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Report Shows Trump Lawyer Tells Allies Not Comply With Subpoenas; Senate to Vote Soon on Short-Term Extension of Debt Limit; Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize COVID Vaccine For Kids Ages 5-11; Biden Admin Warns It Could Sanction Ethiopia For Covert Arms Transport; Federal Judge Blocks Texas Law Banning Most Abortions. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, there's new reporting that former President Trump's current lawyer is telling allies not to comply with Congressional subpoenas in the January 6th investigation, this as four Trump loyalists are staring down a deadline to respond tonight.

Also breaking, the Senate just scheduled a vote on a short-term extension of the debt limit that would avert a devastating default for now, but Republicans are casting doubt on whether the votes are there to break a filibuster.

And Pfizer makes it official, asking the FDA to authorize its COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The White House says shots could be in young arms before Thanksgiving.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Now, we begin with breaking news on the January 6th investigation and efforts by former President Trump to prevent the House select committee from getting information. Our Political Correspondent Sara Murray is covering all of this for us.

Sara, Trump is reportedly sending a message to his allies not to comply.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We know Donald Trump had a long track record, he and his allies, when he was in the White House fighting the subpoenas while the former president is signaling today that he is not going to drop that fight when it comes to the January 6th committee.


MURRAY (voice over): Tonight, an attorney for Donald Trump instructing some of his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, according to a letter reviewed by The Washington Post. the former president indicating he will try to assert executive privilege to block witnesses from testifying. The deadline to turn over documents was today after the committee subpoenaed four Trump loyalists, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Adviser Steve Bannon --

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

MURRAY: -- and Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): But it is important that we actually find out who was talking to Donald Trump.

MURRAY: The House panel was already anticipating some Trump allies would refuse to comply with subpoenas, and sources familiar with the matter tell CNN the committee has even struggled to find and physically serve its subpoena to a man at the center of Trump's orbit, former Trump Aide Dan Scavino.

DAN SCAVINO, FORMER DONALD TRUMP AIDE: I've now been at President Trump's side for almost 30 years.

MURRAY: Democrats on the select committee making clear they intend to enforce these subpoenas and may seek to hold resisting witnesses in contempt.

CROW: If they continue to disregard the subpoenas, I'm going to highly encourage the authorities to pursue criminal contempt because, frankly, that's what would happen to any American.

There darn well should be consequences for the president and his top enablers.

MURRAY: The committee firing off another round of subpoenas today aimed at Ali Alexander, the leader of the Stop the Steal group, and Nathan Martin, who was also affiliated with planning to rally preceding the Capitol attack.

Meantime, the Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee releasing its nearly 400-page report delving into Trump's pressure campaign on the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We were a half step away from a constitutional crisis, a full blown constitutional crisis.

MURRAY: The report reveals Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undercut the election results. And it runs through the ways Trump and some of his top advisers relentlessly tried to use the Justice Department to elevate false election fraud conspiracies.

DURBING: They were trying to get investigations, Mark Meadows was calling for them, the president was calling for them of claims it had already been completely discredited.

MURRAY: The report based interviews with top former Justice Department officials shows how Trump eventually backed down from his plan amid threats of mass resignations in the Justice Department, as well as the White House. Today, Republicans leapt to Trump's defense.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): The president rejected it. The president did the right thing.

MURRAY: Republican Senator Chuck Grassley unveiling the GOP's rebuttal report, Thursday, which claims that Trump's concerns about the election revolved around legitimate complaints and says Trump's actions were not unreasonable.

GRASSLEY: If the president took the advice of these advisers and said, I'm going to do it, how does that create any sort of problem?


MURRAY (on camera): Now, back to that impending subpoena deadline tonight, Kash Patel tells CNN, I will continue to tell the American people the truth about January 6th. Wolf, importantly, in this statement he provided, he did not say whether or not he is going to comply with those subpoenas. That's still an open question for all four of these gentlemen this evening.

BLITZER: The deadline is tonight, so we'll see what happens, Sara Murray, thank you very, very much.

Let's dig deeper right now, our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is with us, CNN Political Director David Chalian and our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here as well.

Dana, it looks like these four Trump allies will defy tonight's subpoena deadline.


