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Colin Powel Dead After COVID Complications, Cancer Battle; Trump Sues to Keep His Records Secret from January 6th Committee; Biden to Meet Separately with Democratic Moderates and Progressives at White House Tomorrow; China Reportedly Tests a Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Missile. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 18, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Now, General Colin Powell is remembered as a highly respected soldier, statesman and trailblazer. We're learning more about the death of the first black U.S. secretary of state and why he was so vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.
Also breaking tonight, former President Trump just filed a lawsuit to keep his records secret from the January 6th select committee. I'll speak live with a key member of the panel.
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.
We begin with the passing of General Colin Powell at age 84. The loss felt so deeply by so many of us, especially as we have learned about his battles with COVID-19, multiple myeloma blood cancer and Parkinson's disease.
CNN Alex Marquardt reports on Powell's life, death, and legacy.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The news of Colin Powell's death prompted an outpouring of grief that reflects the profound admiration of a statesman unique in so many ways. President Joe Biden said Powell will be remembered as one of our great Americans.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Think of where Colin Powell is, not only a dear friend and a patriot, one of our great military leaders and a man of overwhelming decency. This is a man born, the son of immigrants in New York City, raised in Harlem in the South Bronx, graduated from City College in New York. And he rose to the highest ranks not only in the military but also in areas of foreign policy and state craft.
MARQUARDT: From Powell's heritage to his storied military career before becoming a public servant, who transcended party affiliation, the former four star general and secretary of state paved the way for so many, like secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband and the family lost a tremendous father. And I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor.
MARQUARDT: Reflecting on his career, Powell told Wolf Blitzer that making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was one of his biggest mistakes.
BLITZER: Was that the biggest intelligence blunder of your professional career?
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Of my professional career, yes. So, one of the biggest, if not, the biggest.
MARQUARDT: At 84 years old, Powell was among the most vulnerable to the pandemic ravaging the planet. He had been vaccinated but he was also suffering from Parkinson's disease and being treated from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells. Both wreaked havoc on Powell's immune system, making his more susceptible to COVID- 19.
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Multiple myeloma is a disease that itself suppresses the immune system. But it's also important to understand that the treatment for multiple myeloma, which patients often take every day, itself can suppress the immune system.
So, General Powell represented our most vulnerable population in this country. He was over the age of 80. He had cancer and a treatment for his cancer made him vulnerable.
MARQUARDT: The vaccines are less effective with cancer patients generally. And a study in July found that just 45 percent of multiple myeloma patients developed an adequate COVID-19 response when vaccinated, a reason why the FDA and CDC have approved booster shots for the immunocompromised.
Powell had kept his cancer quiet. One of his last public appearances was in late September for the school named after him at the City College of New York. Speaking with his daughter, Linda, he grew emotional talking about the students.
POWELL: I said, okay, each of you tell me where you're from, where your parents are from and what's your future. Each one of them, 12, I think, each one of them did that and --
LINDA POWELL, DAUGHTER OF COLIN POWELL: Yes. They reminded you of yourself.
POWELL: The reason I'm crying is I looked at them and they were me. And they came from an immigrant background like me. And they came from some borough in the Bronx and they were smiling. They were happy.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Now, Wolf, that touching moment between general Powell and his daughter, Linda, was under three weeks ago on September 30th.
Now, Powell's long time chief of staff told our colleague, Jamie Gangel, that Powell had been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
He got a second dose back in early February. He was due to get his booster shot this past week, but fell ill and could not receive it. Wolf?
BLITZER: My heart goes out to that family. Alex, thank you very much. Alex Marquardt, reporting.
I want to bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta right now. He's the Author of a brand new book entitled World War C, Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One.
Sanjay, even after being fully vaccinated, how vulnerable was General Powell to COVID given the fact that he was battling both blood cancer and Parkinson's disease and the fact that he was 84-years-old?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, his age and his diagnosis of multiple myeloma in particular really did make him quite vulnerable. I mean, you know we know people who are over 65 or 70 are among the highest risk. And the thing about multiple myeloma, it is a cancer of the very cells in the body that make antibodies, something that most people have heard of by now.
