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More Than 300 Million COVID-19 Shots Administered In U.S.; President Biden Prepping For His First Foreign Trip; Prince Harry And Meghan Welcome Baby Girl; Lawmakers Voice Safety Concerns In Wake Of Attack; Federal Judge Overturns California's Ban On Assault Weapons; Interview With Joe Lieberman On Trump And The 2000 Elections; First Ever Unclassified Report On UFOs Due This Month. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 6, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Celebrating a massive vaccination milestone, 300 million shots in arms and more than half the adult population now fully vaccinated.
Gun rights advocates set their sights on the Supreme Court after the stunning assault rifle ruling in California.
Also ahead tonight, see an exclusive interview, Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson on her fears about the conspiracy theories infecting America.
And how Meghan and Harry are honoring the queen and Princess Diana as their new baby girl is welcomed into the world.
I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We appreciate you spending some of your Sunday with us.
Well, tonight, the best news yet, that America is beating the coronavirus pandemic. We have crossed yet another major milestone. More than 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, that's according to the CDC. More than half of the adult population is now fully vaccinated and about 63 percent of adults have had at least one shot.
Want proof that the vaccines are working? Look at these numbers. We are seeing the lowest infection rate in the U.S. since March of 2020. What a difference a year makes.
I want to go to CNN's Polo Sandoval in New York. First Lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci are teaming up there. Tell us about their outing today, Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And since then too, Pam, they actually wrapped up that event but they hope that that message does remain especially in communities of color, the importance of getting that vaccination. And just a little of background about the local church that they
visited, The Abyssinian Baptist Church, and it's really an icon in this community here, they have already vaccinated thousands of people, actually set up as a vaccination clinic since early in that rollout, during the early month of the vaccination efforts. And they have seen a slight increase but then those numbers begin to dip.
And that's why certainly the White House recognizes this as a significant opportunity to actually visit a location like this and get that message across, to get that vaccination. Obviously, churches are considered not just the oldest but some of the most trusted institutions in communities, especially black and brown communities. And that is something that's certainly not lost on the first lady today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL BIDEN; U.S. FIRST LADY: People in this community trust the church and the people in the church, and that's how we are going to do it, through the faith community, to reach out to the congregation, their flocks, as they come forward and be healthy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: And during their time here, not only the first lady but also Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, having an opportunity to actually spend time with people who were getting that vaccination and speaking to people, and not only thanking them for getting their shot today but also asking them to go back into the community and to encourage others who are still hesitant to actually get that shot. Because as you mentioned a little while ago, Pam, the numbers, at least at those vaccinations are working.
Here in New York alone, we have already seen over two months where the test positivity rate has been on decline currently at about a little over half a percent, Pam. Those are numbers that we can only dream of about a year ago.
BROWN: And it makes sense that they want people there getting vaccinated to go back into their communities to convince their friends and family to do it as well because that is really where the trust is. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for bringing us the latest there.
SANDOVAL: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: And meantime, over at the White House, President Biden is prepping for his first foreign trip and it's a packed itinerary. Later this week, he is going to meet with U.K.'s Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the G7 summit in England, and then he is going to sit down with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. But on the second leg of the trip,, things could get tense with bilateral meetings with Russian President Putin, and Turkish President Erdogan.
Let's go to CNN's Joe Johns for more on this. So, Joe, what are the president's key goals on this European track? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, if you want a way to remember it, talking to the aides here at the White House, they say a lot of the things the president is trying to push on this very first trip abroad are words that begin with the letter C, like COVID, China, and cybersecurity, and so on, also the issue of corruption, climate, as a matter of fact.
These are the things he is going to push especially in the early parts of the trip. The summit, obviously, that's happening, the G7, this is something that did not happen in-person last year. It was online due to the fact that we were dealing with COVID at that time, and this time it will be in-person.
