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Today Marks Emancipation Slaves as Official U.S. Holiday; Voting Rights Bill Faces Uncertain Future in U.S. Senate; U.S. Department of Justice Releases New Bodycam Video of Riot; Nearly a Dozen Run for Office After Supporting Trump on January 6; Putin Praises Biden, Calling Him a "Professional"; Hardline Cleric Raisi Favorite in Iranian Presidential Race; U.S. Seeing Alarming Spike in Gun Violence; Storm Warning Along Gulf Coast; Support for Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Grows. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2021 - 04:00   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Startling new images from the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Meanwhile, some people who were at the riot are using the event to start political careers.

Also this hour, the fight in Washington over voting rights, what Republican leader Mitch McConnell is saying about a compromised bill.

Plus this --


OPAL LEE, GRANDMOTHER OF JUNETEENTH: None of us are free until we're all free.


BRUNHUBER: The grandmother of Juneteenth talks to CNN about the new federal holiday and why her mission isn't over yet.

Live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Today marks the first new national holiday in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. With the stroke of his pen President Joe Biden on Thursday made June 19th, known as Juneteenth, an official U.S. holiday formally recognizing the end of slavery. The measure sailed through Congress this week with remarkable bipartisan ease but there is no such consensus on a bill to protect U.S. voting rights. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams embraced proposed changes by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to gain his support but it still faces a tough battle among Senate Republicans as CNN's Ryan Nobles explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Significant reforms to America's voting laws have been a key priority for Democrats in this version of the U.S. Congress and they do feel like they're making progress. The House has already passed a sweeping bill called the "For the People Act," but its run into roadblocks here in the United States Senate. Not just with Republicans but a key Democrat West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Well Manchin has now released his version of this bill that he thinks he can support and it's been met with some optimism from Democrats. They don't like everything that Manchin has proposed but the negotiations seem to be headed in the right direction. Still there remains a significant obstacle and that is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Listen to what he had to say about Manchin's proposed reforms to the bill.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): You all have notice that had there is now a debate among Democrats over a revised version produced by one of the Democrats yesterday which has been endorse endorsed by Stacey Abrams. All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well if that were to be surfaced on the floor.

NOBLES: Now, McConnell's opposition is significant because in order to get anything through the Senate it requires ten Republican votes and if McConnell says Republicans aren't going to support it they likely will not. So that means in order for this bill to get through Democrats would need to break up the filibuster for it and that's something that Manchin has said he cannot do.

So while Manchin believes that he can come around to supporting some form of voting reforms, unless he's willing to also break up the filibuster this bill is not going anywhere. Now, Democrats remain hopeful that Manchin will come around. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she believes in Joe Manchin. There is certainly a lot of pressure being applied to Manchin to make that change and take that step. At this point he says he is unwilling to do so but we will have to see what happens as Democrats continue to apply that pressure. The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will bring the bill to the floor, at least begin that process as soon as next week.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. Justice Department has released disturbing new video from the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill. The bodycam footage was used in a case against Thomas Webster a former Marine and retired New York City police officer accused of participating in the attack. And I want to warn you the video we're about to show is disturbing.




[04:05:00] BRUNHUBER: The prosecutors say the video shows Webster in the red coat there among a crowd of pro-Trump rioters. He's screaming profanities at police officers while brandishing a flagpole. He then rushes at a police officer. One officer eventually wrestles away the flagpole but he is then tackled to the ground. Webster has been charged with seven federal crimes including assaulting police and unlawfully entering Capitol grounds with a dangerous weapon and he has pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, several Trump supporters who were there on Capitol Hill that day are looking to further their own political careers and at least one is touting his role in the insurrection to boost his campaign. Here is CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Capitol riot --

JOEY GILBERT (R), NEVADA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was in Washington, D.C.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- to the campaign trail.

GILBERT: If election integrity is not the number one issue of these guys running, then they're either lost, confused, or too stupid to be running.

MURRAY (voice-over): Republican Joey Gilbert, a former boxer turned lawyer, says he's launching a bid for Nevada governor.

GILBERT: I'm not a politician, I never wanted to be a politician, all right? But let me tell you something, I am probably going to be doing here shortly and that's called running for governor.

MURRAY (voice-over): The announcement coming just months after Gilbert says he was in Washington and scaled the Capitol steps January 6th.

GILBERT: One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. People were on the Capitol steps. We just walked right up when I went up there.

MURRAY (voice-over): But insists he never went inside.

GILBERT: Yes, some people did go into the Capitol. I don't condone that. I have nothing to do with that.

