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Senate Report Shows Capitol Police Saw Evidence of Plans to Attack U.S. Capitol Weeks Before January 6; Obama Sounds Alarm on State of Democracy in U.S.; Harris to Meet, Discuss Migration with Mexico's President. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 8, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow.
Just huge intelligence failures, critical miscommunications, unheeded warning. This morning, we are getting our first look at a new Senate report highlighting the significant security issues that unfolded before and during the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The bipartisan report doesn't just examine what went wrong on that day, it also outlines the lapses that unfolded in the days, weeks and months leading up to it.
SCIUTTO: There are some glaring omissions in this investigation, if you can call it that. It does not look at all into former President Trump's role leading up to it, inciting it, comments, et cetera, but also decisions and conversations he had on that day. What did he, for instance, tell the Pentagon about deploying the National Guard? Also not mentioned in this report, the word insurrection outside of footnotes and quotes from witnesses.
Let's begin with CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild. She's in Washington.
So, Whitney, I mean, listen, there's a lot we didn't learn from this work -- from this report, questions that were deliberately not asked because of objections of Republicans taking part. So, let's focus if we can for a moment on what we did learn.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a list of details that we are learning first. This is really first definitive timeline we're getting of the day, one that basically aggregates everybody's idea of what happened that day, including phone calls, text messages both at the Capitol, among security officials as well as the Department of Defense. That was something that we were trying to nail down.
A couple details that quickly emerge are the immense intelligence failures. So there has been some concern that this was not really an intelligence failure in terms of getting the information. It was that it was an analysis problem and that is, I think, highlighted in this report.
For example, Capitol Police, there really was a hot of intelligence that suggested there would be violence directed towards the Capitol. However, they have a decentralized intelligence unit. And so there were basically three units within Capitol Police set to analyze intelligence.
They're just consumers too, by the way, which means that they're just getting intelligence from other places and then looking at it on their own, so not outwardly collecting information.
However, that's significant because when you have this horizontal information, it means the top leadership isn't getting key information and it could mean possibly that ground troops weren't getting critical information. So that was one of the key findings here.
There were a list of other details that we learned. For example, we learned a lot more about the conversations that went on within the Department of Defense. There was about a 37-minute period that's unaccounted for from the time that it became clear and that everybody seems to understand that the D.C. National Guard could deploy to the Capitol. That word came out around 4:30. But they didn't get to the Capitol until a little after 5:00.
And the report notes there is this, you know, sort of confusion about what everybody understood had been authorized. So there is a sort of 35-minute, 37-minute period nobody can account for. So, I mean, this is 127 page report. There are a lot of details. We have links to it on cnn.com. But those are just some of a couple highlights.
Other things include a very small number of Capitol Police were actually trained in the full suite of less than lethal options. Fewer than ten, Jim and Poppy. They are department of more than 1,800 officers, fewer than 10 had been trained on the full suite of less than lethal options. There were hundreds of officers that couldn't access the riot gear. There are almost 800 officers that they can't account for in terms of positioning and movements that day. I mean, it's really stunning. Jim and Poppy?
HARLOW: Whitney, thank you for going through all of it for those highlights. We appreciate it very much.
Also this, in an in-depth and fascinating interview with our very own Anderson Cooper, former President Obama says the nation needs to be very worried about the way some Republicans have refused to stand up to former President Donald Trump.
SCIUTTO: He warns in no uncertain terms that our democracy is at risk because he blames many GOP members of Congress still embracing 2020 election lies and taking steps based on those lies.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: 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.
You know, all of us as citizens have to recognize that the path towards an undemocratic America is not going to happen in just one bang. It happens in a series of steps. And when you look at what's happened in places like Hungary and Poland that obviously did not have the same traditions, democratic traditions that we did, they were not deeply rooted. And yet, as recently as ten years ago, were functioning democracies and now essentially have become --
ANDREW COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Democracy doesn't always die in a military coup. Democracy dies at the ballot box.
OBAMA: That's exactly right. And Vladimir Putin gets elected with a majority of Russian voters. None of us would claim that that is the kind of democracy that we want.