So you have the plasma cells that are affected and oftentimes you're getting medications to treat the cancer that can also suppress your immune systems as well. So I mean, he is among the most vulnerable as you've heard.
One thing I want to show you quickly, you know, when we look at people who get vaccinated and who have multiple myeloma you find that about 45 percent of them only really have some sort of adequate response to the vaccine, so less than half, Wolf. 33 percent have no response. 22 percent have a partial response. So he fell under that category of people with who were immunocompromised, that would have been a candidate for a booster. And as you heard, Wolf, he was actually supposed to get a booster before he more recently to began ill.
BLITZER: Was he too ill to get that scheduled booster shot over these past few weeks?
GUPTAN: Yes. You know, if you have COVID at the time, then you should not be getting the vaccine at the time your still have symptoms. Once you recover from those symptoms, you can go ahead and get it. But that's the guidance, typically. So, it's not a set amount of time after you've had COVID, although, you know, usually you want to wait a few weeks, but he obviously -- once he developed symptoms, he was not in the position to get that booster.
BLITZER: Yes. What's your message, Sanjay, to anyone who's concerned to see someone pass away from COVID after being fully vaccinated?
GUPTA: I think there're two really important messages. I mean, if you look at someone like General Powell, Secretary Powell, and you've got to keep in mind that he got this from somebody, right? He got COVID from somebody. And I'm not pointing fingers or anything, I'm just saying that that happened. And when we talk about herd immunity overall, we talk about in term of numbers but it's kind of more of a philosophy that if enough people get vaccinated, you can -- the herd can protect the vulnerable, can protect people like General Powell. So, that's the message. I mean, you get vaccinated to protect people like him, to protect people who are more vulnerable.
But also, Wolf, let me show you some numbers because this comes up over and over again, breakthrough infections and people say, hey, look, you know, I got vaccinated, still got a breakthrough infection, so what's the -- you know, what's the real utility here? Well, if you look at the overall number of people who have been vaccinated, about 187 million now, and then you look at the number of deaths among breakthrough infections overall, about 7,178. I don't know if we have the numbers, we can put them up. But, basically, the point is, that yes, breakthrough infections do occur, but look how protective that is. Out of 187 million people, there were 7,100 deaths in those breakthrough cases. So it's really, really protective.
Most of the people, as you can see, are people over the age of 65. So we have a good idea of who these breakthrough infections affect the most, and that's why they do recommend boosters in that population.
But that's -- those are the two messages. You get vaccinated for yourself, but you get vaccinated for others and they really, really do work.
BLITZER: They certainly do. Sanjay, I want you to stand by. We're going to have more questions for you. Right now, I want to bring in Jamie Gangel. She's got some new excerpts from General Powell's, one of his final interviews with the veteran journalist, Bob Woodward. Bob Woodward is going to be joining us in just a few moments as well. There you see him.
But, Jamie, tell us about, first of all, some of the excerpts that, the audio that Bob Woodward got as a result of his final interview in July with the announced unfortunately passed away general.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Just for context, I think over his career, Bob Woodward has done more than 50 interviews with Colin Powell. These were done July 12th for the book Peril that he just published. And the first one we're going to listen to is really extraordinary because we're going to hear General Powell talk about his health for the first time. He told Bob Woodward about his health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POWELL (voice over): Well you see, I go to the hospital about two or three times a week. I've got multiple myeloma cancer and I've got Parkinson's disease. But otherwise I'm fine.
BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, PERIL (voice over): Oh, no, I'm sorry.
POWELL (voice over): Don't say that. Don't feel for a guy like me, I'm 85 years old. You got to have something. I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape.
WOODWARD (voice over): Well, that's great. Well, you've never lost a day of life. I mean, think of the activist general, former secretary of state, now oracle, right?
POWELL (voice over): Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANGEL: And typical self-deprecating humor. I mean, it's nothing sure of extraordinary. Here he was suffering from multiple myeloma, really a deadly blood cancer from Parkinson's. We're in the middle of COVID and he's saying, don't worry about me.
Bob Woodward went on later in the interview, we're going to play one more section of this audio interview, where Woodward asked General Powell sort of who's your greatest hero of all the people you've met, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD (voice over): Who was the greatest man, woman, or person you have ever known? Not just a leader. Not necessarily -- but the inner person, you know, the moral compass, the sense of propriety, the sense of the truth matters? Who is that in all of your life? Who?
