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Senate January 6 Report Reveals New Details about Security Failures, Omits Trump's Role; Pipeline CEO Testifies after Feds Cal Back Ransom Money; Obama Slams Republicans for Embracing 2020 Election Lies. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 13:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Slap in the face while on the way to meet restaurant workers.


No word yet on what specifically drove the passerby there to smack his president.

Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics. I hope to see you back here this tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a great day.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello and thank you for joining us, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Security breakdowns, intel failures and a very big omission, a Senate report is now revealing new details about the violent January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. But it falls strikingly short of telling the whole story. It fails to address the why. Why did a mob storm the Capitol? And it omits any investigation of former President Trump's role in the riots. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is re-upping her call for House Democrats to fight for more answers.

CNN's Whitney Wild is here to lay it all out for us. Whitney, first, this report did gives us more insight into just how extensive these security failures were, and it also offers some solutions. What are the key takeaways on all that?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the most substantive report we have to date. It is the most detailed timeline we have to date, Ana, and it is really clarifying all of the security breakdowns among the entire D.C. security apparatus, including the Department of Defense.

So just go through them sort of line by line here, what we know is that Capitol Police had information weeks before the insurrection to suggest that there would be an attack on the Capitol. There were blog posts they were tracking. There was information floating around within Capitol Police but that key intelligence information never really made it to the top leadership ranks, so, really, a catastrophic breakdown, intelligence-wise, within the Capitol Police Department. There are a list of other issues that this brings up too, specifically administrative red tape. That was particularly a huge problem as former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund attempted to get the D.C. National Guard involved in this. He believed he had gone to his bosses, basically, the Capitol Police Board ahead of time to suggest the D.C. National Guard come and help them and assist them on that day. He believed he had gotten a no answer. They say that was never a formal request.

So there was a lot of confusion about how to actually request the D.C. National Guard. And then when the request did make its way to the Department of Defense, they still spent hours trying to decide what the mission was, getting everybody outfitted, so a lot of hurdles there that ended up taking away crucial time.

Finally, yes, this is the crunch time failure, once the Department of Defense was able to say definitively, yes, we are ready to deploy but we need a more clarified mission, it took hours to finally get the authority and the clarity for the mission, Ana, which meant that even though around 3:00 that day, Department of Defense officials were comfortable sending people at least to a staging area to eventually deploy to the Capitol, it still took another about two hours to get everybody geared up, mission ready, and actually over to the Capitol. Those were crucial minutes that were lost.

And then, finally, there was a dramatic underestimation of what the online chatter really meant. Intelligence agencies were caught in this sort of between a rock and a hard place where they were concerned about infringing on people's rights. They really didn't have a good understanding that the online chatter, as extremist violent and radical as it was, would possibly constitute a real threat. So a real push and pull there, something intelligent agencies will continue to grapple with, Ana, in the aftermath of what was exposing a catastrophic intelligence failure, both of analysis and of dissemination among the relevant agencies.

CABRERA: So, that was what we got from this report, those were things that were in it. But what was missing? Tell us more about the glaring omissions in this report.

WILD: Well, this report came out very, very quickly, and Senate aides, as well as members, have said that the purpose of the report was to try to get as many action items as possible, and that meant moving as quickly as possible to collect information about the breakdown on the day of. So it omits Trump's role in the insurrection. It omits any motivational analysis for why rioters were there in the first place.

And then, notably, it omits a keyword, insurrection. And I say that's notable because there is a lot of conversation about what was the purpose of the report. There -- Senate aides that we spoke with they said that the word, insurrection, was omitted from the report because it was limited in scope and the report language reflects the consensus of both the members and staff.

However, Ana, earlier today, Senator Gary Peters was on New Day saying, it wasn't an insurrection, the facts support that, so a little bit of a push and pull there as well, Ana.

CABRERA: Whitney Wild, I appreciate you laying it all out for us. Thank you.

And with us now former U.S. Capitol Police Chief, he was also former Senate Sergeant at Arms, Terrance Gainer.


It's great to have you with us with your expertise and insights.

What strikes you most from this report?

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there are a lot of things we continue to learn about it, but also you have to look at the glaring errors that we don't have enough information from the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice or Homeland Security, and even the fact that they mentioned that they couldn't get full cooperation from the House Sergeant at Arms Office, is not good news. So it is the continued piecemeal approach defined to connect all the dots and why it happened.

