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Census Shows U.S. is More Diverse; Democrats Threaten to Derail Pelosi; Russia Interfering in 2022 Election; July High for Illegal Border Crossings. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 13, 2021 - 09:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows two major trends across the nation. Number one, America is more diverse. And, two, more people continue to shift toward U.S. cities and suburbs. Now, at first glance, that may sound like good news for Democrats. Rural areas have historically supported Republicans and they're losing residents. The share of non-Hispanic whites is now under 58 percent. Compare that with over 63 percent in 2010.

Meantime, former President Trump, while leading the Republican Party, really built his platform on pillars of, as you know, populism, nativism, cultural grievances, reactionary push back to the changing demographics in this country. And that may play great with the Republican base, but what does it say for the future of the GOP?

Joining me now to discuss is Amanda Carpenter, political columnist for "The Bulwark."

Amanda, always good to see you this morning.

Should the GOP be shifting its strategy away from white rural voters given what we're seeing in terms of a changing demographic?

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "THE BULWARK": I mean, of course that is an important part of the Republican Party's base. And you shouldn't get too caught up in the demographics as a top line. But, of course, they have to find a way to grow the party in order to win in the future. Catering to this rural, white, male, elderly base has resulted in the loss of the House, the Senate, and the White House. And even after losing straight elections through, the Republican Party has not found a way to re-imagine itself going forward. Typically, a party would conduct some kind of autopsy after losing the White House. That didn't happen this time.

The Republican Party has not changed at all. The conclusion that was made was that, as Donald Trump has told people, he didn't lose the election, it was rigged, right? It was stolen. And so there's no introspection. It's just doubling down on a losing and now quite dangerous strategy that led to an insurrection. HILL: You know, to your point, in terms of this strategy of the party

doubling down, you know, Donald Trump clearly still the focus and the leader of that party. As they're wrapping up the RNC summer meeting, I mean I know you noted just days after the insurrection in the winter meeting it was still very clearly all-in for President Trump. Not much has changed in the last seven months in terms of where we're at now.

So, what is that then strategy moving forward into 2022?

CARPENTER: You know, I'm worried. I mean, the Republican National Committee, as an apparatus, says as a sort of policy matter, that Donald Trump is still leader of the Republican Party. That will guide what they do in 2022.

But, Erica, I'm worried about 2024. I think a lack of imagination as to what party loyalists would be willing to do with Trump created huge blind spots for the 2020 election. I look back as a Republican voter at the 2020 primary season, there wasn't one. Erica, they canceled primaries. There were a lot of Republican voters in important states, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, that had no voice.


What makes anyone think if the Republican Party is successful in 2022 there's going to be a Republican Party in 2024? The whole rationale behind it was that we need to make it easier for Trump to get the nomination. I don't know how that would change the way things are going right now under the leadership of Ronna McDaniel and others whose entire, entire being (INAUDIBLE) --

HILL: Oh --

CARPENTER: And everything else.

HILL: You know, Amanda, one of the things -- you talk about Ronna McDaniel. One of the things that she said to Fox News earlier this week is, speaking of 2022 and 2024, she said, quote, I don't think 2024 happens for Republicans if we don't win in 2022. Adding, if they federalize elections, it's going to be really hard for Republicans to win nationally. So we have to win 2022.

Bottom line for her there, Republicans, in her estimation, can't win or would have a really difficult time if there are federal standards for elections, which really underscores what we're seeing in a number of states to restrict voting access.

CARPENTER: Yes, and this isn't only a federal matter. Like I said earlier, the conclusion from the 2020 election wasn't that Donald Trump lost. It was that it was stolen. And so hundreds of bills are being passed in state legislatures in order for -- to reduce not only the right to vote, but to make it easier for partisan members to take over elections. Whether that's giving state legislatures more power. But there's a lot of action on the state level to make it easier to overturn votes. I don't think there can be enough emphasis on this.

And so, yes, when they talk about election integrity, they're talking about taking more control over state and local and federal elections. I mean this is -- we get caught up in the culture wars because that has a lot of energy and attention on the Republican side and within the media that supports Trump. But as a policy matter, the smart activists, lawyers and partisans are completely focused in how to tip those election scales in their favor for 2022.

HILL: Amanda Carpenter, always good to talk to you. Thank you.


HILL: This morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's two-track strategy to pass President Biden's agenda could be in Jeopardy. Nine moderate Democrats sent her a letter threatening to withhold their support for the sweeping $3.5 trillion budget resolution which is being called the human infrastructure package.

Now, the only way they'll get behind it, they say, is if the speaker first allows the House to vote on that trillion dollar infrastructure bill which just passed the Senate. So far, Pelosi has held firm, saying she's not going to take up one plan without the other.

CNN's Lauren Fox joining me now from Capitol Hill.

Lauren, the reality is, the speaker is getting some pressure from both sides. What are we hearing from these moderate Democrats?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Erica, this was always going to be a high wire act from the speaker of the House. And she had ultimately tried to tie these two pieces of legislation together, both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Democratic- only re-imagination of the social safety net because she was trying to ensure that she could keep her moderates and her progressives on board voting for both packages. She only has about a three-vote margin at this point. That's not much room to lose any votes.

So what she's trying to do, and arguing behind the scenes, is that right now there are not the votes for this bipartisan infrastructure bill. And what she said on a private Democratic call a couple of days ago was that she's not freelancing when she says this is the strategy. Instead, she is listening to the consensus of the caucus.

But what you now have these nine moderates arguing is they are not going to vote for this very first piece of this broader Democratic reconciliation bill, the budget resolution, because they're arguing, why would you leave a bipartisan infrastructure bill that has the president's support, Republican support in the Senate, and not vote on it for a series of months?

