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Erin Burnett Outfront

Senior G.O.P. Senator Who Once Condemned Trump's Actions On January 6th Now Embraces His Endorsement; Bodycam Video Shows Ohio Police Officers Drag A Black Paraplegic Man Out Of His Car By His Hair; China Vows "Complete Reunification" With Taiwan After Sending Record Number Of Warplanes Into Defense Zone. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 19:00   ET


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Erin Burnett OUT FRONT starts right now.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUT FRONT next, cowering to Trump. The Senate's most senior Republican, the man who once said Trump has little chance of leading the Republican Party, now going back on his word.

Plus a high stakes race the Democrats should have in the bag, but it is now anyone's to win in the final days of the Virginia Governor race. Another Democrat is under fire for saying he doesn't believe parents should tell schools what to teach.

And is war between China and Taiwan inevitable? And will President Biden let China win?

Let's go OUT FRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUT FRONT tonight: Who's afraid of Donald Trump?

Well, apparently, I guess obviously, most elected Republicans, even the senior ones who once took a stand against Trump, let me quote one of them tonight. This person said, quote: "Trump has a very little opportunity to lead the Republican Party." And from the same individual quote: "History is going to judge what Trump has done."

Those are the words of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. That was right after the deadly insurrection. But of course, that's ancient history now for some Republicans, nine whole months have passed and it's a whole different story.


announce today that Senator Chuck Grassley has my complete and total endorsement for re-election.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I was born at night, but not last night. So if I didn't accept the endorsement of a person that's got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.


BURNETT: Chuck Grassley now putting political expediency over everything else. He is, of course, the ranking Republican on the all- powerful Judiciary Committee. In fact, Senator Grassley is the longest serving Republican in the entire U.S. Senate, and he is standing side- by-side, smiling, accepting the endorsement of a man that just, you know, few months ago he called extreme and irresponsible.

Grassley giving Trump's rally in Iowa credibility in fact, by showing up, smiling through the event, even after Trump took the stage and lied and lied and lied.


TRUMP: First of all, he didn't get elected, okay, forget that.

The totally corrupt election.

It's all because of the corrupt election, they rigged the election.

This is not about me being robbed of an election.


BURNETT: Every one of those statements of course, a brazen basic lie. Perhaps, you know, as much a lie saying the sun rotates around the Earth. I mean, that's just how basic this is.

Senator Grassley knows that, and he also knows that these lies are more than just words because he was in the Capitol when rioters were tearing through it, and in the aftermath, he released a statement in fact that evening, Senator Chuck Grassley said, quote: "Today's violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attack on American democracy itself."

Five days later, January 11th, Senator Chuck Grassley tells reporters quote: "Right now, there is very little opportunity for him (Trump) to lead the Republican Party." And he went on. Here he is.


GRASSLEY: Look to January 20th and there is no Trump around anymore. And history is going to judge him -- what he has done.

That sort of insurrection is untenable. The President's comments didn't help the matter any. It made it worse. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It made it worse. Well weeks later, February 13th, Grassley releases a statement. I read again, "President Trump continued to argue that the election had been stolen even though the courts didn't back up his claims. He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own loyal Vice President, Mike Pence to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count."

"There is no doubt in my mind that President Trump's language was extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible."

Okay, saying it like it is. But nine months later, Trump's tune has gotten more extreme. I mean, he now says the insurrection was actually Election Day. Right? That that was the insurrection. His language as extreme, as aggressive, as irresponsible as ever. And yet, now, Chuck Grassley, third in line to the presidency looking the other way, joining the stage, smiling, and accepting the endorsement.

And this is Trump's game plan now, to stack the decks. Get Republicans like Grassley in his corner, take out Secretaries of State and Governors in key battleground states who won't back his big lie, so that if he runs again, he will have people willing to do his dirty work and parrot false things about voting machines and I don't know -- you know, people from Italy hacking into them and changing the vote count.

This is the crazy stuff he said, right, just so he can win.


BURNETT: People like Congressman Steve Scalise, the second highest ranking Republican in the House, who right now, refuses to acknowledge that Biden won legitimately.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: So you think the election was stolen?

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): What I said is there are states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules.

