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Senate Back in Session After GOP Stall Tactic; GOP Rep. Greene Absurdly Compares Democrats to Nazis; DHS: San Jose Shooter Possessed Books About Terrorism, Notes About How He Hated His Workplace. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2021 - 10:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, fierce debate on Capitol Hill. The Senate back in session this morning after a marathon night. Republicans delaying a highly anticipated vote on a commission to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. We do not know now when that vote will take place even though they are in session. It is expected at some point today.

Here's what we do know. Right now, only three Republican senators have voiced support that they'll be a yes vote for this bipartisan bill. Democrats need ten of them. They need ten Republicans in the Senate to vote yes for this thing to move forward.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, to break a filibuster, which was happening.

Listen to this, sources tell CNN that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who you may remember, said that Trump was, quote, practically and morally responsible for provoking the events that day. And who, by the way, at the time said there would be other chances to investigate the causes behind it.

He is now pressuring colleagues to oppose the bill as a personal favor to him. Worth noting, the Justice Department charged at least 450 people in connection with January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

CNN's Manu Raju following all of this, who showed up late last night on Capitol Hill.

I mean, Manu, what's the point of delaying all of this and is the ultimate outcome in doubt?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The ultimate outcome is not in doubt. The delay is over a separate matter. It is about how to deal with this bill to try to combat the rise of China. But it is all tied together because the January 6th commission bill is after this debate over this China bill. And right now, Senate Republicans, a handful of them are dragging out the process on this China bill and they can do that under the rules of the Senate for up to 30 hours. And then there are a handful of votes on that China bill. And then there could be an additional 30 hours of debate. And then that could drag out into the weekend until we get to the January 6th commission vote.

Now what is more likely is that eventually the senators who are concerned about this China bill ostensibly will relinquish some of their time and get to that vote. It could take some hours to play out here today.

I can tell you, in talking to Republican senators and Democrat senators, there is palpable frustration about these delay tactics from both sides of the aisle and we just asked Mitch McConnell about how quickly they could get to a final vote today. He said, you'll have to ask those who are compelled to speak, referring to the handful of Republican senators. He himself wants to get all this done today, too.

But this comes as there is this debate within the party. McConnell made it clear he doesn't want to move forward on this bill. He said that privately and publicly because of the concerns that this could undercut the Republican messaging heading into the 2022 midterms arguing that the commission could somehow be used for Democratic political gain.

But this pushback from one key senator, Lisa Murkowski, one of the handful of Republicans expected to break ranks to support this measure, she said to reporters last night, she said, to be making a decision for the short term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on January 6th, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about? Is everything just one election cycle after another?

And another Republican that plans to vote for it, Mitt Romney, said the perception among the public is if the Republicans block this and trying to hide the truth here. They are in the minority of the conference. Expect maybe up to five, six, seven Republicans to break ranks. But not the ten who would be ultimately needed to open debate on this bill to create an outside commission.

So that's going to fail sometime later today -- guys.


SCIUTTO: Remarkable events. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

All right. Question we've been asking a lot. The GOP or the party of Trump? There was no greater snapshot of the turmoil, the battle if you want to call it that within the party than last night. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan pleaded with Republicans to preserve the future of the party.

Embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz, embattled because he is under investigation for sex trafficking, made it clear the division. Have a listen.


PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. Here's the reality we have to face. If a conservative cause depends on the populous appeal of one personality or of second rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is Donald Trump's party and I'm a Donald Trump Republican! We're not going back to the days of the Bshes and the McCains and the Romneys. Our way, America First, is the way forward for America!


HARLOW: Well, Gaetz was co-headlining that event with another controversial Republican member of Congress, that is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

And if you can believe it, she hit another low by comparing Democrats to Nazis, this just days after leaders of her own party denounced her previously incendiary comments comparing mask wearing to the Holocaust.

What do her constituents think about this?


This is fascinating. Watch this reporting from our colleague Martin Savidge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marjorie Taylor Greene!

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back home and not backing down.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, Nazis were the national socialist party. Just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.

SAVIDGE: Following her comparison of mask mandates to the Holocaust, Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday night turned against what she called a little group in the Democratic Party, singling out Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota.

GREENE: So we have actual United States members of Congress, the jihad squad, there's a big group of them, by the way.

