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CNN NEWSROOM

Liz Cheney to GOP: Trump or the Truth; Kevin McCarthy Concerned Commission Will Call Him as Witness; U.S. Averaging about 2 Million Inoculations Daily for a Week; Giuliani Seeks Trump's Help with Legal Bills; Biden EPA Proposes Rule Cutting Climate Pollutants; Companies Call for Expanded Voting Access in Texas. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 6, 2021 - 09:30   ET

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


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. President Trump's one-time personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's legal fees are getting pretty pricey. Now his allies are pressuring Republicans, even former president Trump, Jim, to pay for him.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned that, as the federal investigation continues into Giuliani's activities in Ukraine, including whether he conducted illegal lobbying of the U.S. government for Ukrainian officials, allies of Giuliani are calling on Trump and the GOP to pay for Giuliani's efforts around the election. Joining us now, Paula Reid.

So, Paula, he wants Trump and the GOP to pay.

Are they going to pay?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear if they're going to pay. But we know that Giuliani's allies are pressuring former president Trump and the RNC to compensate Giuliani for the work he did, to challenge the election so that he could use that money to subsidize his mounting legal bills.

A close associate of Giuliani's tells me it's going to cost him a few million at least to defend himself in that ongoing New York criminal investigation. The Trump campaign operation raised a substantial amount of money in the weeks following the election to challenge those results.

And Giuliani's son and many of his close associates are asking for him to be paid out of that fund. Now CNN has learned that former president Trump has been approached by Giuliani's associates about these mounting debts.

We know that Giuliani's personal attorney has approached the Trump legal team about this issue. And I asked that attorney, Robert Costello, if the legal team seemed receptive. He would only say no comment. This isn't the only thing they're asking the former president for in

this case. They're also hoping the former president will actually get involved in the legal fight itself, trying to protect some of those materials that were seized in raids last week.

But CNN has learned, at this point, the Trump legal team has just not decided whether they want to get involved in that fight.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. Paula Reid, thanks for covering.

A Washington, D.C., police officer, who was beaten so badly during the January 6th insurrection that he suffered a heart attack, also now deals with traumatic brain injury. He's now, in an open letter, criticizing elected officials who continue to downplay the riot.

HARLOW: Officer Michael Fanone writes this.

"I was pulled out into the crowd, away from my fellow officers, beaten with fists, metal objects, stripped of my issued badge, radio and ammunition magazine and electrocuted numerous times with a Taser.

"I'm writing to you so that you may better understand my experience that day."

Whitney Wild is with us.

Officer Fanone also says that officers who experienced this attack are not getting -- not just the recognition they deserve, the answers and the action they deserve.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's so notable about this is that he has been out there talking about this. But he clearly feels like, no matter how much air time he gets, how much he speaks, people are not getting it.

He is speaking directly to U.S. officials, saying that the indifference they've shown to him and his fellow officers is disgraceful. He feels like they are simply not getting the acknowledgment of all the trauma they went through that day.

Here's another quote from his letter.

"I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgment.

"The indifference shown to my colleagues and (sic) I is disgraceful."

And what is so important about his story is it's a reminder. They were real people who were physically and mentally harmed by what happened at the riot that day and, for whatever reason, Jim and Poppy, people across the country, I don't know, just don't believe what he went through or can't feel his pain.

And that's why he continues to speak out. HARLOW: Whitney, thank you very, very much for continuing to keep a

spotlight on this.

Ahead for us, the fight for environmental justice. The Biden administration unveils a new proposal to combat climate change, targeting a lot of the pollutants that come from refrigerators and air conditioners we all use. We'll have the head of the EPA with us -- next.

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HARLOW: The EPA is taking a big step to try to sharply reduce a very harmful greenhouse gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners. This week, the agency unveiled a proposal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons. According to data from the EPA emissions for sea- trapping gases rose 4 million metric tons between 2018 and 2019, just in the U.S.

And this is an area where there's actually rare bipartisan support. So let me bring in the EPA administrator, Michael Regan.

Good morning, Administrator. Thank you for being here. It's nice to see Republicans and Democrats sort of joining together in this effort. Your goal is a big one.

