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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Repeating Election Lies In Speech And Attacking Dr. Fauci; Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Welcomes Second Child; Trump Supporters Using Telegram App To Push Trump's Election Lies; U.S. Labor Market Recovers In May; Mexico Elections and Political Killings. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 6, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. It's Ground Hog Day without the comedy. In other words, very repetitive and not very funny. Former President Donald Trump's first official speech in months saw him repeating the same old tired lies about a stolen election that wasn't.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That election will go down as the crime of the century and our country is being destroyed by people who perhaps have no right to destroy it. I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I'm the one that's trying to save it. Please remember that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: For 85 minutes it went on like that, low energy to say the least, and airing of grievances about Biden, the economy, China, immigration. I know it's something to laugh this off if it wasn't also dangerous coming five months after a Capitol insurrection inspired by lies.

Republicans still caught in the grips of a man who incited a mob and perhaps in a telling twist, one of the songs played before he came to the stage was the theme song to Titanic. But Trump these days is more iceberg than king of the world.

And with me now to talk about this, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and host of PBS's "Firing Line" and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover.

Margaret, the jokes didn't land, the one liners didn't land, the pants didn't even seem to fit as dwelled on 2020 in a speech that was supposed to be about helping Republicans in the midterms. This his first stop ahead of a summer tour. Are these rallies really going to help the GOP do you think?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, there is a -- I think the predicament is perfectly encapsulated. I actually think in how "The New York Times" wrote it up, Maggie Haberman, or the "Washington Post" wrote it up. This is a president who has increasing hold on the party, the Republican Party, and decreasing influence on the country's politics or on the -- in terms of his own influence, generally.

So, will it help the Republican Party? They think so. Does it keep his hold on the Republican Party? 1,000 percent. Is this going to help in 2022? I don't see anybody running to the Republican banner in 2022 with him at the top, with him promoting the Republican brand and the Republican Party. It didn't show up in 2020 so it's a no.

But it doesn't change the way Republicans see him and they continue to believe that he's the future of the party.

ACOSTA: And John, Trump of course couldn't help but take a swipe at Dr. Anthony Fauci during his speech. Let's listen to that talk about then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: -- and Dr. Fauci, who I actually got along with. He's a nice guy. He's a great promoter, you know, not a great doctor, but he's a hell of a promoter. He likes television more than any politician in this room. And they like television. But he's been wrong on almost every issue. And he was wrong on Wuhan and the lab also. Very wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: I mean, John, there is so much to unpack there, so much that was factually inaccurate. I mean, just lies, obviously. And this is coming from Donald Trump who suggested that people inject disinfectants as a treatment for COVID. And the stuff about the Wuhan lab, Dr. Fauci has said he is keeping that open as a possibility that there might be a leak there. What are your thoughts on, you know, Trump going after Fauci like that?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, behold the feats of projection, talking about someone who's a great promoter and loves to be on T.V. more than anyone else, but may not be very good at their job.

But beyond that of course, the increasing demonization of Dr. Fauci by Donald Trump and his minions in the Republicans Party, it is growing, it's obsessive, and I don't think it actually helps, beyond the fact that obviously. Dr. Fauci's credibility far outstrips that of Donald Trump in any national poll.

The Wuhan lab theory is serious. It should be investigated. There is actually broad bipartisan agreement on this. But the fact they are still trying to demonize Dr. Fauci after fatally mishandling a pandemic out of his -- that's on his watch, on his responsibility speaks to a degree of backward looking desperateness that I think speaks to why this whole rally was bad for Republicans.

They want to look forward. That was their alleged excuse for killing a bipartisan commission. They can't. He won't. ACOSTA: And Margaret, this was the reception that Republican governor

of Georgia, Brian Kemp, received yesterday at the Georgia GOP convention. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWNS: (BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:04:55]

ACOSTA: This is just ugly stuff. At the same convention, the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who also did not bow to Trump's demands to overturn the election results was censured for dereliction of his constitutional duty according to a copy of the resolution obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also called on Governor Kemp and all elected officials to repair the damage that has been done and commit themselves to securing Georgia elections. Margaret, what nonsense?

HOOVER: Well, what nonsense, Jim, and also, you take the third most influential Republican in the state of Georgia, who is the secretary of state, and he's not running for re-election. Instead, he started a political organization a 501(c)(4) that's called GOP 2.0 because he is trying to forge another pathway forward for the Republican Party.

