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New Videos of Capitol Riot Released; Fragile Infrastructure Deal; Jocelyn Benson is Interviewed about Voter Fraud in Michigan; CDC Encourages Vaccine Despite Rare Heart Risks. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 24, 2021 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:33:22]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you're looking at live pictures of the partially collapsed, half of that apartment building collapsed in Surfside, Florida. We just had a press briefing. We know 55 of the 130-plus units completely collapsed. We know 35 people were pulled either from the building itself or from the rubble, two from the rubble, which is one more than we had known. And, again, just to reiterate how important it is if you think anyone you know may have been in that building that you call this number. It is 305-614-1819, or go to miami-dade.gov/emergency. Search and rescue continues. We will stay on this.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Just hoping that there may be others rescued from there.

Well, other story we're following this morning.

The Justice Department has released six never before seen clips from the January 6th violent insurrection. The new videos show Capitol rioters harassing and attacking the police line from the officers' point of view.

HARLOW: CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild has more on what these new videos show.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Justice Department releasing new videos, shedding more light on the violence and harassment officers faced during the January 6th Capitol riots.

This video shows metropolitan police approaching the Capitol, enduring taunts from rioters in the crowd.

(INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not the left. We are not the jobless left.

WILD: Body camera video shows rioters then fighting the officers. Twenty-one-year-old Grady Owens (ph), who prosecutors say hit officers with the skateboard, has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon.

[09:35:05]

One rioter wearing a Make America Great Again hat seen pushing and shoving officers. Another rioter then screams at the officers.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out! Get out! Get out!

WILD: Video taken just minutes later shows officers on the steps of the Capitol falling to the ground trying to hold the line and prevent the pro-Trump crowd from breaching the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA!

WILD: This surveillance video from inside the Capitol illustrates just how overwhelmed the officers were in preventing the crowd from entering the Capitol.

The family of Officer Brian Sicknick, an officer who died shortly after the Capitol riot, horrified by the new footage.

SANDRA GARZA, GIRLFRIEND OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: It's heart- wrenching. It's disturbing. And some of the footage is just downright sadistic. It's brutal for me to watch, especially to know that Brian was there that day. And, you know, experiencing what the officers were experiencing as well as seeing this, and to know his last moments on earth were, you know, experiencing all of this, it's just horrible. It's heartbreaking.

WILD: Officer Sicknick's mother can't understand why some lawmakers are trying to whitewash the events of that day, despite the overwhelming video evidence that continues to emerge.

GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: They're afraid of losing their jobs. They're -- I don't know what they're afraid of. And I don't understand why they're afraid of, you know, the former president. For some reason they're afraid of him and they just keep doing what he says that they should do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: And denying what you can see with your own eyes.

Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

Let's speak more about this with retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe (ph) and the 7th Army.

General, always good to have you on.

As you know, there are sitting lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, who continue to claim despite what we see with our eyes here in repeated videos of what happened that day, that this was a peaceful event, that it was like a tourist event. I'm going to give you a moment here, as someone who served in the military and commanded, to respond to those lawmakers making that false claim.

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's abhorrent, Jim. And as new films are released and we see more and more of the activity that went on, you know, I said yesterday that I believe this was intense combat. There were several things that caused me to believe that.

First of all, I saw a film of the Capitol Police in the basement of the Pentagon doing a mission -- I'm sorry, the Capitol Building, doing a mission brief, getting ready to go out and face what they knew was out there.

The second piece was just the quantity of the crowd, and quantity, as you know, has a quality all its own. There were tens of thousands of people there by my count. And we've seen those kinds of riots before.

And then, thirdly, it was just the rage and the violence. You know, the film of the individual beating someone with a skateboard, throwing flags and fire extinguishers and all those kind of things. And yet there are some that say, well, they didn't have weapons. There were certainly some weapons there, but it's how you define a weapon.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HERTLING: Seeing the physical distance between the rioters and the police, I know from -- from combat, that's a psychological factor. When you get that close to the enemy, you know, there are all kinds of hormones that kick in. And especially when you're overwhelmed and surrounded. This was much more than just a protest. This was an insurrection. This was a riot. This was combat.