Are you at all surprised that according to the Washington Post, former President Trump urged them not to comply?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, not in the least. He did it in public effectively last night putting out a statement going after the January 6th committee, and that was his effective way of saying in a public way what it seems as though The Washington Post was reporting that he said in private.

Look, what the Republican or the -- I should say the Trump aides, the former aides' strategy clearly is here is to drag their feet and hope that this committee will go away after election day 2022, because they're hoping and praying that Republicans take over.

The long game that Republicans played here at the behest of Donald Trump to oppose an independent bipartisan commission to look into this, then to oppose appointing Republicans in a legitimate way for this bipartisan select committee, so far, it's working to their benefit if you just look at time.

We don't know -- and this is one of the many unanswered questions -- if they do defy these subpoenas, what impact it will have. Will the Justice Department act? That is a big open question now.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And, Jeffrey, is there any merit to former President Trump's claim of executive privilege now that he's out of office? So, what options does the committee have to respond?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the claim is likely to be very weak, but the time point that Dana makes is really the key issue here. Because if the Justice Department decides to bring criminal contempt charges, that means the case goes to court. And once the case goes to court, you're talking about very likely months of delay because these issues will have to be briefed and argued and then potentially appealed depending on which side loses. That's one set of problems the committee has with the four Trump witnesses.

They have another set of problems with the Stop the Steal witnesses, the people who were much closer to the rally. Any lawyer worth her salt would say to those people, take the fifth. Don't cooperate with the investigation because there is an active criminal investigation of what went on in the rally. That would lead the committee to have to decide whether they would give these people immunity. That would have to be coordinated with the Justice Department, also suggests months of delay. So, regardless of the merits of these issues, the delay is very likely to help Trump and his allies.

BLITZER: I suspect you're right.

You know, David, this damning Senate Judiciary report, meanwhile, is shedding new light on the Trump pressure campaign on the Justice Department. Back on January 3rd, then-President Trump said to the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen -- and I'm quoting from this new report just released -- one thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election. How disturbing, David, is it to see that in black and white?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean, I can't think of things that are more disturbing than seeing a sitting president of the United States trying to convince a Justice Department official to do something illegal, overturn an election that was legitimately held and for his own personal benefit. I mean, things don't get more disturbing in American democracy than a scene like that.

And listening to Chuck Grassley in Sara's piece where he has this logic or illogic of saying, well, since Donald Trump was unsuccessful in his coup attempt that somehow everything is just fine. I don't know in what universe that is sound logic other than the universe of a Republican Party who continues to want to turn away from what Donald Trump did in the days leading up to January 6th, his attempt to overturn the election and to give him comfort inside the party, which is why he maintains that grip politically on the party that he has.

BASH: And If I might add to David's excellent analysis, a Republican senator to be even have a finer point here in Chuck Grassley who is going to run for re-election in the state of Iowa, where a poll in the Des Moines Register says that Donald Trump is as popular, if not more popular than ever, and guess where Donald Trump is going for a rally this weekend? Iowa.


CHALIAN: And Chuck Grassley will be there at the rally.

BLITZER: Yes, it's all very, very disturbing.

You know, Jeffrey, as you review the new details in this Senate report, do you see grounds for possible criminal referrals, any criminal liability here?

TOOBIN: Well, I think what really needs to be done is a full, organized crime investigation.


And the way organized crime investigations work is you start at the bottom. That's really what the Justice Department is doing. They are starting with the people who were actually breaking the windows in the Justice Department and fighting with the police. And the next question that has to be asked is who authorized that, who encouraged them, who paid for all that, who knew about it in advance?

This disturbing report about the dealings with the Justice Department is only one part of a thorough investigation. And what I'm interested in seeing is the whole panoply of efforts that Trump and his circle made to try to overturn the election. The interactions with the Justice Department were only one part of it.

BLITZER: Yes. This select committee is going to have about a year, let's say, to complete its investigation. We'll see what they conclude. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

There's more breaking news we're following, just hours left for former President Trump aides to comply with these subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Capitol siege. Coming up, we'll speak to a key member of the select committee about what happens next.



BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, a current lawyer for former President Trump reportedly telling allies not, repeat, not to comply with subpoenas from the House committee investigating the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

Let's get some more from California Congressman Pete Aguilar, he's a key member of that select committee. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

There's no indication these witnesses will cooperate by tonight's deadline. The Washington post is now reporting, as you know, that former President Trump has actually urged them not to comply. He's claiming executive privilege. What's your reaction?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, a lot of points here. The former president, it's not his role to claim privilege. That's the current occupant in the White House, but this is -- you know, more broadly this shouldn't surprise anyone. The former president has done everything he can to try to get in the way of this investigation, including having Senator McConnell go into his caucus and oppose the bipartisan commission that we all would have wanted. So here we are, and our task ahead of us for the committee is to get to the truth. That's what we want, and clearly the president has a problem with us getting to the truth, and so that's why he's mounting a continued pressure campaign on these individuals who he's encouraging not to cooperate.

BLITZER: I'm actually surprised, and I wonder if you are, Congressman, that your committee hasn't even been able to find one of those potential witnesses, Dan Scavino, who, for many years, has been doing Trump social media accounts to serve him this subpoena. Do you have any idea at all where that search stands?

AGUILAR: Well, I'm not going to get into the investigative pieces. I'm confident that we're going to be able to do that, and, clearly, it's every person should treat that subpoena for what it's worth, and they have a duty to respond to us. They have a duty to follow the Constitution, and that means that they should cooperate. And so, clearly, this is just part of a continued effort by the former president to get his allies and friends.

And I would just remind everyone watching too that this is a former president who oftentimes didn't pay his bills, so if some of those individuals are counting on the president to pay for those legal bills, I think they should think twice.

BLITZER: Well, that's a good point indeed, Congressman. I know you and others on the committee have actually raised the prospect of charging these witnesses with criminal contempt. How soon would you make that move, that step? Time is, of course, of the essence as we all know in this critically important investigation.

AGUILAR: Time is very much of the essence. We're very mindful of that. Let's get through the deadline this evening, and then the subcommittee -- the committee will take action. And we will continue to meet. We will continue to exhaust every option possible. But I would expect that we would make decisions relatively quickly on what the next steps might be.

But, ultimately, our goal is compliance here. Our goal is to get to the truth and to produce a report that tells the American public exactly what happened on January 5th and January 6th and the events leading up to that. That's what these subpoenas, these new round of subpoenas that we put out today are about, which is the rally at the Capitol on January 6th itself. And so we want to get to the truth and, ultimately, that's our focus is to produce a report that does just that.

BLITZER: Yes, these new subpoenas that were just issued for organizers of the January 6th rally include one who says he coordinated with Republican members of Congress. How critical is this area of your investigation, actually trying to figure out the planning behind that day?

AGUILAR: Well, I think people can see the evolution of this investigation, so 11 subpoenas for the Ellipse, for the rally at the Ellipse. That was done last week. Now, these three subpoenas for the rally that was closer to the Capitol complex. Clearly, these are tied together, and that individual that you mentioned, Ali Alexander, public reporting indicated that he was working with three of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. It's deeply, deeply disturbing but we have a responsibility to get to the truth here. That's what we'll do.

But we need to understand who funded these rallies, why they only put 50 individuals attending on those permits that they signed, and we need to also understand who they were coordinating with inside and outside of government.


BLITZER: Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you so much for joining us.

AGUILAR: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, the top Senate Democrat now says a vote to temporarily extend the debt limit will, in fact, happen tonight, but will some Republicans try to stand in the way? We'll be right back.


BLITZER: There is more breaking news we're following this hour, the U.S. Senate scheduled to vote very soon on a deal to extend to extend the U.S. debt limit until December averting what, by all accounts, would be a financial catastrophe for the United States of America.

We're following developments on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue with our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles.


Up on the Hill first to you, Ryan, what's the latest?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there is a plan starting around 7:30 for a series of votes that would lift the debt ceiling that would extend it into the first week of December, but it's not going to come easy. Nothing ever seems to come easy in the United States Senate. And there are several Republicans who still plan to attempt to block this measure. That would mean that at least ten Republicans would have to vote with Democrats to allow the bill to the floor for an up or down vote.

