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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm; Interview With Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS); Interview With Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 4, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): A bridge too far? President Biden offers an ambitious proposal to update the nation's roads, bridges and more.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to get it done.
TAPPER: As Republicans fight the price tag and tax increases and some Democrats fight for more. Can Biden get it done? I will speak with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Senator Bernie Sanders next.
And impending doom? Rising COVID cases threaten to wipe away progress, as governors say vaccine numbers make it safe enough to open up.
GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): We are in a much better spot than where we were.
TAPPER: But will enough skeptical Republicans roll up their sleeves?
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves joins me exclusively to discuss next.
Plus: It's heartbreaking, shocking new video and traumatized witness testimony, as the nation relives George Floyd's death.
We will reflect on the trial of Derek Chauvin with Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is unironically engaged in infrastructure week.
Happy Easter morning to those who celebrate. Let's hope this is one of the very last holidays where friends and families are celebrating separately because of COVID.
One by one, Americans are receiving our vaccines, with a new record this weekend of four million shots administered in just 24 hours, that good news, unfortunately, tempered by warnings from the Biden administration that cases are indeed rising again, and an exhausted nation may be headed for another spike. But as more states open up and the economy continues to rebound,
President Biden is taking on a new challenge as well, a massive infrastructure proposal to fix America's crumbling roads and bridges, shift to greener energy and ultimately to reshape the American economy, to the tune of 2.3 trillion -- trillion -- dollars.
In addition to traditional infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, airports, waterways, Biden's plan includes progressive priorities, such as boosting the manufacturing of electronic vehicles, expanding long-term care solutions, and overhauling aging schools.
Biden would pay for the bill, which he hopes will receive bipartisan support in Congress, by hiking the corporate tax rate to 28 percent and raising other corporate taxes.
Joining us now to discuss the proposal, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Madam Secretary, thanks so much for joining us, and happy Easter morning to you.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Thank you.
TAPPER: This bill includes a lot that is not traditionally considered infrastructure. There's $400 billion for in-home care for elderly Americans and Americans with disabilities, another $213 billion for affordable housing.
It spends more on electric vehicles than on roads and bridges. Now, you know that Republicans are going to have concerns about all of this. If President Biden wants to make this bipartisan, why not focus this bill on what everyone can support, roads, bridges, airports, rural broadband?
GRANHOLM: Well, it is focused on all of those things.
I mean, Republicans and Democrats historically have wanted to see infrastructure spending on broadband, which this bill includes, wanted to see infrastructure spending on water and removing lead from water systems, which this bill includes.
But this is the American Jobs Act, so it's also focused on creating good-paying sustainable jobs in a whole array of sectors that will help us to win the future. It's the biggest investment in America since FDR, since the New Deal.
It's -- and especially -- I mean, I look at this from being a former governor of a manufacturing state, Jake. The investments in the supply chain for manufacturing -- you know that, for decades now, we have watched our manufacturing jobs leave. We're at a 70-year low.
This bill says we're going to make stuff in America. We're going to make the means to our own energy security. I mean, it is an amazing statement that, finally, we're going to invest in America, instead of watching all of these other countries beat us to the punch.
TAPPER: Right, but, in terms of priorities, I mean, more on electric vehicles than on roads and bridges?
GRANHOLM: Well, the need to make sure that we have an electrified transportation system to reduce climate change is highly supported and very necessary.
And so what does that mean? I mean, it means that we have to build the batteries for those electric vehicles. It gets back to manufacturing. Part of that investment is making sure that we can build the batteries in the U.S. for electrifying transportation and for energy storage, instead of getting those batteries from our economic competitors.
China has had a -- got -- came out with their most recent five-year plan. And they have a plan to corner the market on the supply chain for batteries.
OK, we can just sit there and watch that happen.
GRANHOLM: Or we can decide, no, we want to build that stuff here. And that's part of the investment in the electric vehicle infrastructure.
TAPPER: So, I -- but I guess my question is, the coronavirus relief package passed the House and Senate with zero Republican votes. Ultimately, looking at this bill, I'm wondering if that would be OK with you and President Biden again to have a bill pass with zero Republican votes?