WALLACE: The last time, I promise. Do you think the election was stolen or not? I understand you think there were irregularities and things that need to be fixed. Do you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: And it's not just the irregularities, it is states that did not follow the laws set, which the Constitution says they are supposed to follow.


BURNETT: It's pretty stunning. Steve Scalise is not a stupid person, he is a smart person, refusing to just acknowledge a basic fact and seemingly clueless as to the damage he does in perpetuating such lies.

He is the number two Republican in the House, and he refuses to say a basic fact that the 2020 election wasn't stolen. Shortly after that answer, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney came out and tweeted of Scalise, "Millions of Americans have been sold to fraud, that the election was stolen. Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the big lies and attack on the core of our Constitutional Republic."

Unfortunately, Trump has made pushing these lies a litmus test for Republicans and they have allowed him to make it a litmus test. So now, they're either side-by-side with him or somehow their careers are over.

As Bob Woodward-- who I'm going to speak to, in just a moment -- wrote in his new book, he said, on the day of the insurrection, Trump called Pence, again, pressuring him to overturn the election. And Woodward writes, quote, "If you don't do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago. You're going to wimp out."

Jessica Dean is OUT FRONT on Capitol Hill. And, Jessica, the January 6th Committee still trying to get Trump loyalists to cooperate tonight. Obviously, they had, you know, hit some walls there, although there were some that were seemingly maybe going along. What is the latest?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT Well, right now, Erin, we know a couple of things.

Number one, we know that they had issued these subpoenas and we're waiting on some stragglers to get back to them. In fact, one Trump aide, Dan Scavino, they couldn't find for weeks. They did find him over the weekend, and we're waiting to hear from his lawyers if he will be cooperating or how he is going to move forward.

Meantime, we know that some lawyers for former President Trump have told people who have been issued those subpoenas, instructed them not to comply and claim executive privilege. So, we know that that's -- that pressure is coming toward them, and we know that Steve Bannon has said he doesn't intend to comply. So you have that push and pull.

Here is Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is one of two Republicans, including Liz Cheney and himself sitting on the January 6th Committee on what they will do moving forward if these witnesses won't comply. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): It's my impression and my intention and the Committee's intention that they will be compelled. You know, there is some little back and forth nuances between the lawyers right now, but I think if it gets to a point where we realize they are stonewalling, or they're not serious, there's contempt, things you can file.

You can do it through Congress, you can do it through the D.O.J., criminal contempt. I think that's our leaning is to say criminal contempt.


DEAN: So you have it there from one of the members of the Committee, Erin, that they would lean on criminal contempt through the D.O.J. to move this process forward. We also know that they will be getting access, first access to some of these documents they've requested. That would come from the final days of the Trump presidency leading up to the insurrection. They are hoping to get those were told very soon -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Jessica, thank you very much. And as promised, now, I want to go to Bob Woodward, author of "Peril," an extraordinary look outside the end of the Trump presidency and what happened next.

Bob, of course, also Associate Editor of "The Washington Post."

So Bob, I really appreciate your time.


BURNETT: You know, Senator Grassley, you know, gosh, I remember the first time I met Senator Grassley, it was many, many years ago. He is the most senior member of the Senate. And I know that you have known him a very long time, covered him, does it surprise you? You know, just looking at that history of all the things that he was so clear about saying months ago, that he is now doing a 180 and sharing the stage with Trump and happily accepting his endorsement?

WOODWARD: Well, first of all, we've got to figure out what's really going on here. And I remember George Kennan, the father of the containment strategy with the Soviet Union, once referred to what he called the treacherous curtain of deference, where people go into the Oval Office or deal with the President in their deferential.

What's going on now, really is an iron curtain of obedience to Trump. It's not just polite deference, it is obedience and it really is an Iron Curtain because it's so strong. These people like Senator Grassley can count, they can look at the polls. They go to their home states, they talk to constituents and there are tens of millions of people who support Trump.


WOODWARD: And, you know, in the Republican Party, it's over 50 percent, probably. So this is a political strength that we have rarely seen, never seen from a former President after Nixon resigned. He didn't go out and campaign, he conducted a war against history to say, Watergate was really just a blip, but the tapes buried Nixon and showed that that was not true.

