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Netanyahu Fights For Political Survival; Derek Chauvin Attorney Asks For Shortened Prison Term; Matt Gaetz Facing More Legal Trouble; U.S. Shipping Millions of Unused Vaccine Doses Overseas; Infrastructure Negotiations. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 3, 2021 - 15:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. I am Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I am Alisyn Camerota.

President Biden is reportedly so eager to get his infrastructure package passed that he is now offering to bring down its massive price tag, but only if the remaining $1 trillion comes from new money, not funding redirected from other sources.

BLACKWELL: So, how to get the GOP on board? Well, the president is reportedly offering to forego his proposal to immediately raise the corporate tax rate after Republicans said it would cross their red line to make changes to the 2017 tax law.

CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju are both with this.

Kaitlan, first to you.

The president met with Senator Shelley Moore Capito yesterday, expected to talk again tomorrow. How far have they gotten on negotiations?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're still pretty far apart, because, if you look at what we saw President Biden introduce to Senator Capito yesterday -- that's this idea of doing a trillion dollars in new spending -- that's still about three times the new spending that the Republicans had in their latest counteroffer.

So, the question is whether or not they're going to come up, how high they would come up, because the White House would not say earlier today whether or not a trillion dollars is the new bar that President Biden feels he has set or if he's willing to go lower than a trillion dollars in the new spending.

And I think the other thing that, of course, could be the sticking point for here, and, as always, really the sticking point, is how to actually pay for this. And what we are told by sources is that, in this meeting yesterday, President Biden did float this idea of potentially foregoing that idea of immediately raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, as he had initially put forward, because that is something that Republicans have said they're just not on board with.

And so the idea that President Biden brought this up in that meeting yesterday seems to be an acknowledgement that that -- they realize Republicans are not going to get on board if they still move forward with that idea as a way to pay for this infrastructure plan.

Of course, the next question, given we know there is a conversation happening with President Biden and Senator Capito tomorrow, is whether or not there are deadlines here happening with the White House, and if they see Monday as a deadline, as some other officials have said.

But this is what the White House said earlier today, when we asked about potential deadlines.


COLLINS: Does he see Monday as kind of the deadline for any major breakthroughs on where these talks are going?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. He's going to continue to have conversations with Democrats and Republicans about what the path forward may look like. And, certainly, it's an important -- it's an important moment in the timeline, of course, because there will be movement then.

We have seen Speaker Pelosi talk about how she wants to move forward with infrastructure in June. We have seen Senator -- Leader Schumer talk about how he wants to move forward with infrastructure in July. Those are some realities in the timeline. But the president is not -- we're not here to set new deadlines.


COLLINS: So, she said they are not here to set new deadlines.

We certainly know that Democrats have put some deadlines on this and have said they want to see more movement, some Democrats even urging the White House to move on from these negotiations if there are no major breakthroughs in the coming days.

CAMEROTA: So, Manu, you are in West Virginia. You're covering Senator Joe Manchin. He continues to play a critical role in all of this. Has he weighed in?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has called for these bipartisan talks to continue.

But he's, of course, a key player on all this, because it's a 50/50 Senate. In order to move legislation in the Senate, if the Democrats want to move along party lines, they need Joe Manchin to go along here. And one of the things that Manchin is called more is for these talks to continue before he decides to embrace the idea of employing a budget maneuver that would essentially cut out Republicans and allow the bill to be advanced with -- among all 50 Democratic senators,.


And it's unclear whether or not he would be open to, in fact, moving forward on a Democrat-only strategy, if these talks with Republicans ultimately don't pan out.

Now, he is also working with -- on a separate group of a handful of Republican senators to try to cut a deal, some sort of bipartisan deal, a scaled-back version of what the Republicans are even talking about here. But will the White House even go for that? That is an open question, but no doubt he's a key player to watch in all this, because, if he does green-light of Democratic-only strategy, you can bet that's the way the Democrats will go.

BLACKWELL: Manu, what is this new reporting about Senate efforts to investigate January 6? What does it include? What does it not include?

RAJU: Well, it's going to be a big moment next week. It's going to be the first major authoritative report coming from two key Senate committees detailing what happened on January 6, the breakdowns among law enforcement, the failure to share intelligence, why the National Guard took so long to come and secure the building on that day.