And then it's good to shift, obviously, the big moment being that meeting with Vladimir Putin that is going to occur at the end of this trip overseas for President Putin. At that time, aides here at the White House say the president is going to be pushing, trying to restore civility and keeping the lines of communication open between the American government and the Russian government.
But next week, this day on Sunday, probably a lot of Americans will be watching Windsor Castle, that, of course, is where the president will meet with the queen. Pamela?
BROWN: All right. Joe Johns live for us from the White House, thank you so much, Joe.
And now let's bring in our panel, CNN Commentator Ana Navarro and Editor-at-Large for The Bulwark, Bill Kristol. Happy Sunday to you both, thanks for spending some time with us.
Let's jump right in, Bill. What do you think? Is Biden's trip all about repairing relationships that became strained under Trump?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: Yes, and I think he will have a successful first part of the trip. Who's not going to like the visit to the queen and G7 summits usually work fine and the NATO summit should be kind of a love fest because they will be happy they have an American president who is committed to NATO.
Adding on to Putin's summit, I mean, it's fine if they can really accomplish something, I would say. I was talking with a Democrat the other day who is concerned that the rest of the trip pales in significance compared to the meeting with Putin. And I don't know how that meeting is going to go.
I mean, if it's all nice talk, happy talk, then people will say -- I would say personal that, well, look, you're not confronting Putin on everything he is doing at home and abroad. If he confronts Putin, good for him, good for President Biden, but then the headlines will be discordance and disagreement on the final step of the trip.
So I do think they set it up in a way that the Putin meeting kind of over shadows what happens before. BROWN: It certainly does because you can't forget the context as well, not only the election interference from Russia but also these recent cyberattacks against the Colonial Pipeline and the meat-processing center that U.S. officials believe emanated from Russia. How do you think he should handle this meeting, Ana?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he should handle it like Joe Biden. Listen, one of the things that he sold to us, reasons people voted for Joe Biden is because he brings such foreign policy experience. He was chair of the foreign policy, the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate for many years.
He knows who they are. He knows where these countries are. He knows where the good guys are. He knows who the bad ones are. And he knows how to maintain relationships with the allies and bring the foes to task.
And that's what we expected of him. I think we had higher expectations for Joe Biden on the foreign policy stage than we do from Donald Trump or anybody else, because he brings so much experience to him. So with Donald Trump, which is, you know, we were happy he didn't go and behave like the McDonald's clown and play with lower lip. With Joe Biden, the expectations are much, much higher.
BROWN: And we know that Biden has been tough on Putin in the past publicly. He has said he's a killer. He has said that Putin has no soul. We will be watching how this all plays out in the next coming days. But I want to turn to domestic alliances.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says that he thinks Republicans will still come around on some of Biden's agenda items. What do you think, Bill? Is that a realistic read of the current GOP?
KRISTOL: I think Senator Manchin is hoping that the wishes foddered (ph) to the thought, and it could be on infrastructure, I would say, where there's some interest obviously where senators are getting a bill that help their constituents, rebuilds bridges and highways in their states and so forth, and voting rights, which people are very worried about, and I think rightly.
I think there's really now a test for President Biden and Senator Schumer, can they put a more limited Voting Rights Act that Senator Manchin will be for? Could they get some Republicans?
Would Senator Manchin agree to break the filibuster if in a good faith effort to alter the bill and narrow it so as to make it more acceptable to Republicans? And, you know, that's -- there's a big challenge coming up over the next two, three or four months on the Hill.
BROWN: And it's interesting watching how some of these other senators have been handling the filibuster. You look at Angus King, right? I mean, today, Senator Angus King of Maine said that he is reluctant but he is not ruling it out when it comes to the filibuster, getting rid of it.
Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): So I am very reluctant about it, but if it comes down to voting rights and the rights of Americans to go to the polls and select their leaders versus the filibuster, I will choose democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, what do you think, Ana? Do you think Senator Manchin should be leaving the door open more like Angus King is?