In the press, I think what we've got to do and one thing, Robert Costa and I did in our book, is we looked at these claims of the stolen election, and found documents that Rudy Giuliani had sent to Lindsey Graham, a now famous memo that John Eastman, the lawyer working for Trump in the White House sent, which was really just a battle plan for a coup.

And two of the most, Trump supporting Republicans in the party investigated independently. Lindsey Graham did, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and they discovered there is absolutely zero there. So, you know, we're just going to have to find more evidence to what happened.

What Costa and I did, we realized we had to look at this, and it is the first proof I think that's out there that it's a totally bogus claim, and it's made by Trump supporters.

BURNETT: So I want to understand this, because when you bring up Nixon, right, and obviously you and Carl Bernstein had exposed his role in Watergate, and at first Republicans stood by him, right, and then they turned. What I find fascinating about this situation, Bob, is that at first -- now, I'm not talking about over the past four years, and let's just take it right after the insurrection.

Right after the insurrection, there were Republicans like Chuck Grassley, who stood up and called it like it is, right? Mitch McConnell did at the time, even Kevin McCarthy did. And yet, now they're going back the other way. They all gave up, acted as if it didn't happen, and are now back with, you know, as you call it, the iron curtain of deference. Why is that?

WOODWARD: Why? Because they can read the numbers. Let's face it, Trump's popularity, his power in the Republican Party has grown since he left office, it has not shrunk. And so there is work to be done to look at this and get the story out.

Now, the January 6th Committee has an important role. I'm not sure they're going to get what they really need, hearings where people can see witnesses say this happened in Watergate, Sam Ervin ran probably the gold standard of congressional investigations and got all the big players to testify under oath.

I don't know whether that's going to happen. If that doesn't happen, the story -- the true story will not emerge sufficiently.

BURNETT: Well. I mean, it is incredible because as you point out, the only thing that you can do is to keep speaking the truth and find more documents. And yet, you know, the number of American people who are listening and who would actually be moved by that, it doesn't seem to change.

I mean, when you talk about the January 6th Committee, I just want to ask you about Steve Bannon, specifically because I know that you reported that Bannon had urged Trump to focus on January 6th, and you quote Bannon as saying, quote, "We're going to bury Biden on January 6th."

Now, Bannon --

WOODWARD: "We're going to bury him in the crib," at the beginning of his presidency. It's one -- I mean, it is -- "bury" is a word that has a lot of power, particularly in the days before the violence of January 6th. BURNETT: it absolutely does, and then I just want to be clear here,

Bannon has admitted that your and Bob Costa's reporting was correct. Here he is.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER DONALD TRUMP AIDE: This illegitimate regime is starting to collapse. You know, there's a quote from me, I guess in the book, and they're all over about it that I was talking to the President in late January, that we could kill the illegitimate Biden regime in the crib.

Well, guess what? It killed itself.

What we told you from the very beginning, just expose it, just expose it. Never back down, never give up in this thing will implode.



BURNETT: So, how crucial is Bannon to the committee's investigation from all of your reporting?

WOODWARD: I'm sorry, what?

BURNETT: How crucial is Bannon to the investigation?

WOODWARD: Everyone is crucial, but you have to tell the whole story, and the whole story would involve not just Bannon, but key people in the Trump circle, people from the White House, people from maybe the C.I.A.

I mean, one thing we have in our book, just to be very specific, this is one week after the election last year. Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. Director is quoted. This is on November 10. This is the day after Trump has fired Secretary of Defense Esper, somebody very well- respected in the National Security community, somebody who graduated from West Point with Secretary -- then Secretary of State Pompeo.

So what does Gina Haspel say? "Yesterday was appalling. We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He (Trump) is acting now like a six-year-old with the tantrum." That is one of the most expert analysts -- she is not there now -- in the U.S. government, somebody who spent 35 years looking at trying to understand instability, and you heard her assessment. It could not be clearer.

BURNETT: No, it could not be. Bob, I really appreciate your time.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you so much for sharing some with us. Thanks.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Republicans seizing on this comment from the Democrat in Virginia's closely watched governor's race.


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.


BURNETT: Could that be a game changer? Plus, disturbing video shows police dragging a black paraplegic man from his car during a traffic stop. What happened? The man in the video is my guest.

