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Biden to Sell Agenda to Working Class Votes in PA; Final Stretch: Dems Appear to close in on Compromise Deal; Biden Makes "Forceful Case" for Deal before Oct 31; Cheney Suggests Trump "Personally Involved" in 1/6 Planning; Items Belonging to Brian Laundrie found at Florida Park. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 20, 2021 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Thank you all so much for being here today. I'm Kate Bolduan. "Inside Politics" with my colleague John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Call it the big cut down, the president dramatically narrows his agenda to try to forge a deal Universal Pre-K is in free to your college is out. Family Leave scaled back everything.

Yes, everything now under negotiation. Plus, Congress moves a step closer to holding a key Trump ally in contempt. And the Republican leading the January 6th Committee suggests Former President Trump perhaps personally involved in planning the Capitol riots.

And some big COVID headlines today, the White House outline its plan to vaccinate as many as 28 million children. Plus a source tells CNN the government will recommend expanding booster shots to people as young as 40.

We begin the hour though with a different tone among Democrats today and some optimism there's progress in trying to craft a revised version of the Biden agenda. There is a price for that progress. The president now conceding some big campaign promises will not make the final cut, key progressives can see the final package likely to come in around $2 trillion.

Maybe even a little less than that, of course, well short of the $6 trillion they not too long ago said was essential. The work is not over not anywhere close to over. Yet some Democrats are saying today, it is possible they could have the framework of a deal by the end of this week.

Let's get straight to our Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan the president on the road today to sell this plant he's willing to give the question is that enough to get what he wants in the end to do?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question. And the White House has been pretty frank here that this is the time that they need to make hard choices, because they really want to see movement on this.

And John, we know, Democratic leaders want to see that movement by the end of this week and have some kind of framework. They're hoping they have more than that by the time the president leaves Washington at the end of next week to go to a major Climate Summit in Glasgow where of course they'd like to tout some of the climate provisions that are still being worked out and what this bill is eventually going to look like.

And we know that in this marathon of meetings that the president held yesterday, he did discuss a new price tag; this is one that would be in the 1.75 trillion to 1.9 trillion ranges. Of course, that's a lot closer to that number that had been laid out by Senator Manchin than it is to the one that you had heard from progressives, which as you noted, was initially around 6 trillion.

Lately, it's been around 3.5 trillion, still a big change. And so of course, that changes the scope and the size of this bill and what's actually going to be in it. And we know the president told Democrats that likely those two three years of community college are out.

The child tax credit is likely not going to be expanded or extended as long as they had hoped that it would be and of course, there are some other concessions in there as well about some key priorities that they had hoped to have.

There are still some of the biggest Democratic priorities in this bill as it stands right now, when you're talking about these negotiations that are happening. And John that includes expanding Medicare coverage, billions of dollars for climate change, and that fight that they'd like to take on in a more aggressive manner.

And also, of course, Universal Pre K, another big priority that you've seen for progressive Democrats and so of course that is still far from finished and the president will be here in Scranton in his hometown today to sell this bill. But we should note it's not a finished bill. He is coming here to talk about a bill that in Washington, they are still hammering out the final details.

KING: Still working on. I'd be interested to see how the president tries to sell it on the road today in a place very important him. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate you're kicking us off live from Scranton.

Let's bring it into the room with me to share their reporting and their insights Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast", Laura Barron- Lopez from "POLITICO", Tia Mitchell from "The Atlanta-Constitution".

Tia the tone is different today, Speaker Pelosi moments ago saying we have to have a climate package. We'll work out the details, but we have to do it for the children, even progressives who have been grumbling about getting anywhere close to $2 trillion, saying if that's where we have to go, that's where we go. The tone is different. Does that mean they get it and they'll get there? Or is it just a nicer debate?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: I think there is a greater sense of urgency than we've seen in the recent weeks. I think that they also know that there won't be another extension on that highway safety.

I mean, the highway funding the transportation funding, so they've got to get some things done. Biden is going to the Climate Summit, he wants to have something to bring with him. And so there's no guarantee, as you said that something will get done, but they're more invested than they ever have been.

And I think Democrats realize that they're starting to suffer because they're the ones who are in power. And if they don't get it done, the people at home will not be pleased.

KING: Right. You see that playing out live right before us in the Virginia Governor's Race. Less than two weeks from today, the voters decide there you can show - we can show you the president's poll numbers.

So we're talking about our new CNN poll last week that showed the president had stabilized in a comfortable place but there been a couple of polls since then. If you average them all out right now the president's job approval down to 44 percent disapprove up to 50 percent.

