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The Situation Room

January 6 Committee Subpoenas Ten More Trump Allies; GOP Rep Tweets Anime Video Of Him Killing Ocasio-Cortez, Attacking Biden; NFL's Rodgers Now Takes Responsibility For Misleading On Vaccine Status; Biden Speaks With CEOs From Walmart, UPS, FedEx And Target Amid Supply Chain Crunch; Astroworld Concert Deaths Spark Calls For Independent Review As Victim's Family Says Organizers Have "Blood On Their Hands." Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 18:00   ET



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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. See you next tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, a new batch of subpoenas from the January 6 committee targeting ten more Trump allies, including fire brand loyalist Stephen Miller and Kayleigh McEnany, the select committee zeroing in on Donald Trump's role in trying to overturn the presidential election.

Also tonight, a Republican congressman takes partisan anger to an ugly extreme. He posted an animated video showing him killing Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden. The party of Trump under fire for glorifying violence against Democrats even as some GOP members are also attacking their own.

And the NFL Quarterback Aaron Rodgers now says he takes full responsibility for misleading people about his COVID vaccination status. Is it enough though to repair the enormous damage from the misinformation he spread?

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.

And we begin with the breaking news on this, the new flurry of subpoenas from the January 6th select committee. Ten more Trump allies were targeted just a little while ago.

Let's go straight to our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles. Ryan, now a total of what, 16 subpoenas have been issued in the past 24 hours alone. Tell us about this new batch.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right Wolf. And this group of individuals that were targeted by the select committee today represents something very important. This is a group of people very close to the former president, Donald Trump, and they were in close proximity of him in the days leading up to the January 6 Capitol insurrection.


NOBLES (voice over): New targets to help uncover who was behind the insurrection, narrowing in on those closest to the former president, Donald Trump. The committee dropping more subpoenas today, ten new ones, including key players in the Trump orbit in the time between the November election and January 6th. The biggest names, long time loyal Adviser, Stephen Miller, body man turned White House Personnel Chief, Johnny McEntee and former Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

McEnany, one of the loudest voices in Trump's inner circle, pedaling the big lie about the election results both in and outside the White House.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The integrity of our election matters. The Constitution of the United States matters. What we have seen across the country is Democratic officials systemically trying to do end run around the constitution to tip the scales of the election in their favor.

NOBLES: This comes just one day after targeting other high ranking Trump officials, like former Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, Spokesman Jason Miller and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who suggested that Trump impose martial law to run the election again in states he lost.

LT. GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN (RET.) FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.

NOBLES: The committee also seeking out Campaign Aide Angela McCallum, who left a voice mail for legislatures in Michigan encouraging them to overturn the election.

ANGELA MCCALLUM, FORMER TRUMP STAFFER: You do have the power to reclaim your authority and send a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.

NOBLES: And the committee still wanting to hear from John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who authored the memo outlining fringe legal theories about former Vice President Mike Pence's authority to overturn election results as part of a pressure campaign.

JOHN EASTMAN, LAW PROFESSOR: We know there was fraud, traditional fraud that occurred. We know that dead people voted.

NOBLES: And former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. All four of them Stepien, Miller, Eastman and Kerik among those gathered at a D.C. hotel for what is described as a war room to overturn the election. Kerik already warning that he does not plan to comply.

I will not be threatened, intimidated, forced into bankruptcy or silenced at the hands of this committee who are not looking for truth but targeting patriots and members of the president's legal team that wanted nothing more than to investigate and expose those irregularities, Kerik said in a statement.

His confrontational tone an example of the difficult time the committee is having, getting Trump allies to cooperate. Their ability to get witnesses to cooperate hinging in part on a decision by the Department of Justice, which is yet to weigh in on a criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon, who has openly defied a committee subpoena. Attorney General Merrick Garland refusing to shed any light on how the DOJ plans to respond.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We evaluate these in the normal way we do, facts and the law, and applying the principles of prosecution.


NOBLES (on camera): And in addition to McEnany, Miller and McEntee, one of the things that we're finding in these group of subpoenas that were issued today, these are people that worked very close to the president on the day of January 6th. And we're not just talking about they were close with him in terms of their relationship, but in proximity. They were physically in the room with him at different parts of that day, including Nicholas Luna, who was his former body man, Molly Michael, who was special assistant, and Ben Williamson, who is close to the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Wolf, it shows that the committee is trying to find a direct link between the former president, Donald Trump, and what happened here on January 6th.