POWELL (voice over): Alma Powell.
WOODWARD (voice over): Okay. Good for you. Good for you.
POWELL (voice over): She was with me the whole time. We've been married 58 years.
WOODWARD (voice over): Wow, congratulations.
POWELL (voice over): Thank you. And she put up with a lot. She took care of the kids when I was running around. And she was always there for me. And she'd tell me, that's not a good idea. She was usually right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANGEL: That's not a good idea. I wonder how many times Alma Powell said that. We're going to have more of Woodward's extraordinary interview with Colin Powell from this summer, but there's a part I just want to tell you that in the middle of the interview, Alma Powell hears General Powell on the phone and he says, one second, I'm on the phone. And he says to Woodward, she never really liked my talking to you.
BLITZER: Alma is an amazing woman. I know her. You know her. And she's really, really so, so special. Heart goes out to her and the kids and grandkids and family.
The journalist, Bob Woodward is joining us right now. He's Co-author of the new book, Peril, a New York Times number one best seller.
You know, Bob, it's amazing stuff that you always do, but this was your last interview with General Powell, one of 50, as Jamie reports, that you conducted over the last three decades. What struck you as he reflected on his own career and what also struck you about his thought on the state of our country?
WOODWARD: Well, you know, first of all, he was so independent-minded. He was indeed a soldier. But at the first gulf war in 1991, when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he was pushing against. He was the reluctant warrior. And many times I discussed with him this paradox of being the reluctant warrior and being the number one military officer and he said just three months, he said, no, I did not like war, I do not like being a warrior.
This is because he had been in Vietnam. He knew the ugly side of war. He knew that war had to be a last resort. And so when it came time and, I mean, this again is this cycle in his life. He is secretary of state for George W. Bush and they invaded Afghanistan, and that was supported widely, but then they're on the verge of invading Iraq.
And, again, Powell surfaces as the voice of, do we have to do this? Is there another option? And in the end, he made his case, but in retrospect and discussions I had with him, he would say, I didn't make this case strong enough. I should have made it stronger, and came to the view that the Iraq War was probably not necessary.
So this is a man in all of these roles and, again, expressing that core conviction that we have to protect the country, we will go to war, we will kill the enemy if necessary, but we want to avoid that at all costs.
BLITZER: We have that reluctant warrior clip from your interview, the audio. And I want to play it for our viewers now. Standby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL (voice over): The reluctant warrior, whatever that is, asked to me (ph), I said it's true.
WOODWARD (voice over): Yes.
POWELL (voice over): I am a reluctant warrior. I don't like wars. I don't want to be a warrior. But remember the other thing that is well- known about me. And that is we go to war, and I will do everything I can to beat the crap out of somebody and win it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yes. You had that Powell doctrine that we all know that was so, so powerful during the first gulf war. First, you're going to cut it off, then you're going to kill it. But he had an exit strategy in mind and the U.S. pulled out of the Middle East very quickly after deploying half a million troops in the area. You and I remember that, right, Bob?
WOODWARD: We do. And that was -- I talked with him just three months ago about that war and, of course, it was a war, had very low casualties, 137 U.S. servicemen killed initially. And we discussed that and he said he really can't get over how successful it was as a war and, of course, it decimated Saddam Hussein's army in Iraq, but not enough and not fully. And then that cycle came back again while he's secretary of state in resisting this.
So he's going to be remembered rightly as somebody who stood his ground. As Jamie was saying, when I interviewed him three months ago and Alma Powell, his wife called out, you know, what are you doing? He said, well, I'm on the phone. And then he did turn to me and say, she doesn't want me -- she doesn't like me talking to you, but here we are. Other words, he was going to talk anyway, even though she was saying, don't do this.
So this was a singular person who brought and, you know, to go to the really interesting, powerful part of his story after he left being chairman of the Joint Chiefs and published his memoir, everyone thought he was going to run for president. And I spent a long time talking to him and his aides and realized before he announced he wasn't going to run that he was not going to run because, in war, he always wanted to send enough to guarantee full success. And he realized in politics there's no guarantee of success, and I think that's largely why he pulled back and did not run.
