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Economy adds Back 559,000 Jobs in May; Wray Warns Cyberattacks Serve as Warning; Biden Lowers Price Tag on Infrastructure; Trump Asking Advisers about Resuming his Presidency; Pace of Vaccinations Fall. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 4, 2021 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's coverage of all the news today continues right now with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We're glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto. Happy Friday.

The breaking news this Friday, a new jobs report out this morning shows positive signs the economy is making a comeback, but perhaps on the job market at least not as fast as some had hoped. The latest report shows the U.S. added nearly 560,000 jobs last month. That's a big number but lower than economists had expected by about 100,000 jobs. With the rise of jobs in May, unemployment is falling. It dropped below 6 percent for the first time since March 2020.

HARLOW: Next hour the president will address these jobs numbers as he works -- tries to work with Republicans to get a deal on infrastructure.

Let's go through what we just got. Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here.

So it's not as good as what economists expected. It's not as bad as April. Where does this put us?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a solid month, really, Poppy. And, you know, economists really got it wrong last month. So there's no blueprint for this. So I'm not going to put so much credence in the fact that it missed Wall Street or economists' expectations and just focus on the trend.

So, 559,000 jobs added back. Double the pace from April. You want to see this kind of pace continue. And that's enough to lower the jobless rate to 5.8 percent. So the trend there again on the jobless rate especially incredibly important here. It shows that the hiring is coming back. The layoffs have slowed dramatically. And vaccinations and re-openings are allowing this economy and the job market to try to move ahead here.

Where we saw those jobs go back, leisure and hospitality. A decline in construction, but manufacturing adding about 23,000 jobs there. So really important to note we're down about 5 percent of jobs since the pandemic began, those 7.6 million jobs, but going in the right direction.

At this pace, though, it's still going to take some time to replace all those jobs that were lost. And as you both know, there's a big debate about why more people aren't going into the labor market. A few things here. Child care, school situations, schools now closed for the summer, but there's been a huge disruption in the child care part of the equation. About half of states have stopped giving those extra unemployment benefits. They think that was a disincentive.

But economists are pretty divided on this here. In fact, the San Francisco Fed found that of seven people offered a job back in the beginning of this year, only one declined that job because of the extra unemployment benefits. There's a reckoning about what kinds of jobs people are going back to, especially the low-wage part of the spectrum.

So watch this space. America's relationship with the labor market changing a little bit here post-COVID, thinking about things differently.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a great way to put it, Romans. Thank you very much for explaining it all to us.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: We are also following the breaking news this morning. This morning, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, says the challenge in confronting recent ransomware hacking attacks across the country is similar to what the U.S. faced in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

SCIUTTO: That is quite a comparison and it gets to just how broad this threat is.

CNN's Alex Marquardt joins us now to break this down. Also John Hultquist. He's the director of intelligence analysis for the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

Alex, to begin first, I mean, Chris Wray, he had experience in responding to 9/11. So he makes this comparison in no light way. Tell us how he compares this threat to the threat from terrorism post 9/11.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Poppy, he's talking about how, you know, the country is now having to figure out how to deal with the fallout from these types of attacks and Wray's comments really punctuate what a national security threat this is.

We now have ransomware attackers going after some of the biggest companies that make up part of the country's critical infrastructure. We've just been talking for the past few weeks about the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which caused gas shortages and gas prices to spike, long lines at gas stations. In the past few days we've seen this attack on JOBS Foods, one of the biggest food production companies in the world.

But the fact is there are a lot of other attacks on parts of the critical infrastructure that really don't get as much attention, attacks on hospitals, attacks on schools. And it really has become a plague. This is something that's happening on a daily basis. It's extremely lucrative for these cybercriminals. They're making millions of dollars. We saw the Colonial Pipeline pay out $4.4 million to their ransomware attackers. So it shows no sign of abating. So that's essentially what Wray is getting at.

And we saw just yesterday the Justice Department roll out a memo essentially saying that they're going to start treating ransomware attacks in a similar way to terrorism attacks.

[09:05:01]

There's going to be greater coordination in the department, greater information sharing and more resources thrown at this because it is such a significant threat.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARQUARDT: I want to read to you part of what Director Wray told "The Wall Street Journal" in this new interview, in his comparison to 9/11. He says, there are a lot of parallels. There's a lot of importance and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention. There's a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies, but across the private sector and even the average American.