BLITZER: It certainly does. Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.

Let's get some more in all of this. Joining us now, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe, he's the former FBI Deputy Director and also the Author of The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Also with us, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig, He's the Author of Hatchet Man, How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department.

Elie, when you look at who's targeted with these new subpoenas, as we just saw, are these investigators after an inside account of what actually was happening inside the Oval Office on that critically important January 6th?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's exactly what the investigators are looking for here, Wolf. This is an aggressive move by the committee. It shows us that they are dead set on getting the truth or at least as much of the truth as they possibly can. And I think what we're starting to see emerge is sort of a two-track strategy. On the one track, you have the deep Trump loyalists, the people that I think the committee understands are very unlikely to cooperate here, your Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn-types that we've seen subpoenaed. I think the committee understands they're going to have to dig in and fight those people, perhaps hold them in contempt, perhaps send them over to DOJ for potential prosecution.

But there's a second track where I think there's some hope that some of these people may give productive testimony. For example, in today's batch, Keith Kellogg, the committee said the reason they're interested in him is because he urged Donald Trump as the attack was going down on January 6th to send a tweet to his followers to call them off. So, there may be some people here who are not quite as well known who may be willing to provide important information.

BLITZER: We will find out relatively soon. You know, Andrew, some of these officials were at the rally that morning. Some were at the White House on the 6th -- January 6th. How important is it for the committee to get a firsthand account of what former President Trump did on that day?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think it's absolutely essential. As Elie was just saying, you have a real focus now on people who were in physical proximity to the president on the day of the events in question. Maybe not necessarily people who were engaged in substantive discussions with them about those events but who would have seen others engaged in those discussions who could testify about what they saw the president doing or who he might have been talking to or other interactions that he might have had.

Those are essential pieces of evidence. It's very important for investigators to look beyond kind of the center main players of the conspiracy or the allege conspiracy that they're looking into and look to those folks who may provide really important, corroborative evidence around the edges of that group.

BLITZER: Elie, is the Justice Department's handling of the Steve Bannon criminal contempt referral going to be a test case for whether the committee will ever get cooperation from so many of these longtime Trump loyalists?

HONIG: That decision, Wolf, coming from Merrick Garland, we expect soon, is going to be so important because it's about so much more about Steve Bannon. It's about are there any teeth to these subpoenas at all or is it just a free for all to defy the subpoenas with no consequences? Because if DOJ does not prosecute Steve Bannon, you can bet they're not going to prosecute, let's say, hypothetically, Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany, if they defy today subpoena, Jeffrey Clark, who we saw defy a subpoena, refused to answer questions last week.

So, there's a crucial message that DOJ is going to send one way or another with their decision on Steve Bannon. BLITZER: You know, Andrew, if the attorney general, Merrick Garland, doesn't prosecute Steve Bannon, how does the committee try to get the information they clearly need?

MCCABE: Well, it's going to be very tough, Wolf. It's going to be very tough because just as Elie said, this is a -- that would be a very clear message to every witness, all the ones we've seen subpoenaed so far and all the subpoenas potentially to come, that they essentially can play this waiting game. They can outlast the committee and they don't have to provide information. That's going to bring what could be a torrent of information of facts and detail about what happened on this attack on the Capitol and scale it back to a trickle at best. It will hamper their efforts to find out what happened here.


BLITZER: Elie Honig, Andrew McCabe, guys, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a Republican lawmaker, get this, tweets a very disturbing cartoon video showing him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and attacking President Biden. Will he face any accountability from the GOP leadership?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: New information coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. The Republican congresswoman, Liz Cheney, just spoke about the extremism being fueled by former President Trump. She's one of the few, the very few Republicans trying to hold him accountable for the January 6th insurrection.


Listen to this.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are also confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before, a former president who's attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.

Political leaders who sit silent in the face of these false and dangerous claims are aiding a former president who is at war with the rule of law and the Constitution.


BLITZER: Our senior Political Analyst David Gergen is joining us right now.

So, what do you think? This is pretty significant. She's speaking out very bluntly, but she's in a tiny, tiny majority compared to the rest of the Republicans.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely, Wolf, and she's spoken out bravely, but what does she get for her bravery, that she's there trying to strip her of various titles and trying to throw her out of the Congress. You know, they're doing everything they can to railroad her out.

