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D.C. Police Officer Injured During Insurrection Slams Disgraceful Response by Some Officials; Republicans and Right-Wing Media Use Decision to Uphold Trump's Facebook Suspension to Claim Bias; Debris from Chinese Rocket Expected to Crash to Earth Soon. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 6, 2021 - 10:30   ET

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


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Workers are leaving for several reasons, and some have gotten completely new jobs, some COVID fears, some unemployment.

[10:30:09]

Vanessa Yurkevich spoke to people on both ends of the issue. She joins us now. Good morning, Vanessa.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. I'm hearing from restaurant owners that they are shocked and concerned that during a time when business should be thriving, they're having a hard time finding workers to do business. This is just the latest twist in what has been a difficult year for the restaurant industry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILIPPE MASSOUD, CHEF AND OWNER, ILILI NYC: We have a war of survival, a new war of survival.

YUKEVICH (voice over): Philippe Massoud never thought he'd be facing a shortage of restaurant workers in the middle of the pandemic.

MASSOUD: We have no staff to open for lunch at all.

YUKEVICH: Dining in the U.S. is at about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to OpenTable, and nearly 8.5 million Americans are still out of work. But Massoud can't find anyone to fill his 15 open positions, from manager to dishwasher.

MASSOUD: Normally, you get at least 30, 40, 50 people, 60 people. We only had three people respond to our ads and none of them showed up.

YUKEVICH: In January, 7 percent of restaurant operators named recruitment and retention as their top challenge. By April, that number was 57 percent. One issue, some employees have left the restaurant industry for good, like John Jasieniecki, who quit in January after 16 years as a server and bartender.

JOHN JASIENECKI, SWITCHED CAREERS: I had intended on being a lifer.

YUKEVICH: But with unstable pay and after contracting COVID-19, he knew it was time for a career change.

JASIENIECKI: COVID was very stressful. Yelling at people to put on their mask is not what I want to do every day.

YUKEVICH: He now works in maintenance for several high-rises in Downtown Denver.

JASIENIECKI: It's a different world working 9:00 to 5:00 as opposed to 5:00 to 2:00.

YUKEVICH: Restaurants in Miami have been at 100 percent indoor capacity since October of last year, but Carlos Gazitua says he doesn't have enough staff to open his dining room.

CARLOS GAZITUA, SERGIO'S FAMILY RESTAURANTS: Florida is a bellwether state. We're -- we've been open a lot longer than many states in the United States. So this is coming to a theater near you.

YUKEVICH: And he says it's only getting worse. He can't fill more than 30 percent of his positions, even after raising wages. He says the $300 weekly expanded unemployment benefit is stopping people from coming back to work.

GAZITUA: People should keep the unemployment benefits if they go to work now and they commit to working until the end of the year.

YUKEVICH: The expanded unemployment benefits don't expire until early September.

MASSOUD: We're supposed to go hire people to retain them, but at the same time, you're paying unemployment, it creates a conflict of interest, so to speak.

YUKEVICH: Right. So, for four months, what is the plan?

MASSOUD: Lose more money and do what we can to stay open.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YUKEVICH (on camera): Now, the two restaurant owners that you just heard from there told me they have done something new for the first time in their entire careers. They've actually purchased robots to work in their restaurants because they can't find enough humans to do the job. So, in New York, one of the robots is going to be making salads. In Miami, that robot is going to be serving and bussing tables.

Jim and Poppy, this idea that robots will be serving us our meals in restaurants once was a distant idea in the future, but in the reality, it's here and it's now if this labor shortage doesn't get worked out. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Wow. That was such a fascinating piece, Vanessa. We have the labor secretary coming on the tomorrow, so we'll talk to him about it and see what is thoughts are. Thanks for the reporting. SCIUTTO: It is four months today after a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. D.C. Police officer slamming lawmakers for what he calls the whitewashing of the violence he experienced firsthand that day. Democratic Congressman and member of the Intelligence Committee Mike Quigley will weigh in on the aftermath and what Congress can do to prevent the next one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:35:00]

SCIUTTO: A D.C. Police officer who was beaten, repeatedly electrocuted by the pro-Trump mob that day, January 6th, four months ago today, in fact, is condemning elected officials who continue to downplay the attack. Writing in an open letter, he says, 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 ignore them altogether with the lack of acknowledgement. The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is a disgrace.

Joining me now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, he seats on the Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for taking the time this morning.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Thank you, glad to be back.

