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At This Hour

Senate Report Reveals Sweeping Failures of Capitol Attack, But Omits the Word "Insurrection" & Trump's Role in Inciting It; Obama Slams GOP for Embracing 2020 Election Conspiracies; Obama: "I Tried" to Tell the Story of Race in America. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 08, 2021 - 11:00   ET


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

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


Insurrection. The most comprehensive report yet on the security failures that led to the Capitol attack, yet glaring omissions still in the over 100-page release.

Obama unfiltered. The former president speaks to CNN about everything from the insurrection, to race in America today. His warning about the state of America's democracy right now.

And one damming phone call. CNN exclusively obtains audio of Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to look into conspiracy theories to damage Joe Biden. What does it now mean for the federal investigations?


BOLDUAN: We begin with new developments on the Capitol insurrection. A new bipartisan Senate report which is 127 pages long all in reveals stunning details about the breakdowns before the attack and massive intelligence failures that led to the mob of Trump supporters violently breaking into the Capitol that day to interrupt the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

The report also contains harrowing accounts from police officers who were attacked, who were fighting for their lives. But what also stands out is what is not in the report. It does not describe this siege as an insurrection, nor does it mention former President Trump's role in inciting it, which ultimately led to his historic second impeachment.

This congressional report may be the first and only comprehensive investigation of that shameful day as Senate Republicans have blocked the bipartisan independent commission that would have done just that.

CNN's Whitney Wild is live in Washington. She's joining me now with much more as this is all just coming out.

Whitney, can you walk us through this? WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a

substantial report that details really the first definitive timeline we have of today that aggravates the Department of Defense's time, the Capitol police's timeline, for example.

So, finally, the true TikTok of the day is becoming a clearer focus. But it also lists a very long list of examples of not only operational planning breakdowns but intelligence breakdowns. A couple of those include problems that Capitol police that far preceded the January 6th insurrection, namely that, the officers who ended up having to control this riot, some of them didn't have riot training basically since they began their careers with Capitol police. The report says some of them didn't have that kind of training in years.

Fewer than 10 out of a department of 1,840 officers, fewer than 10 had training on the full suite of less than lethal options to try to dispel the crowd which is why in the end they were not used. The other examples of that are, you know, dozens if not hundreds of officers simply didn't have the right gear, the correct riot gear in some cases. They tried to get their riot gear but it was locked in a bus.

So, there were what this report really shows, Kate, is that there was this long timeline that preceded going back really months leading up to the insurrections where agencies from Capitol police to other federal intelligence agencies might have been able to make a different choice that could have possibly affected the trajectory of that day. And it just seems along this timeline, these agencies continue to make the wrong choice all culminating in this riot that we saw play out on January 6.

Other, you know, there are other examples of real concern among the intelligence agencies about what constituted threatening language and what would be considered politically protected free speech. Something that I guess in some ways is, you know, should give you confidence that law enforcement actually does consider your rights when assessing, you know, the threat. But also seemed to misunderstand that these threats actually were credible and then ended up apparently being actionable on January 6th.

You know, Kate, the list goes on and on. There's just one more thing I'll point out. The Department of Defense, this details a lot of internal conversations going on with the Department of Defense. One of the things they point out, Kate, is there's about 25 in a period when they should have had had authorization to deploy to the Capitol and then didn't end up heading to the Capitol for about 25 minutes.

So, a lot of confusion. This report is long. It's substantive, but it's not a substitute for the commission -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's right. Whitney Wild, and it kind of -- it's almost like two things, right? The security failures, the intelligence failures and then kind of the political -- the politics of seeped in, because this bipartisan -- because of this report was bipartisan, a bipartisan report done by a Senate committee, there is no mention of the insurrection other than in footnotes and direct quotes. There is no mention of Donald Trump's role. One of the top members on

the committee, Gary Peters, even noting that, saying that he believes it's an insurrection but Senate aides saying some of that language was left out because of the considerations of it needing to be remain bipartisan. Yet another example of why an independent commission is so needed.

Whitney, thank you so much for your reporting.

So also this. In a new wide-ranging interview with CNN, former President Barack Obama is speaking out in a way that really former presidents traditionally have not, blasting Republicans for their complicity in Donald Trump's unending lies about the election.


He calls the GOP's response to the insurrection, a sign of the darker turn the party has taken since he left office four years ago.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: We did not see that Republican establishment say hold on, time out. That's not acceptable. That's not who we are, but rather, be cowed into accepting it and then culminating January 6th where what originally was, oh, don't worry, this isn't going anywhere. We're just letting Trump and others vent and then suddenly you now have large portions of an elected Congress going along with the falsehood that there were problems with the election.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And the leadership of the GOP briefly for, you know, one night when they still had this sort of sense of fear in them going to the president --

OBAMA: And then poof, everybody was back in line.