GRANHOLM: Well, obviously, the preference is to have this done in a bipartisan way.
Eighty percent of America supports investing -- over 80 percent -- investing in infrastructure. That's Democrats and Republicans and independents. So, the president is very concertedly reaching out to Republicans to say, come to the table. If you don't like a component of it, tell us how you would do it. What do you want to see in this bill?
But, honestly, Jake, the vast majority of this bill includes things that Republicans are supporting, like roads and bridges spending, like broadband, like water, like manufacturing supply chains. These are all things that Republicans have actually introduced bills on.
So, come to the table. We want to make bipartisan. Ultimately, if that doesn't happen, he is elected to do the job, to win the future for America to invest in our people. And we hope that Republicans can join their constituents across the country in supporting this effort.
TAPPER: So, ultimately -- ultimately, if you don't get Republican support, you're willing to pass this with -- using reconciliation rules, meaning only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate and Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote? You're willing to do that?
GRANHOLM: Well, as he has said, he was sent to the presidency to do a job for America.
And if the vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, across the country support spending on our country and not allowing us to lose the race globally, then he's going to do that.
However, his sincere preference is -- his open hand is to Republicans to come to the table and say, if you don't like this, how would you pay for it? If you don't like this, what would you include?
So much of this, though, includes priorities that Republicans have supported. So, I hope that Democrats and Republicans can be on a final vote yes on this bill, on this package.
TAPPER: We are hearing concerns from Republicans, even Republicans who want and like roads and bridges, about the tax increases being proposed to pay for this package.
The corporate tax rate in the proposal is to raise it from 21 percent to 28 percent. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called that dangerously misguided. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board wrote this week -- quote -- "The great political fakery here is that corporate taxes merely fall on CEOs and rich shareholders. Mr. Biden's corporate tax increases will hit the middle class hard in the value of their 401(k)s, the size of their pay packets, and what they pay for goods and services."
I should point out, it's not just conservatives like the Chamber and the "Journal" editorial page. There are more moderate congressional Democrats who are worried that raising these taxes will hinder economic growth and ultimately hurt middle-class Americans.
GRANHOLM: OK, two points on this, Jake.
You recall that, just a few years ago, the tax rate for corporate taxes was 35 percent. And when Donald Trump passed his corporate and tax cuts for the wealthy package, he dropped it to a point that nobody was even asking for, which was 21 percent.
So, what Joe Biden is saying is, let's put it to a reasonable middle. Let's put us in line with other industrial nations, which is at 28 percent.
And, secondly, if you don't like this, then come and tell us how you would pay for it. I'm -- of the polling that's been done out there on this, more people support paying for infrastructure, rather than racking up deficits, than not. And that includes Republicans.
People know that you can't just continue to spend without paying for it. And so what Joe Biden wants to do is to do it in a fair way. And the fact that 91 companies a couple of years ago that -- in the study that was showing -- of the Fortune 500 companies, 91 of them, after Donald Trump's tax cuts were passed, after that, 91 of them still paid zero taxes because of the incentives in the tax code to move assets offshore so that they don't get taxed.
[09:10:21] So, the tax code is not fair. And so what Joe Biden wants to do is to say, corporations should pay their fair share. In the same way that a plumber and a teacher would have to pay 22 percent of their income or 24 percent of their income, corporations should have to pay their fair share too...
TAPPER: All right, Governor -- I'm sorry.
GRANHOLM: ... to invest in America.
TAPPER: Secretary, Secretary Granholm. Sorry. I forgot about the promotion.
GRANHOLM: It's all right.
TAPPER: Secretary Granholm, thanks so much. Thanks so much for joining us today.
And I hope you have a wonderful Easter.
GRANHOLM: You bet.
TAPPER: President Biden's $2 trillion plan to reshape the nation's economy, the question right now, of course, do progressives think it's bold enough?
Senator Bernie Sanders is going to weigh in on that next live.