BLITZER: Yes. And I think Alma, based on everything I remember at the time, she was not enthusiastic about his running for president, an African-American man. I think she clearly feared his life potentially could be in danger. That's what I remember hearing at the time. I suspect you did as well. He decided not to run for president of the United States.
In the interview, this last interview in July, he did with you, Bob, he struck an optimistic tone telling you about his health problems. He truly appreciated everything life had to offer to him, a child of immigrants growing up in the South Bronx and all of a sudden becoming one day chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and secretary of state.
WOODWARD: Yes. He -- and he realized that and he was, again, reluctant when he was offered the job of secretary of state by George W. Bush, but he realized, and, again, this is the military tradition when the commander-in-chief asks, you serve. And so he served as secretary of state. And as he told you, his endorsement of intelligence for the Iraq War was his big mistake and he knows it was a blot on his career that would never leave him.
[18:20:09] BLITZER: Let me bring Sanjay back into this conversation for a moment. Sanjay, when you heard, you know, General Powell describe, this was back in July, his blood cancer, Parkinson's, and he was very optimistic. He was going to Walter Reed U.S. Military Medical out in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., but he was sort of joking about it. But these are, at his age, especially, really critically, potentially so dangerous diseases.
GUPTA: Right. I mean, and they are. Multiple myeloma, I mean, it's fair to say there's been a lot of progress made overall in terms of survival rates for multiple myeloma. I don't know what specific stage he was or the various treatments. Sometimes it is discovered even incidentally, meaning you get a blood test and you notice abnormalities in the blood test that start the investigation. So -- but, yes, he's 84 years old -- 85 years old.
The Parkinson's disease, may -- you know, the data is less clear on how much of an impact that would have had on his COVID. Overall, maybe recovery from COVID could be affected by that. But the multiple myeloma, for sure, in combination with COVID, is tough, again, because the cells that affected in multiple myeloma are the cells that make antibodies. And then on top it, you're getting medications to suppress your immune to some extent. So, that combination is just really tough on top of his age, Wolf.
BLITZER: And he received his two initial shots, his vaccine shots, what, at the end of January and February. So that was a while ago as well. And he was about to get his booster shot but, sadly, that didn't occur.
Stand by for a moment, Bob, stand by as well. Gloria Borger is here. Suzanne Malveaux is here as well. All of us have covered General Powell over the years.
What goes through your mind, Gloria, as you heard in July, how he described his multiple myeloma, and his Parkinson's and he spoke about his life?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, Colin Powell, he used to refer to himself as the guy who likes to solve problems. And what I heard on the tape was somebody who was dealing with it, he was solving his problems. He wasn't missing a day of work. He was getting up and driving his car and going to work.
And I also heard on the tape sort of a man in full, somebody who understood where he had started and what he had accomplished during his career and what strides he had made for generations of Americans, and particularly Americans of color who could look at him and say, well, that guy from the South Bronx, look at him. And he took that and he ran with it for his entire life.
And when he was talking to Bob Woodward, he wasn't sad. He was sort of like, don't feel bad for me, right? I mean, he was kind of, I've done this and I have had a great life.
BLITZER: Suzanne, I know your family and General Powell's family have a history together. You guys were very close.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, I knew him professionally, but I also personally and socially. My father and he were good friends through Howard University. He served on the board with Vernon Jordan as well. They were a little bit of a posse, if you will, black professionals in Washington, D.C. It's a very kind of a small, tight knit community. And whether you're a cap or alpha talking trash, or, you know, they were bully (ph) brothers it's what they called themselves, service brothers. And so I saw him on many social occasions.
But he was very private. He was very protective of his wife. It was about six weeks ago that he did start to share and pick up the phone among those in his inner circle and share about the cancer that he was battling, as well as Parkinson's. I'm told the reason why he did that was because he was concerned that he was not going to be able to communicate effectively to his inner circle. And people in that circle had not heard from him since today. And so it was in that sense, a shock and a very disturbing one.