You really can't significantly change and improve unless you know what the cause was. So I'm a little bit disappointed in that. But we are learning a lot more. And, Ana, it is very similar to General Honore's report, I was part of that team for six weeks in Washington. We made some 100-plus recommendations reaffirming those things. So, in that respect it's good and it's good that they recognized that the officers of the Capitol Police being helped by the Metropolitan Police Department and a myriad of other departments ultimately fought back this horde and let Congress do what they needed to do. But there are problems that have yet to be revealed.

CABRERA: And as Whitney just pointed out, sources are telling us that to get partisan support, they had to refrain from even using the word, insurrection. It was only included in quotes and in footnotes. And there's just no examination of the why, why these attackers stormed the Capitol. Wouldn't that be important?

GAINER: Whitney is correct, Ana, that is very important. But it's kind of typical, having spent some 12 years on two different jobs on the Capitol that there is a hesitancy to talk about the things the members don't want to talk about. And a lot of them is when you get into what seemingly very political about what role the former president had or didn't have, in order to get something done, they're always compromising.

And even when we did the task force, General Honore's task force, when we began to talk about things like that, some members said, we don't want that. So if you start out that some people have their minds closed, it's hard to get to the facts that you need to make decisions for the future.

CABRERA: And the report found that Capitol Police were aware of potential violence. That was an important point. But they believe January 6th would likely resemble a minor pro-Trump rally and that was even despite the chilling online chatter. This report suggests, intelligence officials struggled with how aggressively to police political speech and how to differentiate the real threats from typical internet nonsense.

How do you police this chatter better for the future?

GAINER: Well, you have the right people in the right place and you have a process to make sure the information is shared equally. So the suggestion that the head of intelligence for the Capitol Police ought to be directly reported or near directly reported to the chief makes perfect sense. That person has to be at the table while you're digesting that. It is not unusual for police chiefs or others to try to discern what is free speech and what isn't.

And what we know from the chiefing business, very seldom is the information that someone's going to stick up the bank is the Third and Independence. You're going to get roundabout information that you have to use your judgment and gather all those resources and make the best educated guess you can. It seems to me that there were enough clues, even without this detailed information, that something was going to go awry.

And even the fact that Chief Sund, a very good man, was asking for additional people indicated he felt uncomfortable. And with that uncomfortableness, the first person you would reach out to is not necessarily the National Guard. I think far too much time is spent on trying to get the National Guard. It is the strength of the police department, your partners out there, like the Metropolitan Police Department, they should have been the primary people.

And, frankly, we should have held the midnight crew on the morning of the 6th. We could have asked the afternoon crew to come in early and the midnight crew to come in early. So, you would have had 300 to 400 to 500 additional people to help do what you wanted to do, let alone the training and equipment that wasn't done properly. All that needs to be improved, I am confident that the sergeant of arms will do that.

And one other important thing out of this is the recommendation to find a new chief. And, you know, there's a process ongoing right now. My understanding is there will be interviews this week. There's good candidates who have applied from with inside of the department, some very good candidates outside the department and I think improvements will continue to develop.

CABRERA: And so you don't have confidence in the current acting chief?

GAINER: No, that's not true. I think there're so many things going on right now with all these different investigations in wanting reports.


I think it's a tough job for someone who hasn't been a full-time chief. But I think she has every bit of ability to learn to be a great chief. I'd probably be tending toward bringing in an outside chief to mentor her and some others along as they decide which way they're going to go.

CABRERA: Terrance Gainer, thank you so much for taking the time with us. I appreciate it.

The CEO at the center of a cyberattack that shut down one of the nation's largest pipelines and sent gas prices soaring is speaking today on the ransom paid to those attackers. Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount went before lawmakers on the Capitol Hill just a day after we learned that the Justice Department recovered millions of dollars of that ransom.

He says he did not discuss the payment with the FBI.


JOSEPH BLOUNT, CEO, COLONIAL PIPELINE: I made the decision to pay, and I made the decision to keep the information about the payment as confidential as possible. It was the hardest decision I've made in my 39 years in the energy industry, and I know how critical our pipeline is to the country, and I put the interests of the country first.

I kept the information closely held because we were concerned about operational safety and security, and we wanted to stay focused on getting the pipeline back up and running. I believe with all my heart, it was the right choice to make.


CABRERA: Let's dig into this with Mark Ostrowski, he's a cybersecurity expert. He's the head of Engineering for Check Point Software and he helps with cybersecurity to design and support.

We just heard the head of the Colonial Pipeline standing by his decision to pay the ransom to those attackers. Do you think he made the right call?