SAVIDGE: Until now, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been brushing off criticism from fellow Republicans. But can she ignore her own voters? Those we talked to wonder, what was she thinking?

STEVE KARAKOS, ROME, GEORGIA RESIDENT: The Holocaust was terrible. Terrible. And why she said that compared to that, I really don't know.

SAVIDGE: At a diner in Rome, Georgia, Wayne White said he voted for Greene but that congresswoman's comments have gone way too far.

What do you think?

WAYNE WHITE, ROME RESIDENT: I don't think anybody should be comparing anything to the Nazis and the Holocaust. That's different worlds. This is not appropriate.

SAVIDGE: White says Greene has essentially become all talk and little action when it comes to representing the 14th district.

Would you vote for her again?

WHITE: No. No.

SAVIDGE: Nancy Jones says she is Republican but didn't vote for Greene. She calls the congresswoman's Holocaust comparison reprehensible.

NANCY JONES, ROME, GEORGIA RESIDENT: And I'm ashamed that that lady is representing my district in Congress.

SAVIDGE: Why do you think she did it?

JONES: I think she's ignorant. She has no clue.

SAVIDGE: Before you start thinking Greene may be in trouble at home, you need to remember how she got to Washington, earning close to 75 percent of the vote in the 14th district, one of the reddest in the state.

Former President Trump calling her a rising Republican star and she has ridden outrage all the way to the bank, raising $3.2 million in just the first quarter of the year.

Steve Karakos doesn't like her Holocaust talk. But he still likes Greene.

This wouldn't change your vote?

KARAKOS: Probably not, because of what's going on to the left. I would probably vote for her again.

SAVIDGE: Robin Deal also voted for Greene and said the congresswoman has been taken out of context. We came prepared.

I can show you the tweet. It's not just the tweet. There is interviews and maybe you've seen them that first line right there. Vaccinated employees get a vaccinated logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star. It's actually a yellow star but that's immaterial.


SAVIDGE: She makes a contrast to a horrific murderous event in history.

DEAL: Well, I don't necessarily agree with that statement. But I do agree with her right to say it. GREENE: Thank you, Georgia!

SAVIDGE: Like many other Greene supporters, Deal was concerned I would twist her words.

To compare safety measures for the coronavirus against Nazi Germany and Holocaust that, is wrong.

DEAL: Again, I'm no the saying I agree with what she said. I understand the emotion in what she said it with. How about that?

SAVIDGE: You would vote for her again?

DEAL: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: She still represents to you the --

DEAL: I absolutely would -- I absolutely would vote for her again, yes, sir.


SAVIDGE (on camera): One of the things we found in this district and it's problematic is that we talked to dozens and dozens and dozens of people, many of whom support the congresswoman and others who don't. But in most cases, many of them didn't want to go on camera. They were fearful, fearful of the reaction that they would get from their friends, from their neighbors, or even co-workers. For the most part, many here believe it is safer to remain silent. And that is something very troubling -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: What a story, Marty. Wow. Thank you for that.

So let's talk about what we just saw with our political commentator, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania.

I'm sure you heard if you didn't see Marty's reporting. So, you heard that exchange with the voter. What do you think? I mean, is that an anomaly or representation of a lot more?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems to me that, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene is on the ropes. I had said back after she was nominated for that seat, I think last August, that she should not be invited into the Republican conference, not seated on committees and be told she would be defeated in the primary in 2022. That's how they should have dealt with they are then. That's how they should have dealt with her then, that's how they should deal with her now.

They should disinvite her from the conference.


She will bring further embarrassment to her district in Georgia. It's clear based on those interviews by Martin that there are constituents who are embarrassed and ashamed by her conduct and her behavior. They need to marginalize her just like they did Steve King for his incendiary comments. They got behind a primary opponents and defeated him.

That's what they need to do. This is not hard. They should have never stood by her a few months ago. The tragedy is it seems that marginalizing Liz Cheney for speaking the truth and Adam Kinzinger and others who are standing up for what was right while really, you know, empowering some respects these extreme members.

And Matt Gaetz is another one. I heard that interview too. You know, I love Paul Ryan. I'm glad he said what he said but he's on the board of Fox. They should deplatform some of the people they have given voice to. That is how they have to shut the people down.

SCIUTTO: Okay. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz have limited influence in the party or at least nothing compared to, say, former President Trump. You speak to a lot of Republican voters. I'm sure some who give you an earful and some who agree with your own criticism of where the party is going.

