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At This Hour

Manchin Vows to Block Dems' Voting Rights Bill, Preserve Filibuster; Cheney: McCarthy Visiting Trump After Insurrection Was "Inexcusable"; VP Harris Tackles Migration in First Foreign Trip to Guatemala; President Biden Prepares For Meeting with Putin; Netanyahu Accuses Rivals of "Fraud of the Century," Vows to Topple New Government "Very Quickly"; FDA Approves First New Alzheimer's Disease Drug; Ransomware Attacks Pose Grave Threat to U.S. Infrastructure. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 07, 2021 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Here's what we're watching AT THIS HOUR:

Cheney not backing down and standing up once again against Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the moment Liz Cheney calls inexcusable.

Hitting the road. Vice President Harris on her first foreign trip tackling the immigration crisis as Biden prepares to face off with Putin.

And it's happened again. Another deadly weekend of gun violence in America, just as Parkland's youngest survivors are about to graduate. What they say about this moment.

Thank you so much for being here.

We begin with a major blow to president Biden's agenda. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin now declaring that he will oppose the voting rights bill championed by his party and also making clear that he is budging despite the pressure and he will not support ending the filibuster.

So, it seems both parties are in something of an upheaval this morning. For Republicans, Congresswoman Liz Cheney is speaking up again, blasting former President Donald Trump and calling out Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for this moment, this picture -- McCarthy's trip to visit Donald Trump right after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Listen to Liz Cheney speaking with David Axelrod.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think what Donald Trump did is the most dangerous thing, the most egregious violation of an oath of office of any president in our history. And so, the idea that a few weeks after he did that the leader of the Republicans and the House would be at Mar-a-Lago essentially pleading with them to somehow, you know, come back into the fold or whatever it was he was doing, to me, it was inexcusable.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. He is joining us now.

Manu, what you are hearing about Cheney's comments?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she had steered clear from criticizing Republican leaders about Trump for some time until -- as this effort to oust her from the leadership position occurred several weeks ago and the criticism of Kevin McCarthy became sharper and more pronounced. She made very clear in this interview over the weekend that she believed that Kevin McCarthy made a huge mistake in going down and meeting with Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago and trying to essentially say that the Republican Party is with Donald Trump.

And she said that was a profound moment for her when she realized that the party was headed in wrong direction.


CHENEY: This isn't a policy disagreement. You know, this is the president provoking an attack on the Capitol to prevent us from counting electoral votes.

And both McCarthy and Scalise -- certainly McCarthy -- made clear that he understood that that's what had happened in his remarks on the floor on January 13th. So, there was no question in the days after the attack what happened. There was no question who was responsible then.

But then, of course, Kevin McCarthy decided to go Mar-a-Lago at the end of January. And I think that was a real moment where it became clear we weren't going to be able to move forward and focus on substance and policy because we had had leaders who were embracing the president who had had just been impeached.


RAJU: Of course, she is decidedly in the minority of the House Republican Conference. There are really only a handful of members who are speaking out against Donald Trump.

And on the Senate side, the Republican leader Mitch McConnell who did initially criticize Donald Trump has just simply not wanting to engage, Kate, on this topic, even saying as early as last week that when he was asked should he call out Donald Trump right now? He said I spoke on this topic. I'm looking ahead, not backwards.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, except Donald Trump continues to look backwards. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat Joe Manchin, he is making

waves. It started this weekend. It's going to continue long after that op-ed and these interviews.

What did he say?

RAJU: Yeah, he made clear that he's going to oppose the Democrats' bill to overhaul elections and campaign finance laws. He actually opposed this for some time. But he is making this clear in the run-up to a key vote on January 21st. He's the lone member of this the Senate Democratic Caucus who will not sign on to it. So, that means 49 Democrats are supporting this.

But he also made clear, Kate, as he has done for months, that he will not change the Senate's filibuster rules to try to ensure that legislation can pass on a simple majority, 50 votes, 51 votes rather than 60. So, that means that the Democratic agenda will need Republican support in order to get anything through or it will fail -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Quick sand is how "The Washington Post" described it, what is going to happen to a lot of Biden's agenda items from here with that.

Thanks, Manu. Appreciate it.

