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American Prisoners in Russia; Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare; New Footage of Capitol Riot Released. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 15:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Brand-new hour. I am Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I am Alisyn Camerota.

We have new footage to show you of the violent Capitol attack on January 6. It's just been released by the Justice Department, and it gives us another harrowing angle on how pro-Trump rioters were trying to overturn the election and hurt or kill police officers in the process.

Here is a small portion of it.




CAMEROTA: These videos are just part of the evidence in various Capitol riot court cases. So, that's the reality, what you're seeing with your own eyes.

Now for the unreality. Some Republican lawmakers and right-wing Web sites and right-wing FOX hosts are desperately trying to bury what happened on that day. You have already heard them try to claim that the attack was mostly peaceful, or that the violent rioters were not armed, or that they weren't really pro-Trump supporters and a mob.

In fact, Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde thinks the violence that we saw here resembled a normal tourist visit.


And now CNN is learning that this complete mischaracterization of the facts led to this tense exchange between Clyde and Officer Michael Fanone. He's the D.C. Metro officer who was beaten with a flagpole and shocked with a stun gun while defending the Capitol that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, I'm not here to make this a political issue. It just so happens that one party is lying about what thousands of officers experienced that day on Capitol Hill.

I'm going to confront anyone that lies about that day, because, 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.


BLACKWELL: Andrew McCabe is a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and the former deputy director of the FBI.

First, listen, when we hear from Michael Fanone there, he says he walked up to Congressman Clyde, offered his hand. The congressman would not shake his hand. And then when he explained who he was, he walked away.

The idea of backing the blue, when an officer comes up to you who was shocked with a stun gun, beaten with a flagpole to defend you, how can they maintain that mantra?


These people are not backing the blue. They're not backing the American people. They're not backing the truth. I mean, the congressman literally was confronted with the truth in the form of Officer Fanone, and he ran away, because that truth is inconvenient for him. That truth is -- proves that the things that he's been saying about an orderly march of tourists through the Capitol is a lie.

He's been lying to his own constituents and lying to anyone who will listen. So, I'm not surprised that someone like that would run away from Officer Fanone. It's despicable, but it seems to be where we are.

CAMEROTA: And, Andy, we're also learning new details tied to the inspector general's investigation. It includes that rioters stole dozens of vests and helmets from Capitol Police.

And they carried high-caliber firearms that day. They stored them in parked cars nearby, and only 22 of 29 members of one unit had completed the certain weapons certifications, meaning of the Capitol Police officers.

So, investigations, I mean, these threads are slowly coming out. And it's just shocking, every new disclosure.

MCCABE: It really is. And I think each one, Alisyn, reminds us how close we came to an absolute, unmitigated disaster that day that could have been many, many more lives lost and a real foundational disruption in the functioning of our democracy.

But for the efforts of the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department officers on the scene, who's -- who were being so badly beaten that their own equipment was being stolen from them in the midst of the riot, but for the fact that they were able to turn back that mob by the end of the day, and the Senate was able to come in and do their job in certifying the election, who knows how much worse this day would have been.


BLACKWELL: Congressman Clyde, who said that this was -- there were some writers there, that there were some vandals, does not acknowledge that it was an insurrection, was one of 21 Republican congressmen who voted against honoring the Capitol Police officers, the Metro police officers with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney had something to say about this. Listen.


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.

QUESTION: Should Kevin McCarthy do something about these members?

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


BLACKWELL: What's your reaction?

MCCABE: It is outrageous. She's absolutely right.

As I was saying earlier, the truth of what happened that day is inconvenient for Republicans. It's an embarrassment. And it contradicts the political narrative that they believe is most favorable to them. So they're going to continue lying. They're going to continue coming up with ridiculous characterizations of what happened that day and dishonoring the men and women who fought for their lives on the Hill that day.

And it's just absolutely -- it's despicable. But, nevertheless, it's so important for us to get these videos out the way that the network has done today, to constantly put these images in front of people, to not let this truth get swept under the rug by politics and force people to confront what actually happened.

CAMEROTA: And then, Andy, there's this other despicable thing happening. And that is that last night on Tucker Carlson's show, I mean, he came up with this completely crackpot conspiracy theory.

It's based on some right-wing Web site. It has no journalistic underpinning. I mean, it's just concocted out of whole cloth. But that doesn't stop them from peddling it. And it's so anti-law enforcement. It's -- I just don't -- I don't know what to do anymore. I mean, I have to assume that there are some FBI agents who do watch FOX or do watch Tucker Carlson's show.

What do they think when they hear people like Tucker blame this on FBI agents?

MCCABE: Yes, here we go again, Alisyn.

Like, when all else fails, let's come up with some demonic, conspiratorial nonsense and blame it on the FBI. Well, I don't know what those men and women, my former colleagues, are thinking when they see this stuff.