Now what that -- the reason for that is because the base believed it. And the base believed it because this had been told to them not just by the president, but by the media that they watch, and nobody stood up and said stop. This is enough. This is not true.

I won't say nobody. Let me correct me. There were some very brave people who did their jobs, like the secretary of state in Georgia who was then viciously attacked for it. And all those congressmen started looking around and they said, you know what? I'll lose my job. I'll get voted out of office.

Another way of saying this is I didn't expect that there so few people who would say, well, I don't mind losing my office because this is too important.


BOLDUAN: So interesting. There's much more to this. Joining me right now, CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod. He is a former senior adviser to President Obama, and CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

David, what did you think of this?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, what he said didn't surprise me because I know what he's been thinking about this. I think he summed up the thinking of many, many people about this. What was interesting to me in hearing him speak last night was I just posted a podcast yesterday with Liz Cheney who said almost the same exact thing. I asked her why are -- do so many Republicans believe that this election was fraudulent? And said -- essentially, she said because too many leaders didn't stand up and tell them otherwise.

So, you know, it's not just Barack Obama is saying it, but Liz Cheney, who's one of those people who referred to, was willing to stand up and tell the truth. This is a fundamental problem for the democracy. Kate, your reporting before this conversation reflects that the fact that a congressional bipartisan committee could put out a report and not call an insurrection an insurrection and not reference the president in any way because for fear of angering him or his supporters, tells you what President Obama said. We're in a very tenuous position.

BOLDUAN: And I have to say, it's no fault for the staffers that wrote that report. They were trying to keep it bipartisan. They know the sensitivities, Gloria. There is further proof that there is only so much politicians, political figures can do why -- it's further proof there needs to be an independent commission.

But, Gloria, one where Obama ended right there, when he said he was surprised that more Republicans didn't stand up at the cost of their own jobs essentially. Is that naive? I would ask that I would ask the very same if this were about politicians from either party.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Obama knows a lot of these people, because he was president with a lot of these people. But he doesn't know the ones who follow Donald Trump to the ledge. And I think all of us were a little surprised that there were not more people willing to stand up. As Anderson pointed out, there were more sort of the day after, and the fury of all this, or that day. But then they decided that they needed to save their own skin.

And what this shows you, and I think what the former president was talking about is the importance of leadership here. When Kevin McCarthy went and kissed the ring of Donald Trump -- and I know in David's podcast, Liz Cheney talked about how shocked she was about that.


How upset she was about that. How she found that -- you know, she didn't think he should have done that, when they all seem to switch, when you have a bunch of congressmen saying, you know, these insurrectionists were like a bunch of tourists on Capitol Hill, when you have Mitch McConnell who gave a speech on the Senate floor saying the president provoked the insurrection but then refused to talk about it anymore.

When you have those people refusing to speak out and the ones who are supporting Donald Trump like Marjorie Taylor Greene, or on Fox News talking about it, or OAN or wherever they are, that matters. People still listen to leaders in this country. And if the Republican Party has had a complete abdication of leadership, then the question is, what happens to democracy here? If the leaders are so willing to follow Donald Trump because they want to save their own political skin.

BOLDUAN: Let me play another part of this, because this then moves into the current wave of moves by Republicans and states to make it harder for people to vote. Obama took that on as well. Listen to this.


OBAMA: I think we have to worry, when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago. When you look at some of the laws that are being passed at the legislative level, where legislators are basically saying, we're going to take away the certification of election processes from civil servants, you know, secretary of state, people who are just counting ballots, and we're going to put it in the hands of partisan legislators who may or may not decide that a state electoral votes or one or another, and when that's all done against the backdrop of large numbers of Republicans having been convinced wrongly that there was something fishy about the last election, we've got a problem.


BOLDUAN: This might be a classic, David, Obama style of, you know, he describes it as a problem and that we should all be worried. But it's -- I would say it's further than that. It's happening now. Laws are on the books.

I mean, what do you think -- what do you think of this?

AXELROD: Well, look, I mean, part of what he said is really important here, it is not just that they did this on top of people believing the last election was fraudulent, all of these changes, these 400 measures across the country to restrict voting are a result of -- they are predicated on a fraud which is the idea that this election was -- wasn't somehow -- it was somehow rigged.

And, you know, yes, this is, to me, this is a different order. And I think he was saying that in other places as well.

I mean, you expect people to vote their neck on policy. And Liz Cheney was saying this in our podcast, this is not about policy. This is about fundamental tenets of democracy, and it will slip way if it we become numb to each little incursion, and this is more than a little one.

But, you know, when they held up Merrick Garland for a year and then speeded Justice Barrett on to the Supreme Court, that was an incursion on democracy. These are incursions on democracy.

I think that voters will overcome them. I think voters will be inflamed by them. But what it says is we're going to put raw political power ahead of fundamental democratic principles. And that's how you lose democracy.

BORGER: Right.

BOLDUAN: But as Obama agrees with you, he says I'm still the hope and change guy.

