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GOP Launches Stunts as Senate Advances COVID Relief Bill; Female Riot Suspect Asks for Less Restrictive Conditions in Jail; Fox Resorts to Culture War Menu after Host Vowed No More Junk Food. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 5, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: From time to time, we'll step back and go through the numbers and try to give you the real perspective. Priscilla, I'm grateful for that.

And thank you, grateful for your time today. Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics. I hope to see you back here on Monday. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good afternoon.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

The Senate has ground to a snail's pace even as Americans are struggling to survive the pandemic, Republicans using everything in their legislative toolbox to slow the vote on the president's coronavirus relief package. Senate floor staff spent ten hours and 45 minutes reading out loud the entire 628-page bill at the demand of Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who left early, unlike the four staff who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked them and responded to the efforts by Republicans to slow the bill.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Senate is going to take a lot of votes, but we are going to power through and finish this bill however long it takes. The American people are counting on us and our nation depends on it.

I want to thank everyone, everyone, on the floor staff who worked late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning to finish reading the Senate amendment to the American rescue plan.

I'm sure you all didn't expect that part of your job this week would entail standing on your feet and reading dense legislative language for more than ten hours straight.

And as for our friend from Wisconsin, I hope he enjoyed his Thursday evening.


KEILAR: CNN Correspondent Jessica Dean is covering this on the Hill for us. This vote-a-rama has begun, Jessica. Explain what this is and why this could last for days.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brianna, this could stretch out for a very, very long time. Vote-a-rama simply means that any senator can bring an amendment to the floor and vote on it, and call a vote for it. So this could stretch on as long as Senators are willing to keep voting and as long as they have the stamina to get through it.

So you can see how this kind of complicated the timeline because we don't really know how long that could go on. To give you an example, Senator Bernie Sanders was the first to bring an amendment to the floor. It was a $15 per hour minimum wage. However, that was removed from the original House bill that came over to the Senate by the parliamentarian ruling that that was not able to be in. He pushed for it to be included and also raised not just a $15 minimum wage for hourly employees but also for tipped employees as well.

Now, eight Democrats voted against that, so it did not have the votes to pass, it was not expected to pass. But what's important about this is this has now stretched on that vote for 100-some minutes and it was supposed to be taking about 30 minutes or so. So it's possible that, you know, this could go on for a very, very long time.

As we look ahead, the challenge for Democrats, President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer both pleading with them to not join any amendments to keep this solidly Republican versus Democrat in all of this. Republicans, of course, hoping to make Democrats take tough votes on this, take tough votes on immigration, on energy and really, of course, also draw out the process and perhaps, again, pick off some moderate Democrats when it comes to some of these amendments.

But, again, Brianna, it's anybody's guess at this point how long this could go on. In the end, this $1.9 trillion bill is expected to pass, but it could be a while before we get to that point.

KEILAR: Yes, there could be some pain. All right, Jessica Dean on the Hill for us, thank you.

Senate Republicans have intensified their objections for the president's relief plan, but there is a problem with their attack strategy. They don't have the facts straight.

CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon is here thoug to sort that out for us.

John, the GOP is arguing that there is nothing in the bill for schools. Fact check that for us.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That is false. In fact, there is $130 billion set aside for schools, which, last I checked, is far more than nothing. Around 6 billion of that will be spent in this calendar year but it would go to things like improving school ventilation, reducing class size, increase PPE, all directly related to opening schools as fast as possible consistent with safety.

KEILAR: And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed on Tuesday that about 9percent of the money in the bill is in the health care space, is that right?

AVLON: That is broadly right. McConnell has got a point here. You know, the money that is going to health care is wide-reaching. However, it's going to dramatically expand testing and contact tracing, which has not been adequately funded in the past, improve vaccination and accelerate that further.

But the bulk of the money in this bill is going to things like individual stimulus checks, unemployment relief and relief for state and local governments. That's where the bulk of the money is going. But, obviously, all these things have been impacted, the larger economy has been impacted by the COVID crisis.


And that's what much of this money seeks to deal with in the recovery act.

KEILAR: The GOP is also claiming that the bill is full of partisan projects, like funds for BART, which is in Northern California, the San Francisco area, the Bay Area Rapid Transit line. Is it?