SCIUTTO: It's four months since January 6th, since hundreds of pro- Trump supporters violently assaulted the Capitol, injured many, including police officers. There is still no commission to investigate why this happened and how to prevent the next one. Who's to blame?

QUIGLEY: look, I think Speaker Pelosi has been willing to compromise to get a 9/11-type commission going. The 9/11 commission actually accomplished great things to keep us safe. I think the same could be said for what a January 6th commission could do. I don't know exactly why they don't want this commission to go forward except it probably would have results that don't comport to the continuation of the big lie.

[10:40:05]

SCIUTTO: This is the problem here though, right? Can you have a viable commission to investigate something that is significant portion of the Republican Party sitting lawmakers will not publicly acknowledge, right? We had a reporter on in the last hour saying that the person is going to challenge Liz Cheney for her seat denies that it was pro Trump supporters even in, you know, in that crowd that assaulted the Capitol. Can you have a commission when the big lie lives?

QUIGLEY: I think if you set it up the right way you can do this if it's a non-partisan commission of bringing in experts and outsiders to establish the research that has to take place. The investigation has to take place. But, look, I don't know that I can ever change their hearts and their minds. I do think the majority of the American people will trust and believe the work it can do. But, you know, I think it might be a generation of Republican leadership that is lost and has sold out democracy for the rest of their time here.

SCIUTTO: There's a particular Republican involved in this. That is the House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy. CNN's Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel is reporting that McCarthy is, quote, very concerned that a bipartisan commission would force him to testify about his call to Trump pleading with him to call off his supporters. Should he testify under oath?

QUIGLEY: Absolutely. I mean, he is part of this. You know, he's not a neutral observer. This was his role in the entire process. He was reportedly on the phone with the president during the course of the day. And let's not forget his remarks afterwards. And I think that's part of his resistance, you know? I think he said that a lot of the accountability lies at the feet of the current president, President Trump. He doesn't want supporters to be reminded of this.

Give them time. They'll deny that this thing ever existed, that this ever happened. There will be deniers that take place, not just that these were not Trump people doing this, but none of this really happened or exaggerated, which is a disservice to the American people, our democracy, and in particular to the officers we lost and who are injured that you mentioned before.

SCIUTTO: The sad fact is that perpetuating that lie, or at least refusing to call it out, has become a loyalty test in the Republican Party. It's a large reason why Liz Cheney likely on the way out from her leadership position, perhaps from her seat.

You speak with your GOP colleagues. Do they honestly believe the election was stolen and wasn't Trump supporters who assaulted the Capitol or they just too afraid to publicly contradict the president?

QUIGLEY: You know, I've been here during the Russian investigation, two impeachment investigations and the answer to your question is similar to on all counts. It's a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B. A lot of profiles in courage we saw previously were with those who were leaving. Now, we're seeing those who show the courage to vote for impeachment not work against, you know, an elected process on the Electoral College that day, but they're being forced out or censored by their own party.

And we're still stuck with the fact that, what, 55 percent of Republican voters still believe that these weren't Trump people storming the Capitol.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable. I do want to ask you about another threat, and that is these almost sci-fi like but very real energy attacks on U.S. personnel overseas. They began in Cuba. There is now evidence of them taking place in Europe and discussion of a possible attack along the lines of an NSC staffer on the White House grounds here in this country. They cause, as you know, enormous problems, pain, et cetera. Do we know who is behind these attacks?

QUIGLEY: You know, I'm not in a position to talk about attribution. I do think it's absolutely critical to protect the state department, the intelligence community, those that could be -- have been and will be vulnerable to such attacks.

First, we have to state, they are real. We have to take care of those who have been injured. We have to protect those who were out serving for us, not just foreign, obviously, but obviously now on a domestic basis.

I think you can imagine the usual suspects capable of doing something like this. But for now, it's best to focus on protecting and taking care of those who have been injured.

SCIUTTO: But how can you protect? How can you protect? I mean, is this country protecting its personnel both overseas and possibly here on the U.S. homeland if you're not publicly calling out who you believe is behind this?

QUIGLEY: I think your point is well taken. At this point in it time, it is a subject in discussion how to do both of those things.

[10:45:03]

And I think can you do both right now but a public attribution would not be particularly helpful. We will address this, and we have been addressing this once the Biden administration took office. But it is a very real concern. We will get to public attribution soon.

