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Minimum Wage Increase to be Taken Out of COVID Bill; Interview with Leader of Far-Right "Proud Boys" Group; Proud Boys Leader is Close to Trump Confidant Roger Stone; Dow Sinks 559 Points as Bond Yields Keep Rising; Prince Harry: Toxic Media was Destroying My Mental Health. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 26, 2021 - 04:30   ET



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: In thinking that Biden's going to be soft. And this action will very much show that he is going to be tough where he sees he needs to be tough.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. All right. Thank you so much for that analysis. Nic Robertson in London.

The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled against including an increase in the U.S. federal minimum wage in the COVID relief bill. The Parliamentarian ruled that the hike to $15 per hour didn't meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward. The White House said President Biden was disappointed with the decision but respected it.

Joining me is Ken Jacobs, the chair of University of California Berkeley Labor Center. Thank you so much for joining us here. So right off the bat, what do make of the ruling? Are you surprised, disappointed?

KEN JACOBS, CHAIR, UC BERKELEY LABOR CENTER: Definitely disappointed. Always knew this was going to be a little bit of a long shot but the minimum wage clearly does have major effects on the federal budget in a myriad of ways. And so, there was a good argument to be made that it should have been allowed in through the budget reconciliation. Which of course, would then allow the Democrats to pass it the 51 majority vote.

BRUNHUBER: Getting away from the politics of it, let's say on the merits, why should the minimum wage have been hiked up at a time when, you know, businesses are under such strain?

JACOBS: Well, the minimum wage in the United States has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009. That's the longest period we've gone without an increase since Congress passed the fair labor standards act since 1938. And the minimum wage for tipped workers is only $2.13 an hour where it's been since 1991, 30 years ago. So a $15 minimum wage would raise wages for nearly 32 million people. One in five workers, all 1/3 of black workers and 1/4 of all Latino workers. BRUNHUBER: On the other side, the most frequent argument against it

made by many Republicans and many business leaders, it will cost jobs and the Congressional budget office says it could cost some 1.4 million jobs. That's especially worrying for many small business owners. So what have you learned from the California experience where you are which has been phasing in a $15 minimum wage for large employers and $13 for smaller companies?

JACOBS: California's minimum wage will reach $15 for all employers in a couple of years. And it already is 15 in some of our larger cities. And there's been a wide range of research on minimum wage effects over the last two decades, especially in recent years. And what that research has found is that minimum wage laws do what they're supposed to do. They increase wages and earnings for low wage workers without having measurable effects on employment. And in this case the CBO usually does very good work. In this case I think they're just at odds with the empirical literature.

BRUNHUBER: But some of that literature does suggest that, you know, businesses, many restaurants, for instance, ones that are struggling, this pushes them over the edge, right?

JACOBS: The original minimum wage was passed in the United States in 1938 in the midst of the great depression because what policy makers and economists understood at the time was for businesses to grow and for small businesses to grow, they need consumers. People and low wage workers spend their money, and they tend to spend it in the local economy. So the evidence here is that minimum wages work to reduce turnover. They work to improve workers' wages. There are positive effects on productivity and overall we're just not seeing those negative effects on employment.

BRUNHUBER: So let me jump in and turn this to the future since, you know, any increase in the minimum wage now would need bipartisan support. Democrats will have to compromise. So what's the most important thing here to salvage? Is it that it's a national increase that applies everywhere even though there are, you know, regional differences maybe that should be taken into consideration or is it the amount that should be as high as possible or do they have to compromise on that? There have been some Republican proposals that it should be lower.

JACOBS: Well, we need a much higher national floor, and at $15 by 2025 is a reasonable proposal and a reasonable wage to get there. And so, I think that the key thing right now is to go as far as they can in raising the minimum wage. $15 minimum wage has incredibly broad popular support.