Now, John Thune, who is the second ranking Republican in the United States Senate, he's their whip in charge of their vote count, he just emerged from a meeting and told reporters that they will be fine, that they did fine ten Republicans willing to vote yes to allow it to come to the floor, but there are several Republicans that are just unhappy with Mitch McConnell's strategy here, that he backed down from this challenge with the Senate Democrats, among them Senator Ted Cruz, who's going to be among them attempting to block this measure, and Senator Lindsey Graham, who was very critical of Senator McConnell not understanding why McConnell took this step when he felt that they had Democrats on the ropes.

Now, of course, Wolf, we aren't solving any problems here tonight. This is just going to prevent the debt ceiling from being crashed through the second week of October. It essentially just pushes this problem down the road a few weeks, and these same differences between Republicans and Democrats still exist. Democrats do not want to pass the debt ceiling through the reconciliation process, which they could do with only Democratic votes and Republicans do not want to allow the debt ceiling to come to the floor without it going through a filibuster process.

So, they are still at a logger head right now. There isn't going to be that estimate catastrophe in a couple of weeks, but, Wolf, we're going to have the same conversation again in just a couple of weeks.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens then. Ryan, I want you to stand by. I want to go to the White House right now. Kaitlan Collins is on the scene for us over there.

So, Kaitlan, what's the White House's position on this short-term deal?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They don't love it, but the president is going to sign it if it actually gets passed through Congress. That is something they made clear since yesterday, that they believe what Ryan just said there, this only prolongs the fight that they are having between Democrats and Republicans over the best way to handle this and how to raise the debt ceiling. And it is something that they are going to continue to arguing about unless they come up with a solution in the next several weeks and the time that they are buying themselves with this short-term solution.

But the White House has said despite the fact, Wolf, that they don't fully love the way that this situation is playing out. President Biden is going to sign this short-term bill to raise the debt ceiling once it actually gets passed through Congress. And so, of course, that hasn't happened yet. It may not even happen until tomorrow. We will likely hear from President Biden when this happens, whether or not that's a written statement from the president or he actually comes out and speaks, as he is scheduled to do tomorrow when those job report numbers come out.

And so I think though the White House realizes this is still going to be an issue that they're going to face again in December because they are not solving what's at the heart of this issue, which is the way to raise the debt limit through that process known as reconciliation, which is what Republicans want Democrats to do, but Democrats have made clear they do not want to pursue that route. And so the other thing to consider here, Wolf, is how this is just creating another deadline in December for the White House and for Congress, because they are also going to be talking about funding the government in between those two months, they also have to figure out the way to get President Biden's domestic agenda passed, something that we still know the White House and Democrats do not agree fully on the way to go forward on that. And we should note that when it comes to that, Senator Joe Manchin was here at the White House earlier today speaking with President Biden about that very agenda and those differences.

BLITZER: Yes, there's so much at stake right now, and the consequences could be enormous, not just politically, but for the people, for the American people if that debt ceiling isn't raised.

Everybody stand by. I want to bring in David Axelrod right now, our Senior Political Commentator. David, as we watch what's going on, it appears Republicans do have that ten votes necessary to pass at least this short-term debt limit extension, assuming all 50 Democrats in the Senate vote for it. But this is coming down to the line. How do you think voters are going to look at all of this?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I was interested in hearing Ryan's report that Lindsey Graham felt that they had Democrats on the ropes and that McConnell shouldn't have given in. You're talking about the full faith and credit of the United States of America. You're talking about the difference between moving forward or economic catastrophe. And so I think most Americans look at this and see it as a big political game, irresponsible and are unhappy about it.

I don't know at the end of the day, Wolf -- you know, I think the -- it's sort of an esoteric thing, the debt ceiling.


It's more of a Washington thing. But the game playing is not -- it is so familiar to people that I think it adds to the cynicism that people feel about what's going on in Washington right now.

BLITZER: If they weren't -- if they weren't able to increase the debt ceiling, social security, all sorts of payments that go from the government out to average folks out there would dry up relatively quickly indeed.

It's interesting, David, that yesterday the White House was publicly sort of downplaying this debt ceiling deal that Mitch McConnell was throwing out. All of a sudden the White House is announcing the president is ready to sign it immediately as soon as it's passed. So, what's changed?