I hope what they're realizing is that these people don't support them. This isn't backing the blue. These aren't patriots. These are people lying for their own personal benefit, whether that's political or getting ratings for FOX News or whatever that might be.

And they should dispense with these people and with the things they're saying. It's absolutely horrendous. To continue to tear down an institution like the FBI, to seed -- to kind of plant these seeds of conspiracy in the minds of many people who are kind of willing to believe anything these days, it's incredibly damaging to the institutions in this country that we all rely on to protect all of us, not just one party or the other, but everyone.

So, it's really, really dispiriting to see.

BLACKWELL: What did lawyers say about what any sane person should believe about what Tucker Carlson said?

CAMEROTA: Right. The lawyers said that nobody would ever believe anything that he claims on his shows. They have said that about other FOX hosts too. But, somehow, the viewers never hear that.


Andrew McCabe, thanks so much.

MCCABE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn now to two major rulings handed down by the Supreme Court today. One leaves the Affordable Care Act in place, protecting health care for millions of Americans.

CAMEROTA: And another wades into the issue of religious freedoms, specifically whether a Catholic foster care agency in Philadelphia can refuse to work with same-sex couples.

So we will get to that one in a moment, but let's start on Obamacare.

Our Ariane de Vogue and Harry Litman join us now.

OK, Ariane, great to see you.

Tell us more about what the justices said, I mean, how they justified their decisions in the Obamacare case. ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. Obamacare is

going to remain in place. That means millions and millions and millions of people will be able to keep their health insurance amidst this pandemic.

The court rejected another challenge to the law. And, as President Biden said, this is a big win for supporters of the law.

Here's what the court did. Justice Breyer, writing for a 7-2 majority, he said, basically, that the Republican states and the individuals who brought this challenge didn't have the legal right to be in court because they couldn't show a concrete harm.

You have to step back a little bit to understand where he's coming from there, because, remember, it was Chief Justice John Roberts. He upheld this law back in 2012 under the taxing power, and then Congress got rid of the tax.


So these critics came right to court and said, you have gotten rid of the legal justification for this law, the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the whole thing should fall. Breyer rejected that today. He dismissed this challenge. He said, you can't show a concrete harm here.

And then you had two of the conservative justices, Gorsuch and Alito. They dissented. And they pointed to the fact that the court had already heard three challenges to this law. And what they said today is that, once again, the court has pulled off what they called an improbable rescue of the law.

But this is a win for supporters of the Affordable Care Act today.

BLACKWELL: Harry, we had -- CNN legal analyst Steve Vladeck said that this third decision based on standing makes it harder for a fourth challenge on the constitutional argument.

You agree with that?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, I think three strikes and the challenges are out here, and we're done.

And it is very interesting, because they did it on the basis of a conservative doctrine, saying, do you have a right to be in court?

Congress, just as she said, after they had held the last time and Robert says this is a tax, they said, fine, we will make it zero now, no tax. But they were, as they say, hoist by their own petard, because what Breyer said for the court was, well, it's zero. So there's nothing we can do to help you. If you don't do the mandate, there's no action a government court can take.

If there's no action a court can take, you're not allowed to be here. That's federal courts 101. And so they're done. And, yes, I just think, as a practical matter, there's nothing really left to try to find. And this is a historic day, not as a legal matter, but as a social matter.

I think the Affordable Care Act is now with us for good, just as the big sort of New Deal legislation or voting rights legislation are a part of the American fabric.

CAMEROTA: That's what President Obama said him. I mean, he said, it's now here to stay.

LITMAN: Yes, I think so.

CAMEROTA: He tweeted that out.

Ariane, as a court watcher, did you -- is it interesting to look at the breakdown, I mean, to look at the conservatives, the Clarence Thomas, the Amy Coney Barrett, the Brett Kavanaugh, that sided with or that, whatever, joined forces with the liberals on the court, including, I mean, obviously, Justice Roberts there?

DE VOGUE: Well, what's interesting is, they did it on these -- it's a dry legal term, but it's called standing, right?

And conservatives -- it's hard to get in court, it's hard to bring a challenge. So that's where the conservatives here who ruled with the majority, they said, look, we just -- we're not even going to get to the merits of the law. We are going to dismiss this because you didn't have the injury that you need to bring the challenge.

That's what makes it make more sense.

BLACKWELL: All right, Harry, let's turn to this -- the Fulton decision, the religious freedom case, because you say that this is the most important decision of the term. Why?

LITMAN: Well, it's the dog that didn't bark that makes it the most important. Everyone was watching this to see, would this new court, emboldened conservative court, actually make new law about religious freedom?