So Republicans who feel disenfranchised, who feel that Donald Trump doesn't represent them have somewhere to go because the reality is Trump owns the party still. He owns the base. And there are so few people like the Georgia secretary of state, like me, like lieutenant governor -- I'm sorry -- lieutenant governor who's obviously better off than Georgia's secretary of state.

So, the top three people in that state, the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and the governor, who are all out of sorts with the base of the party that Trump owns. There is a smalling and just smaller and shrinking number every day of Republicans like Larry Hogan of Maryland, like Phil Scott of Vermont, like Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. Like Mitt Romney or Susan Collins.

ACOSTA: That's almost like a different Republican Party. I mean that -- you almost can just divide the Republican Party into two because when you look at that video -- let's show that video again if we can, in Georgia last night. This is just unbelievable. They are booing their own governor, Brian Kemp.

HOOVER: Yes, but you know what they also have, Jim? They've got two Democrats in the Senate representing their state.

ACOSTA: Right.

HOOVER: A state that has been -- right? So, you do the math. Is this formula working for you Georgia Republicans? The answer is no. But if you want to double down on what doesn't work, keep it up. That's the course we are going in. So Republicans take note.

ACOSTA: That was -- John I want to get your thoughts on this because, you know, the Trump rally was in North Carolina. This was almost like a Trumpism rally there in Georgia, John.

AVLON: Yes. And I think when people are doubling down on a lie, tripling down, condemning people who tried to do the right thing under our constitution and their state constitution, that's called a cult. And that's what's -- that's what we need to confront. And the strain of the Republican Party that seems committed to insurrection, sedition, cults and cover-ups is a cancer on our democracy and the republic right now.

And that's why those Republicans were trying to have reality-based debates about ideas that allegedly animated their party. Those folks deserve a lot of credit and support even if you don't agree with their politics. But they are fighting right now a rear guard action against this insurgency. But we need the call it what it is. They are backing a lie and they are acting like minions in a cult.

ACOSTA: And let's talk about Joe Manchin. He revealed in this op-ed that he will vote against the For the People Act, the sweeping voting rights bill if you can't even get Republicans on board with something like investigating the January 6th insurrection. Is bipartisanship on protecting voting rights a pipe dream? There you see Joe Manchin's statement there, Margaret, what do you think?

HOOVER: Voting rights is not next on the agenda, right? Let's see what happens with the infrastructure. Let's not cut to the chase and say there is no hope for bipartisanship. I know it's difficult. It is very tough. You know, the climate is not right in Washington right now.

We know how Mitch McConnell has approached this. Joe Manchin is a good man and he's trying to stick with the institutions of the Senate and trying to still get something done. I respect that.

AVLON: And I do, too. And I understand why there is lot of frustration among folks. This is not an ordinary time. Democracy itself is under threat. But I you -- but I think this article has been interpreted unfairly. I mean, what he's saying is this -- the HR-1 as it stands, he will not support.

But a lot of Democratic senators including independent Angus King told our Jake Tapper this morning he wouldn't support it as is. In the op- ed, he says he would support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and says there is bipartisan support to do so. I think the filibuster should be reformed. I think we need to be doing everything we can to reform our democracy.

But let's not demonize people trying to cobble together a broad bipartisan coalitions right now however tough the headwinds maybe.

HOOVER: And also, to be fair, Jim, as you know, HR-1 is a very sweeping bill that does far more than just voting rights. It also includes a very comprehensive campaign finance reform action as well as other things. So, you know, you can do -- the reason the HR-4, the Voting Rights Act, is separate is because it is but one part of HR-1. So you can be for voting rights and not be for HR-1 as a Democrat.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And I think what you're going to see, I think, over the next several months is a real debate over this issue because these Republican state house bills that have been sweeping the country, just raced ahead of, you know, any, you know, movement that you could possibly see in Washington.

[17:10:04]

And things just move incredibly -- at a glacial pace here in Washington. And these state house bills have moved so far and so fast ahead of the efforts here in Washington, you have to wonder if the Joe Manchins of the world are just seeing that and saying, how in the world are we going to catch up to any of that anyway. But, you know, I would assume some --

AVLON: But there should be urgency as a result.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Yes. But I saw somebody today saying, you know, if Joe Manchin joins the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell is the Senate majority leader again. So, you know, they have to tread carefully there in the Democratic side, but, all right, John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, great to see you guys. Thanks so much. Great to see you.

