRAMS: I stand on the side of passage of the freedom to vote act and the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And I'm -- I'm very intentional about this because we have to stop treating this as one more political battle. This is a battle for the soul of America. This is a question of whether we will be a democracy that can be looked to by other nations as a symbol of what we can be, or if we are going to be seen on the downward side of authoritarianism.

BURNETT: Do you think you can get -- you can get ten Republicans onboard? I know you are trying to -- to present it as you've seen progress and I hear why you are doing that because you are able to have it come back. I get -- I get how you are talking about it. But yet, you have to get ten of them. And right now, there's not even one.

ABRAMS: I spent 11 years in the Georgia statehouse, 11 years in the minority and what I can tell you is there are strange bedfellows every day on legislation. But more importantly, when you are fighting for fundamental rights, when you are fighting for the freedom to protect our democracy and to have access to that democracy, we don't have the luxury of cynicism. We don't have the luxury of giving up.

I do not know. I cannot say today exactly how this will come together but I will tell you that I will spend every single day from now until it does to make sure that we are protecting our -- our freedoms here in the United States and that means the freedom to vote.

BURNETT: All right. Stacey Abrams, thank you very much.

ABRAMS: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, a heavy police presence today at the Florida nature reserve where Brian Laundrie went before he disappeared. So, why are investigators back and in such a big way?

Plus, she campaigned for Biden but now she's fed up with the Democratic party infighting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like healthy and dysfunctional family to air your grievances but I don't think it's smart.




BURNETT: Tonight, a large police presence just leaving a Florida nature reserve. That's the last place Brian Laundrie's parents say they knew he was headed. It comes as the attorney for Laundrie's parents say he was gone even longer than we previously knew before they reported him missing.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.



ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Gabby Petito's fiancee, Brian Laundrie now missing for more than three weeks, law enforcement still searching for him in the 25,000-acre Carlton Nature Reserve joined by officials from the Sarasota County sheriff's office. Authorities not saying what brought additional officers to the area today.

Petito's parents and step parents and their lawyer in an interview with Dr. Phil say they hope finding Laundrie will lead to answers about what happened to their daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just hope he's found. I really do. Like, I -- I -- no, I mean like alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to look him in the eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more he runs, the more he hides, the less he can try to say it was -- it was a mistake or he had nothing to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to see him in a jail cell for the rest of his life.

JONES: This as a lawyer for Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie's parents, clarifies when Brian left home with a backpack telling his parents he was headed to the nearby reserve. The Laundries, initially, told law enforcement he left Tuesday, September 14th. But Stephen Bertolino now telling CNN we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, September 13th. Bertolino saying the Laundries have had no contact with Brian, and are concerned.

Petito and Laundrie had spent weeks traveling cross country in Petito's white Ford van, but Laundrie returned to the Florida home he and Petito shared with his parents in her van without Petito on September 1st. Her body was found in Wyoming on September 19th. The coroner ruling the death a homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in an area where there was a few trees and there was the remnants of a fire ring there and you could see where those rocks had been moved to make the fire ring. I laid the cross directly over where her torso was and I was told the direction in which her head was laying. And that's where I placed two flowers in the ground right there.


JONES: Laundrie has not been charged in connection with Petito's death. But he is suspected of using her debit card and pin to access more than $1,000 between August 30th and September 1st. A federal arrest warrant for Laundrie has been issued.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can look at his state of mind by his actions. And he -- he ran. He stole her credit card. He used her credit card to get home. And then, ran from the police.


JONES (on camera): Speaking to CNN today, the Laundrie family's lawyer, Steven Bertolino, declined to answer questions about the conversations Brian's parents had with him when he returned alone from his travels. Asked if Brian's parents asked him where Gabby Petito was and why she had not returned with him and how Brian responded, Bertolino would only say, "no comment" -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Athena, thank you very.

So I want to go now to Callahan Walsh. He is co-host of "In Pursuit" with his father, John Walsh, and has been closely following the manhunt for Brian Laundrie.

So, Callahan, what does it tell you that police still have so many officers, you know, seeming to really triple down on this Florida nature reserve after almost three weeks?

CALLAHAN WALSH, CO-HOST, "IN PURSUIT": Well, I think this is a good thing. You know, we have seen too many of these cases that capture the nation's attention but they go cold because there is not additional information or evidence coming out. And law enforcement just hits a wall.

