Return to Transcripts main page


Officials Say Too Early to Say If Shooting Spree Was a Hate Crime; Interview with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rising Anti-Asian Hate; Biden Endorses Filibuster Overhaul for First Time; Biden Tells Immigrants Don't Come as Crisis at Border Deepens; Talks Between Harry, William and Charles Unproductive. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 17, 2021 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Back to our big story, the murder spree in Atlanta overtight that left eight dead, the majority of those victims being Asian women. Police say the man arrested for the rampage has admitted to the shootings but still unclear if anti-Asian hate and racism was the specific motivation.

With me California Congresswoman Judy Chu. Congresswoman Chu, a pleasure. Welcome.

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: It is my understanding you think there is one person responsible for anti-Asian hate and that is Donald Trump. Explain.

CHU: Since the start of the pandemic, he's been calling this the China virus, Wuhan virus and even kung-flu. Despite the fact the CDC and the World Health Organization have said not to use such a name that deals with geography or ethnicity because of the stigma that causes and tends to use the neutral term COVID-19.

But he doubled down on that usage and has insisted on it even as of a few days ago and so have his Republican followers. So, now, we have had a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents. As of now, 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents have occurred. And 68 percent of them have been against women, hence, we are not surprised by what happened yesterday. It is the aftermath of all of this.

BALDWIN: Do you think, Congresswoman, because we're talking about this, also because of what happened in Atlanta, and again, police aren't connecting the dots, but are you? Do you think that happened because of Donald Trump?

CHU: Look, I am connecting the dots. All three of these businesses were Asian spas. The first place that the shooter went to was called Young Asian Massage. And six of the victims were Asian immigrant women. Now, we have been concerned because most recently, these anti-Asian

hate crimes and incidents have been against the elderly and the vulnerable. And so who can be more vulnerable than immigrant Asian women which these women were.

So, yes, I am connecting the dots here. And saying that this kind of anti-Asian hate has to stop. We all have to stand against it.

BALDWIN: I hear your perspective, again, just these investigators, they're not directly linking race to these crimes at least as of yet. The suspect told investigators that he had issues potentially, sexual addiction and may have frequented some of these massage parlors, these spas in the past.

Obviously, we know members of the Asian-American community right now are furious and are fearful. Would it give you any peace of mind to learn from investigators that this was not racially motivated?

CHU: Well, there is what he will admit to versus what may be the truth. And in fact, a person may have multiple reasons for committing a crime, but only talk about one of them.

I just have to think that there is something having to do with ethnicity here, because of the venues that he chose to target.

Nonetheless, what I really want is for a whole of community response. I want law enforcement to prosecute the person who was responsible. But I also want the community to protect the neighborhood and the victims and for the families of these victims to make sure that they have all the resources that they need.

And most importantly, we all have to stand together in speaking out against this anti-Asian hate that is increasing around the nation.

BALDWIN: I so appreciate your words. And of course, the call to action, Congresswoman Judy Chu. Thank you.

CHU: Thank you.

BALDWIN: President Biden has a warning for Russia. He says Vladimir Putin, quote, will pay a price for trying to undermine the 2020 election. What those words might mean, next.



BALDWIN: From the pandemic to U.S. policy in the Middle East to immigration, President Biden in this wide ranging interview, shed new light on some of the most pressing issues facing our country. He also for the first time since taking office publicly expressed report for reforming the Senate filibuster.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days when you used to be around there.

And that is that the filibuster, you had to stand up and command the floor. And you had to keep talking on. You couldn't call for -- you know, no one could say, you know, quorum call. Once you stopped talking, you lost that, and someone could move in and say, I move the question of, so you got to work for the filibuster.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: So you're for that reform? You're for bringing back the talking filibuster?

BIDEN: I am, that's what it's supposed to be.


BALDWIN: That is the view from the president. As for the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, well, he's not threatening to grind the Senate to a full halt if Democrats make any changes to the filibuster.

Let's discuss, with ne now, CNN political commentator and former Republican congressman Charlie Dent and CNN political analyst Sabrina Siddiqui. All right, filibuster, Sabrina, first to you. How significant is it that the president is throwing his weight behind changing the filibuster rules and what then could that mean for the president's agenda?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's significant because this is the first time that President Biden is publicly calling for some form of filibuster reform.