And the next political battle of the pandemic over vaccine passports. Why are states desperate to reopen fighting those? The governor of Mississippi will be here.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Biden has unveiled his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, and now he's asking lawmakers to weigh in.
My next guest could determine how Democrats end up passing that bill, including whether they need Republican support.
Joining us now, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders.
Chairman Sanders, thanks so much for joining us. Happy Passover to you. President Biden's plan includes a proposed corporate tax rate increase
that's half the increase of what you have called for. It does not include a new tax on wealth, which you also support. And, although it does contain measures to combat climate change, it is a fraction of the size of the Green New Deal.
Now, Biden calls the plan bold, but it clearly doesn't go as far as a President Sanders' plan would have. Is this plan bold enough for you?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, I think it's a serious proposal dealing with some of the serious crises that we face.
I think every American understands that our infrastructure, our roads and our bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, are falling apart, and we can create millions of jobs rebuilding them. I think the vast majority of the American people understand that climate change is an existential threat to the planet.
We can create millions more jobs, good wages rebuilding, transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
I think, also, most Americans know that we have a major housing crisis. And that's not only a half-a-million people who are homeless today. It is 19 million households that are spending 50 percent of their limited incomes on housing. All of those issues are dealt with in the president's plan.
What you're going to see right now, Jake, is that Congress is going to take a hard look at that plan. I think that, for example, as you indicated, in terms of climate, we're probably going to want to put more money into that area. I think there's a lot of work that has to be done in terms of health care, the high cost of prescription drugs, making our colleges affordable for young people, and dealing with student debt.
So, right now, I think, at an unprecedented moment, the president has given us a serious proposal. A lot more work has to be done in that regard.
TAPPER: So, do you think that things that one could argue are important, but not necessarily part of an infrastructure package, such as dealing with college debt, you think that that should be part of the bill?
SANDERS: Well, you know, it depends on what you call infrastructure.
Roads and bridges and tunnels are infrastructure. But I think many of us see a crisis in human infrastructure. When a working class family can't find good-quality, affordable child care, that's human infrastructure.
One of the areas that I am working on right now is the need to expand Medicare in order to provide dental care and hearing aids and eyeglasses for millions and millions of seniors who need these services, but can't afford it. Is that infrastructure? I think it is.
Look, Jake, the truth is, in so many ways, we are behind many other countries throughout the world in providing for working families and the elderly and the children. And I think now is the time to begin addressing our physical infrastructure and our human infrastructure. I want to see that happen as soon as possible.
TAPPER: That path, which is a path based very much in your principles as a progressive and as -- and in your leadership as the chairman, is a path that you know will make it more difficult to get Republican support in the Senate.
You just heard Secretary Granholm suggest that it seems -- at least my interpretation of what she said was it seems fine to her and to President Biden that they use reconciliation rules, so they would pass this package with 50 Democratic votes, plus Vice President Harris; they don't need the 60.
President Biden is still, at the very least, giving lip service to the idea of making this bipartisan, says he wants to meet with Republicans in the Oval Office to negotiate the bill.
Frankly, do you think he's wasting his time?
SANDERS: Well, we will see.
I mean, I think Secretary Granholm made the important point, is that what we are proposing, what the president is proposing is bipartisan. Vast -- millions and millions of Republicans, independents and Democrats understand the crises that they face, that we face as a nation, and want to go forward.
Unfortunately, you have a -- Republicans in the Congress who are moving very far to the right, who are not only ignoring what the American people want to see done. They are ignoring what people in their own party want to be done.
Let me tell you something. If you are Republican mayor in this country, you understand that you need significant help for infrastructure. If you are a Republican in an agricultural area, you understand what climate change is doing to the -- your ability to produce the crops that you need.
And, furthermore, I think there is in this country, Jake, an understanding that the level of income and wealth inequality that we have now is unsustainable and is immoral. We can't continue to have two people owning more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people, major corporation after major corporation not paying a nickel in federal income tax.
SANDERS: So, when people say, well, isn't this an expensive proposal, it is.
But the time is long overdue to demand that the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.
