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CNN NEWSROOM

17 Republicans Join Democrats to Move Forward on Infrastructure Deal; U.S. Gymnast Suni Lee Wins Gold; Former Olympic Gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, Discusses Simone Biles, Mental Health, the Pressure of the Games Now and Then; Ex-Cop Who Stormed Capitol Jailed After Buying 37 Guns. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:32:46]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We're back.

And on Capitol Hill, a brief respite from the toxic dysfunction that has increasingly paralyzed Congress. Seventeen Senate Republicans crossed the aisle in a bipartisan breakthrough on the infrastructure bill.

But a reality check. This is just the first step. The vote merely allows debate to begin. But in today's climate, this is a glimmer of compromise and a poisonous partisan divide.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

Lauren, this is a trillion-dollar bill. There's also value in just the symbolism of a Biden priority, getting Republican support. How significant is that?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think it's a significant first step. Look, it's not just any Republican who was supporting this proposal, but 17 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And I think that was really a testament to the fact that this deal has been breached or reached in good will and good faith.

And I think that is why there's so many Republicans who were supporting this process at the beginning.

Now, that doesn't mean they all stick together. That's the key test. They have a series of tough votes in the next several days ahead.

And they still have to decide whether or not they all agree on that underlying legislative text, which we still haven't seen yet.

They voted to get onto debating this bill, but we still haven't seen that underlying text.

And that's going to be important. Because it might determine whether or not lawmakers want to actually have any amendments on this bill.

We also should note that even if this passes out of the Senate, you still have to get it through the House of Representatives.

And we're already seeing some progressives arguing that this bill is just simply not enough.

And that they don't want to just advance it without promises on what that Democratic-only infrastructure bill would include. So a lot of hurdles ahead.

You saw the House speaker yesterday said she was not going to commit to just passing this bill as it is.

It does include $550 billion in new spending over the next five years as well as $110 billion for roads and bridges.

A significant breakthrough for the president, but a long way to go -- Ana?

CABRERA: Thanks for that update, Lauren Fox.

Coming up, there's a new golden girl in Tokyo. Suni Lee making history at the Olympics. We'll take you there.

[13:34:00]

Plus, former Olympic gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, joins us for a conversation about the pressure of the games now and then.

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[13:40:01]

CABRERA: It's a historic moment for Team USA. Suni Lee wins gold. She is the first ever among American Olympic medalists.

Her gold medal in the women's all-around sealed a record time, sixth victory in the even for the U.S.

Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNI LEE, U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: I just want to say thank you to everyone for supporting me. I wouldn't be here without my coaches and my parents.

This is such a surreal moment. And I just feel like I could have never been here ever. Like, it doesn't feel like real life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN correspondent, Selina Wang, is in Tokyo.

We know Simone Biles was there cheering in the stands. What a moment for this team.

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A huge moment. She even called it surreal herself.

And 18-year-old Suni Lee is the definition of grace under pressure, stepping up to the plate when Simone Biles stepped back, winning, taking home that gold even without Simone Biles there.

And a proud moment among the community, for America, for USA gymnastics.

And her journey up to this point has been marked by train, loss, tragedy, training through injuries.

A horrific accident from her father she called her best friend, her number-one fan, supporter. He was paralyzed from chest down in 2019 after a fall.

And for Lee, the loss of her aunt and uncle to COVID-19 last year.

While her family and friends couldn't be there to cheer her on in person, Ana, just incredible video of the watch party they had at home, jumping up and down with joy, cheering her on for this historic moment.

An incredible moment for them all.

CABRERA: I can't get enough of the reactions.

It was also a big day for U.S. swimmers. Right? Who won gold?

FOX: Absolutely. Yes, Caeleb Dressel taking home his first Olympic gold in an individual event. He set an Olympic record in the 100-meter free style.

Also, a big win for Bobby Finke. He was in fifth place for most of the race. And at the last moment, edged in first place, taking home gold in the 800-meter free style.

America now, Ana, is close to the top of the medal count with 14 gold medals, just behind China and Japan which have 15 gold medals -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK. It's so exciting.

Thank you, Selina Wang, for your reporting from the Olympics in Tokyo.

As we look ahead, it's still a question whether Simone Biles will compete in the individual event finals coming up this weekend.

Biles did post a message expressing gratitude to those who have had her back since she pulled out of the team and the all-around competitions because of mental health issues.

In a tweet she writes, "The outpouring of love and support I have received has made me realize that I am more than my accomplishments in gymnastics, which I never truly believed before." That vulnerability, the way Simone Biles has made her struggle public,

has sent ripples through the sports world.

Former Olympic gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, recalls pushing through an injury in the 1996 Olympics that resulted her falling on the balance beam on her head.

She tweeted, "I was 14 years old with a tibial stress fracture, left alone with no cervical spine exam after this fall. I competed on the Olympic floor final minutes later.

Simone Biles' decision demonstrates that we have a say in our own health, a say I never felt I had as an Olympian."

Dominique joins us now.

Thank you for taking the time, for speaking up now.

You felt that way 25 years ago. What do you think is different today?

DOMINIQUE MOCEANU, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: Well, I think the conversation of mental health and with sports and Olympians has definitely changed.

And I think we're seeing that taking place right now with Simone being able to step up and acknowledge that something is not right.