Now, it's important to note the backdrop here is that a growing number of Democrats have called for eliminating the filibuster altogether, and that is doing away with the 60-vote threshold to pass most major legislation in the Senate.

And President Biden isn't going that far, he is simply embracing perhaps the idea of a talking of filibuster under which, you know, a Senator from the minority would have to stand on the floor and keep talking to maintain a filibuster.

But this is an idea that even Senator Joe Manchin, one of the party moderates has signaled that he could support. And so at something that they were able to get all 50 Democrats behind, we could see them move to enact.

And I think a lot of it depends on Republicans, and the growing sense in the administration, that a lot of their policy priorities on immigration, voting rights, gun control simply don't have support from Republicans.

And so this is a way to saying to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who has said that Republicans are united in opposing President Biden's agenda, if that's the way it is going to be, then at a minimum we might make it harder for Republicans to block legislation.

BALDWIN: Hold your thought on immigration, I want to loop back with you on that, but you mentioned Republicans. Charlie, you know, Mitch McConnell is threatening Senate gridlock, this scorched earth response. What can Mitch McConnell actually do about it?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if the Democrats do pull the trigger on eliminating or significantly changing the filibuster, he can grind the Senate to a halt. He'll get rid of these unanimous consent agreements. They won't agree to them. And they will bring the place to a standstill.

If the Senate wants to make changes to the filibuster, they must do it on a bipartisan basis. The Senate is the one body in the Capitol that has the ability to put together bipartisan agreements that ultimately become law.

And take that from a guy who served in the House. The House, you have a lot of hotheads in the House on both sides. And it's a majoritarian body, they'll pass a bill that has no chance of becoming law, and we always had to rely on the Senate to come to the agreement.

And if this filibuster is dramatically changed and the Senate starts to look like the House becoming more of a majoritarian, I think you're going to lose that capacity to put together the agreements, you'll see the last mechanism for bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

BALDWIN: What about, coming back to you, Sabrina, just on the issue with the border, we know Republicans have tried and failed to make the border, you know, a winning issue for them, both 2018 and 2020, of course, I hear the chanting, build that wall, right? But given all of the children, the thousands of migrants detained in the facilities at the border, how big of a challenge will this be for Democrats politically?

SIDDIQUI: Well, it's certainly emerging as a challenge, and I think that's why you are hearing President Biden and a number of Democrats publicly urging people not to come to the border. That was President Biden's message in that interview with George Stephanopoulos.

And I think that's sort of two-fold. One is because the White House and Democrats are warning that the journey itself is dangerous. But they're also saying that the federal government simply does not have the resources to deal with them. Right now, there are roughly 4,000 migrant children in Border Control custody.

And they're running out of shelter space, and have enlisted FEMA in helping receive, transfer and shelter migrant children. So I think a big question moving forward is going to be what action the administration takes to try and stem the flow of migrants or at least deal with them once they do arrive?

But it's worth just repeating that these are people who are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. Many immigration advocates do like to underscore that they're not crossing the border illegally, they do have a legal right under international law to present themselves at the border and to at least seek asylum under a process.

But for now, what the Biden administration is saying they simply do not have the capacity to deal with them. That could, of course, emerge as a political challenge as well.


Just given a lot of the politics of immigration we have seen over the last few years.

BALDWIN: It definitely could for the Democrats. Charlie, over to you, I want to get your take on what President Biden said about -- when he was asked about Vladimir Putin. Here's the clip.


BIDEN: He will pay the price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, I know you and you know me. If I established this occurred, then be prepared.


BALDWIN: I don't have to tell you this, this is a mighty departure from, you know, what we heard and lived through in the Trump administration. Charlie, quick answer, what does Putin paying a price mean, look like under the Biden administration?

