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Erin Burnett Outfront

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ex-Trump Adviser Steve Bannon For Two Counts Of Contempt; Expected To Surrender; Jan 6 Panel On Bannon Indictment Warns "No One Is Above The Law;" Prosecution In Rittenhouse Case Wants Jury To Consider Lesser Charges As Closing Arguments Set For Monday; Biden Touts Infrastructure Bill: "Moment Of Immense Hope;" Biden To Sell Infrastructure Bill In Divided Michigan; U.N.: Belarus- Poland Crisis Is "Catastrophic," Will Get Worse. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me, by the way, on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Steve Bannon indicted. Trump's former chief strategist now expected to turn himself in on Monday, after refusing to cooperate with January 6 Select Committee. He would have been arrested if he didn't. And tonight, the Attorney General's warning to other Trump allies who may plan to stonewall the investigation.

Plus, a new twist just as the case against Kyle Rittenhouse is about to go to the jury. What the prosecution is asking for tonight could be a really big deal.

And President Biden putting a plan in place tonight to address rising consumer prices, but will it work? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, another Trump ally possibly going to jail. Steve Bannon now indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress. CNN learning that Bannon who has a warrant for his arrest, so they would arrest him if he didn't turn himself in. We do understand that he is expected now to turn himself in, in his own volition on Monday.

Today's indictment coming after the former president's chief strategist refused a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Attorney General Merrick Garland writing in a statement that there will be consequences if you defy Congress saying, "Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law. Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles." So this is a potential game changer for the January 6 Select Committee

investigation. First of all, specifically to Bannon, it could force Bannon's hand to cooperate. And remember Bannon is crucial to this investigation. He is the one who encouraged Trump to come back to Washington and go to that January 6 rally when Trump was going to be happy to just hang out at Mar-A-Lago. And here is what Bannon said the day before, on January 5th.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. And tomorrow it's game day.

I've met so many people through my life said, "Man, if I was at the revolution I would be with Washington at Trenton." Well, this is for your time in history.


BURNETT: I mean, that's pretty incredible. That's what he said publicly. Well, Garland's move, okay, so there's Bannon, and that's important. But in addition, what this may mean is that other people in Trump's inner circle think twice before refusing to cooperate and many of them have refused to cooperate.

I mean, just today, Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows followed completely in Bannon's footsteps. He was supposed to show up this morning. Didn't even show up to say I'm not going to answer questions, he just didn't even show up.

In a statement, the Committee chairs wrote, choosing to defy the law will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena. Okay. But now we've seen that when they go ahead and pursue that, well, Steve Bannon was going to be arrested and now could go to jail over this. So this has other Trump allies watching to see what happens next, not just Meadows but others as well.

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT to begin our coverage tonight. And Jessica, Steve Bannon is preparing to turn himself in on Monday, otherwise he would be arrested. What is happening right now?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. Sources are telling our team that Steve Bannon will self- surrender and then appear in court here, Erin, later on Monday afternoon. His case has already been assigned to Judge Carl Nichols.

Nichols was appointed to the federal bench by none other than Steve Bannon's boss, Donald Trump back in June 2019. And when Bannon appears before Judge Nichols on Monday afternoon, he'll face those two counts of contempt of Congress. One count for refusing to appear for a deposition. The other count for refusing to produce documents.

Our team was actually inside the courtroom this afternoon. The only news media team inside the courtroom with federal Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather when this indictment was actually handed down by a federal grand jury. Now, Judge Meriweather also at the time signed an arrest warrant. That presumably though won't be used here, because Bannon is expected to turn himself in.

If he were to be convicted on these counts of contempt of Congress, he would be facing up to a year in prison, up to a fine of up to $1,000. But prosecutors here they really do face an uphill battle, this might be tough for the Department of Justice. They don't typically bring these cases.

In fact, historically, juries have been sympathetic to the defendants in these cases. The appeals process could take a while. This will be raising novel issues of law like executive privilege and the scope of it. But one thing is definitely certain here, Erin, this definitely sends a message to any of those Trump allies or officials who have or are planning on potentially defying these subpoenas.