And CNN learning the ruling for Gabby Petito's autopsy will be announced tomorrow.



BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes on Virginia for the most closely watched race in the country on Election Day, the race for governor there where the Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe is in danger in a state that Joe Biden won by 10 points as his Republican challenger seizes on this latest exchange between the two.


GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), NOMINEE IN 2021 VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION: You believe school systems should tell children what to do, I believe parents should be in charge of their kid's education.

MCAULIFFE: I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision. I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.


BURNETT: Upfront now, Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, also ranked by the Harvard political review as the number one predictor for the 2020 presidential election.

So Larry, I always love talking to you. And I want to just preface this conversation for our viewers so they know. You live in Virginia, you work in Virginia, so you may know the national situation, but in Virginia, you know, you know it, you're living it. So how big of a gaffe was this for Terry McAuliffe?

LARRY SABATO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: This was a serious gaffe, Erin. He shouldn't have said it. I'm sure he wishes he hadn't. And when candidates make a gaffe, they have to quickly pivot and work around it, which is what McAuliffe is trying to do.

But it has to be said, both candidates have made gaffes. On the Youngkin side, I think it's pretty clear they involve Donald Trump. He's been trying to edge away from Trump even though in the beginning he said he was in the race because of Donald Trump and Donald Trump's ideas. So both candidates have a burden to bear.

BURNETT: So, you know, as you as you get closer and closer to Election Day, though, you know, we all know things matter. They've got early voting, obviously. And "The Washington Post" spoke to Bruce Carlson and he is a man who says he considers himself a Democrat. He voted for Bill Clinton. He voted for Barack Obama.

He voted for McAuliffe for governor in 2013. But he says he put a Youngkin sign in his yard the very day after McAuliffe said that comment at the debate, because he said he believes public schools are pushing a radical agenda. And that Youngkin quote "wants to teach people how to think not what to think."

That's a pretty dramatic thing when you look at a voting record like that, that somebody would then go and put a sign up. Now, I understand that is an anecdote that is not a poll. But how many more voters like Carlson could be out there?

SABATO: Well, there are quite a few in the suburbs. That's where the election will be decided. And of course, suburban college educated voters have been moving to the Democrats, not just because of Donald Trump, but he certainly gave a great assist.

Well, he is still center stage, but he is no longer President. So I think some of those voters feel comfortable in switching sides, and they focus on particular issues. I have to say that anecdote which started off a front page piece on "The Washington Post," is what I like to call a unicorn. They found the unicorn.

BURNETT: You think it is a unicorn.

SABATO: Reporters always like to find a unicorn.

BURNETT: Okay, and I know and I'm a reporter, right? I understand, I will use the word. I know what -- I totally understand what you're saying. But I guess the context here is -- everyone is watching this race so closely. Biden won the state by 10 points.

Now, at least it's being put out there that it's anybody's race to win. That in and of itself is a pretty dramatic thing to say in a state that Biden just won by 10 points. Is that how you see it? How close do you think this is?

SABATO: I think right now, it's three or four points in McAuliffe's favor, and we both know from watching campaigns for many years, three or four points can disappear overnight. So this is a close competitive contest.

You mentioned the gaffe McAuliffe made, I would say a much more important factor is the fact that the D.C. Democrats can't get their act together. The White House and the congressional Democrats have not produced on these two big bills. It is suppressed democratic enthusiasm, and that's the difference. The Republicans in Virginia have been out of power for a decade. We

have elections every year in Virginia. They've lost every single election every year for a decade. They're desperate.


SABATO: And so the enthusiasm level is through the roof. Democrats look on Twitter, they're lackadaisical. So many of them say, oh, we will win in the end, we always win. No, you don't, you will not always win and they may discover that November 2nd, or they may get excited and enthused if the D.C. Democrats actually produce and restore a sense of urgency.

You know, they're saying October 31st, and some now are saying, at the end of the year. Well, the end of the year is too late for the contest in Virginia. And if Terry McAuliffe loses, Erin, I can guarantee you, their fundraising will tank, pundits will go into orbit about how Republicans are going to win in a massive wave in 2022, so they are all going to suffer if they don't get their act together and stop being keystone cops.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much, Larry. I appreciate it.

