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Trump's Facebook Ban Continues; Trump Backs Loyalist to Replace Liz Cheney; Biden Touts Economic Relief For Restaurants. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 5, 2021 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:29]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

First up, we're expecting to see President Biden from the State Dining Room. He will be speaking about the American Rescue Plan, more specifically, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Now, we know that the pandemic has hit restaurants hard, especially the small, locally owned family restaurants.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

So, CNN's Phil Mattingly is going to join us now.

So, Phil, President Biden continues to get pushback, mostly from Republicans, for the price tag of these plans. And he continues to press ahead anyway. So what's he going to say today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

And I think it's important to note, as, obviously, the debate is ongoing and kind of in nascent stages when it comes to the $4 trillion in infrastructure and economic proposals he's put on the table for his legislative agenda.

Today is about looking back. And there's a reason for it that applies to that legislative agenda. As Victor was noting, this is about a new program that rolled out on Monday. It was part of that $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that was signed into law a few months ago.

It's about $28.6 billion. And it's for that industry that was cratered, more than $200 billion in revenues lost for the restaurant industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. And this was specifically tailored for those restaurants.

And what has the response been? More than 186,000 applications in its first two days since opening. Obviously, the president wants to highlight that. He wants to highlight the implementation of what up to now is his cornerstone legislative achievement.

But there's a broader purpose here as well. And I think you have heard the president kind of talk about his through line when it comes to his economic proposals, when it comes to his efforts to combat the pandemic. And that is this idea that the government can be effective, the government can work.

And I think the administration wants to talk about the elements, whether it's stimulus checks, whether it's the restaurant relief proposal, whether it's the Paycheck Protection Program, to some degree, in that $1.9 trillion plan that's already passed to underscore, we put this in place, it's working, give us your trust to be able to push forward to support these proposals that are on the table going forward.

Obviously, a lot of negotiating, probably some pretty complicated negotiations ahead on those proposals, but this look-back is dual- purpose: Yes, we accomplished this, and we think it works. That's what the White House thinks. But, also, this should give you confidence that, if we push forward on the proposals that I have put on the table, they will work as well, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, expecting to hear from the president any moment.

Phil Mattingly, thank you. We will bring you those remarks as they happen.

Now let's turn to the anti-Trump purge of the GOP. We're about to see the top Republican woman in the House lose her position in leadership because she insists on standing by the truth, refusing to stay silent about former President Trump losing the 2020 election fair and square.

And sources say that Congresswoman Liz Cheney is not going to fight to move -- fight the move, rather, to remove her as the chair of the House Republican Conference.

A short time ago, the former president officially endorsed Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney.

CAMEROTA: Stefanik vigorously defended Trump during his impeachment and supported the election myth that Trump lost -- well, that he won, actually, or that he lost because of fraud.

A senior adviser to Trump says the former president has been working with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to try to get Stefanik to take over Cheney's leadership post.

CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us now.

OK, Manu, what's the latest?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While, we do expect Elise Stefanik to lock this up. She has been working the phones. And, according to multiple Republican sources who I have talked to,

she has broad support from more moderate members, to even the more conservative members, to the two top House Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, who has grown frustrated with Liz Cheney, who has aligned himself with Donald Trump, as well as the number two Republican, Steve Scalise, who has publicly come out today to endorse Elise Stefanik.

And Stefanik having the backing of Donald Trump himself also will go -- carry a lot of weight within a Republican Conference that has a large number of -- vast majority of Trump supporters. And Cheney is indicating to her allies she's not planning to fight this. She recognizes what's going to happen here.

And she's told her allies that she does not want to lie or stay silent to keep her post. And as one source who is familiar with her thinking told me, she wants to fight for the larger battle, which is for the soul of this party, and expect more comments from her in the days to come.

But in clear signs that this is moving pretty rapidly, Republicans are starting to talk about what that leadership election could look like come Wednesday. And what I'm hearing is that what will they essentially do is ensure that Cheney's ouster can happen by a simple majority of 212 House Republicans.