MARK OSTROWSKI, HEAD OF ENGINEERING, CHECK POINT: Hi, Ana, good question. It was very clear from the testimony this morning that returning the pipeline back to normal operation was the utmost of concern, right, to get the east, the situation back to a sense of normal, so getting all the tools available in order to do that certainly was paramount for Mr. Blount.

I think, overall, the general guidance is not to pay the ransom because this fuels sort of this industry and the threat actors of getting monetary benefit. But I will say, yesterday with the announcement of the DOJ, things really changed, like you know things have really changed where the events of something like yesterday of the disclosure of calling back these funds, something we've never seen before.

CABRERA: And this attack is just one of so many lately, right? They're picking up, they aren't slowing down. And they're impacting our everyday lives, from our fuel to our food supply, mass transit systems, hospitals, even entire cities have been recently victims of cybercriminals. So, clearly, these hackers think they can do this without punishment. They even get millions for it. How do you stop it?

OSTROWSKI: Yes. You know, the weakest link continues to be the prevention technologies that a lot of these times obviously these events are not being prevented, right? We're mediating after the infection or after the exploit is taken advantage of.

Providing preventative technologies is really the key here to stopping these. Like you mentioned, Ana, right, we're talking of thousands of events per week where doubling the amount of attacks even just from last year. So this issue is not going away. And the tools that the attackers have are weapons-grade, so they're very sophisticated. So, our tools to defend them also has to have that same level of sophistication.

CABRERA: Blount says his company, Colonial Pipeline, reached out to the FBI within hours. I wonder how important that is, because right now there's no mandatory reporting of ransomware attacks on companies and big institutions that's required for them to report to federal authorities. Does that need to change?

OSTROWSKI: Yes, especially in cases of, you know, national security, you know, FBI and CISA need to be involved immediately. In this particular case, obviously, it could have been a situation of national security considering it was a supply chain, the pipeline for the majority of the east. So, agreed, and having this direct relationship, and right away we saw the benefit, we saw the benefit of the FBI being involved and CISA being involved right off the bat and even just leading again with the stuff that transpired yesterday with the DOJ, and the returning of some -- and seizing some of those funds that the threat actors are able to gain.

CABRERA: What can everyday normal Americans do to protect ourselves? Are we helpless?

OSTROWSKI: We're not helpless. I think, you know, even the events of the pipeline, we learned today from Mr. Blount, right, that a VPN account that was legacy, that had single factor authentication was the entry point. So, as everyday consumers, these are the things that we have to take into consideration.

We talk about multi-factor authentication now for months. We certainly highlighted even more during the pandemic last year. But, you know, having passwords that are stronger, making sure that you change your passwords, because no matter how strong your password, if it's compromised, it doesn't matter if it had actually characters, right? So that's why (INAUDIBLE) is so important.

So these everyday things that us as consumers can do certainly get in the way of being that weakest link.


And that's what these attackers want to do. They want to attack the weakest link. So, the goal is not to be the weakest link, and then that will help us be able to defend these type of attacks and be safer as a society. CABRERA: Is there a safe place to store your passwords for those of us who try to change them regularly? It can be hard to remember, wait, which am I going with this time.

OSTROWSKI: Yes. That's the beauty of multi-factor authentication, it's a new password every single time, right? It's not something that is a static password that we use and we reuse again and that's the password that can be compromised. Perhaps they'll publish it on the dark web and then being reused.

So, outside of using MFA, obviously writing down passwords, using the same password, right, using passwords that are corporate-related with your personal accounts is a big thing you want to avoid. But anytime that you can put your passwords in a secure vault where it's encrypted, again, that has access to the MFA to get the secure vault is a good step for us as consumers and just individuals to keep our privacy safe.

CABRERA: Mark Ostrowski, thank you so much for being with us. It was a pleasure.

OSTROWSKI: A pleasure as well. Thanks so much for having me.

CABRERA: A COVID vaccine for kids as young as five, Moderna just laying out a potential timeframe for that.

Plus, we're following some big headlines on immigration today, the Biden administration pushing forward with reuniting migrant families torn apart at the border as vice President Harris ramps up a high- stakes foreign trip to tackle this growing border crisis. Details just ahead.



CABRERA: President Obama isn't holding back. In an interview with our own Anderson Cooper, the former president is lambasting Republicans over their attempts to play down the events of January 6th.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: 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.

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.


