Return to Transcripts main page
Amanda Sloat is Interviewed on Biden's G7 Message; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is Interviewed about the DOJ Investigation; Louisiana State Police Reviewing Video. Aired 9:30-10a ET.
Aired June 11, 2021 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Change, for instance, Russian behavior aggression? What's going to be different?
AMANDA SLOAT, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think this is exactly part of the reason why President Biden wants to sit down and meet with President Putin. This is certainly not a reset. The president is very clear on that. This is not a reward.
I think the president believes that there are areas where we can work with the Russians, for example, on things like strategic stability, which is important not only to the United States but also to our European allies. And, at the same time, the president has made very clear that he is going to address our differences.
And as we saw a number of months ago, when the United States rolled out various response options to things that we had seen the Russians do, including interference in our domestic elections, that there are going to be consequences for that.
And I think the president really believes that he's going to have the wind to his back as he moves into this meeting with President Putin following a series of meetings, not only with the G7, but especially NATO, which will be reasserting the continued defense and deterrence of the NATO alliance, as well as the EU and leaders here at the G7.
SCIUTTO: One moment, Amanda. As you've been speaking, the family photo of those G7 leaders taking place here. You might notice a socially distanced family photo for the age of the pandemic there. The leaders a few feet apart but not wearing masks. This traditionally a sign of unity. They appear together because they want to show the world that they stand together. That said, there are some differences among that group.
Amanda, the family photo is now done.
I want to talk about threats to democracy in Europe because that is a very big topic of conversation, not just among G7 allies but NATO allies. We have a Russia that poisoned its main opposition leader and sent him to a penal colony. That's a fact. We have Belarus, Russia's neighbor, but also an ally, that hijacked a plane out of European skies and took a dissident off that plane.
You have deliberate challenges to democracy and the rule of law. And that, like cyberattacks, has not been getting better from Russia. So I'm curious, what substantively President Biden proposes to do to defend democracy if America is indeed back.
SLOAT: I -- you're absolutely right about the threat of democracy. And I think one of the things that President Biden is most focused on and certainly has spoken most passionately about is what he believes is this existential challenge, this generational challenge that we are facing right now about this question between democracies and autocracies. And I think you asked earlier about his overarching message and it really is that democracies can work and democracies can come together to address these challenges.
There's going to be conversations with the leaders here at the G7 about ransomware. There's going to be conversations within NATO about cyber and what more NATO can do, both as an alliance institutionally and also among its member states to ensure that it is not only postured to deal with some of the traditional threats, but also these new and emerging threats that we are seeing.
There will be conversations here at the G7 about positive alternative options in terms of infrastructure. I think things that we are doing on the pandemic, conversations that will be happening on China and Russia at NATO.
And so I think really these issues are going to cut across what the president is going to be doing here over the next couple of days and really continue to make this message that when he world's democracies are unified, working together in very concrete and tangible ways that we can prove to the American people and to people around the world that democracies are much more effective as a system of governance.
SCIUTTO: Before you go, one consistency between the Trump and Biden administrations is a -- I don't want to say hostile, but a steadfast approach to China, right? That has not changed with the election.
Biden is looking for unity from European allies in standing up to Chinese trade practices, but also its own attacks on democracy. What does the president expect to get from his European allies to show that he can unite them in a way that President Trump did not. Trump did it alone. Biden has said he's going to stand up to China with his allies. How?
SLOAT: I think there's going to be a lot of discussion here this weekend at the G7 among leaders about a positive alternative to China in terms of developing positive infrastructure models, health models, in terms of addressing the pandemic.
There's also going to be conversations at NATO about what the alliance needs to do in terms of dealing with the strategic challenge from China. And similarly, with our European allies, we're going to have a conversation about how we can continue to write the rules of the road together, particularly when it comes to trade and technology issues.
SCIUTTO: Amanda Sloat, special assistant to the president, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
SLOAT: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: And we will have more on our breaking news in just a moment.
