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Trump Spouts More Election Lies at North Carolina GOP Convention; CNN Reports, Classified Report on Lab Leak Theory Now Focal Point of Probes; G7 Backs Biden's Sweeping Overhaul of International Tax System. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 7, 2021 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Trump returning to the spotlight this weekend addressing North Carolina Republicans in the state's party convention. He attacked President Biden's foreign policy and his handling of the economy. He also repeated debunked lies about the 2020 election, dangerous lies that many that follow him now actually believe.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. He is not leaving that election behind. Our next guest wrote this about Trump's speech. Quote, to be sure, Trump still holds incredible sway over the GOP. But what we saw tonight ain't what it used to be.

Joining us now is Amanda Carpenter, a Political Columnist at The Bulwark and a CNN Political Commentator. Amanda, always good to have you on.

You break through so much of the smoke on this, the smoke and mirrors on this. And I wonder, to your point about the speech, it didn't make the headlines lines that these rallies used to make. And, by the way, the president social media footprint, which was an enormous force for him in a lot of ways, keeping his name out there but also attacking his opponents down like 95 percent, right, in terms of postings, et cetera. Do members of your party overestimate his sway today?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they do on the general population. His sway over the people who decide Republican contests in terms of primaries, fundraising and get out the vote activities is incredibly strong. But it is sort of feels like, you know, Jim Jones pulled 100 percent in Jonestown but everybody else looking down there thought it was pretty strange.

So you have this weird dynamic happening where the Republican Party just can't break with him but he is losing power. He is diminished. When he took that stage the other night, you know, he is twice impeached under multiple investigations.

[10:35:02] And we saw the consequences of the big election lie on January 6th. His team will never be able to recreate that magic he sort of had in the summer of 2015 when he came on the stage. And there was this kind of mass, broad anticipation what is he going to do next, who is he going after? And it was -- some people knew it was dangerous but there was a circus-like atmosphere that people couldn't take their away from. But now we know where that leads. And I think a lot of people are thankful that he's not on the television in their social media feeds as much anymore.

HARLOW: But, yes, but you also have Liz Cheney's really interesting take on Kevin McCarthy going to Mar-a-Lago. She said she asked him, why on Earth did you go like weeks after the insurrection and he said because he was, quote, in the neighborhood essentially. And then listen to this from her.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY) (voice over): And so the idea that a few weeks after he did that, the leader of the Republicans in the House would be at Mar-a-Lago, essentially pleading with him to somehow come back into the fold or whatever it was he was doing, to me, was inexcusable.


HARLOW: So know what? She says what McCarthy did was inexcusable. She says anyone that perpetrated the big lie, et cetera, shouldn't qualified to run for president.

CARPENTER: Yes. I mean, this is a tough conversation that, you know, a minority of Republicans, like Liz Cheney, is trying to force. I mean, anyone that speaks out against the big election lie gets booed, they get censured, they get pummeled from the party. The ten Republicans that supported impeachment the second time around, the Trump base is saying you're not welcome anymore, get out.

And so I really appreciate the fact that Liz Cheney isn't just putting this all on Trump. She's talking about Kevin McCarthy, other Republican leaders, how you could look at the events of January 6th and then say he is still leader of the Republican Party? I mean, this is the problem.

And I was also fascinated by the fact that she said a lot of Republicans would not support impeachment because they feared for their personal safety. I mean, my question is, through their continued enabling of Trump, how are they making things safer for anyone else? I mean, I understand the selfish impulse to protect yourself and I completely understand wanting to protect your family. But if you can't do the right thing for the country, Congress probably isn't the right place for you. Because what they are doing is making everything dangerous. The threat is ongoing, which is another point that Cheney is always quick to remind people about.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And those people who made the threats, they don't disappear, right, because you don't -- because you failed to hold them accountable. Ross Douthat in The New York Times laid out basically three approaches for how to handle Trump, and we've seen some of this in the public, you know, debate here. You have, you know, briefly alarm, right? Democrats alarm, passing laws to make sure that, for instance, the vote isn't messed with again. The second for Democrats take a more political path, just like make a political argument to beat Trump. But then the third is this, you hear a lot about. Well, he's going to go away. Just wait him out. He's going to go away. And you might call this the Mitch McConnell plan.

And I wonder what you think is necessary for the party.

CARPENTER: I mean, we've been waiting for that to happen since the summer of 2015. And what has taken place is that reasonable people in the party have been pushed out or retired or left, leading total control to, you know, people in the states that are running fraudits in Arizona, restricting voting rights all over the place. I mean, that's what happens.

And so that's why we need people like Liz Cheney to dig heels in and make that fight because the country needs a strong Republican Party. Otherwise, we are poised to let the far fringe take the reins and run a lot of bad things down the throats of Democrats when they take the House, and more maybe in the midterms.

HARLOW: Thank you, Amanda, always good to have you.