Do you have the support of the companies that are the ones responsible for this?

I mean, just a few years ago, a report from you guys said just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in this country.

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MICHAEL REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, good morning. Thank you for having me.

Yes, we are getting widespread support from the companies. This is a huge opportunity to pursue the president's aggressive climate agenda. But we also see an opportunity to recapture the manufacturing sector as well. So this is good for the planet, good for the economy and good for job growth.

HARLOW: Can we talk about job growth?

Because we know the president today is going to head to Louisiana to talk about the American Jobs Plan. And some concern that came up from Republican Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy is on the jobs front and what happens to a number of jobs in his state. He says right now people in oil and gas feel as though they have a

bull's-eye on their job. And I know you spoke with West Virginia senator Shelly Moore Capito, who said they felt ignored, those jobs and her constituents, during the Obama administration.

What do you say to them now on the job front?

REGAN: I would say the American Jobs Plan is exactly that. It's focused on jobs. It's focused on jobs and it's focused on 21st century opportunities.

So you know, one big piece of the jobs plan, for instance, is water infrastructure. The president will be in New Orleans today, talking about water infrastructure; $111 billion worth of investment to ensure that we have clean, safe drinking water.

But we also know that it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs all across this country -- contractors, pipe fitters, electricians. This is a significant opportunity to look at transferrable job skills from multiple industries, including the oil and gas sector.

HARLOW: You said something recently that struck me. You said that the agency under you has a special obligation to the underserved and underrepresented.

What does that mean for everyone watching today?

REGAN: Well, for far too long in this country, we have seen how many communities are disproportionately impacted by a significant amount of pollution. And for far too long, those companies have not had a seat at the table.

Environmental justice and equity will be central to the way EPA does its work and is central to the president's agenda. We do know that we can solve these complex environmental issues and do it in a way where it serves as a rising tide for all communities.

So we don't want any community to be disproportionately impacted and we want every community to have a fair shot at being economically competitive as well.

HARLOW: The way you've talked about it is environmental racism.

Can you explain to viewers what you mean by that?

And does that mean that now the EPA, in your estimation, will operate differently than it ever has in the past?

REGAN: Well, this administration and this EPA will operate differently than we ever have. Systemic racism is an issue that this country is dealing with. This administration is facing it head on. And the environmental space is no different than the justice space or any other space.

And so when we look at the way systemic racism has impacted every community or many communities, we're taking that look from the environmental lens and indicating to our communities, all communities, that we will alleviate this disproportionate impact.

We're paying attention to everyone beyond the fence line to better help them understand how they can work with the agency to reduce that disproportionate impact while creating economic opportunities for their communities.

HARLOW: I want to ask you about the big, important promises that a lot of corporate America is making and that is to be net zero, right?

And they are betting on being net zero in terms of emissions by future offset technologies. The problem with that, my brilliant climate colleague, Bill Weir, points out, is that it's aspirational and largely unproven.

So I wonder what we should take away from these corporate promises and how do we get to carbon zero and not just net zero?

REGAN: I believe that we have a significant opportunity and the American Jobs Plan really highlights that. The honest answer is we're not going to regulate our way out of this. We're going to look at a suite of opportunities.

And this is the brilliance of the president's vision, to look government wide. We have to look at tax incentives. We have to look at innovation. The reality is, the markets are driving us in this direction.

We have an opportunity to grab and really push on research and development and advance technologies that will make America globally competitive. The business community understands this and sees this. And so we are optimistic that we can ride this wave of technology, markets, optimism.

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REGAN: And not only reduce this country's carbon footprint but continue to be globally competitive and export many of the best management practices and technologies to countries all around the world.

HARLOW: What I find so interesting about you and what I've read is that, at times, you make the Right really happy and at times you make the Left really happy and then at times they both say you're not doing enough the other way around.

You've been called a consensus builder. I want to ask you about the Left. And the Biden administration publicly does not support all of the elements of a Green New Deal.

I wonder what you say to members of Congress, like congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or senator Ed Markey, who have said that passing the new deal is a matter of life and death, right?

Their words: people are dying.

What do you say to them? REGAN: There are a lot of good ideas on the table but what I can assure you is the president has a very ambitious climate and jobs agenda. And the reality is, I believe in the power of convening.