AXELROD: Well, it may be that they wanted to create some room to work on the rest of their agenda rather than contend with this. You know, there was talk earlier in the week, and the president fueled it, of a carve-out from the filibuster to allow Democrats to pass the debt ceiling extension, and that you heard a lot of Republicans accusing McConnell of getting weak knees about that because he's so protective of the filibuster.

I don't know if the White House was making an idle threat or not, but, clearly, they want to get on with the rest of their economic agenda, which is so vital to his success. He has to get these bills passed. He wants to clear the clutter out of the way, and perhaps that's why they accepted this now.

BLITZER: And that explains why he met with -- once again, with Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, to try to come up with some sort of deal on infrastructure and the much larger reconciliation package.

All right, guys, thank you very much. We're staying on top of this. We'll wait to see how this vote unfolds. So, that's going to happen fairly soon.

Just ahead, when will children here in the United States between the ages of 5 and 12 be able to get a COVID vaccine? There's new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.



BLITZER: President Biden just issued a new defensive of COVID vaccine mandates imposed and encouraged by his administration. During a trip to the Chicago area, he acknowledged the requirements can be tough medicine, but he says they are working.

Let's discuss with the former acting director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser. Thanks, as usual, for joining us. Do you agree with President Biden that vaccine mandates are the most effective way to increase vaccination rates?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: Well, I think the proof is in the numbers. They do seem to be working. You know, what it says to me, Wolf, is that there are a significant group of people who are on the fence, who may not have been excited about getting vaccinated, but if it comes down to having their job or getting vaccinated, they will. If it comes down to being able to do some of the things they want to do, so places that require vaccination for entry into restaurants or events, this is a way to increase the number of people who are vaccinated, and it looks like it is quite successful.

BLITZER: There are still about 70 million Americans, 70 million Americans who are eligible right now, they're 12 and older, to get a vaccine, and they're refusing at least so far to do so.

As you know, Pfizer has just officially asked the FDA to authorize their COVID vaccine, smaller dose for children ages 5 to 11. That's about 28 million kids here in the United States. Could this potentially be a game changer?

BESSER: Well, I think it is important. You know, I want to wait and see the process. The FDA advisory committee will be meeting on the 26th of October to review the data and make a recommendation whether FDA should issue an emergency use authorization. After that, assuming that they do, it would go to the CDC advisory committee to make a recommendation. And if it's found to be safe and effective and it's recommended, I would look to recommend it to my patients.

I'm a pediatrician, and while children are impacted less than adults, we've lost more than 600 children from this pandemic, and there are thousands of children who have been hospitalized across the country from this. So I do think it will be important not just for protecting children's health but protecting the health of those around children.

BLITZER: Yes, those kids 5 to 11 would get a much smaller dose than the adults would be getting. If you look at recent polling though, and I know you have, Dr. Besser, there are still a lot of parents out there who say they won't get their young kids vaccinated. What do you say to try to convince them that they should?

BESSER: Well, what I say is you have to make an informed decision. And, you know, clearly, these vaccines, if they are authorized for use in young children, will have been tested in far fewer children than the adult vaccines were tested in.

And so I expect that there will be quite a number of parents who are eager to get their kids vaccinated and line up to do so, and there will be a large group of parents who are saying, I want to wait and see, I want to see what happens when these vaccines are given to more children before making that decision.

And I think we have to give people room to really develop their own level of comfort. I know that that's what I want to do. I want to look at the evidence. I want to see where the committees come down before I make a decision. And each person, each parent is going to have to make that informed decision.

BLITZER: And you're a pediatrician, so you know. All right, Dr. Besser, thank you so, so much.

Coming up, a new phase in the search for Gabby Petito's missing fianceE, Brian Laundrie, as the mystery surrounding her homicide clearly deepens.



BLITZER: We're following new developments in the mystery surrounding the homicide of Gabby Petito. CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones has the latest.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The search for Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, entering a new phase today. Authorities tapping the 22-year-old fugitive's father to search the 25,000-acre Carlton Nature Reserve, where Laundrie's parents said Brian told them he was headed more than three weeks ago. Chris Laundrie arriving on site in this red pickup truck, departing about three and a half hours later. Laundrie Family Attorney Steven Bertolino telling CNN, North Port, Florida Police asked Chris Laundrie to join the search Wednesday, but had to postpone his involvement.


