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Senators Support Infrastructure; Abrams Supports Manchin's Compromise; McCarthy Says Biden Gave Putin a Pass; Fanone Blasts Clyde; Stunning Testimony for Capitol Inspector General. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The government there says proceeds from the diamond will be used to advance national development in the country.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I think that's pretty cool. But, I'll tell you, that's huge. I think it's like too much of a good thing.

BERMAN: It's too much of a good thing? You know, it is my wife's birthday coming up and I'm going to opt for the, you know, crafts option.

KEILAR: Love it.

BERMAN: Make something instead.

KEILAR: Do it.

All right, CNN's coverage continues right now.

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

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Scioto live in Geneva.

It is the day after the Putin/Biden summit. We're going to discuss today what the Russian and U.S. leaders went home with. We're also going to speak to an opposition leader in one of the countries that Biden raised with Putin in their discussion of human rights.

Poppy.

HARLOW: It will be a great interview. Look forward to that.

Meantime, from a showdown abroad, as Jim just said, to a standoff here at home, President Biden returns to Washington to a number of stalled agenda items and big hurdles ahead and pushing them through Congress.

On the table for the president, infrastructure, voting rights and police reform. There may be glimmers of hope on some of these big ticket items, but there is one major road block, it appears, for the president, another Joe, that is Senator Joe Manchin. Let's go to CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.

I don't know if it's totally fair to say it's just Joe Manchin. It may be other Democrats, too, that won't fall in line unless Joe Manchin does. But where are we on these big three big ticket items that the president comes home to?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I think you make a very strong point here, which is that it is not just Joe Manchin standing in the way of some of these key agenda items. However, Joe Manchin is very central to one big fight that the president wants to push through. And that is this issue of voting rights.

If you remember, Democrats on Capitol Hill are looking to try to vote next week on a bill known as We the People Act. And essentially what this does, is it's a sprawling piece of legislation that deals with the issue of voting, as well as ethics and finance reforms. And one of the things that Joe Manchin announced yesterday is he is circulating a list of changes he wants to make to this bill.

And one of them I thought was really striking. He essentially argues that he wants to make sure that voter ID is required with some exceptions that people could use a utility bill or some other kind of form of residency to prove that they are who they say they are when they go to the polls.

So one thing that's happening behind the scenes right now is Democrats are trying to convince Joe Manchin to come up with something that everyone can agree on because when they put this on the floor next week, they want to have democratic unity. That does not mean this bill would pass. They still would need ten Republican votes. We don't see any evidence that they have that right now.

The other thing to keep in mind is Joe Manchin is a huge player on the issue of infrastructure. And when the president gets back to the United States this morning, that is going to be the issue on the table that his administration is going to have to deal with. There were White House officials up here last night trying to work with that bipartisan group to make sure that they are in a position to go ahead and continue these talks because they don't want this to drag out forever.

A couple of those key sticking points, of course, how do you pay for the bipartisan group's proposal? They have this modest proposal, about $579 billion in new spending. There are a lot of progressives who are upset about the fact these bipartisan talks continue to drag on.

Meanwhile, you have Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, trying to promise those progressives that they're going to get more of what they want in what is known as a reconciliation bill. Essentially a piece of legislation that moves through the budget process that would allow Democrats to pass it on their own. Schumer arguing they can put more of the president's agenda in that bill and let this bipartisan group continue their work, put that on the floor and then try to bring these things together. A lot of moving pieces as the president returns to the United States

today.

Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes.

Lauren, before you go, I think something really big just happened on the voting right front in the interview that John Berman did on "NEW DAY" with Stacey Abrams. He asked her a few times to clarify it, but she basically got behind Joe Manchin's suggested changes, including voter ID.

I ask you about that because that's a big deal because if she gets behind it, doesn't that open the door or give permission for other more progressive liberal Democrats to say, OK, we are, too, and then this thing maybe moves forward?

FOX: Absolutely, Poppy. I think that that is a very significant step forward. It does give other progressives some permission to get behind some of these suggested changes.

Now, I think it is important to point out again that even if you get every single Democrat on the issue of voting rights to support something on the floor, that doesn't mean you have ten Republicans. You need 60 votes in the Senate unless you make changes to the filibuster.

Of course, as we've said before, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema have made clear they do not support gutting the filibuster, even to pass a bill on voting rights.

[09:05:00]

Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Keeping us grounded in reality, as always.

Lauren Fox, thank you.