But it is a narrow focus. The scope is on those particular security issues. It's supposed to set the groundwork for funding legislation to beef up security at the Capitol.

But what it does not do is look at the role of Donald Trump, what -- about his efforts to try to subvert the election and those -- his efforts to promote the January 6 rally, things that he said at the event, and the role that other Republicans played to try to overturn the elections on January 6, giving some false hope to those Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol that day.

That is not part of this investigation that's expected to come out, more than 100 pages next week. And that's only going to fuel the debate about whether there should be further investigation, as Democrats want, as Republicans say this is enough -- guys.

BLACKWELL: Manu Raju, Kaitlan Collins, thank you both.

So, the White House is ready to ship millions of unused vaccine doses here in the U.S. to countries that desperately need them.

CAMEROTA: The Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Africa, South and Central America, those are among the first places to receive these donated vaccines.


JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: These 80 million doses represent 13 percent of the total vaccines produced by the United States by the end of this month.

We will continue to donate additional doses across the summer months as supply becomes available. But, at the same time, we know that won't be sufficient. So, the second part of our approach is working with U.S. vaccine manufacturers to vastly increase vaccine supply for the rest of the world in a way that also creates jobs here at home.


CAMEROTA: CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with more details.

So, how is the White House deciding where to send these vaccines?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: To the places that need them the most, Alisyn. That's the calculation that they're making.

So, let's take a look at where these doses are going. So, 19 million of them will go to an organization called COVAX. That's an international vaccine initiative. And then COVAX will send those six million to Latin America and the Caribbean, seven million to Asia, five million to Africa. Six million will be shared directly with countries in need.

So that's how they're going to be doing the sharing. So many of these countries need vaccines. Things are so much better here in the U.S. in the past few months. And, hopefully, the same thing will happen when these countries get their vaccines.

BLACKWELL: Now, there's been bipartisan support in Washington for sharing those doses. How do Americans across the country feel about sharing?

COHEN: Surprisingly, not everyone is so happy about it.

And before we go through those numbers, to be clear, we have plenty of vaccine in this country. I mean, it is not hard to find it. There is -- no one is wanting for vaccine. So this is a survey that looked by political party -- this is a Kaiser survey.

They looked by political party, how do you feel about the U.S. playing a major role in distributing and sharing vaccines? And so Democrats said, 88 percent of them said, yes, that sounds like a good idea to me; 65 percent of independents said that. But only 41 percent of Republicans said they thought it was a good idea for the U.S. to be playing that sort of sharing role.

It's really unfortunate, because, first of all, it helps the people there, right? It helps save lives directly. What is a better thing to do than to save lives? But, also, you could look at it selfishly. It helps us. The less COVID there is anywhere in the world, the less of a chance there will be that a variant will develop that will then come back and bite us, right?

It is possible that, the more COVID spreads and spreads and spreads, you get these variants that could defy the vaccine, and then we will be in trouble. So, in order to stop that, give other people the vaccines.


CAMEROTA: I mean, polls also suggest a larger share of Republicans don't want to take the vaccine. And they don't want to share it?

COHEN: That's right. Right. Good point.

CAMEROTA: I mean, pick your position.


COHEN: Right.

CAMEROTA: But, Elizabeth, never mind that.

A little birdie just told us that today is your 30-year anniversary at CNN? I mean, were you a child prodigy?


CAMEROTA: Yes, you were. Look at thank you.

COHEN: Thank -- I was such a baby. Oh, my goodness.

Thank you, Alisyn. That is so sweet of you. Yes, I am so lucky to have spent three decades at this wonderful network, with fabulous colleagues such as yourself. And, yes, June 3, 1991, was my first day. And here I still am. It's been my honor to help deliver medical news all these decades, especially in the past year-and-a-half.

BLACKWELL: There must be cake somewhere for this.


BLACKWELL: Thirty years? There's got to be something.

CAMEROTA: We were told there would be cake.

COHEN: OK. I'll look around.

BLACKWELL: All right.

COHEN: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. And you still bring it every single day.

COHEN: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Elizabeth, thank you for all that you have done.

COHEN: That's so kind.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you. COHEN: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Congratulations.

COHEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, next up: Sources tell CNN that Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is also under investigation now for potential obstruction of justice, the latest developments in this case.

