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The Situation Room
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Rush To White House, Meet Biden Ahead Of Critical Vote; Gen. Milley Again Contradicts Biden, Talks Of Trump's Final Days; January 6 Committee Targeting Organizers Of Pro-Trump Rally In Next Batch Of Subpoenas; Judge Suspends Britney Spears' Father As Conservator; Capitol Police Chief: Lawmakers Facing Unprecedented Threat Level After Violent Year On Capitol Hill. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 29, 2021 - 18:00 ET
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Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer rush to the White House to meet face- to-face with President Biden, signaling new urgency about party infighting just hours before a planned vote that could derail their agenda. I'll ask the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, if his party can avert political and economic disasters.
Also tonight, the nation's top general undergoes another grilling up on Capitol Hill, once again, contradicting President Biden on Afghanistan and testifying about the final days of the Trump presidency. General Mark Milley also revealing he doesn't regret talking to the journalist, Bob Woodward. The Peril author, standing by live, we'll discuss.
And we're standing by also on a judge's ruling on whether to end Britney Spears' conservatorship after the pop star has spent 13 years under the control of her father.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with the breaking news, top House and Senate Democrats making an 11th hour trip to the White House, as deepening divisions are pushing their party, Congress and the nation to the brink of crisis.
Ryan Nobles is standing by up on Capitol Hill where the clock is ticking toward a critical vote and a potential government shutdown. But, first, let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.
Phil, what are you learning about Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's talks with the president?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For a little bit more than an hour, it was originally scheduled to be a call between the three, something that they have been doing almost on a daily basis over the course of the last week as this critical moment for the president's domestic agenda came to the forefront. However, they decided to do it in person, underscoring that this is a complicated moment given the fact there is a House vote scheduled for that bipartisan infrastructure bill tomorrow, and this reality, according to officials, it very clearly will not have the votes to pass.
A big part of the discussion was what to do because of that reality. Would they pull the bill, would they let the bill fail? How would they operate going forward? One thing is also clear, no matter what happens tomorrow, the negotiations on the president's dual-pronged agenda, the bipartisan proposal, plus another multi-trillion economic and climate package, are going to continue.
And I think that's something White House officials have made clear over the course of the last several hours. They feel like not just with the meeting with the two leaders but also a meeting with Senator Joe Manchin, meeting with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and several hours of staff discussions behind closed doors with Sinema, those two critical moderates, that they have made progress, progress that could lay groundwork for a potential deal going forward.
However, what they lack at this moment and what there is now sign they are going to get is any type of concrete commitment from those senators, the exact thing progressives were looking from. And that means, at least at this point in time, they certainly won't have the votes for any package tomorrow, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's a real crisis unfolding. I want you to stand by, Phil. I'm going to get back to you in just a couple moments. I want to go to Capitol Hill right now to Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles, who is on the scene for us.
Ryan, we just heard from one of the key players, the West Virginia senator, Joe Manchin. He's a Democrat. What's he saying now about tomorrow's planned infrastructure vote?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he put out a statement that was, as emphatic as he has ever been throughout the course of these negotiations, insisting that he's not prepared to sign off on any agreement right now in a reconciliation package that spends what he called trillions of dollars.
This is part of what his statement said. Quote, while I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot and will not support trillions in spending or on an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. There is a better way, and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith. And what that statement tells you is that Manchin is not ready to sign on to even the framework of an agreement that would allow progressives to vote yes on that bipartisan infrastructure bill that is scheduled for a vote tomorrow. In fact, we caught up with the progressive leader, Pramila Jayapal of Washington State. She is the leader of the progressive caucus. We asked her for her read on the Manchin statement, and this is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I can tell you that his statement has just probably created at least a bunch more votes on the House floor against the bipartisan bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, that's Jayapal saying that the Manchin statement allows her to corral even more progressives to hold firm and not vote yes tomorrow.
So, that leaves the ball in the court of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Will she delay this vote? Will she just return back here to Capitol Hill from the White House, she told reporters that, as of right now, it is still the plan to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill tomorrow. The big question is where will the votes come to make it happen.