He said authorities asked the elder Laundrie to show them the trails at the reserve that Brian was known to have used. The attorney says the vast reserve at his home is the only place his parents believe he could be and he explained why they haven't issued a public plea to their son. In short, the parents believe Brian was and is in the reserve. So, there was no reason to issue a plea on media that he does not have access to.

Gabby Petito's family has repeatedly called on Brian Laundrie to come forward, and is pleading with the public to help find him, telling Dr. Phil Wednesday --

JOSEPH PETITO, GABBY PETITO'S FATHER: I just hope he's found. I really do.

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TV HOST: He'll be found.

PETITO: No, I mean like alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to look him in the eyes.

PETITO: I want to see him in a jail cell for the rest of his life.

JONES: Laundrie has not been charged in connection with Petito's death but he is expected of using a debit card her family says belonged to her to access over $1,000 after her death. A federal warrant has been issued for his arrest.


JONES (on camera): And there is more from Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino. He put out a statement about today's search which reads in part, there were no discoveries, but the effort was helpful to all. It seems the water in the preserve is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search. He added: hopefully, Brian will be located soon -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Athena, thank you very much. Athena Jones reporting.

Let's get some more on all of this, joining us now CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Joey, we saw Brian Laundrie's father arrive at the nature reserve today. Does it make sense to you that authorities are seeking his help three weeks into the search effort?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that he could have certainly helped sooner and he could have done it voluntarily weeks ago. You know, look, authorities have a vested interest in bringing this to justice. I get and understand that. In doing that, they're going to exhaust every resource. I think that's a resource in the event that he wanted to be helpful, Wolf, who could be very helpful with respect to the inclinations of his son, with respect to the trails he knows his son to frequent, with respect to what his son does, when he does it, how he does it.

And so, it would be a bevy of information in the event that he's truthful, in the event that he really has a willingness to help, and in the event that, again, he's candid with respect to what he tells authorities. But you know, it's good he's helping now, but certainly I think if he helped earlier, it would have been much more significant.

BLITZER: We also know and you know this, that Laundrie's parents recently changed their story claiming they misremembered the date they had last been with their son. Have they given law enforcement good reason to trust their input?

JACKSON: I would be very suspicious with respect to that. Why? You know, Wolf, in a court of law, we always talk to juries, we're not there, to use your common sense and good judgment. There's certain things you don't forget.

You don't forget your wedding day. You don't forget your birthday. You certainly would not forget the day, the last day that your son left and did not return.

So, to the extent that he did that, that is they provided authorities with misinformation or inaccurate information, it really begs the question as to whether or not it was an authentic mistake or whether it was a material misrepresentation in my view.

What we do as lawyers is we look at the state of mind. We look at comportment. We look at demeanor, right? That doesn't tell it all.

But we look at what the natural state of events should be, and the natural state of events is that you remember something that's significant to you. There's nothing more significant than when our loved one has gone and has not returned. And so I'm very suspicious with respect to that misinformation.

BLITZER: The Laundrie family attorney says the nature reserve is the only place the laundries believe Brian could be. How can they say that with any confidence?

JACKSON: I don't know that you can say that. I think that, listen, there came a point in time where their son came home. When their son came home, he came home alone.

That begs the question of answering, well, you went with someone else. Where is she? What were you doing? Where did you leave her? Where did you last see her? What if anything, did you do with respect to her?

And so, I think that, you know, they would have many questions at that point, is they know an awful lot of information, and so, you have to believe that the conversation came up with respect to what happened. And if it didn't come up, you have to answer or ask yourself why.

So I think there's a heck of a lot of information that they know, that they're not sharing. That's my view.

BLITZER: That's my view as well.

All right, Joey Jackson, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.

JACKSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we have more news just ahead on the future of abortion in Texas after a federal judge blocked the state's near total ban on the procedure.



