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Senate Report Reveals Security Failures; Obama is Interviewed on Trump's Rise. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 09:00   ET




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


Breaking this morning, a newly released Senate report details the massive security failures that unfolded during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The bipartisan breakdown paints just a damning portrait on multiple fronts, not just on that day, but in the days and weeks and months leading up to it. It outlines evidence of stunning intelligence failures, critical miscommunications and crucially unheeded warnings in advance that ultimately led to just a chaotic response.

HARLOW: There are also some glaring omissions. There is no examination in this report of former President Trump's role in the insurrection and, for that matter there is no mention of the word insurrection in the body of the report outside of footnotes and direct witness quotes.

So let's begin with our colleague and CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild in Washington.

What did we learn from this report in terms of the key takeaways?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were several details that we didn't know before about the extent to which intelligence officials within Capitol Police knew the details of what had been planned. There are, you know, several examples within the report that show there was this evolving threat that was moving at a faster and faster pace that Capitol Police intelligence officials were aware of. However, they also had these intelligence reports that didn't seem to keep up with the information that they were getting. So it was sort of this like v-shaped trajectory. More and more violent, more and more threatening information and yet the intelligence assessments did not keep pace with that.

One of the problems here is that the way that the Capitol Police intelligence units are set up is they're more horizontal. There are three different intelligence units within the Capitol Police Department. One of the recommendations is to centralize those units, make it a vertical -- a vertical path within Capitol Police for information flow rather than this horizontal path. The result of which was that key leaders didn't get key information. So that's one of the big things.

Finally, there was a civilian who actually reached out to Capitol Police as far back as December warning that there were people who had planned to organize and attack the Capitol. But, as we know, this was just one example of several examples where Capitol Police had eyes on a potential threat and yet did not seem to act with the robustness that was required to actually fend this off.

However, Capitol Police maintains that there was not one law enforcement agency that accurately predicted there would be what was in effect a small army descending on the Capitol. That is their explanation. They say the intelligence simply didn't support that conclusion, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You know, it's interesting, the lack of intelligence communication, coordination, very similar to what they found pre-9/11, right?

WILD: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: And that was one of the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. But we won't have a 9/11-style commission, at least it looks like it.

WILD: Right.

SCIUTTO: Wild -- Whitney Wild, thanks so much.

CNN's senior law enforcement analyst, former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe joins us now to break down the implications here.

Big picture. So this is the second miss, right, on an investigation. No bipartisan commission. That was voted down, filibustered by Republicans in the Senate. And this report, bipartisan but does not address Trump's role leading up to it in terms of encouraging this attack, but also crucially on the day of, right, you know, open questions about his communications with the Pentagon, for instance, on deployment of the National Guard. Can this be a credible investigation without looking into those questions regarding the former president?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Jim, I think it can be credible about the things it addressed, which as you just detailed, are not the entire scope of the problem that we need to develop a better understanding of. But what it can't be is a complete investigation. And that is what we so desperately need at this point.

I think one of the most really concerning things that the report points out is that they had only limited cooperation from the FBI and from the Department of Homeland Security. One of the most compelling questions that lingers for me to this day, having been 20 years in the FBI and having endured the aftermath of crisis events, everything from the Boston bombing to the Ft. Hood shooting to, of course, 9/11 itself, is the importance of a full disclosure to -- of what the organization knew and how they handled that information. And that disclosure has to take place to the folks that are investigating the event.

That has still not happened despite this Senate report. We still don't know what the FBI knew prior to the attack and how they handled that intelligence.

I can tell you from my own experience, the FBI has a vast and productive informant network into extremists -- the extremist community, the domestic extremist community.


We still don't know what those informants were telling the FBI prior to this insurrection.

HARLOW: So why would that be, as someone who was so high up in the agency, Andy? Because that's what I walk away from reading this report is that it's -- there's there, there, but not everything there. That it's partial. And without a full picture, how do you prevent the next?

MCCABE: You don't. you don't. We won't prevent the next one, Poppy, unless we have an absolutely full reckoning of how all of these agencies, the bureau, DHS, Capitol Police, handled their responsibilities in the lead up to the attack.

I can't explain why the FBI and DHS apparently didn't cooperate in a full and transparent manner or in a timely manner with the -- with the committee, but that's something that should not be tolerated under any administration.

SCIUTTO: Andrew, the one piece of this that has been working is the courts and the criminal prosecutions. You have more than 400 participants charged so far. And the FBI is investigating others. You may have dozens more charges.