And here was the issue. You saw that, basically, Philadelphia said to a Catholic organization, we're not going to let you do foster care anymore because you won't do same-sex parents. And they sued saying you're discriminating against religion.

There's a very big Supreme Court case that now remains in place saying, if you're regulating across the board, and you happen to get at religious freedom, that's OK. That looked like it was maybe ripe for being overruled. But what the court said is, that doesn't apply here. In effect, you have discriminated against religion. Why? Because the law lets you have discretion to say, yes, no, maybe to different people.

And that means when you told the Catholic agency they can't do it. You were, in effect, singling them out. Therefore, we don't have to reach whether to overrule the other case. Under the current law, you discriminated against them. And Justice Roberts, who it's a big day for him in a way -- people

have been saying his power as chief is ebbing. But he put together liberals and others, progressive and others for this ruling that, on the one hand, is a win for the Catholic organization, on the other hand, saves an important doctrine that progressives were worried was going to fall.


CAMEROTA: Really interesting.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, Harry Litman, Ariane de Vogue, thank you both.


LITMAN: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, success overseas, some say, but President Biden has come home to conflict with his own party on some issues.

A bipartisan plan on infrastructure has support from both parties. But will progressives buy in? Also, on voting rights, Senator Joe Manchin has come up with a plan that even gets a stamp of approval from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

Manchin says let's make Election Day a federal holiday, offer mandatory 15 days of early voting and automatic voter registration through the DMV.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have talked to everybody.

And I have been working across the aisle with all the Republicans, trying to get people to understand that that's the bedrock of our democracy, an accessible, fair, and basically secure voting.

That's it, to have -- and right now, in a divided country, this is not about me. It's about our country.


CAMEROTA: But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now throwing cold water on those ideas.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Equally unacceptable. Totally inappropriate. All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well, if that were to be a surface on the floor. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip joins us now with more.

Hi, Abby. Great to have you here.




So, interesting what Joe Manchin is doing.


CAMEROTA: Where he's sort of laying out different things. He's being sort of more transparent and explicit. Where does this leave him?

PHILLIP: Well, it seems like he's, first of all, calling the bluff of progressives, who've been saying, you're against everything. You're calling for bipartisanship. What are you for?

So he says, here's what I'm for. Here's a list of compromises that I'm willing to accept. And now you're hearing progressive saying, no way, no how to some of these proposals.

Yes, we had Stacey Abrams this morning endorsing a compromise effort. However--

CAMEROTA: For the voting rights.


PHILLIP: For voting rights.

BLACKWELL: And we've got that sound. Let's listen. Let's listen..

PHILLIP: However, he's clearly signaling he's willing to come to the table.

BLACKWELL: Let's listen to Stacey Abrams.


STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: Absolutely. What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible, no matter your geography.


BLACKWELL: So, where does this go? Does this make progress?

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, look, I think it's very significant that Stacey Abrams is coming out and saying this, and you're hearing some other Democrats saying, let's play ball with making some changes to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, to the Senate Bill 1 bill that would that's much broader that deals with some anti-corruption issues.

But I do think progressives are under the microscope here. They are the ones who start to matter. Many of them are not OK with a watering down on infrastructure, a watering down on voting rights. And in the House in particular, Democrats don't have a huge margin. They have got about five votes to play with, unless they get many some Republicans on board.

And so it makes it a very tricky discussion. You also are hearing from Democrats, yes, Joe Manchin is for all of these things. But you heard Mitch McConnell. He's not particularly interested in allowing any of his members to go forward and vote for any voting rights bill.

So it really calls into question whether it is true that what Manchin is four is also what will get you to 60 votes. Many Democrats are saying that's not the case.


And I hear that, but I think that isn't it just Manchin getting to Manchin's comfort? In other words, is part of this exercise so that he gets comfortable with Democrats going it alone and not -- and giving up on bipartisanship?

PHILLIP: That is a big question. But it's not just about Manchin.

Let's just take voting rights, because voting rights is not something that you can use a reconciliation budget maneuver to get through. On voting rights, there are several other Democrats who are not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster.

So, Joe Manchin might be comfortable with an effort that is bipartisan, meaning it gets a couple of Republican votes, but it doesn't get to 60. But that doesn't guarantee that it gets passed.

And so that's why you're -- that's why I think you're hearing a lot of progressives in particular saying the issue here is whether Joe Manchin is willing to put the filibuster on the line, if it means getting something as important as voting rights done, because they don't see a path to 60 votes without getting rid of the filibuster, even if one or two or three or four or even eight Republicans get on board.

that's still not 60 votes.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about policing and the reforms there. The deadline that the White House set was May 25, the day that George Floyd died. We're coming up a week from a month after that now, and some optimism from Lindsey Graham.

Does it seem as if there is going to be a compromise here? We know that Tim Scott is optimistic, but it looks like they're still in the same place they were a month ago.

