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At This Hour

GOP Escalates Denial and Lies About Capitol Insurrection; Supreme Court Unanimously Sides with Catholic Foster Care Agency That Refused to Work With Same-Sex Couples; New Cases and Deaths in U.S. Down Dramatically in the Last Week. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: More than five months after a pro- Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, beating police officers, using flag poles as weapons and so much more, some even shouting wanting to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence, the Republican effort to whitewash and rewrite what happened that day is reaching new levels, also trying now to push a new conspiracy about that day, a new conspiracy being promoted by a Fox propaganda host, trying to point the finger at the FBI for being behind the attack.

But, back to reality, also this morning, there is new video released from January 6th, a judge releasing videos in the case against several defendants.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live on Capitol Hill for us this morning. Jessica, what are you hearing there today?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is all coming just as 21 House Republicans voted against awarding a congressional gold medal to the men and women, these police officers who defended them and this Capitol on January 6th.


We're also seeing this new video a judge released that shows just exactly how chaotic, how dangerous, how violent everything was that day.

And we are hearing new information from Officer Michael Fanone, who was the Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer. He actually suffered a brain injury, a heart attack, he went to try to introduce himself to Congressman Clyde here at the Capitol. He says that Clyde wouldn't shake his hand. He tried to introduce himself, said that he had suffered the traumatic brain injury, a heart attack, that he defended the Capitol. And then Clyde turned from him.

Here's more on Fanone. He was on New Day earlier today. Take a listen.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: Congressman Clyde has made some incendiary remarks, downplaying the event. And to be honest with you, downplaying, it was disingenuous. He just out and out lied.

And the reality is, like at this point, if you're going to sling bullshit about January 6th, I'm going to call you out on it. And you're going to be held accountable.


DEAN: And he has been doing that, Kate. And, again, those 21 House GOP members just refusing to award that medal, and so many people here still refusing to accept the facts of that day. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you very much for that.

So, we have mentioned the continued effort by some Republicans, of course, to rewrite what happened on January 6th. And as I mentioned also, it is now reaching a new level today. I'm going to play for you what Fox's Tucker Carlson, the network's top-rated premier show, is now pushing on who he wants you to believe was behind the insurrection. A warning, a heads-up, this is not true. This is a lie.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Look at the document. The government calls those people unindicted co-conspirators. What does that mean? Well, I means that potentially every single case, they were FBI operatives, really.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. He's also the author of the new book, Hatchet Man, How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutors Code and Corrupted the Justice Department.

Elie, what Carlons was talking in that bit of sound that we just played, talking about unindicted co-conspirators almost certainly working for the FBI, he says, what is the legal reality here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This is just a bunch of garbage by Tucker Carlson. He's trying to take something that prosecutors do every day in every case and turn it into this wild conspiracy theory.

So I always taught that when you're drafting an indictment as a federal prosecutor, the only actual full names you write in the indictment, John Smith, Kate Bolduan, Elie Honig, are the people you are charging in that case.

Everybody else you need to mention gets a generic label, could be co- conspirator, individual person, et cetera. And the crazy leap is, wow, well, there are some people who get that generic label, therefore, they must have been FBI agents, therefore, this was an inside job.

But here is the reality, specifically with co-conspirator, that label. That cannot be an FBI agent, because anybody who is working for the FBI is not actually part of a conspiracy. They're just pretending. So, no prosecutor would ever identify somebody working for the FBI as a co-conspirator in an indictment. So, Tucker Carlson does not have his facts straight at all there.

BOLDUAN: And there's more to this. Let me play something else.


CARLSON: But, wait, here's the interesting thing. Person two and person three were organizers of the riot. The government knows who they are but the government has not charged them. Why is that? You know why. They were almost certainly working for the FBI.


BOLDUAN: I mean, this is like written and thought through. Like this is one of his like monologue things that he goes off on. Your reality check on this?

HONIG: Yes. It's the same tactic here. The use of the term, person, is a bit broader than co-conspirator. But still it's a wild leap of faith and a fact to say that these are FBI agents, there's nothing in the indictment to support it. And this is the stuff that conspiracy theories are made of.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And one final thing, what Tucker unintentionally does here, he actually further makes the case for an independent bipartisan commission. Even if you believe wild conspiracy theories, the best way to get down to the bottom of it is to have an independent commission to investigate it, a 9/11-style commission. So also is helping to make that argument clearly unintentionally here on this one. Elie, thank you.

Still to come for us, the Supreme Court sides unanimously with a Catholic foster care agency refusing to work with LGBTQ couples in Philadelphia. More on this landmark ruling, next.



BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news out of the Supreme Court, continuing this hour. All nine justices unanimously siding with a Catholic foster care agency that says that its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. This is a case, in the ruling, the justices say that the city of Philadelphia wrongly limited its relationship with this foster care agency as a result of the agency's policy. And that's where things stand right now on that.

Joining me now is Montse Alvarado.


She's Vice President and Executive Director of the Becket Fund, which represented the Catholic social services, that foster care agency, before the Supreme Court.