But you have Republican lawmakers, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley among them, attacking those by saying that, well, you have unequal justice because you're not similarly prosecuting folks who took place, for instance, in racial justice riots and protests in 2020 leading up to the election.

Your response to that argument that this is somehow unequal justice.

MCCABE: It's ridiculous. It's another fig leaf that the Republicans are using to try to falsely equate the attack on January 6th with some of the violence that was a corollary to the social justice protests in the summer of 2020. The two are not the same. Anybody who watched both on -- from the comfort of their couch at home could tell you the same thing.

The bottom line for the FBI and DOJ is, if the cases are there, you bring them. Whether it's emanating from a Black Lives Matter protest or a Trump rally that tries to take over the Capitol. If you have instances of violence and you can prove cases against those folks that were engaged in it, you bring those cases. I think that's what the FBI has done here. Certainly with respect to January 6th, there's many, many, many more cases to bring than there were cases coming out of the -- out of the 2020 -- summer of 2020 protests, but, you know, you deal with the facts as you find them.

HARLOW: Andy McCabe, thank you, on all this.

MCCABE: Thanks.

HARLOW: Also this, big headline overnight, former President Obama criticizing Republicans for embracing former President Trump's baseless claims about the 2020 election and the big lie.

SCIUTTO: In a wide-ranging interview with our colleague Anderson Cooper, Obama spoke about the dangerous undercurrents inside the Republican Party today that began, he says, during his time in the White House and eventually, in his view, became the dominant message of the GOP.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": You write about Sarah Palin, about her brief ascendancy, and you talk about dark spirits that have long been lurking on the edges of the Republican Party coming center stage.

Did you ever think it would get this dark?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No. I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected, that you would have the so-called Republican establishment who would say, OK, you know, it's a problem if the White House isn't -- doesn't seem to be concerned about Russian meddling. Or it's a problem if we have a president who is saying that, you know, neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, there are good people on both sides. You know, that that's a little bit beyond the pale.

And the degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment say, hold on, time out, that's not acceptable, that's not who we are, but rather be cowed into accepting it and then finally culminating in January 6th where what originally was, oh, don't worry, this isn't going anywhere. We're just letting Trump and others vent. And then suddenly you now have large portions of an elected Congress going along with the falsehood that there were problems with the election.

COOPER: And the leadership of the GOP, briefly for a, you know, one night when they still had this sort of --


COOPER: Scent of fear in them --


COOPER: You know, going against the president --

OBAMA: And then, poof, suddenly everybody was back in line.

Now, what that -- the reason for that is because the base believed it.


And the base believed it because this had been told to them not just by the president but by the media that they watch and nobody stood up and said, stop, this is enough. This is not true. I won't say nobody. Let me correct it. There were some very brave people who did their jobs, like the secretary of state in Georgia, who was then viciously attacked for it. And all those congressmen started looking around and they said, you know what, I'll lose my job. I'll get voted out of office.

Another way of saying this is, I didn't expect that there would be so few people who would say, well, I don't mind losing my office because this is too important. America is too important.

COOPER: Some things are more were than just --

OBAMA: Our democracy is too important. We didn't see that.

Now, you know, I'm still the hope and change guy. And so my hope is -- is that the tides will turn, but that does require each of us to understand that this experiment in democracy is not self-executing. It doesn't happen just automatically. It happens because each successive generation says these values, these truths we hold self-evident. This is important. We're going to invest in it and sacrifice for it and we'll stand up for it, even when it's not politically convenient.


HARLOW: All right, let's talk about what we just heard. Errol Louis, political anchor at Spectrum News, and Ashley Allison is the former national coalitions director for the Biden/Harris campaign.

It's good to have both of you.

And I -- I'd like to just, again, remind people of one thing that we did hear from the former president last night.

And, Errol, that is that he said, I think the biggest challenge we have is we don't have the kinds of shared stories we used to have. And when he says, you know, I'm still the hope and change guy, it shows that he hasn't given up that hope that there is a better out there and that, you know, we will bend toward that better as a society.

You aren't convinced. You are not convinced, Errol, that the gentle people to people approaches will work now. Why?

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: No. They have proven not to have worked. I mean -- and as we often hear said, hope is not a strategy. You know, it only takes a couple of hundred Republican members of Congress and about 50 Republican senators, it takes about 250 people to bring this whole project to a halt and put it in grave danger. That's how serious the stakes are. And so even if people had followed the advice that President Obama was

suggesting in the clip that you played, if there had been mass resignations from the party or mass resignations from Congress or people losing primary after primary, well, you know, you replace them with 200 extremists and you're right back where you started.

