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At This Hour

Seven Killed, 40-Plus Hurt in Ten Mass Shootings This Weekend; Senate Set to Vote Tomorrow on Voting Rights Bill; U.S. Preparing New Sanctions Against Russia Over Alexei Navalny. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 21, 2021 - 11:30   ET



ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And so instead with ranked-choice voting, the lowest vote-getter of each round is eliminated, their second choice votes reallocated and then you through several rounds before you know the win. This is why we're probably not going to know who won the Democratic primary here for several weeks. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Athena, thank you so much.

Now, to the broader epidemic of America's gun violence. Ten mass shootings across nine states this past weekend. Seven people killed, and at least 45 others were hurt. That is according to the data compiled by CNN and the Gun Violence Archive. That brings the total number of mass shootings this year to nearly 300.

Joining me right now for more on this is Police Chief Shon Barnes of the Madison Wisconsin Police Department. Chief, thank you for coming back in.

Every -- unfortunately, it feels like every Monday, we have to report these new statistics, which is more gun violence in America, more cities shattered. It doesn't discriminate. It is indiscriminate gun violence across America. From your perspective, what is going on in America right now?

CHIEF SHON BARNES, CITY OF MADISON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good morning, Kate. You are right, every Monday, those who are living in America wake up to the realization that our cities have experienced gun violence. And I think one of the things that's certainly going on is we are trying to determine what are the ramifications of coming out of a pandemic, what are the frustrations that Americans are feeling, how are we dealing with mental health, how are we dealing with some of the stressors related to unemployment in this country?

And so these are the things that I think we have to wrap our heads around. I think there is a tremendous body of research that we need to lean on. And more importantly, we need to make sure that we don't repeat some of the mistakes of the past when we saw violent crime increasing in our country.

BOLDUAN: And you have been focusing in on this, because the rise of violent crime is a concern in Madison as well. And I was just reading, Chief, that you are taking a district by district approach within your force to try and tackle this. Can you explain to me what you are trying to do?

BARNES: Absolutely. We believe that each of our patrol districts have their own individual and sometimes collective reasons why violent crime a curse, whether it is gang activity, whether it is related to narcotics sales, or whether it is related to simply frustration or intimate partner violence. And so what we have done in Madison is that we have asked our district captains to work with our data analysis to understand and get a better idea of what's going on with violent crime in our city.

In addition to that, we are partnering with public health, which is a civilian arm of our city, that works with some of the underlying causes that, quite frankly, police departments are not equipped to deal with, like creating partnerships with some of our private organizations, creating partnerships with some of our city organizations, including our wonderful fire department working together to see how we can respond to some of our mental wellness challenges.

BOLDUAN: This issue of this epidemic of gun violence and violent crime, really, that's really taking off this summer is also leading to a debate I am seeing among law enforcement themselves over what is fueling this violence, what role, if any, reform of a cash bail system in many cities is having on this is one area of this debate.

I want to play for you what two retired law enforcement leaders have said. One, the former Detroit Police chief, what he said, and also a former captain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Listen to this.


JAMES CRAIG, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, CITY OF DETROIT: What we have and what we don't talk enough about is how many of these individuals who were involved in violence are people that are out on no bail, out on tether that probably should be remanded to custody. I have got to tell you, it's common in all the major cities.

RON JOHNSON, FORMER MISSOUR STATE HIGHWAY PATROL CAPTAIN: I have not seen that connection. Some of these mass shootings we have had have been people that have never been arrested, never been contacted by law enforcement. So I think the issue is bigger than that.


BOLDUAN: Chief, what do you think of this?

BARNES: Yes. I think that mass shootings, and I think that other type of violence, those are two separate things. When it comes to mass shootings, usually, sometimes there is no warning or you have very short warnings and cash bail really isn't something that is related to your mass shootings. These are sometimes employees who are frustrated. These are sometimes people who are dealing with substance abuse. And sometimes you do not get a warning on that. When it comes to cash bail, I think we really need to take a look at who deserves to be incarcerated awaiting trial. It has to be those people who are specifically -- have been known to be involved in violence. We call that specific deterrence. We know the focused deterrence model.