Okay, we'll be right back.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Lawmakers are pointing to a classified report as they launch investigations into the origins of COVID-19. The report finding that it was possible the COVID-19 virus escaped from that lab in Wuhan, China.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Natasha Bertrand has been covering this. This report was done in May of last year, Natasha. And, listen, this is an open question. Democrats and Republicans looking at the intelligence here, as is the Biden administration, what is particular about this report and what other intel work has been done since then to answer this question?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Jim. So what is interesting about this report is that it was issued by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, one of the many national labs that has been studying the question of where the coronavirus came from. And it was an early report that said that the lab leak theory, this theory that COVID-19 may have been manmade in a laboratory and accidentally leaked, was plausible.


And this, of course, was very early on. It was at a time when the Intel Community wasn't really giving a lot of credence or weight to the theory that this could have originated in a lab. It was more inclined to conclude that this had originated through animals naturally.

So, now, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pointing to this report and saying what other information might we not have had access to in the last year that perhaps could help us understand better what evidence these researchers had that allowed them to conclude that perhaps this lab leak theory was plausible? Of course, getting to the answer of what caused this pandemic is of top importance to the administration and to lawmakers on the Hill.

SCIUTTO: No question. I mean, health implications also political indications, because if this is the truth, China hid it, major political consequences.

Natasha, thanks very much.

BERTRAND: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA is expected to rule today whether to approve a new drug for treating Alzheimer's.

HARLOW: It would be a huge deal. There are more than 6 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's.

Our CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. Elizabeth, I was just talking with someone this morning about his mother and dealing with Alzheimer's. Is this something that, if it gets approved, could make a really meaningful difference in their lives?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, it really depends on how advanced someone's Alzheimer's is, and that's something I want to make clear from the beginning, which is that this drug is not for people with advanced Alzheimer's. And it's really sad to say that, because as you just sort of mentioned with your friend's mom, those people need help so badly.

This is a drug that has shown or as some people say sort of shown that it can help slow cognitive decline in the very, very early stages of Alzheimer's. So this -- let's take a look at what the study showed and then I'll tell you what an FDA committee had to say.

So there was one study that showed this drug, which is made by Biogen had no benefit at all. And then they did a second drug that showed that there was a 22 percent reduction in cognitive development if it was taken into the early stages. And, you know, a group of FDA advisers actually advised against approving this drug.

The concern is what does 22 percent mean? Does it mean anything for the patient? Does it change their quality of life? Also once this drug is out there on the market, we know that patients will be begging for it for people with advanced Alzheimer's.

We know that in the United States, doctors have a hard time saying no to patients and we, you know, are pretty sure that this is going to be an expensive drug. So, financially, there are a lot of questions and, medically, there are a lot of questions. Poppy? Jim?

HARLOW: Okay. There may be some hope though on some of the cases. Elizabeth, thank you very much.

COHEN: Maybe. Thanks.

HARLOW: Well, gas, it's going up. The average price is $3 3 a gallon. Will it go higher for the rest of the summer? More on that ahead.

And as we head to break, what to look at on Wall Street today.



SCIUTTO: Big development for big multinationals. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen just got world leaders of the largest economies to agree to a complete overhaul of the international tax system, agreeing on a global minimum tax of 15 percent, that during a G7 meeting in London. A lot of companies don't pay close to that. A big question, can she get leaders here in the U.S. onboard?

HARLOW: Our Matt Egan is with us now. There is a lot of weeds here and a lot of minutia to dig through, but it's a huge deal that she got the G7 to get onboard. Can you explain why it matters if they're able to get it over the finish line?

MATTHEW EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Yes, Poppy and Jim. I mean, this is historic agreement from the world's richest countries and it is a win for the Biden administration as they're trying to figure out ways to pay for President Biden's ambitious domestic agenda. And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says this minimum tax globally of at least 15 percent, that would help end the race to the bottom, where corporations, they shift their profits around overseas to try to cut their tax bill.

But this is just a first step. And there are some real obstacles ahead. Next, they have to sell it to the G20 next month. That's not going to be easy because we know Ireland strongly opposes this. Ireland has a tax rate of just 12.5 percent. Then the administration must tell the rest of the world on whether or not this is a fair deal. And the biggest obstacle of all is selling a deeply divided Congress on what could amount to a new global treaty. Clearly, Treasury Secretary Yellen has work cut out for her.

SCIUTTO: All right. So U.S. oil prices back up above $70 a gallon. Of course, the figure most people are going to notice is gas prices above $3 a gallon on average here. A lot of this is recovery from a low during the pandemic, right, when just demand fell off a cliff. Going higher from here? How much higher?

EGAN: Yes, that's right. Everyone wants to know, Jim. I mean, $70 oil was unthinkable. I remember talking to both of you guys last April, April 2020, when oil went negative. It was down to negative $40 a barrel. Now, clearly, demand is way up.


People are driving. People are flying. They are going back to work. So all of that is lifting demand at the same time supply remains restrained. And that's in large part because OPEC and Russia, they're actually holding back production. They're agreeing to pump a bit more, but all this means that Americans are paying at the pump. $3 a gas is here to and it might not be going anywhere for anytime soon.

HARLOW: Matt, thank you. Too biggie headlines, we appreciate it.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a big week ahead. I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a quick break.