And the message is from the Department of Justice that they will and they can criminally charge people, Erin.

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

So I want to go now to our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez along with our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who's also counsel to then-Attorney General Janet Reno.

So Evan, let's just start with the fact that this is a big move. But it didn't come at the snap of a hand. It took 22 days for Attorney General Merrick Garland to do this, got the grand jury involved and as Jessica is laying out that there are challenges here. It's not just going to be an easy walk in the park to take this to a finish line. What was Attorney General Garland's thinking and why did he wait?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think for a lot of the critics who have been talking about this, it seemed like a simple case. But inside this building and at the U.S. Attorney's Office, it was not that simple. As Jessica pointed out, there are some novel issues that are raised by this. The Justice Department doesn't bring these types of cases very often.

The Justice Department tends to be frankly, on the side of people from the executive branch when they are defying Congress because they're claiming executive privilege. Those instances usually are because they're the same party, they're serving under the current president.

This case, obviously, brings up a whole lot of issues which, I'm told, they've even had to consult the Office of Legal Counsel to try to get a handle on this novel issue of a former president claiming that there's still executive privilege that he can assert when the sitting president is saying not so fast, I'm not claiming privilege on these things at all.

BURNETT: Right. That's a complicated thing, the time of when you are the executive matter. I guess they've got to go through that. PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: I mean, Shan, Steve Bannon is expected to self-surrender and so he's taking it seriously, he's not flipping the bird at it and going to get arrested. However, Evan and Jessica, pointing out there are some novel issues here. There are a lot of unknowns. When you look at all of it, Shan, how likely do you think it is that we will see Steve Bannon behind bars?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think if it goes to trial and most criminal cases don't, I think he would be convicted and the judge might give him some time. I mean, maximum consecutive would be two years. He has no record. He's not going to be sitting there a long time.

I think he's certainly going to try as Evan and Jessica are saying to use the executive privilege defense. But from the Department's point of view, as a prosecutor, this is a very simple case. It's about he didn't show, no show in person, no show on documents and that's what they need to keep it on not delve into the executive privilege if they can help it.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, Gloria, I want to remind people again what Steve Bannon said just one day before the January 6th insurrection, lest anybody wonder what his knowledge was. Just listen to what he said publicly again.


BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen. Okay. It's going to be quite extraordinarily different and all I can say is strap in. The war room - a posse, you have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day.


BURNETT: I mean, Gloria, the context around what then happened, do you think there's any chance that Bannon gives everything else he knows to the Committee, because obviously he had a lot of conversations and a lot of interaction with people involved in the insurrection prior to that day.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's exactly what the committee wants to know. I mean, as the subpoena stated, they believe that he was in and out of the Willard Hotel on January 5th in the war room, which was trying to figure out what to do about January 6th, trying to convince elected officials that they ought to overturn election results, et cetera, et cetera. They want to know what his conversations were, if any, with the President of the United States about the coup they were they were planning.

And also, I think this is really important for the Committee itself, because they do have this indictment. I mean, we all understand that Bannon does not have a really great case here, because he wasn't working at the White House at the time. So how could you even claim privilege, but as Shan says, if you stay away from that, you talk about how he has dealt with Congress by not providing documents, by not showing up, look at what happened to Mark Meadows today, a former member of Congress who follow that pattern.


BORGER: So you got to be thinking about what's going to happen to Mark Meadows and what's going to happen to others who are stonewalling. So this you know this gives them a head of steam right now.


BURNETT: So Evan, let me ask you about this issue of Mark Meadows, because as Gloria points out, one of the unique thing about Bannon situation is that he was integral to everything that occurred but he wasn't actually working for President Trump at the time. So executive privilege, it's not even a matter of who was president and who can exert. It's a matter of, he wasn't actually working for the executive.

But Mark Meadows was. He was the chief of staff for then-former President Trump and he failed to show up today for his deposition. He did not provide any documents. The committee says no one's above the law. We won't hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need which, of course, could mean they're going to go the route they did with Bannon, but you're going to run right into the executive privilege there with Meadows. So what happens here, Evan? Do you think that Meadows caves or tries it himself?