MURRAY (voice-over): Gilbert who is doubling down on the lie the presidential election was stolen.

GILBERT: In my opinion, Trump is still our president.

MURRAY (voice-over): It's one of nearly a dozen aspiring politicos spotted near the U.S. Capitol on January 6th by CNN and other news outlets.

In Michigan, Ryan Kelley is running for governor and ducking questions about his whereabouts during the Capitol insurrection.

RYAN KELLEY (R), MICHIGAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I never went inside the Capitol building, never had the intention to and did not go inside, nor did I have any altercation with police officers.

MURRAY (voice-over): While he denied going inside, Kelley wouldn't respond to CNN or a local news reporter's question about images showing him deep in the fray of rioters outside the Capitol.

REPORTER: That's you, correct? Right here?

KELLEY: You got my statement on the Capitol, brother.

MURRAY (voice-over): Gilbert and Kelley could face crowded primaries and it's too early to say if they have a shot at victory. While neither of them have been accused of a crime, that's not the case for Jason Riddle.

The New Hampshire resident arrested after sharing photos of himself inside the Capitol holding a bottle of wine, he stole, with a local news station. Riddle faces five counts including unlawful entry and theft of government property and has pleaded not guilty. Now he says breaking into the Capitol could be a boost to his campaign.

JASON RIDDLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: It tells them I show up. I'm actually --I'm going to keep my promises and make some changes.

MURRAY (voice-over): But first he has to clarify what if anything he is actually running for

RIDDLE: I thought Ann was a state representative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. A state rep is in the State House in Concord.

RIDDLE: Yeah. That's what Ann is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no. She's in Washington.

RIDDLE: Oh, I guess I got to run against that, then.

MURRAY: Now in addition to Riddle seemingly having no idea what he is running for, here's another wrinkle. He is not allowed to set foot in D.C. under the terms of his release. Now lawyers for Riddle did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Additionally Kelly and Gilbert also did not respond to CNN's requests.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had generally favorable assessments of their summit in Geneva. President Biden described the three-hour-long closed door summit as positive while the Russian president said the talks have been constructive. But Putin had a few maybe surprising things to say about his American counterpart once he got home. CNN's Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, this rare praise by President Putin for President Biden so soon after that summit comes as the Russian president was holding a videoconference with graduates from Russia's graduate school of public administration. And he said that the pair of them had got on. It was quite friendly, he said, that they understood each other and understood where each other stood on key issues. But then came one of the surprising bits where President Putin actually said that the Russian media's presentation of President Biden, of his image, that they got it all wrong and, in fact, Biden's a real professional.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This image of President Biden, which is pictured by Russian and U.S. media, does not correspond to reality. This image of him can feel discouraging, but there is no need to be discouraged because President Biden is a professional and he should be very precise while working with him to not miss anything. He doesn't miss a thing.


I repeat once again, he is focused, he understands what he wants to achieve and reaches it very skillfully. You can easily feel it.

ROBERTSON: What makes Putin's comments there particularly surprising is the reference to Russia's media has not been portraying Biden as he actually is because they've been portraying him as somebody who is weak, who is not really up to the job, who might not last through his presidency. And when Russian media presents President Biden that way, it's coming from the Kremlin. So here you have President Putin saying, oh, change that. So are we going to see now a different version of President Biden portrayed in Russian media? That's certainly what Vladimir Putin is hinting at there.

What it does seem to reference in many ways is what Dr. Jill Biden had said in the run up to the summit where she said President Biden was overprepared for the meeting. That now seems to be endorsed by President Putin.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: A struggling economy is the number one issue for voters in Iran who are electing a new president today. Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi is the clear favorite to succeed Hassan Rouhani. And if he wins, he has a big decision ahead on whether to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live this hour in Tehran. Fred, the authorities have been making a lot of noise about the ensure a high voter turnout. What's that look like so far and have the widespread problems with ballot machines affected that? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well

the authorities do say that the issue -- some of the issues that were apparently there with the electronic ballot machines that that may have affected some of the turnout. They believe that some people who were waiting for a long time may have gone home. However, the Guardian Council -- which is sort of a main body that oversees the election here. They say those problems are being worked out and being sorted out.

Now you're absolutely right, Kim, there was quite a concern that there might be fairly low voter turnout. Because in the run up to the election many candidates were disqualified who were trying to run in the election. What we've seen so far, this is one of the polling stations that we've been to, so far we've been to three just here in the Tehran area. And it does seem to be that there is a steady stream of people who are coming in, the turnout in the places that we've been to seem fairly high. There were lines forming in some of those places.