TAPPER: So, if you focus just on 50 votes, on Democrats, if that's the expectation -- I'm not saying that that's your game plan, but if that's what you think is probably going to happen -- there's still an issue of party unity that might become -- that might be difficult and more difficult with infrastructure than with COVID relief.
Progressives such as yourself want to go big. There are more centrist Democrats, Joe Manchin, for example, who has proved himself to be in a real position of power, worried about cost. Manchin says it's incredibly important to him to make this bill bipartisan.
Your committee is going to play a key role in the process. Are you confident every Senate Democrat is going to support this bill when it comes time to vote, including Manchin?
SANDERS: Well, you will have to talk to Mr. Manchin.
But I think that, at the end of the day, you have got 50 Democrats in the caucus. Any one of them can say, you know, I'm not supporting this.
But we all understand that, in this unprecedented moment in American history, when we have gone through the worst year in the modern history of this country, with so many people dying and getting sick and our economy tanking, that we have got to work with the president on an agenda that speaks to the needs of the working class and the middle class and low-income people, who have for so many years really had their needs ignored.
So, I am confident. Look, there are differences of opinion. Every one of the Democrats has a different point of view. But, at the end of the day, I think Schumer has -- Chuck Schumer has been doing a good job trying to bring people together, to say, you know what, the future of America is at stake, the future of American democracy is at stake, because so many people have reached the conclusion that government doesn't address their needs.
Working people are working longer hours for low wages. We have got to speak to that pain that's out there. And if your question is, do I think we're going to come together to do it, yes, I do.
TAPPER: I should note that the Biden plan does not lift the cap on SALT taxes, state and local tax deductions. That overwhelmingly benefits high income earners in predominantly blue states.
Repealing it, however, is popular among Democrats, especially those from high-tax states like California, New York. A lot of House Democrats say they are not going to support the bill unless this SALT cap provision is included. Does that need to be in the bill?
SANDERS: Well, look, these are one of the million issues that are going to have to be dealt with.
At the end of the day, people who come from big cities have a different perspective than people who come from rural communities. And we're going to have to work these things out.
But I do believe, given the crises the country faces and the need to create millions of good-paying jobs, the need to expand health care, to guarantee health care to so many more people today who are uninsured or underinsured, the need to take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower the high cost of prescription drugs, I think you are going to see the Democratic Caucus coming together and pass very, very significant legislation.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, thank you for being here, sir.
I hope you found the afikomen last week.
Appreciate your being here.
TAPPER: President Biden says Republican voters will support his infrastructure bill, even if their senators don't. Is that true?
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves joins me next.
TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
More than 100 million Americans have now received at least one vaccine dose, with at least three million shots going into arms every day, according to the CDC.
But the CDC director is still warning of potential impending doom, warning that the country could be backsliding.
Joining me now is Republican Governor of Mississippi Tate Reeves.
Governor Reeves, thanks so much for joining us. And Happy Easter to you.
So, you just relaxed indoor capacity guidelines in your state even further. Mississippi currently ranks only 42nd out of the 50 states in vaccinations per capita, using your state's own data.
Now, I know you say that vaccine hesitancy is playing a role here. And polls show that that is a problem. Why do you think so many people, primarily Republicans, do not want the vaccine? Would you like to see former President Trump do more to promote it?
REEVES: Well, thanks for having me on, Jake. And, as always, happy Easter. Look, I don't think there's any doubt that there is vaccine hesitancy,
particularly in rural areas across America. We also had vaccine hesitancy early on within our African-American community in our state and across America.
But we're seeing a significantly higher uptake there. As each polling data comes in, we're seeing more and more Americans that are willing to take the vaccine.
We have approximately 535,000 Mississippians that are fully vaccinated today. We have another 300,000-plus that have received their first dose. And so I'm hopeful that, as we move forward, that more and more of my constituents will recognize the importance of it.
And it is important. It's something that I have done, my family has done. I was able to see my grandmother recently for the first time in a year on her 90th birthday. And so the vaccine is our path towards normalcy. And it's one that I hope more -- more folks across the country will recognize.