And at this very time, they're maintaining the silence about this guy, Goasr. And where did he come from, by the way? Under rock was he before? He just recently appeared.

You know, you think, Wolf, about it just I was reflecting, it was just few days ago we buried Colin Powell. And he had enormous moral persuasion (ph) in this country. We buried John McCain. George H.W. Bush. You know, we bury our heroes and elevate these demented people.

BLITZER: You know, Dana Bash, our Chief Political Correspondent, is in New Hampshire right now covering Liz Cheney's remarks there.

Dana, she was really blunt. Once again, she's been blunt now for months in speaking out against the extremist vein in the GOP right now. Give us your sense of what's going on.

I don't know if Dana's hearing me. Hold on for a moment, Dana. We're going to get your microphone and your audio working. But let me ask David Gergen, what is your sense, David, about what's going on in the GOP right now?

GERGEN: Well, I think they'll continue their dissent into madness. And, you know, they now think that maybe after this recent election that they found the magic formula. You know, stick with Trump up to a point, but then put out a few new things.

But I think it's still on the fringes, these people are mad and they're so denigrating to our politics. I just can't tell you, the drop in quality from what you and I were used to, what we grew up with, to what now represents the Republican Party, it's just so sad, it's so tragic and it's really dangerous.

BLITZER: David and Dana, I want both of you to stand by for a moment.

One of former president Trump's strongest congressional allies is trying to downplay a truly shocking video he posted to social media depicting violence against top Democrats, including the president of the United States.

CNN's Brian Todd is working now the story for us. Brian, this is just the latest example, very disturbing example of what's going on.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. This video is as disturbing as it is bizarre. That post and a provocative tweet from another Trump ally have Democratic leaders demanding tonight that these rogue m members be brought under control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice over): Tonight, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona under fire for posting a photo shopped anime video to his Twitter and Instagram accounts depicting him attacking and killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The video also depicts Gosar character attacking President Biden.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a response saying, a creepy member of Congress had, quote, shared a fantasy video of him killing me. Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told The View Gosar has no business being in Congress.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Paul Gosar creates this video glorifying violence against one of our colleagues who's already been the subject of death threats and that's perfectly okay.

TODD: Gosar did not respond to CNN's request for comment and an explanation of the video. But today, he tweeted a meme saying, it's a cartoon, relax. Gosar's own sister estranged from the congressman is horrified.

JENNIFER GOSAR, REP. PAUL GOSAR'S SISTER: Does he have to act on it himself before we believe that he's an -- he's a sociopath.

TODD: This comes as another Trump ally in the House, Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, is taking heat for tweeting out the phone numbers of the 13 Republican House members who voted in favor of President Biden's infrastructure bill. One of them, Fred Upton of Michigan, played a voicemail threat he received after to Greene tweet to CNN's Anderson Cooper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you (BLEEP) die, I hope your (BLEEP) family dies. I hope everybody on your (BLEEP) staff dies, you (BLEEP) piece of (BLEEP). Traitor.

REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): You know, we have seen instability really down slide here bounce right here. I am concerned about my staff.


They're taking these calls. They're threats to them.

TODD: Some conservative House Republicans have also discussed retaliating against those 13 Republicans who voted for President Biden's bill by trying to get them booted from their committee assignments. But it's the increasing threats of violence against members of Congress, some of it stoke by fellow representatives that worries a former Secret Service agent.

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: That threat environment includes you know organized groups that we saw around January 6th, but it also involves lone actors, people who are just lashing out maybe having received some of these messages as a call to action and then acting upon it.

TODD: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy should condemn the Gosar video and call on law enforcement to investigate. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that Gosar will, quote, face no consequences because @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses.

Why is Leader McCarthy not speaking out more, not punishing them?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, he wants to be speaker of the House. He doesn't want to irritate the president who, of course, has a very big microphone to this day.


TODD (on camera): Analysts say the longer that speaker -- excuse me, that Leader McCarthy goes without punishing these pro-Trump's Republicans for their extremist actions, the more they will be emboldened and their numbers could actually grow after the midterm elections.

CNN has reached out several times to Kevin McCarthy's office to ask about possible punishment from those members. We have not heard back.