PEREZ: Look, I do think that this is going to be a big incentive for people to at least try to cooperate, to try to at least come to some accommodation. But I also think part of the problem with going this route is that if the goal of this committee, and you and I have talked about this over the last few days, the goal here is to try to get information, to try to get it as soon as possible because the clock is ticking for this committee.

And by bringing this case now, this basically takes it into the hands of a judge. We don't know how quickly this trial is going to happen. It's possible that by the time this is all over, this committee will have a Republican Congress and so that's the problem with going the criminal route.

Because if your goal is to get information, then you're now under the control of a judge. And so, look, I think this is going to be a big incentive to other witnesses, because they don't want to have to deal with this. They don't want to have to spend legal fees and the possibility of 30 days in jail at least.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, and the money matters a lot.

Shan, let me ask you the point Evan is raising, the process here, the appeals process, all of this, if you're going to go through it, I mean, there's Bannon specifically but others. When Evan mentions the clicking - the ticking clock, I'm sorry, he's referring, obviously, to the upcoming midterm elections. And if Republicans were to take over the House, the Committee goes away.

So they feel that they need to have this done by next November. When you look at an appeals process and how that goes, do they got the time?

WU: No. This could easily drag out for a long time. They have to schedule the trial. They have to try the case. I mean, honestly, if the department really wanted to use some tools to get the documents, they could serve a search warrant and get the documents. But that's questionable, very aggressive, might be outside the scope of the referral, which is just about prosecuting the contempt.

But any criminal charge, if it goes to trial, it's going to take time.


BORGER: Can I just say ...

BURNETT: Yes, Gloria.

BORGER: ... that the indictments don't go away?


BORGER: The Congress can change but the indictment remains.

BURNETT: Right, which is important. And Gloria, I want to ask you one other thing because the context here is actually the new interview come out about January 6 with former President Trump. And in it he defends the rioters who were threatening then-Vice President Mike Pence during the insurrection on Capitol Hill saying they were going to hang him. Here's the exchange with Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, ABS'S THIS WEEK: Were you worried about him during that that siege? Were you worried about his safety?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape.

KARL: Because you heard those chants, that was terrible. I mean, those ...

TRUMP: He could have - well, people were very angry.

KARL: They're were saying, "Hang Mike Pence."

TRUMP: Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect. How can you - if you know a vote is fraudulent, right?

KARL: Yes.

TRUMP: How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?


BURNETT: So Gloria, right there at that moment siding with people who said hang Mike Pence over to Mike Pence.

BORGER: Well, it's kind of remarkable and it may explain why a lot of folks from the Mike Pence group have volunteered to go speak to the committee, because they were very upset about this. And also when you think about it and you try and get inside Donald Trump's mind, which I'm not saying that I can actually do, but when you think about it, he looks at this as these people were doing publicly what he was doing behind closed doors in the Oval Office.

They were trying to overturn an election and what was Donald Trump doing in talking to state election officials or talking to his attorneys, et cetera, he was doing the same thing. So he looks at them and says that's common sense.

BURNETT: Right. He's calling Brad Raffensperger at that time to find one more vote ...

BORGER: Sure, common sense.

BURNETT: ... (inaudible) got it. All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, a major move by the prosecution in the case against Kyle Rittenhouse. They are now asking for the jury to consider other charges and this could be extremely significant. We're going to explain.

Plus, a record 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs. That's about 3 percent of the workforce. What's behind the surge of resignations?


And tragedy strikes a business mogul who flew to space with actor William Shatner.



BURNETT: Tonight, readying the National Guard. The Wisconsin Governor putting 500 troops on standby, preparing them to be deployed following a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. As both sides prepare for closing arguments on Monday, the judge says he may allow the jury to consider lesser charges for Rittenhouse. This could be extremely significant. It's putting a spotlight on how prosecutors have handled the case thus far. Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT.





SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER(voice over): The challenges of the prosecution in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on full display in front of a national audience.