And that helps her make a decision for herself that, you know, what's best right now is for me to take care of my health and make sure if I have the twisties and my air awareness is not there, it's like the yips. Right?

If your air awareness is not there, it's not safe to be flying 12 feet in the air, flipping and twisting, and potentially causing a catastrophic injury in our sport.

A lot of people don't know this is a very common thing in gymnastics, where your spatial awareness can get lost.

The fact that Simone can speak up and say, you know what, I think I need to bow out right now, this is what's best for me, and she's having an outpouring of support is a beautiful thing.

Because your voice is being heard, Simone, and we are supporting you.

And I sent her a text last night. She told me the support, of not only myself but everybody out there, it's more than anybody realizes. That support means so much to her.

CABRERA: I'm happy to hear that.

In fact, it was really touching. I thought what she wrote that we read, because of that support, she says, she realizes now, quote, "I am more than my accomplishments and gymnastics, which I never truly believed before."

[13:45:08]

What goes through your mind to hear that?

MOCEANU: Well, I think when you're a high-level athlete and you have all of these expectations, you always feel that people judge you and they only love you because you're at the top of your sport.

And I felt those feelings at times as well.

And I told her in a tweet, and I sent her a message back. I said, "Gymnastics is what you do. It's not who you are. You're so much more."

And we have to remember that athletes and Olympic-level athletes are human, too, and give them the support they need and also the time they need to heal when things are not going the way they feel they need to be. It's also for their safety, mental health.

And that's an important thing to recognize. And I think it's a conversation we're now talking about in very a big way.

CABRERA: She has talked about how pressure and expectations have built in this sort of burden she has felt the more she goes on in her career.

And before the Olympics, she gave an interview to "The New York Times." And when asked, what was the happiest moment of her career, Simone Biles responded, quote, "honestly, probably my time off."

Does that surprise you?

MOCEANU: That doesn't surprise me. I know Simone has had a tough time hanging in there this last year, training for another year with the delay of everything happening and the pandemic, causing these athletes to just hang on a little bit longer.

Especially when you're more at the end of your career, and less at the beginning, it's hard to hang in there.

I felt the same we before the Olympics. I couldn't wait for it to be done because all we were going through, mentally, physically. It takes its toll on you.

I remember dreaming with my other teammates what we were going to go eat after the Olympics, and what kind of ice cream we were going to have, and things that just allowed us to feel normal again.

I think, because we're such on this pedestal of expectations, sometimes we just need to step back and be ourselves and be our age.

CABRERA: Given you've been texting back and forth with Simone, I wonder, given she's qualified for a finals in the upcoming individual events, which start Sunday, and she still has a couple days to make a decision on here, do you think we'll see her compete at the Olympics again? MOCEANU: Well, the twisties are something that you can't get rid of in

a day. And especially not on the hard competition equipment. You have to go back into pits and you to make sure that you are going back to the drills safely again.

Now, it depends on the severity. And I haven't talked about that with her because it's something I just don't want to talk about at this moment with her.

I just want her to do what's best for her. If she wants to open that conversation with me, I'm there for her. But I want her to know I support her in whatever decision she makes.

But it depends on the severity, if it's mild, moderate, or severe.

If she can get ahold of it and she feels like she can feel that air awareness back and she feels her mental game is sharp again, then absolutely she can go back out there for event finals and be the Simone we know and love, who can perform at the highest levels.

But, again, it depends on the severity.

This is not the first time the twisties have happened to her. It's happened in her training before. It's something she's dealt with in the past.

Now it's just coming out on the grand scale of the Olympic games.

CABRERA: Wow.

We all obviously wish her the very best. And as you say, want her to be healthy, first and foremost.

Dominique Moceanu, thank you for joining us. It's a pleasure talking with you. I'm a huge fan. I remember watching you growing up and you're incredible.

MOCEANU: Thank you so much.

[13:48:49]

CABRERA: Coming up, a capitol riot suspect behind bars for a second time for buying a stockpile of weapons. Disturbing details about what happened after the January 6th insurrection.

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[13:54:00]

CABRERA: An ex-Virginia police officer who was fired after storming the U.S. capitol on January 6th is back behind bars.

This, after investigators say he ordered a large stockpile of guns and ammunition following his January arrest.

CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, is learning more -- Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Ana.

This case really highlights why so many politicians, judges, they have all warned about potential political violence from disillusioned supporters of former President Trump.

Now Thomas Robertson was a retired Army Reservist who later worked for the Rocky Mount Police Department.

He was one of the first rioters charged by the Justice Department.

He was released in January and rearrested this month after investigators say they found a rifle and bomb-making material in his home.

They also learned that he recently bought another 37 guns on the Internet.

Now, prosecutors allege that Robertson called for more violence even after January 6th.

He allegedly posted online that, "The only voice these people will now listen to is violence. Buckle armor or just stay home."

[13:55:03]

Now the judge in the case took note of those postings and pointed out they occurred at the same time Robertson went on an alleged shopping spree for high-powered assault weapons.

The prosecutors allege that he spent about $16,000 on guns in just two months.

Robertson will likely remain behind bars until his case is resolved. He has pleaded not guilty to four counts, including felony obstruction of congressional proceedings -- Ana?

CABRERA: Paula Reid, thank you.

That does it for me today. Thank you for joining us. I will see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn Camerota.

Have a great afternoon.

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