BLITZER: All right if you do, let us know. Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring Dana back and David Gergen back as well.

Dana, you heard Representative Adam Schiff said that Representative Paul Gosar has no business being in Congress. In any other setting, if he worked anywhere and he said, did these kind of things against fellow employees, wouldn't someone like that actually be fired for pushing a video that extreme?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, of course, and doing it in the context of what we know actually did factually happen to members of Congress and to our democracy on January 6th.

It's even more unbelievable and it really does relate to what happened tonight where I am in New Hampshire where Liz Cheney spoke because she talked about her own Republican leaders being hostage to the lies that are pushed by Donald Trump.

This is not related specifically to Donald Trump, but it's all part of the same idea. She's saying Republican Party needs to stand up for truth and for values, conservative values. And the question is, whether there's a lane for that in the Republican Party.

Now, she's testing that here in New Hampshire, but one of the answers might be given to us by what is not happening right now in Washington, at least so far, with the Gosar situation.

BLITZER: Yes. It's really disgusting, that video, and we'll see if the Republican leadership does anything at all.

You know, David, you worked what for multiple presidents, including several Republicans presidents. Did you ever think you'd see Republicans attacked for simply voting for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate with the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, 19 Republicans in the Senate voting in favor of that infrastructure bill?

GERGEN: Wolf, it was progress that we got some Republicans to vote for something that the Democrats were sponsoring. And, look, it had the scent of bipartisanship and that's to be encouraged. And instead, the Republican Party is turning its back on them trying to strip those people, like an Adam Kinzinger, who had been such a -- you know it had been so pleasurable to see him to step forward because he gives you some hope for the future. But now they're trying to toss him out too.

And it is -- again, I go back to the sadness question because I think we really need a center right party in this country just as we need a center left party. And when you go to the extremes the way Republican Party is now doing, it's -- (INAUDIBLE) carry on it, you know, what was once a very honorable party.

BLITZER: All right, David, thank you very much. Dana, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, prosecutors now wrap up their case against Kyle Rittenhouse, the young man charged with killing two people during the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Also ahead, stand by for an update on the Astroworld concert disaster in Houston. Were getting emotional new reaction from the families of victims as lawsuits against the organizers begin pile up.



BLITZER: The very closely watched trial of Kyle Rittenhouse is now entering a new stage. He's the young man charged with shooting and killing two police -- two people, I should say, and injuring a third during protest that broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake who was left paralyzed.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has the latest.


OMAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With one phase of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial over, the next phase moves forward as the defense begins its case, starting with those who were with Rittenhouse on August 25th, 2020, before and after his shootings that night following heavy protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

NICHOLAS SMITH, DEFENSE WITNESS: He repeats, I just shot someone over and over. And I believe at some point, he said he had to shoot someone. I tell him to walk outside and turn himself in. He had said, I had to, I had to shoot someone.

JIMENEZ: The next witness said Rittenhouse even personally reflected on what just happened.

COREY CHIRAFISI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Do you recall him saying anything?

JOANN FIELDER, DEFENSE WITNESS: He's pulling back really hard and just comment was, my God, my life might be over.

CHIRAFISI: Did Kyle respond to anything that was said?



CHIRAFISI: What was that?

FIELDER: That was that he had to.

JIMENEZ: It was in these moments that Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, the first of two killed that night, and it was those moments that were a large focus at the end of the prosecution's case. Rosenbaum was shot four times, one is in the left thigh, one is in the hand, he suffered a graze wound to his head and then shot in the back, the lethal shot.

DR. DOUGLAS KELLEY, MILWAUKEE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICER: Gunshot wound is the one that would cause death as a result of the injuries to the lungs and the liver with the hemorrhage and the injury to the organs themselves.

JIMENEZ: The doctor's testimony came with graphic pictures, especially of the gunshot wound to the head and back of Rosenbaum. All the while, Rittenhouse appeared to be visibly shaken, at times averting his eyes similar to what many jurors were doing as well. Prosecutors focused on when Rittenhouse fired the four gunshot that Rosenbaum and from what position.

JAMES KRAUS, KENOSHA COUNTY, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The first were while Mr. Rosenbaum is facing Mr. Rittenhouse.


KRAUS: And you said that at least one of those was intermediate out to four feet away.