Remember, Democrats are going to be riding this broader Democratic- only infrastructure bill. It's going to take months, Erica. It is not something that is going to happen overnight. Likely, this wouldn't happen until the fall. So what moderates are arguing is, they will not vote for that first step, the budget resolution, when lawmakers return on the week of August 23rd.

Now, there's a long time for the House speaker to try to find some way to move ahead with her caucus united. But, look, next week all eyes are going to be on this relationship between them. This is what the House moderates wrote. Quote, some have suggested that we hold off considering the Senate infrastructure bill for months until the reconciliation process is completed. We disagree. With the livelihoods of hard working American families at stake, we simply cannot afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this once in a century bipartisan infrastructure package.

Now, do they back off? Is there some kind of consensus that can be made? That's the big question going into next week.



HILL: Absolutely.

Lauren Fox, appreciate it. Thank you.

New intel showing just how Russia is working right now to interfere in next year's midterms. And not just through elections.

Up next, how Moscow is sowing division through the pandemic.

And, a quick programming note for you. Please be sure to join us here on CNN for "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert." It's a once in a lifetime concert event live from Central Park. And you'll see it only on CNN Saturday. August 21st.



HILL: New intelligence reports reveal Russia's ongoing efforts to interfere in the 2022 midterms. Officials say the efforts have actually never stopped. In fact, they're evolving, growing more sophisticated by the day.

CNN's Alex Marquardt joining me now.

So, Alex, this comes after President Biden's previous warnings to Putin and the new sanctions imposed last spring. What more are we learning?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Erica. These Russian efforts to sow chaos, to deepen divisions, to really enflame and undermine American democracy are not just ongoing, but they're evolving. They never stopped, as you said. They are constantly coming up with new and sophisticated ways, not just to deepen the divides in this country, but specifically to target the next election, the 2022 midterms.

In fact, you know, the intelligence agencies are constantly tracking the evolving Russian tactics. And we know that the intelligence reports and analysis are concerning enough about what they're doing that President Biden himself has been briefed on what Russia is up to. In fact, President Biden made a reference to that in a recent speech he made to the intelligence community.

Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we also need to take on the rampant disinformation that is making it harder and harder for people to assess the facts, be able to make decisions. In today's PDB you all prepared for me, look what Russia is doing already about the 2022 elections and misinformation. It's a pure violation of our sovereignty.


MARQUARDT: So he says there that he was told about these new Russian efforts about 2022 in his presidents' daily brief, that the daily intelligence report that he gets.

Erica, I spoke with Bill Evenina (ph), who was the top intelligence official during last year's election, who was in charge of briefing then candidate Biden and then President Trump. I asked him if there's any reason to think that Russia will change its trajectory. He said not only is there zero reason to believe that, but that he believes Russia will double down, that they will come up with new and sophisticated ways.

And what Russia essentially does is that they seize on anything that we are arguing about, that is divisive here, whether it's Black Lives Matter, whether it's January 6th, the debate over the COVID vaccine or masks. Even the debate over privacy in the tech sector. They take anything that we are arguing about and they fan the flames to deepen those divisions.

It has changed. It has evolved over time where the Russians used to come up with their own material. Now they are simply taking what we are doing to ourselves and making it worse, amplifying it.


HILL: Yes, I guess it's being served up on a platter in some ways.

Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

HILL: The Homeland Security secretary says the U.S. is encountering a serious challenge at the southern border. So what's driving the unprecedented surge of migrants? More on that, next.



HILL: The U.S. is seeing unprecedented numbers of migrants illegally crossing the southern border. Customs and Border Protection reports more than 212,000 people crossed in July. That is a rate not seen in over two decades. The Homeland Security secretary now calling it a, quote, serious challenge made even more difficult by the pandemic.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now with more.

So what more do we know about this surge at the border and why now, Priscilla?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, we're seeing a steady increase since the beginning of the year of migrants being apprehended at the U.S./Mexico border. But what makes July remarkable is that it is a high number for the hottest summer weeks. These are dangerous times for migrants to cross because of that sweltering heat. And as you mentioned, in July there were more than 212,000 migrants encountered at the U.S./Mexico border.

A couple things to note about that figure.

Number one, it includes repeat crossers. So the Department of Homeland Security's secretary said that 27 percent of that 212,000 are people who have tried to cross the border multiple times. Second, many of these migrants are being swiftly expelled under a pandemic-related policy. And, third, it includes nearly 19,000 unaccompanied migrant children.

We were talking about a record number of children in March and the overcrowded border facilities. The administration still wrestling with the number of children in July, though they have made inroads in placing those children in shelters.

Now, here's where the Department of Homeland Security's secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, had to say about the situation from the U.S. southern border.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is critical that intending migrants understand clearly that they will be turned back if they enter the United States illegally and do not have a basis for relief under our laws. We are also, at the same time, developing and implementing foundational changes.


ALVAREZ: So what you're hearing the secretary say there is, warning migrants not to come to the U.S./Mexico border, trying to discourage them, saying that they will be expelled if they come. But also pledging to create a more capable immigration system. So the administration still, in the interim, having to wrestle with these numbers.


HILL: Priscilla Alvarez, appreciate the update. Thank you.

A parking lot in Mississippi now a triage area as the state's hospital system is overrun by COVID patients. We're going to take you there, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HILL: Good Friday morning. I'm Erica Hill. Jim and Poppy are off today.

Hours from now, the CDC's Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss another round of COVID shots. This after the FDA authorized a third dose for people with severely compromised immune systems.

And right now hospital systems across the country at a breaking point again. Nearly 80,000 Americans are currently hospitalized for COVID across the country. Over the past week, we added to that number at a rate of more than 2,500 new COVID patients a day.


Get this, though. Half of all of those patients, COVID patients, are in just eight states. Even though they only make up a quarter of the nation's population. Things are so bad.