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Interview With Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY); American Democracy in Danger?; Cyberattack Forces U.S. Meat Plants to Shut Down; Trump Telling People He Will Be Reinstated as President?; President Biden Declares June Month of Action For COVID Shots. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 2, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:01]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And to go to wecandothis.HHS.gov to sign up to volunteer. So, he's calling for an all-hands-on-deck American push to get vaccinated prior to July 4.

Thank you for being with us today. I will see you back here at 1:00 tomorrow.

In the meantime, Alisyn and Victor take over.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. Thanks for being with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

You were just listening to President Biden touting the major successes around declining COVID cases. But when it comes to vaccinations, he acknowledged there is more work to be done. So he is declaring June a -- quote -- "National Month of Action" to get more shots in arms. He's asking pharmacies and clinics to hold extended hours for vaccinations, 24 hours on Fridays, and he's hoping, on July 4, his deadline for 70 percent of adults vaccinated will actually work, with the government partnering with Anheuser-Busch.

BLACKWELL: All right, now.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: If you are -- if you can show that you have been vaccinated, Victor, you will get a free beer.

BLACKWELL: All right, I will take it.

Later this hour, the president will meet with Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. She's a Republican who's leading the negotiations over infrastructure. Those talks could be pivotal on deciding whether they can get to bipartisanship on this crucial deal, or if Democrats will have to go it alone.

With us now, CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, let's start with the president's vaccination goals. He laid out some things that are happening this month and some things he would like to see happen over the next few weeks.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was essentially a rallying cry from President Biden, because now we are getting to the last 30 days before that July 4 deadline that he has set, where he wants to see at least 70 percent of Americans partially vaccinated by that date.

Of course, that means, right now, we're at about 63 -- 63 percent, almost. So, it's about 18 million more U.S. adults that actually need to get their first vaccine shot in order to reach the president's goal. And so he is announcing this effort, steps that they are taking ,in partnerships with some local pharmacies, some of the nation's largest childcare facilities, to help -- try to help people get vaccinated, have the time to get vaccinated and have the time to recover as well.

But I think, also, what you saw there was President Biden calling on private employers to do the same, making space for their employees to be able to take the day to go get the vaccine, because the White House says they have heard from a lot of people who simply feel like they're too busy to be able to go and get that shot right now.

So, really, it was just this appeal from President Biden urging people to go get vaccinated.

And I think one way he summed it up, in addition to talking about what the next month is going to look like, including with that tour that he says the vice president and the first lady are going to go on around the country, as well as they're getting all of these local politicians, local faith leaders involved in this, is, he's talking about, look at the global aspect here and the divide here of just how easy it is to get vaccinated in the U.S. now, where you can walk in any CVS or drugstore or doctor's office to get the vaccine.

Meanwhile, people in other countries are scrambling and desperate to get vaccinated, so essentially saying, don't take that for granted, what the status is here in the United States and the availability of vaccines here, making this push as they're trying to get to those numbers before July 4.

And I have talked to White House officials. Essentially, who the president's audience here is are people who have not yet gotten vaccinated that they don't believe are against getting vaccinated. They just simply have not had the time or still have some unanswered questions. That's who they're targeting in this push that President Biden was making today.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about what else he has on his plate. He's going to be meeting with Republican Shelley Moore Capito, I mean, one- on-one meeting about this. And so what does he hope to get out of that?

COLLINS: Well, it's notable, because she is the top negotiator for the GOP on this right now.

But they're going to be meeting one-on-one amid some concerns that Republicans have put forward, saying that they believe the staff has been maybe too involved in these discussions of where these negotiations are going. But I think what we're doing is, we're reaching a make-or-break moment potentially here when it comes to the White House and how long they are going to be talking to Republicans about what this potential infrastructure plan could look like.

And so he is inviting Senator Capito here to the White House. The White House says they don't expect that to really be an exchange of paper, according to Jen Psaki, really putting forth one offer, putting forth a counteroffer, like we have seen play out over the last several weeks.