Let's talk about all of this with our political analyst Rachael Bade, co-author of "Politico's Playbook."

Good morning.

You have so many headlines of news, nuggets, out from "Politico." And we'll get to the infrastructure headlines you have in a moment.

But could you just weigh in on what we just heard? I mean how big of a deal is it that Stacey Abrams is behind Manchin's changes here, including voter ID?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I would say it's absolutely significant. I am very curious to see what other Democrats on Capitol Hill say, particularly progressives who are really concerned about voter ID requirements nationwide. I mean the interesting thing about Manchin's bill is, yes, it would -- sort of this compromise. A much narrower bill than what Democrats -- than President Biden initially wanted to pass. It would expand early voting.

But when it comes to voter IDs, and there are Democrats who are concerned that that is sort of hindrance for some minorities who might not have them to show them at, you know, voter rolls, it seems to be giving Republicans something that they want, but also doing a thing that the party in general really wants, and that is expanding early ID, making sure other people, you know, can vote early.

So, I mean, look, this is a tough issue on Capitol Hill. Lauren was exactly right when she said you need 60 and this is, you know, a far shot from that, at least so far. I think you might pick up a couple of Republicans with this proposal. But I do -- I mean Stacey Abrams putting her support behind this is significant. We'll see if it extends to Capitol Hill.

HARLOW: It is interesting because in her answer, when John Berman was trying to clarify, you know, that -- she said, look, I even wrote about this in my -- in my book and she said this is sort of a Republican talking point and she was really -- it was just an important clarification from her for sure. So we'll see where that goes.

You have new reporting on infrastructure. So can you lay out for us -- I saw a headline this morning from you guys about a $6 trillion proposal that Democrats may try to go it alone on. Lay that out for us and what else are you hearing?

BADE: I mean it's really interesting. Capitol Hill -- on Capitol Hill right now, you know, President Biden, when he comes back to the United States, is going to be facing this, you know, big decision, does he want to do this bipartisan deal and then try to pass a larger Democratic only bill or does he just want to go with Democrats and try to get everything he wants into one bill?

It's significant because there are centrist Democrats basically, who, if he goes with this bipartisan proposal that's out there right now and gaining steam on Capitol Hill, he's basically giving, you know, centrist Democrat, like Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, their dessert before the veggies, right? He's allowing them to pass something that they really want to pass without requiring them to endorse something that perhaps they'd be a little less comfortable on, and that's things like tax increases, corporate tax increases specifically, tax increases on wealthy individuals, an expanded family infrastructure plan that helps with everything from child care to, you know, family support for people who are taking care of a sick loved one.

But, look, there's a risk with going with this bipartisan proposal for Joe Manchin. And that is -- or, I'm sorry, for Joe Biden, President Joe Biden, and that is if he gives these moderates what they want on the front end, they might not support him on the back end. And so he's really at this crossroads right now. Democrats want these assurances from the centrists. They're not getting them right now. But, you know, President Biden said he also wants to try bipartisanship. So he's really at a crossroads right now in terms of what is he going to do and how is he going to get this agenda through.

HARLOW: Like when my -- when I gave my kids a cupcake last night and then they just asked for more candy afterwards?

BADE: That's right.

HARLOW: Basically how it is in my house.

Rachael, thank you for your great reporting, as always.

Jim.

BADE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, Joe Biden is back in Washington. Back in Washington's partisan politics. Just a short time ago, the House minority leader, Republican Kevin McCarthy, issued a statement criticizing Biden's performance here in Geneva at the summit saying, in McCarthy's words that, Biden, quote, gave Vladimir Putin a pass.

Joining me now, CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon.

And as I remember, John Avlon, that is not a phrase that McCarthy used regarding Trump following Helsinki.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And that tells you everything you need to know about how shallow and cynical these politics are.

So it's stunning, but it's not surprising because it's part of a piece, Jim. You -- this has been the Republican sort of framing device heading into the summit, that Biden was going to somehow be, you know, not tough enough on Vladimir Putin, which, obviously, begs the question, what the hell were you all doing the last four years because they didn't say boo when Donald Trump was losing no opportunity to suck up to Vladimir Putin and never confronting the Kremlin on anything, no matter how absurd. I encourage folks to go back and look at a CNN article Marshall Cohen did, 37 times that Donald Trump was soft on Putin and Russia.

So this is just an attempt to rewrite history and hope that nobody notices or their supporters are so desperate for confirmation bias that they won't call BS on the obviousness of it.