I think this means one of two things. Either, a tip has come in from the public and we've seen so much information, so many of these armchair detectives and internet sleuths digging into this case. So it's either a tip from the public or something law enforcement has figured out on their own to really continue to search that area and bring in more resources. So I'm glad to see the added, additional person -- you know, people/power that's been added to the search for Brian because I think it -- it tells us that the investigation is still going.

BURNETT: So, Callahan, it comes as the attorney for Laundrie's family is now releasing some new information that we didn't know before about the days before he was actually reported missing. So he is now says that -- Brian Laundrie's parents believe that he left home on Monday, September 13th. That's a day earlier than they originally told the FBI. They said Laundrie's father went looking for him that night, didn't find him. The next day, found his car near that nature reserve with a ticket. But they left it there. They went back a day later. They drove back to their house. They did not report him missing until September 17th which is four

days after they last saw him. So, they didn't report him missing until four days later. And then, even when they did, they -- they were not honest about the last day they'd actually seen him.

How suspicious is all this?

WALSH: I mean, it's very suspicious. We've seen the timeline change multiple times. Not just from the parents but Cassie, as well. Brian's sister.


WALSH: It's obvious the Laundries are untrustworthy narrators when it comes to the timeline around Brian. You know, again, the question is will, too, what were they asking Brian when he was coming home? Where is Gabby? What -- where has she been? Why isn't she with you?

And the fact that the lawyer is putting out little bits of information but then no comment on that subject, it's very, very suspicious.

BURNETT: It just really is. I mean, so today we heard more of Dr. Phil's interview with Gabby Petito's family. Her stepfather described what he saw when he visited the site where her body was found. Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her body was found -- I guess, it would be in front of a tent or if that's what was there. Or just in front of the fire ring. There was definitely a fire ring there and she would have been right --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it wasn't far from the van. It was a five- minute walk you said? Something like that?


BURNETT: Callahan, what does that tell you? Her body was found at what appeared to be a campsite, five minute walk away from their van.

WALSH: To me, that seems like this might have been a crime of passion. Something where Brian, in the heat of the moment, snapped and murdered Gabby. If this was something that was premeditated and planned, I really don't think that he would have dumped the body so close to the location that he was known to be at, a location that he was leaving behind other evidence at.

And so, in my mind, I think this was a crime of passion. Something happened that night where they were camping and Brian killed Gabby.

BURNETT: So, Gabby Petito's family have talked about now a foundation they are starting in her name to bring awareness to other missing people which, obviously, is along the lines of what your parents have done, so powerfully, so powerfully, over decades, turning their grief into action after your brother's murder. Is there any advice that you would give to Gabby Petito's family as

they go through this horrific tragedy and shock?

WALSH: Keep fighting and keep battling. You know, I grew up in a family that said we need to make sure Adam didn't die in vain. As you mentioned, my brother was kidnapped and murdered in 1981 and I grew up with family saying if Adam's song is to continue, then we must do the singing.

My parents went on to create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that's helped recover over 355,000 missing kids. So, Gabby's parents taking on that mantle and trying to do good and really give back. What's unfortunate is oftentimes this meaningful change only comes about because of tragedy, the tragedy of my brother's death, the tragedy of Gabby's.

But with this meaningful change, I -- I can only imagine how many lives and families they'll be able to positively change and prevent other things like this happening. So keep fighting, keep battling. I love hearing that they're -- they're going to be fighting back and that they are setting up this foundation.

BURNETT: Callahan, thank you.

WALSH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Biden's supporters giving the president unexpected advice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a page from a Trump playbook -- less apologizing, more explaining, and get more done.


BURNETT: And Lindsey Graham heckled and booed after saying this about COVID vaccines.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you haven't had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you're my age --

CROWD: No! No!



BURNETT: Tonight, patience running thin. Voters in Michigan getting fed up with the Democratic Party's infighting.


And some going further, even saying they wish Biden was more like Trump.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


LORI GOLDMAN, MICHIGAN VOTER: It's like it's healthy and dysfunctional family to air your grievances, but I don't think it's smart.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dysfunctional family Lori Goldman's talking about is the Democratic Party, and its messy divide in Washington.

GOLDMAN: I think we have to be a little more pragmatic about what we can do and what we can't do.

ZELENY: She campaigned for President Biden, and remains hopeful he can unify the party around his domestic agenda, now endangered by disagreements among progressive and moderate Democrats.