AVLON: You're welcome.

ACOSTA: Coming up, big news for royal watchers. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcome a baby girl and pay tribute to the Queen and the late Princess Diana in the process.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:14:55]

ACOSTA: Congratulations pouring in from the British Royal Family on the news that Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle have a new baby girl. Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tweeting, "We are all delighted by the happy news of the rival baby Lili. Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie."

And this tweet from Prince Charles and Camilla, "Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie on the arrival of baby Lilibet Diana. Wishing them all well at this special time."

Let's get right CNN's Paul Vercammen. Paul, what more can you tell us about the new baby? Typically, we watch for, you know -- we're on baby watch on the other side of the Atlantic. You're all the way out in California. So, I suppose the setting is different this time?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the setting is different because quite by design, Harry and Meghan had wanted to live in relative anonymity here in California, and they pulled it off because they announced the birth of their baby girl. There were no paparazzi chasing after them.

Let's give you that full name. Lili, as you said, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, paying homage of course, to the Queen herself as well as Princess Diana. Seven pounds, 11 ounces. And this is Cottage Hospital where the baby was born. Quite a nice birthing site we should say.

A sofa they have in here, a rocking chair, a recliner, the bed itself. And they were able to get out of here on Friday as we said, leaving their Montecito enclave and coming down to Cottage Hospital without a whole lot of fanfare, without anybody snapping pictures. And we spoke with someone who is both a royal watcher, a columnist for the "Montecito Journal" and he lives right by them. He talked about this notion of anonymity that they live in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MINEARDS, COLUMNIST, MONTECITO JOURNAL: Well, he seems to be fitting in very well in Montecito. You haven't seen too much of them because obviously the pandemic and the lockdown. Harry has been since around on his bicycle at East Beach watching the volleyball players. And he's also been at Miramar Beach and Butterfly Beach in Montecito walking his dog and he's talked to other dog walkers. They seem to have that familiarity and has been very pleasant, apparently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And a spokesman for the family also telling us that the family is at home resting comfortably. And she confirms that Archie is very glad to have a little sister. He also predicts that there will be a lot of celebrities stopping by to see the new baby.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MINEARDS: I fully expect Oprah to go over and Ellen to go over with baby presents. I'm sure they'll be absolutely bombarded with christening gifts. So, we'll see more hopefully in due course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And so, Richard and the royals live in a neighborhood called Riven Rock. It's very tony (ph), very upscale. And as he said, he expects that we will see some celebrity sightings in and around that area soon. Back to you now, Jim.

ACOSTA: Oh, yes, that's going to be one very one popular baby out there in California. And your interview there, Paul, just proves there are royal watchers everywhere. Paul Vercammen, thanks so much for the report. We appreciate it.

Coming up, COVID at the course. A pro golfer who was dominating the competition gets shocking news in front of a live audience.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:00]

ACOSTA: Some of the world's top scientists are on the receiving end of threatening rhetoric these days for just doing their jobs. And often that hostility is whipped up by political figures embraced by the far- right like former President Donald Trump who attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci once again at the GOP state convention in North Carolina last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Fauci said powerfully at the beginning no masks. Do you remember that? No, mask don't work. Mask don't. And then he went into masks. And then he became a radical masker. But Fauci is perhaps never been more wrong than when he denied the virus and where it came from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So much of that is false. But not only are these attacks wrong. They are dangerous. Look at what's happening right now in Belgium. For nearly three weeks, one of the country's top virologists has been in hiding. There he is right there. That's right. In hiding, after he received threats from a far-right extremist who not only has military training but a rocket launcher.

And what's worse, authorities have been unable to find him. Dr. Marc Van Ranst tells the BBC from his safe house, "The ex-soldier heavily armed was on my street for three hours right in front of my house waiting for me to arrive from work."

Dr. Van Ranst and other top Belgian physicians have been receiving police protection since last July when they started receiving death threats from far-right extremists unhappy with COVID restrictions. And let's talk about this now with Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a CNN medical analyst and a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.

Dr. Reiner, that is just so disturbing. And when you scare that -- when you scare those kinds of, you know, scientists into hiding like what's happened over in Belgium and you have Donald Trump attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, what's your reaction to all of this? Scientists should not be under siege like this.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, we've seen this over the last year and a half, how the magnitude of how much science has been politicized in the United States and around the world. In the United States, what we're seeing is some elements on the right trying to create a scapegoat.