SABATO: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, disturbing new video emerging of police dragging a black paraplegic man from his car during a traffic stop.


CLIFFORD OWENSBY, PARAPLEGIC ACCOSTED BY OHIO POLICE: I'm a paraplegic, bro. I'm trying to tell you that I got help getting into the car.


BURNETT: What happened leading up to this incident? The man in the video is my guest.

And how real is the possibility of the United States getting into a war between China and Taiwan? Tensions tonight are higher than they have been in decades.



BURNETT: Tonight, disturbing video showing police dragging a black paraplegic man from his car during a traffic stop in Ohio. That man now accusing the Dayton police department of racial profiling and unlawful arrest in a complaint with the NAACP.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CLIFFORD OWENSBY, ACCUSING DAYTON PAD OF PROFILING, UNLAWFUL ARREST, ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE: They dragged me to the vehicle like a dog, like trash, like you take out trash.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video was difficult to watch. Dayton, Ohio, police pulling a black paraplegic man from a car during a traffic stop last month.

OFFICER: Step out of the car.

OWENSBY: I can't step out of the car, sir. I'm a paraplegic.

OFFICER: How did you get in?

OWENSBY: I had help getting in.

OFFICER: I'll help you getting out.

OWENSBY: Excuse me?

OFFICER: I'll help you get out.

OWENSBY: Well, I don't think that's going to happen, sir.

JONES: Thirty-nine-year-old Clifford Owensby launched a complaint with the NAACP. He accuses police of profiling, unlawful arrest, illegal search and seizure, and failing to read him his rights before taking him to jail.

Police say they stopped Owensby after seeing him leave a suspected drug house, and based on that sighting and Owensby's past history of felony drug and weapons charges, officers called for a narcotics detection K9 unit, a drug sniffing dog to check the vehicle.

Department policy requires occupants exit the vehicle, first.

The nearly 12 minute police body-camera video shows an officer pulling Owensby over and ordering him out of the car.

OWENSBY: I cannot step out of the car. I cannot step out of the vehicle.

OFFICER: You got in the car.

JONES: The officer says several times he will help Owensby out of the car. Owensby declines saying, he will call someone he knows to come help him.

OWENSBY: Hey, bro. Can you come down the street to -- Ferguson and Grand?

JONES: Throughout the September 30th incident, Owensby repeatedly asked the officer to call a superior to the scene. The officer says he will do so but Owensby must get out of the car, first.

OFFICER: You're getting out of the car. It's not an option. You are get out of this car so you can cooperate and get out of this car or I can drag you out of the car. You see your two options here?

JONES: Seconds later, a struggle ensues as two officers forcibly remove Owensby, at one point, pulling him by his hair.

OFFICER: Get out of the car.

OWENSBY: Ow! Ow! Ow! Somebody, help!

JONES: Dayton Police Major Brian Johns said officers retrieved a bag from Owensby's vehicle containing about $22,000 in cash. Owensby said Sunday the money was his savings, and that no weapons or drugs were found in the search.

He was not charged with any drug-related offenses. A child was also in the car at the time of the incident. Police cited Owensby for not using a child restraint, and for having tinted glass windows that obscured vision. He pleaded not guilty.

Dayton Mayor Nan Wehle told "The Dayton Daily News" a full investigation is underway, and no matter where you live or what you look like, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when dealing with Dayton Police.


JONES (on camera): Now, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general's office says it is not investigating the incident because local law enforcement or a county prosecutor must, first, make a referral. Meanwhile, the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police told "The Dayton Daily News", sometimes the arrests of noncompliant individuals is not pretty but it is a necessary part of law enforcement to maintain public safety which is one of the fundamental ideologies of our society. The officers involved are still on duty as the internal investigation continues -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Athena, thank you very much.

And Clifford Owensby is now OUTFRONT. With him is Derrick Foward, the president of the Dayton NAACP.

I appreciate both of you taking the time to -- to talk about this obviously it's very disturbing to watch this.

Clifford, let me start with you. Can you tell me and everyone watching, in your own words, what happened when you got pulled over?