NAVARRO: Regardless of what I think, I think Manchin is telling us what he's going to do. Listen, he's an institutionalist. He is the middle of the roader. I think he's basically signaling to us, no matter how many times you ask me, no matter what, I'm not going to vote for the filibuster.
And so Democrats and Joe Biden has to figure out a way to go around that and what they are going to do with it. It's going to take a lot more than what it's going to take to change Angus King to change Joe Manchin, and he's a crucial vote. I think he enjoys the fact that he is a crucial vote. It comes with a lot of power in a 50/50 Senate put Joe Manchin, all of a sudden, this senator from West Virginia, into the limelight and makes him a very powerful guy. And he's saying, stop asking.
I mean, there's no reason for him to put out this op-ed today other than saying, stop asking me, folks, I'm not moving, I'm not budging. This is where I am and where I will be and where I will stay.
BROWN: Yes, I definitely think it seems as though he's sending out the message, the signal to other Democrats saying the pressure is not going to work and this is where I stand.
All right, Ana, Bill, thank you both.
KRISTOL: Thank you.
NAVARRO: Thank you.
BROWN: We have got a CNN exclusive coming up later in the hour that you won't want to miss. A Senate sergeant of arms, she the chief law enforcement officer in the Senate, her name is Karen Gibson, and she talks to me about the conspiracy theories infecting America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN GIBSON, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS: I think what concerns me is a group of Americans that have fallen for some conspiracy theories, and just some whacked out ideas that are not based on fact. And, you know, I say tongue and cheek now that we have a vaccine for COVID, I think we need to work on one for disinformation. But I am concerned about people just who just cannot separate fact from fiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Also ahead, gun rights advocates set their sights on the Supreme Court after that stunning assault rifle ruling in California.
But before about that, how Meghan and Harry are honoring the queen and Princess Diana as their new baby girl is welcomed into the world. I'm going to speak to a British talk show royalty when we come back. Stay with us.
BROWN: Well, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are announcing the arrival of a new daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, Lily for short. She was born on Friday in Santa Barbara, California. And her name is a combination of tributes to her great grandmother, of course, Queen Elizabeth, as well as Prince Harry's late mother, Princess Diana.
Trisha Goddard is with me now. She is a British talk show host and a longtime royal watcher. Trisha, great to have you on this show. What do you make of the name here? Could naming her daughter after the queen be seen as sort of an overture to Buckingham Palace given everything going on between them?
TRISHA GODDARD, BRITISH TALK SHOW HOST: Harry and the queen have always been very close. They've always been very, very close. It's interesting to note that the queen does have very close relationships with those members of her family who are actively serving in the armed forces, as, of course, Harry was, and he did two tours as, indeed, did Prince Andrew, and her own husband, of course, the late Prince Philip, was actively serving.
So, she's always had that really close -- do you remember, they did that little skit where Harry sort of did the mic drop and what have you? So I think Lilitet, being that pet name that Prince Philip especially had for the queen, is probably something they have had in mind for some time. And, of course, Diana, it was always going to be Diana as a middle name.
BROWN: Let's talk about that, because, as you point out, they have also named their daughter in honor after Prince Harry's late mother. Let's listen to Prince Harry talking about how he struggled with substance abuse after her death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX (voice over): I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling.
And I would find myself drinking not because I was enjoying it but because I was trying to mask something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So what do you think it means for him to honor his mother like this?
GODDARD: It's so sad, so sad. I mean, he has been very open and honest about how he struggled with the loss of his mother, as I am sure has Prince William, but they have very different personalities. So it was always going to be on the cards.
And, of course, if remembered, Diana would have been 60 on July the 1st, which is the day that they are due to unveil the statue in her honor in Kensington Gardens.
And so now that the baby is born, I'm sure Prince Harry will have time. And I think he'll be even more wanting to be there at the unveiling of the statue because he's spoken out about the grief he went through with his mother.
