Return to Transcripts main page


Shootings Across the U.S.; Support for Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan; Ransomware Attack on Software Vendor. Aired 9:30- 10a ET.

Aired July 6, 2021 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: If you can believe it, this morning marks six months to the day since pro-Trump rioters stormed the nation's capital in the deadly insurrection. And as former President Trump and allies continue to push lies that fueled the January 6th attack, there are growing concerns that there could be a new wave of pro-Trump violence, particularly in August.

There are lots of anniversaries then. And, crucially, that not enough has been done to protect the Capitol to prevent what you're seeing right there from happening again.

CNN's Whitney Wild joins me now with the latest.

And following this, there was a big security review by Retired General Russel Honore, recommended a whole host of things, including hundreds more Capitol Police officers, protection in home districts where members are increasingly concerned about threats there.

What's been done? What hasn't been done/ And why not yet?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, so there's a list of reasons. The why not is the biggest question. But let me just tick through some of the changes that USCP has been able to affect because what they're trying to do is change what's in their control.

So that includes giving more training to some of their civil disturbance unit officials. That's important because that is the unit that's uniquely responsible for fending off rioters. They, for example, have sent CDU (ph) officials to Seattle, to Virginia Beach, to learn from other departments.

They've done a joint exercise with the National Guard. They're also expanding intel sharing within the department. Also important because what we know is officers have lamented the fact that they simply did not know what was coming on January 6th. So that was a change that USCP affected very, very quickly. Additionally, they have expanded their equipment. So, you know, officers getting new riot helmets, among other types of gear.


WILD: So there are some granular changes that they could do and did do very, very quickly.

However, what members of congress say, and rank and file officers also say, is that the department needs this major operational and cultural overhaul. That takes time and that takes money.


WILD: Not helping matters, they are bleeding officers.


WILD: They're losing about three officers a week on average. That's according to union officials. That means longer hours for the rank and file. Longer hours would plummet anybody's morale in any job, let alone a job as high pressure as that.


Well, during the review, they said that the force, as a whole, was already down below the necessary force levels by 233. So if they're still losing officers, I mean that's only getting worse.

WILD: Right.

SCIUTTO: In the last several minutes there was a statement put up on the Capitol Police website that mentions changes that they are doing so far. One that stood out to us is that the department is in the process, and I'm quoting from the statement here, of opening regional field offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to members of Congress.

WILD: Right.

SCIUTTO: That speaks to the point. We -- one of the points we started in on is concerns that this is not just a security problem here in Washington, but when members go home.

WILD: Right. Yes. And they are acutely aware of that. So another example of expanding, you know, protection around members is expanding their dignitary protection details, you know, here in Washington. So they are looking across the board at these threats, trying to make changes that will address that. But, again, they need the funding.

One of the recommendations from the inspector general was to revamp the agency in the FEMA -- the Secret Service. Capitol Police offered somewhat of a rebuttal to that in which they said, if you want us to be the Secret Service, you have to fund us like the Secret Service. That has not happened yet. What I think also is important to explore is that rank and file

officers feel like their day to day life hasn't changed. Yes, they have new -- they have new department issued cell phones. Yes, they have new emails with intelligence alerts. Yes, they have new bits of training, new equipment, but they feel like they are still working within the same framework as the old department. They say they feel like their life hasn't changed much from January 5th until now, and that's what really scares them.

SCIUTTO: Yes, You know (INAUDIBLE) after 9/11, there were -- you know, one of the lessons, right, was a change in the way they looked at the terror threat, right? And that was one of the products of the 9/11 Commission, therefore one of the arguments to have a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6th, which, of course, we do not have. We'll see what the select committee does in terms of answering some of those questions.

But, Whitney Wild, thanks so much for covering the story.

Well, as major U.S. cities across the nation grapple with what's on track to be back to back record-shattering years of gun violence, new data compiled by the gun violence archive shows this 4th of July holiday was one of the deadliest weekends so far in the year 2021. At least 233 people fatally shot in more than 500 shootings across the country just over a 72-hour period. Despite those frightening numbers, that's actually a 26 percent decline in fatal shootings from the same period last year when 314 people were killed.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus joins me now from Chicago, place that's seen its own experience with gun violence. Eighteen people -- at least 18 people killed in shootings over the weekend, including two girls age five and six.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, when I see the numbers, I think about the families, the fathers, the mothers, the grandparents. Here in Chicago, a five and a six-year-old among the 18 killed over this three-day weekend. One hundred people were shot. There were 69 shootings here in Chicago. And as we mentioned, 18 people lost their life.

Among the deceased, a former member of the National Guard with the Illinois National Guard. His family identified him on social media. And they said he had recently completed basic Army training.

But his family isn't alone. His family isn't the only group suffering. When you look at the numbers across the country, you'll see at least 233 people were killed. There were at least 500 shootings and 618 people injured.

Let's take a look and we'll show you where some of this happened across the country.

First we'll start in Norfolk, Virginia, where four children were shot Friday afternoon. Investigators there say one of the victims was a six-year-old. She had life-threatening injuries. Another victim, a 14- year-old, and two 16-year-olds. As I'm sharing these stories with you, you're probably hearing it, the victims are young. These are young children that we're talking about.

In Toledo, Ohio, one person was killed and 11 were injured. Investigators there say the victims range in age between 11 and 19.


SCIUTTO: Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much for keeping on top of it.

Well, big ticket items for Democrats. Voting rights, police reform, even infrastructure, they're on hold on Capitol Hill while Republican governors move first with their so-called America first policies with an eye to 2022 and 2024. We'll discuss.



SCIUTTO: This just in to CNN. Maybe a ray of political sunshine.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, which in -- brings in both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, has now endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure package. It has called for a, quote, expeditious stand-alone vote in the House on that package. This as many, however, Democratic agenda items are stalled. Democrat and Republican lawmakers, you've heard this story before, at a stalemate.

Joining me now, CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, and Anita Kumar, she's White House correspondent and associate editor at "Politico."

First to you, Melanie.

The significance of the Problem Solvers Caucus coming out on the side of this deal after you already saw the fanfare of the White House of a bipartisan group of senators endorsing this.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Right. This is a big deal. This is a group of about 60 members evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. So to have that Republican buy-in also on the House side is a big deal, especially if Pelosi loses some of those progressive votes and needs to make up the difference with the Republican conference.


ZANONA: However, as you noted in the statement, they also say we want a stand-alone vote on this bipartisan bill.


ZANONA: They don't want it linked with this broader, big spending bill, which is the path that Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have both said they want to take. SCIUTTO: So without that stand-alone vote, is this DOA or --

ZANONA: I could -- I mean it could be dead in the water, at least for some Republicans. I talked to Brian Fitzpatrick a few weeks ago, one of the co-chairs of this caucus. And he said, while he likes the substance of the bill, he is very concerned about the political process playing out.

SCIUTTO: So, Anita, I wonder, what -- what is the White House communicating to House leaders, House Democratic letters, including the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, saying, hey, we've got to get this through before we tack it on with this second track, right, of the other Democratic budget priorities?

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "POLITICO": Right. I mean we saw just a few days ago what the -- what the blowback was when President Biden tried to say these were linked.


KUMAR: So the White House is treading very, very carefully. The White House has dispatched, you know, aides to talk to members of Congress and say, look, we're not pushing this as linked, but whatever the -- whatever these Democrats are going to do is going to reflect on what the White House does.

So they -- they have -- they're in a tough spot. Obviously, they need Republicans to support this sort of traditional infrastructure package, but they don't want to alienate Democrats that they need to support this separate partisan bill that they're pushing through. So they're treading very carefully on both of those things, hoping that it gets through this month and it's looking like they still have a long way to go.


Melanie, CNN is out with its ranking with Senate seats as we approach 2022, the most likely to flip, and you have a mix in there. I mean you have a seat like Pennsylvania, the assessment is more likely to flip Democrat, away from Republican. You look at Arizona, it's the other way around.

I just wonder, the betting on the Senate seems to me Democrats have a better chance of holding or gaining in the Senate than they do of holding in the House. I mean is that what Republican and Democratic Party officials tend to think?

ZANONA: I mean that is the feeling. When you look at the House, Republicans do have history on their side. The president's party typically loses seats in the first midterm. They only need to flip a few seats to regain control of the House.

There's also the question of redistricting.


ZANONA: And Republicans have a big advantage there.

But it's still, you know, a big question to how January 6th and the insurrection is going to play into all this, how the pandemic is going to play into all of this. You know, we're a long ways away.


ZANONA: Republicans are feeling hopeful. But the Senate, bottom line, is going to be a dog fight. It's going to be expensive. It's going to be tooth and nail. It is going to be a battle.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and as you (INAUDIBLE), the Republican strategy now of trying to split up some of these blue dot cities in red states by --

ZANONA: Right.

SCIUTTO: With -- through redistricting perhaps to gain -- to gain seats.


Anita, how concerned is the White House about the -- gosh, I know, folks, we're only a few months past the last election, but, gosh, this is how Washington works -- about Democratic messaging going into these key midterm races? I mean you hear the attacks from the right on policing, you know, defund the police, et cetera. What is their message as they try to put it together for 2022?

KUMAR: Well, they feel really good about where things are with the pandemic. Obviously we're still in it, but there have been great strides in the last few months. Yes, you know, the president did miss that July 4th goal, but they're soon going to be there and they feel good about how things are opening up. And you're going to see that message over and over. That's the number one message.

But, sure, there are concerns that a lot of the things the president ran on, immigration, gun control, voting rights, things haven't passed.


KUMAR: Obviously, they are stalled in the Congress. They feel that they need to get something done to prove to voters, look, Democrats in charge in Congress and the White House can get things done. So that's why so much is riding on this spending package this month.

And you mentioned the timing. I just have to say, you're so right that we're, you know, 18 months from the elections, but you've got to remember that a president has most of his political capital in that very beginning of his term.


KUMAR: So this is the time he needs to get it done. If he doesn't, we've got the August recess.


KUMAR: We're going into, you know, politics of next year. It's very tough for him. This is the moment where he has to show that he can get something done.


Melanie, on the issue of voting, particularly after these most recent Supreme Court decisions, which have -- which have watered down, right, the Voting Rights Act. Has that issue moved among Democrats, particularly the Manchins and Sinemas, on breaking the filibuster, at least on voting rights legislation?

ZANONA: There's no path forward right now in the Congress for voting rights reform. And there's no signs that Manchin or Sinema are moved on the filibuster. So Democrats are going to have to get around that. They're going to have to come up with another game plan that doesn't involve blowing up that 60 vote threshold.

But the pressure is on because we've seen these states run by Republican governors who are moving at a rapid clip to pass new restrictive voting laws. The supreme court made clear in a ruling last week that's going to be very hard to challenge those. So there's a lot of anxiety in the Democratic Party right now. They see a very small window potentially if they lose control of the House or the Senate or both next year.

SCIUTTO: And that was the Democratic plan b, right, was to challenge in court.

ZANONA: Right.

SCIUTTO: Harder to challenge in court.

ZANONA: Right.

SCIUTTO: Melanie Zanona, Anita Kumar, thanks very much.

Well, another cyberattack targets hundreds of businesses. Who are the hackers? What are their demands? We're talking tens of millions of dollars here. That's next.



SCIUTTO: Well, this morning -- may sound familiar -- but a massive ransomware attack is wreaking havoc on hundreds of U.S. businesses. The hackers are demanding $70 million in ransom in Bitcoin. Software vendor Kaseya was targeted on Friday but the full scope of the attack may not be fully known until today as many businesses who use this vendor are just returning from a long holiday weekend, assessing the damage.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is following all of this. Listen, ransomware, it's happening. It's happening more often. It's happening because it's working, sadly, because the company's end up paying this money.


SCIUTTO: How big is this one?

MARQUARDT: It's big and it's happening often to companies that many of us have never heard of. And the reason people -- experts are so fearful about this one is because this company, Kaseya, serves many thousands of companies. And these are companies that often don't have their own IT departments, that are not set up to actually protect themselves.

So, as you said, the full scope, we will get a better sense of today because people are back in the offices, companies are coming back online. For now, Kaseya is downplaying the impact, saying that there are around 800 to 1,500 companies that have been affected, and that means that their data has been locked up, it's been encrypted, it's being held hostage.

SCIUTTO: How can they downplay that?

MARQUARDT: Well, because it could be a lot higher. The way this works is, Kaseya sells software to what are called managed service providers, who in turn then have thousands and thousands of customers. So what they're saying essentially is that it's better than it could have been and that this is not affecting the critical infrastructure of this company -- this country. And that's the same thing that the White House is now saying, that the federal agencies and critical infrastructure has not been impacted.

I spoke to the National Security Council earlier today. A spokesperson sent me a statement saying, while we recognize that impact to any business, large or small, is important and must be given all resources to mitigate, at this time we have not seen widespread impacts or disruptions of critical infrastructure.


MARQUARDT: Now, they are working with the FBI and with the cyber arm CISA. But this is a group that we know well are evil, this Russia- based criminal group.

SCIUTTO: So this is a distinction that President Biden made at the summit in Geneva with Putin saying, you know, let's carve out critical infrastructure here that we both declare off limits to prevent, for instance, an attacks on, you know, electrical power grids or nuclear power plants, et cetera. Is the NSC claiming that while here at least they didn't go there?

MARQUARDT: Essentially they're saying, yes, at least they didn't go there.

SCIUTTO: Yes. MARQUARDT: They are getting a lot of questions about, you know, how can you go into this meeting with Putin saying, well, you have to crack down on these attackers and here we have -- here we are a month later and they're still carrying out their attacks.

What the White House is saying is that that was never their measure for success.


MARQUARDT: Their measure for success is within six to 12 months of that meeting, are they still going after critical infrastructure. And, in this case, it appears, for now, Jim, that critical infrastructure has not been hit, but these are certainly very -- you know, relevant questions now and there's still a lot to learn.

SCIUTTO: And if you're one of these businesses, it's critical to you.

Just quickly, do we know if they paid the ransom?


MARQUARDT: They have -- we do not know if they've paid the ransom yet. It does not -- it does not appear so. The -- the group is still demanding $70 million but they have indicated that they are willing to take less.

SCIUTTO: It's a negotiation because it's good business.

Alexander Marquardt, thanks very much.

Well, officials are set to get an update soon on those search and rescue efforts in Surfside. Efforts may be complicated as Tropical Storm Elsa nears Florida.


SCIUTTO: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. Poppy is off this week.


Any moment now, Surfside and state officials will provide an update on search and rescue efforts at the site of the condo collapse.