SCHROEDER: Is there something that I'm seeing that drives the face that you're making?

THOMAS BINGER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yesterday, I was the target of your ire.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Prosecutor Thomas Binger sparring with Judge Bruce Schroeder over his questioning of Rittenhouse on trial for shooting and killing two men and wounding a third during the night of protests after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.


SCHROEDER: Why would you think that that made it okay?


PROKUPECZ(voice over): The heated exchanges just some of the hurdles facing prosecutors. Some of the prosecutor's witnesses seem to also support a key claim for the defense that Rittenhouse did not instigate the conflict.


RYAN BALCH, PROSECUTION WITNESS: Every time I encountered Joseph Rosenbaum he was hyper aggressive.



PROKUPECZ(voice over): Witness after witness pointing to Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person to be shot as someone acting erratically that night, even pursuing Rittenhouse prior to being shot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had been acting very belligerently. He had asked very bluntly to shoot him.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Even Gaige Grosskreutz, the lone survivor should have appealed to the jury as the prosecutor's star witness.


GAIGE GROSSKREUTZ: But the defendant had pointed his weapon at me and I put my hands in the air.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): But like other witnesses, Grosskreutz also helped the defense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun, now your hands down pointed at him that he fired, right?


JANINE GESKE, FMR. WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The witnesses are kind of all over the board.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske agrees Binger faced a challenge from the start, especially with all the videos from the night of the incident.


GESKE: I had the sense that he was using too much video and it was sort of it, because it reinforces this chaos that was going on.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): But she says it's Kyle Rittenhouse himself that could pose the biggest problem for Binger.


GESKE: Most of the time, the prosecution is dancing in the aisles when the defendant takes the stand because often that's what convicts that offender. They say things and they're all over the board. Boy, there was none of that from Rittenhouse.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Binger also lost pretrial motions. The Judge not allowing testimony on Rittenhouse's comments about prior looting in Chicago when according to the motion he said, "I wish had my expletive AR, I'd start shooting rounds at them."


GESKE: They could have used it, because he was saying, well, I only have this gun in case I need it. I'm really there to render medical assistance.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): Geske says Binger tried to push the envelope and went too far when he approached the topic in court anyway.


SCHROEDER: You're an experienced trial attorney and you're telling me that when the judge says I'm excluding this, you just did take it upon yourself to put it in, because you would think that you found a way around it? Come on.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): And again with his question about Rittenhouse's silence prior to the trial.


SCHROEDER: I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant's post-arrest silence.



PROKUPECZ(on camera): And Erin, just to highlight another point of contention during this trial, yesterday the prosecutor asked for two and a half hours to do his closing argument. The Judge couldn't understand why he would need so much time. The Judge telling him that if it's going to go for too long, he has no problem telling him to sit down mid sentence. Erin?

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

I want to go now to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a former defense attorney and the former Mayor of Baltimore and Dave Aronberg, the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida.

Okay. So let me start with you tonight, Dave. The prosecution requesting the jury be allowed to consider lesser charges for Rittenhouse. If the judge agrees, how significant is this and how big could it be for the prosecutors?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Good evening, Erin. I think it's a big deal. I think it gives prosecutors a lifeline because I think they know this trial hasn't been going too well. They may have overcharged here, based on the evidence they were allowed to present. Remember, these charges were filed within 48 hours of the shooting, so it was a pretty quick decision at first by prosecutors.

And here you have the ability with a lesser charges of having a compromised verdict, not an all or nothing. And that helps prosecutors in a case that's not going too well with the judge who's not particularly favorable. And yet, if you can get one of those lesser charges to be convicted, you can get serious penalties. A second degree intentional homicide, which is a lesser charge, would

get Kyle Rittenhouse up to 60 years in prison and an attempted secondary homicide would get them up to 30 years. And so this is a big moment and it could help save the day for the prosecutors.

BURNETT: Wow. I mean, even at age 18, they could put him away for essentially the rest of his life with a much lesser charge. I mean, it's extremely significant.