What we know with certainty is that over the last 15 months almost 600,000 Americans have died. And there will need to be an explanation and you see now some elements trying to create a scapegoat and in the person of Tony Fauci.

[17:25:00]

Look, I've been saying for a while that I think we need a 9/11-style commission to investigate all that we got wrong. And there was a lot that we got wrong in our pandemic response. And you see the right-wing trying to get ahead of that and pin all the mistakes on Dr. Anthony Fauci. ACOSTA: Yes. It's almost like they are trying to create an alternate

reality.

REINER: Right.

ACOSTA: But let's move on. More than 300 million vaccine doses have been administered here in the U.S., but a new CNN analysis found that President Biden does face an uphill battle to reach that goal of 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4th. What do you think? Do you think he can do it at this point?

REINER: I think, you know, right now our average number of vaccinations per day is about 950,000. About half of those are first time, you know, new folks getting shots. And if you do the math that comes out to be about 33 days which takes us to about July 8th, which I still think is great.

So he missed July 4th. No big deal. We get to about 70 percent of the population in the first or the second week in July, which is a big milestone. Look, a lot of the easy pickings, the low hanging fruit has already been vaccinated. Most recent, Kaiser Family Foundation found that only about 4 percent of the public stated that they were about to get vaccinated in the near term. So, we're really going to have to look for those folks who are really resistant, really hesitant to get vaccinated.

ACOSTA: Do you think we get to herd immunity at this pace right now, Dr. Reiner?

REINER: Well, I want you to think about this as community immunity not herd immunity because the United States is a pretty diverse place. You know, we have about 13 states right now that have already exceeded 70 percent of adults reaching -- getting at least one vaccine. And then we have states like Alabama and Mississippi where the rates are about half that.

So I think plenty of parts of the United States are going to have community immunity come fall. But, sadly, we are going to see a bunch of places in the United States with a lot of virus. It's going to be very, very patchy.

ACOSTA: Okay. And a new CDC study shows a recent spike in hospitalizations among children and teens. How critical is it for adolescents to get vaccinated right now do you think?

REINER: Yes. That study showed that over the last year about 200 adolescents were hospitalized, about a third of them needing ICU care, and about 5 percent needing to be ventilated. So, you know, you can really get sick if you're an adolescent.

Only about 25 percent of kids 12 to 15 have received at least one shot. And, again, when you look at some of the data around the country, about 34 percent of parents have stated that they either will not vaccinate their children or will only do it if schools require it.

So, again, we have a long way to go to educate people about why it's important for kids. Kids can get sick. And also very importantly, kids can transmit the virus.

ACOSTA: That's right. Absolutely. And Dr. Jonathan Reiner, always great to see you, always great to talk to you. Thanks for those insights. And let's keep those vaccines going. We appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

REINER: Thank you.

ACOSTA: In a positive -- and another reason to get vaccinated, you don't want to get yanked off the golf course. Check this out. A positive COVID test forcing the leader in this weekend's PGA memorial tournament to suddenly drop out.

This is the moment right here, Spanish golfer Jon Rahm learned he tested positive for the coronavirus. Rahm was leading his nearest competitors by six strokes when he had to withdraw. The PGA Tour says Rahm had been placed in contact tracing protocol since Monday after officials learned he had been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

Rahm chose to remain in the tournament and undergo daily testing. He was asymptomatic and tested negative every day until yesterday. He says he's disappointed but thankful he and his family are okay. Go get vaccinated. Make sure this doesn't happen to you.

As Trump gives his supporters false hope that he will be reinstated, a look at the popular messaging app helping spread dangerous conspiracy theories about him returning to power. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:00]

ACOSTA: Talk on a social media platform now popular on the far-right of overturning the election and installing Donald Trump again as president has led to fears of future violence. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: I'm saying before 2022, something has to be done.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump may have been banned from sites like Facebook and Twitter but his interviews with right-wing media where he continues to repeat the big lie are giving some of his supporters the false hope that the 2020 election could still be overturned.

TRUMP (via telephone): Stay tuned for Arizona. A lot of people are watching Arizona. You know, we -- we need two states.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The former president pointing to a highly criticized Republican led audit in Arizona as one way to overturn the election.

TRUMP (via telephone): It's going to be a very interesting time in our country.

UNKNOWN: It will be.