JIMENEZ: Then came the graze wound to the head and the shot to the back.

KRAUS: And is it your opinion to reasonable of your medical certainty that the back to front shots to the head and then the kill shot to the back would have been while he was falling or perpendicular to the ground?

KELLEY: The only way that the trajectories of the gunshot wounds to the right side of the head and the back make sense is if he was more horizontal to the ground and that is occurring at the time that the last two gunshot wounds are heard on the video.

JIMENEZ: The defense wanted to underscore how fast this deadly interaction occurred. MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The fourth shot is 76 hundredths of a seconds after that. That is how fast the four shots were fired out of my client's gun and he goes from the furthest four feet to touching the gun, correct?


RICHARDS: So if I was charging like a bull and diving, that would be consistent.

KELLEY: It would be.

JIMENEZ: At one point, the rifle used by Rittenhouse that day was displayed in court to give jury jurors a better idea of the positioning of the rifle as this unfolded. But prosecutors went back to the first two shot, implying any diving or falling motion from the first shot to the thigh up through the hip wasn't voluntary.

KRAUS: The injuries you noted, they'd also be consistent with falling after being struck in the hip?



JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, that doctor was the last of the 22 total witnesses called by the prosecution. Right as they were resting their case though, the judge dismissed charge number seven against Kyle Rittenhouse. That is a curfew citation charge. He still faces five felonies for including homicide and reckless endangerment along with the misdemeanor of being underage with a weapon. He's pleaded not guilty to all of those.

But now we are headed into day seven of testimony in this trail, day two for the defense. After the defense finishes at some point, it will then be left with the jury more than a year after these shootings first took place here in Kenosha. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Omar, thank you very much, Omar Jimenez reporting on this trial.

Let's get some more right now. Joining us, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan.

Laura, the prosecution has now rested its case. Did they do what they needed to do to get a guilty verdict?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's a great question because at times, you had some of the prosecution's witness that was actually helping the burden of proof to be established, that this was somebody who was engaged in criminal behavior, not acting in self-defense. Then you also had some of those same government witnesses who were providing information that could lead a juror to potentially say that this person, the defendant, was acting with the perception that he would kill or be killed. And so you've got this sort of conflict happening overall. But, overall, the prosecution through all of their witnesses established that there was evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse acted in a manner by virtue of being there, protecting property, of course, the idea of trying to protect property that is not a threat to you in some way, you don't just get to protect property and kill people, you can't engage in that sort of behavior. The idea of whether it was reasonable for him to proceed, that it was kill or be killed, they made a strong case about that very issue.

But there's still the notion that you had at least the surviving victim who was shot but did not die say that he had a gun, he was, in fact, armed, but he believed that the defendant did not accept his surrender. That's going to be a point of contention that the defense will likely exploit in their case.

BLITZER: There apparently, Paul, were sometimes where it seemed like witnesses for the prosecution actually made statements that could be helpful to the defense. Did they unintentionally make the defense's job at least a bit easier?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they did, Wolf.


And I have to say that's not unusual in cases like this where self- defense is the big issue. And remember, they called 22 witnesses. And human beings see things in slightly different ways and prosecutors will say to the jury later on that this is an indication that they were telling the truth, if there were some inconsistencies that helped the defendant.

But when I look at the fact pattern, I'm thinking back to when I was trying one of my first self-defense cases as a young prosecutor in Brooklyn. And it was a murder case involving somebody who used a gun to kill somebody else. And all the prosecutors said to me, hey, the street rule says you don't bring a gun to a knife fight.

Well, in this case, Kyle Rittenhouse brought an AR-15 assault rifle and one of his victims was armed with a skateboard. So, I can tell you, you don't bring an AR-15 to a skateboard fight. And I think in the end, the jury is going to look at that and they're going to look at a second thing, also. What's he doing here in Kenosha, Wisconsin? He's from Illinois. And he comes across here and he's looking for trouble, I think.

And I think that jury is going to get a sense of that, that these -- a lot of these people would still be alive today if he had remained in Illinois and let law enforcement people handle the situation.

So, in the end, I think we're probably going to see a mixed bag here in terms of convictions, but I think we will see a conviction.

BLITZER: Laura, should Rittenhouse take the stand?