AVLON: Not anymore, specifically with regards to the Bay Area Transit line. That was removed from the bill, as was a bridge in Upstate New York. Some rapid transportation remains for the airport and Amtrak. The argument being that a lot of these places have seen decreased revenues due to decreased travel over the last year. But some of the baubles that Republicans have tried to make a part as an issue are no longer in this version of the bill.

KEILAR: All right. John, thank you so much for taking us through that, John Avlon.

Several states have been quick to reopen their economies and end mask mandates even as the majority of the country remains unvaccinated and COVID case numbers have stopped falling, plateauing at a dangerously high level.

But a CDC study says, and this is one that was just released today, it said states that actually kept mask mandates and other safety restrictions had fewer cases and deaths. Rates ticked up where people were allowed to eat inside restaurants and enter retail businesses, which is why many are hammering places like Texas. Its restrictions end next week, and it will become the most populist state that does not have a mask mandate any longer. Residents are calling this a slap in the face.

Delia Ramos lives in Brownsville. She lost her husband, Ricardo, to the coronavirus last year. Delia, I know it has been such a tough year for you, and I thank you so much for coming on to talk with us in the middle of it, still.

What is your view knowing what you have lost and what so many people have lost to see the state reopening fully without a mask mandate?

DELIA RAMOS, LOST HUSBAND TO CORONAVIRUS, DISAGREES WITH TEXAS LIFTING MASK MANDATE: Thank you so much, Ms. Brianna, first of all, taking the time to reach out to so many of us that, as you mentioned before, have experienced such a heavy loss.

When I came upon the governor's mandate, it was actually through a Facebook post. And at the first moment I saw it, I was kind of actually shocked. And as I was trying to read through it, the next two posts after that were our actually community members asking for prayers for local educators that were fighting COVID in the ICU. So just the vast contrast of those two posts and those two stories within my small community was enough to really turn that shock into a little bit of anger.

I'm an educator, and believe me, all educators across the state, especially in Nevada (ph), we want to serve our students. we want to educate them, we want them to come back. We want businesses to open up. We don't want anybody to be experiencing financial hardships. That is not our goal here, but there is a way and a manner to go about that that is responsibly that is still giving the virus the respect it deserves.

I mean, there are nurses and doctors who are fully exhausted, working 24-hour shifts, just so that, you mentioned earlier, just so the numbers can plateau.

Now, I don't understand, and what so many don't understand is why change the mandate, why remove the masks right now, why, when we're barely hitting the point where people can actually get tested within a reasonable amount of time, when we're actually reaching a point where people that are infected and reach at a severe level can actually go to the hospital and get treated. Why are we removing them right now?

My children and myself have experienced, as you mentioned, tremendous, tremendous loss. What we're trying to avoid is for others to experience that loss. I don't want other children in my community growing up without a father the way my children have to now. And so that's why we question why that something is so important that it's a community responsibility all of a sudden now turned to an individual responsibility.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about that. You say you're going to wear your mask with honor. You have a very clear perspective honoring your late husband and people who you do not want to succumb to COVID like he did.

RAMOS: Exactly.

KEILAR: You're talking about the personal responsibility element of this. The governor's office said, removing the mandate does not absolve people from that personal responsibility. Do you think that people are going to do the right thing on their own? RAMOS: I hope and I pray that they do, because everybody, in one way or another, has been affected by this virus, whether it be the loss of a spouse or immediate family, whether it be a loss of a friend, whether it be loss of employment, of financial stability. I know that everyone across the board has experienced some kind of loss or some kind of trauma due to COVID.

And the only way that I feel that we can get Texas a fighting chance is for us to continue to wear masks. Yes, open up businesses. I understand that. I know that we need to take responsibility and help our fellow Texans in that aspect. But if we're going to shop with you, if we're going to support your business, support our life, support our safety, wear a mask and wear it with honor.


Because you're providing and you're protecting your community members, your family members, something as simple as a mask can truly help.

If we expect our doctors to operate on us hours at a time with a mask for our safety, the least that we can do for our health community is wear the mask to prevent an overload on their part.