OWENSBY: Once I got pulled over, um, I was under the impression that I was pulled over for tint. So I was expecting for him to write me a ticket and then be let go so I can continue on about my day. Unfortunately for me, I ended up with a bad scratch-off lottery ticket, straight to jail.

BURNETT: So, Clifford, I -- I want to replay. You know, it -- it -- it's hard for anyone to watch this. I -- I don't know how many times you have had to rewatch this, yourself.


But the body-cam video when officers dragged you out of the car. Again, for anyone watching, I want to warn people it's difficult but I think it's important to understand what really happened to you. Here is part of it.


OWENS: I'm a paraplegic, bro. You can hurt me. You can hurt me. What are y'all doing, bro? I'm a paraplegic, bro. I'm a paraplegic, bro. I'm trying to tell you I got help getting in the car. Y'all can (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurt me. They can hurt me, bro.

OFFICER: Get out of the car.

OWENSBY: Damn, bro. Somebody help! Somebody, help!


BURNETT: Clifford, what was going through your head when this happened? When they pulled you out of the car?

OWENSBY: I was in fear of my life. All I could do is just close my eyes and grab the steering wheel and -- and -- and I prayed to God in my head to, you know, make sure that it didn't go the way that it went. And they snatched me out of the vehicle by my hair, and I don't know. It just -- it's a constant reminder, every day, you know, and I -- I can't get past the fact that, you know, I've been humiliated like that and they would do anyone like that. Treat any citizens of Dayton, Ohio, or anywhere else like that.

BURNETT: And -- and I know you talk about the humiliation that you felt. I mean, Derrick, with everything that Clifford is saying and with the context that Athena had in her piece here talking about what happened, are you convinced this was racial profiling?

DERRICK FOWARD, DAYTON NAACP: Well, first of all, thank you for this opportunity. We're not going to say that it's racial profiling because the gentleman who actually pulled him out of the car was African- American. What this was, was a pretextual stop that led to an egregious act on a citizen within these United States of America, by ways of Clifford Owensby, our client.

So the way that we view this is the officers -- the officer was very aggressive from the beginning, and as Owensby stated, that's why he was fearful of his life when the officer asked him to get out of the car. Number one, you heard the officer state very clearly inside the video that you got one or two things is going to happen. Number one, either you are going to get out of the car. Or number two, we're going to drag you out of the car.


FOWARD: So officer chose the latter. The officer chose to drag him out of the car because, number one -- you know, was not going to take place because he could not get out of the car on his own. o the officer's actions, in our view, were egregious. He was upset for

whatever the case may have been. But this should -- a traffic stop -- a pretextual traffic stop with a -- regarding the tint on his windows should not have led to a citizen within these United States of America in the 21st century to be dragged in their car like an animal with his hair drug across this parking lot.

And furthermore, as we take a look at him going to the hospital, you know, or not even the hospital, even getting inside of the police cruiser. Our client -- they would not even assist our client to get in the police cruiser in a -- in a humane way.

Then, even going to the hospital. The same way. In terms of him being able to get out and being taken care of at the hospital.

And then, so much so that when they actually took him back to -- took him to jail from the hospital, the intake refused to even accept him. So, when the -- when the intake refused to accept him at the jail, then after that point in time, he had to -- he asked the officers to take him back to where they found him because the officers asked him, well, where do -- where do you want us to take you?

And the officer said he said can you take me back to where you picked me up? The officer did not do that. And ultimately, he had to call a ride to come pick him up from the jail. You know, so the situation was clearly unnecessary. The officer should have been put on desk duty, should have been put -- should have been put on administrative leave immediately.


FOWARD: Until a full investigation ensued.

BURNETT: So, Clifford, let me ask you and -- and it is -- you know, as you emphasize, they are still back on duty as we understand it, right? That there has been no move to desk duty at this point or anything else. You know, Clifford, you talk about thinking you may have been pulled over for tinted windows.

The police say they stopped you because you were leaving a suspected drug house and that because of your felony drug history and weapon history, that's why they requested a narcotics K-9 at the scene. And then, the K-9 reacted to your $22,000 in cash suggesting it was near illegal drugs.

Obviously, I know they did not find any in your car and that's important. But what do you say to all that? They're giving this -- this involved description.