So I don't know that this is going to be about changing the stories that we tell each other. I think it's going to take much stiffer medicine, frankly, to try and get the toxins out of the political system.

And make no mistake, this is toxic what is happening right now in the country. What we saw on January 6th is a threat to the republic. You're not going to talk people out of it with stories. I think we're going to have to do something a little bit more forceful than that, Brianna.

SCIUTTO: Ashley, there's a commonality between the view, the hopes you hear expressed from former President Obama, but also President Biden or even a Joe Manchin, right? An idea that we, they, can find a bipartisan way.

And, by the way, public polling shows that there's -- there's majority support for that among voters. But as a practical matter, is that sort of bipartisanship no -- does it no longer exist in Washington given the political incentives, gerrymandering, et cetera? I mean -- and, frankly, the siloing of information?

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN/HARRIS 2020: Well, I would always love to be more optimistic. And, you know, hearing president -- or former President Obama talk last night, he did remind me of the hope and change and one of the reasons why I became an organizer and really wanted to talk to people.

I don't think he was really talking about the hope and change with Mitch McConnell. He tried that for eight years and he realized it kind of was met dead in the water. And now we see Joe Biden is dealing with the same thing.

Mitch McConnell's not interested in bipartisanship. But I think he -- President Obama was talking about those voters that elect him over and over and really being able to go into communities similar to his origins of being a community organizer and having those conversations.

But I don't want to be Pollyannaish and think that those conversations aren't going to be hard and that people have tried to have those conversations and it seems like, you know, one side may believe someone's telling of their truth but then the other side is like, oh, it's not that bad.


Racism doesn't exist that way. And I think you're seeing that in the Republican Party is that Democrats come making an offering over and over and over again and they say, no, and they don't want to negotiate. So we're seeing that with the voting rights provisions. You know,

there is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The last time it was actually restored was in 2006 during George W. Bush. That's been a very long time. And then judges on the Supreme Court eroded it in 2013. And there's been time and time again where we could have re- authorized it. Or look at the For the People Act.

But it's not just like that those federal pieces of legislation are the things that are stopping and that, you know, we could get an infrastructure bill. But it's also the things that are happening in the states.

So from the very top level of President Trump, who had no interest in bipartisanship, all the way down to the Senate and Congress and then even in the state houses, it doesn't seem like Republicans and Democrats are going to be able to find a way, as Errol said, just by telling stories.

HARLOW: I did think, Ashley, your point -- I read something that you wrote, that you said, you know, there is, though, more of a commonality among many folks on the south side of Chicago and West Virginia, acknowledging, you know, the race tension, obviously, but -- and that component of it. But can you speak to that a little bit and seeing that shared struggle more?

ALLISON: Sure. I think that we have often been told that we are more different than we are alike. And that's just not true.

I loved watching the faces of those young black men talk last night and be encouraged, despite every single obstacle in life. I don't know how anyone could hear the one gentleman -- I remember actually meeting one of those young men when he was on his way to college when I worked in the White House and to see him as an adult. But he said he had to wear a bulletproof vest just to go to high school.

HARLOW: Right.


ALLISON: We should be outraged. You know, when the pandemic hit, everyone was saying that, you know, kids are going to have to be educated for school and we don't have broadband. Well, guess what, the kids on the south side of Chicago didn't have access to great broadband, but neither did the people in West Virginia. The kids on the south side of Chicago are suffering from failing schools and so are the folks in West Virginia. The poverty that is hitting us, the south side of Chicago, is similar to the poverty that is hitting the people in West Virginia. So solutions can help.

Now, there is racial tension that we cannot ignore from the origin story of our country, but we are more alike than we are different. And if we actually took the time to learn from one another and be in conversation and if elected officials -- I don't think it's the public a lot of time --

SCIUTTO: Yes. ALLISON: But if elected officials were more willing to have honest conversations and not just posture and be about politics, we could get a lot farther.

SCIUTTO: Well, a lot of public polling, right, show agreement, or at least large majorities agree on certain of these issues. The trouble is you have a whole host of political incentives that drive the representatives to go a different way often against the majority. Just look at background checks.

Listen, stay with us, Errol and Ashley. We have more to discuss.

Still to come this hour, much more with President Obama, including his thoughts on race in America.

Also ahead, new audio of a phone call which reveals how Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about President Biden. That audio, a CNN exclusive. You'll want to hear it. It's ahead.