I think it's out there in the open and I think he's going to feel a lot more comfortable and perhaps a lot less anxious about going back to Britain this time.
BROWN: Well, that is the big question. When will the rest of the family meet this newest addition, because now, it is against this backdrop of the royal rift right after the interview with Oprah Winfrey? So what do you expect in that regard?
GODDARD: Well, you know, I think it was very telling of the duke and duchess of Wessex, that's his Uncle Edward and Edward's wife, Sophie, when they were just recently -- they have just done an interview because, of course, they've had to step up now that Harry and Meghan are in the USA, they have had to do extra duties.
They were recently interviewed and sort of laughed off the Oprah interview. And the countess of Wessex, who is very close to the queen as well, said, look, no matter what happens, family is family, we are family. So I would not read as much into what the media is saying.
I think now probably everybody in the U.K. will probably see the baby by Zoom or what have you if they have not already. And I think it's probably just the more traveling with a newborn baby, and mom just having given birth and COVID and all of the -- all of the issues around, that that it's more likely to stop them actually seeing the baby face-to-face than any huge rift.
BROWN: Right. Traveling with a newborn in those first few months, that would be really difficult traveling overseas.
GODDARD: Absolutely, especially now.
BROWN: Yes, exactly. All right, Trisha Goddard, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your insights.
GODDARD: You are so welcome. Thank you. BROWN: Well, the officers defending the Capitol Hill on January 6th, they were understaffed, they were ill-equipped, but 151 days later, would they be ready for a repeat attack? I asked the new sergeant in arms in my exclusive interview with Karen Gibson, that's next.
BROWN: The Capitol attack on January 6th exposed egregious vulnerabilities within the Capitol complex leaving many members of Congress at risk and fearing for their lives. Surveillance footage from that day shows Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah literally running away as the insurrectionists closed in. You see him in that video where he turned away.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Karen Gibson was sworn in as the Senate sergeant at arms, that's the chamber's top security official, and now it's up to her and other leaders there to ensure that an attack like this never again breaches the halls of Congress.
I spoke with her exclusively about the threats members of Congress are facing today and the challenges in keeping them safe.
BROWN: Now as you evaluate the threat landscape, do you believe the biggest threat to America comes from within?
GIBSON: I don't know that I would say the biggest threat comes from within, but domestic terrorism is certainly a concern. It is not a new issue. There have been for sometime violence that has occurred at women's health centers, animal rights activists, even racially- motivated extremism, like the Ku Klux Klan.
I think what's different now though is the heightened political tensions within the country and the power of the internet that allows extremist, whether they are foreign radical jihadists or domestic extremists in the United States to connect with one another, to recruit, inspire, raise funds, radicalize or plan their operations. And so I do think that that aspect regarding domestic terrorism is a new challenge that we face.
And the difference that we have here domestically that I did not have worry about with foreign terrorists is our First and Fourth Amendment protections that make it more challenging, I think, to identify terrorists within the United States.
BROWN: And have you seen an uptick in threats against members of Congress since the insurrection, given how hot this political climate is?
GIBSON: I would not say since the insurrection, but certainly in 2020, it began to go up considerably and it has remained heightened for a number of members. It has not since January 6th, that's certainly predated January 6th. BROWN: So, you gone back to review (ph). You have found that there is this uptick in threat against members of Congress. How much has political rhetoric played a role in that?
GIBSON: I think political rhetoric is a key driver of some of the anger that Americans feel across the political spectrum towards elected officials.
BROWN: And that rhetoric continues to this day?
GIBSON: It does.
BROWN: How much does it complicate your role?
GIBSON: Well, it certainly keeps things interesting, and it means that there are continued threats, unfortunately, against a number of elected officials.
BROWN: Because of the political rhetoric and the heightened emotions?
GIBSON: Because some Americans choose to respond in that way, yes?