If you're a Democrat, that should be a kick in you know what, to try to get things done. So here's what's out. The president making a key concession yesterday, and this is important to progressive as well, the president saying, look, we're not going to get up for free community college for two years. We're going to have to change significantly our clean electricity plan to come up with something else.


KING: We're going to have to scale back our plans for paid family leave the child tax credit funding for in home care. The Democrats want to have - they want it to have a big, giant, bold social safety net plan. It looks like because of the reality of the vote math, we're going to have a more modest but still significant safety net play.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, for a brief moment, there was hope that Democrats could maybe potentially make the child tax credit permanent, that's been a long desire of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but that's not going to be possible so it's going to be extended, we're told for about a year.

And then it'll come due again, to be renewed I think a little bit after the 2022 election. Democrats bet is that even if we're only funding things for a short period of time, one to two years that it they think it's going to be harder if Republicans gained power for Republicans to then not extend those programs.

Now, Democrats who have been in power in the past have worn them some say that it would be smarter to make a lot of these programs permanent because you just never know when the next party is in power, if they're actually going to extend any of these. But that climate the clean electricity plan that you mentioned, John that's really big here, especially ahead of the Climate Summit, because Biden has promised that he would reduce carbon emissions by some 50 percent. And taking that out of the plan makes it incredibly difficult to reach that carbon reduction goal that the president set.

You know, when he was campaigning, and as he entered the White House, so right now, there, the White House is really trying to figure out what they can get Senator Manchin to make sure that emissions are cut dramatically.

KING: It's been interesting because we've been talking about this for weeks and sometimes it seems like Groundhog Day, and there are a lot of meetings with it don't seem to be any progress. In the last few days you've had what I'll call the shuttling of key players.

Pramila Jayapal key voice, the Chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus in the House goes to see the president goes to see Senate Sinema, goes to see Senator Manchin. Just listen here on how her tone shifts just a little bit, but if you listen to the more recent it's got to make a deal.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We will not be able to vote for the reconciliation - for the infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill has passed. My number is 3.5 our number is 3.5 somebody has a different offer than they can put it on the table.

We're open to anything that moves these things along quickly as long as we're really confident that it is actually agreed to in total.


KING: It's the last part he agreed to in total which is that everybody agrees what Senate and Manchin and Sinema essentially sign not literally but sign in blood that they're going to vote for it.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, progressive did get a win by delaying this by pushing it and by holding themselves together and now they realize it is crunch time and you see that across all the Caucuses.

The White House have also made a very big show of being involved all of these meetings that happened yesterday with the various stakeholders. And you've heard progressive, say, you know, it's really getting through to them that it - this trip in a couple in - you know, a couple days a week, he needs to have something to go there with and that's also resonating.

KING: And one of the things now is what do we watch, right? So everybody's meeting, their tone is more positive. They're starting to do the horse trading, if you will, which program do we keep? Do we pair it back? Is it permanent? Is it for one year or two years?

And so you have the progressives in the House are deeply skeptical of the Senate. More skeptical of two particular Senators Manchin and Sinema, listen to one of the key progressives today, Ro Khanna a key ally of Bernie Sanders, who he says, for me to sign off on this, Bernie better say, do it.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): President Biden, this is his agenda and we want him to make a fair compromise and a fair proposal. And we want to make sure that Senator Sanders is on board with it. And if that happens, we'll get on board with it.


KING: It's striking in a sense that if you go back to the Sanders campaign for president, you know, he was the revolution. We need a revolution. We need to change everything. We need to go big and bold.

He is now essentially key to the pragmatism at play here, we all need to trim our sales, we all need to accept something different and for the House progressives to eat their peas, if you will. And you're right, they're still going to get something a whole lot bigger than they would have gotten if Republicans had held the Senate.

If Democrats did not win those two Georgia seats, we would not be having this conversation at all. But they're looking for OK, if one of our leaders says this is the best we can do, they'll vote for it.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, it's pretty stunning considering that from 2016, you've seen Sanders rise and how he's really shaped this wing of the party, and that even though he didn't win the presidency.

He is still very much seen as the leader for all of these progressives, even in the House, and they look to him and what he's willing to accept and what he's not? And a lot of his progressive colleagues do consider him.

And even ones that aren't progressives in the Senate. They are starting to call him, you know, a pragmatist that Bernie, he might get him in trouble and he doesn't maybe necessarily like the word but he has been pragmatic throughout the Biden presidency. And he's been working really closely with the White House, which maybe he wouldn't have expected years ago.

KUCINICH: Well, and you also - he's also working now with Senator Manchin despite all the rock and sock over the weekend, between the two of them.


KUCINICH: They're meeting they are talking and it just it matters. It shows that he's really kind of come into this leadership role not that he you know, needed to rise. He's been there a long time but he really is a major player on this particular piece of that.