[14:05:10]

Typically, if a rank-and-file member were to try to force such a move, it would require a two-thirds majority. So, the fact it's a simple majority makes it an easier threshold to replace Liz Cheney. And Republican leaders are getting behind this.

So, this is moving pretty quickly. And this would be the biggest shakeup that has happened in the House Republican Conference since John Boehner, the House speaker, abruptly decided to step aside in 2015, this happening in the middle of the term, after McCarthy and Republicans decided to get behind Cheney despite her vote to impeach Donald Trump.

Now, though, they're pushing for her ouster, and it's going to happen pretty quickly.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. Manu, thank you very much for all of these fast-moving developments.

OK, with us now, we have CNN anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS ON SUNDAYS" Abby Phillip and Mark McKinnon, who was adviser to the presidential campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush.

Great to see both of you.

Mark, isn't this interesting, to look at this divide between Liz Cheney and Elise Stefanik? And Elise Stefanik, it strikes me -- I want your opinion -- she personifies the transformation of the Republican Party. She was recently a rational, Romney-style Republican. And then she found her way to the crazy conspiracy caucus, and started

peddling the big lie, et cetera. And so that's what I think we're seeing in the Republican Party as a whole. But you tell me.

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER MEDIA ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I wouldn't say that Stefanik found her way, I would say she lost her way.

I really feel, Alisyn, like I'm witnessing the death of the Republican Party, certainly as I have known it in my lifetime. I mean, consider the facts of the situation. Liz Cheney is twice as conservative as Elise Stefanik. Liz Cheney has voted for Donald Trump twice as often as Elise Stefanik.

The only reason that Stefanik is taking the leadership post away from Liz Cheney is because Liz Cheney is one of the few Republicans with a remaining backbone that will stand up and tell the truth about what happened on January 6, and that's the only reason.

So, in order to be a prime member in good standing of the Republican Party today, you have to be willing to lie about what happened on January 6.

BLACKWELL: And, to that point, let's put up the ratings.

Abby, let's bring these to you. Higher ratings for Liz Cheney than for Representative Stefanik from the American Conservative Union, Americans For Prosperity, Heritage Action, National Right to Life, zero percent for Liz Cheney, 17 for Planned Parenthood.

And we obviously heard what Mark said there. But, obviously, the issue here is a goal of retaking the House, the speakership for McCarthy. Does this shift make that more likely with the voters and in the districts that they need to win to take the majority, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if you read between the lines here, Elise Stefanik's shift has been about what she thinks is the most likely to reach Republican voters.

And, so far, it's served her very well. She has largely abandoned kind of a Republican identity that's based off of the issues, per that chart that you just showed, where she's not even close to where Liz Cheney is in terms of the rankings by some of these traditional conservative groups that give you kind of cache in among the base.

And that's a reflection of where the Republican Party is in general. Republican voters are not motivated by tax-and-spend issues, by small government, big government issues. They're not motivated by those things. They are motivated in large part by whatever Trump wants, wants to talk about, whatever he wants to do, whatever he puts on the agenda.

And that is the secret that I think Kevin McCarthy thinks is the secret to success. It's what Elise Stefanik thinks is the secret to success. And we will find out on Tuesday how many more other Republicans agree with that. And I think it will be a lot of them. It's very clear that they believe that this is not about the issues. It's about making sure that they signal to the base that they are in line with Trump.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Mark, this is just happening at lightning speed, it seems. Liz Cheney won the last vote, OK? She maintained her leadership position the last time this came up, and that was just a couple of months ago.

And now the tide has turned, and if she truly is about to lose her leadership, and if Elise Stefanik is going to step in, and if somehow being able to say that Donald Trump didn't lose the election with a straight face is now a litmus test for being in Republican leadership, what does this mean for the future?

MCKINNON: I think it's very short sighted and very short-term strategy.

People like Kevin McCarthy are thinking only about 2022. And Kevin McCarthy is thinking about being speaker of the House. And the reality is that, not because of Donald Trump, but just because of history, because the party in power generally loses the House, and because the Democrats have a very narrow majority right now, it's likely the Republicans will take the House.