Also AT THIS HOUR, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Guatemala to tackle the causes of the migration crisis that continues to unfold along the southern border of the United States.


Just as President Biden is turning his focus to foreign policy as well, preparing for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live in Guatemala City with much more.

Jeremy, what's happening there?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen this is going to be major test for Vice President Kamala Harris, her first major diplomatic test as vice president. Look, she came into office as somebody with very little foreign policy experience. But it was an area she wanted to really hone in on and focus on.

So, this initial portfolio, this initial task of dealing with the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States is really where she can try and prove herself on that front. And there are a number of issues that she's tackling here, everything from poverty and hunger to climate change and crime.

And there is, of course, this issue -- this very dicey issue of corruption as well which is endemic in this part of Central America, including here in Guatemala. And so, there will be a delicate diplomatic dance that the vice president will have to engage in as she meets with the Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and the vice president's advisors say that she will be tackling this head on. But, of course, how she does so will remain to be seen.

We do know that after this, the vice president will be heading over to Mexico. And, listen, her advisors including her national security adviser, Ambassador McEldowney, told me yesterday that this visit also fits more broadly into the frame of restoring America's alliances.

That is something that, of course, has been at the core of the Biden foreign policy agenda. And it's something that we'll see from the president himself later this week today, of course, he's meeting with the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, before he heads over to the United Kingdom, and then on to Brussels for the NATO summit, all ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jeremy, thank you.

Joining me right now, CNN global affairs analyst, Susan Glasser. She is a staff writer at "The New Yorker", of course.

It's good to see you, Susan.

We'll get to foreign policy. But, first, just what Manu was kind of laying out, I just want to get your reaction to Liz Cheney and her conversation with David Axelrod and what she is saying.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you know, Liz Cheney made a clear political decision it seems to me to continue speaking out in a very straight forward and forceful way. Of course, that has the awkward effect, essentially pointing the finger directly at the leadership in her own party particularly House Republican leadership. I mean, you know, over the weekend, Trump was once again dialing up the rhetoric around January 6th, calling it the crime of the century and I think that Cheney has decided one way or the other that she's going to be out there in the news cycle countering him again and again and again.

BOLDUAN: And to this upcoming meeting now with President Biden and Putin as he really is turning his focus starting to day in a major way to foreign policy as Jeremy Diamond is talking about. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, he's basically issued a new warning is kind of how it feels for Putin and Russia on these recent cyber attacks originating out of Russia.

I want to play for you what he said with Michael Allen of "Axios" on HBO.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the reasons that the president will be meeting with President Putin in a week's time is not in spite of these aggressions, these attacks, it's because of them, to tell him directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive reckless actions toward us continue.


BOLDUAN: Strong language. How real is this warning? What do you hear there?

GLASSER: Well, look, the truth is it is awkward timing really, and not an obvious moment for a summit between the two in the sense that there's not a clear cut positive agenda that we can expect to come out of it. It's not going to have the usual summit deliverables of a new agreement on this or that or the other. Quite the opposite.

BOLDUAN: Great point.

GLASSER: Biden's team is now signaling his toughness is the whole reason for the conversation.

I do think that it's been a divisive decision in a way for Biden to meet so early with Putin especially that Putin has ratcheted up, you know, not only words but rhetoric and is matched by a new wave of cyberattacks in the U.S. It's really as difficult a moment in U.S.- Russian relations as I can recall.

BOLDUAN: That's a really interesting way of putting it. And just as a reminder, I know you remember this moment. We talked about it many times, but for everyone out there, I want to play what happened the last time a president met with Vladimir Putin when President Trump met with Putin and was asked about another attack coming from Russia on the 2016 election.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.


BOLDUAN: Now, despite all the walk backs, we know where this landed, you know, Susan. It is this face-to-face with Joe Biden is not going to be that very obviously.


But just kind of to your point, I really wonder what it is going to be.

GLASSER: Well, look, first of all, politically, I think the Biden team certainly understands that they will be compared with the last meeting with Donald Trump's Helsinki summit. You know, I was there. It was a breathtaking moment when the United States president seemed to take the side of Russia's leader rather than his own intelligence agency.

So, in that sense, Biden is likely to be compared favorably and both Democrats and Republicans certainly prefer his public get tough approach to Putin to Trump's seeming, you know, deference to Vladimir Putin.