And Mayor Rawlings-Blake, on this front I actually want to get your reaction to a decision the Judge did make today that I know stood out to you and that is this, the judge is allowing the jury to be instructed on provocation.

And what that means is that the jury will be able to consider whether Rittenhouse provoked Joseph Rosenbaum before he shot and killed him, so not just looking at that moment of self-defense, but what happened prior, who instigated whom, chipping away that self-defense claim. Will it work and how big of a deal do you think this is, Mayor?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, FORMER MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I think it's a big deal. I think the prosecution has taken some really big hits, some fiery from the judge not in front of the jury and some in front of the jury. This is a win for them.


The defense was able to put on a strong case for self-defense at least, at the very least I think that they've raised the issue of reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors based on the commentary that, that we've seen coming out of the trial. So the fact that they can consider provocation is going to be important, because that's the only leverage that the prosecution has against the self-defense at this point.

BURNETT: So obviously this is all really important and then it gets me to the question about these two and a half hours that they've requested for their closing statements. Now, obviously, the judge doesn't want it to go that long, Dave, that's clear. And the relationship between the Judge and the prosecution has been quite contentious various times during the trial. For those who haven't been following it. Let me give some examples.


SCHROEDER: I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant's post arrest silence. That's basic law.

Don't get brazen with me.

Is there something that I'm saying that drives the face that you're making?


SCHROEDER: Go ahead, say what you want to say. BINGER: I have to say ...


BURNETT: Okay. So that's just an example, Dave, of what we've seen. And now he's saying, well, I have no problem cutting you off in mid sentence if you're going too long. What's the takeaway from all that?

ARONBERG: Yes. It shows you, Erin, that some judges have what we call black robe fever. They can get a little full of themselves when they were in those black robes. When they walk into a room, everyone has to stand for them and they know the cameras are rolling in a high profile case like this.

But if I'm the prosecutor in this case, what I would do is to take that crucial ruling today in their favor by the same judge on the jury instruction of provocation. As Stephanie said, that's a big deal. Because that allows the state to take away the self defense of Rittenhouse because the prosecutor should say that it was Kyle Rittenhouse that was the aggressor. He was the one who traveled to a state he did not live in to possess a gun he was not allowed to possess, to guard a business that did not ask him to guard it.

So it is he that put this all in motion and then he shot an unarmed man four times killing him. And when Huber and Grosskreutz were chasing him to subdue him, because he was walking away, that's when he shot both of them. Keep it at that and I think the prosecutors can actually win at least a lesser charge, because in the end, it was the defendant who put this all in motion, he owns it.

BURNETT: Well, if they give a closing statement like that, it sounds like it could be very effective. We'll see if they do.

Mayor, let me ask you one more question, though. I mentioned the National Guard. When you were Mayor of Baltimore, the National Guard was, of course, called to Baltimore amid riots after the death of Freddie Gray. And now the Wisconsin Governor has troops on standby following the Rittenhouse verdict. Do you think that's the right move?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: You have to be careful. I mean, we're here today making this commentary because in the midst of unrest, people lost their lives. And that's one of the things that I wanted to make sure that did not happen under my watch. So we were very careful about when we brought in the National Guard.

We just talked about provocation, that's what happens in many of these cases when you over militarized your response. You are creating provocation with people who are on the streets. They could be upset, frustrated, so you have to be very careful and we'll see. We're here because the last time there was unrest in his streets, in the Governor's streets, things didn't go well and someone lost their life, so hopefully they'll get it right this time.

BURNETT: Thank you both very much. It's going to be a crucial, crucial Monday on this trial.

And next, President Biden talking about consumer prices, saying he's got a plan to lower them, but does it add up?

Plus, Biden got his bipartisan infrastructure bill. What do voters think of the bill in a state with a lot of Trump supporters?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A job is a job. They don't ask you on your application if you're red or blue.




BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden saying the bipartisan infrastructure bill that he will sign into law on Monday will be a turning point for Americans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've gathered with my cabinet this afternoon at a moment of immense hope and possibility, our view, for the United States. American people sent us here to deliver. The American people said -- sent us here to make their government work. And they sent us here to make a difference in their lives and I believe we're doing that.