TRUMP (via telephone): It's going to be a very interesting time. You understand what that means because it will be, you know, I mean, how do you govern when you lost? How do you govern when you lost?

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): On the social media site Telegram comments like these are sparking excitement among his supporters. "Trump knows what happens. Biden administration will be removed. We, the people, will take action. He just told us things are about to get very ugly all over America. These thugs aren't going to take this news very well. Be prepared."

Telegram has become popular among some Trump supporters and QAnon followers since companies like Facebook began to crack down more on misinformation.

[17:58:34]

JOHN SCOTT-RAITON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB: Telegram is both an encrypted chat app and something of a social network. It's been around for years. And more recently, MAGA, QAnon and others have gravitated towards this as a platform moving towards it as they move away from Facebook and other major platforms like Twitter.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And there's very little rules on Telegram, right?

SCOTT-RAITON: Telegram is built around trying to resist monitoring and censorship, which means that many groups gravitate towards it for those very reasons.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): There are groups on Telegram with tens of thousands of members dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory. And the platform is now a source of concern among law enforcement who fear in the wake of January 6th it could incite further violence. Three congressional source tell CNN's Jamie Gangel.

TRUMP: A lot of the success of the country is going to have to, is really going to have to do with immediacy because by the time we get to 2022 they are going to have everything done, the way they are putting things through Congress, McConnell can't stop anybody. He can't stop anybody. If something doesn't happen fast, you know, this is before '22.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The reaction on Telegram, "He doesn't have to wait until 2024, people. He's coming back this year, everything is going to be reversed" says one user. "It's a great day when we start seeing evidence of the plan coming together. He just told us it won't be long now," says another.

And last weekend when Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn appeared to suggest there should be a military coup here in the United States, one prominent QAnon peddler who has more than 70,000 followers on Telegram wrote "General Flynn says the quiet part out loud." Flynn later denied he had suggested a coup.

SCOTT-RAITON: It is very concerning for people who tracked ISIS to watch the growth and excitement around Telegram in the far and extreme right because a lot of us ask this question, oh, no, are we back in a situation where this is going to be a really difficult problem to address?

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman who has a background in the military and intelligence says he fears the conversations happening online now could lead to future violence.

DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, VIRGINIA: That you're saying this same thing that happened over years and years, you know, with foreign terrorist organizations. It's the same type of methodology.

All the things that you see that could radicalize people based on the fact that this is a war between good and evil. If there is a war between good and evil and there is no middle ground, you're willing to do things other people aren't to make sure that you win and that's when you see radicalized violence.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Donie O'Sullivan, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Speaking last night in North Carolina, Trump fed the fires of disinformation and perpetuated the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. He told the crowd last night that last year's vote will go down as "the crime of the century" even though that's just not the case. We know that's another lie.

It's dangerous language considering there are people out there who actually think former President Donald Trump could be reinstated sometime this year. And I want to talk about this very dangerous rhetoric with Ruth Ben-Ghiat. She is a professor of history at Newark University and opinion columnist.

And Ruth, your right, the very important newsletter "Lucid," which I find to be fascinating because it's about this important topic of democracy not only in the United States but around the world. How did we get to this point and how much danger is our democracy in right now here in the United States do you think?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT, OPINION COLUMNIST: We are in a very tragic moment. We are living through very fateful moment where we have this bipartisan system that was supposed to be so stable and now one of the two parties has abandoned democracy and adopted an authoritarian party and political culture.

And this is the big legacy of Mr. Trump who was able to radicalize and chip away at the, you know, at the democratic institutions. And this is why January 6th did not prompt a reckoning like we've been to, have gone too far, and a reconciliation with the rule of law within the GOP but actually acted as an accelerant of radicalization. ACOSTA: And Trump and right-wing media outlets are keeping up the

steady drum beat of lies about the election. It's shocking to hear what Trump said last night, shocking to hear what the former national security adviser said, Michael Flynn said last week about endorsing a military coup against the government. Is it just a matter of time before we see more violence like we did on January 6th? It seems like they are still stoking this.

BEN-GHIAT: Yes. I'm very concerned as a historian of military coups by -- this is also part of eroding democracy to chip away at the idea of apolitical military, which is a bedrock of democracy. So we have General Flynn calling for martial law and a coup. We have a lot of retired military, 124 of them issued a letter saying that the Biden administration is tyrannical and that we are living through an assault on our constitutional rights.