SCIUTTO: Quite a warning from the former president.
Joining us now, White House Correspondent for Yahoo News Brittany Shepherd. And, Brittany, Obama is not alone in describing the current environment as a threat to the nation's democratic system. President Biden has done the same, as have other Democratic lawmakers and, by the way, some Republican lawmakers as well. I just wonder in your view who given the severity of those warnings among Democrats is providing the leadership to respond to that? I mean, if it that is the true crisis and challenge to this democracy in effect, what are Democrats doing about it? Who is leading the way?
BRITTANY SHEPHERD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, clearly, Jim, that leadership is not coming from the Republican Party. When you talk to Republican sources, staffers, you say, well, Democrats are levying pretty serious allegations against you that you're a coward, that you have no backbone, you are letting democracy slip by, by not speaking up. They say, well, look what happened to Liz Cheney, look what happened to Brian Kemp over the weekend, he gets booed out of his own constituency. And they say that they fear for not just 2020 but for their political careers writ large.
So the White House realizes that there is nothing Republicans are going to do at least until the midterm elections to fix this mess, frankly. And so now it is squarely on Democrats. And they're thinking in the same terms that Obama and Anderson were just talking about, voting rights, that the ballot box is the only way to maybe turn what's happening in Congress by electing more Democrats. And that's why on the ground, Democrats and progressives are so mad right now not just at Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, but at the White House for not putting their foot down, because they believe this is the only way to essentially circumvent a problem that they feel is pressing.
Because Obama said in that interview, you know, he feels he lives in different world than Trump, and that's certainly true. But in this reality, 73 million people voted for Trump. And I believe the figure is about 60 percent of Republicans believe that Trump was shorted in some way for the election. That is reality. That's not a bug of what is happening now. So it really has to happen in legislation, at least that's how the White House is thinking about it.
HARLOW: Brittany, we'd love your thoughts on another really fascinating part of the interview last night during their discussion on race in America. Let's play this for any viewers who might not have seen the whole thing.
OBAMA: It is a hard thing to hear. It's hard for the majority in this country, 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.
I also think that there are certain right-wing media venues, for example, that monetize and capitalize on stoking the fear and resentment of a white population that is witnessing a changing America and seeing demographic changes and do everything they can to give people a sense that their way of life is threatened and that people are trying to take advantage of them.
And we're seeing it right now, right, where you would think with all of the public policy debates that are taking place right now, that, you know, the Republican Party would be engaged in a significant debate about how are we going to deal with the economy and what are we going to do about climate change and what are we going to do about -- lo and behold, the single most important issue to them currently right now is critical race theory.
Who knew that that was the threat to our republic?
But those debates are powerful because they get at what story do we tell about ourselves.
HARLOW: And, Brittany, I mean, it's really worth noting that former President Obama was worried about this as he was leaving office, was warning about this. And it's notable for him speak about it now. But still with the belief and hope, as he says, and the hope and change guy, that it can turn for the better. SHEPHERD: Well, right. And Obama can be as loud as he wants, but if people are not listening, the message is not going to change, right? The message is just as important as the messenger and back with me (ph) could travel for the campaign. I would talk to white liberal voters in places like Iowa and they wouldn't want to talk about critical race theory because there is an assumption of responsibility of things they have to change. It's not just white Americans. It's a lot of voters who are uncomfortable embracing race because they have to actually challenge their own world view. And who wants to do that when they have a million other things to worry about?
And then it gets to that question of how much is like super far right- wing media influencing people's thoughts? And, frankly, fear is a super powerful motivator. That's why Republicans ahead of the 2020 election and looking forward are able to go into the suburbs, in places like Miami and in Atlanta and say, hey, look, Antifa is come is coming for you, BLM is coming for you and folks know that and Republicans can really latch on.
SCIUTTO: Disinformation works, right? We see it in vaccination rates. We see it people buying the big lie. Brittany Shepherd, thanks so much this morning.
SCIUTTO: Just in, we're now learning more about why Israeli officials say they destroyed the building that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera networks, a building that they say Hamas was operating in.