BLACKWELL: Plus, Derek Chauvin's attorney, they -- he is making a case for letting him out with time served and probation for the murder of George Floyd.

Our legal analysts are here to break it down.



BLACKWELL: Congressman Matt Gaetz is now facing more legal trouble.

CNN has learned that the Florida Republican is under investigation for a potential attempt to obstruct justice. Sources say investigators were told Gaetz and an associate discussed a plan last fall to talk to his ex-girlfriend about the federal sex crimes investigation.

CAMEROTA: A spokesman for Gaetz released a statement saying: "Congressman Gaetz pursues justice. He doesn't obstruct it. After two months, there is still not a single on-record accusation of misconduct. And now the story is changing yet again."

Gaetz has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has denied sex trafficking and prostitution allegations.

Here to talk about this development, as part of our two to four things legal edition, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson and CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, on set with us, guys.


CAMEROTA: This is a huge moment.

So it's great to have you here.

JACKSON: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: Elie, if Congressman Gaetz had a conversation, a phone conversation, with one of the witnesses, is that on its face obstruction of justice?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, not necessarily.

There's nothing wrong with a defendant or a defense lawyer reaching out to potential witnesses, asking, have you spoken with the government? Are you cooperating/ However, there's a very fine line here. If you get into any type of suggestion, you may want to say it this way, you may want to make sure your story has this detail, you may want to leave that thing out, that is obstruction of justice.

So it's a very fine line between what's permitted and what's not permitted.

BLACKWELL: Contextually, that this is now part of the investigation, how much does this ramp up what's facing Gaetz?

JACKSON: I think it's a big deal.

I mean, look, to Elie's point, it's not something that, at the end of the day, you can hold a person accountable for, just reaching out to someone. But we kind of try to avoid doing that, because there's gray areas involved in that.

But remember this, Victor and Alisyn. What you want to do in any time or any circumstance is, you want to the government, right, if they have the goods on the case, they have the goods on the case. You don't want to add to that by potentially ensnaring yourself in an instance when you did nothing wrong.

And, remember, the cover-up oftentimes is even more substantial than the crime itself. And so what you do is, you have to be very careful. There's a lot here, right? I mean, apparently, Greenberg we know about that. We know about his own his--

CAMEROTA: The friend of Gaetz who was the -- we thought at first the target, but now he seems to be cooperating.

JACKSON: Exactly, right.

BLACKWELL: Pleaded guilty.

JACKSON: So, he's a friend. And, apparently, he himself took some type of deal. And he has information, I don't think he himself, at the end of the day, has really any credibility.

But if you match that with records and other information, it could become problematic.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's move on to what's happening with the Capitol rioters.

One of them, Elie, has pled guilty now. Tell me what he's looking at and what it means for the host of other people who are being investigated and charged.

HONIG: So, this is going to be what we call a message sentencing. His recommended guidelines range, not mandatory, but recommended, is 15 to 21 months, so a little bit over a year.

And it's going to be up to the judge where he comes out on this. And I think, if the judge sentences this defendant to significant prison time, to a year behind bars, that's going to send a message to the hundreds of other of Capitol insurrection defendants that this is big- time stuff, this is not probationary stuff.

And let's remember, this defendant who took this plea, he's not charged with the most serious conduct. He's not charged -- he didn't plead to destruction of property or assault. He essentially was charged with obstructing Congress, serious, but there's going to be a real message behind this sentence.

BLACKWELL: Yes, nothing violent here, the charges facing this man.

HONIG: Right.

BLACKWELL: Are you expecting that these men and women who are charged will be taking deals, most of them?

HONIG: The vast majority of federal defendants do plead guilty, because it's so risky, as Joe knows, to go to trial, because the fact is, the vast majority of trials, 80 percent and up, result in convictions.

And if that happens, then you're really going to get the book thrown at you. So the risk-mitigating move here is to take a plea.

CAMEROTA: Do you have thoughts on this?

JACKSON: Yes, I do. I mean, look, at the end of the day, you do take pleas, because I think it's 90 percent or more, particularly federal.

And just backing up a little bit, what happened in this instance is, you have video, which really accounts for every action that you have taken. And so how do you get out from under the specific conduct that you have engaged in?