TAPPER: That's wonderful. And I'm so glad to hear about your grandmother.
Do you think that Trump coming forward and telling the rural Americans, the Trump supporters in Mississippi, "Hey, I got vaccinated in January" -- I don't know why he did it in secret, but he did -- "and it's safe and it's great, and you should do it, too," do you think that would help?
REEVES: Well, I certainly think that President Trump and other leaders across America, not only political leaders, but leaders across all methods, would be helpful.
But let's be honest. I think more than anything else -- and we have had a lot of conversations about this with my state health officer, and you will see us do something about it this week -- we need to educate folks. We need to make sure that we educate our people and let them know that this vaccine is safe, that it is -- and while it is under an emergency use authorization, it has gone through clinical trials with literally tens of thousands of individuals who have done that.
It has been peer-reviewed. And so I think the education piece is more important than the endorsement pieces, if you would. It's kind of like politics. Getting endorsements are important in politics, but, at the end of the day, you have got to educate the voters on why you should be elected. And so that's something that I think we have got to work on.
TAPPER: Your fellow Republican governor Ron DeSantis of Florida issued an executive order banning private businesses from requiring so-called vaccine passports that would prove an individual has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Do you think private businesses should be banned from requiring vaccine passports? What's your take on this?
REEVES: Well, I don't support vaccine passports. I don't think it's necessary and I don't I don't think it's a good thing to do in America.
The -- I will tell you this. In Mississippi, we have pretty significant requirements in terms of vaccines for our kids going to public schools. We're one of the most highly vaccinated states amongst our kids in America.
But there are those individuals that want -- that don't want to do that. And let's be honest. And this is really where we focused our vaccine distribution. This virus treats those over the age of 50, and particularly those over the age of 65, very differently than it treats those under the age of 50; 98 percent of our deaths and Mississippi have been people over the age of 50.
Over 90 percent of our deaths have been people over the age of 65. That's why I'm so proud of the fact that we're really very fastly approaching 75 percent of our senior citizens have received the vaccine in our state. So, we're protecting those most vulnerable.
But we're -- at some point, we got to let Americans make their -- the decision that they think is best for them and their family.
TAPPER: Let's turn to President Biden's new infrastructure bill.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gives your state a D-minus for your roads and bridges. Almost one in 10 bridges in Mississippi are structurally deficient. The number of roads in poor condition is double the national average. A winter storm just knocked out water in your state capital for weeks.
This legislation would commit more than $100 billion to fix roads and bridges. Could Mississippi use the help?
REEVES: Well, there's no doubt that Mississippi could use our fair share of $100 billion.
The problem with this particular plan, though, is, although the Biden administration is calling it an infrastructure plan, it looks more like a $2 trillion tax hike plan to me. That's going to lead to significant challenges in our economy. It's going to lead to a slowing GDP. And it's going to lose to -- it's going to lead to Americans losing significant numbers of jobs.
Infrastructure, Jake, is an area where Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to come together and do something good for the country. But, as you mentioned, this plan spends $110 billion on roads and bridges, and spends more than that on the combination of Amtrak and public transit.
And what's even worse, it spends $100 billion on clean water, which Mississippi could certainly use, but it spends more than that on subsidizing electric vehicles, $155 billion to subsidize electric vehicles. That is a political statement. It's not an -- a statement on trying to improve our infrastructure in America.
And so it looks more like the Green New Deal than it looks like an infrastructure plan. But if the Biden administration will do what the president has said he wants to do, which is work with Republicans, I believe we can come up with a plan that we can afford, one that we can pay for, and one that truly invests in the infrastructure needs of this country.
And there's no doubt that Mississippi, like virtually every other state, could use federal support. Infrastructure is a core function of government. It is something that the federal government, the state government, and local government should spend more of our resources on.
But we don't have to hike taxes by $2 trillion to do it.
TAPPER: Well, how do you pay for it, then?
REEVES: Well, I think you pay for it in a number of different ways.