[09:10:04]

SCIUTTO: So just to refresh our memories, I wanted to play now president -- former President Trump in Helsinki standing next to Putin taking his word that Putin did not interfere in the election. And then a moment yesterday when Biden spoke about how he challenged Putin on human rights. Let's have a listen and compare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (July 2018): All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said, they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (June 16, 2021): Human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It's not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It's about who we are. How could I be the president of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: John, how does that statement and others, he said for instance as well yesterday that he reminded Putin that the U.S. has very capable cyber abilities to respond to Russian cyberattacks. Does McCarthy's criticism stand up?

AVLON: Not even a little bit. It's just a talking point. It's no thicker than a bumper sticker. But that side by side comparison you did says all you need to know. I mean Helsinki looks even more cringe worthy when you watch it now than it did at the time. And at the time it was so bad that, you know, Russia -- Trump's own Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, told Don Lemon the other night that she wanted to either create a fire alarm or fake a medical emergency to have it end.

So the Republicans trying to rewrite what happened. It's a reminder of how far we've fallen from the old Arthur Vandenberg standard in the Senate, which is that partisan politics ought to end at the water's edge. The conflation of Russian and RNC talking points is so surreal and so complete that these folks are effectively rooting for Russia against an American president who's taking a demonstrably tougher line on Russia than Donald Trump ever did or could.

SCIUTTO: To your point, John, it was remarkable to hear the Russian president yesterday characterizing the January 6th insurrection, the treatment of those folks in a way that, you know is not far off where you've heard from some Republicans in the U.S.

AVLON: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean that's a remarkable -- and it's not just there where you have a confluence, as you say, of what is essentially disinformation.

AVLON: That's exactly right. And, actually, did just that parallel for my "Reality Check" this morning. It was really striking when you heard Vladimir Putin get asked tough questions about the imprisonment of his political opposition, Alexey Navalny and others, and he immediately went to whataboutism about the United States and started talking about January 6th rioters as political prisoners and sort of saying that Ashley Babbitt was just some woman who was executed by Capitol Hill Police.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

AVLON: Which directly echoes what we've heard from Rep. Gosar and Louie Gohmert and other folks. It's pathetic, but true. SCIUTTO: Exactly. It is remarkable. Whataboutism is an old Soviet

tactic and now we're seeing it all over the U.S. as well.

John Avlon, thanks very much.

AVLON: Yes. Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: We are live in Geneva. In a short time we're going to speak to President Trump's -- former President Trump's top Russia adviser at the time of that Helsinki summit, Fiona Hill, to help us digest, Poppy, where we go from here with Russia.

HARLOW: Yes, I can't wait for that conversation, especially, as John noted, what she has unveiled this week about how she felt during that Helsinki press conference. That is ahead, Jim's interview with Fiona Hill.

Also, back here at home, nearly six months after the January 6th riot, the Capitol Police inspector general says it is still not clear who is actually in charge of security at the Capitol.

And, later, a string of brazen thefts caught on camera in San Francisco spotlighting a growing problem as cities across the country fully reopen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:18:27]

HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, some Republican lawmakers are still downplaying, trying to completely reframe, denying the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. They are repeating false claims such as January 6th was mostly peaceful, the rioters were not armed, it was Antifa, not Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol. Again, all false. None of those claims line up at all with the facts, let alone the video that you see right now. Video we've all seen.

The Justice Department has released new footage of the attack. These videos, this is some of the new footage just released, are being used in Capitol riot court cases. And now we're learning of a tense exchange between D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten with a flagpole and shocked several times with a stun gun while defending the Capitol that day, and Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde, who said that the events that day looked like, in his words, a normal tourist visit.

Let's bring in our colleague, Jessica Dean. She's following the story.

The officer is calling Clyde's behavior during this encounter disgusting. Can you walk us through what happened?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Sure, Poppy.

Officer Michael Fanone's telling CNN that he went to shake Congressman Clyde's hand, extended his hand. The congressman kind of looked at him, didn't know who he was, so he introduced himself as a Metropolitan D.C. police officer who defended the Capitol on the January 6th insurrection, reminding the congressman that he suffered a traumatic brain injury, a heart attack while doing so. And he said at that moment the congressman just kind of turned away and moved away.

[09:20:03]

And then as soon as the elevator doors opened, he ran into the elevators, in Fanone's words, like a coward.