So, Jim and Poppy, now the question becomes, how do you deter this? It is a monumental task where the government needs to get companies to shore up their cybersecurity at home but also figure out some way to deter those attackers overseas.

HARLOW: Alex, thank you and stay with us.

John, let me bring you in here because I thought one of the other interesting parts of Wray's interview with "The Journal" is he talked about this shared responsibility, not just across government, but across corporate America and from Americans just in their daily lives in terms of fending this off.

You work with a lot of companies on this front. Some of them better than others. What's your read on what they need to do more of and what all of us can do more of?

JOHN HULTQUIST, DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, FIREEYE: Well, I think a lot of these companies are grappling with the, you know, the problem of sort of increasingly sort of fighting an adversary that's changing and adapting and growing at all times. These aren't sort of static problems, right? You can't just build a wall and then your day is over.

HARLOW: Right.

HULTQUIST: Every day vulnerabilities change. We -- you know, the adversary adapts and evolves. And that causes, you know, it is a huge resource drain on a lot of these organizations. They need to be able to do it smarter. They need more resources to do it with. And they simply cannot do it alone. They need -- they need help.

SCIUTTO: John, as you know well, this is a huge and thriving business, ransomware attacks. They do it because they make money. And the companies pay those ransoms.

One thing that struck me about Chris Wray's approach here is saying, the DOJ is going to go after this the way they went after terrorist groups post-9/11, which is to go after their money. And while it wasn't, you know, the big headline portion of the war on terror, it had enormous effect in terms of stifling the ways that these groups got funding.

I wonder, given the way these ransomware hackers behave, the dark web, bitcoin, digital currencies, et cetera, I mean is there a way for law enforcement to cut off that money supply, to try to control the money side of this business?

HULTQUIST: I think it's a fantastic idea. I do believe that disrupting the flow of money is a tremendous opportunity to basically get some control over this situation. It won't be perfect. None of these solutions will be perfect. But I'm really excited about the idea of a whole of government approach. We are deep into a vicious cycle already. This was a huge problem last year when they started targeting hospitals in the middle of a pandemic. It's much worse now. And it's high time for a whole of government approach to go after this.

HARLOW: Can I -- oh, go ahead, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No, no, I was just going to say -- highlight, Poppy, John brought that up yesterday, right, they go after hospitals, too, right?

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because they know that, you know, in that case it's not just say customers at risk who might be impacted. I mean it's people's lives. You know, they're smart in how they do this and they're brutal.

HARLOW: For sure. For sure.

And, Alex, I was just going to ask, to button it up, you know, yes, going after the money is so effective, as Jim pointed out so well, but now the money is different than after 9/11 because now it's block chain driven and crypto. Doesn't that make it so much harder, Alex, to track it?

MARQUARDT: It is something that, you know, obviously the government's keenly aware of. You're absolutely right. And John has talked about this.

One of the ways -- one of the things that the Biden administration has talked about in terms of fending this off is putting more resources in terms of analyzing the cryptocurrency chain and so that they can better track these criminals and have a sense of what they're up to.

Two other tactics that they're highlighting is, they are, they say, going after -- you know, disrupting these ransomware networks and, you know, the government has significant capabilities to do that. The problem is oftentimes that it's a situation of Whack-a-Mole where they take down a network or they take -- you know, take out a bunch of hackers here and then they pop up somewhere else.

HARLOW: Yes.

MARQUARDT: And the other -- the last thing that they're doing is, you know, they're trying to get other countries, our allies, to put pressure on countries like Russia which, frankly, harbors most of these ransomware groups and to hold countries like Russia to account.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, you what's interesting, right before this show, I got what is almost certainly a spear phishing email, like a fake business email with a link.

HARLOW: right.

SCIUTTO: Says it's from Amazon. Clearly the address is not from Amazon. Oftentimes, that's how these groups get into organizations, including government agencies.

HARLOW: Totally.

[09:10:05]

SCIUTTO: As simple as that. We all have to watch out for that as well.

Alex Marquardt, John Hultquist, thanks very much to both of you.

HULTQUIST: Thanks for having me.

MARQUARDT: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Well, President Biden is set to speak an hour from now on the heels of this latest jobs report. It also comes as the president offers to bring his price tag down significantly on his infrastructure package to $1 trillion. Also, Poppy, concessions on taxes.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a really big deal. A source familiar with negotiations say Republicans could counteroffer today. We'll see.

