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At This Hour

Far-Right Extremists Plan D.C. Rally in Support on Insurrectionists; Taliban Announce New Government for Afghanistan; Human Rights Campaign President Fired after Advising Cuomo. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 07, 2021 - 11:30   ET



ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the number of lawsuits from organizations, like the ACLU and the League of United Latin American Citizens, have already started piling up, even before the bill has been signed, which is expected to happen in about 30 minutes.

But this elections bill does a number of things. Here is just kind of a brief look at what it does. It would restrict early voting hours from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. It blocks counties from sending unsolicited mail-in voting applications for voters. It also increases protections for partisan poll watchers and what they're allowed to do inside election areas and set new limits on people who help voters.

So, that's just a synopsis of what this bill does. And critics say it is one of the most restrictive election bills in the country. Republicans say it is about preserving voter integrity. Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Ed Lavendera from Dallas, thank you so much.

From one controversial Texas law to another, a bill limiting access to abortion in that state now facing legal challenges. The Justice Department says it is exploring all options to protect women seeking to have an abortion after the state moved to ban most abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the Texas abortion ban.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is live in Washington with more. Jessica, the concern here is that women seeking abortions could face intimidation, both physically and legally. What is the Department of Justice looking at potentially to prevent that from happening?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So that is one of the concerns here, Boris. So, the attorney general's approach is two- fold. So, first, the DOJ is working to find a way to directly challenge this Texas law that effectively bans abortions at six weeks. But what is making it difficult for the DOJ and others who are looking to challenge this is that the way to actually find a legally viable way to challenge it since it is actually -- they have to wait until a lot of these challengers file lawsuits. So, that is the first obstacle. Secondly, the attorney general has said they're threatening criminal and civil enforcement of this based on the Face Act. Now, this is an act that was passed in the 1990s that actually makes it a criminal act to use force or intimidation to stop women from getting abortions. So the attorney general, Merrick Garland, putting it this way, saying, the department will provide support for federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is under attack. We have reached out to U.S. attorney's offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities.

But, really, the fact is here that most clinics aren't operating in the Texas because the threat of these lawsuits is just too great. So, that is the stance from the DOJ. But, Boris, House Democrats, they issued a letter this morning urging the DOJ to criminally pursue any of these so-called vigilantes who actually might look to sue providers and others who assist women in abortions. We haven't seen lawsuits yet but that is what DOJ and the others will be on the lookout for. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot of moving parts to this story. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much for the update.

We are following another story at the state level that could have huge national implications. In California, just one week from today, voters are going to decide if they want to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office. The White House announced just a short time ago that President Biden is going to visit California to campaign with Newsom early next week. The vice president, Kamala Harris has already campaigned with Newsom and she's planning to be in the Bay Area again tomorrow.

CNN's Dan Merica is live in Los Angeles with more. Dan, this just speaks to the urgency that Democrats are feeling in trying to keep Newsom in office.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely. And this is a turnout operation now for Democrats. This is a two-to-one Democrat to Republican state. Obviously, Newsom won easily a few years ago. Donald Trump lost this state by about 30 points, so it is blue bastion, as it's well known.

But for Democrats, the key is making sure that voters know the recall is happening, and that means going to doors, calling people, texting people. It is all going to be critical to Newsom avoiding being recalled. And that is why he is leaning so hard on labor. During Labor Day, he rallied with a number of groups, groups that are knocking on tens of thousands of doors up until the recall.

Take a listen to why he said labor is so critical to this turnout operation.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It is about energy. It is about boots on the ground, door-knocking, it is text messaging. It's just really about turnout. Labor knows how to turn out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MERICA: This race has been nationalized though both by Newsom, who you note, Kamala Harris coming tomorrow, President Biden expected to come next week. Elizabeth Warren was here. Amy Klobuchar was here, but also Larry Elder, who is actually going to be holding an event behind me, a press conference about businesses leaving California. He has also nationalized this race and is expected to continue to do so as he campaign to oust Governor Newsom.