Raising the minimum wage is, in terms of the voters, it's a bipartisan issue. You've got over 80 percent of voters support raising the minimum wage and that's strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents. In fact, in the last election a $15 minimum wage was on the ballot in Florida, a state Trump won, and it won with 60 percent of the vote. This is a place that the voters have really been very clear on and where Congress should act.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for joining us today, Ken Jacobs, really appreciate it.

JACOBS: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, CNN's exclusive interview with the leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys. His reaction to the Capitol riots and much more. Stay with CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: A disturbing warning from the acting chief of U.S. Capitol Police. She says right-wing extremists want to be to, quote, blow up the Capitol building, unquote, during the state of the union address. The extraordinary statement came during a hearing about security failures on January 6th. Several members of the right-wind extremist group the Proud Boys have been arrested for their involvement on that day. The often violent all male group describes itself as western chauvinists and its leaders spoke exclusively with our Sara Sidner.


ENRIQUE TARRIO, CHAIRMAN, PROUD BOYS: I'm not going to cry about a group of people that don't give a crap about their constituents. I'm not going to -- I'm not going to sympathize with them.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The leader of the Proud Boys is talking about the Members of Congress who feared for their lives on January 6th, as a mob attacks the Capitol.

TARRIO: It shouldn't have reached the Capitol with violence.


SIDNER (voice-over): He says that now. But the day after the violent breach, Enrique Tarrio posted this, a picture on social media of Members of Congress trying to hide as the attackers began their siege.

SIDNER: You write, when the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. Doesn't that show that you are celebrating terrorizing people?

TARRIO: I was celebrating, and I'll tell you, I'll celebrate the moment that the government does fear the people. At that point, again, and I didn't have all the information that came in why they were cowering or anything like that.

SIDNER: Do you say --

TARRIO: But I think --

SIDNER: -- that you didn't do that now that, you know what happened.

TARRIO: No, I don't -- another thing is I will never regret something that I said. SIDNER: They are doing the job that the people put them there to do, and if they don't like it, they can vote them out. They are still Americans. They are still human beings who felt that their lives were in danger. How can you not feel any sympathy or any empathy towards them like that?

TARRIO: I'm not going to worry about people that their only worry in life is to be reelected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a whole boatload of Proud Boys walking through here, folks.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tarrio was not there on January 6th, he was arrested in D.C. two days before for burning a Black Lives Matter flag stolen from a church and having empty weapons magazines that are illegal in D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're walking with the Proud Boys to the State Capitol.

SIDNER (voice-over): But a group of Proud Boys was there. The far- right group is known across the country for brawling with members of Antifa, a left-wing anti-fascist movement.

They are also known for throwing their support behind Donald Trump, whose words to them in a September presidential debate exploded their popularity.


TARRIO: I think we've doubled in numbers since the debate.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tarrio has close ties with one of Trump's longest serving advisors and friends, Roger Stone.

Stone was in D.C. on January 6th as people rallied against the election results that showed Trump lost. Stone did not march to the Capitol and then wasn't charged with a crime. Instead, Stone was seen with members of extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who have now become a central focus of law enforcement in the Capitol attack investigation.

Tarrio had such a close relationship with Roger Stone, he revealed this.

SIDNER: You have access to Roger Stone's phone?

TARRIO: Well for a couple of times when I went to go see him. You know, I'd help him with like his social media posts and things like that.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tarrio's access to that phone landed him in front of a federal grand jury, a detail not revealed until now. At the time, Stone was facing seven charges in a Russia probe, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Trump pardoned him after he was convicted on all seven charges.

During his trial, Stone was accused of threatening the judge in the case with a social media post, an image of the judge and what appeared to be a target behind her head.

TARRIO: Actually, I testified in front of the grand jury. But no, there was no -- that picture was brought up on a Google search. Right? So, you used to be able to search. Not now, obviously because so much has happened.

SIDNER: Wait, wait. Back up, back up. Let's just settle though what you said. Did you just say you were on a grand jury panel?