And we should also point out, Wolf, that this -- these negotiations, these intense negotiations over the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package, they come amidst two big issues the Congress still has to deal with. That's the funding of the government, which is scheduled to run out as soon as midnight on Thursday, and, of course, the debt limit. That's set to be exceeded by the middle of October.
Right now, behind me in the House chamber, they are voting on their portion of a bill that would suspend the debt limit through next year. It, of course, still needs to pass the Senate, where it faces a much more uncertain future. Although lawmakers do believe they have the votes to make sure that government funding stays intact through the end of the week. Wolf?
BLITZER: So, I just want to clarify, Ryan. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, says the vote is still scheduled for tomorrow. It's a critically important vote, this bipartisan, $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that passed the Senate with all 50 Democrats and, what, 19 Republican senators voting for it. But she also says -- even though she says the vote is scheduled for tomorrow, she's also said in recent days she would never let a bill come up for a vote on the House floor if she didn't think it was going to pass. So, does she think it's still going to pass?
NOBLES: Yes. I mean, that's the great question right now, Wolf. She just got back here to Capitol Hill and faced a gaggle of reporters and she was specifically asked, is it still your plan to bring the bill to the floor tomorrow? And she said, that was the plan, without elaborating on how she plans on pulling together these votes.
Remember, the progressive caucus has said in the past more than half of their members, they have almost 100 members in the progressive caucus, so that would mean somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 progressives have said they're going to vote no. Her margins are much smaller in order to get the bill over the finish line. So, it's not exactly clear where the speaker is going to come up with these votes, but at this point, she has no plans to postpone the vote.
BLITZER: Yes, if 40 or 50 Democrats are going to vote against the infrastructure bill, then you're going to need 40 or 50 Republicans to vote in favor of it to offset that. Let's see what happens.
Ryan, stay with us. Phil is over at the White House. He's staying with us as well. I want to bring in our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.
So, Dana, what's your reaction to what we're hearing from the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, right now? This is a critical moment. You covered Congress for a long time. We have seen these moments before. What's your assessment?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That she is telling reporters just moments ago, as Ryan just reported to us, that the vote is still on tomorrow. That's the way to keep the pressure on, the way to keep the negotiations going, the way to keep the talks going, likely late into the night, early into tomorrow morning.
It doesn't necessarily mean that it is a sure thing that this vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill will happen tomorrow. If she doesn't have the votes, as you mentioned, Wolf, she has said before, why would I take something to the floor when I don't have the votes? But if she continues to say that that's the plan, it will make the urgency that we have already seen even more real. And so that's the reality.
And the fact that she and the Senate majority leader went to the White House is a reminder of the fact that I know our team has been saying this but I think it's worth repeating, that these negotiations are among Democrats. This is a deal that they are trying to make within the president's own party.
This is not the bipartisan deal and the bipartisan negotiation that the president as a candidate talked about. That has happened. It happened earlier on with this infrastructure bill. But right now, what we're talking about is getting every Democrats, the Democrat in the Senate and enough Democrats in the House with a very, very slim margin there, onboard with whatever it is that they come up with, both on the social safety net, so-called reconciliation bill, and more importantly -- well, on that, so that they can get agreement to vote for that bipartisan bill that passed the Senate over the summer.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, as you know, President Biden came into office promising that Congress could actually govern. But is his own party, the Democratic Party, now testing that premise?
BASH: Yes, it is. His own party testing the premise, but the reality of having literally not one vote to spare in the Senate, a 50/50 Senate, and not even a handful of votes to spare in the U.S. House.
And the direction of the party and the direction of the country at stake for so many of these members who see this as their moment to use this -- these issues and use this time and use that narrow margin as leverage. Joe Manchin and moderate Democrats in the Senate and the House have as much leverage as maybe even -- well, as much leverage, I should say, as the progressives.
This is the 1st time, if you look back, that we have also seen the progressives actually stand up in a block and say, this is our moment. We finally have a president, even though he is now considered a moderate, but is pushing more progressive ideas. If we don't do it now, when is it going to happen? And that is why they are each standing firm and trying to use every single second left, every single bit of negotiation to get what they can out of this. And it is the ultimate test for the president and for the House speaker.
BLITZER: It's a make-or-break moment that we're watching unfold today and tomorrow. All right, guys, stand by, we're going to get back to you.