Here's Officer Fanone on "NEW DAY" just a little bit ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE, DEFENDED CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6: I'm not here to make this a political issue. It just so happens that one party is lying about, you know, what thousands of officers experienced that day on Capitol Hill. I'm going to confront anyone that lies about that day because, you know, while these members are betraying their oath, thousands of D.C. police officers and U.S. Capitol Police officers were fulfilling their oath and continue to do so every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Absolutely. And the Capitol Police officers here, of course, keep everyone here safe every day. That is their job.

Now, we also know that Congressman Clyde was one of 21 House Republicans who voted against awarding those officers the Congressional Gold Medal, Poppy, to award them that for their bravery, for their heroism on January 6th.

HARLOW: In addition, you have Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney with incredibly strong and important words for the 21 of her fellow Republican lawmakers who voted against giving the Congressional Gold Medal to those officers who defended the Capitol. I mean arguing with, you know, certain definitions of certain words. I mean it is absurd when you read some of the rationale and the reasoning there. She follows Adam Kinzinger, also calling them out.

What else did Cheney say?

DEAN: Well, she -- we saw a tweet from her also. She really singled out Congressman Paul Gosar, who she said she helped put his gas mask -- open his gas mask and put it on that day.

HARLOW: Wow.

DEAN: And she said that he's lying and smearing the men and women.

We also -- Manu Raju, my colleague, talked to Congresswoman Cheney. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The police fought for us that day. They defended us. They, I'm sure, saved lives. They defended the Capitol. The idea that they wouldn't get a Congressional Gold Medal is just -- it's outrageous.

MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Should Kevin McCarthy do something about these members?

CHENEY: It's outrageous that they voted no on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Again, 21 House Republicans refusing to support that Congressional Gold Medal for the men and women who defended the Capitol and protected their lives on that day during the deadly insurrection here on January 6th.

And, Poppy, to your point, some of the excuses we heard were about semantics and language. They don't want to call it an insurrection. They're not sure it's an insurrection. Other people, like Congressman Clyde, simply ignored our questions about why they would not support this.

HARLOW: Wow.

Jessica Dean, thank you for the reporting.

Well, stunning, new testimony from the U.S. Capitol Police inspector general who says it's still unclear who's actually in charge of security at the Capitol despite it being nearly six months since the insurrection.

Our Laura Jarrett joins me live in New York.

Laura, good morning.

That is quite a statement. What else can you tell us?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes. So, Poppy, there's obviously been a lot we now know about all the security breakdowns, the failures leading up to the insurrection. But it turns out there is, in fact, a way forward to fix this going forward.

So the inspector general for the Capitol Police, Michael Bolton, testified yesterday about 65 different recommendations that his office has come up with in trying to address some of these security issues at the complex.

But listen to this. It turns out that there isn't actually a clear answer about who's in charge. There's something of a debate, if you will, about whether it's the Capitol Police or Capitol Police Oversight Board.

So watch this exchange between Senator Jon Ossoff and the inspector general. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Who today, which individual, is ultimately responsible for the security of the United States Capitol?

MICHAEL BOLTON, CAPITOL POLICE INSPECTOR GENERAL: So that would be a difficult question. But if you -- to try to pin it down the best, you would say probably the Capitol Police Board has probably the ultimate authority.

OSSOFF: I have to say it's -- it's -- it is not reassuring to hear that there remains this basic ambiguity about responsibility, command and accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: And that's not all. The inspector general also laid out a series of other damning facts, including the fact that rioters actually stole the helmets and the vests of Capitol Police on that day. They carried high-caliber firearms. They actually stored them in their cars that were parked nearby. And get this, Poppy, only 22 of 29 members of one Capitol Police quad actually received the certification that they needed to carry the weapons that they do. Obviously, a point there that was very disturbing to lawmakers when they heard it yesterday.

But big picture here, Poppy, the important thing to recognize is, you know, with all of the partisan gridlock with lawmakers who are denying the fact that the insurrection happened, the big question is, how are they going to actually follow through and act on some of these recommendations from the inspector general?

HARLOW: Right. What happens now?

[09:25:01]

Laura, thank you for that reporting.

JARRETT: Sure.

HARLOW: Jim.

SCIUTTO: This morning, top Republican Kevin McCarthy says that Biden gave Putin a pass here at his summit in Geneva. We're going to ask former President Trump's top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, whether she agrees. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Live from Geneva again this morning, the site of the Putin/Biden summit. Biden, of course, is back in Washington now. But here's how he described his overall message to his Russian counterpart.

[09:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It's for the American people.