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Inside Politics

Biden: First Responders Should Be Mandated To Get Vaccines And Get Fired If They Don't Comply; Judge Sets Nov. 4 Hearing On Trump's 1/6 Privilege Claim; GOP Rep. Greene Yelled At 1/6 Committee Members On House Floor; Controversial Texas Abortion Law To Remain In Place Until Supreme Court Hears Challenge On November 1; China's Hypersonic Missile Tests Biden Admin's Plan To Scale Back Nuclear Arsenal; Biden Vows To Protect Taiwan If China Attacks. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: In terms of new COVID infections are getting better. 75,813 is your average as of yesterday, it was -- at the September high -- was above 172,000. You say we need to find a way to vaccinate the unvaccinated. I don't want to get you involved in the politics here, but from a public health perspective, listen to one of the things the President said last night.

The President says, yes, he now supports mandates, mandates for federal employees and mandates for first responders out there working in cities and towns all across America. And listen to the President's language, he said why he came -- why he ultimately came to the idea that, yes, we could require it. And if you don't do it, you should be fired. Listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Should police officers, emergency responders be mandated to get vaccines? And if not, should they be stay at home or let go?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, and yes. By the way, by the way, I waited until July to talk about mandated because I tried everything else possible. The mandates are working.


KING: Again, you don't have to jump into the politics of this, which can be pretty dicey. From a public health perspective, what you heard from the President there. He waited, wanted to see if people would do it voluntarily. And then he decided, because of this, these case counts and hospitalizations and deaths, we have no choice, mandate it. Makes sense?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Yes, I'm sure this is enormously frustrating for him. I mean, he figured out a way to mass produce, mass distribute, mass administer this vaccine for free. It's easily available. He did everything he could to try and get good information out there. Everything he could do to try and decrease bad information was out there.

He tried influencers in various communities. But basically, you have about 65 million people in this country who are saying, I don't want to get a vaccine. I want to remain fertile ground for this virus to spread, to mutate, to create variants, which may become more resistant to vaccine induced immunity, continue to do harm, and what are you going to do about it?

And I think this is the only thing you can do about it, which is basically to require vaccines in situations where requiring vaccines clearly makes a difference. So, I applaud him for that.

KING: Dr. Offit, as always, grateful for your time today and we'll be watching the important work of your advisory committee next week. Thank you, sir.

OFFIT: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

Up next, some breaking news from Capitol Hill, getting some new information on the investigation into the January 6th insurrection.



KING: New reporting now on the January 6th investigative committee and its broad, broad focus. Sources telling CNN, the select panel zeroing in on the money they paid for the so-called Stop the Steal rallies that then morphed into the riots at the Capitol. And that is one of at least five areas now under scrutiny by different teams on the committee.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now live from Capitol Hill with more. Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. And this comes from extensive reporting from my colleagues Jamie Gangel, Whitney Wild, Zach Cohen and Kristen Holmes. And what we've learned is that one of the things that the January 6 committee and its investigators are zeroing in on is the money trail, who paid for what and where did that money come from.

And as you point out, John, the committee has set their investigative teams up into different groups. And they've actually identified those groups by different colors who allowed -- allow them to have a specific focus. And one of those primary areas of focus is the money trail. They've called that the green team, and the green team is looking into who funded those big rallies that took place in Washington in the days leading up to and on January 6, including the Stop the Steal rally, that of course, was held on the Ellipse outside of the White House and where many people were drawn to and then eventually made their way to the Capitol on that day.

They focused in on many of these key fundraisers in the organizers of the event. So trying to find out exactly where their money came from and how it was spent. And if there is any direct connection to the Trump campaign, to the former president himself or any of his associates, or outside allies. We've also learned that many of the people that have been subpoenaed already, the people that have brought in for questioning voluntarily, many of them have been asked specific questions about this money trail. It seems pretty clear that this is a serious area of focus for this January 6 committee, John.

KING: Ryan, another serious area of focus is the President of the United States what he did that day, but also in the days immediately before and what he knew about who was coming to town. President Trump, former president, has claimed executive privilege that goes to the courts. We understand now that a judge has set a hearing.

NOBLES: Yes, that's right, John. The first hearing on this conversation and the deliberations over how many of those documents are going to be released to the committee is set to happen on November 4th, and that's a key date, because it does give the judge some time to make that decision. There's been a deadline set of November 12th before the committee is allowed to take that information without a specific court ruling.

So November 4th, the first key hearing. Of course, this could be a long, drawn out court situation. It may not be resolved by then, but that will be the first initial day where we'll get some information. John?

KING: Ryan Nobles, appreciate the important news in the hustle up on Capitol Hill very much.

And tensions over that January 6th investigative committee, one of the reasons behind several revealing moments featuring House Republicans yesterday. Look at this one. The Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene confronting Congresswoman Liz Cheney, just after the Wyoming Republican condemned GOP colleagues who defend or play down the January 6th insurrection.