Also coming up, America's top general faces tough questions over his controversial actions during the final days of the Trump administration. I'll speak with the author of the book that ignited the firestorm. Bob Woodward is standing by live. We'll discuss when we come back.
BLITZER: America's top general was back in the hot seat today as lawmakers pressed the nation's military leaders on the chaotic exit from Afghanistan and the controversial decisions made during the final days of the Trump administration. Our Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt has more.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A blunt assessment from the nation's top general opening the second day of congressional hearings on the end of the war in Afghanistan.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It was a tactical operation and logistical success, evacuating 124,000 people. The war was a strategic failure.
MARQUARDT: General Mark Milley making clear that after former President Donald Trump lost the election, he ordered an accelerated withdrawal of all U.S. troops before President Joe Biden took office, having already agreed with the Taliban to fully withdraw. It was a decision Milley says he was cut out of.
MILLEY: That's why I went over to the White House with acting Secretary Miller and White House Chief of Staff Kash Patel to discuss that order. So I wasn't consulted on it.
MARQUARDT: Republican lawmakers went after the apparent contradiction between the general's wanting 2,500 U.S. troops to stay and President Biden telling ABC News he didn't get that advice.
REP. MARK ROGERS (R-AL): In January of this year, were you of the opinion in your professional military judgment that we should have maintained 2,500 troops, U.S. troops?
MILLEY: Yes, my assessment that I read in the opening statement remained consistent.
ROGERS: Did that professional military opinion change over the course of the next few months?
MILLEY: Not until the presidential decision, and I rendered my opinions, and it was a fulsome debate on all of that. And once decisions are made, then I'm expected to execute lawful orders.
MARQUARDT: Milley was again attacked by Republicans for calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in October and January. Milley said intelligence showed that the Chinese were worried about an American attack, so worried that the intelligence appeared in the president's daily brief and was shared with top national security officials.
MILLEY: That was significant, and there was a lot of it. It wasn't just a singular report. There's a lot. I'd be happy to share it with you and I will read it to you line by line.
MARQUARDT: According to the new book, Peril, Milley told the Chinese that the U.S. would not attack china. Today, he said those calls were meant to convey President Trump's intent.
MILLEY: I said (INAUDIBLE) we're not going to attack you. Trust me. We're not going to attack you. These are two great powers and I'm doing my best to transmit the president's intent, President Trump's intent.
MARQUARDT: Milley said he had no regrets about speaking with Peril co-Author Bob Woodward, insisting it's important to speak with the press.
MILLEY: I have done my best to remain apolitical and try to keep the military out of actual domestic politics.
MARQUARDT: After repeated GOP calls for Milley to resign, Congresswoman Liz Cheney apologized to the general for her Republican colleagues.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): For any American to question your loyalty to our nation, to question your understanding of our Constitution, your loyalty to our Constitution, your recognition and understanding of the civilian chain of command is despicable.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Republicans have accused General Milley of going outside of the chain of command because of reporting in that book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which said Milley told senior officers to make sure that he was involved in any potential launch of nuclear weapons by President Trump.
Milley also confirmed that he did speak about that with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but insisted today that he didn't agree with her reported comments calling Trump crazy. He said that he wasn't qualified to assess anyone's mental health. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex Marquardt reporting for us, Alex, thank you very, very much.
I want to dig deeper right now with the journalist, Bob Woodward. He's the co-Author of the new book entitled, there's cover, Peril, which was obviously on so many members' minds at today's hearing and yesterday's hearing. First of all, congratulations, Bob. I know it's just emerged, it was number one on The New York Times best sellers list. It's not a surprise. All of your books are usually number one on The New York Times best sellers list.
This is also causing a lot of news creating a lot of news out there right now. What was your reaction to General Milley, for example, today saying he has no regrets speaking to you in detail for the book, Peril?
BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, PERIL: That's his theory. And I happen to agree that it's very important that people be responsive. This is a long-term project that Bob Costa and I worked on. And we were able to get facts and documents and transcripts of the Milley/Pelosi call, for instance, which tells you that he agreed with her assertion that President Trump was acting crazy. He said today, well, look, I'm not qualified to determine if the mental condition of the president of the United States. But as we used to in the old days call, that's a non- denial denial.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you about that because in his testimony yesterday and today, he said -- as you correctly point out, he said, I'm not qualified to determine the former president's mental health. But in your book, Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying, you got the transcript, he's crazy and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness. She's referring to Trump. Milley said, quote, Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.