And the folks that we speak to did indeed say that for them reviving the economy is certainly the most important goal that they have. Of course, the other big important goal that they have, the big important issue that they have is reviving the Iran nuclear agreement. That's something where they say this all feeds into Iran's relations with the West. It also of course feeds into reviving the economy as well.

And it's interesting because Ebrahim Raisi, who is of course the front runner very much in the election so far --- in the election campaigns up to this point. He himself had said that while he is very much a conservative he is also in favor of reviving the Iran nuclear agreement. So certainly that seems to be something that is a very fundamental policy of Iran. It seems to be something that even a new government will want to achieve as well reviving the nuclear agreement and also sticking with it -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much. Great to have you there. Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.

Israeli war planes again struck Gaza late Thursday, their second air strike in three days. Israel said it targeted Hamas military sites after incendiary balloons launched this week from Gaza set dozens of fires in Israel. No casualties have been reported from either the fires or the air strikes. Hamas has harassed Israel with the incendiary devices for a long time. But it's now clear the new Israeli government plans to respond with force. The former Prime Minister says Israel decided to change the rules after its last deadly conflict with Hamas in May. There's growing fear the rising tensions will fracture the fragile month long ceasefire.

Europe is poised to make a major change to its COVID travel regulations. Why American tourists could soon be allowed back even if they haven't been vaccinated.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm meteorologist Tyler Mauldin for CNN. This ragged mess of cloud cover behind me has the potential of becoming our next tropical system. In 10 minutes from now, stick around, because I'll let you know where it's heading and who will feel the most impacts.




BRUNHUBER: All right, let's get a check on what direction U.S. financial markets could be heading today. Looks like the Dow and the S&P are down but the Nasdaq is up. A rally in tech shares helped push the Nasdaq to another record high on Thursday. Investors are still reacting to news that the Federal Reserve is likely to start raising interest rates in 2023.

Police say a suspect has been arrested after a shooting spree near Phoenix, Arizona. One person was killed and three others injured by gunfire. Police pulled over the male suspect who was arrested without incident. The shootings took place over the course of an hour in the Phoenix suburbs of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise. In addition to those who were shot, nine people were hurt by shrapnel and debris. Officials say they don't think there was more than one shooter.

But it's not just Phoenix, it's also Baltimore, Chicago, Austin, many more cities coast to coast all seeing a major rise in gun violence. The numbers are clear, but what's actually behind this new wave of shootings? Here is CNN's Natasha Chen.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From coast to coast, a plague of gun violence has cities on high alert. In the last week alone, there have been about 19 mass shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive where at least four people were shot.

In West Baltimore, Wednesday afternoon, police described a, quote, brazen shooting when gunmen fired indiscriminately and hit six people killing one of them.

In Chicago Tuesday morning, four people were killed in a shooting at a home. One of the victims was set to graduate this week.


In Austin, police now say an argument between two groups of teens escalated to a shooting that left one person dead and injured 14 others over the weekend.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, gun deaths in the U.S. not including suicides are about 19 percent higher than at this point in 2020, and about 38 percent higher than this point in 2019.

Brian Lemek from the Brady PAC says this is an imperfect storm.

BRIAN LEMEK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE BRADY PAC: The rise in background checks that we saw and the rise of new firearms flooding the market exacerbates all of those -- those challenges that we once faced before. We know that the loopholes that exist at gun shows, the loopholes that exist with online sales and the introduction of ghost guns and 3D printed guns are a real problem for us.

CHEN (voice-over): Three weeks after a disgruntled employee shot and killed nine colleagues at a San Jose rail yard, San Jose has become the latest city to mandate filming of all retail gun purchases beginning in September, with footage to be kept for at least 30 days.

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D), SAN JOSE, CA: These measures are primarily focused on ensuring that those with prior criminal records, those who are the subject of restraining orders or domestic violence, et cetera, are not able to get guns.

CHEN (voice-over): On the other end of the gun policy spectrum, in September, Texas, will allow people 21 and older who can legally possess firearms in the state to carry handguns in public without permits.

Meanwhile on Monday in Decatur, Georgia, a supermarket cashier, 41- year-old Laquitta Willis was shot and killed by a customer. Witnesses say Willis asked a man to pull up his mask but he refused. Police say he left the store, but returned later, walked up to Willis and shot her.

In nearby Atlanta where police say there have been 60 percent more murders this year compared to the same period in 2020, city council members pressed police for answers at a public safety meeting this week.