I mean, I am concerned, you know -- we all have a right to express our political opinion and we have a right to express anger and frustration, not in a violent way, to those that elected to represent us and to make them understand thoughts and feelings regarding potential legislation. That's enshrined in our Constitution and part of what I've sworn to uphold and defend.
I think what concerns me is a group of Americans that have fallen for some conspiracy theories, and just some whacked out ideas that are not based in fact.
And, you know, I say tongue and cheek now that we have a vaccine for COVID I think we need to work on one for disinformation but I am concerned about people who just cannot separate fact from fiction.
BROWN: How ready are you if there is another group, animated group that wanted to do harm here at the Capitol building?
GIBSON: Yes. So I think certainly the Capitol police are far more attuned and far more sensitive to those kind of threats, and we've been through a series of after-action reviews that have been IG reports, there are several committee reports that are coming out identifying things that we can and should do better to ensure that we're ready in the future. It's not our job to prevent Americans from becoming agitated and storming the Capitol, but I can say with confidence if that were occur again, the next time we would be ready.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And be sure to stick around for my part two of my exclusive interview next hour when the Senate sergeant--arms tells me her biggest concern in keeping the Capitol safe and the challenge in recruiting new Capitol police officers.
Well, still ahead on this Sunday night, gun rights advocate set their sights on the Supreme Court after the stunning assault rifle ruling in California. Our Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic will discuss what could happen, up next.
BROWN: Well, gun rights activists scored a major win on Friday as a federal judge overturned California's longtime ban on assault weapons.
I want to go right to CNN Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic, to break down what this ruling means.
Great to see you, Joan. Let's talk about this judge's opinion. It's U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, and he opened his opinion, Joan, with this comparison between the Swiss Army knife and the popular AR-15 rifle saying that they are good for both home and battle.
That doesn't seem to be a legal analysis. That seems to be more like a personal take. What do you make of this judge's opinion?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: You're right, Pamela, and it's good to see you. That opening sentence really set the tone for the rest of his 94-page ruling. He spent a lot of time minimizing the danger of assault weapons, and maximizing the importance of having personal security in the home. He said these kinds of assault weapons are not like machine guns, they're not like howitzers, they're not like bazookas.
You're right, he compared them to a Swiss Army knife at one point. Just anything that an average person, as he said, would have in the average home for average purposes. And it was intriguing, Pamela, that he produced a lot of statistics about home invasions and murders and rapes, those kinds of concerns that people in America might have as opposed to statistics for mass shootings.
He said mass shootings, which are the kinds of things that California officials were actually trying to prevent with this assault weapons ban, are actually quite rare, the judge said, but yet he emphasized the kinds of things that people might face in their home and want weapons for for personal defense.
BROWN: Let's look big picture here, what this all means, Joan. The Supreme Court recently said that it will take up an important Second Amendment case later this year. What is that case about and how could its ruling affect other gun regulations like California's?
BISKUPIC: That's right. It would take a case from New York that would involve the kind of permits that are required for people who want to have a handgun -- a concealed handgun outside of the home. You probably remember that in 2008 the justices for the first time (INAUDIBLE) -- BROWN: OK. Joan, we're having trouble connecting to you. I think you
might have been talking about the Heller case. Thank you so much. Unfortunately, these technical issues happen in this age where so many of it is over Skype so forth.
Well, up next, on this Sunday evening, a man who knows a thing or two about controversial election outcomes. He sees real similarities between the 2000 election and what Republicans are trying to do now.
Former vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman joins us next. You won't want to miss this conversation. We'll be right back.
BROWN: Former president Donald Trump is back on the trail. In North Carolina he continued to push the big lie that the presidency was stolen from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I'm the one that's trying to save it.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Trump isn't alone. Republicans in 14 states have passed new laws making it harder to vote and they continue to push a partisan election audit in Arizona all based on that same big lie. Hardly an effort to save democracy as Trump says.