SIDNER: You did.

TARRIO: I did.

SIDNER: It's too late to take it back now.

TARRIO: Well, yes, that's -- I mean, that's the story. It's not a secret. That's the story that came out that, you know, that -- they wanted to see if -- who was it that posted it at that point?

The actual crosshairs isn't really a crosshair, it's a logo of the organization that wrote the article. So it was just like a graphic. And then that was posted. I have no idea who actually posted it, but I know that I had nothing to do with it.

SIDNER (voice-over): Stone is one of the architects of the Stop the Steal rallying cry, but Tarrio does not buy into the lie that the election was stolen. He says he just wants more transparency.

SIDNER: Do you believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump?

TARRIO: No, I don't. I don't believe that the election was stolen.

SIDNER (voice-over): And yet, he encouraged his Proud Boys to show up on January 6th in record numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's all the Proud Boys today.

SIDNER (voice-over): A group of them did show up. Here they are marching together towards the Capitol. At least eight Proud Boys Tarrio knows had been charged in the Capitol siege.

This is one of them using a police officers' shield to bust out a window in the Capitol, allowing people to flood in.

TARRIO: I condemn the actions. I don't think that he should have done that. I think it was completely wrong.

But the other seven individuals were trespassing. I think that they got caught up with the entire -- with like the entire crowd, and they made a poor decision to go in there.

SIDNER: Members of the Proud Boys didn't appear to just be getting caught up in this. Some of them were leading this attack.

You had people removing barriers who were Proud Boys. You had someone threatening an officer breaking the Capitol window.


They weren't just following in this insurrection. It appears that some of them were leading the charge.

TARRIO: No, those three accusations, I do want to touch on those. The breaking of the window, we've already hit.

SIDNER: You think that's wrong?

TARRIO: Yes, definitely. Unequivocally, I think that's wrong, but the threatening of police officers, I didn't -- I didn't see that.

SIDNER: The feds have. They have video of William Chrestman yelling, "You shoot, and I'll take your [bleep] ass out."

TARRIO: As of right now, I can't tell you about Chrestman because I can't locate who he's affiliated with. Like if he's even a Proud Boy.

SIDNER (voice-over): Chrestman's defense attorney said he was just following Trump's orders that day. But Tarrio says some of his Proud Boys who did breach the Capitol are unfairly being charged with conspiracy.

SIDNER: Did the Proud Boys have a plan to go --

TARRIO: Into the Capitol?

SIDNER: Into the Capitol.

TARRIO: Absolutely not.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tarrio put some of the blame for what happened on January 6th on police for being unprepared to thwart the mob, and he claims some of the Proud Boys simply walked in to record history.

TARRIO: There's nobody that told them -- that stopped them from going in. you feel like it's something that's wrong that you shouldn't do.

SIDNER: But are you blaming the police for telling people not to break the law?

TARRIO: No, I'm not blaming the cops at all.

SIDNER: So what are you saying?

TARRIO: Now, I can blame -- I can blame the police officers and the feds for their inability to respond to this. So was it a mistake to even go into the Capitol? SIDNER: Was it?


SIDNER: Do you condemn those people? Can you say that right now?

TARRIO: OK, I can't say that.


TARRIO: Because I think condemn is a very strong word, and I think it's a little bit too strong.

SIDNER (voice-over): He thinks the F.B.I. is trying to make an example of the Proud Boys. But Tarrio also has a history with the F.B.I. after being sentenced to Federal Prison for fraud in 2012.

SIDNER: Were you ever an informant for the F.B.I.?

TARRIO: I was, to put it simply, I was put in a very tough situation where the Federal government had wanted me to testify against my brothers.

SIDNER (voice-over): He said, he refused. And instead, his defense attorney said Tarrio cooperated with the F.B.I. and other law enforcement on many cases. One involving prescription drugs, another a marijuana raid, an illegal gambling bust and more. But Tarrio would only admit to cooperating on one case.