Instead, they think it's going to be more of a discussion. But you are hearing White House aides start to say, at some point, these talks are going to have to come to an end. And there are Democrats on Capitol Hill who are urging the White House to move on, saying that these talks are not really bringing them close enough together, because they're still over about a trillion dollars apart when it comes to new spending here.

[14:05:00]

They haven't agreed on what to spend it on and they haven't agreed on how to fund it. So, it's kind of getting to that critical point where it's going to determine whether or not the White House is going to continue to try to get Republicans on board with this, whether Republicans like any of the proposals being put forth by the White House.

And so we're waiting to see how this meeting today goes, and really what it means for the future of these talks.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

BLACKWELL: The former president is taking this big lie to new territory today.

"The New York Times"' Maggie Haberman is reporting that Donald Trump has been telling a number of people that he expects he will be reinstated as president by August.

He will not.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash joins us now.

Dana, this is bizarre. It's delusional. It's also dangerous.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is dangerous. It's extremely dangerous.

And to be totally transparent with you, I ,as a journalist -- and I'm guessing you both feel the same way -- feel conflicted about giving this too much credence by talking about it.

But I think we don't do that at our peril. And what I mean by that is January 6. If you don't take seriously these conspiracy theories that are taking root, really taking root among Republican voters and conspiracists, who now Republican elected officials count as more and more of their base, then it is going to get even worse.

What can we do about it? At this point, all we can do is shine the big bright light of truth. And the big bright light of truth is anybody who has even taken one second of basic civics in elementary school knows that it isn't how it works, unless there is a coup, and this democracy is completely upended.

The problem is, this democracy is getting dangerously close to that point. And so that is why we have to look at what allegedly the former president is saying and what we do know that his, I guess, advisers, lawyers, Michael Flynn, his former attorney, are saying at conspiracy conventions, and make sure that people understand that this is not going to happen.

He is the former president. Joe Biden won fair and square. There is no evidence of widespread fraud at all. You just have to look at Trump- appointed judges to know the answer to that. And that is the reality that we're living in.

And it matters because this is how we continue our very fragile democracy, which none of the three of us ever thought we would have to be saying on TV.

CAMEROTA: But the reason that we need to take it seriously, as you're saying, Dana, is because Trump's rabid, violent...

BASH: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: ... supporters take it seriously.

BASH: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: I mean, as you point out, we have seen this horror show before. We saw this movie on January 6.

And so when he says that there's going to be a date in August -- and I don't know what that date is yet -- we need to mark that on our calendar, because one of his good buddies and I guess advisers, the MyPillow guy, is the person who is saying out loud on radio shows or podcasts that he has evidence now and he's going to be taking it to the Supreme Court.

And the people who listen to this crap are marking this in their calendars. And so this is not just idle talk when a former president says it. And even Sidney Powell, as you say, who was on his legal team, who her own lawyers, because she's being sued for so much garbage that she spewed, says no reasonable -- no reasonable person would conclude that the statements that she makes are truly statements of fact, OK?

So, in a courtroom, that's what her lawyers say, but out in the world, the echo chamber of podcasts, you can guarantee that the Trump supporters take this seriously.

BASH: That's right.

And so then the question is going to be what happens with so-called chatter? What happens with maybe law enforcement or other people within the country, Homeland Security, who try to keep people safe? They're going to be looking now at August.

I mean, there's no evidence of why August is the time. On January 6, we knew what January 6 was. It was the date in the Constitution that we are all following, including us, as part of the freedom of the press. We knew that that was the date that the Congress was going to certify the electoral results.

And we don't know what August is, but what we do know is the following. What we know is that there are elected officials who continue to keep their head in the sand on this stuff. And the more that they just pretend it's not happening and allow their supporters, in many instances their constituents, to believe this, using your word, Alisyn, crap, is continuing to allow it to fester and allow it to eat away, not just at their party, not just at the GOP, but at American democracy.

[14:10:22]

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about voting rights now.