But I did have an opportunity in October 2018, three years ago, with Secretary Madeleine Albright and Powell at Creighton University to have a 90-minute interview, a conversation just about everything. And that, at that particular juncture, he was very, very -- it was critical of the Trump administration. He talked about what it meant to be an immigrant from the Bronx, ultimately from Jamaica.
And it was at a time when the country really felt like it was under assault. You had the Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh at the synagogue who had been massacred. You had this Trump ally who was going after, planting pipe bombs and also these immigrants coming from Central America being called invaders, an infestation, from our former president.
And he just was not shy in any way. Very outspoken about the pride that he had that his parents came from Jamaica and they were the product, one, a teacher, one, a soldier.
BLITZER: That's why he wanted to give back to our country. He was so proud of being the son of immigrants in this country having given his family a new opportunity, and he went from the South Bronx to where we know, a really powerful message he would often give especially to young people.
You know, General Hertling, how challenging is it to be what General Powell called a reluctant warrior? What type of leader was General Powell? You served under him.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND MILITARY ANALYST: I did, Wolf. And, you know, Wolf, as you're talking to everyone, I'm thinking about there's a novel on leadership that's on book shelf of most military leaders. It's Anton Myers, Once an Eagle. There's a line in that book where the main character offers some advice to a colleague. And he says, when it comes to a choice of being a good soldier or being a good human being, choose to be a good human being. That's what General Powell was. He was a great human being and the best of military leaders and commanders because he had such character. The values he held dear, his focus on developing others, everyone you talk to in this military had General Powell as a role model when he was in service and even secretary of state.
He took credit, or, I mean, he gave others credit while he took the blame. The depth of his intellect and wealth of his experiences were just phenomenal. He possessed all the traits we want in our military leaders and I would even say in our country's leaders. And the biggest trait I think both you and Bob Woodward reported, he also listened to his life, which is always a good idea for any leader to listen to their spouse.
BLITZER: Yes, he's such an amazing man.
Bob Woodward, give us some thoughts. What goes through your mind as you know, this morning around 8:00 A.M., we all heard the sad news. I had no idea he was as sick as he was. But it just jolted me and I'm sure it did you as well.
WOODWARD: Well, three months ago when we talked, as we know, from the audio tape of this, that he was optimistic, and don't feel sorry for me, don't worry about me, I've had a good life. But when you listen to it carefully for -- it's 42 minutes, there is a tone of farewell. There is a tone of this is the last time we are going to talk. And the central message was, which I think is a very important one, the reluctant voyeur theme, but it even goes further.
He doesn't want to seem more glorified because in war, people die and he -- that theme does not go away in the conversation then or the conversations going back to the gulf war in 1991, of all things, when he was on the Newsweek cover, the reluctant warrior, the excerpts of my book, the Commanders, that's May of 1991. He always would say, am I the reluctant warrior? Guilty, guilty, because war has all of that ugliness that we as human beings and as soldiers want to avoid.
BLITZER: Yes. He served in Vietnam, two tours of duty, so he knew exactly what war is all about.
I think I speak for everyone, not just here in The Situation Room, but all of our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I express our deepest, deepest condolences to his loving family, his wife, Alma, the kids, the grandkids. And I say that he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.
There's more breaking news we're following. The former president, Donald Trump, is suing the January 6th committee to keep records from the closing days of his administration a secret. I'll speak with the a key lawmaker on the special committee when we come back.
[18:30:00] BLITZER: We have more breaking news this hour on a newly filed lawsuit by former President Trump in his battle with the January 6th select committee.
Let's bring in our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. She's got details. Paula, the former president trying to keep his White House records secret. Break it all down for us.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. Well, former President Trump has filed a lawsuit against the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection and the National Archives.
Now, Trump has been signaling for weeks that he would try to block the committee from accessing certain materials. He's even directed some witnesses not to cooperate in the probe. But in this lawsuit, Trump's attorney argues several different points. That first is that the committee requests are too broad. They argue that lawmakers have asked for potentially millions of presidential records that the Trump legal team believes includes privileged information.
Now, they also claim the Presidential Records Act. So, the law that governs presidential materials, they say, is unconstitutional because it doesn't provide enough protection for former presidents. And they argue that the next president should not be able to come in and be able waive privilege for a predecessor.