CLETA WINSLOW, ATLANTA COUNCILWOMAN: I think we're all just seeing something different that's a little more frightening, where these people are trying to take over our city and send a message.

CHEN: The people committing these crimes may be sending a message but so are the communities that have been shaken by each of these deaths. Just like this community here in Decatur, Georgia, praying together, supporting each other after the cashier Laquitta Willis was shot and killed here. There is a growing memorial for her outside as well as inside at her cashier lane which remains lit because as one of her co- workers tells me she was a bright light.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Decatur, Georgia.


BRUNHUBER: Well hurricane season is here and already tropical storm warnings are up along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The main target right now for potential tropical cyclone 3 the Louisiana coast. The storm could become tropical storm Claudette sometime later today. So let's bring in meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. Tyler, what are we expecting here? TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So Kim, we already have tropical

storm warnings hoisted for parts of the Gulf Coast -- as you mentioned -- from Mobile to nearly Lake Charles, Louisiana. If this feels like deja vu, rightfully so because last year the 2020 record breaking hurricane season this part of the Gulf Coast was battered with hurricanes. So basically we're picking up where we left off about 12 months ago.

This system is currently right in here. It doesn't look like much on satellite imagery but it is beginning to gather strength. The hurricane hunters flew into it yesterday their first reconnaissance trip of the 2021 season. They're going to fly into it here in just a couple hours ago again. And on their first flight they found a wind of 35 mile per hour. But notice that the center is actually like right here and all the thunderstorms are well away from the center so they can't upgrade it to a depression or storm just yet but they will. It could become a depression within the next hour and once we get into the afternoon it is definitely a storm making landfall near Morgan City, Louisiana tomorrow morning, then quickly petering out as it pushes to the north.

However, as I said, all the thunderstorms are on the east side so as it takes that journey it's going to drop a lot of rainfall on its east side so we have flood watches in effect from New Orleans all the way up into Atlanta where 4 to 6 inches of rain could fall over the next 72 hours. So we have to watch that. For flooding as we go into the weekend.

In addition another story that we're watching is the record heat out here from the plains to the southwest. Heat advisory in effect for portions of Kansas City, St. Louis, and also out here across the desert southwest, Kim, where temperatures will exceed 100 degrees.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Tyler Mauldin, appreciate it.

U.S. President Biden fresh from his summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin is now turning back to issues at home. His agenda is up against strong Republican opposition in a divided Democratic Party. That as, chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins reports, there are signs of progress.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden is turning the focus to his domestic agenda tonight as a new bipartisan infrastructure pitch is gaining steam.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Our focus is on a bipartisan proposal that focuses on true infrastructure and doesn't raise taxes.

COLLINS (voice-over): Spearheaded by Senator Mitt Romney and others, the new proposal calls for $1.2 trillion in total spending on roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure, with roughly 579 billion in new spending. One sign of progress, 21 Senators including 11 Republicans are now on board.

Aides briefed President Biden on the proposal today after he struck an optimistic tone in Switzerland.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I'm still hoping we can put together the two bookends here.

COLLINS (voice-over): Whether lawmakers can remains to be seen. Liberal Democrats are already dismissing the plan as inadequate.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): If they really, really, really want this bipartisan deal so that, you know, they can go out and champion that, then we're going to have to really talk about Medicare, wages, unionization and climate, especially climate.

COLLINS (voice-over): Top Senate Democrats are vowing to move ahead with their own ambitious package as bipartisan talks drag on.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Discussions about infrastructure are moving forward along two tracks. One is bipartisan.

COLLINS (voice-over): Senator Chuck Schumer making it clear that Democrats are proceeding with using a fast track process known as budget reconciliation.

SCHUMER: Yesterday, I convened all 11 members of the Senate Budget Committee to discuss the reconciliation track.

COLLINS (voice-over): One area of bipartisanship is a new bill on the president's desk making Juneteenth a federal holiday in commemorating the end of slavery.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Juneteenth has been known by many names Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today, a national holiday.

BIDEN: I think this will go down for me as one of the greatest honors I will have had as president.

COLLINS: And as President Biden noted during that signing ceremony every Senator voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday but when it went to go to passage in the House there are 14 members who voted against making it a holiday. All of them were Republicans.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: Well vaccinated or not pack your bags, the EU considers the U.S. among countries with COVID under control so American tourists could soon get to take some European holidays.

Plus there are new concerns today in North Korea as food prices rise in Pyongyang. Ahead the United Nations dire predictions about the country's food supply. Stay with us.