SCIUTTO: Yes. If you've ever been on the other side of pepper spray, certainly qualifies as a weapon.

I want to go over a moment on Capitol Hill yesterday. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answering questions from lawmakers about how the military is handling questions of race. Among them, critical race theory.

I just want to play it and I want to get your reaction.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I do think it's important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And the United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train and we understand. And I -- I want to understand white rage, and I'm white. And I want to understand it. So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So, those words, relatively simple words, led to seeming outrage from some on the far-right. As a former commander yourself, is Milley showing the qualities of a good commander there, listening, as he's describing it?

HERTLING: Yes, absolutely. Jim. I was very proud of General Milley yesterday in his testimony. And, as you know, he's been pilloried several times for some things he did. And as he transfers from one administration to the other, he's showing what a true military leader does. He's faced with extremism in the ranks.

[09:40:04]

He's faced with extremism in the ranks. He's faced with an enemy that is based on white rage -- or that the FBI has said is our biggest terrorist threat right now. So what he's doing is studying them.

You know, military leaders often use the phrase of sun sue (ph), of know yourself, know the enemy, know the terrain. He's trying to get to know the enemy. What -- and he said this. What caused this white rage? How do you define it and how do you eliminate it from within the military ranks? And also, if faced with it, how do you counter it?

He implied, you know, rightfully so, the same thing I did -- just did right now, that Capitol Police, and potentially military personnel, were in harm's way in combat at our Capitol Building.

So, yes, I'm fully supportive of General Milley and what he said yesterday because that's what smart military leaders do, they find out what is causing the enemy to do the things that they're doing.

SCIUTTO: Well, other conservatives, including right wing media, they're attacking the military as somehow soft for discussing issues of race. As you know, people of color are disproportionately represented in the military. The people that folks like Milley and yourself commanded. What's your reaction to that, you know, criticism that somehow Milley's being soft by having this discussion?

HERTLING: It's ludicrous. It's ridiculous. You know, you try and become enlightened in what your environment is all about. In fact, that's the quality of a leader. The slams and the pejorative comments about being woke are just ridiculous. Having, you know, been in the military that really requires individuals to study their surrounding, study their enemies, study how cultures come together and work, it's not woke-ism, it's an attempt to analyze and digest and then deal with problems that are facing our country as we protect and defend the Constitution.

So I think those on the right, or anyone, right or left, who is saying anything about the military being woke, first of all, they're usually not part of the military. They've never served.

SCIUTTO: Yes. HERTLING: And, secondly, they really truly don't understand the requirements of a commander and a leader in today's professional force.

SCIUTTO: To that point, Matt Gaetz, Republican congressman, he tweeted the following, with generals like this it's no wonder we've fought considerably more wars than we've won. We should note, Gaetz has not served in the military. He's currently under investigation for potential federal crimes.

Just briefly, as a commander who did serve, your reaction to Gaetz's criticism?

HERTLING: Well, I try and pay zero attention to Representative Gaetz ever since he put on a gas mask on the floor of the House.

But what I'd say is, again, you don't have to be a veteran to comment on military actions. But in this case, he's way out of his league. And General Milley and Secretary Austin both answered the question in the right way, in my view, and Congressman Gaetz is just trying to back pedal now and maintain the support of a base that doesn't know what they're talking about on these issues.

SCIUTTO: General -- Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thanks so much for your service and thanks so much for your time this morning.

HERTLING: A pleasure, Jim. Thanks.