PHILLIP: It's too early to say.

I do think Tim Scott has been more conservative in terms of talking about whether he really feels like there's progress. He said this week that the closer you get to the finish line, the more difficult this becomes. And I think that that is generally true, that even though they are down to now it sounds like one or two issues, those are the hardest issues.

This is about whether police officers can be held criminally liable, how and under what circumstances. And those are tough issues for Democrats. Those are red lines in some cases for Republicans.


Might be the hardest hill to climb. So, yes, they might be at the one- yard line, but it's on the hardest stuff. And I think Lindsey Graham is looking at it and saying, we're so close. But Tim Scott realizes that this is going to be very difficult.

Too early to tell. Both sides are still talking, though. That is a positive development. And I think, on this issue, just like we were talking about voting rights and on infrastructure, let's watch the progressives. You have got a lot of progressives in the House saying, we are not for these compromises, people like Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, et cetera, who are saying, we are not in favor of watering down this police bill on criminal liability in particular.

So let's watch that. I think it's a major unanswered question whether the Democratic votes will be there for this kind of compromise.

CAMEROTA: Abby Phillip, thank you very much for helping us understand it. Great to see you here in the studio.

PHILLIP: Good to see you too.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, in just a few minutes, President Biden will sign a bill marking Juneteenth a federal holiday.

The day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, so we will bring you that as soon as it happens.

BLACKWELL: Plus, Biden and Putin say that they are working behind the scenes on a possible prisoner exchange, one that could include former Marine Trevor Reed, who's sitting in a Russian prison right now.

Reed's parents will join us live next.



BLACKWELL: So, among the many issues President Biden covered yesterday with President Vladimir Putin, the fate of two former U.S. Marines held in Russian prisons. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I raised the case of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.

QUESTION: Sir, what do you say to the families of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed?

Sir, what do you say to the families of the detained Americans?


QUESTION: Say it again. We can't hear you.

BIDEN: I said the families of the detained Americans came up, and we discussed it. We're going to follow through with that discussion. I am not going to walk away on that.


BLACKWELL: So, there's a proposal to swap Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed for two Russians jailed in the U.S. No resolution there yet.

The parents of Trevor Reed have personally pleaded with the Biden administration to secure the release of their son. He's been imprisoned for nearly a year, faces a nine-year sentence after alleged altercation with police. The family disputes all charges.

And it makes their pleas even more urgent. Reed recently contracted COVID-19 while in custody.

With me now, Joey and Paula Reed.

Thank you both for being with me.

Before we get to the political element, before we get to the president's conversation with Vladimir Putin, how is your son? What's the latest on his diagnosis and his treatment?

PAULA REED, MOTHER OF TREVOR REED: Well, we got a quick phone call from him. He has been returned back to his jail. He said he's still having chest pain. He has requested a new COVID test and X-ray. And it's -- he also said that, while he was in the hospital jail, that he did not receive any treatment.

All he got was like daily vitamins.

BLACKWELL: So, you had a phone call with him. When was the call?


P. REED: Monday? I think it was Tuesday morning. Was it Monday?

J. REED: I think it was Monday morning, day before yesterday.


So, Paula, the last time we spoke, at the end of our conversation, you were breaking down just having not heard from him. What was it like to hear from your son, to hear his voice?

P. REED: Obviously, it was very exciting for us. And I could tell -- the phone rang. And you can tell from the number on it that it was Trevor from overseas.

And his sister was here. She got to talk to him, and Joey, obviously. And then he has a best friend from elementary school was here visiting us. And he also got to speak with him. So it was really great.

BLACKWELL: OK. Well, good. Glad to hear that you had that call.

Let me turn to the president now. We played the totality of what President Biden said about his conversations with Putin about your son. What's your reaction to what you heard from the president there?

J. REED: We're very happy with what he said and also with what President Biden -- I mean, President Putin said.

President Putin had said previously that he was very open to discussions. And then he said yesterday that it was discussed, and that the State Department and the Foreign Ministry would be working towards that end or in that direction.

So, both of those, that's exactly what we were hoping for. We didn't expect an immediate release. So the fact that they both said publicly that they're going to discuss it seriously, we're very happy.

BLACKWELL: So, just for context, for people who did not hear the remarks from President Putin, let's play those and we will continue talking.

J. REED: Thank you.


QUESTION (through translator): Did the American side manage to talk about the exchange of prisoners of Russians in U.S. prisons?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): President Biden did actually raise that question about American prisoners in the Russian Federation.

We did discuss that. We might be able to find some kind of compromise there. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the secretary -- and the Department of State will be working on it.


BLACKWELL: Now, the swap would include Russians Viktor Bout, arms dealer known as the Merchant of Death.