SCIUTTO: Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee will hold a briefing this afternoon to share more about what they have learned about the records seized by former President Trump's Justice Department. CNN has learned that in 2018 the DOJ subpoenaed Apple for metadata from the accounts of House Intelligence Democrats, some 100 accounts in fact, including staffers and others, part of an effort to uncover who the administration believed leaked news stories about contacts between Russia and Trump associates.
Joining me now to discuss is one of those Democrats targeted, member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California.
Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good morning, Jim. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: So, so much still to learn here about the extent of it and who these other accounts belong to. But specific to you, knowing that you were one of the targets here, did Apple, as they informed you, tell you any dates of when this happened, what specific data, phone numbers were handed over or who you were speaking with at the time? Did they tell you those specifics?
SWALWELL: No, Jim. You can kind of glean that this was 2017, 2018 from some of the government court documents on the file. But, no, there's very much we -- much that we don't know, much that we want to learn.
And, Jim, this isn't really about me or Chairman Schiff. This is about everyday Americans, you know, who don't want to see their government weaponize law enforcement against them because of their political beliefs. And I hope Trump supporters who fear big brother see that Donald Trump was the biggest brother we've ever seen in our country, who did weaponize this to go all the way down the stack into, you know, the private communications of people he perceived as political opponents.
SCIUTTO: This happened at a time, and CNN's reporting as well, that the Trump administration, the president himself, fixated on the investigation into his teams, his associates' contacts with Russians. And the president's public comments at the time, we know those. We know his focus and how upset it made him.
Do we know what initially sparked this investigation under then Attorney General Sessions? Is it the president's interest, the president's focus there, have you been told anything or can you glean anything again from what was -- what was seized here?
SWALWELL: That's what Chairman Schiff is asking, and I support, inspector general report into, you know, just who ordered this, who went along with this, why it continued for so long when nothing was turned up, what the president wanted.
I'll tell you what we've turned up in our House Intelligence investigation that the president didn't like. We showed that the president sought help from Russia, benefited from help from Russia, planned on receiving help from Russia and, as president, governed as somebody who put Russia ahead of the United States. We proved that. But the allegations that there were leakers on the Intelligence Committee, this case is closed, and he certainly didn't prove it other than he was willing to abuse power to try and smear an opponent.
SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you that directly, did you, at any time, leak any classified information regarding that or other investigations?
SWALWELL: No. Never.
SCIUTTO: OK. Asked and answered.
We know that two members of the intelligence committee so far, you and chairman -- Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, they were targeted. Have you learned of any more members who were targeted since last night or the extent of what staffers were targeted here? Because I've been told that it wasn't just staff for the intel committee or even staff that was working on the Russia investigation, but that the records seized went even beyond that.
SWALWELL: Jim, as far as I know, it was Chairman Schiff and myself. I wouldn't be surprised if there were other members. But that's why Chairman Schiff's call for an investigation is so important.
What is your view of how the Department of Justice, under the current attorney general, Merrick Garland, has handled this so far? I mean a simple, basic question is, what have they told you since you've discovered this? Have you been satisfied with their answers?
SWALWELL: We haven't heard anything yet. And there are a lot of questions we have and answers that we expect.
And, Jim, this is unacceptable. Anyone who was involved in this should be fired and walked out of the department immediately because, Jim, look, this is not a 500-year flood. Donald Trump is not going away. He -- Trumpism and corruption manifests itself in others in government right now. And next time they may not, you know, be so patient to wait for an investigation. A more corrupt president may just cut to the chase and lock up his or her political opponents without trying to have the Department of Justice do it. So that's why we should make it very clear that we don't do this in this country.
SCIUTTO: Do you believe to this point that Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice, under his leadership, has been aggressive enough in pursuing not just this case but other instances of alleged overreach by the Justice Department under Trump?