HARLOW: All right, do we have a deal on infrastructure? Just hours from now, senators from both sides of the aisle will head to the White House for a high stakes meeting with President Biden after announcing a major breakthrough overnight on a potential infrastructure agreement. One of the biggest priorities, Jim, of this president's agenda.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CNN's Laruen Fox, she's been coving this throughout, eating her share of late-night pizza on Capitol Hill as the negotiations go on.

Lauren, we ask you this question every day, is this for real?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly this was a major breakthrough last night.

Look, the turn of events throughout the day were pretty spectacular. On Tuesday, these negotiations drug on for several hours. And we were told there just hadn't been much progress.

Then, last night, there was sort of this last-minute breakthrough. These last 24 hours were really critical because senators are about to go on recess and a lot of lawmakers going into that bipartisan meeting yesterday were clear with us, this moment mattered and if they didn't get a deal they might certainly run out of time to do so at all. So significant last night that they came to some kind of agreement on how to finance this infrastructure package. Now, the details of this still are not entirely clear. And that's

because they still need to talk to the president himself.

Also, keep an eye today on Republican leadership and how they talk about this negotiation because we still don't have assurances that there would be enough Republicans, that number, of course, 10 if every Democrat supported the bipartisan proposal, there's still question about whether or not Republicans will really come on board.

Remember, this was a negotiation of a small number of senators, ten in the room with White House officials. So they still need Biden's sign off. They still need Republican leadership sign off and they still need many progressives sign off to actually insure that this is for real.

[09:45:06]

But significant breakthrough last night as they came to some kind of consensus on how to actually finance this new project of infrastructure.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Huge deal. Let's see if it gets over the finish line.

Lauren, thanks for your reporting, very much, on it.

Right now, as you see on the right-hand side of your screen here, here are life aerial images of this partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, Florida, right near Miami Beach. About half of the apartments completely destroyed. Search and rescue continues. We'll be back with much more after this.

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[09:50:06]

SCIUTTO: A Republican-led committee in the Michigan State Senate is now flat out rejecting the big lie. Officials there released a 55-page report yesterday which debunks false claims by former President Trump and his allies inside and outside of the state. They found zero evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in the 2020 election. That is right, zero evidence. This was a Republican-led committee.

The report refutes lies about, among other things, dead people voting, unsolicited ballots, voting tabulators being compromised and more. Many of the things you still hear from the former president.

Joining me now to discuss, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

It's good to have you back on.

As you know, the big lie persists. Recent public poll by Monmouth University found one in three Americans believe President Biden only won the 2020 election due to voter fraud.

Seeing a report like this coming out of a Republican-led committee in the Michigan State Senate that says that's not true, there is no evidence of it, does this move the dial in your state, does it take the wind out of the sails of the folks still pushing the big lie?

JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, that remains to be seen because also this week people are still calling for an Arizona-type review or audit of the process and so the actions that will be taken in furtherance of this report are -- you know, still remain to be seen. Because, remember, there's several bills, in fact 39 bills of legislation working their way through the state legislature right now in response to misinformation, trying to codify the big lie in different ways and respond to the massive voter turnout by doing away with policies that led to such high levels of voter engagement last year.

So now is the time for Republican legislators to act based on their findings and undo this process of passing pernicious voter suppression legislation that furthers their misinformation that they now have debunked.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

As you note, this report, it does urge some of the measures you're talking about, make absentee voting harder, limit the availability of drop boxes for absentee ballots. I mean is the -- sadly, is the effect in terms of access to voting the same, even though this report debunks the feeling behind it, right, this idea of the big lie?

BENSON: Well, I think it's important to note there's a three pronged strategy now in furtherance of those who want to undo democracy. One is furthering the big lie, which this report takes away. But the other two still stand. One is passing the pernicious legislation that's ultimately going to make it harder for people to vote and the other is changing the authority of election administrators to protect and guard the results of the election to ensure the people's will rules the day. So both of those things are still out there. And, as you mentioned, a lot of people are still also believing the misinformation.