However, again, the question is how far is the U.S. willing to go? I think that Biden has not wanted to elevate Russia into the top issue. He and his advisors continue to believe that on foreign policy, it's got to be China, China, China. That would be the focus of many of the conversations with European allies and NATO partners in the first part of Biden's trip.

And so, I think this awkward situation is can we manage Russia? Can we put it back into some kind of a box where Putin isn't invading neighboring countries and generate wreckage to the world order.

That's the calculation behind the summit, but it remains to be seen whether that is the outcome. And, Putin, of course, is savvy to this. His understanding to a certain extent what the conversation around this meeting with Biden is. He's a disruptor too. And we'll try to find ways to disrupt.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Good to see you, Susan. Thank you very much.

GLASSER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: A quick programming note to everyone. President Obama is joining Anderson Cooper for a rare one-on-one interview. Please be sure to watch Anderson's special. It's an "AC360" special, "Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Legacy and Leadership." That is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Sill ahead for us, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to fight against his ouster and sounding a lot like another former leader, Donald Trump.

And also, it has been three years since the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students and teachers killed. Now, it is graduation week for some of the youngest survivors. What they say about this moment and the continuing crisis of gun violence in America today.



BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, the Donald Trump playbook 2.0. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to be ousted from office after 12 years is making clear he is not going down without a fight. He's also echoing the exact rhetoric we heard for so long from none other than Donald Trump.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion, in the history of any democracy.


BOLDUAN: Israel's parliament is set to vote by next week to approve the new coalition government formed by Netanyahu's opponent.

Let's go there right now. CNN's Hadas Gold is joining me now from Jerusalem. It is pretty remarkable, Hadas, how Netanyahu is so clearly taking a page from the Trump playbook.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it is remarkable. Even using terms like deep state, calling the coalition a scam, a fraud, a deception.

Keep in mind that Netanyahu, of course, was very close with Donald Trump, even using his likeness, his image in many of the previous election campaigns while Trump is in power.

But he's trying to ratchet up the pressure especially on the right- wing members of this new coalition, saying that they're breaking their promises. He's been tweeting at them. There have been also demonstrations outside of houses of the members of the coalition, especially the right-wing ones.

It's gotten to the point, though, Kate, that some of these members of parliament have been given extra security because of these threats. And at one point Twitter and Facebook suspended the account of Benjamin Netanyahu's son because he posted the address of one of these members, calling on people to demonstrate in front of it.

It's gotten to such a point, Kate, here this rhetoric got to such a violent point, there are concerns that Jerusalem could potentially see violence to the likes of what the U.S. Capitol saw on January 6th during that mob violence. It's gotten -- it's actually the head of the Israeli security service has issued a very rare public statement saying that the discourse and incitement and violence need to stop.

Now, Naftali Bennett who is set to become the next prime minister said in a speech addressing actually his former boss, Netanyahu, calling on him to let it go and to not leave a scorched-earth behind him on his way out. Take a listen.


NAFTALI BENNETT, YAMINA PARTY (through translator): I call from here on Mr. Netanyahu. Let go. Release the country to move on. People are allowed to vote for the establishment of a government, even if it is not you who is heading it, a government that is 10 degrees to the right than the current one, by the way.


GOLD: Now, all eyes are on the speaker of the Israeli parliament to see when this confidence vote will actually take place. By law, it needs to take place by Monday. But every day that passes without the vote is another day that Netanyahu and his allies can ratchet up the pressure on the members of this coalition -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Hadas, thank you very much for that. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.

I want to turn to Mexico. We're looking at a deadly and violent midterm election there. Mexico's president is in the midst of all this may be losing his grip on power. Preliminary results show that his party losing seats and possibly more from this.

It comes amid one of the deadliest elections in recent history there. At least 96 politicians and candidates have been killed since September. It's astonishing.

CNN's Matt Rivers is joining me live from Mexico City.

Matt, what's the latest?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kate. You know, this is not the night that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was hoping for with his political party, Morena, losing seats in the lower house of congress here in Mexico.