Biden came to Michigan on Tuesday, eager to take the conversation into the country.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want those jobs here in Michigan, not halfway around the globe.

ZELENY: It was his fourth presidential visit to a state he narrowly won last year. Voters here say they are watching him carefully with optimism.

KEN DAMEROW, MICHIGAN VOTER: He's been really, really good. Um, he -- you know, he's willing to tell the truth regardless of political consequences.

ZELENY: And skepticism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to give him mixed reviews.

ZELENY: Ken Damerow, an independent, and Susan Sharon (ph), a Republican, are longtime friends. He believes Biden has restored competence to the White House.

DAMEROW: I think he is trying to run as a fair dealer. And he is trying to work with the other side. Unfortunately, the other side, I don't think, is interested in working with him.

ZELENY: She worries about the cost of Biden's programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't even fathom a trillion dollars. And yet, you know, there's just going out like no big deal.

ZELENY: After a summer of setbacks on Afghanistan and COVID, the president is scrambling to prove his party can govern.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, whose district Biden visited, fears the gridlock in the Capitol will turn off some voters. REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Look, do I wish we were more productive?

Yeah. Am I fighting and trying to push people that way? Yes.

ZELENY: The hostility outside the Union Training Center did not escape Biden's eye.

BIDEN: Notwithstanding some of the signs that I saw coming, that's why 81 million Americans voted for me.

ZELENY: But he formally believes his individual economic plans have broad appeal. Several Biden supporters here say they are willing to be patient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't agree with everything. But I know his heart is right and that's important.

ZELENY: Lori Goldman is, too. But she believes Biden must make his case more forcefully.

GOLDMAN: Take a page from the Trump playbook -- less apologizing, more explaining, and get more done.

ZELENY: From the Trump playbook?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. He never -- he never apologized for anything. I'd like him to get out there, and just charge ahead.


BURNETT: And, Jeff, the president's approval rating continues to dip. So, does the White House think they can turn this around?

ZELENY: Erin, that latest opinion poll from Quinnipiac today showed the president's approval rating was at 38 percent. The lowest we have seen now.

Now, an average of polls shows it a bit higher than that but the White House is very aware of this problem. And it is because by independents and voters in the middle, they simply have grown weary of what they are seeing in Washington.

So the White House does believe -- advisers I talk to -- if this bill gets passed. Infrastructure, first. The second part of the economic agenda. And then, of course, the debt ceiling mess. They do believe showing that governing can work, showing competence is at hand, that is something that can raise this approval rating.

But no question, this is a deep concern for this White House, Erin. It was very apparent in all of our conversations here among supporters and detractors, alike. They simply want to see Washington working. Of course, it's now President Biden's burden to do so.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely is. And, of course, what is working how independents define that, you know, some with these bills. Some probably far from it. All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate it and next, a crowd turns

on Lindsey Graham after he was telling them, you know, you should probably get vaccinated.


GRAHAM: I'm glad I got it. Ninety-two percent of the people in the hospitals in South Carolina are unvaccinated.





BURNETT: Tonight, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham booed by what should have been a friendly crowd at a Republican Party event in South Carolina. His offense was recommending, God forbid, that they consider getting vaccinated.


GRAHAM: How many of you have taken the vaccine? How many are glad you took it? How many people would take the booster?

So bottom line is I took the vaccine, I've had it. It kicks your butt. If you haven't had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you're my age --

CROWD: Boo! Boo!

GRAHAM: I didn't tell you to get it. You ought to think about it.


GRAHAM: Well, I'm glad I got it. Ninety-two percent of the people in the hospitals in South Carolina are unvaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God. Lies. Lord Jesus.

GRAHAM: So I'm with you on -- I'm with you on don't mandate it. I'm with you that it's probably unconstitutional. But I am not going to legitimize what I think is the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to lose my job in 60 days. I'm going to lose my job in 60 days. You got to stop it now.

GRAHAM: From who? From who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the U.S. government. The navy.

GRAHAM: Yeah, so I'm with you. They can say you're going to get vaccinated. I think that's a dumb idea. You know why? We shouldn't be driving people away from serving. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, it's -- that just watching that is tragic. And look, the tragic reality is that there are still more than 1,700 people in this country who are dying of COVID every day, and not a single one of them needs to be dying because the -- a vaccine is free and widely available. And yet, you hear what those folks at that rally were saying to Senator Graham.

Well, thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.