[14:10:20]

And whoever takes the House means that there will be a Republican speaker, and Kevin McCarthy wants that job. And that's why we have seen him be an incredible weather vane over the last couple months. You talked about the speed of the changes.

The reality is that there is no struggle for the soul of the Republican Party right now. Donald Trump owns it lock, stock and barrel, because you can't win a Republican primary without the support of Donald Trump. But I would argue that you can't win a general election with his support.

So you may be able to win primaries. I think, for the long term, beyond 2022, it is going to be very unlikely -- the Republicans are now in a demographic cul-de-sac with Donald Trump and won't be able to get out.

BLACKWELL: Abby, there is one variable here that we have not discussed is that this vote, from my understanding, is a secret ballot.

Is it possible that we're in for a surprise on -- a week from today on the 12th, that there could be enough votes for Representative Cheney to keep her leadership position?

PHILLIP: You know, I'm not so sure about that this time around, because what we're hearing is from -- it's different from the last time.

It's not just the farthest right members who are making the most noise about Liz Cheney. It's also the more moderate members, some of whom backed her the last time, who are tired of fighting against the wave of Trumpism. They don't want to have these conversations anymore. They have given into this whole thing.

And they -- and she can't count on them anymore. It's possible that this might be close, but, from what we're hearing on the Hill, what is different and the most troubling for Liz Cheney is that the -- what maybe we thought was the middle of the Republican Party has turned on her.

And that is going to potentially seal her fate next week. And she clearly knows that, to some extent, because she's signaling: I'm not going to fight it. I'm not going to be whipping votes. This, for me, is about the bigger principle and I'm willing to lose this position for it.

So, I think that she's even signaling that she probably knows she doesn't have enough support.

BLACKWELL: All right, one week from today, we could see that vote.

Abby, Mark, please stay with us.

Coming up, we will talk about former President Trump's continued ban from Facebook, the impact on lies and misinformation on social media.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:16:59]

CAMEROTA: Big decision today.

Facebook will continue to keep former President Trump off of its platform for the next several months. An Oversight Board for the social media giant has upheld the ban that was put in place after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

The board did take issue with Trump being banned indefinitely. So, now they're tossing the issue back to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, giving the company six months to decide on a more definitive penalty, whether to ban him permanently or allow him to rejoin, and to make the terms very clear of what a suspension would look like for any user.

BLACKWELL: Now, former President Trump just responded in a statement.

He said this: "What Facebook, Twitter and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. Free speech has been taken away from the president of the United States because the radical left lunatics are afraid of the truth. But the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before."

Abby Phillip, Mark McKinnon back with us now.

Mark, your thoughts on the decision for this -- by this group to uphold the ban and then in six months to revisit this? There are a lot of conservatives who try to create the narrative of big tech vs. conservative voices. What's your view on the upholding of the ban? MCKINNON: I commend Facebook.

I mean, listen, one of the most significant, I'd say the most significant consequence of Donald Trump's election is -- in 2016 is the -- has been the ongoing distortion of truth and the notion that there can be alternative facts.

And Facebook was a platform that was used by Donald Trump and his campaign over and over again to distort the truth, including and especially the outcome of the 2020 election. So, Facebook is taking a responsible position. It's also taking a position where they know they're going to get heat and are getting heat from conservatives.

And, also, by the way, they're also making this move, realizing that it could potentially be -- lead to a lot less revenue for them in 2024 if Donald Trump can't use Facebook platform to advertise his campaign, if he runs.

CAMEROTA: Abby, right-wing media is trying to claim that this is about free speech. But we all know you can't yell fire in a crowded movie theater. There are some limits on what you're able to do, particularly if it brings harm and danger and destruction to others, as we saw on January 6 with the bloody riot.

And so since President Trump has been deplatformed from Facebook, "The Washington" -- according to "The Washington Post" and this research Zignal Labs, they found that: "Online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended President Trump and key allies last week."

So, I mean, there is a real-life byproduct of him not having access to these social media platforms.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, that's the undercurrent to all of this. It's not just Trump saying things in a vacuum. It's also what it did around the January 6 riot.