Let's go to the White House. John Harwood joins us.

John, can we -- can we -- can we talk about that -- the taxing. Let's hear what the president's going to say today.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: But it's a big deal if indeed he does what he signaled to Senator Shelley Moore Capito yesterday, which is not pushing forward on a mandatory 28 percent corporate tax rate and instead trying to raise the bottom up to 15 so no company pays zero in federal taxes.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy, but that's just for the purpose of this negotiation.

HARLOW: Right.

HARWOOD: President Biden is not dropping his effort overall in other legislation to bring that corporate rate up. But what he's trying to do is see if he can identify a space where Republicans could vote for infrastructure, which in theory they like and in practice they like to some degree, not as much as Democrats do, with a pay for component that doesn't violate their red lines. That they're not going to raise the tax rate.

The minimum tax that the president's proposed, of course, at 15 percent, that's below the 21 percent rate embodied in those 2017 tax cuts and it's part of the broader effort to -- that Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, is pursuing internationally to get other countries to do that.

But this is Joe Biden playing out the string, trying to demonstrate that he's going to go the extra mile to get a deal. He's got a plan of $1 trillion, which is new money being spent. Republicans have a plan that sounds like it's close to a trillion, 928. But, actually, there's only about $257 billion of new money there. So they're way far apart on that. Republicans want to use existing revenue sources, some money that's already been devoted or legislated for COVID to pay for that. They don't want to do any of it with taxes. Very far apart. But even if they can't get a deal, Poppy, they need to do this in order to show Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema -- of course, Manu talked to Joe Manchin yesterday who said I want this bipartisan process to play out. That is exactly what's happening.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: It is. Let's see if it works.

Thank you, John, at the White House for us this morning.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, sitting ducks. That's how the National Institutes of Health director describes states that are well below getting 70 percent of their adults at least one vaccine dose. What can be done? Makes a difference for all of us.

HARLOW: Also, a U.S. Capitol Police officer injured in the insurrection is speaking out now. What he says still hurts the most about that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They kept saying, Trump sent me. We won't listen to you. We are here to take over the Capitol. We are here to hang Mike Pence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:17:47]

HARLOW: Former President Trump is preparing to resume his rallies. His first stop is tomorrow at a Republican convention in North Carolina.

SCIUTTO: This comes as CNN has learned that Trump is privately asking his advisers if he could somehow resume the presidency this year. This after listening to advice, if you can call it that, from, among others, the My Pillow founder. Trump has asked people close to him about the theory that advises have attempted to persuade him, this is not true. Well, see if he believes it.

Joining us to talk now, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.

Ron, I -- you know, the skeptic in me wonders if even Trump actually potentially believes that this is more something we've seen from him often in the past, both before and after the presidency, to keep himself relevant and in the conversation by saying and allowing things to be said about him that are outrageous. What do you think?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't know whether he personally believes it or not, but it may be more than just trying to keep himself relevant. I mean this is just more acid dissolving kind of the foundation of the democratic system. I mean it's just another way for him to try to delegitimize Biden's election in the eyes of his followers.

You know, and it would be one thing if all of this was only rhetoric. But as we know, it is having just enormous real world consequences. The Republicans voting down the January 6th commission in Washington. This proliferation of laws in the states making it tougher for people to vote based on the, you know, basis allegations of fraud in 2020. The audits, if you can call it that, underway in Arizona and Georgia and coming to other states.

I mean, I think all of this is just another step in building this potential crisis of democracy that we seem to be heading for in 2022 and 2024.

HARLOW: You wrote -- so what you wrote about this in your piece is so interesting, Ron, and you talk about, given the sweeping voting restriction laws that we've seen passed in states like Georgia and Florida and almost in Texas, it's still to come there, about GOP-run legislatures operating out of immense fear.

[09:20:00]

Can you -- can you explain that to our viewers?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, I mean if you look at what's happening in Republican legislatures and states where Republicans control the legislature and the governorship this year, the voting restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg. I mean across the board they are advancing an incredibly aggressive agenda on all of the cultural and racial flashpoints of the Trump coalition and Trump base. I mean, you know, states that are banning abortion or putting six-week ban on abortion in the hope that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. You have an offensive against transgender athletes in sports. You have states that are allowing people to carry guns without permits, toughening penalties on protesters at the same time as providing immunity for drivers who strike protesters, overriding the ability of local governments to set their own police budgets.