Do you sense any movement in the last several months as you have had some, not many, but some Republican voices such as Cheney and Kinzinger very publicly, in a no uncertain terms call out this turn for the Republican Party? Do you sense any movement?

DENT: I sense some movement, Jim, but not enough. I thought that after the insurrection and the impeachment vote that more would have stood up rather than just 10 in the House and seven in the Senate. We need more.

These members are saying privately what I'm saying publicly in many cases, that this party has no future with Donald Trump. They don't see the future.

And, again, one of the great challenges is so many of the members reside in very safe seats. Their political calculation is always different than somebody like mine who lived in a district with more Democrats than Republicans. I had to appeal to swing voters. Many of these members just have to appeal to base voter to win a nomination and then a general election.

We need too change that political dynamic to make it so that, you know, just simply embracing Trump is not enough to be victorious. That's -- they're not going to get majorities back in the House and Senate until they figure out a way to grow this coalition. Trump is shrinking it. It is obvious to most of us.

HARLOW: If you take a step back, Charlie, for the last three weeks or so, you've got the, you know, repeated horrific comments from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Holocaust and Nazi and the comparison she made, et cetera. But no -- yes, the statement from McCarthy and Scalise and a few others condemning what she said but no action really? No censure vote et cetera.

But then you have an ousting of Liz Cheney from her leadership position for standing up for the truth. You really think there's going to be a sea change in that dynamic?

DENT: Well, right now, I would for Leader McCarthy to disinvite Taylor Greene from the conference. They should kick her out now they should do it now. I mean, weaken her further. You heard what those voters were saying. They were embarrassed and ashamed by her.

Well, the leadership needs to pile on. This is not hard. Marjorie Taylor Greene trivialized the Holocaust by comparing the Holocaust, you know, to a mask mandate which was, you know, to help -- public health and public safety, to keep us safer to save lives. I mean this is just beyond insane.

I mean, the leadership needs to push back on these radical elements.


DENT: To grow, you have to grow towards the center, not towards the fringe.

SCIUTTO: But even, Charlie, if you do excommunicate her, you have the vast majority of the party denying the results of the last election, 2/3 of sitting House members, 2/3 voted not to certify, right?

DENT: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: You have Senate Republicans about to filibuster a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6th. It's no the about one person, although her statements are some of the most outrageous.

DENT: No question, Jim. Look, the issue right now for Republicans is that more needs to stand up to change the narrative. The fact that so many Republican voters believe this myth about the election being stolen is because not enough elected Republicans stood up and told the constituents the truth.

You need to create a critical mass. It just can't be a few. You know, this can't be Kinzinger and Cheney. You know, what is -- you know, what is a leader with no followers? Just a guy taking a walk.

We need to have a lot of followers here who are going to stand up and speak that truth. That's where the leadership matters. And, you know, I was saying this when I was in. I was always frustrated that we had so many members, you know, who said like Paul Ryan, god love him.


But, you know, when Trump went after core conservative principles like free trade and imposing tariffs on Canada and the name of national security, I suggested at the time why don't we put a bill on the floor and basically put some manners in the president's saying he cannot impose a tariff without a vote of Congress? We could have passed that overwhelmingly.

But they didn't want to make the (AUDIO GAP) any consequences from his actions or his rhetoric, because they are always trying to play the inside game which nobody on the outside got to hear. SCIUTTO: Yeah. And they're still trying to play the wait it out game,


DENT: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: But not a lot of evidence that that work.

Charlie Dent, always good to have your honest voice on.

DENT: Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Poppy.


SCIUTTO: Well, authorities are uncovering disturbing warning signs from the San Jose gunman and date back years. Why wasn't more done to prevent this?

HARLOW: Also, this just in to CNN. Federal judge has granted a federal prosecutor's request to appoint a special master to review materials seized in raids of Giuliani's home. That's much like what happened ultimately with Michael Cohen. We'll explain what it means ahead.

And the U.S. intelligence community has -- it appears the treasure- trove potentially of unexamined evidence that may shed light on the origins of COVID-19. How will they deal with it? That coming up.



SCIUTTO: Well, another view of a mass shooting playing out overnight. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office released new video. Sorry you got to see this.