[14:20:05]

And the sort of insurrection that he incited with his social media platforms is the reason we are in this position. Now, Facebook and a lot of these other social media companies will have to figure out how they're going to apply this beyond Trump, because there are plenty of other world leaders around the world for whom this standard could very well apply.

But, in this particular case, Trump keeps lying. And he lied in that statement that Victor just read. He's spreading the big lie even to this day. And, by the way, he still has the ability to speak whenever he wants to. He sends out statements every day. I get them in my inbox. He can put them on his Web site.

He is the former president of the United States. He is not being silenced. It's just that these are private companies. And they want to be able to moderate what kind of content they put on their platforms.

BLACKWELL: And now he has that blog on his Web site, From the Desk of Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Right.

BLACKWELL: Mark, let me ask you this on the perspective of you said Facebook did the right thing.

Is this ban any less consequential now? If the mission of the president was to weave the big lie into the fabric of the Republican Party and to foment distrust in the electoral system, in the election, mission accomplished. He did what he was -- he was -- what he intended to do. And now, essentially, he's got an entire party, at least in the House, that's carrying that water for him.

MCKINNON: Yes, no question that he has been successful in sowing the seeds of mistrust about the election. At least half the Republican Party believes that it was not a legitimate election and that Joe Biden's not election -- not a duly elected president.

But I like the idea that Amanda Carpenter, who's on CNN quite a bit, who is a contributor, suggested in the last day or so, which is, Facebook should consider returning Donald Trump to the platform, if and only if he is willing to acknowledge that this was a free and fair election, and that Joe Biden is our president.

When he does that, then I think he should be considered to come back on. I think that's a good idea.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Mark, while we have you, I want to ask you about what Texas is doing.

The major corporations have come out against these proposed voting restrictions in Texas. We're seeing this in other states as well. What's going to happen here?

MCKINNON: It's Texas. What can I say? At the same time, Texas is now trying to pass what they call constitutional carry, which means you don't have to have any license, any requirement, no I.D., anything, to carry a gun.

And yet they're making it punitive to try and vote. So it's easier to carry a gun than it is to vote in Texas, and I think that tells you everything you need to know.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's a telling -- that's a tell, I guess we should say.

Abby, what are we -- and we continue to report on this. And I think it's really important that we just remind people that, while all of this chaos is going on in Congress, these various states are putting in voting restrictions.

PHILLIP: And it's worth noting Texas is one of the states that President Trump actually won. I mean, he won that state. And yet still Republicans feel like there's a need to constrict who can vote, how they can vote, particularly in urban areas, where Democrats did pretty well in getting people out, but Trump did better in other parts of the state.

And it's really a targeted effort here to kind of find the ways to make it more difficult, less convenient for people who have maybe more variable schedules to vote. And those things, we know, disproportionately impact people who are poor, who are people of color, and that's the objective here.

It's not really being hidden anymore. It's very much out in the open.

CAMEROTA: Abby Phillip, Mark McKinnon, thank you both.

OK, some big developments for two allies of the former president. What's at stake in the legal cases involving Bill Barr and Rudy Giuliani?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:28:55]

BLACKWELL: There are developments in high-profile legal cases, including two that involve close allies of former President Trump.

Now, a federal judge has rejected the Justice Department's attempt to keep secret a memo by former Attorney General Bill Barr, in the memo, the decision not to charge then President Trump with obstruction after the Mueller investigation.

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to appoint a special master to review material seized in last week's FBI raid of Rudy Giuliani's home and office. They argue it's a necessary step to ensure attorney-client privilege.

CAMEROTA: And just two weeks after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, his lawyer is now asking for a new trial.

In the four-page filing, defense attorney Eric Nelson claims there were multiple errors that violated Chauvin's constitutional rights to a fair trial.

So, joining us now is Michael Moore. He's the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

And, Michael, I want you to know that Victor and I have new schedules, OK?

BLACKWELL: Yes, indeed, we do.

CAMEROTA: He and I -- he and I are now on from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., East Coast time, Monday through Friday.

And, as a memory jog for our viewers and, frankly, ourselves, because who knew what time he and I would show up if we didn't do this