SANCHEZ: An all-hands-on-deck approach for Democrats as Larry Elder try to unseat Gavin Newsom. Dan Merica from Los Angeles, thank you so much for that.

Months after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a rally is now planned in Washington in support of the insurrectionists. Why the city's former police chief says he worries about this rally more than he does about any attacks on the anniversary of September 11th. He joins us live after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: We are following breaking news as President Biden has landed in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, the president touring the northeast today looking at areas in New Jersey and New York that were affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The president will now be receiving a briefing from local officials there before visiting a nearby area that was flooded out. Later in the day he heads to Queens, New York, where we're expecting the president to deliver some remarks not only on the recovery but on what this specific incident means more broadly for the country addressing climate change and a need for a change in infrastructure. We're going to be following that and bringing you updates as we see Governor Phil Murphy greeting Joe Biden. We'll keep updating you on the president's visit as we watch.

We should also update you on the fact that far-right extremist groups are planning a rally in Washington on September 18th in support of those charged with storming the Capitol. A former top FBI official is warning that law enforcement needs to prepare for the potential of more violence.


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think they should take it very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on January 5th.

I think there is a few factors here that maybe are leaning in their favor this time. If you think about it, January 6th was a failure primarily because you had a massive group of people and a complete failure of preparation. In this case, it looks likely that they'll get a somewhat smaller crowd with things like the Proud Boys telling some of their members not to come, you don't have a sitting president actively fanning the flames.


SANCHEZ: Let's go to CNN's Josh Campbell. He's live in Washington with more. Josh, what are federal officials and local officials doing to prepare for this rally?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. Law enforcement officials are steeling themselves ahead of this planned September 18th rally in Washington entitled, justice for J-6. The rally is being organized by a Trump campaign staffers and aims to support insurrectionists who were charged in the January 6th Capitol attack.

Now, supporters of the insurrectionists have referred to them as political prisoners. But, of course, we know these criminal cases actually began under the Trump Justice Department and continue now under the Biden administration as well as an FBI director appointed by Donald Trump.

Now, the concern among members of law enforcement is that we could see clashes between protesters and police on September 18th. Sources tell CNN the D.C. Metro Police will be fully activated, canceling days off, putting their civil disturbance units on standby. The Capitol Police would not detail what specific security protocols they will have in place but the agency's chief did tell us in a statement, I'll read part of it, we are closely monitoring September 18th and we are planning accordingly after January 6. We made department-wide changes to the way we gather and share intelligence internally and externally. I'm confident the work we're doing now will make sure the officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.

Of course, Boris, what they're trying to prevent is a repeat of January 6. They don't want to see those clashes between protesters and police. But, nevertheless, they are preparing themselves for that eventuality.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Josh, it is just ridiculous that these insurrectionists are being hailed as heroes when they were people that were deceived into violence by the former president. Josh Campbell in Washington, thank you so much.


SANCHEZ: Joining us now to discuss this September 18th rally is CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey. He's actually the former chief of the Washington's Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Ramsey, thanks for joining us today.

You said that you are more concerned about this rally than you are about any potential attacks on the anniversary of September 11th. Help us understand why.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I am. You know, September 11th, this is the 20th anniversary, and I'm not taking that lightly. Obviously, everyone needs to be on high alert, as they always are, with the anniversary of September 11th.

But September 18th, these extreme right-wing groups that will be assembling again in Washington, very similar to what they did on January 6, and we saw what they were able to do on January 6, I think that the potential for something to occur not just in Washington, because, remember, Washington, I think, will be okay, because Tom Manger, who is the chief for the Capitol Police, someone I've known for 20 years, one of the very best in the business, believe me, they will be well prepared. But the more you harden one target, the more another target somewhere else looks off.

And I think federal buildings around the country need to be aware of these extremists and the potential for them to take some action against some federal facility on September 18th.


That is my biggest concern, my biggest fear.

SANCHEZ: And, Chief, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, has been clear that the attack on January 6th was domestic terror and that is a threat that is ongoing. I want you to listen to some of his testimony to Congress back in March. Here it is.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Unfortunately, as you noted, Mr. Chairman, January 6th was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it is not going away any time soon.