SCIUTTO: Final question, the commission to investigate January 6th appears to be floundering, but money to implement new security changes, as recommended by commission led by retired General Russel Honore seems like there is building support. Should we expect agreement on that in Congress to, for instance, hire the hundreds of additional Capitol Police as recommended?

QUIGLEY: I look back to the letter you just referenced from a police officer. You know, they are owed apologies. They are owed our eternal gratitude being in the room where it happened. I know I am whole (ph) because of their heroism and their loss. So I think we owe beyond that gratitude that we pass a supplemental, a security supplemental. And I do believe it will move next week. And I do believe it will pass sometime this month.

Sitting in that chambers, those days, I think most of us could figure out what we need to do for our police. They needed more police. They need to be better equipped, better paid, they needed a supplemental emergency fast response force, including the National Guard to be there and retractable fencing. Coordination, communication and intelligence, you know, we owe it to them and we're hoping that they don't leave en masse because morale is so low.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see if that vote moves forward next week. Congressman Mike Quigley, thanks very much for joining us.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:00]

HARLOW: Well, some Republicans and right-wing media outlets have been claiming anti-conservative bias on social media for years. Now they're pointing to the decision to uphold Facebook's suspension of former President Trump for the time being as further proof. But there is a factual problem with their argument. Listen to it first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The silencing of conservatives online continues as Facebook gets the green light to keep blocking President Trump's accounts for now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think the vote was?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what that was. I mean, it may have been 19-0. Given the work wave in America, who thinks they're going to decide otherwise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This story is much bigger than one person. It's about tech oligarchs manipulating the political conversation and debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News alert, a bunch of left-wing journalists, activists and lawyers don't like Trump. I didn't see that one coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So what are the facts? CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy joins us now. So, Oliver, is there any real evidence that shows conservatives are being silenced on social media?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, Jim. This is part of a larger victimhood culture that is really pervasive on the right these days, the idea that people are being cancelled or targeted or censored by elites and media, or in this case, social media.

The issue is, as you point out, there isn't really any evidence to prove that there is a systemic targeting of conservatives on the social media platforms. In fact, when you look at the data more closely, you see that they do quite well on social media. Let's -- I think we have a graph or a chart that shows the top ten posts. It's from New York Times' Kevin Roose.

And every single day, if you look at this chart, you see that it is dominated by right-wing media personalities, folks like Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino. They do very well on Facebook. So, look, if you're not inciting insurrections on Facebook, if you're not denying COVID-19, you can do it quite well as a conservative on the platform.

SCIUTTO: That's the point, comes to the facts, right, not their conservative positions. Oliver Darcy, thanks very much.

DARCY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right. Well, this is happening today. The debris from a Chinese space rocket is set to crash into Earth any day now, U.S. tracking it closely. Officials have, sadly, no clear idea exactly where it will hit. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:55:00]

SCIUTTO: Don't look up. What is left of an out of control Chinese rocket is expected to crash into Earth within days. U.S. Space Command is following it, tracking it very closely. But there are things they don't know about this rocket so they can't pinpoint exactly where it could land. And the issue, Poppy, is it's huge and may not burn up in the atmosphere.

HARLOW: So before we all go hide in an underground bunker, there is some good news. The debris plunging toward Earth, while unnerving, generally poses, apparently, they tell us, very little threat to us.

David Culver is following the latest for us this morning in Shanghai. Is that true?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's hope, right, Poppy and Jim? This is a bit unnerving, especially when you hear words like tracking, watching closely, monitoring, but no exact idea where exactly it is and when exactly it will come in to the Earth's atmosphere and where it's ultimately going to end up. I mean, that is the frustrating part of all this.

What is interesting though is how it's being portrayed here, and that is not being widely publicized. I mean, the U.S. side of things is obviously portraying this as an out of control rocket, a very large one at that, 100 feet high. It's 22 tons. It goes 18,000 miles per hour.

Here though, one state media article that we came across suggested that this is just media hype from the western media, that is. What is interesting though, they are saying that the likelihood is it will end up in the Pacific and won't cause any major issues, however, there's no guarantee. And I think that is the ultimate concern, is that this is an out of control rocket.

What I do go back to, Jim and Poppy, as they're calling this media hype here, I go back to February of 2020 when I was covering the outbreak. And they said that the U.S. was overreacting when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak. So you have got to put things in perspective.

[11:00:00]

SCIUTTO: Well, they're lying. A lot of people are concerned about this. I did ask the Pentagon if they're considering shooting it down to break it up, therefore, make it less likely that a piece survives the atmosphere.