CABRERA: Let's talk more about this remarkable interview with CNN Political Commentator and former South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers and CNN White House Correspondent John Harwood. Gentlemen, thanks for being with us. John, former President Obama, he says that Republican Party is accepting a series of positions that would have been unrecognizable and unacceptable, even five years ago. What do you think?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of the underlying tendencies have existed for quite a long time but I think he's right. This has been kind of one of those frog gradually boiling in hot water situations. Remember how we started. Republicans lost to Obama in 2012, had an autopsy, said, we've got to reach out, the country is changing, appeal to non-whites, appeal to women, appeal to young people.

Then Donald Trump came along, steamrolled that idea, said he was going to turn back the clock on change in the country. Republicans said, well, he's never going to win. Then he won. And then all of a sudden, they are saying, well, he's giving us what we want on judges and taxes, but besides that, we're scared of the base.

And you go forward four years and we end up with this horror show on January 6th, and even after that, Republicans are saying, well, come to think of it maybe that reaching out stuff, even after Trump, can't really work anymore, so we've got to strong arm the electoral system, and that's what they're doing in state after state.

CABRERA: And when we talk about the role that race plays in the divisions that exist today, Bakari, Obama wrote in his book that his 2008 election, he believes, was actually a catalyst for division that ultimately led to the state of the Republican Party today. Do you agree with that or are there factors at play here?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do agree with it and I think that John was correct in his assessment of the Republican Party. But I don't think it starts with Barack Obama's victory, if you want to talk about the current state of the Republican Party in 2012. I think you have to go back to the 2010 emergence of the tea party and you have many of the same themes that you saw in the tea party rallies in 2010 echoing both in Charlottesville and January 6th.

And I'll be honest with you, the 44th president of the United States, I believe, although he gave, and I mentioned this yesterday evening with Donna (ph), it bears mentioning again, the speech he gave on race in Philadelphia during his campaign was one of the best pieces of oratory on race that we've ever seen from a presidential candidate. But I think it's fair to say that he was decently naive to the role that race would play when he became president of the United States, and that there would be an overcorrection that this country had going from the first black president of the United States to the doldrum of racism.

But let's also be clear as frame this discussion, Ana, because I think it's important. Racism didn't start in this country when Donald Trump became president of the United States. It's been around for a very long period of time throughout our structures and in our creation and founding. I think one of the things that you saw, however, with the election of Barack Obama and somewhat of the whitewashing of that eight years with the election of Donald Trump has been that ism, or those isms come back to the forefront. And it's a cancer we haven't cured that we just simply have to cut out.

CABRERA: Hold your thought on that for just a second. I want to ask you more about that specifically because the president, the former president, actually did talk about the history of racism in this country and kind of where it has led now.


OBAMA: 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.


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.


CABRERA: What's your reaction to that, Bakari?

SELLERS: So it's exhausting because I hear him and I believe him. And many times I find myself being him when I try to have these discussions. Because, look, it's not just the ignorance of Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, I mean, it's also people who have good common sense, like Greg Abbott. You have these individuals who have been a part of the political system, the establishment, who know what you're trying to do.

And, look, no one -- Barack Obama myself, many others, when we're talking about the history of race in this country, no one is saying that this country is irredeemable. But what we are saying is that we have to reimagine what it looks like. And for us to talk about the fact that, for 400, 500 years, I mean, black folk just got the right to public accommodations and the right to vote in 1964 and '65. We're just talking about fair housing in 1968. This isn't something that happened in 1776. They're meeting people who died.

And so for individuals to not understand that when we talk about that history and those imperfections, we're just pushing this country to be a more perfect union is so intellectually dishonest and frustrating, and I heard that in the 44th president's voice last night.

CABRERA: John, how big of a role or what kind of role do you think the former president has moving forward?

HARWOOD: Well, I think it is easier for him to pay a public role now that Donald Trump is no longer president. He can speak up in support of his ally, Joe Biden, his former vice president, and I think he can play a key role in trying to stand up to some of the moves that Republicans are making on the electoral system, provide some ballast to the Democratic argument.

Obviously, Biden is struggling to get his party in line behind steps to try to safeguard voting rights as state after state makes electoral changes to try to constrain the ability to vote of people who would vote against Republicans. But I think he's going to have more of a voice and we saw that when he sat down with Anderson last night.

CABRERA: We'll see where he goes. Thank you so much, John Harwood and Bakari Sellers, good to have you both.

High-stakes meeting with a key U.S. ally on a very complicated and growing problem. We go to Mexico where Vice President Kamala Harris is meeting with that nation's president amid a surge in migration.