For a refresher course in facing defeat with class, we turn to the 2000 election. After weeks of legal battles Al Gore ultimately accepted the results conceding to President Bush in a televised speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say to President-elect Bush that what remains a partisan rank must now be put aside and may God bless his stewardship of this country. While I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which would be ratified next Monday in the electoral college. And tonight for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Joining me now is Al Gore's running mate in 2000, former Democratic vice presidential candidate and independent senator, Joe Lieberman.
Senator, nice to see you on the show.
JOE LIEBERMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Pamela. Great to be with you.
BROWN: Given all of your experience, what is your reaction to how the former president and Republicans are handling Trump's election defeat?
LIEBERMAN: Well, that tape that you ran of Al Gore when he made his concession speech on December 13th, 2000, and what we see every day including today from President Trump couldn't be more different. And basically, Al Gore put the interest of the country first.
You know, we have lawyers who told us, and our campaign told us after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Bush V Gore, 5-4 for Bush, that we could go back to the Florida Supreme Court, and Vice President Gore to his great credit said it's too late. If we do that, it won't be over until after January 20th.
There won't be an ordinarily transition in our government and in the interest of the country, even though we find the Supreme Court decision to be terribly unfair and unprecedented, we've got to do what's right for the country.
President Trump on the other hand lost the election by over seven million votes. He contested in court more than 50 times, lost them all, and still he refuses to give up. And I think he's really hurting our constitutional democracy by what he's doing and frankly he's hurting himself.
BROWN: How much damage do you think has been done?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I think the damage -- the reason I say -- first off, he's sort of -- it's almost incendiary. Some of the things he said like this crazy business really crazy that he may become president again before the 2024 election. To do that you would have to do something that was totally outside the Constitution, and it would be the first time ever in our history our country will be changed.
It's not going to happen. A lot of his supporters are going to believe if he says that it could happen, and it's just a terrible thing that he has done. The reason I say it's not -- what he's doing now, what President Trump is doing now, are not in his own interest. Because, OK, he's got a passionate band of supporters on the Republican primary list, but in my opinion he saw it on November of last year in the election, he's really lost these self-described moderates, a lot of whom voted for him in 2016 and then decided he didn't deserve another term.
BROWN: But it's not just Donald Trump, right? I mean, you've seen Republicans across the country in these 14 states so far making it harder to vote. They had seized on the big lie to create this opportunity to pass this legislation. What do you think that is doing to democracy, to this country?
LIEBERMAN: I think every one of those steps -- every one of those state laws being put forward is an attack on our democracy, and remember at the heart of this system that the founders of America created, established in 240 some odd years, was the right of citizens to choose their leaders, not a king selected by a right of birth, associative birth, but the voters. And -- so that always seemed to me to be obvious that one of the great goals of our systems should be to encourage as many people to vote as we could.
And now the Republicans at the state level are trying to cut back in a way -- what they're doing that restrict voting, it takes us back to before the Civil Rights Act. I think it's the most serious attempt to limit the right of people to vote, and I mentioned civil rights because in a lot of the things they're doing, African-Americans, and Hispanic Americans, poor people, will be disproportionately denied the right to vote.
It's just a terrible thing to do. It's not worth it. And it's pure politics. But again, think about the country, think about why we love America, and what we love about it, and part of it is that we all get to vote for the president and all the rest of our elected officials, and they're trying to stop that.
I'd say one more word, Pamela. Here's a wonderful statistic which these Republican efforts will cut back. In 2000, when Al Gore and I ran, the poll for president was a little short of $101 million. Last year the total vote for president was almost 160 million, and I know the population went up some in 20 years, but not that much. And part of that was that people voted by absentee because of the COVID-19 virus.
But if that works to get more people to participate, why is it -- a lot of these Republican state legislators are doing was you want to stop that? Because there's not been real evidence of fraud in absentee ballots at all.