OWENSBY: Seemed like I've been profiled. Again, there were no drugs, weapons, or anything found. They just -- I don't know -- I'm -- I'm not sure what their intentions were. But they definitely hurt me and I -- I been in pain ever since, having to watch that video over and over. It just -- I can't get past it. FOWARD: And when you take a look at the situation, whether or not it

was a known drug house or not, it's his property. He is a businessman inside of our local community. He owns several properties.

He went over there -- he went over there to get some -- some cable boxes from the property. So he took those cable boxes were in his car and as he proceeded to take off, then the officer stopped him shortly thereafter.

So everything inside of his story is very clear. He went there for a particular purpose.


FOWARD: He left. He left there and the officers decided to stop him with a pretextual stop. So it had nothing to do -- they were hoping to find drugs. They were hoping to find weapons. They were hoping to find something illegal to charge him with.

But -- but in this particular case, that did not happen. We cannot change -- the police department cannot change the narrative of what happened on this particular stop.

BURNETT: Well, certainly, was obviously -- it was obviously incredibly hard to watch. And I know humiliating and painful for you.

So, Clifford, thank you for telling your story. Thank you, both, for -- for coming on explaining it I really appreciate it and I know everyone watching does, too.

FOWARD: Thank you.

OWENSBY: Thank you for listening.

BURNETT: Thank you, both.

And next, CNN learning the official autopsy ruling for Gabby Petito will be released tomorrow as the search for Brian Laundrie enters its fourth week. Has the trail gone cold?

Plus, tensions between China and Taiwan now at a dangerous new high. So, is President Biden going to do something about it?



BURNETT: New tonight. A Wyoming County coroner's office saying it will release the results of Gabby Petito's autopsy tomorrow. Her death was ruled a homicide in preliminary findings. It has been four weeks since Brian Laundrie's parents say he left their home to go hiking in a nearby nature preserve. Only to then disappear and not be seen since.

Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT ( voice-over): What was once a search with ATVs, helicopters, a dive team now looks like this. No sign of any search teams at this 25,000-acre reserve. And yet --

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A nationwide manhunt for Brian Laundrie is intensifying.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still, no sign of Brian Laundrie.

SANTIAGO: North Port police tell CNN they have found no physical evidence of Laundrie at the reserve. Investigators still don't know exactly where Laundrie is today, nearly four weeks after he went missing following the disappearance of his fiancee, Gabby Petito.

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Anything's possible as far as where he could be. In four weeks' time, there's literally no place in the world that a person that has the financial capability can travel to.

SANTIAGO: These are among the last images seen of Laundrie posted on gabby and Brian's Instagram pages before he returned home alone. Investigators, including the FBI, are asking the public for help locating the 23-year-old who can be heard speaking in this video posted on social media.

BRIAN LAUNDRIE: We are right outside capital reef right now.

SANTIAGO: Gabby and Brian's profiles on Instagram show he appears to have this tattoo on his hand. According to a tweet from North Port police, he has brown eyes, short-brown hair, trimmed facial hair, 5'8", 160 pounds. Last seen wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap but --

CLEMENTE: He could certainly blend in almost anywhere. He could change his attire completely. Change his look, grow a mustache, put sunglasses on, grow a little bit of hair, put a hat on, put a wig on.

SANTIAGO: His parents reported him missing September 17th.

JOSH TAYLOR, NORTH PORT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: Their attorney was on the phone with us. And, you know, was giving them counsel as we spoke and all of the conversation was only about the whereabouts of Brian. They believe that he came out here on Tuesday.

SANTIAGO: Laundrie has been indicted for using a debit card without permission just before he returned home from his cross-country road trip alone. He has not been named a suspect in Gabby's death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the key to the puzzle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened out there? You know? Until they find him, we won't -- we won't know.

SANTIAGO: Gabby's family continues to demand answers and justice. The ruling of Gabby Petito's autopsy expected soon. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO (on camera): And, Erin, what we're expecting tomorrow? Details from the Teton County coroner. Remember, just about three weeks ago, they -- they found that the preliminary determination of the manner of death for -- for Gabby Petito was homicide.

What we're hoping is that tomorrow we'll get more details on the cause, to get a better understanding of what happened to Gabby Petito.