BASH: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Because the president has designated the vice president, Kamala Harris, to lead the effort to get something done to pass some legislation to protect voting rights across the country.

This comes after being designated to lead the border security and the crisis there. These are not plum assignments.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: What can she get done?

BASH: Well, it's interesting.

Like, on immigration, what we're hearing from the Harris camp, from her aides is, it's not as if she feels that her assignment is to go to Capitol Hill and get legislation passed, that what she is crafting her assignment as, or seems, at least, in talking to her aides, what she is taking as her marching orders from the president as is to galvanize public support, is to talk to the people who are on the front lines, activists, to work with other invested groups in order to make sure that there is enough pressure on Congress in order to try to make the federal law happen, because that's really what we're talking about here.

There are all of these laws being passed in mostly -- entirely Republican led states and their legislatures with GOP governors. And so the whole conversation here in Washington is about, how do you have a federal law that supersedes and negates a lot of these laws that are being passed to make it harder for people to vote and to protect voting rights?

And that is what she thinks, according to aides I talk to, her marching orders are.

CAMEROTA: Dana Bash, we really appreciate all of the analysis.

BASH: Good to see you guys.

CAMEROTA: You too.

BLACKWELL: Likewise.

CAMEROTA: Talk to you soon.

All right, so coming up: The White House is responding to the latest cyber -- Russian cyberattack against the U.S. -- how the president plans to address this with Putin.

BLACKWELL: Plus, we're learning more about an overnight shooting that involve law enforcement, an armed standoff with a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. We have got details next.

CAMEROTA: Plus: A group of scholars is sending out a distress warning saying U.S. democracy is in danger. What has them so worried and what do they suggest we do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:09]

CAMEROTA: President Biden says he plans to address the recent Russia- based cyberattacks against the U.S. when he meets with Vladimir Putin this month. The White House warns it is not taking any options off the table when it comes to a response.

BLACKWELL: Now, the latest hack on the world's largest meat producer has already forced some packing plants here in the U.S. to shut down. JBS USA says most of its operation should be back online today.

Now, the White House blamed the ransomware attack on a Russian-based criminal organization.

CNN tech reporter Brian Fung is tracking the investigation. And CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik is here to discuss the impact on you.

Brian, first to you.

We know that the Biden administration says it's been in touch with Russia. What more can you tell us?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Well, the White House tells us that the -- it's been in touch with the Russian government at the highest levels, and with the message specifically that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.

And this is all part of a campaign by the Biden administration to hold Russia accountable for its actions in cyberspace. We have seen in recent weeks that the Biden administration has issued executive orders, rolled out policies designed to improve federal cybersecurity.

And all of that is designed to shore up the nation's defenses against what it says is a very serious and increasing threat of ransomware, including ransomware developed and used by actors that appear to be based in Russia, according to the White House.

Now, we don't know whether or not the specifics of what Biden will exactly say to President Putin, but we are told that one of the messages will be that harming the critical infrastructure of the United States will not be acceptable.

And we have also heard that, as cyber-experts look at the growing threat of ransomware, it's very hard to determine what the line is between state-sponsored ransomware and non-state-sponsored ransomware executed by people just acting on their own volition.

CAMEROTA: Yes, so, two questions, Brian.

Why meat? Why meat suppliers? Why are they targeting meat suppliers? And, number two, isn't it plausible that this would be sanctioned by the Kremlin?

FUNG: Yes, well, to your first point, cybersecurity experts say that that is where the money is. Ransomware attackers generally are considered criminals who target businesses like hospitals and schools because that's where they believe the money is. And those are lucrative targets that can generate a lot of cash payouts in ransoms.

As for whether or not it's connected to the Russian government, at this point, there's not enough evidence yet to say. There are some reports out there that suggest that the attackers are based in Russia here.

[14:20:02]

But, at this point, there's not enough evidence yet to confirm whether or not there's a link to the Russian government itself.

BLACKWELL: Alison, it seems like we're talking about one of these hacks every week now. We have talked about the Colonial Pipeline, Constant Contact. There was SolarWinds at the end of 2020.