And you're right, I do wear it with honor. In regards and remembrance of my husband, in regard and remembrance of how I got COVID and I was able to live through and in remembrance of all the people that were not able make it through.

KEILAR: Delia, how have you been doing? It has been several months since you lost your husband, Ricardo. I know this has been the hardest year of your life. Tell us about what it has been like to go through this and also looking around and seeing so many other people who are too.

RAMOS: Yesterday was actually eight months since we lost my husband, and it has been very traumatic. Many people that have lost a close family member to COVID have experience and can share the same experience in regards to having so many of your last moments ripped away. I was not able to say goodbye to my husband in person. Even after he passed, I wasn't able to view him in the hospital. We could text, we could call, but that was about it.

I know the nurses and the doctors are trying everything to the best of their ability, but so many medical clinics and hospitals are severely understaffed.

It's never going to completely go away, the trauma and the fear that my family and my children have experienced, but knowing that COVID is the first thing we hear on the news, on the radio, in our place of employment, it has really made the grieving process a lot more complex.

My family is determined not to let COVID paralyze us because we have already lost enough as it is. But one of the reasons that we want to make sure that everybody does continue to wear their mask is because that's how we can continue to go on with our lives while we finish figuring out this virus, figuring out the best ways to treat on like the next person.

Our life will never be normal again because of our loss, but I want children, student, staff, everybody in the community to return to a big sense of normalcy. I want that as much as the next person. But the only way that it's going to be done is by wearing masks.

We can't lift all the mandates, open everything and then just hope that everybody follows rules and hope for the best. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. And sometimes being a leader, you have to make those tough calls. You have to give in one area but pull back in another.

And I just really wish that Governor Abbott would have taken a little bit more time in thinking about that situation.

KEILAR: Delia, you've clearly thought a lot about it. You know the cost of this, and I just appreciate you coming on to talk about it. Thank you.

RAMOS: Thank you so very much, and prayers for everybody that has made it through and families that have lost, you are not alone. And wear your mask with honor.

KEILAR: You're amazing, Delia. Thank you so much.

The man who posed in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office has a tantrum in court. Hear what he screamed out in anger.

Plus, hear what the QAnon insurrectionist who wears horns says he regrets.

And one of Rupert Murdoch's sons says the quiet part out loud about Fox T.V. in the era of the Biden administration.



KEILAR: A Capitol riot defendant and mother of another high-profile suspect in the attack on the Capitol is asking a judge for less restrictive jail conditions as she waits for trial.

CNN's Whitney Wild has more.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, Lisa Eisenhart has been charged with her son, Eric Munchel, for their roles in the January 6th insurrection. She is now asking for a less restrictive sentence while she's custody. She says she's been moved out of general population into maximum security, back to general population, back to maximum security. And now she's asking for a less restrictive sentence while she is in custody.

And through her argument, she's also saying her co-defendant, again, her son, who was seen carrying zip tie-like restraints and in full body armor inside the Capitol, even he doesn't have these maximum security settings that she is being subject to. She is accused of breaking into the Capitol, she is accused of disorderly conduct, Brianna, she has pleaded not guilty. Back to you.

KEILAR: Whitney, thank you.

Another notorious Capitol riot suspect is yelling at a judge about being locked up. Richard Barnett, who was photographed, you've probably seen him here, during the riot with his feet propped up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk, had a tantrum during his latest court hearing, claiming it's not fair how he's being treated.

CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is following this for us. What was this about?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Brianna, Richard Barnett, he really erupted during his court appearance because of his continued detention. So he's been locked up since his arrest at the end of January. And during his court appearance, he, at one point, said this. Everybody else who did things much worse are already at home.

So this was a court appearance that happened via conference call. And after Barnett erupted, he was promptly pulled off the line. But in the meantime, the judge warned him to listen to his attorneys.

Now, Barnett, he also got angry not only because of his continued detention but also, Brianna, because it looks like his next court appearance won't be until May and he will be detained until at least then.

But he is facing some serious charges, entering the Capitol with a weapon, also theft of government property since he allegedly took a letter from Nancy Pelosi's office, and then, of course, he photographed putting his feet up on a desk in Pelosi's office.


But this is notable, Brianna. Prosecutors also accusing him of carrying a stun gun to the Capitol that he bought days before January 6th.