BURNETT: Leyla, thank you.

And next, Taiwan now at the center of what could become a dangerous battle between the U.S. and China. Will the United States step up and defend Taiwan?

Plus, it's now been 264 days since President Biden was sworn in. So, why is there still not a permanent head of the FDA during a pandemic?



BURNETT: Tonight, is a war between China and Taiwan inevitable? Tensions between the two at a new high after Chinese President Xi Jinping says reunification China and Taiwan, quote, will definitely be achieved.

Taiwan's president firing back, pledging to not bow to pressure but warning that Taiwan is facing its, quote, most complex situation since separating from China 72 years ago. As China flew a record number of war planes into Taiwan recently, the United States is touting its, quote, rock-solid commitment to Taiwan urging China to deescalate.

Rock-solid commitment, though, may actually mean something real. How far is President Biden willing to go to stop China?

David Culver is OUTFRONT from Shanghai.

David, I mean, this is a pretty incredible moment, right? And President Xi in China, is he prepared to start an all-out war to take full control of Taiwan which, of course, has bought billions of dollars of American weapons? I mean, how real is this risk?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And if you listen to the rhetoric, Erin, they are still using the word peaceful even coming from the top here. President Xi Jinping saying peaceful resolution is what he is hoping for. But he is also saying as you pointed out, not only must this be done, this reunification of Taiwan and the mainland, it will be done.

And so, where will that lead them to? Well, if you look at some of the actions that have been taken in recent months, and even just go back to the past few weeks, we have seen a record number of fighter jets, of bombers being flown from the mainland over into Taiwan's air defense identification zone. That has caused Taiwan to scramble their own jets multiple times, nearly-daily incursions, really, of that air defense identification zone.

So, it's concerning and it's putting a lot of pressure on the island to figure out how they're go going to navigate going forward. If they are going to really try to align themselves with the U.S. if the U.S. will be able to step forward and take any action in defense. But China is resolute in saying Taiwan is a breakaway province. Even though it's never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, it is in the mainland's idea of how they look at all of this, part of China. And it will reunify.

They say that this is -- if you look at all the other issues, no matter how sensitive, be it Hong Kong, be it Xinjiang, when you look at Taiwan, this is the redline issue. This is the one place that mainland China will not back down on, Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible, though, as you say. Never been ruled by the Chinese communist party, 72 years since they have been part of China. The United States, a significant naval presence, obviously. Aircraft carriers, nuclear-power subs in the South China Sea. And as -- as -- as we pointed out, has sold billions of dollars in weapons to Taiwan.

Look, when the United States says it has a rock-solid commitment to defending Taiwan.


That may mean doing so militarily. So, does -- does China believe that the United States would actually step up and militarily defend Taiwan? Or does President Xi think that the U.S. would back down?

CULVER: President Xi is prepared, it seems, for both sides, of having this open dialogue, this communication and ending things diplomatically. So, what does end look like, China says it's going to end in their favor with that reunification. But from a military perspective, you can bet that the People's Liberation Army navy has been ramping up their activities.

And you also have to look at some of the spending. While the U.S. has been double what China spends on defense. China, regionally, if you talk to military experts here and we have spoken to many of them, they have a stronghold, an increasing one on this region. So it's even forced U.S. allies like Japan to move some of their troops to some of the outlying areas of territory just to be in a place of defense and preparation should something happen here, Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah, it's pretty incredible if you look at the history of the region, as you say, before World War II. The Pax Americana has resulted in a lot of peace and things could be about to change.

David, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

And next, the FDA has been without a permanent leader for more than eight months. What? And why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Tonight, 264 days after Biden was sworn into power, and still there is no FDA commissioner amid a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Former FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, tells CNN the Senate should confirm Dr. Janet Woodcock, the current acting head of the FDA. She's been the acting head since January, in a position she can only legally hold until November 15, unless they nominate a permanent commissioner.

Not all senators, though, including some Democrats are onboard with Woodcock. So fine, then nominate a new person. The FDA is facing major decisions. Have we learned nothing from the pandemic? Not even that we're not ready at all for something even worse to come along? At a time when America needs it most, it is time for a permanent leader at the FDA.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" with Anderson starts now.