It does show the gunman who killed nine people that day at the San Jose Valley Transportation Authority, there he is there, walking between buildings in the midst of the shooting. The gunman started shooting in building B. And he moved on to building A where he killed more than people. There he is walking calmly and slowly.

Also this morning, as they search for a motive in the attack, CNN has confirmed that in 2016, U.S. Customs officers inspected the shooter's baggage on his return from a trip to the Philippines and they found a memo book filled with notes of hatred towards his employer as well as books on terrorism.

Joining me now to discuss, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Good to have you on here.

So, California does have a red flag law. I guess I wonder what the threshold is for it. And whether this kind of information seized by Customs and Border Protection in 2016, a memo book said he hates his workplace, he compiled terrorism notes, et cetera. I mean, what does the DHS do with information like that? ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's a

really good question, Jim. It's one that I'm sure DHS and the folks investigating this event are kind of trying to dig through to the bottom of. But I think what we need to remember for this specific event is the timing here.

So if I'm correct, California's red flag law went into effect in 2016. So I don't -- I can't be perfectly sure whether the border crossing took place before or after the law was in effect. But that's obviously a relevant point. I think it is important also to know that the United States of the red flag law in California has gone up dramatically in the last few years. I saw some reporting by the "L.A. Times" that I think 1285 temporary restraining orders were issued last year which is a significant percentage increase over the year before.

It is the situation where employees -- you know, co-workers, family members, friends, can go into court and basically say they think a person is a danger to themselves or others. Or law enforcement can do that in a standard is even a little lower. So were DHS to come across information like this today, I certainly hope they would take advantage of the red flag laws and take a person like this, get them the attention they need. But what happened in this individual case we need a little more investigation to figure out.

SCIUTTO: Well, in this case, there was previous information in 2009 in a the shooter's ex-girlfriend made allegations in a filing that he had major mood swings as a result of bipolar disorder. I mean it just gets to what the standards are and do red flag laws actually work, right?

As you know, following shootings like this you know, many lawmakers, particularly Republicans who are not in favor of gun control measures will say what about red flag laws? Let's go after, you know, the people with mental health issues. But practically in your experience, do they help prevent things like prevent things like this?

MCCABE: Well, right now, the data seems to indicate they're not work as well as they could. So, I think in something like 95 percent of cases in which red flag laws are used, the referrals are made by law enforcement. So, that's only 5 percent in which family members and co- workers and people who are really in a position to day to day observe these sorts of violent tendencies, grievances, anger issues, that sort of thing like you had in this case, they're very rarely ever actually going to court and invoking the process.

In fact, an FBI study of pre-attack behaviors by mass shooters indicated that in 83 percent of cases, the people in that person's life who observed these sorts of behaviors said nothing or spoke only to the shooter.


So it's -- that part is not working.

SCIUTTO: True. And then you have cases where they do. I believe it was the case of the spa shooter in Atlanta where the family had warned, right? But didn't do enough.

I mean, I guess for folks listening here, I'm among them, I've covered so many of these things. We've read about them. I've been to the shooting sites and I don't know, Orlando, El Paso, Dayton, through the years.

What's working? Is anything working to reduce this? The politics are so skewed. You can't pass anything. Even though 90 percent of gun owners say, for instance, universal background checks, what change have you seen in recent years that's made a difference? Or have you not?

MCCABE: I haven't. I haven't seen a change make a difference in the last few years. I think our political paralysis over this issue is a major problem.

You know, I like to think about it, Jim, in the same terms that we approached international terrorism issues after 9/11, right? So after 9/11, we didn't just figure out one thing that would help and do that. We did everything that we could think of.

So even though in most cases mass shooters purchase their guns legally, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be pursuing better, more complete, more effective background check laws, closing the gun show loophole, fixing the fugitive prohibitor.

We should be doing all those things because we have an epidemic of gun violence in this country, mass shootings, but also just day to day gun violence on the streets. And we can lower the percentage that number of guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. We're going to be safer.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. But we're not, right? And the guy bought 11 high capacity magazines.

MCCABE: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Like I said on the air a short time ago, I don't know a soldier that carries 11 high capacity magazines.


SCIUTTO: Andrew McCabe, good to have you on.

MCCABE: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: Well, ahead, one of the key figures in the criminal probe into former President Trump's financial dealings could be deposed. We'll have the latest on that next.