COATES: I think it's really incumbent on him to do so because he's going to be in a position to talk about and really be able to convey to a jury if there, in fact, was a reason he could feel threatened. Now, of course, it's always very dangerous to have a defendant take the stand. They are unpredictable and a very successful cross could completely unpack any of his defenses in a way he could not recover from. So it's going to be a tactical decision tonight, but I do expect him to testify in this trial.

BLITZER: We shall see. All right, Laura Coates, Paul Callan, guys thank you very much.

Just ahead, Aaron Rodgers gives a halfhearted explanation for his misleading comments about refusing the COVID vaccine. But he still won't apologize or correct the record. Stand by.



BLITZER: Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is changing his tone after brazenly misleading people about his COVID vaccination status. Rodgers returned to the radio show where his comments the other day sparked a firestorm to claim he now takes responsibility for his words while standing by his decision to not get vaccinated.


AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK: You know, I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading. And, you know, to anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments.

I'm an athlete. I'm not an activist. So I'm going to get back at doing what I do best, and that's playing ball. Like I shared my opinion, it wasn't one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study. And what I felt like was in my best interest for my body.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our Chief Medical Analyst, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay is also out with a very important new book, I will show the book cover World War C, Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One. Sanjay's our Chief Medical Correspondent, I should correct myself.

You know, Aaron Rodgers did absolutely nothing to correct the record in this new interview. How incredibly irresponsible is this, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very irresponsible, unfortunately, because he gives a lot of voice, either intentionally or not, to the anti-vaccine movement at a time when we're still in the middle of a pandemic where over 1,000 people are still dying of this disease.

I should point out that 94 percent, more than that, of NFL players are vaccinated, 100 percent of staff, vaccinated. So, you know, when we hear these stories, sometimes it becomes sort of like, you know, half and half. It's not. The vast majority of people in the NFL are vaccinated.

I think what he seemed to say, and this was I think the biggest error, was that he wasn't honest about the fact that he hadn't been vaccinated and he potentially put other people at risk. He seemed to say that he had natural immunity, which can be a thing. It can be protective. But the problem is, first of all, we don't know how long that lasts. We don't know when he exactly got COVID. If he didn't have the delta variant, he may not have had protection against delta. There's all these considerations, you know, that's why you have to be honest about these things and not put other people at risk.

That's the really disheartening part. Is the other people around him that trusted him and may have actually been exposed as a result of this.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really so, so bad. You know, Aaron Rodgers also is still saying he came to his conclusions by when he said he was talking to his doctors. But would any kind of credible, serious doctor actually give a patient that kind of advice?

GUPTA: I don't think so. I don't know what his doctor specific told him versus what he said he was getting from other people, guidance he was getting from others. It's not clear.

Now, one thing I think at some point he mentioned an allergy to the vaccine, and that's a possibility. There is a component known as polyethylene glycol which some people rarely have an allergy to with the mRNA vaccine. But that's why people will then be counseled to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for example. He talked about fertility. This has been a rumor that started almost as soon as the vaccines were released. It's not true. It does not affect fertility, simple as that.

So, Ivermectin or something that he talked about, again, there's been a lot of enthusiasm around Ivermectin, but there's not data to show that it works. That's the problem. The thing that becomes confounding is that vaccines have a ton of data. Tens of thousands of people have been studied. Billions of shots have been given around the world.


Ivermectin does not have any of that data. Why would you choose one or the other? I don't think you know most doctor I know would recommend that.

BLITZER: Yeah. I think you're right.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as usual, thank you very much.

Coming up, President Biden weighs new steps right now to try to tackle soaring gas prices even as experts warn there's little he can do to bring them down. We'll have more on that right after a quick break.


BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is trying to get a handle on the growing supply chain crisis. The White House says the president just spoke with the CEOs from Walmart, UPS, FedEx, and Target about the situation now threatening to cause major disruption just ahead of the holidays.


This, as the Biden administration is scrambling for solutions to one of his biggest, biggest political liabilities, soaring gas prices here in the U.S.

Our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, has more.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, high gas prices and few solutions.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We are looking at all the tools in our arsenal.

COLLINS: According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas, now $3.42 compared to $2.11 a year ago, increasing pressure on the White House, as 53 million people prepare to travel for Thanksgiving. But like presidents who came before him, Joe Biden has few options when it comes to combating high fuel prices.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Every president is frustrated because they can't control the price of gasoline because it's a global market.