BURNETT: The president is saying this, though, amid growing warnings from top-business leaders about inflation doing great harm to the U.S. economy, and Americans' standard of living.


CHRISTOPHER PETERSON, CFO, NEWELL BRANDS: We are not assuming that inflation is going to be transitory. We are assuming that inflation is going to be significantly above normal next year.

MIKE ROMAN, 3M CEO: We continue to see inflation increasing as we've come through the year. And I would say as we look out, it's difficult to estimate where it's going to go.

ALAN JOPE, UNILEVER CEO: We are seeing commodity inflation across really every type of input cost that we have. This is once in two- decade inflationary pressure.


BURENTT: OUTFRONT now, Larry Summers, who was treasury secretary for former-President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council under President Obama. And, of course, secretary, you have been warning for months about the threat of inflation. In fact, since the very beginning of this year, when the administration said that -- that -- that that was, you know, crazy talk. And you ended up being right.

So, you hear all these CEOs and, Larry, you hear them. I mean, you know, I played three. You know, as you know, I could give you 30, right? Given that you were worried about this before almost anybody else, and given that now you have got all these CEOs saying it's going to go a year, maybe even past that, right, at that point, it wouldn't be transitory. How long do you think inflation is going to go up?

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think the odds are that we're going to have inflation of a kind we haven't seen in 30 years, until either the Fed takes some significant move with respect to monetary policy, or until there's some kind of accident that disrupts the economic growth we're enjoying.


I think it's possible but quite unlikely that inflation will recede back to its normal 2 percent level without some significant change in the path we're now -- we're now on. I think the Fed has made a significant mistake in the approach that it's taking by doubling down on the massive fiscal stimulus we had at the beginning of the year with really easy monetary policy.

BURNETT: And -- and -- you know, obviously, they haven't indicated to your point that they are going to -- that they see any mistake that they made. But if they were to turn around now and say, actually, wait. Sorry, we're going to start increasing interest rates. Would it be too little, too late?

SUMMERS: I think if they started by saying that they were going to stop immediately buying mortgages in the midst of a major housing bubble, that would be helpful. I think if they said they were going to stop growing their balance sheet and not reduce their balance sheet but just stop the process of growing it -- if they were going to get that done in three months, rather than in eight, that would be helpful. If they signaled that they were on hold towards the possibility of raising rates and that they saw the major problem as being overheating, I think that would be helpful.

BURNETT: And -- and let's just be clear. You use the words housing bubble. You think that's fair now?

SUMMERS: Yeah. House prices have, in the last 12 months, risen faster than in any single year since they started collecting -- collecting the data.


SUMMERS: (AUDIO GAP) wrong word. Maybe surge is the right word. But we've clearly got a major thing going on in the housing market that hasn't, yet, been much reflected in the consumer price indices. But it will be.

BURNETT: And -- and -- and yet, at the same time, and I know you are talking about the combination of both the easy monetary policy, incredibly easy monetary policy, also, fiscal stimulus. You know, look, there's been a lot of money going out on the fiscal side to Americans, right? At first, to -- to say don't go to work because of the coronavirus. And a lot of those payments have continued, right, and credits.

What that is is resulting in is, you know, people wanting to be paid more to go back to work. Okay. That makes sense. And you are seeing it. 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September. That is a record number. It is a record number for the second month running.

There are more than 10 million open jobs in the United States right now. That could be a huge problem for an economy trying to really, really take off. What -- what do you think is going on here, given the strong wage growth we are seeing?

SUMMERS: I think we've got a tight labor market, not a loose labor market. 4.7 percent unemployment's actually pretty low by broad historical standards. And as you just said, Erin, the vacancy and the quit rates are unprecedently high.

So we got to recognize our problem is not that not enough people have jobs. That is not the current problem. The current problem is that we are pushing demand into the economy faster than supply can grow and that we are just going to get more and more inflation until we stop doing that.

BURNETT: All right.

SUMMERS: That's the real -- that's the real problem.