So you look at all of this, I mean, I say it's almost as if they are governing as if they are programming the primetime lineup at Fox and that reflects the Trump priorities in the party. It's a very real manifestation of his continued hold on the GOP.

SCIUTTO: So let me ask you, Ron, about how the Democratic president and the Democratic Senate and House respond to this, right? I mean there's a lot of talk about, you know, should Biden have less patience, for instance, with negotiating or working towards a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, but also crucially more so say on voting rights.

But I wonder if the real question is, how much patience should Joe Manchin have, right? Because regardless of what Biden wants, I mean, you know, he needs all 50 senators. And right now he doesn't have them on some of these questions.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, no --

SCIUTTO: Do we know how much more time Manchin wants before he says, OK, this is good, you know, I'm ready to move forward?

BROWNSTEIN: No one knows. I mean the White House doesn't know. Other Democratic senators don't know. And probably Manchin doesn't know. I mean there is a feeling in Democratic circles that on infrastructure, in the end, if a deal can't be had that Manchin will be there. I mean pouring concrete is relatively popular in West Virginia and he has indicated that he is OK raising rate -- corporate tax rates as well.

The bigger question, Jim, and one that may be the most decisive political question of the Biden -- you know, these two years is voting rights because what we are seeing is unprecedented. And the way it is unfolding is the states is that Republicans are operating on a party line basis in state after state with no bipartisanship to change the voting laws in a way that they believe will advantage them.

And then you have Manchin saying, well, OK, the federal government should respond only if Republicans in Washington agree to constrain what Republicans in the states are doing. He is giving a veto to Senate Republicans on whether to respond to a party line offensive in the states and somehow calling that an advance for bipartisanship. I think that is the one, you know, where the rubber will really hit the road. Infrastructure I don't think is going to be that difficult in the end if they have to go it alone. I mean -- but on voting rights, finding a way for Manchin to get there is going to be the big challenge.

By the way, his alternative of an expanded voting rights act is one Republican, Lisa Murkowski, who's come along on that, and she has said in six years she hasn't been able to get a second co-sponsor. So while he's talking about bipartisanship, I think Democrats are going to be asking him to kind of put up ten Republicans or kind of find another pathway to dealing with this issue.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Ron, thanks. Great to have you. Have a good weekend.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Well, a new CNN analysis shows how hitting the Biden administration's next big vaccine goal is not going to be easy. We'll show you the numbers, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:00]

HARLOW: Well, the National Institutes of Health director, Dr. Frances Collins, says states with well below 70 percent of their population vaccinated against COVID are, quote, sitting ducks for the next outbreak.

SCIUTTO: So far only a dozen states have reached this goal.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more on this.

Elizabeth, you know, there's, sadly, a clear red state/blue state divide here, right, in terms of overall vaccination rates. Some of that the result of deliberate disinformation.

I just wonder how the Biden administration and others are attempting to get over that and can they then reach this July 4th goal?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, they are trying so hard. There have been so many different incentive programs and other programs to get to this 70 percent goal. Seventy percent of U.S. adults with at least one shot in their arms. And they are going to get very close by July 4th. They may not get to 70 it looks like by our calculations but they will get to about 68 percent, likely they'll reach that 70 percent number say in the second half of July.

It has really been an uphill climb to make this happen. And let me show you a graph that explains this. This is a graph of -- a seven-day average of first doses administered and you can just see that since March or so, or April, it has really come down, down, down. And it is pretty stubborn. The people who wanted to get vaccinated got vaccinated. Now we're dealing with about 35 percent of the population that just doesn't want to get vaccinated and there's lots of efforts to try to make that happen.

Let's take a look at how the United States is doing state by state at meeting this 70 percent goal. The green states have already met it. Already done. Mission accomplished. The yellow states are on track to meet the July 4th goal. But look at the red states. That's a lot of states that likely are not going to make it by July 4th.

Now, it's interesting because the Biden administration is good at setting goals that they can meet relatively easily you'll remember back in the beginning of the Biden administration. The message was 100 million shots in the first 100 days of the administration.

[09:30:00]

They met that very easily. This one is proving to be tougher.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: I suppose 68 percent of the population with the one shot -- or adult population, not bad considering where we are.

COHEN: Not bad.