WOODWARD: Yes. Well, that was very well-reported, and it is documented. And he's saying now, I don't know whether he's claiming he said to Pelosi or he just said, look, I'm not qualified to determine the mental capacity of the president of the United States. BLITZER: He said today --
WOODWARD: It's true.
BLITZER: He said I'm not a doctor. I can't testify about anyone's mental capabilities.
WOODWARD: But he's denying that he told -- he agreed with Pelosi a couple of times in that.
BLITZER: That's significant. What do you make of the accusations by some of the Republican lawmakers that he spent way too much time talking to you and not enough time worrying about Afghanistan?
WOODWARD: No, that's just not so. I mean, look, the obligation, and I obviously salute this, somebody in that position willing to talk. And it's not just, hey, here's a dump, but Costa and I had months, and we checked everything. And there are things that have come out since, for instance, that he had authority from higher ups, which we had not confirmed, and is not in the book, and we now know it's true.
BLITZER: He also said, testified today that a lot of officials knew about his conversations with the Chinese -- his counterpart, the Chinese general, and he also pointed out, I thought this was interesting, I don't know if you knew this, he said it was even included, that conversation, in the presidential daily brief.
WOODWARD: I did not know that, but that would make sense. Look, this was a national security crisis for the country and we did not know he was handling it, others were handling it. But tensions with the Chinese today are real and something that is being monitored very closely in this period. The Chinese were on alert, as were the Iranians and the Russians.
BLITZER: So, you think he did the right thing in that phone call?
WOODWARD: I think everything Bob Costa and I found showed that he was acting to protect the country amid very alarming when you hear that a major adversary thinks you are going to attack them. This is the moment you get a response. And you get something like Pearl Harbor, as history shows.
BLITZER: And as we heard a very strong statement from Liz Cheney supporting, defending the general's behavior. Congratulations once again, Peril number one on The New York Times best sellers. I appreciate it very much, Bob Woodward reporting for us.
Coming up, with Democrats averting a disastrous -- will Democrats avert a disastrous government shutdown and save President Biden's agenda in the final hours of negotiations? I'll ask the second ranking Senate Democrat, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin, is standing by live.
[18:25:00] BLITZER: Breaking news, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says she still plans to bring the bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote tomorrow despite members of her own party threatening to sink the entire bill. This as moderate Senator Joe Manchin says he cannot and will not support the $3.5 trillion spending plan favored by progressives.
The Senate majority whip, Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, is joining us right now. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
Let me get your reaction to what we just heard in a statement released by Senator Manchin, saying he cannot and will not, that's a quote, cannot and will not support the reconciliation bill. But the House speaker says she'll still bring the infrastructure bill to the House floor tomorrow. Could this doom both, both of those bills, the $1.2 bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget package?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I think we have shown a lot of respect toward our colleagues who obviously have a different point of view when it comes to reconciliation. There's been meaningful negotiation that's gone on for weeks. The president has been involved personally. I have never seen a president engage this way since Barack Obama's days with the Affordable Care Act.
So, we're all in, all aboard.
Now it's time, I would say, for both senators, make your mark and close the deal. What is it that you want? What is your final goal? It's time to stop talking around it and speak directly to it.
BLITZER: You're talking about Senator Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema?
DURBIN: Yes, I am.
BLITZER: Where do they -- you need both of their votes in a 50/50 Senate right now. If you lose one of them, it's over.
DURBIN: That's right. And I want to be very candid about that analysis is spot on, I don't know of any alternative to it, and everything is tied to it, the future of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is tied to it. I think the future of the debt ceiling is tied to it. It is time for us to make a decision and do our job.
I would say to both of them, their point of view is different than mine, but it's been respected. It's been negotiated, and now it's time to close the deal.