BURNETT: Yeah. Well, it's a -- it's a pretty terrifying problem. It is a big problem.

All right. I appreciate your time, Secretary. Thank you very much. Always good to talk to you.

All right. Next, we follow one Democratic congresswoman who is trying to sell Biden's economic agenda.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is the White House addressing the needs of everyday Americans?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I -- I think, certainly, um, they are trying. But we could be doing more.


BURNETT: And tonight, a CNN exclusive. We are going to take you to what the U.N. says is becoming a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, thousands of people now starving and suffering from hypothermia.


[19:43:16] BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden's set to travel across the country next week to sell his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. One place he will be visiting is Michigan. But in a state where Donald Trump still looms very large, what do voters think of that bill?

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


SLOTKIN: At least every Michigander I know wants money for infrastructure, and here we have it.

ZELENY (voice-over): Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin finally has something to crow about, the long-awaited infrastructure bill once celebrated by both parties.

SLOTKIN: And we should be happy about that, whether it's Biden's signature or Trump's signature. And if Trump's signature had been on that thing, I would be just as happy to talk about people what this would do.

ZELENY: Slotkin will be on hand when President Biden signs the law on Monday. But former-president Trump is also not far from her mind, considering he won her district, giving her a front-row seat to the nation's deep political divide.

SLOTKIN: I couldn't have won unless there were voters who voted for both Donald Trump and me. And that's a pretty independently minded person.

ZELENY: For the next year, the road to winning control of Congress runs right through places like Michigan's 8th district and whether Democrats get credit or blamed for Biden's agenda, starting with infrastructure.

SLOTKIN: Being able to see it actually signed into law is a big deal. And again, we haven't seen this kind of investment since we did the highway system. And, you know, in the 1940s and 1950s. But it doesn't end in the oval office. They watched us go back and forth on it. Um, I am sure they are happy that it's signed but it's like we're in Michigan and what matters is facts on the ground and getting things done.

ZELENY: Last month, Biden visited a union training center here that, soon, will be thrust into overdrive, preparing workers to build roads, bridges, airports, and more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes a lot of training to be able to get certified in this.

ZELENY: John Habercorn (ph), an instructor on these tower cranes, believes the bill will create unprecedented opportunities for workers no matter their politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A job's a job. They -- they don't ask you on your application if -- if you're red or blue.

ZELENY: Jeremy Denton didn't vote for Biden or Slotkin but he supports the action on infrastructure.

JEREMY DENTON, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN VOTER: It's cost of doing business. You have to reinvest if you are going to build these things. If you have a bridge that needs to be repaired, repair the bridge.

ZELENY: Slotkin, a former CIA officer, elected to Congress in 2018 believes the deep divisions among Democrats have raised legitimate questions about the party's ability to govern and to connect with all Americans.

SLOTKIN: Yeah. I think there is a disconnect. I mean, I think that the average person is not looking for radical ideology on any side of the spectrum. They are looking for their government to function, and to deliver for people.

ZELENY: She has real questions about part two of Biden's economic agenda. Both, its scope and timing. Given rising concerns about inflation, gas prices, and more.

Like other moderate Democrats, she's waiting to see the cost of the bill before committing her vote.

Is the White House addressing the needs of everyday Americans?

SLOTKIN: I -- I think, certainly, um, they are trying but we could be doing more. We have got to address inflation. We've got to address the worker shortage. We've got to address the high price of things going into the holiday season.


ZELENY: Now, President Biden will be coming here to Michigan next week to sell this infrastructure plan. The broad outlines of which are very popular among the American people, some $10 billion coming to Michigan here alone. But, Erin, suddenly the politics of this are all complicated by former President Trump who called out Republicans for voting for this bill. We know most of them, of course, voted against it.

SLOTKIN: Yeah. Absolutely.

All right, Jeff, thank you very much.

And next, the conditions growing incredibly dire by the hour. Thousands now, no food, no water. Many suffering from hypothermia and it's getting colder. So for the first time, we are going to take you to the region that could, one day, truly pit the United States against Russia.