All voices must be heard because clean air and clean water is not a partisan issue; 70 percent of the American public supports the American Jobs Plan because it marries climate mitigation and adaptation with job creation and economic development.

And this is really about breathing clean air, drinking clean water and being globally competitive. That's not a partisan issue. And we cannot allow for it to be a partisan issue.

HARLOW: New York City, the city where I'm sitting right now, as you know, just filed another lawsuit, this one against the big oil companies, Exxon, Shell, BP, for misleading the American public, they say greenwashing their practices to make them seem more ecofriendly. The industry has responded by saying it has no merit.

Do you think that lawsuit has merit?

REGAN: You know, I'll rely on the experts at the Department of Justice and those in the legal profession. But what I can say is we are really focused on the future and ensuring -- ensuring that these conversations, these promises, these incentives, really do capture the emission reductions that we're all after.

HARLOW: OK. I'm going to end on a different question. But one of the first things I read about you that was one of the reasons I wanted you to join us -- and it's actually about your personal loss. You lost your son, your first son, at 14 months old. And that loss and that shared grief is something you share with President Biden.

And your child had a rare childhood cancer. I speak for all of us when we say we're so sorry. Your colleagues have said that is what propels you in this fight now.

Are they right?

REGAN: They are absolutely right. I've always had a passion for the environment. I grew up hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather and really enjoyed the outdoors. My son, Michael Stanley Regan Jr., died from a rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma.

The short time that I had with him was the best -- one of the best times in terms of understanding how powerful humanity is, whether it's an infant or someone you admire. He is someone that I admire, his grace, his courage, his strength. While it was a tragedy and it is still with me today, he inspired me in a way that no one ever has.

HARLOW: Wow. Well, Administrator Regan, thank you very, very much and also, we know you have a wonderful 7-year-old little boy now as well. We're so glad.

REGAN: Yes, yes. He is why we do this. It is for our children. It is for the future. HARLOW: Thank you, EPA administrator Michael Regan. Thank you so

much.

And we'll be right back.

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HARLOW: All right. The Texas state house could vote today on a measure that would make it harder to vote.

SCIUTTO: Yes. A familiar story in state houses run like Texas by the GOP around the country. But as many as 50 companies and trade associations in Texas have come out against the bill. CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now.

Dianne, this is something we've seen in Georgia as well.

What's the response from lawmakers?

Are they feeling the pressure or no?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, like you said, I think there is a key difference in what we're seeing here in Texas from what we saw in Georgia and that's these businesses are coming out before any sort of final votes have been taken or before this legislation can be signed into law.

And so the idea here is that, potentially, there is some sort of influence or impact these corporations and organizations may be able to have on lawmakers. If they can't stop the legislation, perhaps they can soften the legislation.

But the idea is that they're getting out ahead of time. And so I want to read a little bit from that letter from those 50 different organizations and corporations that included some big names like American Airlines, HP, Microsoft.

They said, "We stand together as a nonpartisan coalition, calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and oppose any changes that would restrict eligible voters' access to the ballot."

Now the letter doesn't specifically call out individual bills.

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GALLAGHER: But I can tell you that some of the companies that signed on to that letter have talked about bills. They're greatly speaking on the sort of election overhaul bills, one of which is going likely to be debated on the floor today. It is on the schedule here at the Capitol.

And these overhaul bills would do a lot of different things, including adding criminal penalties to different parts of the process for voters and election officials.

For example, if an election official were to send any of these unsolicited ballot applications, that would be a felony. It also further empowers partisan poll watchers at polling locations. It requires people who are assisting voters to disclose the reason the voter might need help, including what the disability may be.

And, of course, there are people that say this is just adding more steps to a state that already has some of the most restrictive voting laws, especially when it comes to mail-in balloting in the country.

HARLOW: Dianne, it's a big difference from what happened in Georgia to speak out ahead of time from these leaders. We'll see what it means. Thank you very much.

Republicans working overtime to oust the third most powerful leader in the House. Many are throwing support behind Liz Cheney. There is one conservative group that could stand in the way. We have new reporting on this next.