One way you pay for it is by seeing significant improved economic growth. We saw that throughout the Trump administration, because the policies were pro-business, they were pro growth, and revenues improved.
Now, unfortunately, during those four years, like the four years before that, they did not in Washington get control of spending. They feel as if the debt doesn't matter. You're looking at a debt burden today of nearly $30 trillion for Americans.
And what's ultimately going to happen -- and it's already happening -- as interest rates rise, the share of our annual budget that goes to pay for interest expense is going to rise from what is already an enormous level of 15 to 20 percent of all federal revenues goes to pay interest expense.
REEVES: That is not sustainable over the long term.
TAPPER: Yes, that doesn't -- that doesn't really answer the question as to where -- how do you pay for it, though. It actually provides examples of how it's even more complicated than that.
Governor Tate Reeves, thank you so much. Hope you have a blessed day.
REEVES: Thank you so much.
Happy Easter to you and all your viewers.
TAPPER: A community overcome with guilt, sadness and anger after George Floyd's death, all spilling out on the stand in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, will resume tomorrow, after a week of emotional testimony that had some witnesses breaking down on the stand, traumatized by feelings of guilt, after seeing a man die in front of them and not being able to prevent it.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. And early happy Ramadan to you.
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Let me ask you.
On an emotional -- on an emotional level, what's it been like for you to watch this trial in your hometown and relive this trauma that you have felt, that so many of your constituents have felt all over again?
OMAR: Yes, I mean, it's been retraumatizing. It's been really hard.
I have tried to avoid watching. I know a lot of us here in Minneapolis have done that. But it's -- but it's hard, right? You also want to know the details and want to hear from the witnesses. There's a lot we're learning. We learned that it wasn't just eight minutes and 46 seconds, as we have been saying, but it was nine minutes and 26 seconds. And so it's been really hard.
I think the one part that stayed with me is the fact that everyone who took the witness stand said they felt helpless. That is a feeling that we know really well here in Minneapolis when it comes to police abuse.
And I remember feeling helpless 20 years ago when I witnessed police officers unload three dozen rounds on mentally ill Somali men in the middle of the street. And so it's been -- it has just unearthed so much trauma for many of us, but we have each other, and we're going to get through it.
TAPPER: Most deaths in police custody do not result in charges for the officers involved. And even when there are cases and they go to trial, convictions of police officers are still relatively rare.
Are you and your city prepared for the possibility of a hung jury or a not guilty verdict in this case?
OMAR: So, the community is on edge about that. We have seen justice not delivered in our community for many years.
And I think that there is a lot of confidence in Attorney General Keith Ellison and the prosecutors in this case. But we are all eagerly awaiting to see how this trial shakes out.
It's been really horrendous to watch the defense put George Floyd on trial, instead of the police office -- the former police officer who's charged with his murder.
TAPPER: Major League Baseball -- if I could shift topics for one second to another issue of -- having to do with justice, Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game from Georgia because of that state's new restrictive voting law, more restrictive.
Stacey Abrams says she understands why people would want to boycott Georgia in protest, but that she thinks such actions hurt the working people who would be working at the Major League Baseball game, for example, and who are disproportionately minorities.
Do you agree with Major League Baseball's decision, or do you side with Stacey Abrams when it comes to boycotts of Georgia in general?
OMAR: We know that boycotts have allowed for justice to be delivered in many spaces.
The civil rights movement was rooted in boycotts. We know that apartheid ended in South Africa because of boycotts. And so our hope is that this boycott will result in changes in the law, because we understand that, when you restrict people's ability to vote, you create a democracy that isn't fully functioning for all of us.
And if we are to continue to be a beacon of hope for all democracies around the world, we must stand our ground.
TAPPER: There's no question that this law is -- it restricts voting, and there's no question that it's understandable why people are wary of the Republicans who passed it, given the big lie about the election.
But I have to say, the Georgia law, even with the new restrictions, is still more open when compared to other states, like New York or Delaware, in many ways, places that don't have no-excuse early voting, places that don't have early voting at all in some cases.
Should everybody -- should every state be reexamining their voting laws?