This seems to be a new way of doing business for some of these outfits.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Victor if disruption is what these crooks are looking for, then these kinds of cyberattacks are really their new M.O., especially if they're going to make -- if they're trying to make the bigger impact.

So, they're going to go after these bigger companies that offer these vital goods and services to the United States and, of course, would eventually wind up impacting the U.S. economy. And it winds up being really debilitating for so many companies. If you ask CEOs across a broad range of industries, being attacked through their computer systems, through their I.T. systems is one of their biggest concerns, and how to protect themselves.

And if they wind up being hit by one of these attacks, they wind up being at the mercy of these hackers. I mean, you look at what happened with the Colonial Pipeline. In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," the CEO of Colonial Pipeline went ahead and authorized that $4.4 million ransom payment to go to the crooks, not because he wanted to, but because he felt compelled to, because the stakes were so high.

You look at the Colonial Pipeline, it supplies 45 percent of the fuel to the East Coast. The CEO told "The Wall Street Journal" that he felt that it was the right thing to do for the country to hand over that money.

CAMEROTA: I mean, we saw the ripple effect that it had on gas stations up and down the Southeast.

KOSIK: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So, now that it's this meatpacking plant, what effect is that going to have on consumers?

KOSIK: Yes, so Alisyn, you make a good point there.

This is expected to really just exacerbate an already growing problem. Meat prices in this country were already going higher because of a perfect storm of events. We have the economy reopening, so we have more demand for meat. More people are barbecuing. More people are going out to restaurants.

And, still, meat supply, companies, processing facilities, they're still not up and running because of the labor shortage that we are currently having here in this country. So prices were already going up. This is expected to exacerbated it.

In this daily livestock report from these analysts at Steiner Consulting Group, they said this about the hack, saying: "Even one day of disruption will significantly impact the beef market and wholesale beef prices."

So, if you're going out to shop, get ready for some sticker shock.

CAMEROTA: OK, Brian Fung, Alison Kosik, thank you both very much.

So, next, we have some new details in the manhunt for those three gunmen accused of shooting nearly two dozen people in South Florida. We have just-released surveillance video of the attack to show you.

Plus: A former U.S. Marine in a Russian labor camp is talking exclusively to CNN -- his message for President Biden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:27:44]

BLACKWELL: Scholars who study democracy say that American democracy is at stake.

They have published a letter reacting to the new restrictions on voters nationwide. Now, the Brennan Center for Justice reports 14 states have enacted 22 new laws that limit voting. All of the bills are fueled by the lie that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. And they want a bipartisan defense against what they call a deterioration of democracy.

And they call out Republicans for making that impossible.

Here's part of their statement: "Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his stop the steal crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread. And we urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary, including suspending the filibuster."

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman from New York Mondaire Jones.

Congressman, thanks for being with me.

You are leading a group of New York Democrats in supporting bringing voter protections legislation to the Senate this month. But there aren't 60 votes to pass it. There's no guarantee you actually have 50 votes to -- of all the Democrats in the Senate.

Why the urgency now, if there's no suggestion that it's going to pass?

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): Our democracy is in crisis.

The violent insurrection at the Capitol told us so. So too did that vote in the Senate last week, in an attempt to get a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6, where you couldn't even get 10 Republican senators to do that, even though they nearly died alongside the rest of us at the Capitol that day.

And so something's got to give. And that means we must protect the right to vote in this country, which is under assault in so many different states, most recently in the state of Texas, where democracy narrowly survived a few days ago.

But the fact is, this kind of behavior from the far right, which knows that it cannot win elections on the merits of its policy ideas, so instead seeks to disenfranchise large numbers of the American electorate, is going to persist, if we do nothing about it as a Congress.

It's why we must pass For the People Act. And it's why, today, I led a letter with the rest of the New York Democratic delegation, commending Chuck Schumer for his commitment to hold a vote on the Senate floor on the For the People Act.

[14:30:00]