Now Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin who like Cheney, serves on that committee investigating the insurrection also was on the receiving end of one of Congresswoman Greene's trademark thoughts (ph).



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): The theme of of Marjorie Taylor Greene's comments was that Liz Cheney had betrayed Donald Trump and the Republican Party. And the theme of Liz's comments were that Marjorie Taylor Greene was, shall we say, a bit eccentric.


KING: The panel is back to discuss this. This has become a trademark of Marjorie Taylor Greene. If she disagrees with you, she not only lets you know, but she approaches you and gets quite close and lets you know. LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I mean, she does this outside of the House floor. She's done it outside of the Capitol building on the stairs there. I mean, it's also just a testament to the culture right now in the House of Representatives. Things have kind of devolved in a way.

You know, people at home may not realize there are metal detectors outside the House floor. Members of Congress walk through metal detectors to get onto the House floor. And you were seeing an interaction in a place that is really supposed to be kind of a sacred voting place of democracy. And you see there that members are really not safe from being taunted from their colleagues. It's pretty remarkable.

KING: In those remarks, she said that Marjorie Taylor Greene told Liz Cheney she had betrayed the Republican Party and betrayed Donald Trump. This is what Liz Cheney said on the floor, and ask yourself at home, why would other Republicans not want to get to the truth?


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There are people in this chamber right now who were evacuated with me and with the rest of us on that day during that attack. People who now seem to have forgotten the danger of the moment, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our Congress.


KING: Forgive me, but I can't find a good argument against finding out what happened on that day. Sorry. People stormed the United States Capitol on a very important day in the election process. They threatened to hang the Vice President of the United States. They were chasing down the Speaker of the House of Representatives, more than 535, you know, justifying member of Congress, plus all the staff, all the reporters at risk.

But because Liz Cheney says those things, your colleague Jonathan Martin today writing that Kevin McCarthy or his -- the people who work for Kevin McCarthy, have essentially issued a fatwa. If you work for Liz Cheney, or any of the Republicans who support those things, you cannot. You're either with Kevin and the conference or the person undermining them. You can't serve two masters. No big tent in this Republican Party.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, this is -- they are sending out a message that's been implicitly clear for a long time. This remains Donald Trump's Republican Party. And that's a key tenant of that, you cannot acknowledge what we know to be the truth about what happened on January 6.

I was in Virginia last week, you know, there's a governor's race happening there. And there was a event with Steve Bannon and others that the Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin stayed away from, but very much had a presence throughout -- at that event. And there, they were passing around a flag that was supposedly from January 6. People were taking pictures with it. It was described as a peaceful rally, even though we know that not to be the case.

I think it's important for us not just to see January 6 as a singular thing, but there are still small Stop the Steal rallies and events happening throughout the country. That one was sponsored by My Pillow, Mike Lindell, who has, obviously, been out on conservative media talking about the steal. This is still an ongoing challenge and assault on democracy, not one that just happened on one day.

KING: Right. And they get either the wink, nod or full approval from a lot of these House Republicans who are going to ask the American people next year, put us in charge. Let us be in charge of things like your budget, things like national security, things like that.

This is one of those, Jim Banks, he's a member of the Republican leadership in the House. And this is a letter he signed, you can't see it at home. But at the bottom it says, ranking member, ranking member. I'm going to change my stationery to say baseball and football Hall of Famer because I just want to say that. It's not true. I just want to say that, right? I want everyone to think I'm in the baseball and football Hall of Fame.

He's not the ranking member of the January 6th committee. Because the deal to have a bipartisan committee blew up, the Republicans blew it up.


KING: But he sent this letter to a Cabinet secretary saying, you have to send me any documents you send the committee because I'm the ranking member.

KIM: He is --

KING: That's a lie. That's a lie. That's a member of congress lying.

KIM: He is not the ranking member of the committee, no matter how much he tries to put it on official stationery, and put it out there. But this is -- the kind of the dynamics right now, it's just so remarkable to me. And I -- going to this week's vote of -- a vote by the House to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for evading that subpoena, it was -- you know, Republicans successfully for the most part made it into a proxy loyalty vote for Donald Trump in the Republican Party, losing sight of the fact that it is actually a vote to protect the integrity of Congress, its investigative powers, to tell a message that if you don't comply with a legal subpoena, you will be punished and that wasn't what it was.

KING: No, that's not what it was. It's not what it was.

Up next for us, some report and breaking news out of the Supreme Court. We'll be right back.


[12:49:22] KING: It's a major breaking news now from the Supreme Court, is about that controversial Texas abortion law. Let's get to CNN's Jessica Schneider. She has more information. Jess, what do we know?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the Supreme Court here finally taking some action but it might not be what you expect. So first to the main takeaway from what the Supreme Court has just come out with, they will not be blocking this Texas abortion law. This is the second time the Supreme Court refusing to block this law that went into effect on September 1st, that essentially bans most abortions after six weeks before many women even know that they're pregnant.