These things work. And so we have to do a better job of making sure, as I stated before, not repeating the mistakes of the past, where we think the best way to solve violent crime is to go out and arrest people for low-level offenses, creating this mass incarceration epidemic that we are trying to handle and trying to do a better job with and/or going to war with our community. That is simply not the way to handle violent crime in America.

I believe that we have to start partnering with other people in our community and sometimes the police have to take a backseat and allow some of our civic groups, some of our entities within city government to take the lead and we take a supporting role. The idea is to prevent crime and not simply to respond to it.

BOLDUAN: Chief Barnes, thank you so much.

BARNES: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, Olympic organizers ignore the advice of health experts and they are allowing up to 10,000 fans at venues in Tokyo for the summer games. Big questions about the safety now before the games begin.



BOLDUAN: So, spectators will be allowed in next month's summer Olympic Games in Tokyo despite concerns about crowds fueling a new coronavirus surge there. Up to 10,000 locals will be able to attend each event and venues will be capped at 50 percent capacity. Even though just last week, Japan's top health adviser said banning all fans would be the safest option. Since then, a coach in Uganda's Olympic team tested positive after arriving in Tokyo.

Joining me now is Viral Specialist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. I am always torn up on this question of the Olympics, I have to say, Dr. Rodriguez. If I was an athlete, I would want spectators. It is part of the experience. But safety is everything. This is not a normal time to have an Olympic Games. I mean, what's your reaction to this decision by Olympic organizers?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Kate, I am with you. I'm torn also because I love to watch it and there is nothing like a crowd cheering, right, for their country's team. But at the end of the day, I think this is, again, another national experiment. 50 percent of a huge venue is, I think, very potentially dangerous. 10,000 people, that's a lot. So I think they are running a big risk. Now, to Japan's credit, they have decreased the number of cases in the last month substantially. They are limiting this only to locals. But like you stated, all it takes is one coach, one athlete that can spread this. So I think they are embarking, you know, on a dangerous experiment here. And we will see what happens.

BOLDUAN: Let's continue along the lines of kind of experiments in post-pandemic times. We have got news coming out on the cruise industry. A judge just ruled that the CDC cannot impose vaccination rules on cruise ships. This is something that the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, was leading the fight against. And what the CDC was 95 percent of crews and passengers to be vaccinated. The judge says that sailing orders like this on an industry are likely unconstitutional.

But what do you make - honestly, what do you make of all this being decided in a courtroom?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think that it is a political decision being made on something that is a health decision. That's what should make it. And, again, I think this is just, again, political theater and posturing.

You know, DeSantis -- it just seems to me that a state can't tell one industry that you cannot force people to be vaccinated to come in. And on the other hand, you know, a private industry has a right to say no shoes, you know, no shirt, no service. It is a private industry. And the cruise industry needs to realize that all it will take is one major outbreak in a ship, and their industry is going to be nose dive again.

So if the states are arguing, if the courts are arguing, it is going to be up to the individual, and certainly, if I were sailing or going on a cruise, I would not go unless I were vaccinated. I think this is a health issue and I think it should be decided by the organization that we have entrusted in this country, the Centers for Disease Control, on our health, and that's who I think should make the recommendation.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Rodriguez, thank you so much.

RODRIGUEZ: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a major test vote coming tomorrow on the Democrats' sweeping voting rights bill. But with Republicans united in their opposition, what is the path forward, really? A gut check on that is next.



BOLDUAN: So the clock really is ticking. I mean, after this week, the Senate is leaving town for two weeks and pretty much every major domestic priority for Joe Biden is still up in the air and effectively stalled. The key vote is expected tomorrow on the sweeping voting rights bill that Democrats have been pushing for and Republicans have now vowed to block. So where do things go?