KING: We're used to him as this outside player, if you will. A big messenger for the progressive movement, but he's proving that he's very important to the inside game, which is now. We'll see if they get to the finish line again, a more optimistic tone today and important.

We'll continue to follow the story right here this CNN Exclusive President Joe Biden takes questions from you, the American people. Anderson Cooper will moderate our CNN Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden begins tomorrow night, eight o'clock eastern right here on CNN.

When we come back, all hell is breaking loose those words from Steve Bannon, well guess what? They have the attention of the January 6th Committee. What happens now that the committee has approved a holding Bannon in criminal contempt?



KING: An important step too today in the January 6 Committee's pursuit to hold the Trump ally in contempt. Tomorrow, Steve Bannon is contempt referral will get a full vote on the House floor. Today there's a rules committee meeting to debate it craft the language for that debate on the full floor.

And just moments ago, the Select Panel's Vice Chair, urged her House colleagues and she's talking mostly to Republicans here, think about history and vote yes, she asks for holding Mr. Bannon in contempt.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): In many nations, democracy has failed, because those with authority would not act to protect it, because they sat in silence. History will judge those of us in positions of public trust. Remember that as you cast your votes.


KING: Joining our conversation our CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero I want to come back to you in one second. But to what we just heard from Congressman Cheney and the politics, we're waiting to see this Rules Committee debate play out, a couple of the president's key allies are on that committee and they're sitting in the back of the room. We haven't heard much from them yet.

This is a test of how willing are the Trump Republicans in the House in this context to jump up A defend Bannon and B, defend Trump?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think we're going to see the majority of Republicans vote against this because that's what history and what the past has shown us, which is that many of the Republicans in that conference are still very much beholden to Trump, they're still very much willing to be allies and loyal to, to his cause, and to what he wants, which is to continue to further, you know, the big lie to rewrite what happened on January 6.

And, you know, on Bannon specifically, we just saw a week ago or so, where he was at a rally that continue to further lies about election fraud, and also where they pledged allegiance to a flag that was carried on January. KING: And so Congresswoman Cheney, who again, one of two Republicans on the panel, most of she's pariah in the party, largely because of her willingness to criticize the former president, her willingness to be part of this investigation, but she says today, listen here, it is critical to get to the truth. It was critical anyway, on January 6, and on January 7, but she says now that we know a lot more, even more so.


CHENEY: The people who attacked this building, told us continue to tell us on video on social media, and now before the federal courts, exactly what motivated them. They believed what Donald Trump said that the election was stolen, and that they needed to take action.


KING: Yesterday, Carrie, she took it a bit further saying that she saw in Steve Bannon's defiance, I will not comply with a subpoena. I will not give you documents; I will not come and testify. She took that as evidence that the two of them meaning the former president with Steve Bannon were personally involved, and that Bannon was trying to hide the truth.

If you want to get to the truth, you have to get Bannon and others to testify that now is likely to end at first Merrick Garland has to make a decision. Do you try to prosecute? And then we go through the courts? Is there a way to get that done quickly? Because when this became an issue during the impeachment proceedings, some of those debates took a couple years to resolve.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. I mean, it can take a long time. And we really, it's very difficult to predict how long it's going to take? Once the House votes and presuming that this does get sent over to the Justice Department, the Justice Department needs to go in my view in regular order and really make a solid prosecutorial decision that then goes up the chain.

So that there isn't any kind of appearance that this was top down, politically influenced, they need to consider it just the way that they would consider any other prosecution up through the U.S. Attorney's Office.

But she said another thing earlier today, she said, Liz Cheney, she said there's a more fundamental point here Bannon's defiance, she said, "Puts this institutions authority at significant risk". And I think on one hand, yes, the Committee wants to hear what Steve Bannon says.

But this point by Liz Cheney is really the key. If he doesn't have to follow the rule of law, if he doesn't have to comply than any other investigation, Congress does. Well, anyone else can do this. He was just a private citizen. He's just like anybody else in the country who just says no, I'm not going to comply with a congressional subpoena.

KING: It's a critical point about this investigation. But it's also a critical point about one of the toxic legacies we're still dealing with at the Trump Administration, which is attack any institution that might hold you accountable.

Attack, secretaries of state because God forbid they count votes, and they do honest math, don't comply with the United States Congress. Criticize judges when they issue a ruling you don't like. This is part of a much bigger problem and attack on institutions and attack on rules and law and order.

MITCHELL: And it's also a problem because it demonstrates that certain people are able to abide by their own sets of rules. A regular person, who receives a subpoena, can't just say I'm not going to comply. I'm going to just ignore it you know.