So this law will remain in effect, however, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on this underlying case, in fact, two underlying cases in just about a week and a half on November 1st.


However, when this case, when they hear this case in just about a week and a half, it will be limited to narrow questions. So let me explain. So, the Department of Justice has sued the state of Texas additionally, an -- the abortion providers, whole women -- Whole Woman's Health, they have also sued to block this law.

And the question that the Supreme Court will be addressing when they take this up on November 1st, is whether or not the federal or -- whether or not a state government can sort of manufacturer it's law to allow private citizens to take it into their own hands to sue on the basis of this law. It's a very convoluted legal issue that's already been litigated for several weeks now dating back to before this law actually took effect.

So the Supreme Court now allowing this law to remain in effect, but they'll decide the overall legality of Texas enacting this law after arguments on November 1st. And John, I want to note here, that in this decision, there was only one noted dissent and this was from the Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. And what she wrote at the top was quite poignant. And it goes to what abortion rights advocates -- have repeatedly said, I'll read it for you.

She said, "The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now. These women will suffer personal harm from delaying their medical care. And as their pregnancies progress, they may be even unable to obtain abortion care altogether."

And John, this really goes to the heart of it. The fact that since this law has been in effect, women have had to go to great lengths to try to get abortions. We've reported on the fact that they've been crossing state lines, traveling hundreds of miles, because abortion clinics have effectively shut down in Texas for fear that they will be having these lawsuits filed against them by private citizens.

So the Supreme Court will take up this issue. But in the meantime, this law does still remain in effect, John. KING: Jessica Schneider, appreciate the hustle and the breaking news out of the court that Supreme Court arguments now 10 days away.

Moving on to another fascinating story, intelligence officials are warning China's recent test of a nuclear capable hypersonic missile marks a substantial military advancement by Beijing and a potential threat. The test has raised the stakes and to some, raised alarms about President Biden's plan to scale back America's nuclear arsenal.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is breaking the story for us. So alarms inside the Biden administration that, wow, we better take this into account.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, John. So what we're learning is that the Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed by intelligence officials about this missile launch back in August, or essentially, right around the time that it happened. Of course, everyone was very preoccupied with what was going on in Afghanistan, but they did get briefed almost in real time about this.

And their major message was that this is a substantial advancement in China's ability to launch a first strike against the United States. Now, that does not necessarily mean that China has an upper hand here, it's just another kind of tool that China now has in its toolkit. But defense officials, in particular, are also pretty concerned because it potentially allows China to launch a missile over a new kind of trajectory over the South Pole where the U.S. does not have as many detection capabilities that can provide a first, an early warning signals to the U.S. et cetera missile has been launched.

So, critics of the President's plan to kind of scale back the U.S. nuclear arsenal and kind of limit investment into renewing our nuclear warheads, which have been, you know, there decades and decades old, are kind of seizing on this. And they're saying, how can, at this moment, when China and Russia are kind of racing ahead and building their nuclear capabilities, can we be pulling back?

Now, a senior administration official did tell us that none of this has changed the President's position on the nuclear arsenal and nuclear modernization and proliferation, but that they are taking current security situations into consideration as they move forward with this Nuclear Posture Review that's expected to be completed by early next year.

KING: And it's part of what is fascinating but incredibly complicated China challenge. And the President shared last night publicly, something presidents normally don't say publicly which is a U.S. policy for a long time, but to not alienate China. Presidents don't normally say what President Biden said last night at the town hall, which was, if China attacks Taiwan, the United States would defend Taiwan. Why is that such a complication that the President would so publicly say so?

BERTRAND: It's a break with decades of U.S. policy, right, which has long been strategic ambiguity. Which is that the United States won't come out and say outright that if China attack Taiwan, which is a partner of ours in which we do support because it is a democratically governed island in that region, that we would come to their defense because that would essentially put the United States in a situation where it would be in an all-out war with China.

And the Chinese are very intent upon avoiding that situation. They have been more provocative in terms of, you know, aggression against Taiwan in recent days.


But the Chinese are now saying, look, you know, back off, don't give the Taiwan, you know, independence, any ideas here. The U.S. does say that it's going to defend Taiwan, then that could put them at direct odds in terms of military confrontation.

KING: Right. The Chinese complaining today that the United States has being provocative here, but I'm a fan of transparency. China just tested a hypersonic missile. What will you do to keep up with them militarily? And can you vowed to protect Taiwan? Yes and yes, the President said. There you go. It might have complicated things, but there you go.

Natasha, thanks so much for coming in and thank you for your time today and this week on Inside Politics. Have a fantastic weekend. We'll see you Monday.

Ana Cabrera picks up after a quick break.