They're going to win probably about 200 seats, more or less. And even when you combine those seats with the seats won by some of their coalition partners here in Mexico, it's not going to be enough for a super majority, which means that some of the more controversial legislative items, some of the more constitutional -- more controversial constitutional amendments that AMLO, the president, as he is commonly known here wants to push through. He's not going to be able to do it without the help of opposition parties. And this is a very fractured country.

So, the odds that he's going to be able to work with the opposition to achieve its legislative goals certainly not going to happen. This is something the Biden administration is watching very closely. Kamala Harris, the vice president, arriving here in Mexico later on tonight to talk immigration. She's going to be talking to a Mexican president who has less political power than he did yesterday.

But we should not forget to mention, Kate, that the violence surrounding the elections has just been staggering. You mentioned it off the top there. Over the course of the campaign season which ended yesterday, at least 96 politicians and/or candidates have been killed. More than 900 crimes ranging from murder to threats to assault have been committed against candidates and even yesterday, Kate, amazingly, terrifyingly, human remains were found at voting locations in Tijuana, Mexico -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Matt Rivers, thank you.

Coming up, ransomware. This is the new battlefield in American national security. More and more companies under attack. More and more critical industries under assault. Cabinet secretary says bad actors are capable of shutting down the U.S. power grid right now.

That's next.



BOLDUAN: We have some breaking news just in to CNN. For the first time in nearly 20 years, there's an experimental drug approved now for the treatment of Alzheimer's. In a controversial decision, the FDA just now approved the use of the drug for early Alzheimer's patients. Last year, an advisory committee concluded there is not enough evidence, though, to support the treatment's effectiveness.

Regardless, according to the doctor leading the clinical trials, the drug promises to slow the progression of the disease if it does not though, however, guarantee improving cognition -- important news out this morning.

Now to this as well -- foreign hackers are saddling the Biden administration with a grave, new national security challenge, how to respond to the escalating ransomware attacks on critical aspects of life from the food supply to fuel supply to health care and transportation. Now, the Senate sergeant at arms is saying this is exactly what is keeping her up at night.


KAREN GIBSON, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS: I worry a lot more about cybersecurity than I do about another mob attacking the Capitol. Certainly our networks are -- have attempted intrusions every single day.


BOLDUAN: Quite a statement. The White House is also warning private businesses that no company is safe right now.

Joining me now is a cybersecurity expert, Alex Stamos. He's the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. He is also the former chief security officer at Facebook and Yahoo.

Alex, thanks for coming back on.

You heard the sergeant at arms there. On top of that, I want to play for you what the energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, told Jake Tapper when he asked if American adversaries have the capability to shut down the power grid right now.


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Yeah, they do. I mean, I think that there are very maligned actors trying even as we speak, there are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally. I mean, the meat plant, for example. We -- it's happening all the time.


BOLDUAN: She said they're capable of doing this right now in terms of the power grid. Do you agree, Alex?

ALEX STAMOS, FORMER CHIIEF SECURITY OFFICER AT FACEBOOK: Well, there several (INAUDIBLE) to power grid, and our adversaries in Russia have a history of that. They've actually attacked the power grid in Ukraine twice.

One of the reasons why our friends in Ukraine were able to get the power back up was that their grid is based upon 1960 Soviet era technology. So, they actually have huge switches they can throw without computers being hooked up. And the American power grid is much more advanced. And as such, it's more efficient but it's also more vulnerable.

So, if we look at what happened with Texas, I think that's the kind of thing we should be worried about is in a situation of great strain on the power grid already, some kind of attack against even a small number of generation plants or local grids could have huge knock down effects across an entire state or region.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. And, look, ransomware attacks are on their face about money. You give the hackers money, your crypto, and they release the information, the information that they've locked up back to you.

STAMOS: That's right.

BOLDUAN: But is that really what is motivating all of this though?

STAMOS: Well, there's is a couple of things. For the individuals who are doing it, absolutely it's money. These guys are making tens of millions of dollars. And this is a pretty new thing.

It's not true that 15 or 20 years ago, if you're a professional hacker, that you can make enough money to go spend the rest of your life on an online, right? It was -- and that's because it was hard to get money out of the financial system. Even if you're able to steal millions and millions of dollars, it was sitting in a bank somewhere and laundering it was quite difficult.

And in the bitcoin era, laundering money is something that any nerd can do. You don't need a big organized crime apparatus anymore.