Plus, heartbreaking news to report about one of the astronauts who flew to space with Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden saying he is concerned about the crisis at the Belarus-Poland border.


BIDEN: I think it's of great concern. We have communicated our concern to Russia. We have communicated our concern to Belarus. We think it's a problem.


BURNETT: It comes as thousands of people are trapped in what the U.N. is now calling catastrophic conditions. Migrants starving, suffering from hypothermia, unable to cross the border between Poland and Belarus.

Matthew Chance is the only international reporter to get access to the migrant camp in Belarus.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the desperate, trapped on the front line of Europe's latest refugee crisis. We've gained exclusive access to the burgeoning camp at the Polish border in Belarus.

Help, help, this little boy shouts. But there's barely enough here to keep everyone alive.

Already, people have died in the cold as Polish forces stand guard on the other side.

You can see how close we are, just across this razor wire fence are Polish security forces on polish territory keeping a close eye on the situation, trying to prevent refugees, migrants from this camp here in Belarusian territory from crossing over that line. You see there are thousands of people here.

Two thousand now say Belarusian officials, but with migrants still flooding in from the Middle East and Asia, it could be 5,000, they told CNN, in just another week. For Europe, that's a threat.

Sit down.

You're warming your children's gloves here.


CHANCE: Most have already paid big money to traffickers or Belarusian travel agents just to get this far.

You're telling me you've paid $2,000, which is a lot of money, right, to come from Iraqi Kurdistan to here.


CHANCE: Do you think you're going to get through? Do you think you will go to Germany?


CHANCE: You do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are. We are. Our people want to go to the Germany.

CHANCE: Yes, but do you think it will happen? You'll try?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll try. We don't want to stay in Poland.

CHANCE: The more migrants arrive, the more desperate their plight. We witness these refugees frantically scrambling for firewood, essential supplies as temperatures here drop. With Belarusian aid workers arriving with food and water, the scenes are even more --

GIRL: I'm hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I know. I hope you get some food.

CHANCE: You can see these are pretty extraordinary scenes. You've got Belarusian military forces essentially trying to push back the crowd of migrants that's gathered around this distribution of aid. They're just giving out bottle of -- plastic bottles of water, but the people here are so desperate for any kind of nutrition, any kind of food, water, shelter.

Look, they're being asked to kneel down in front of the Belarusian security forces. And when they kneel down, look, some of them are being allowed to go through. Who's this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is Aji (ph).

CHANCE: Hello, Aji. Are you good? You speak English, too?


Shohan (ph) and her 4-year-old son traveled to Belarus from Iraqi Kurdistan to help her child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came here for my son. He need an operation.

CHANCE: He needs a operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, big operation in the back.

CHANCE: Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, he can't walk without this --

CHANCE: Oh, I see, he's got this splint on his leg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, he can't walk without his shoes.

CHANCE: Why didn't you do this operation in Kurdistan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because not very good. Maybe he fail, the operation fail, and we need to go to Germany. Everyone -- the doctor told me that the operation in Germany very good.

CHANCE: But now, Germany looks a long way off. With Belarus and the West blaming each other for this crisis, it's these people stuck in the middle who are paying the price.


CHANCE (on camera): Tonight, Erin, Belarusian border officials are underlining their concerns or their warnings, that the situation on that border can get much worse if the crisis with the European Union isn't resolved soon. There are more than 2,000 people there now. In a week, as I mentioned, 5,000. But with every day that passes, 200 or 300 new migrants a arrive there at that delicate border.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew. Really appreciate it. We said the only international reporter able to get you those images.

Next, tragic news tonight about the businessman who went into space alongside actor William Shatner.


BURNETT: Tonight, tragic news regarding one of the first people to travel to space with Jeff Bezos' company blue origin. CNN learning Glen de Vries has died. The businessman was only 49 years old. One of two people killed when their small plane crashed yesterday, and so far it's unclear why their plane went down. Blue origin tweeting, he brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crew mates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.

De Vries told CNN it was his lifelong dream to see planet earth from space. Did, of course, fulfill that dream.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.