Joining me now, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington, D.C. Congresswoman, Mitch McConnell said very clearly last week that he is opposed to the bill that passed the House and opposed to the proposed changes that Senator Joe Manchin is offering as he's presenting it as a compromise. Honestly, then, what is the path forward, do you think?

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), D.C. DELEGATE: Well, the Manchin compromise remains the best path forward. Of course, we need ten Republican senators but that bill have the support of seven-day companies' CEOs, and that should help us get closer to his compromise.

Now, his compromise, for example, does not allow same-day voting, no excuse voting, but look what his priorities are, and that's where I think we may be in trouble with Republicans.


He does not want, his bill would undo gerrymandering, partisan gerrymandering, and that is very current, because we're at a time when the states, in fact, decide where they stand, and we know there have been changes in the states that could induce some gerrymandering. His bill allows for an Election Day holiday. That would mean people could go to the polls on Election Day.

Now, he expands early voting, but only for 15 days. Again, he's trying to compromise. And he is saying that there will be automatic registration at your DMV, but not same-day. So he's against, by the way, no excuse absentee voting, which HR-1 proposes, and he is against public financing. So I don't know where we're going to go, but that is the bill that is being most seriously considered by the Senate at the moment.

BOLDUAN: Do you think anything -- do you have any indication in the next five days the dynamic as it stands right now is going to change?

NORTON: I don't see the changing happening, but the negotiation is happening. That's what gives me hope. My great -- the greatest problem we have now is that you have Republicans saying they don't support the Manchin compromise. So if you're asking me in the next five days, it seems to me we're stuck on stupid.

BOLDUAN: We're stuck somewhere, and I'll leave you to describe it as you just did. Congresswoman, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

NORTON: Always a pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Coming up next for us, the White House is about to slap Russia with new sanctions just days after that summit with Vladimir Putin. Details on the new targets, next.


[11:55:00] BOLDUAN: So just days after President Biden's first meeting, first face-to-face with Vladimir Putin, the White House says that it's getting ready to impose a new round of sanctions against Russia over the poisoning and arrest of Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny.

CNN's Kylie Atwood has new reporting on this. She is live from the State Department for us this hour. Kylie, what's the latest? What are you learning?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Kate, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said over the weekend the Biden administration is preparing additional sanctions on Russia for the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader.

Now, a senior administration official said that this is not tied to the summit last week between President Biden and President Putin, but still significant that the U.S. is doubling down on these sanctions. However, they are required by law. The deadline for the sanction passed a few weeks ago.

Now, Jake Sullivan, over the weekend, said that they are working to develop the right targets for these sanctions, and then they'll roll them out. Here is what he also said about how these sanctions are in line with the Biden administration's Russia policy.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case as well. We've shown all along the way that we're not going to pull our punches, whether it's on SolarWinds or election interference or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia's harmful activities.


ATWOOD: Now, Kate, it will be interesting to watch who is targeted in these sanctions. It's noteworthy that allies of Navalny himself have advocated for the U.S. and other countries to sanction oligarchs who are tied to Putin because they think those sanctions could have the most impact.

Now, last week after meeting with President Putin, President Biden said that if Navalny died in prison, there would be devastated consequences for Russia. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, the consequences would be devastating, he said, for Russia as he remains imprisoned. Kylie, thank you so much for that reporting.

There is also this, a tragic end to the search for a missing American student in Russia. The body of 34-year-old Katherine Sirow was found in a wooded area over the weekend. Investigators say that she was beaten, stabbed and killed by a stranger who just gave her a ride from a bus stop.

A suspect is under arrest now, charged with suspicion of committing murder. And the man has a prior criminal history.

And here is the very sad twist in this. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Sirow's mother said that she actually received a text message from her daughter on the day that she went missing and in that text message, she says that her daughter wrote the following. In a car with a stranger. I hope I'm not being abducted.

It's a very sad way to end today. Thank you all so much for joining me. Thank you for joining us At This Hour.


I'm Kate Bolduan. John King picks up our coverage right now with Inside Politics.