And they directly attack President Biden for refusing to assert executive privilege over the documents in this matter calling it a, quote, political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies.
But it's important to note, that when the Biden White House announced its decision not to assert privilege over a batch of documents in this matter, it said that President Biden had determined that asserting privilege here is not in the best interest of the United States.
Now, the Trump legal team also argues that the committees request lacks a legislative purpose and they repeatedly site a previous Supreme Court case dealing with Trump's personal financial records, but this is an investigation into an attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that there should be tremendous deference given to Congress in conducting investigations.
So, his lawyers are asking to court to either block these requests or, at the very least, block them until Trump has had time to review these records, which would, of course, delay parts of this investigation. But the National Archives has informed Trump that it would turn over records to Congress on November 12th unless the court intervenes.
BLITZER: The select commit, as you know, has rejected Steve Bannon's claim of executive privilege, as he refuses to comply with a subpoena. What are you learning? I understand you're getting more information.
REID: That's right, Wolf. Well, CNN has actually obtained a letter from the House select committee to Bannon's lawyers laying out exactly why lawmakers were rejecting his reasons for defying their subpoena. Now, Trump had argued -- Bannon had argued that Trump had directed him not to comply, but the committee noted that Trump had not officially raised any privileged claims in court, of course, this was before the lawsuit was filed today, and that Trump's direction does not justify Bannon refusing to cooperate on issues that had nothing to do with direct communications with the former president.
Now, we've reached out to Bannon's attorney for comment, but this letter comes as the committee investigating January 6th is scheduled to meet tomorrow night to vote on whether Bannon should be referred to the Justice Department for criminal contempt.
BLITZER: Yes, a lots going on right now. All right, Paula, thank you very much for that report.
Let's discuss this and more with a key member of the January 6th select committee, Representative Zoe Lofgren. Representative, thank you so much for joining us.
What's your initial reaction, your response to this lawsuit filed against your committee by the former president?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I don't think it's well-founded. But the former president, we know, is someone who likes to sue a lot. He's engaged in frivolous lawsuits throughout his life. I just had a chance to begin to read it, but as outlined, you know, President Trump is the holder and the decider of this privilege. He went through and decided that the material should not be protected by the doctrine of executive privilege and I think that is the definitive answer.
This committee is investigating what happened leading up to January 6th, the assault on our Capitol, really, the assault on our democracy. What steps do we need the take to prevent that from happening again? What legislation needs to be enacted to counter this threat to our country? And the president, a former president, would try and hide things from the committee in this important work is very disappointing.
BLITZER: But did you anticipate that the former president would do this, because it certainly could delay your work for a while?
LOFGREN: Well, I'm not surprised given his proclivity to file lawsuits, but we hope to proceed a pace. We need to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. And it's not just these records, of course. We've had a very large number of witnesses who have come in voluntarily to talk to the committee, to provide documents to us.
So we're piecing together the picture and helping to get an idea of what steps needs to be taken to prevent this from ever happening again to protect our country.
BLITZER: Your select committee just told Steve Bannon once again that he must comply with the subpoena or face possible criminal contempt charges. He had until 6:00 P.M., half an hour ago, to submit a written response if he feels there are any other issues. As far as you know, did he respond?
LOFGREN: So far as I'm aware, he did not. At least I've not been advised by staff that he has. His claim of executive privilege is just really a stretch. First, he was not even an employee of the White House or the federal government and so would not ordinarily be covered by any executive privilege claim.
Further, even if that weren't the case, we want to talk to him about conversations he had, the plot that he may have held with other people, with organizers in the political arena, with political figures, both in the Congress and in state legislatures. That has nothing to do with his communications with the former president.
And you can't just say, well, I'm not coming in. The law requires when a subpoena has been dually issued, as this one was, to come in and make your case. State your case about why you think you are excused from telling the truth. He didn't even do that.
So, we feel this behavior is outrageous, outrageous behavior on the part of Mr. Bannon. We will have a discussion tomorrow night, take a vote on whether to refer this to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. If the vote is positive, it then goes to the floor of the House, and if that vote is positive, it will be referred to DOJ. And the statute says that the U.S. attorney shall present the matter to a sitting grand jury.