And so I think it's a credit to the FBI have investigated and to be bringing these people to accountability, but everyone should be accountable for what they specifically did. If they engaged in acts of violence, of course, that should be included. If they didn't, then they shouldn't.

Here's his picture. I mean, I think -- I don't know if we put it up yet, but it's Paul Hodgkins is his name. And he's emblazoned with a Trump T-shirt and a Trump flag, for anybody who wonders if these were Trump supporters. He came in the outfit.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and not dressed like a normal tourist, as one of the members of Congress said.


BLACKWELL: Let's turn to Derek Chauvin, because his attorneys are now asking for potentially time served and probation in this case.

Is that plausible at all? JACKSON: It's not, and it's, quite frankly, offensive.


JACKSON: All right, let's look at the reality.

The reality is, is that not only are we dealing with an instance where he's found guilty on three specific charges, right, relating to the murder, relating to doing it with a depraved heart, relating to his criminality in being negligent and everything else, but the judge also found what we call aggravating circumstances.

Like what? Like, when you engage in a crime, and there happens to be children there, that increases the penalty. When you are particularly heinous with respect to your attitude in a crime, it increases the penalty. When you engage in that crime, when you have -- and you're abusing your badge and authority, it increases it.

And when you do it with a gang of people, it increases it more. So, the guideline sentence would have been 12.5. But with those aggravating factors, he could face as much as 30 or 40 years. Now you're saying he's -- he should get probation?

Look, we lawyers -- and I'm the first to march into the courtroom about mitigation. Consider your background, consider your conduct, consider everything, who I am. You're not as bad as you are on your worst day or good as you are on your best day.

But this is something that's not even keeping with appropriate legal standards, so no.

CAMEROTA: OK, Elie Honig, Joey Jackson, thanks so much. Great to see you guys on the set with us.


BLACKWELL: Two to four guests.



BLACKWELL: All right, next: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political future. That's after an unprecedented deal between rival political parties.

We have got details on what it all could mean for the U.S. relationship with Israel.



BLACKWELL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to hold onto power today, attacking the coalition of opposition parties that came together to remove him from office. In a tweet this morning, Netanyahu lashed out. He said that they would

lead to a dangerous left-wing government. Now, the coalition reached an agreement last night to form a new government, paving the exit of Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

So, can Netanyahu save his political career?

Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator Peter Beinart.

Peter, thanks for being.

"The New York Times" analogized this coalition to Mitch McConnell dumping Trump to work with Chuck Schumer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and then their saying yes.

The breadth of this coalition, and will it hold?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's probably not likely to hold for very long, because the thing that unites these folks is that they want to get Netanyahu out.

There are very, very profound ideological divisions here between some Palestinian Israelis and people like Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister, who are even more right-wing than Netanyahu, even more supportive of entrenching Israeli control over millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights.

So I think that there's a sense of optimism about potentially getting Netanyahu out, especially because he was threatening the rule of law in his corruption case by trying to avoid prosecution. But I think it's hard to imagine that this coalition could last for that long.

BLACKWELL: So, if it does not last, let's say it gets through the first two years of Naftali Bennett's leadership as prime minister, what happens then?

BEINART: Well, supposedly, at that point, it's going to rotate to the to Yair Lapid, who's actually a guy whose party got more votes, but he was willing to let Naftali Bennett go first, because he needed Bennett's support in order to be able to form a government.

I think it's dubious that it would get that far. It's also hard to know how this government would actually act on common issues, that there's so many very, very important issues on which the people in this government fundamentally disagree. Let's say there would be another round of violence, as we saw over the past few weeks.

The people in this government would have completely different views about how to respond to that. And so it seems to me that there's only a small, narrow Venn diagram of things on which they actually agree.


So, I mean, again, we have seen over the last couple of weeks to months that the conflict between Israel and Gaza does not work on a political calendar. These disparate parts say that they won't focus on the contentious issue of Israeli-Palestinian issues; they will focus on infrastructure and the economy.

Is that realistic even?

BEINART: I don't think, ultimately, it's realistic.

I mean, it's easy for these Israeli politicians to say, well, we're just going to ignore the Palestinians. Sure. Those are Palestinians who, again, are millions of Palestinians who are not -- who are stateless non-citizens, under military law, without the right to vote for the government that controls their lives, without free movement.

They're lacking basic rights.