SWALWELL: Well, I would say Merrick Garland has shown independence. And that was the most important quality in having an attorney general.
What's concerning, though, is that we are seeing the Justice Department is defending Donald Trump in the defamation suit that E Jean Carroll has, in a sexual assault case against him, and the Justice Department is claiming that the president, at the time, was acting in his official capacity. I don't think anyone buys that a president who smears a sexual assault accuser is acting in his official capacity.
So I don't think we need to have any appearance of even-handedness just for the sake of even-handedness. I think we need to go back to the department truly being independent and with no regard to any political party.
SCIUTTO: Big picture, before we go, there's a remarkable confluence of things in what we've learned now. One, targeting Democratic lawmakers who the president, I don't have to tell you, specifically singled out for public comments and attacks. But also staff members.
But also staff members, not just even involved in the Russia investigation. Other things. But also family members. And as you have noted, a minor. I mean, this is Nixonian enemies list kind of stuff, weaponizing, in effect, do you believe the president was weaponizing the Justice Department here against his political enemies?
SWALWELL: Absolutely he weaponized the Justice Department. He did the same thing in -- you know, in -- the reason he was impeached the first time. You know, he weaponized his foreign relations to have another country smear an ambassador and smear Joe Biden, the vice president at the time. This is just what he does. And it's so important that there are consequences for this because he is trying to come back. He thinks he's going to be back in August.
And this president, next time, I promise you, if he's ever in power, will not be as patient. He is incompetent in many ways but he has learned on the job. And I'm just afraid that a more corrupt president could do real damage and just destroy the rule of law in this country.
SCIUTTO: One brief question because you have mentioned that a minor was targeted here. Do we know any information about who that minor was or how connected to the broader investigation?
SWALWELL: No, I'll leave that to Chairman Schiff. I think he has a better grasp of all the details.
SWALWELL: I know I received a notice. But, again, no minor should be targeted for a president's, you know, quest to smear and clear political opponents.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks so much for walking us through it all.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: We do have these live pictures. The meetings have begun now that the family photo has been taken among G7 leaders.
Let's listen in.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for coming. It is genuinely wonderful to see everybody in person. I can't tell you what a difference it makes.
We've all be going through the most wretched pandemic our countries have faced for our lifetimes, maybe longer, much longer. And I actually think this is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen because we need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic, we need to make sure that we don't repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.
And we need to make sure that we now allow our economies to recover. And I think that they have the potential to bounce back very strongly. And there's all sorts of reasons for being optimistic.
But it is vital that we don't repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession in 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society. And I think what's gone wrong with this pandemic, or what risks being a lasting scar is that I think the inequalities may be entrenched. And we need to make sure that as we recover, we level up across our societies and we build back better.
And I actually think that we have a huge opportunity to do that because, as G7, we are united in our vision for a cleaner, greener world, a solution to the problems of climate change. And in those ideas, in those technologies, which we're all addressing together, I think there are the -- there is the potential to generate many, many millions of high-wage, high-skilled jobs.
And I think that is what the people of the -- of our countries now want us to focus on. They want us to be sure that we're beating the pandemic together and discussing how we'll never have a repeat of what we've seen, but also that we're building back better together and building back greener and building back fairer and building back more equal and, how shall I -- more -- and in a more gender neutral and perhaps I -- a more feminine way, how about that, apart from anything else.
So those are some of the objectives that we have before us at Carbis Bay.
Thank you all very, very much. I'm now going to ask the -- our friends from the media very, very kindly to -- to leave us to our deliberations, which, by tradition, this is meant -- this is meant to be a fireside chat between the great democracies of -- of the world.
It's turned -- it's turned into a gigantic media circus in which we have to greet each other several times. But --
SCIUTTO: The British prime minister there inviting the media to leave as the G7 leaders get down to business.
Notably, interesting to hear, the British prime minister use the Biden campaign term build back better, saying G7 allies will build back better together in terms of their own focus on infrastructure and other partnerships.