BLITZER: Representative Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much for joining us.
LOFGREN: Thank you.
BLITZER: I want to get some more on the breaking news right now. Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, and CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams.
Maggie Trump is, as the Congresswoman pointed out, notably litigious person, shall we say. How does this lawsuit against the January 6th select committee fit into this pattern?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It fits very neatly into this pattern, Wolf. This is something Trump has done literally his entire life to try to stop any number of actions, whether it was by the government, whether it was by private entities, whether it was business partners and so forth and so on. And so it was always inevitable that he was going to file a lawsuit to try to delay.
Now, there is little case law, and Elliot can speak to this more than I can, but there is little case law about whether or not executive privilege would cover somebody outside of the White House. You know, it's not -- as I understand it, it's not as cut and dry as saying Bannon wasn't working there if there is an effort to pursue this, as there is now.
I don't know how serious this suit is. It is notable that the suit actually refers to him as a former President Trump, which is something he's stayed away from. But Trump is going to do everything he can to try to drag this out as long as possible.
BLITZER: Yes. And, Elliot, Trump's legal team is arguing, as you heard, that the January 6th committee's request for his presidential record is simply too broad. Is that a solid legal argument?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really not, Wolf, because, look, if they are overbroad, you just negotiate them down and come to some sort of agreement or accommodation as to requests that everybody can agree with. Look, Maggie is 100 percent right here that two things can be true, that the former president has and had a history of litigation for delay but that there are also very complicated legal questions here that the only way to resolve are litigating them.
Number one, who holds executive privilege, it really -- hasn't really been resolved since the 1970s, and it's an entirely different in the Supreme Court, and number two, what is a legitimate legislative purpose. Now, that's second legislative purpose question, that's nonsense, and a court ought to dismiss it because it's hard to say that an attack on Congress and Congress investigating it is not a legitimate purpose for Congress.
BLITZER: Yes. My own suspicion, Maggie, is that Trump wants to delay this as long as possible. He's clearly hoping, for example, next year, the Republicans become the majority in the House and this whole investigation would go away presumably. How much of this, what he's doing today, this lawsuit, Maggie, how much of this is about politics for Trump and any possible future run for president?
HABERMAN: I don't know how much of it ties into a future run for president. I think that they certainly want to try to muddy this investigation and to the extent that the Trump folks expect that January 6th is going to factor heavily into Democrats' calculations for '22 and beyond. That is certainly a piece of it.
But, look, I think you can't underestimate the degree to which this is what Trump does. He does just sue. He has a ton of money sitting in his political committees. This is costing him personally nothing. He doesn't mind going ahead with this at all and he likes to delay and try to do everything on his own terms. And he has treated Congress, he did throughout his entire presidency, he's clearly doing that now, as if they have no legitimate oversight role. And that obviously is not true.
But we saw other lawsuits that dragged on, the one for Don McGhan's testimony, the former White House counsel, for instance, and when the Mueller probe is going on, when Congress was also looking to interview him, that dragged on for a very long time. So I'm not surprise to see this.
I think there's not some general strategy this is fitting into.
I think this is what Donald Trump does. BLITZER: Maggie, Elliot, guys thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, a stunning display of Chinese military might has American military officials deeply worried right now about Beijing's increasingly sophisticated missile technology.
Stay with us. We have new details. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Right now, President Biden is making new moves to try to bridge the Democratic divide that's threatening to derail his agenda.
Our senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is joining us right now.
Phil, the president has pivotal meetings scheduled with the Democrats this week to try to advance his agenda.
But is the window for negotiating about to close?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think White House officials, Wolf, are keenly aware that the window existed this moment is closing fast and that is in large part why the president this week both behind the scenes and in public is going to be keenly focused on that agenda. The two-part agenda, the infrastructure bill, as well as that sweeping multitrillion dollar economic and climate package. The one, they simply have not been able to reach agreement on with two senators, in particular, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Wolf, I'm told over the course of the last several weeks, there have been intensive negotiations at a very granular revel with both senators trying to figure out a pathway forward. The president is expected to meet with both those senators this week. The president met this morning with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, one of the key progressives in both the House and the Senate involved in these talks.