BLITZER: Senator Manchin in a statement says he might be open to this reconciliation bill, the $3.5 trillion package, by the end of the year. He says he's not ready to vote for it now. Why is it just sinking in that Manchin is clearly at least for now not onboard? DURBIN: Well, I tell you, Joe has made a number of statements. He's my friend. I respect him, and I have tried my best to sit down for a few minutes and talk to him about this. But I would say to him, we can't delay these things. Simply delaying them is just inviting a bad result, to be honest with you. You know, we're one heartbeat away from losing the majority in the United States Senate. And I have been in the Senate long enough to see that happen.
So I would urge Joe, if you believe there's value and merit to the programs in the reconciliation bill, don't wait. Do it now.
BLITZER: Yes. Because in a statement that he released, and it's a very carefully drafted written statement, he says, I cannot and will not support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. So, clearly, he's not going to support it now. Maybe down the road, you guys can come up with some separate package, but what happens to the bipartisan $1.2 trillion basic infrastructure package that clearly the country needs?
DURBIN: Well, I wish Nancy Pelosi well. She has defied a lot of common belief and come through in the past when she's faced these challenges. And I'm not going to gainsay her situation now. I trust her and believe she's going do the right thing. But I sincerely hope that we can pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill with a clear promise that the reconciliation bill is going to be passed as quickly as possible.
BLITZER: Yes, because that bipartisan legislation, it passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. 19 Republicans, all 50 Democrats voted for it. Now, it's up to the House of Representatives. You get that or you might wind up getting nothing down the road. It's a real dilemma for you guys.
The clock is also -- if that were not enough, senator, the clock is also ticking to avert a government shutdown. Does the Senate have the votes to keep the government funded, which would mean kicking the can down the road on the debt ceiling as well?
DURBIN: Well, fingers crossed, we think we have an agreement for a vote tomorrow that's going to avert a government shutdown. This is a problem that should have been taken care of. Chuck Schumer went to the floor and said, let us do this with Democratic votes only, and we'll move forward, and Senator McConnell disagreed.
So now tomorrow, we're going to try to see if there is some common ground with a few amendment votes. I hope by the end of the day tomorrow, we'll have that job done.
BLITZER: The deadline is midnight tomorrow night. You guys have got to pass that legislation before then. Senator, good luck, thanks so much for joining us.
DURBIN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're getting the first word on a judge's ruling tonight on Britney Spears' battle to free her, to free her from her father's control over her estate.
BLITZER: We have breaking news on the next round of subpoenas in the January 6th committee's special investigation. Our Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild is here in The Situation Room with details. Whitney, what are you learning?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the second round of subpoenas targets people who were affiliated with the Women for America First group. That is the group that held the permit for the Stop the Steal rally that we know ended up in that riot at the Capitol. This new list includes 11 people who were either involved with or somehow affiliated working with the America first -- excuse me, the Women for America First Organization. These people held a range of roles within this organization of the rally.
And what the committee is really trying to do here is drill down on the coordination between the White House and Trump associations and the rally organizers. This next batch of subpoenas builds on the volumes of documents they have already requested, so the questions are, who was involved, who are they talking to, what were the conversations, what was the goal?
Again, they have already requested volumes of documents from the national archives relating to the recruitment, the preparation, the coordination of these rallies leading up to and on January 6th that were part of this Stop the Steal movement set to try to overturn the election.
The committee has already sent out subpoenas to four close allies of the former president, including Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows. Wolf, in some cases, the committee is just going straight to subpoenas because they're concerned that some of these witnesses are just not going to be willing to volunteer information. They say simply they don't have all day to wait around, so they're going right to subpoenas. They're trying to cut down on the time. They want to get these answers and get them quickly.
BLITZER: This House select committee is moving very quickly indeed, getting a lot of information. Whitney, thank you very, very much. I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, the organizer of the Stop the steal Rally are key witnesses for this special committee. Explain what specific information they can offer.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the most important information they can offer is who organized this rally, and who authorized it, and who knew and who planned the violence that came out of it?
[18:40:04] Obviously, there is nothing wrong with planning a rally near the White House with strong words spoken, but this turned into a riot. And the question is who knew or who planned any sort of violence?
But, you know, this is a very good and appropriate investigative step but there are tools to respond, chiefly, the Fifth Amendment. Several of these witnesses may say I'm not cooperating because it implicates my right to self-incrimination. That will raise the question of whether the committee wants to give them immunity. That's a time- consuming process.