Montse, what's your reaction to this ruling today?

MONTSE ALVARADO, VP AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BECKET FUND: It's a fantastic ruling for religious freedom. It's a great unanimous win. Every single Supreme Court justice said that religious freedom is not a second-class right, it's front and center, the bedrock of our Constitution and our freedom in America.

BOLDUAN: This is, as you mentioned, about religious freedom but it is also about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. What do you say today to a gay couple who have the desire, have the resources, to care for a child in need of a home? What harm would come to these children if they stayed with a same-sex couple?

ALVARADO: Catholic services serves children regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. They've been doing this longer than the government for 200 years. They've been serving children in need. And the government decided that because of their religious beliefs, they didn't want to work with them. And that's unconstitutional today. The Supreme Court unanimously said they're not allowed to do that.

And gay couples in Philadelphia have 29 agencies that they can go to for their home study. Catholic social services has placed children through the government with gay couples before. This is about home studies. It's about this personal certification about what a home look like for a child. And not working with Catholic social services is unconstitutional today because the Supreme Court said so in a unanimous ruling.

BOLDUAN: But on a personal level, what harm would come to a child if placed in the home of a loving same-sex couple?

ALVARADO: Children are placed in same-sex homes all the time. They are placed -- and I think you're asking me a question about religious beliefs. And the religious beliefs of Catholic social services and --

BOLDUAN: No, I'm asking about the needs of children. Because the ACLU argued that this could -- they were involved in the case. They said that this could have profound consequences for more than 400,000 children in foster care across the country, putting aside the legal ripple effects -- I'm actually asking you, do you think that a child is put in harm's way, a child who desperately needs a foster home, and we know a lot of children are in need of foster care.

Why would you cut off an avenue for children to be in a loving home of a same-sex couple? Like what harm would actually come to them being in a home of a same-sex couple? ALVARADO: That's not the issue -- that's not at issue today. Children need loving homes. The moment that Catholic social services was kicked out by the city of Philadelphia, 350 children didn't have homes. So, this is not a winner-takes-all proposition.

We need everyone, all hands on deck, fostering these children. Catholic social services is part of that, as well as all of the other 29 agencies who do work with LGBTQ couples and are actually specifically tailored to the needs of LGBTQ adults and children. We need more people to work in this space.

BOLDUAN: I understand what you're saying but I don't think needs of a LGBTQ couple are different than the needs of any loving couple who would want to foster a child. I think that's a distinction. And that gets kind of the core of the discrimination argument that is also at issue here.

This is the Supreme Court's ruling today, a ruling in your favor. Thank you for coming on for your reaction.

ALVARADO: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the delta variant is spreading alarmingly fast. A top doctor now calls it profoundly concerning threat to America. That's next.



BOLDUAN: There are encouraging signs on the pandemic here in the United States. The seven-day average of new cases is now at 10,600. That's 30 percent drop in the last week. Seven-day average of new deaths in the United States is 273, 29 percent decrease in the last week.

But top health officials are very worried still about a highly contagious delta variant as it's spreading more and more each week.

Joining me now is Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean at the Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha, I read with great interest your new opinion piece in The Washington Post. You called the delta variant a profoundly concerning threat. Tell me why.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. So, first of all, Kate, thanks for having me back. It is a concerning threat and I'll explain. This variant, which has now taken over in the U.K., represents maybe 10 percent of cases here is far more contagious than any variant we've seen.

It seems to be a bit more deadly than the prior variants and even for people who are, let's say, partly vaccinated, it does seem to cause some real problems with the immune response. So there's a bunch of reasons why this is a virus and a variant that I think has a real potential for causing a lot more infections and unfortunately even a lot more deaths.

BOLDUAN: And you've labeled it as a triple threat. What do you mean?

JHA: Yes. So whenever you look at a variant, you look at three features. Is it more contagious, is it more deadly and does it escape our immune response? Now, it is undoubtedly far more contagious, as I said, a little bit more deadly. If you're fully vaccinated, you're going to do fine. But for people who are not, this really does seem to push the immune system and tend to cause some amount of immune escape. So it is a real problem of a virus.

BOLDUAN: And you mentioned vaccinated, you're probably pretty protected. You're concerned about how many people are missing their second shots, their second doses. What are you seeing?

JHA: Yes. There are two sets of issues here.


I mean, first of all, we know about a third of American adults haven't gotten any vaccine doses at all. But we also know that about 18 million Americans have missed their second shot. They got their first shot. The appointment came up for the second one and they didn't get it.

And the evidence right now is very clear, that if you only got one shot and you didn't get your second shot, you are not adequately protected against this variant.

And so we've really got to redouble our efforts, not just to get more people vaccinated but to make sure people complete their vaccinations as well.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Dr. Jha, thank you very much for your time, as always, I really appreciate it.

JHA: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us At This Hour. It's a very busy news day with a lot of breaking news and John King picks occupy our breaking news coverage on those two major Supreme Court rulings after this quick break.