TARRIO: The only thing that I actually gave them was the human trafficking ring. And again, I'm not going to apologize for it.

SIDNER (voice-over): What is next for the Proud Boys and the country? Tarrio has already made a plan.

TARIO: I think right now is the time to go ahead and overthrow the government by becoming the new government and running for office.

SIDNER: Henry Enrique Tario says that he himself is looking at potentially running for office. He says he may even step down as chairman of the Proud Boys to concentrate on that and help others with like minds do the same.


BRUNHUBER: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, U.S. financial markets ended Thursday very much in the red. We'll tell you what's been happening with the volatile Wall Street. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Well it was another rough day for the U.S. markets. The Dow fell 559 points on Thursday, this one day after setting a new all-time high. And stock in video game retailer GameStop was on another roller coaster ride. CNN's emerging markets editor John Defterios is following this from Abu Dhabi. So John, what the heck is going on here?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: That's a good way of putting it here, Kim. I tell you, everyone thought it was a one-way bet unless you were trying to get into this market in the last 24 hours and it went south at a very big way. The best way to explain it, is three forces at play right now, which is very difficult because we saw the ten-year bond or U.S. interest rates go up 1.6 percent. Their recovering a little bit but they rose on the fears of inflation and this $1.9 trillion stimulus package which has a House vote today and Senate vote next week. So a lot of concerns about that.

And then as you suggested, GameStop is basically the brand for the posse of day traders that have been driving stocks up and down. We had a swing of 160 percent for GameStop alone yesterday. So market strategists are suggesting on Wall Street that the bubbles are forming and it's a signal to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Let's take a listen.


DAVID KELLY, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST JP MORGAN: I think it should send a message to the Federal Reserve. There is a price for having easing liquidity and very low interest rate forever. Because it is fueling some bubbles in different areas. You know, I think for long-term investors you've got to realize you've your Vegas money and you've got your long-term investment money. And your long-term investment money should not be put into things that do not make fundamental sense.


DEFTERIOS (on camera): And that's the challenge right now. Because there's speculation that is rampant globally. Let's take a look at what happened in Asia, Kim, which took it right on the chin. We had Tokyo down nearly 4 percent. Hong Kong down at its low for the session, 3.6 percent. Shanghai down better than 2 percent. And you see the performance there for Seoul. That's the market that was up for 45 percent in the last year.

Bitcoin's facing some selling pressure but it's off its lows for the day down 3.4 percent at 46,500. It was down 6 percent earlier in the session. But if you were looking for a silver lining right now, that's U.S. futures. Trading just above the line. And we have European markets just below the line because the 10-year yield in the United States is recovering and the interest rate is falling and that may allow a smoother finish to the week after the last 24 hours -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we can use that for sure. Thank you so much, John Defterios in Abu Dhabi.


Well, Los Angeles police have released new surveillance video showing the moment Lady Gaga's dog walker was shot and two of her dogs stolen. And a warning here, you may find the video disturbing. Now this happened on Wednesday night. Two individuals drove up and attacked the dog walker opening fire as he screamed and then left with the singer's French bulldogs. Police say the victim is in critical condition. Lady Gaga has offered a $500,000 reward for her pets with no questions asked.

Britain's Prince Harry is opening up about his very public retreat from royal life. The Duke of Sussex appeared Thursday on James Corden's late night TV show. And among other things they took a bus tour of Los Angeles. Harry tells Corden the toxic attention he and his family received from the media was a critical factor in stepping back from his official royal duties.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I was never walking away. It was stepping back rather than stepping down.


PRINCE HARRY: You know, it was a really difficult environment as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like and it was destroying my mental health.

CORDEN: Really?

PRINCE HARRY: I was like, this is toxic.


PRINCE HARRY: So I did what any husband and what any father would do is like I need to get my family out of here.


BRUNHUBER: Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "EARLY START" is next.