Time is not on the side of this committee, whether it's the high level officials, the four around Trump who were subpoenaed who may claim executive privilege, the Fifth Amendment issue here. The committee wants to move quickly, but the witnesses have the opportunity to slow this down.
BLITZER: So, they could clearly fight the subpoenas, I guess. Would they have any strong legal ground on which to stand?
TOOBIN: Well, the Fifth Amendment is a strong legal ground. You can't be forced to testify if you take the fifth. Now, that can be overcome if the committee gives immunity, but that is a time-consuming process. Anything that goes into the courts, even if you have a bad argument, can delay things.
The four Trump associates who were subpoenaed first, they don't have a good legal argument, I think, to resist the subpoena. But they could go to court. And once you're in court, you have to go to district court, you have to go to the court of appeals, someone could file for certiorari. This is a very time consuming process, and that's a problem that this committee faces since it's already October or almost October before an election year.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very, very much.
There's more breaking news just ahead. Britney Spears' father is out as the conservator of her estate. We're going to have details on a judge's ruling just released and what it all could mean for the pop star's future.
BLITZER: We have breaking news on a life-changing moment for Britney Spears. A judge just suspended her father as the conservator of her estate.
CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is joining us with details.
Chloe, tell us more about this decision, what it means specifically for Britney Spears.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, this is exactly what Britney Spears wanted, Wolf. She wanted her father suspended.
It's what her new attorney, Matthew Rosengart, said over and over for about 10 to 15 minutes in the courtroom. I was sitting there, and he said we don't want to terminate the conservatorship today. We want this to be orderly. We want this to be methodical, but the first order of business is to suspend her father, Jamie Spears, who has been the conservator of her estate for 13 years.
Jamie Spears, on the other hand, didn't want this. Jamie Spears wanted it terminated. Well, Matthew Rosengart thinks it's because he didn't want to have to turn over files, and all of these financial evidence that could be pored over by this new conservator. So, the temporary conservator is a CPA by the name of John Zabel.
I want to read you a couple quotes that Matthew Rosengart said today. Britney Spears did not attend court virtually. But Matthew Rosengart spoke on her behalf. He said my client Britney Spears deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator. It is against her mental state of mind to have her father as her conservator for one more day. Also saying that her father is a continuing toxic, untenable presence in the life of Britney Spears.
Well, no more. Britney will wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator. She'll go to bed tonight with someone else in charge of her finances and there is another court date that's going to be set, so in about 30 to 45 days. We're going to see another court hearing where Judge Brenda Penny will most likely look at a plan in place, the financial plan and a care plan in place for Britney and terminate this conservatorship once and for all. So, Wolf, for all intents and purposes, by the New Year, Britney, a free woman.
But today, a huge day for Britney and the Free Britney movement that had been calling for Jamie Spears to be suspended.
BLITZER: It's a huge movement indeed.
Chloe Melas, thank you very, very much. She's in Los Angeles for us.
Let's get some analysis from our senior legal analyst, Laura Coates.
Laura, what is Jamie Spears' suspension mean for Britney Spears' immediate future?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it means she has agency, at least, in some respects over the decisions in terms of her being able to decide who will make those decisions, in tandem with her.
This is really a bigger story, as Chloe has spoken about for weeks now. It's really not only about the idea of the Free Britney Spears movement, but also about a larger discussion about conservatorship laws in general in this country. In fact, there was a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday about this idea of allowing people to have some agency over the decisions they make. And normally, it's reserved for people who are incapable of being able to make certain determinations. It's not intended for people when you disagree with the choices that
they might make just because you disagree, as opposed it being a reflection of a bigger issue.
So, what you're seeing is very emblematic, frankly, about a shift in view points about the conservatorship laws in the country and being allowed to have somebody have a say and a vocal one about her own future. I will note, this was the first time since this 13 conservatorship actually began that Britney Spears had at least some semblance of ability to have somebody who is her personal advocate and champion by her own selection and choice.
BLITZER: So what are the next steps, Laura, for Britney Spears's legal team?