HARLOW: Let's go to our colleague Hadas Gold, she joins us from Jerusalem. So, it's significant because it's Israel saying exactly what they say the intelligence was, why did they give all of these journalists just an hour to get out of this building. They caused quite an uproar and outrage. But are they showing the intelligence or is this just their word?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Poppy, this is information that we're getting. Initially, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Gilad Erdan, admit yesterday with the Associated Press leadership, he said it was to restore the relations and explain to them why the Israeli military struck this multistory building that not only hosted the Associated Press offices but also the Al Jazeera offices in Gaza. And as you noted, the people in that building were given an hour to evacuate the building before it was destroyed.
Now, the Israeli military and Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is saying that it was destroyed because Hamas was using it to develop new capabilities that would disrupt Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, saying that Hamas was using the media as a shield. They also say that this building was holding -- hosting important R&D, research and development capabilities for Hamas and that they were purposely using a building that was hosting media offices as part of their operations. And that is why the Israeli military saying they struck down this building.
Now, this is just a statement. We have not seen any sort of formal evidence about this. This is the first time we're getting an actual explanation from the Israelis about why they struck this building, which as you noted, it was condemned widely by many international journalism organizations, of course, by the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, because this was destroyed, of course, during the operation in Gaza.
And the Al Jalaa building was hit during that very bloody 11-day conflict, widely condemned. This is the first time we're hearing from the Israeli military. Why they brought the building down, they're saying that Hamas was using the media as shields.
Now, the Associated Press has not yet responded to this announcement but they have said that they're asking for evidence and have called for an independent investigation into the incident. Poppy?
HARLOW: Hadas, thank you for the reporting there for us in Jerusalem.
Still ahead, Vice President Kamala Harris now in Mexico preparing to meet with the country's president. She will not be going to the border. We'll talk about that ahead.
And President Biden's Justice Department will defend former President Trump in a defamation lawsuit. We'll explain why.
HARLOW: Well, next hour, a key meeting between Vice President Kamala Harris and the president of Mexico, Harris expected to emphasize United States partnership with its neighbor to the south. Discussion is going to focus around ways to stem the current surge of migrants at the southern border.
SCIUTTO: CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond is traveling with the vice president in Mexico City. Jeremy, this, of course, comes after Harris warned migrants in Central America not to come to the U.S. You described how you were in the room. Tell us how that message is being received in the region there.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question. You could hear a pin drop when the vice president made those comments. It was very clear that she wanted to accepted that message in country to tell people in Central America, those northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, not to come to the United States, even as she is also working to provide aid and development support to those countries to give them what she calls hope, hope to stay in their countries and be able to have a better life there rather than risk the deadly journey to the United States.
Today, she will be meeting with the Mexican president and they're expected to sign a memorandum of understanding outlining how they plan to cooperate together to provide development to the region of Central America.
[10:20:09] The U.S. and Mexico are increasingly aligned on this issue and that's because Mexico has increasingly become a destination country in its own right for those migrants from Central America who don't just transit through Mexico but sometimes come to Mexico in search of a better life.
The vice president will then also be meeting with women entrepreneurs as well as have a roundtable on labor issues here.
I do also want to point out very quickly in it an interview with NBC News yesterday, the vice president really struggled to answer a question that she has faced repeatedly already and the criticism as to why she hasn't visited the U.S.-Mexico border. The vice president didn't offer a good answer on that other than to say she is focused on the root causes.
But what she did says was pretty flipped (ph). She said, well, I haven't also been to Europe. I don't think that is exactly the question there. But, again, she expected to meet with the Mexican president in an hour from now.
SCIUTTO: Jeremy Diamond in Mexico City, thanks so much.
Joining me now to discuss, California Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz, he is the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. His district is just about an hour north of the border in Mexico. Congressman, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.
REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): Thank you. It's good to be here, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So, the goal of this trip is to address the root causes of migration here to the U.S., a consistent point from the Biden administration. And you said, I'm quoting you here, if you just treat the symptoms, you'll never get at the cure. I just wonder though can the U.S. truly solve the root problems here when you're talking about issues of poverty and corruption? What ability realistically does the U.S. have to make a real difference on those issues?