OMAR: They certainly should be.
I mean, Minnesota is not number one in voter turnout and participation because we are special, even though we are. It's because we have made voting accessible for people. And it is really important that every single state reexamine their voting laws and make sure that voting is accessible to everyone. It's also going to be really important for us to continue to push
H.R.1, which makes it accessible nationwide and strengthens our democracy.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, again, happy early Ramadan. Thank you so much for joining us today.
OMAR: Yes. Thank you for having me.
TAPPER: So, I got vaccinated. I made an appointment through my health care system. I showed up at Georgetown University Hospital and I got it. It is a miracle of modern science. A year ago, heck, last summer, we had no idea if scientists would even be able to discover a vaccine and now almost 60 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, 4 million Americans were vaccinated in just 24 hours this weekend.
And thank God for everyone involved at Pfizer, at Moderna, at Johnson & Johnson. Thank God for everyone affiliated with Operation Warp Speed, from the scientists to the officials who signed off on the funding, including, yes, former President Trump.
You know, we hear a lot from MAGA folks about why the Biden administration seems so reluctant to credit Trump for the vaccines. And, look, I get it, they could certainly be more gracious about it. Maybe it's politics. Or maybe it's that Trump screwed up so many other aspects of the response to the pandemic they cannot not get past those clear derelictions of duty, the refusal to acknowledge what was happening, the undermining of science and scientists, the mocking of those who wore masks, the attacks on Democratic governors for trying to take safety precautions, the promotion of quackeries, mishandlings that had real tangible impact.
What impact? Well, here is how Dr. Deborah Birx put it to our Sanjay Gupta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Look at it this way, the first time we have an excuse, there were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: All of the rest of them, all of the rest of them is about 450,000 U.S. lives, 450,000 dead fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, dead. And not only did Trump not deny this dereliction, in a statement pushing back against doctors Birx and Fauci, after Sanjay's CNN documentary, Trump acknowledged that he went against the experts' advice. Quote: "Based on their interviews I felt it was time to speak out about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx," Trump said, "two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned."
That's it, the overturning. That's part of the reason why we have hundreds of thousands of dead Americans who, according to Birx, did not have to die. That's an admission, that's a confession. Remember when President Trump said that the administration's mitigation efforts, success would be if they only between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans dead. And now the number is more than 550,000. These are your fellow Americans who fell in the red, blood red.
There is so much about the Trump era that his supporters, especially those in Congress, want you to forget. I thought about this all on Friday after Capitol Officer Billy Evans was killed. Within hours President Biden had the flags at the White House lowered to half-staff in the officer's honor. It's not particularly laudable or anything. It's just normal human decent behavior. It's what we expect from presidents.
And then I remembered three months ago after the MAGA mob attacked Officer Brian Sicknick and he died, then-President Trump refused, refused for days on end to put the flags of the White House at half- staff because, and let's be honest and clear-eyed here, Trump was on the side of the mob that attacked the Capitol. He was on the side of the folks who attacked the Officer Sicknick.
And now he is trying to rewrite history. He just did this two Fridays ago.
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DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of them went in and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards. You know, they had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in and then they walked in and they walked out.
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TAPPER: Just absolutely hideously false and we all saw it. History saw it. So, yes, I am vaccinated, partly due to the approval of former President Trump of Operation Warp Speed, as are my parents, and as are so many millions of you and I'm so happy about all of that. But facts do not exist in a vacuum detached from other less pleasant facts.
And those other facts include that Trump got the vaccine in total secret in January. And he has hardly been actively encouraging his supporters, so many of whom are reluctant to get vaccinated, to follow his lead. Those other facts include the fact that more than 450,000 deaths that Dr. Birx says could have been mitigated or decreased substantially. And those other facts are untold horrors and indecencies that threaten to rip apart of the fabric of this nation.
It would be like crediting Trump for eventually, after days, after it was pointed out how hideous it was that he wasn't doing it, that he put the flags at half-staff for Officer Sicknick. Yes, he did. He did do it. But do you not remember everything else that happened prior? Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news