Gloria, hold on because we've got much more to get to on this.


BOLDUAN: But I also want to show just moments ago this new video coming in. We're going to show you pictures of Vice President Kamala Harris and the president of Mexico, they are meeting right now, and moments ago, they signed a memorandum between the two countries. We're waiting on a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

We're going to bring that to you live. We're going to take you live to Mexico City later this hour, second day of her two day first foreign oversea -- her first foreign trip. That to come.

Also ahead, we're going to have more of Anderson's interview with former President Obama saying his poll numbers dropped when he talked about race while in the White House. That's next.



BOLDUAN: Back now with more of Anderson's interview with former President Barack Obama, America's first black president reflecting with Anderson Cooper about how he talked about race when he was in the White House and how that conversation has changed since. Listen to this.


COOPER: Looking back as president, did you tell the story of race in America enough, do you think?

OBAMA: Yeah. Well, look, I tried. I think I told a lot of stories. You take a look at the speeches I gave in Selma, and the speech I gave during the campaign about Reverend Wright and that whole episode.

And, you know, each and every time, I tried to describe why it is that we are still not fully reconciled with our history.


But the fact is that it's a hard thing to hear. It's hard for the majority in this country, of white Americans, to recognize that, look, you can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our forefathers. And, yet, it is also true that this terrible stuff happened and that, you know, the vestiges of that linger and continue.

And the truth is that when I tried to tell that story, oftentimes, my political opponents would deliberately not only block out that story, but try to exploit it for their own political gain.


BOLDUAN: Back with me now, David Axelrod and Gloria Borger.

Gloria, I thought this was a really important part of the conversation. You can sense his frustration even thinking back to --


BOLDUAN: -- that challenge when he was in office.

BORGER: Oh, totally. Look -- and David can speak to this because he was involved in conversations I'm sure about those speeches that the president gave. And, you know, it struck me that he's talking about speeches, what he did in speeches. And that's the way Barack Obama is.

When I saw him last night in the Anderson interview, it was so touching to me the way he had established these relationships one-on- one with these young men. And I know he did a bit of that in office. But I think that's what was sort of missing, that I would have liked to have seen more of. Presidents are busy. They don't get time to do it, but that's an environment really in which he excels.

When he did try to talk about race personally, and he criticized the Cambridge police after the Gates incident in Cambridge before the famous beer summit, then he got jumped on by Republicans who said oh, you don't like the police? You're not in favor of the police.

So it was hard for him as the first black president because he thought he had to strike a balance. And I -- looking back on it, I really realize what a challenge that was and how tough that must have been for him.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, David, let me -- can I play the Henry Louis Gates beer summit, kind of portion of that conversation with Anderson? Then I really am interested in your take. Let's listen.


OBAMA: I told a story in the book about the situation where Skip Gates, Harvard professor who's trying to get into his own house gets arrested and I'm asked about it. And not only did that cause a firestorm, as you will recall, you were in the press at that time. But subsequent polling showed that my support among white voters dropped more precipitously after that -- that should have been a minor, trivial incident than anything else during my presidency.


BOLDUAN: Can you pull the curtain back for us? How do you remember these moments and those conversations?

AXELROD: Yeah. Well, look, the summer of 2009 when this happened, we were in the midst of a battle to pass the Affordable Care Act. We were dealing with an economy that was in huge distress and trying to repair that. And we were trying to stay focused on those issues.

This Skip Gates question came at the end of a long press conference. I think may have been on the Affordable Care Act. But it was the last question he answered. He answered from his heart about that, and from the depth of his experience.

But it did cause a backlash. And we wrestled with this throughout his candidacy for president and his presidency. Gloria is right, there are all kinds of challenges associated with being the first black president. He did speak out as he said.

But we didn't make it a constant narrative because there are other narratives that were very, very important for him to share. The opposition really did want to paint him narrowly as the black president because they wanted to divide the country along racial lines, and we wanted to resist that. So this was a constant -- a constant challenge for him throughout his presidency.

But, you know, I just want to say, Obama's candidacy and his presidency was predicated on the notion that whatever divides us, there are larger things that unite us. That is the nature of him, that's the speech he made in 2004 in Boston.


AXELROD: It's the thing that propelled him forward.


And so, you know, he is resistant to these attempts to kind of divide us and he is always trying to find common ground. And that is frustrating to some people. But I think it actually comports with what a majority of Americans would like to see from their president.

BORGER: Right.

BOLDUAN: It also comports with what you -- the conversation you had with Liz Cheney. This is -- that's not a partisan statement. There are larger things that should unite us. We need that more than ever right now.

I mean, it's -- it's good to see you guys.

Gloria, thank you.


BOLDUAN: David, thanks so much.

Coming up for us, Vice President Kamala Harris, she is meeting with Mexico's president right now. The messaging on her high stakes trip to tackle immigration, that's next.