RUIZ: Well, we can make a real difference. And Vice President Harris has already mounted a very comprehensive, aggressive approach by bringing in the private sector, the nonprofit organizations, the international human rights organizations to address why the families are making the desperate decision to leave their countries and come up north. They're addressing the violence, the threats to violence, the corruption, the democratic backsliding and food insecurity and hunger and extreme poverty.
And so this is a very --
SCIUTTO: But all those issues, Congressman, they've been there for years. I mean, they're not going to turn on a dime without outside help.
RUIZ: Well, they've gotten worse. One is because of the climate change, hurricanes are more frequent and aggressive, they've devastated their agriculture industry. You're seeing governments that are -- have democratic backsliding. And the cartels and the coyotes are more aggressive in their exploitation. So now is the time to really intervene.
Look, we just had an administration that used hate, fear, cruelty and family separations. They focused on the border wall, which was useless and they've defunded all of those programs that helped people in their home countries. And so we're starting from below scratch and having to build what the past Trump administration has demolished in order to give people the hope because they want to stay in their countries. They are making difficult decisions to come north because of their home conditions.
SCIUTTO: But many do want to come north. I was down at the border with my team a couple weeks ago, the Arizona border. What the border agents tell us is that the migrants are under the impression, the false impression, the agents say, but they're under the impression that the U.S. is more welcoming now under the administration.
And there have been -- they're still enforcing the laws at the border but there have been changes made. And, I wonder, do you believe the Biden administration has taken steps that unwittingly feed that impression?
RUIZ: That impression is not that it's more welcoming, per se, it's more humane. When the Trump administration rips children from the arms of their mothers and really tries to use intimidation and fear to send a signal not to come and now we don't do that, well, they may say, well, it's -- they're friendlier, they're more humane. But we're a country of laws and we follow our laws. And when people come to our country to seek asylum, our laws state they have a claim to make in court and that we would grant that claim if they meet certain criteria in seeking asylum.
So that's the difference, is that the Biden administration is professional, humane and they're smart about this approach while the Trump administration demolished, made things worse with their hate, fear and cruelty. And I don't think the American people want to have a cruel approach to the border in separating children from their mothers.
SCIUTTO: Okay. Down at the border, I saw the new border barrier, far different from what it replaced. I mean, 30 feet high, the other one, you know, anybody could kind of walk over or under. And I just wonder, is continuing border construction stopped by the Biden administration, is that part of the solution here?
You don't have to be cruel, right, but do you see that as being an element that helps address the issue at the border?
RUIZ: Look, the U.S. Citizenship Act with the big, bold immigration reform, which was President Biden's immigration bill carried by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, Linda Sanchez and Bob Menendez, focuses on border construction but in a smart way, using technology where the evidence shows that people are smuggled through the border entries and drugs and guns, et cetera.
So when you focus on the border construction with technology to identify the smugglers and go after the coyotes, then that's the right and smart approach.
SCIUTTO: Okay. Final question, if I can. You heard our White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond reference there the vice president's answer on going to the border, we don't have time to play the whole answer here, but short answer is she hasn't visited the border yet and this is part of her portfolio. Should the vice president have gone to the border already? Should she go now?
RUIZ: Looks, she's where she needs to be. She's addressing the root causes. People are making the desperate decision to come north due to conditions in their home countries, not in our country. And so that's why she's dealing with the violence. She's dealing with corruption. She's dealing with economic opportunity. She's dealing with human rights, the rule of law and the democratic backsliding that is happening in those countries.
Look, she's already spoken to asylum seekers, to families. She knows the issues well. And so the Republicans like to be very fixated on this one after having four years of failed policies themselves. And she's doing a great job at addressing those real causes. Because as you mentioned earlier, you know, you've got to deal with the root causes or this is going to continue to happen regardless of the president.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Raul Ruiz, thanks so much for joining the program.
RUIZ: Thank you.
HARLOW: Well, after the break, we're going to be joined by the president of the National Urban League. He and other civil rights leaders just met moments ago with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Were they able to sway him on the major voting rights legislation? We'll find out.
As we head to break, take a look, here's what else to watch today.