BROWN: It's statistically insignificant any fraud that has been attached to mail-in ballots. That is for sure. Less than 0.001 percent.
I want to ask you about cyberattacks, Senator. The U.S. secretary of Energy is warning that American adversaries have the capability to shut down the U.S. power grid. This was an issue you were interested in when you were in the Senate.
BROWN: You were waving the flag saying this is a big deal, we need to be paying attention to this. How concerned are you with what's happening right now?
LIEBERMAN: I'm very concerned, and everybody should be concerned because what we were worried about back in 2010, '11, '12, Susan Collins and I introduced a cybersecurity legislation which exactly what's happened now with the Colonial Pipeline and the others. And incidentally, the pipeline companies lobbied against our bill because they didn't want to spend the money that they'd have to spend to make their cyber system secure.
And here is what, Pamela, that's so important to us in America. We're not a socialist country. The government doesn't control the economy. In fact, 85 percent of what we call critical infrastructure, energy, telecommunications, finance, food, et cetera, owned by private companies or private individuals. We have got to ask them now to take steps even if they cost them a little more money to protect not only themselves but the country.
And I think there's a need for a law just like the one that Susan Collins and I proposed and couldn't get passed in 2011 and '12. It's serious.
BROWN: It is serious, and we're really seeing that play out just recently. And everyone keeps saying there's going to be more to come so buckle up.
Good to hear your thoughts on this, all of your insights, former senator Joe Lieberman, thank you for your time.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Pamela, I've enjoyed the conversation. Have a good evening.
BROWN: You as well.
And up next on this Sunday, why NASA and the White House are getting serious about UFOs. We'll be right back.
BROWN: Well, sometime this month, the government will release the first-ever unclassified report on UFOs, unidentified flying objects, like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going against the wind 120 miles per hour west.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: While UFOs don't necessarily equal aliens, we've seen a stunning turnaround from public officials in just these last few months. What was once considered a joke is now a part of the national security conversation.
Hakeem Oluseyi is a professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University. He joins me now.
This is -- it seems like everyone's talking about this, Professor. It seems like all of a sudden there's all this focus on here on this issue. And now U.S. intel officials said that there is no evidence that UFOs are aliens, but they're not telling us what they are.
From a scientific standpoint, what is the most plausible explanation for these objects?
HAKEEM OLUSEYI, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Well, right now the most plausible explanation is there is no explanation. What we have to do is let the data tell us the story. And so that requires an analysis of the data. So all they've given is data here.
And so as a physicist and our job is to just tease out bits of information from small data situations. We never trust our data. We don't start out trusting our data. So you don't take it at face value.
BROWN: Well, here's my question. It says no evidence that these UFOs are connected to aliens. But, like, how would you know? How would you know if it's connected to aliens or not?
OLUSEYI: Well, because the data would tell you whether or not it's connected to aliens. Right? So the easiest thing is, hey, here's an alien, but we've fallen short of that. Right? And so I think what's happening is we've all been primed to expect and want aliens. Right?
That's a real thing among humanity right now. There are real enthusiasts who will take data that does not actually conclusively say anything, but yet draw a conclusion from it. Right? And right now there are no conclusions that can be drawn from this other than things look strange. They need to be explained.
BROWN: And there's really, there could be a national security implication. Right? What are the odds that this is another country's technology?
OLUSEYI: Well, listen, that is the train of thought that people will go down. Right? The first thing you ask yourself is, are these signals real or are they not real? Then if they are real, if there is a real technology that is doing things that people don't expect and people are describing as so many year as head of where we are currently, the next question you want to ask is, is it ours or is it not ours?
And of course, if it's not ours, then that -- in either case it's very interesting, but if it's not ours then it could be something that's dangerous. And that's when you go to your officials who are in charge of national security, and they will give you those answers.
BROWN: And we'll see a report that we expect to be released this month.
Professor, thank you so much.
OLUSEYI: Thank you for having me.