BLITZER: Now an update on our CNN exclusive report we brought you last night here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our investigation by CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir revealed that Ethiopia's government used Ethiopian Airlines, the country's top commercial carrier, to shuttle weapons back and forth from neighboring Eritrea during the first weeks of fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Experts say the flights are a violation of international aviation law, which bans smuggling arms for military use on civil aircraft.

In our report in response to our exclusive report, the Biden administration is now warning the United States is prepared to sanction those responsible for ferrying weapons during this conflict calling the allegations -- and I'm quoting now -- incredibly grave. And just a short time ago, Ethiopian Airlines once again denied transporting weapons during the war in Tigray. We'll stay on top of this story.

Also tonight, the near total ban on abortions in Texas is on hold right now, a federal judge has blocked the law in a scathing new ruling.


Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with details.

Brian, this judge did not mince any words.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did not, Wolf, but as tough as this judge was, there is a good chance that his ruling will not permanently strike down the strict new abortion law in Texas. Key questions tonight, what does this law mean for abortion rights in other states and what does it mean for Roe versus Wade.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, a controversial Texas abortion law blocked by a federal judge in that state, a judge who has a harsh words for the rigid law. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman writing this court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.

Passage of the law and the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect, touched off a torrent of protests across the country in recent days, including in the Texas capital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, this bill is designed to scare us.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, NPR: It has brought a whole new energy to this debate. We have heard about for a very long time, we are seeing people on the left really come out, whether it'd be the marches, or connecting with their lawmakers to try and see what are our options here to try and reduce this.

TODD: The new Texas law bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the fetus, which is usually only about six weeks into a pregnancy. Often, before a woman knows she is pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest. The Texas governor's answer to complain about that, simply eliminate all rapist.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Texas well work tremendously to make sure we eliminate all rapists.

TODD: The restrictive Texas abortion law took effect on September 1, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to block. Now, even though that federal judge has blocked the law, it could easily make a comeback, because a state will likely appeal the judges ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in America.

So, women's access to abortions and Texas is still in the balance.

PROF. KIMBERLY WEHLE, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE LAW SCHOOL: The question is whether providers will have enough courage to start performing abortions again, knowing that the 5th Circuit, a conservative circuit, could go back to really where the Supreme Court was saying, listen, no, we can't touch this law, because of the bounty hunter provision.

TODD: Those so-called bounty hunter provisions in the new Texas hall essentially deputize private citizens in Texas to sue anyone who helps facilitate an abortion.

This comes as the U.S. Supreme Court, during this term, it's sad to hear a case which could be the most direct challenge to the landmark Roe versus Wade ruling, which legalizes abortion nationwide, prior to liability about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

The court will weigh in on a Mississippi law, that bans abortion after 15 weeks, except in medical emergencies, or in cases of severe fetal abnormality.

Experts say the high court could uphold that law and strike down Roe versus Wade, or at least chip away at it. WEHLE: Roe versus Wade itself is very much on the chopping block at

the Supreme Court level.


TODD (on camera): Meanwhile, the Texas law banning abortions after 6 weeks is having a ripple effect already. Planned Parenthood says Texas residents seeking abortions are leaving the state engrossed to go to neighboring states for abortions. States like Oklahoma, and Mexico, have seen dramatic increases of patients, clinics in those places are overwhelmed with waiting periods of several weeks for appointments. Wolf, a lot of eyes on the Supreme Court this term and Roe versus Wade.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens.

All right, Brian. Thank you very, very much.

Finally, tonight we want to tell you about a new CNN original series out premiers Sunday. Diana, introduces viewers to the person behind the princess, and reveals a life more complicated and fascinating then the world knew.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was always different and (INAUDIBLE) see inside me that I was going to (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was going to marry her dashing prince, like all the stories she had read.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was iconic. She was box office.

REPORTER: Are you going to dance with the princess tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she'd like me to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pre-Diana, there was zero interest in the royal family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think anybody has grown up in public like Diana has.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diana provided a very public model for defiance, and truthfulness.

PRINCESS DIANA: Isn't it normal to feel angry? And wanting to change the situation?

I was able to recognize an inner determination to survive.

ANNOUNCER: The new CNN original series, "DIANA", premiers Sunday at 9:00, on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: 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 always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom. SITUATION ROOM is also available as a podcast. Look for us on, or wherever you get your podcast.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.