So he is facing a slew of charges here. And in a previous court appearance, the chief judge in D.C. accused Barnett of having what she called a total disregard for the U.S. Constitution, really saying he didn't understand the severity of his charges.

So, for now, he remains locked up, and it looks like his next court appearance might not be for several weeks, if not, several months. And, obviously, as we saw in court, he is not happy about it, Brianna.

KEILAR: Indeed he isn't. Jessica, thank you so much for that.

Also after many Fox viewers ran away from the network after the election, Fox is luring them back with conspiracy theory sugar highs. We'll roll the tape.

Plus, the mayor of Detroit facing backlash after he refuses the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Hear why.

And why did Buckingham Palace announce an investigation into Meghan Markle for bullying, but not Prince Andrew who is wrapped up in the Jeffrey Epstein alleged child sex abuse scandal?



KEILAR: Fox facing a ratings slump after its de facto executive producer lost the presidential election is leaning even more heavily into its buffet of cultural war cuisine. I know it's about as predictable as someone singing, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, really badly on karaoke night and it's predictably hypocritical to boot.

Case in point, back in June, this guy promised to do better.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Middle class families are the core of this country. They are the hope for the future, our only hope. And yet both parties have shamelessly abandoned them.

Republicans pretend to be their champion. You know by now that they are not. Instead of improving the lives of the voters, the party feeds them a steady diet of mindless, symbolic victories, partisan junk food designed to make them feel full even as they waste away. It is lunacy. We fall for it every time. And given this show has participated in it, we apologize with deepest sincerity.


KEILAR: To the extent his show has participated in it, that's all what his show is. And his apology for any role in serving up partisan junk food was followed up by more partisan junk food.


CARLONS: So, it's Dr. Seuss' birthday. The Biden administration is refusing to celebrate. We are celebrating and we'll tell you why precisely.

Which other holidays will they be canceling? Obviously, July 4th will be first on the list.

So why are people attacking Columbus' statue? Well, who knows? You're definitely not allowed to ask.

So have you ever eaten a python? Somehow, the python cowboy joins us next to explain. It goes without saying it tastes like chicken, so I'm not even going to ask you, but tell me how hard is it to hunt a python how dangerous?

And, of course, the curricula at so many schools is taking a much harder edge since that time from the extreme left-wing to the outright totalitarian. No, ladies and gentlemen, Jill Biden is not Joe's caretaker. She isn't his nurse. She's his fully equal romantic partner.

Jill Biden is not a doctor, no. Maybe in the same sense Dr. Pepper is.

So we spent the last year hearing about a health crisis, a pandemic, but there are a lot of health crises, this may be the biggest one, falling testosterone levels, which would completely reshape our society and falling sperm counts, which may make it impossible to continue the human race.

So if you were asking someone to assess national security, you probably wouldn't ask George Soros because he kind of seems like one.

Well, pretty sure, the pronoun thing will appeal to whatever tiny group of deluded unhappy people still believe that destroying nature's gender roles is a form of liberation. Talk about a war on nature.

Kamala Harris, who, by the way, is the ex-girlfriend of Montel Williams, and will be described that way forever after on this show.

They figured out that Christmas is bigger than they are, and therefore, it's a threat to them. Better cancel it. In effect, they're trying hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's any doubt Biden is senile.

CARLSON: In the hands of Democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky.

Joe Biden's voters really are a threat to you and your family.


KEILAR: In January, Fox had its worst ratings in two decades, and now it's going even further off the anti-truth rails in an effort to remedy that. Fox is going full Tucker, more outrageousness, more extreme opinion, and consider what means. Tucker Carlson, who recently won a slander case filed against him is not exactly a graduate of the Joe Friday School of Journalism. If you want just the facts, his show is certainly not the place to go. Just take a look at this.

A federal judge wrote this opinion last year in a case that Carlson won dismissing a defamation case against him. The judge in that case said, Fox's lawyers, quote, persuasively argued the general tenor of Carlson's show should then inform a viewer that Carlson is not stating actual facts about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in exaggeration and non-literal commentary.


The judge said, Fox was convincing as it made the case, quote, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism.