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New Concerns about Capitol Safety 6 Months after Jan. 6th Attack; My Pillow Guy Touts August 13th for Trump Supporters to Go to Capitol; Rising Gas Prices Could Be a Potential Problem for Biden; Nikole Hannah-Jones Declines UNC Tenured Position and Will Join Howard University; Rashad Apoligized to Howard U. Students, Parents in Open Letter Over Bill Cosby; Police Release New Details in Murder of Golf Pro. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 6, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Growing fears of new violence as we mark a dark day. Today is exactly six months since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. capitol.

And despite the death and destruction that we've all seen on that day, Donald Trump and his allies are still pushing the conspiracy theories that fueled that insurrection.

Now there are growing concerns that a new wave of pro-Trump violence could come next month.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: CNN reporter, Katie Bo Williams, is with us.

Katie Bo, the concerns are coming from people that work in the capitol. What specifically are they concerned about?

KATIE BO WILLIAMS, CNN REPORTER: One thing that is important to understand is that, for senior leaders, who are tasked with tracking these rising number of threats made against the capitol and members of Congress online, they have to really sift through which ones are noise, just people, you know, blowing off steam on the Internet in a really ugly way, and which ones represent people who are actually planning some kind of physical attack.

You know, I heard from one senior -- I heard from one senior security official who was saying, you know, look, like just because the number of threats has risen, we shouldn't assume that means that the actual threat itself has risen.

Now, for senior leaders, that signals that, OK, look, it is maybe less likely we are going to get caught by surprise by another January 6th- style attack.

But for line officers in the Capitol Police, this feels like senior officials aren't taking the threat seriously enough and haven't done enough to put changes in place to prevent another January 6th.

That has really fed into a morale problem we've seen in the Capitol Police, to the point that 75 of these officers have actually left the force since January 6th alone.

CAMEROTA: Katie Bo, as you know, the My Pillow guy, which would sound funny if it weren't so deadly serious, is touting this new date and trying to gin up, I guess, more violence or people to go to the capitol on August 13th.

What's the plan for that date?

WILLIAMS: Yes, so the Capitol Police force has put in a number of changes since January 6th.

The big structural changes have really been targeted at trying to make the department more of an intelligence-driven organization.

In particular, given the criticism that they were caught flatfooted or didn't predict January 6th, even as it was being planned out in the open on the Internet.

So what has that meant in practice? That has meant more intelligence alerts getting pushed to line officers in real-time. It has meant more briefings for senior leaders.

And it has also meant things like additional protection for members when they're not in Washington, and specific training for things like riot control, and additional equipment for the officers that would be on the front lines of another January 6th.

CAMEROTA: But do they think something is going to happen on August 13th?

WILLIAMS: Yes, as I mentioned, senior security leaders I think, at this point, don't see anything specific right now. They see a lot of chatter. They see a lot of noise.

But whether or not that chatter and noise is going to translate into actual violence, they're not seeing any specific indicators of that right now.

CAMEROTA: Katie Bo Williams, thank you for the really thorough update. Really helpful.


All right, well, a whole lot of people traveled this holiday weekend, but gas prices could have you rethinking your next road trip. All that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: The summer travel season, it is busy. The TSA reports it screened more than 10 million airline passengers over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

CAMEROTA: Monday was the third busiest day in more than two years. Last Thursday and Friday were bigger and busier than they were pre- pandemic.

But travelers have been plagued by delays and cancellations.

The increased demand putting stress on airlines that were forced to cut back on staff at the height of the pandemic.

Now, the spike in travel is also impacting oil and gas prices. They are soaring after key producers could not agree on plans to increase production.

BLACKWELL: So gas in the U.S. is more than $3 a gallon and even higher in some states, including California.

With oil prices at their highest level in seven years, some are starting to question whether the Biden administration is doing enough to control the price that you pay for gas.

Matt Egan is CNN's business lead writer.

Matt, why do -- why are the prices continuing to go up and could it be bad news, trouble for the Biden administration?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Yes, I mean there's definitely drivers cringing as they roll up to the gas station these days.


We saw the price at the pump go up to $3.13 a gallon nationally on average today. That is a seven-year high.

It is up from just $2.18 a year ago. If you are in California, Illinois or Washington State, you are paying a lot more.

It is all about supply and demand. People are driving more, as you mentioned, they're flying more, because the pandemic is, hopefully, winding down or at least it is in a better place than it was. That's a great thing.

The problem though is that supply isn't keeping up. U.S. Oil production is down from where it was before the crisis. OPEC, they're still holding back these barrels.

As you mentioned, they were supposed to agree. We thought they were going to agree to add a lot more barrels that were really needed, but yesterday they failed to do that.

So the White House is saying that U.S. officials, they're urging a compromise where OPEC would add more supply that is really needed right now. Analysts are telling me right now, if they don't agree to do that, we

are going to see even higher oil and gas prices.

AAA said today that Americans can expect prices to go up another 10 to 20 cents a gallon through the end of August.

I think alarm bells are understandably ringing in the White House right now.

I mean that's because, one, Americans do not like high gas prices and they tend to blame whoever is in the White House, whether it is fair or not.

Two, you know, this is only going to add to inflation concerns. Inflation is really probably the biggest risk to the U.S. economy right now.

And so I do think that Republicans are -- they're seeing a bit of an opening to attack Biden here.

We saw, over the weekend, GOP chairwoman, Ronna McDaniels, she blamed Biden's policies for high gas prices. I'm not sure if that's fair but, you know, neither is politics.

The other thing here is that I think we can expect President Biden to take a more hands-on approach towards OPEC.

He may even take a page out of the Trump OPEC playbook. Trump was, of course, not shy about pressuring OPEC, usually, through an all-caps tweet.

I think Biden will take a different approach, but the message will be the same, which is that high and oil prices, it is not good for anyone.

CAMEROTA: Matt Egan, thank you very much.

EGAN: Thank you, guys.

CAMEROTA: Renowned journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has declined the University of North Carolina's offer of tenure. And instead, she is accepting a faculty role at Howard University.

Her tenure, you'll remember, was initially denied by the UNC board of trustees.

BLACKWELL: Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on "The New York Times" magazine's 1619 Project, which examines the consequences of slavery in the United States.

That project has been attacked by some conservative critics and politicians.

And Hannah-Jones says she was never told why her UNC tenure was initially denied. But speaking on CBS morning, she suspects politics, race and gender played roles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, JOURNALIST & CREATOR, 1619 PROJECT: I went through the tenure process and I received the unanimous approval of the faculty to be granted tenure.

So to be denied it and to only have the vote occur on the last possible day, at the last possible moment, after threat of legal action, after weeks of protest, after it became a national scandal, it is not something that I want anymore.


BLACKWELL: Hilary Rosen is a member of the board of trustees at Howard University and a CNN political commentator.

Hilary, thanks for being with us.

We know that she will now be a tenured professor at Howard University.

You are on the board. I am an alumnus. When I saw the alert this morning, I thought to myself, I audibly said, wow.

First, the statement this makes for the students of Howard University from your perspective?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I know you had that source of pride, Victor, that so many people affiliated with Howard have.

First, I should say I'm not an official spokesperson for Howard. I am proudly on the board though.

But, you know, when you can get a journalist with the qualifications of Nikole, and a writer we announced, also this morning, at the same time, of Ta-Nehisi Coates' qualifications, it is just a one-two blessing for our students.

I think, you know, the UNC didn't want a professor who made race a central part of her journalism.

That's exactly what Howard is doing. What we want. We want to embrace that conversation about race. We want to embrace, you know, people's whole selves.

So I think the idea that they're both coming to Howard is just really exciting.

BLACKWELL: Hilary, do you have any -- I don't know if you do -- but any insight into how this happened?

ROSEN: We have a very dynamic president in Dr. Wayne Frederick, as you know. I think that he's had some conversations with both of them for a long time.

Of course, when UNC did what they did to Nikole, I think that they got on the phone immediately to try to come up with a better solution.


And -- and Howard was lucky enough to find some funders to endow specific chairs for those -- for that work.

CAMEROTA: OK. Now let's move on to a bit of controversy for Howard University, and that is what is going on with Phylicia Rashad.

She, of course, the co-star of "Bill Cosby," the long-time friend of Bill Cosby.

When Bill Cosby was suddenly released from prison, his conviction vacated, she put out a tweet, as you know, that says, "Finally" -- in all caps, exclamation point -- "a terrible wrong is being righted, a miscarriage of justice is being corrected."

And sexual assault victims everywhere thought felt that was really tone deaf and insensitive.

She then tried to correct it in a letter to Howard University students and parents. She said, "I'm sorry. I intend to earn your trust and forgiveness. My remarks were in no way directed to survivors of sexual assault."

Well, that's not what they thought.

So, Hilary, I know you are not an official spokesperson, but do you think she can stay on as dean there?

ROSEN: Yes, I do, actually. I think -- look, let's remember that Bill Cosby's actually the criminal here.

You know, Dean Rashad -- it was a terrible tweet. I had the same reaction that you did, Alisyn, that many other, especially women across the country had. And she realized that very quickly and moved to change it.

But, importantly, I think now this is actually her first week starting at Howard.

She wrote a letter this week to the students of the University recognizing that Howard has a zero-tolerance policy around sexual harassment and sexual assault.

And that, as an educator, she has a responsibility and a renewed sense of purpose around this.

Listen, she made a mistake. She recognized it. She came forward with a fulsome, thoughtful apology. You know, I just am willing to give her some grace on this.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean I think -- I think that that -- I hear you and I think that that's nice of you, but it is not 2017 anymore. I mean, it is four years later.

And the reason that she suddenly heard and realized she was tone deaf was because of tweets from alum like this one.

"As a Howard University of fine arts alum and a survivor, this tweet from Phylicia Rashad is disappointing. I hope we can have a dean that believes and respects survivors."

It just feels a little delayed for her to now have this awakening.

ROSEN: Well, I think the initial -- and I haven't spoken to Dean Rashad about this. I have talked to the president of the University about it, as I know other board members did.

I think that, at first, that her sentimentality and relationship to Bill Cosby from many years ago took over and was happy for him. But I think on reflection that she had a different view.

I don't think that her expressions had anything to do with a lack of sympathy and empathy for survivors.

I know that she has been a role model for black women for many, many years. I think that she will continue to be that in her role as dean.

And I think she made a mistake. I don't think that that negates her qualifications for this job but, more importantly, her potential for leadership for so many students across the country.

BLACKWELL: Hilary, the last one here. You are not just an advocate for sexual assault victims. You are the co-founder of the #TimesUp legal defense fund that's aimed at creating an environment where women feel safe, that feel they're supported.

After a tweet like that, are you confident that there can be an environment where students feel safe, if a celebrity or a politician or professor of Cosby's caliber does something similar to a student?

Can that be maintained with that tweet still out there from the dean?

ROSEN: It is a great question, Victor. As you know, I do take this enormously seriously. It is much of my life's work, the work of the legal defense fund.

I am confident that the university itself and that the environment that President Frederick has created and that Dean Rashad will have in the School of Communications will support students and victims.

But, you know, let's be clear. One of the problems we have right now is that Bill Cosby is free because we have such bad laws. The statute of limitation in Pennsylvania for rape is two years from the time of a crime.

So Bill Cosby is the criminal here. He is going free because his other -- the survivors of his other assaults have not been able --


BLACKWELL: Understood.

ROSEN: -- to press criminal charges.

So, you know, that, I think, is the focus. I think that Dean Rashad understands that. I think Howard understands that.

We need to reenergize survivors' rights. And I think that Howard will be a part of that going forward.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CAMEROTA: Hilary Rosen, we always appreciate your candor.

Thanks so much for talking with us. Great to see you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Hilary.

ROSEN: Take care, guys. Good to see you, too.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

So we have new details in the case of that golf pro who was killed on an Atlanta-area golf course. What police now say why he was killed.



CAMEROTA: A manhunt is still under way in Georgia after one of the more shocking incidents of gun violence over the weekend.

BLACKWELL: A golf pro was shot and killed Saturday on a country club golf course north of Atlanta. Police found two more victims dead in the bed of a truck that had been driven onto one of the course's greens.

Days later, police are still searching for a suspect.

CNN's Ryan Young is with us now.

Ryan, what's the latest? Any leads here?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question right now. This is such a strange story. But what it does look like now is that police believe the golfer who was there was not the target.

That he walked up on something that was taking place and had nothing to do with him when shot by that assailant. He was shot once in the head.

When you look at this golf course, you can see yesterday there were people were out there placing flowers. We now believe that was his family who was placing flowers on the 10th green.

Gene Siller, a father of two, was shot there, left for dead.

At this point, they are still looking for that suspect. Police did say today they don't believe that neighborhood is in danger. Don't really have any more details about who the suspect could be or

the two other men in the car. We're still trying to figure out the details.

But, guys, when you talk to people in this community, a lot of folks knew this man. They loved him. He was always available for them in that neighborhood. Now you have this shooting.

They actually will open that golf course tomorrow but they will close the 10th green.

So many questions still remain about this. Because why was the person going to the golf course? Why were there two dead bodies in the back?

We know one of the dead bodies was the owner of the truck but, outside of that, there's no strong details at this point.

BLACKWELL: Very bizarre.

Ryan Young for us there.


BLACKWELL: Ryan, thank you so much.

So we are watching the White House. President Biden is expected to speak pretty soon about ramping up vaccine outreach after falling short of his July 4th goal to get 70 percent of Americans adults with at least one vaccine shot.

We, of course, will bring you the president's remarks as soon as they begin.