SANCHEZ: Chief, how would you rate the way that law enforcement has taken this threat into account? Are they taking it seriously enough?

RAMSEY: I think they're taking it seriously now. I think prior to January 6, maybe not so much, because this is new. I mean, this level of domestic terrorism, what happened on January 6 is relatively new for all of us in law enforcement. We think of terrorism, we always think of something overseas, Al Qaeda, ISIS, groups like that. But they're right here in the United States. Our own folks, homegrown, that are causing the problems.

And remember on January 6, you had pipe bombs that were recovered at both the RNC and the DNC. I don't believe that suspect has been identified. I mean, you have got a lot of people with extreme views and they do look at the people who were arrested, the insurrectionists that were arrested on January 6 as somehow being martyrs, which is crazy in itself, in my opinion. But that is the driving force behind some of the actions in some of these more extreme groups. I'm concerned about it and I think that everyone needs to take this seriously whether you're in Washington or not. Law enforcement needs to take it very seriously and really provide some added protection. SANCHEZ: And it is just despicable that there are lawmakers out there who will not acknowledge that the root of this violence is the lie that the former president continues spewing about there being fraud in the last election. Chief Ramsey, we have to leave conversation there. Thank you so much for the time.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course. Coming up, the Taliban announcing a new Afghan government. We have breaking details on that in just a few moments. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: We're following breaking news right now. The Taliban have just announced a new government for Afghanistan. It comes one week after the U.S. completed its withdrawal from that country.

Let's get straight to CNN's Sam Kiley. He's live in Doha, Qatar with the breaking details. Sam, what can you tell us about this new government?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, the short answer is that it's a hardline, non-inclusive, all-Taliban government led by Prime Minister Mullah Akhund. He is a member of the Shura Council -- he's the leader of the Shura Council. That's the kind of principal political decision-making body of the Taliban. His deputy, Mullah Baradar, is a former negotiator here in Doha, seen as a slightly softer line character.

But it is the positions of the defense and interior ministries that a real indicator of what direction this government is going to take in terms of the interior ministry. That's gone to Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is a -- yes, a senior member of the Taliban, but also a very senior member of the Haqqani Network, historically a network that has connections to Al Qaeda. It's also the dominant force within the Taliban in the area around Kandahar and out to the east, and, of course, Mullah Omar, the founding father of the Taliban's son, Yaqoob, is the defense minister, both of them real hardliners. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Important to point out that many of these new leaders are under sanction by the United States. Sam Kiley in Doha, Qatar, thank you so much.

Developing this morning, a former aide to former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been fired over helping the former governor amid sexual allegations. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ rights group, terminated its president over his involvement in advising Cuomo during the scandal that forced the former governor out of office.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now live with more. And, Brynn, the now former president of the Human Rights Campaign is vowing legal action over his firing. BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very public spat that is going on right now, Boris, and his name is Alphonso David, and he once was actually a lawyer for Cuomo many years ago. But if you look at that New York attorney general's report that was released last month, it says he's advising the former governor when all these allegations of sexual harassment were piling up against him. More specifically, it says that he was actually able to get his hands on the very confidential personnel records and employment history of Lindsey Boylan, who was the first woman to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against the governor.

And now we've learned from sources in the HRC that the board met last night. They voted to terminate Alphonso David's contract as president. And as I said, there has been now since this very public spat going on between David and HRC. I want to read briefly some of the things he has been saying on Twitter, among many accusations he's making against the organization. But he says, quote, as a black gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up.


Expect a legal challenge. As you said, so we may be seeing that soon down the pipeline.

But, of course, this is just another fallout from all of that really scathing New York attorney general's report. We saw the Time's Up CEO resign. Of course, the governor has left his post. So, we'll have to see what happens in the near future when it comes to Mr. Alphonso David. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes, widespread fallout. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much for that report.

And thank you so much for joining me the past couple of days. Kate is back tomorrow.

Don't go anywhere because Inside Politics with John King starts after a quick break.


JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, everybody. Welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.


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