[17:40:05]

This is coup recruiting talk. And so can be considered something like when Representative Matt Gaetz says that the second amendment is not just about recreation but about having the ability to rebel against the government with arms. This too could be considered coup recruiting talk.

It's not that I think we are going to have a military coup any time soon, but it is part of the erosion of democracy. This is part of it too.

ACOSTA: Right. And, you know, we might not see a coup in this country where the government is toppled, Ruth, but when you get into this kind of rhetoric you certainly could have violence that leads to people getting injured and killed like what we saw on January 6th.

And at the same time, Republican lawmakers across the country are working to restrict voting in the next election of hopes of getting back control of Congress. I want to ask you, you know, about some of the theories that I know you and others have talked about, this theory that Republicans could take back control of the House, the Senate, you could have a Republican candidate in 2024, lose the popular vote by a wide margin, but somehow win the Electoral College.

And, you know, lo and behold you have another Republican president or, you know, put that to the side, you can have a Democrat president win re-election like Joe Biden and a Republican Congress refuse to certify those results. What would that do to our democracy if that happens?

BEN-GHIAT: That's right. Well, unfortunately, January -- this is why January 6th was this kind of shock event that liberated the Republicans into this culture of lawlessness. And it's safe to say that nothing is off the table now.

And they are acting as if they are kind of intoxicated by the possibilities of lawlessness. When you no longer have any adherence to the rule of law, you can do anything you want. And this is -- it was very interesting to see the pace of all the activity at the state level to, you know, to institute laws and bills that will allow for electoral trickery.

And this is how authoritarians maintain themselves in power in places like Turkey and Belarus. So, it's extremely disturbing that they feel that they are liberated to do anything. And I agree that they would probably not accept a Democratic candidate anymore, a Democratic victor. And this is a huge problem for our future.

The right-wing authoritarian playbook also depends on creating moments of violence and perceptions of unrest to create the appetite for law and order rule. And this is the paradox of authoritarianism. It's that the most lawless entities in society, and we can include the GOP, unfortunately now, become the law and order rulers.

ACOSTA: All right. Well, you have given us a lot to think about on this Sunday evening, Ruth Ben-Ghiat. We will have you back on real soon. Thanks so much for those insights. We appreciate it.

BEN-GHIAT: Thank you.

ACOSTA: It was another violent weekend across the U.S. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were five mass shootings this weekend. Late Friday, one person was killed. Another three injured in Freeport, Michigan.

In Indianapolis, two people were killed and two were injured in a shooting in a parking lot in Salt Lake City. One person was killed and four others injured in what police believe was a drive-by shooting early this morning.

And then eight people were shot in Chicago when two people in a car opened fire on a group of people standing on a sidewalk. And in addition to that, eight people were injured in a shooting in New Orleans including one woman who was shot in the face.

In total, that's four people dead and another 25 injured in the continuing gun violence epidemic in this country. We can't let these statistics just go over our heads. We need to talk about this each and every week as the violence just continues to mount in this country.

In the meantime, an already deadly election with enormous consequences, dozens of politicians killed ahead of Mexico's version of the midterms. And the outcome could have huge consequences for the United States. But first, the U.S. labor market is picking up steam after a disappointing jobs report last month. Here's Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Getting the job market back on track. The U.S. economy added back 559,000 jobs in May, a big improvement from April. That hiring spurt pulled the unemployment rate down to 5.8 percent. But, Jim, much work still needs to be done.

The economy is still down 7.6 million jobs since the pandemic began. At this pace, it would could take about 14 months just to get back to where we started. But wages also grew and that's something that the Federal Reserve is watching as it monitors rising prices. This week will test how well investors can stomach signs of inflation.

The consumer price index for May is due on Thursday. In April, the CPI jumped more than 4 percent year over year, that's the fastest jump in prices since 2008.

[17:45:05]

And that spooked Wall Street, worried the Federal Reserve might have to raise interest rates to cool a red hot economy. But those fears have faded a bit recently. Investors are hoping that the price spikes are just temporary and those supply bottleneck will work themselves out. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

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ACOSTA: It's Election Day in Mexico. Our neighbors to the south are participating in the largest mid-term elections the country has seen in a long time. The run up to this vote has also been one of the deadliest though with dozens of political candidates murdered.