So if this is the rule of law, this is how our legal system is supposed to work, then why are certain people able to use their connections and resources to avoid those repercussions and so it goes even deeper. You know, what are we saying about our courts in our system?


MITCHELL: Again, this is about the truth. It's not even the vote that the entire House is expected to make tomorrow is just about whether he should respond to the questions respond to the subpoena.

It's not saying he did anything, right or wrong. So if Republicans decided to side with Trump as we expect them to do, it shows that their allegiance is higher than the rule of the law.

KUCINICH: But what I would expect them to do is not even - I would be surprised if you know, Trump is the central piece of it. What they've done up until this point is talk about the committee say the committee's partisan, say it's a witch hunt, that sort of thing.

And yes, that is rooted in Trump. But I wouldn't be surprised if they - because you heard Tom Cole, who's on the Rules Committee talk a little bit about how the Republican from Oklahoma talk about how it was - the committee was just doing policies bidding, and that you know, this was just this was all just partisanship run amok? Whether or not they'll get away with that? That remains.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Even though by definition, the committee is actually bipartisan--

KUCINICH: It absolutely is.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Liz Cheney and Kinzinger, who sit on that Committee?

KUCINICH: Absolutely.

KING: Right, absolutely. And to that point, though, I want you to listen here to a little snippet from Adam Schiff, who's on the January 6 Committee, he also of course, was a key player in the Trump impeachment. And so for Republicans, he's nuclear, the former president has a not a pleasant name - nickname for him. This is Adam Schiff, making a point that if you believe in the rule of law is a credible point, if you understand the politics of the moment could be a little risky.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think there's a real desire on the part of the Attorney General, for the most part not to look backward. Do I disagree with that? I do disagree with that. And I disagree with it most vehemently when it comes to what I consider even more serious offenses. In my view, you don't ignore the crimes that have been committed by a President of the United States. They need to be investigated.


KING: It's critically important point to Congressman Schiff. And I get it, I get it. There are people who believe there are a lot of all these word shenanigans worse than that went on during the Trump Presidency, the Justice Department.

Look at it's not an American political history to go back to previous administrations. But then the politics of the moment he sits on this Committee at a time Republicans want to say the people have been after Trump forever or after Trump again. So is it smart politics, especially when you know, as he concedes, America is unlikely to kick that rock over?

CORDERO: Well, I think the Attorney General is in a difficult position, because I'm one time --on one hand, what he's really trying to do with his willingness to serve at this time is to restore the norms of the Justice Department to return to regular order to insulate the department from political influence.

On the other hand, we had an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, as everyone here knows, and so on, the Justice Department is conducting a robust investigation of hundreds of people who have been prosecuted in that case, who participated in that event.

The piece that's missing in the piece of the January 6 Committee is trying to address is the planning of it, who at in political levels in the White House or advisors was involved in inspiring or potentially planning and involved in that, and I don't think we know the answer yet as to whether the Justice Department is pursuing those types of investigations and charges.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And it's also an important question for the future, right, because those same advisors and Trump himself as well are trying to continue to influence the election system heading into 22 and 24 and are very much a part of all these races that are playing out across the country. And so they're bringing that nefarious nature to the rest of the race.

KING: its great point that continue as I like to put it, keep pouring this into the well. And until somebody stops them, they'll keep pouring it into the well. Up next for us, and big COVID vaccine news a White House rollout plan for young children once they are eligible and a new proposal to offer vaccine booster shots to Americans as young as 40.



KING: Breaking news just into CNN, articles belonging to Brian Laundrie have been found at a park in Florida according to the family's attorney. His parents told the FBI last night they intended to go to this park to look for Laundrie today.

Laundrie of course a person of interest according to his own lawyer in the death of Gabby Petito CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now more for, Jean what are we learning?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the Carlton Nature Reserve area that law enforcement has been searching for so long now ever since Brian never came home from his parents saying that he went there for a hike would be on Monday, September 13th.

Now is the Micah Hatchie Creek Environmental Park. And the parents alerted law enforcement as you said that last night FBI and Northport Police that they were going to go out there this morning they were going to search themselves. And what we now understand is that the family mother and father of Brian Laundrie and law enforcement together found "Some articles that belong to Brian".

Now we don't know what they are. We don't know how significant they are. But we can confirm the medical examiner has not been called to the area at all. That is significant right there. And Steven Bertolino, who is the Attorney for the Laundrie family says that he has no further comment respectfully, he says.

So this is a development this morning because what does it show? It shows conceivably that Brian was there. But remember Brian frequented that area. He loved to go to that area according to his parents. He had gone there many times before.