And tomorrow the meetings will continue, Wolf. The president sitting down in separate meetings in the Oval Office with House progressives and moderates. Again, trying to bridge the gap that has existed for such a long period of time and it's not just a gap between blocs of lawmakers. It's individual lawmakers. We saw over the course of the last several days, a very public spat play out between Senator Joe Manchin and Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders taking to a West Virginia newspaper with an op-ed making clear Manchin is standing in the way of the proposals that he wants to get through at this point.
Manchin firing back. This is how he framed things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Anyone thinks they know West Virginia and what we've done and what we continue to do for this country, and that's all -- I want to make sure they're respected properly.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He says you are holding up the Biden agenda?
MANCHIN: No, no, there's 52 senators that don't agree, ok? And there's two that want to work something out, if possible, in this most rational, reasonable way. That's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, I should note, our colleague Manu Raju conducted that interview. Now, reports that Manchin and Sanders met today privately. They said they are talking, talking is important. But obviously, talking doesn't get them to a deal. That is the goal of the president and Democratic leaders over the course of the next several days, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see if they can do it, Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you very much.
Coming up -- oh by the way, this coming into CNN right now here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We can now share that President Biden will -- repeat -- will participate in a CNN town hall in Baltimore on Thursday. This comes at a critical time for the country, the economy, the president's sweeping legislative agenda. You can see the town hall -- Anderson Cooper will moderate only on CNN. That's this Thursday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: There's new concern tonight about China's military capabilities amid a report the country recently tested a nuclear capable hypersonic missile.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
So, Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, missile experts are worried tonight about China's new missile capability. There is a new report indicating China could soon be able to deploy a nuclear tipped missile that U.S. defenses would find much harder to detect.
TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials tonight closely monitoring China's missile program, following a report of a possibly ominous missile test. "The Financial Times" citing unnamed sources briefed on the intelligence, reports China tested a nuclear capable hypersonic missile in August. The report says the missile circled the Earth before speeding toward its target, demonstrating an advanced capability in space that, quote, caught U.S. intelligence by surprise.
Today, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, while not commenting specifically on "The Financial Times" report said this.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We watch closely China's development of -- of armament and -- and advanced capabilities and systems that will only increase tensions in the region.
TODD: China denies testing a hypersonic missile, saying the test was a, quote, routine spacecraft experiment and implying it was for civilian purposes.
But analysts say if the report is correct, China's not only got a missile that can fly at five times the speed of sound, and is more maneuverable than a standard ballistic missile.
DARYL KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION: Because they're fast and they can avoid detection, they can decrease the amount of warning time we have and the amount of decision time that leaders have to respond in a crisis if hypersonic weapons are used.
TODD: The idea that China might have fired a rocket into full orbit with this missile on it is disturbing to experts.
DEAN CHENG, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: If that's true, then we now have to start worrying about whether every Chinese satellite might not, in fact, be a disguised nuclear warhead. This is a very, very destabilizing development.
TODD: This summer, it is reported that China began construction of what experts said were more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles in a western desert of China.
CHENG: What is very clear is that China is pushing to develop its nuclear capabilities, its strategic intercontinental capabilities, significantly beyond what has been the case for the last four decades, five decades.
TODD: And China, according to U.S. officials, has been more aggressive recently in testing its weapons.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: As of the end of last month, September of 2021, the PRC had launched at least 250 ballistic missiles this year.
TODD: But China's not alone in developing hypersonic missiles. The U.S. and Russia are also working on them. And recently, Kim Jong Un's regime claimed North Korea test fired a hypersonic missile with a warhead that could detach and glide.
KIMBALL: I'm concerned about is an unconstrained ballistic missile and hypersonic missile race in East Asia in future years. We know there are military tensions between China and Japan, between the Koreas, between the United States and China. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Experts are increasingly concerned about North Korea's hypersonic missile test. Where did North Korea get the technology? Analysts say it's possible they could have gotten it from China or Russia but they also say China and Russia have expressed concern over North Korea having that capability. So it's possible the North Koreans could have developed that hypersonic capability all on their own -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll watch it together with you. Thank you very, very much. Brian Todd reporting.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.