CNN's Matt Rivers joins me now from Mexico City. This is very disturbing, Matt. What is happening? Why have these candidates been targeted?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, for a myriad number of reasons, Jim, there's no real one reason behind all of it, but just generally speaking about Mexico right now, you are seeing some of the highest general levels of violence in recent memory, and under fortunately, these elections have not been spared from that fact.

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RIVERS (voice-over): Here is Abel Murrieta, a candidate for local office in the Mexican municipality of Cajeme. Crime was his number one issue.

ABEL MURRIETTA, MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Enough of the drugs that steal our kids and destroy our families. I'm a man of the law. I'll lay down the law. My hand isn't shaking. I'm not afraid.

RIVERS (voice-over): But just one day after filming this ad, he was dead, shot and killed May 13th in broad daylight on a busy street while handing out campaign flyers. State authorities' say Murrieta was deliberately targeted but don't know by whom. Suspects or not though, it's just further proof that in Mexico politics can be deadly.

From September of last year through May 25th, at least 88 politicians or candidates have been killed according to Mexican consulting firm, Ettelekt Consultores. They are part of the more than 565 politicians or candidates overall that have been targeted by some sort of crime, ranging from murder to assault to threats the firm says.

The government says it believes both numbers are actually far lower, though, they don't say how they tallied their numbers, but still it admits there's a problem.

It's a difficult time for these campaigns, says Mexico's president. We're going to keep protecting them. Though Mexico has consistently failed to protect its candidates, political assassinations have been a problem for decades but this year is particularly bad.

ANA MARIA SALAZAR, PUBLIC SECURITY EXPERT: I do think this is going to be considered one of the most violent elections in Mexican history.

RIVERS (voice-over): Security experts like Ana Maria Salazar says politicians are killed for a number of reasons, but it most often involves organized crime. In many cases, she says criminal groups want their preferred candidate in office and so they may target others they don't like especially candidates who make crime a center piece of their campaigns.

SALAZAR: Candidates that talk the way Abel Murrieta speak clearly are going to run (ph) bigger risks.

RIVERS (voice-over): Murrieta was known for challenging criminal groups and drug cartels. As a private lawyer, he was also representing the LeBaron's, an outspoken family with dual U.S./Mexico citizenship that lost nine of its members when they were murdered by suspected cartel member in Mexico in late 2019. Adrian LeBaron tweeted shortly after Murrieta was killed saying in part, "They have killed my defender. What do we call this? The rule of law?"

RIVERS (on camera): Do you believe he was killed because of his opposition to the cartels?

ADRIAN LEBARON, NINE MEMBERS OF FAMILY KILLED: Yes, he was always exposing them. To me he died a martyr.

RIVERS (voice-over): Authorities have not identified any suspects or motive in Murrieta's murder, but the victim seem to know he was at risk saying this a few days before he died.

MURRIETA: I am serious and going in with no fear. To do this, you have to very conscious of what you're doing to do and not be scared.

RIVERS (voice-over): He went on to say the streets belong to the people not to criminals, and some of those people turned up here to his funeral in Cajeme. They gave him a standing ovation as his coffin was led out.

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RIVERS (on camera): And you know, Jim, unfortunately I have some updates to those numbers in that piece. Over the last week, several more politicians and/or candidates have been killed raising the number killed since September of last year, the campaign season here in Mexico to 91 over all, and to the criticism, that the federal government has not done enough to protect people here in Mexico.

Earlier this week, the Mexican president actually said when asked about the violence in this country that there is peace and tranquility in all parts of Mexico. That is a lie to be 100 percent clear, Jim. Unfortunately, this is the reality in Mexico right now.

ACOSTA: Well, how do you say Trump in Spanish? I think that's it right there. That's a very Trumpian response to the situation down there. Matt Rivers, just unbelievable reporting there. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

And back here in the U.S., the daughter of a California firefighter killed by an off duty co-worker was honored in a special way at her graduation.

[17:54:55]

Dozens of firefighters dressed in black uniforms lined the entrance to Saugus High School's graduation ceremony as Joslyn Carlon and her family walked in.

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UNKNOWN: Joslyn Lee Carlon.

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ACOSTA: Joslyn received her diploma while wearing her late father's firefighting jacket over her gown. The Los Angeles County fire chief described Joslyn's dad, Tory, "as very brave, committed, loyal member of our department for over 20 years."

He was just 44 years old. Just a very touching scene there in California. That's the news for tonight. Reporting form Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM live after a quick break. Good night.

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