What's good about this report is that it does come from Republican leaders in the state senate and what I hope is that other Republicans in the legislature and around the country will follow this lead and look at the facts, look at the data and affirm that the results of the election are accurate and move forward based on that so that we can work together and protect democracy.

SCIUTTO: Some are. We spoke to a Republican official in the state of Kentucky yesterday who made the same point. You saw that in Georgia as well. Trouble is, they're often targeted by people in their own party.

I do want to ask you this, given your position, should there be legal consequences for those who continue to lie about this, make baseless public statements, attacking the legitimacy of the election? Should there be more than just sort of public shaming, right, but should there be legal consequences for that? BENSON: Yes. And one of the reasons why we're now, what, seven, eight

months after the closure of the polls in November and still having this conversation is because there's been no accountability for those bad actors who have spread this misinformation.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BENSON: And there needs to be because that's actually, as the report says, the type of fraud that is permeating our elections and democracy and needs to be addressed.

I've called for deceptive practices legislation that would ban acts that intentionally try to deceive people about their voting rights. And so I think that conversation needs to be had, particularly in the light of what we've all experienced and continue to experience around this election misinformation.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And one of the people facing no legal consequences for sharing that is the former president, Donald Trump. He continues to do it every day.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, thanks so much.

BENSON: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: All right, let's turn to the COVID pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are not necessary at this point but that could soon change. A CDC advisory committee says if there's a rise in breakthrough cases, meaning an infection after vaccination, boosters may be needed.

Let's talk about this and the latest developments with our medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician, also formerly the Baltimore health commissioner.

Dr. Wen, it's good to have you.

Look, there's that news that I just laid out, and then there's the really important CDC Safety Advisory Group's meeting yesterday that did find a likely association between a very rare heart condition, which is myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, and the mRNA vaccines in people between teenagers and age 30.

[09:55:17]

And so that is the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. But it's very rare.

I lay this out because they went on to say, but the risk from COVID and complications with COVID outweighed the risk of myocarditis.

What's the take-home for any parent deciding whether to vaccine their kid?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The big take-home is that the risk of this very rare and by the way wild effect of myocarditis is much lower than the very real and significant effect of getting COVID-19 disease.

So the CDC did a very thorough analysis. They found that there were 323 cases of myocarditis in this group of individuals under the age of 30. The vast majority of this group had very mild symptoms. They recovered with minimal treatment and they recovered fully. That needs to be compared with the fact that now 33 percent of all the new infections are in adolescents and young adults. And actually, since April, more than 300 people in the age group of 12 to 29 have died because of COVID-19, not to mention the many thousands that are living with persistent effects like brain fog, fatigue, muscle pain and so forth. And, by the way, you can get myocarditis from getting coronavirus as well.

And so I think the take-home -- and we've seen now the American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, have all said, yes, people over 12 should be getting the coronavirus vaccine.

HARLOW: Right. You wrote an whole op-ed about this in "The Washington Post" and you said you really take issue with people that say they don't need to vaccine their kids because cases are falling. And then -- and then you wrote this line that really struck me. You said COVID is now one of the leading causes of death among children. I mean that stopped me in my tracks because I just -- I didn't think that was the case.

Can you give us some context for -- are you taking about teenagers, young children, what kind of numbers are we talking about here?

WEN: Look, to be clear, it's not the leading cause of death in children. And I also want to be clear that the likelihood of kids dying from coronavirus is very low.

I think what's happened, though, is that we keep on comparing the likelihood of severe disease for children versus adults, whereas that's not the right comparison. We really should be looking at the likelihood of illness for children, the likelihood of long-term effects on our children. Even if that risk is low, I think many of us as parents would say, we would do anything to reduce the risk of something that's low, however, very severe. If we can eliminate that risk altogether with a safe and effective vaccine, I think a lot of us would do that.

HARLOW: Thank you, Dr. Wen, as always.

We'll be right back.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: It is the top of the hour.