HARLOW: Also, Vice President Harris meets with Mexico's president today. Her message to undocumented migrants, do not come to the United States, and it's getting a sharp response from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: More now on that wide-ranging, fascinating interview with former President Barack Obama. Our Anderson Cooper speaking with him, asking him if he felt that he told the complete story of race in America enough during his eight years in the White House.

Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Look, I tried. I think I told a lot of stories. You take a look at the speeches I gave in Selma and the speech I gave during the campaign about Reverend Wright and that whole episode. And, you know, each and every time I tried to describe why it is that we are still not fully reconciled with our history. But the fact is that it is a hard thing to hear. It's hard for the majority in this country of white Americans to recognize that, look, you can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our forefathers and yet it is also true that this terrible stuff happened and that, you know, the vestiges of that linger and continue.

And the truth is, is that when I tried to tell that story, oftentimes my political opponents would deliberately not only block out that story but try to exploit it for their own political gain.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [09:25:00]

SCIUTTO: All right, CNN political commentators Errol Louis, Ashley Allison back with us.

Errol, interesting. So the former president's answers, he talks about conversations and speeches and there have been a lot in the Biden administration. But when you look at legislation and steps to address some of these issues in a more concrete form, I wonder if you can draw a line between Obama and now the Biden administration -- and, by the way, Democrats now have all three branches of government. They've got -- they've got the House, the Senate and the White House and yet the two big, you know, efforts here, voting rights and policing are stalled. Voting rights looks like it's on life support.

You know, is there a larger issue here for the Democratic Party, being able to talk about these issues but not make hard progress?

LOUIS: Well, it's a -- it's is a dilemma. It's a conundrum. And while watching the former president talk about it, it reminds me of things that we've seen long, long ago when W.E.B. Du Bois wrote "The Souls of Black Folk," he talks about double consciousness, trying to see yourself through the hostile eyes of a white majority and how difficult it is to think through that and to have a conversation to be constantly asked, what does it feel like to be a problem, which literally he was asked.

And so for President Obama, as he said in the interview, you can't talk about race without having a certain percentage, and sometimes a very important, large percentage of people simply shut down. They don't want to hear it. They don't want to talk about it. They will attribute every malevolent intent that they can dream up with the help of some bad actors and bad-faith actors and the whole project starts to spiral down the drain.

So it is a very, very difficult conversation. I think we should never underestimate how hard it is to try and bring up history to talk about the framework of things and to make that the explanation for much needed legislation because, just as you say, the very right to vote is now currently under attack.

HARLOW: Yes. And, Ashley, Biden's two top legislative priorities, as it pertains to race, voting rights and racism in policing, both stalled in Congress and this morning you've got civil rights leaders meeting with Joe Manchin to talk about these issues.

Where do you see this going given everything so far has not been able to sway Manchin on the filibuster and on HR-1?

ALLISON: You know, one of the things that was really disappointing with Senator Joe Manchin's comments recently was that he said that the For the People Act, which is the piece of legislation in the Senate right now that already has passed the House, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, was partisan. Well, let's be clear, the civil rights leaders who are meeting with Joe Manchin this morning are the NAACP, the Leadership Conference, who actually drafted the Voting Rights Act that I had the honor and privilege to working for. These are not partisan organizations. These are institutions of justice that have been here long before Joe Manchin, long before Joe Biden and long before President Obama. They were folks who really pushed to move the needle for black people to have access to the franchise. They are not thinking about partisanship right now. They are thinking about people equally being able to participate in the democracy.

So I really hope Joe Manchin listens to them today and steps outside of himself and say, what is really good for our country because right now, you know, I hear you that technically Democrats have a trifecta, but it only works if the people with d's by their name actually vote for the things that are actually trying to make our country and democracy better. And right now we don't have that in the Senate, which is why policing and voting rights is stalled.

But I am hopeful that the meeting will go successfully this morning and we have to keep pushing even if we can't move Joe Manchin in this moment.

SCIUTTO: We'll see. I mean Trump won Manchin's state by 30-some odd points, right?


SCIUTTO: I'm sure he's looking at the political calculus as well.

Errol Louis and Ashley Allison, so much to go over, thanks so much.

LOUIS: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, a CNN exclusive. New, never before heard audio paints just a damning picture of how Rudy Giuliani tried, cajoled, pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate conspiracies about then-candidate Biden. You can hear it in his own words, ahead.

HARLOW: Also, just about a minute away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures pointing higher this morning after being relatively flat earlier today. Traders weighing a stronger economic backdrop against prospects of higher inflation. Investors, this week, have been digesting more signals from officials over the path forward for monetary and fiscal policy as the economy rebounds out of this pandemic.