COATES: Well, now, you are talking about as Chloe mentioned the idea of having a date certain in the future to then fully evaluate whether to end it entirely. It's one thing to have the conservator, who is the person who is going to be the vehicle by which decisions are made, financial, health-related, or otherwise. Now, you will have the potential end of it, entirely. And the complete turn of events to have her be the person in charge of her own life.
Now, there is going to be some back and forth, and some discussions among her own counsel about what a vision of some sort of safety net and guardrails that a conservatorship actually provides for people, if they so choose to do so. Remember, her very emotional pleas to the court over the summer, discussions about wanting to have children, to remove a -- a device from her body, for contraceptive purposes to be able to have more children, the idea of being able to choose the medication, or at least lessen or have a different medicine regiment available to her, and the idea of being able to choose when she wants to perform, and when she does not want to perform.
So, you are talking about an evaluation of all of those things, Wolf, with an eye towards trying to give this woman agency over her own life.
BLITZER: Laura Coates with excellent analysis as usual. Thank you very, very much.
Just ahead: U.S. Capitol Police say members of Congress are facing a record number of threats. What's behind this very disturbing surge? We have new details. We'll share them with you, right after the break.
BLITZER: Tonight, officials are sounding the alarm about a very disturbing trend up on Capitol Hill.
Our Brian Todd is joining us right now. He's got details.
Brian, what are you learning about these escalating threats to U.S. lawmakers?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the predictions for the numbers of threats to the members of Congress this year. Predictions coming from the new Capitol police chief are staggering. A year that began with the January 6th insurrection could well end with a record number of threats to lawmakers.
TODD (voice-over): U.S. Capitol police chief, Tom Manger, in a new interview with the "Associated Press" says, quote, we have never had the level of threats against members of Congress that we are seeing today. Clearly, we've got a bigger job in terms of the protection aspect of our responsibilities.
Manger predicted in the interview that authorities could respond to some 9,000 threats to members of Congress by the end of this year. He told Wolf in August that the number could be even higher.
CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: We typically, just a couple years ago, had around six -- 6 or 7,000. This year, I think we'll be up close to 10,000 threats that we're investigating.
TODD: The reasons for the rise in threats are varied. Domestic extremists have been buoyed by the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, by false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, by former President Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We did win this election.
TODD: But the ability of those who would do harm to find members of Congress has also changed.
ANTHONY CHAPA, FORMER SECRET SERVICE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Remember, your members of Congress are elected all the time. So they are always out on the campaign. They need to be known. They want to be known. People know who they are just by sight. They know where they live.
TODD: Democratic Congresswoman Nora Torres found that out in a frightening way. This summer, after she had a political dispute over Twitter with the president of El Salvador, she said she received multiple threats, then an anonymous video. A man's voice narrating it.
REP. NORMA TORRES (D-CA): He stated that he was following me, and he tagged that to a blue vehicle which I had -- I owned a -- a blue SUV. And he, um, said that he was following me, and then pound down to his gun and said that he had something for me.
TODD: How frightened are you, though, still of all this?
TORRES: I sold my car. I just could not drive that car.
TODD: Republican Congressman Tom Reid says someone left a dead rat and a brick on his doorstep, along with a family member's name. The Capitol Police don't have the resources for every member of Congress to get their own security detail in their home districts. So it's up to many of them to protect themselves.
After that video incident, Congresswoman Torres says gang members cased her home in California, and once tried to bait her husband out onto the street. So she retrieved a gun from their home, and scared them off.
TORRES: I went in and armed myself. I -- I thought that they were going to come in. And hurt, you know, not just my husband but myself. So, I'm going to do whatever I need to do to protect myself and anyway my family.
TODD (on camera): Congresswoman Torres says after those incidents, Capitol police did come to her home in California, and guarded it for about a week. But she says they cannot provide constant security for her, and she doesn't want to hire her own security detail. And she says the threats have now followed her to Washington, so she recently moved out of her basement apartment here in D.C. to a more secure building, Wolf. This lady's gone through quite a lot.
BLITZER : Yeah, this is so, so disturbing.
All right, Brian, thank you very much for that report.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
And THE SITUATION ROOM is also available in podcast form. Look for us on CNN.com/audio or wherever you get your podcasts.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.