We're going to continue to cover events live from England as G7 leaders come together.
And we'll be right back after a short break.
SCIUTTO: Right now sources tell CNN that supervisors with the Louisiana State Police are investigating one of their units to see if it has a history of abuse during interactions with black people. Sources say the unit in question is the same one involved in the 2019 encounter that ended in the death of Ronald Greene, pictured there. Supervisors are now reviewing all body camera and dash cam videos from that unit.
Joining me now to talk about this, Anthony Barksdale, former acting Baltimore Police commissioner, and now CNN law enforcement analyst.
Commissioner, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: The issue here with Greene is one we have seen in other cases, and that is the police misleading in the immediate aftermath of a death like this. Initially they said Greene died in a car crash. That's not what happened. I mean we remember that early statement on George Floyd that he had a medical event, right? No mention of the knee on his neck.
Is that a broad problem, in your view, and what's necessary to put a stop to that?
BARKSDALE: I don't know the exact numbers on this, but there needs to be a stop to it.
We see initial reportings from some incidents that are clearly misleading, clearly not the truth. And that is a huge problem. And to investigate it, to try to sort out who's involved and seek punishment for them is absolutely necessary.
SCIUTTO: We're learning that Chicago has adjusted, paired back in effect its foot pursuit policy. It now says that they'll be considered appropriate only when on officer has a probable cause for an arrest or when an officer believes a suspect is committing or is about to commit a crime.
I mean this is one of those cases where police are pulling back some tactics in part in response to accusations of excessive force. On the flip side, you have people like Bill Bratton, for instance, former NYPD commissioner, who I spoke to yesterday, who said that some policies that have been abandoned actually should come back because we're seeing a rise in crime. He mentioned stop and frisk. Not all the time, he says, but there are some instances where it's necessary.
And I wonder where you fall because you have incidents of excessive police force but now you also have a dramatic rise in crime in so many cities.
Is it time to stop pulling back some of these practices?
BARKSDALE: I agree with Commissioner Bratton. Some of the tactics that were used to bring back, to reduce violence in many cities have now been abandoned. Stop and frisk was covered under Terry (ph) v. Ohio. It is a legitimate and legal constitutional way to address those that are carrying weapons. It is not a verb (ph). You don't just ride around and pat all the people down. That is wrong. But it is a way that you can reduce gun carry in communities that are suffering gun violence. It's so --
SCIUTTO: I --
SCIUTTO: I was going to say, I've been riding around the last couple nights with NYPD officers in the 46th precinct here to get a sense of what they're -- what they're facing. I mean this is -- 46 is one of the busiest precincts in a city that's facing a big spike in crime.
And those officers mention to me, you know, that stop and frisk, without having ended, they could walk by someone, have a strong suspicion that person is carrying, but not be able to do anything about it. So it's interesting to hear from you saying, hey, you know, we got to recalibrate here some of these things we pulled back.
BARKSDALE: Absolutely. And let me say one other thing. Foot chases are part of policing. I hate to break the bad news to everyone, but somebody who is standing there with a gun, a felon that has a gun on him, and you pull up, he's going to run. He's not going to just stand there and say, hey, take me back to jail, I'm wrong.
So we have to be logical about this and start understanding what the officers on the street are dealing with every day. They want to work. They don't want to lose. They don't want to see so many victims. So we have to not only hold them accountable, but we have to get this together right now.
SCIUTTO: Listen, Anthony Barksdale, always good to have you on. You speak so honestly about what are very difficult issues right now. I hope we can keep up that conversation.
BARKSDALE: All right. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Just ahead, new questions about just how far former President Trump pushed the Justice Department to go after his personal, political enemies, digging in to the personal communications of members of Congress, their staff, even their families.
SCIUTTO: A very good Friday morning you to. I'm Jim Sciutto. Poppy Harlow has the day off.