DENT: Well, the Biden administration will probably mean more sanctions. I suspect that we are going to use -- we'll develop a greater cyber deterrent. We're better at this stuff than the Russians, now we're more connected. But I think at the end of the day, Joe Biden understands that Vladimir Putin just wants to undermine American power influence anywhere he can. And I think Joe Biden is going to push back unlike Donald Trump who obviously that was in a bromance with Vladimir Putin. Again, he wants to undermine us anyway he can.

BALDWIN: Definitely seemed that way didn't it? Charlie Dent, Sabrina Siddiqui, both of you thank you so much.

To the royals, after a year-long royal rift, Prince Harry and Prince William are reportedly talking again but it doesn't seem to be going very well. And everyone seems to have an opinion including former President Donald Trump.



BALDWIN: The royal rift continues. Prince Harry has reportedly spoken to his brother Prince William and to his father, Prince Charles, since his and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey. But a friend of the couple, CBS host Gayle King says those talks have been unproductive so far. Royal correspondent Max Foster is live there in England and with me now. And so Max, what do you know about these conversations? MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going bad to worse,

really, isn't it? You thought trust wouldn't break down any more than it did after that Oprah Winfrey interview. But actually it seems to have done because the Queen has asked everyone to sort all of this out in private, next thing we know, Gayle King on TV revealing private conversations between Harry and William and Charles.

Now the Sussexes are pretty clear that they are frustrated with all the leaks on the other side, disparaging Meghan, so they are saying, you know, it's fine for us to leak as well in this way and that's much more open actually when we've got a friend out on TV talking about it.

And Gayle King saying that there were conversations but they weren't constructive or they weren't productive -- same thing, I guess. Also some frustration that the family haven't actually spoken to Meghan here, so trust really breaking down.

I have to say on this side of the water people are saying why are they leaking this information from the Sussex side, and there haven't been any leaks this week, at least, from the Palace side but it doesn't really, you know, encourage, you know, a private conversation, does it, when there are leaks on both sides. So it doesn't seem as though there's much progress.

BALDWIN: OK. So not much progress there. What about -- we've heard that you know, some, I don't know, rumors this week about Meghan's political aspirations, but that is what caught attention of former President Donald Trump. What is he saying?

FOSTER: Yes. Well, it's interesting because everyone is talking about Meghan's future political career. She's never confirmed it. I think they are just looking at the type of work that she's been focusing on, but as you say President Trump is one of those who has joined the conversation.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If that happened, then I think I'd have an even stronger feeling toward running. I'm not a fan of hers. I think that what she talks about the royal family and the Queen, I happen to think -- I know the Queen, as you know. I met with the Queen, and I think the Queen is a tremendous person, and I am not a fan of Meghan.


FOSTER: Are you ready for that, Brooke, Trump versus Meghan 2024.

BALDWIN: Wow. Just, just, just I'm going to keep my words to myself. Max Foster, thank you very much in England.

If you have not started working on your taxes yet, some good news ahead. The IRS has plans to push back this year's filing deadline. Stay here.


BALDWIN: All right. Here it is. The breaking news out of Atlanta. The police have charged the suspect in those spa shootings with four additional counts of murder. So in total here, he now faces eight murder charges and one aggravated assault charge for the sole survivor of the attack in Cherokee County, Georgia.

A little extra grace period for us this year to get those tax returns filed. An IRS official tells CNN the deadline will be changed to mid- May instead of April 15th. Lawmakers suggested the delay to allow filers more time to navigate tax situations that have become complicated by the pandemic.

Last year the filing deadline was moved to July 15th. One caveat -- even though the IRS is extending its deadline, that doesn't mean individual states will do so, so just make sure you check those state deadlines.

And an update here on Major Biden, yes, the president's dog who was involved in that recent biting incident with the Secret Service agent. George Stephanopoulos asking the tough questions.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Major out of the doghouse?

BIDEN: The answer is yes. Major was a rescue pup. Major did not bite someone and penetrate the skin, and the dog is being trained now. Our trainer at home in Delaware, he was going home. I didn't banish him to home. Jill was going to be away for four days and I was going to be away for two, so we took him home.


BALDWIN: President Biden says Major has an 85 percent approval rating at the White House which puts him well ahead of most human occupants. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Thank you so much for being with me. To Washington we go. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts now.