COLLINS: The group of oil-producing nations known as OPEC, rebuffing Biden's calls for them to pump more oil.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are going to pump some more oil. Whether they pump enough oil is a different thing.

GRANHOLM: Oil a global market. It is controlled by a cartel. That cartel is called OPEC.

COLLINS: The president, also, considering tapping the strategic petroleum reserve, though industry experts have warned that would do little to alleviate the problem.

GRANHOLM: The president is looking at all the tools he has.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": What about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?

GRANOLM: That is one of the tools he has, and he's certainly looking at that.

GRANHOLM: Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats are calling on Biden to consider all the tools available at your disposal, even the extreme step of banning American oil exports, which Goldman Sachs warned would be counterproductive, and could actually raise prices.

A new forecast from the federal government predicts that Brent crude, the international oil price benchmark, will remain near current levels for the rest of 2021, before eventually dropping next year.

As Biden gets the blame for people paying more for everything from groceries to gasoline --

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): How many of you have been to the grocery store lately and noticed what's going on here?

COLLINS: The White House offering few specifics on what's next.

Is that because he feels that his hands are tied when it comes to what he can actually do to try to combat high gas prices?

JEAN-PIERRE: I wouldn't read -- read it that way. We just don't have anything right now to -- to announce.


COLLINS (on camera): And, Wolf, we will see President Biden on the road tomorrow in Baltimore. He is going to the port of Baltimore to sell this infrastructure bill even though he hasn't signed it yet and is expect today do so next week.

And, Wolf, he is also going to talk about steps their taking to try to alleviate this gridlock in the supply chain.

BLITZER: Lots of gridlock.

All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. Kaitlan Collins reporting from the White House.

Coming up. The brother of an Astroworld concert victim says festival organizers have, quote, blood on their hands. We have new details on the investigation and the growing lawsuits.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: New developments tonight in the deadly crowd surge at that Houston music festival where the rapper Travis Scott was performing.

CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, is in Houston for us tonight.

Josh, there have been, what, at least 18 lawsuits already filed. Give us the latest on the investigation.

JOSH CAMBPELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Several lawsuits and among the defendants, they include rapper Travis Scott, as well as concert organizer Live Nation. They have been accused of negligence.

CNN has reached out to both for comment. We have not, yet, received responses. However, we are learning new information from the "Wall Street Journal" that one item investigators are looking at is the possibility that some of those concertgoers may have suffered illness after consuming drugs laced with fentanyl.

Now, the fire chief was on CNN today. He said that it's too soon to draw any conclusions there. That remains under investigation.

Wolf, we are also hearing from family members of those victims. They are obviously in mourning. The family members of one of those victims, Danish Baig, was on CNN today with very powerful comments. Take a listen.


BASIL BAIG, DANISH BAIG'S BROTHER: I just want everyone to know that people who lost their lives shouldn't have lost their lives in this festival. All the parties that were -- that set up this event should be held accountable. It's just justice for them, justice for Danish, justice for the victims, and justice for the families. That's what we want.

And in terms of that, if that means rules and regulations need to be changed, how they do things, how they act, and how they make these events, they need to do something about it. They have blood on their hands.


CAMPBELL: Now, Wolf, this is obviously a tragic story all around. Sadly, some heartbreaking news into THE SITUATION ROOM. We are learning that among those victims that are still in the hospital, they include a 9-year-old boy who's been placed in a medically-induced coma. As doctors treat him for possible brain injury, Wolf.

BLITZER: What are the police saying, josh?

CAMPBELL: Wolf, it's been radio silence from the Houston police department. We have asked many questions, even basic questions like process. You know, what are you doing? How are you going about your investigation?

They have essentially directed us to their twitter feed but this is obviously a community that is demanding answers not only those eight victims those who died, their family members, their loved ones but also the many injured. Many questions still remain here. They want answers police -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Josh, thank you very much. Josh Campbell in Houston for us.

Finally tonight, we mark the passing of former-veteran affairs administrator, the former-U.S. senator, Max Cleland. President Biden is remembering Cleland as an American hero and a decorated war veteran who turned pain into purpose after he lost his legs and right arm to a hand grenade in Vietnam.

The Georgia Democrat was 79 years old. He was a great American and a wonderful patriot.

May he rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.