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At This Hour

Trump Again Criticizes McConnell Over Debt Ceiling Deal; WHO Says, Climate Change Single Biggest Health Threat to Humanity; David Chappelle Faces Backlash Over Transphobic Jokes. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 11:30   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Now, according to a Senate report, Pittman said the department had intelligence that showed that they knew as early as December 21st that people were commenting on a blog about confronting lawmakers and bringing weapons to the rally at the Capitol on January 6th. She said that that information was shared with command staff.

The whistleblower says that is not true. Here's the quote from the letter, never shared it with the rest of the department, particularly those commanders with real operational experience. If provided, this information would have changed the paradigm of that day. A spokesman denied to Politico that Pittman lied to Congress, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Whitney, very serious allegations and there's a lot to parse through. What else did the whistleblower say?

WILD: Right. Well, it's a 16-page letter, as you point out, it's extremely detailed. Another one of the most significant allegations here is that once the fighting broke out, neither Pittman nor Gallagher took significant action. The whistleblower claims to have been inside the command center for some time on January 6th and said, here's another quote from the letter, what I observed was them mostly sitting there blankly looking at T.V. screens showing real-time footage of the officers and officials fighting for Congress.

A law enforcement source defended the two officials saying that they were focused on protecting lawmakers, they were doing their job, and pointed out that, in the end, not one member of Congress was hurt. Overall, the U.S. Capitol police executive team, which includes Yogananda Pittman and Sean Gallagher, told CNN a lot has changed since January 6th, a lot of the problems that were outlined in the letter were addressed and are continuing to be addressed under the new police chief, Tom Manger. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Our Whitney Wild from the nation's Capitol, thank you so much.

The big lie meantime continues to fester. The second highest ranking Republican in the House repeatedly refusing to answer whether he believed the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. Listen to this.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): At the end of the day, are we going to follow what the Constitution says or not? I hope we get back to what the Constitution says but, clearly, in a number of states, they didn't follow those legislative rules.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: So, you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: What I said is there are states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules. That's what the United States Constitution says.

WALLACE: Last time, I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not? I understand there were irregularities and things that need to be fixed. Do you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: And it's just not irregularities. It's states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they're supposed to follow.


SANCHEZ: Let's get some perspective now with CNN Political Commentator and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Good morning, Charlie, always great to get your thoughts on things.

As we watch Steve Scalise squirm out of repeatedly telling the truth, the fear of crossing Trump is evident. It's on his face. And it strikes me that he's someone who was the victim of political violence. He survived being shot by a crazed fanatic. Does he not appreciate the danger of peddling the big lie and not telling the truth?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me first say, Boris, Steve Scalise is a friend, but it was painful for me to watch that. It's also embarrassing that too many of the leaders in the House Republican Conference are afraid of a small segment of the population that refuses to deal in reality.

I suspect that he and the other leaders saw what happened to Liz Cheney when they pushed back on the big lie, when they spoke truth. You know, Liz Cheney was ejected from the leadership of the House Republican Conference. And I think this is all about fear. They see the treatment that Mitch McConnell gets for refusing to go along with Trump in the certification process of the election. McConnell, of course, voted to certify, and this is what happens and they're afraid.

They need to push back in larger numbers. I've been saying this for a long time. Silence and denial is not a response to what's happening in this country, particularly the former president.

SANCHEZ: So, let's listen to something the former president said during a rally in Iowa over the weekend about the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mitch McConnell didn't have the courage to challenge the election. He's only a leader because he raises a lot of money and he gives it to senators. That's the only thing he's got. That's his only form of leadership. He should have challenged the election.

This bill is a sinister combination of job killing, tax hikes and woke fascism that will destroy our nation. And to think that we had 11 Republicans go along with an extension headed up by Mitch McConnell, can you believe that? Mitch McConnell.


SANCHEZ: He's attacking McConnell for making a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which Trump effectively did multiple times during his administration.


But I'm curious, Charlie, from your perspective, with these attacks on McConnell being sharper than some of those Trump has launched in the past, does the threat of Trump factor into McConnell's decision-making at all? Should it be a concern for him?

DENT: Well, look, it was no shock that McConnell was attacked by Donald Trump. There's no question that McConnell has to be just livid with Donald Trump because Trump attacked -- he basically undermined the Senate Republicans in the Georgia runoffs back in 2020, back earlier this year. We saw what happened. Trump basically undermined. He took the legs out from under the Republican candidates down there, costing Senate Republicans the majority.

So, McConnell, you know, he has been very clear about where he stands with respect to Trump's election lie. He's right. And for the former president to stand up there and then condemn McConnell for acquiescing on the debt ceiling is, you know, hypocrisy on a Titanic level. I mean, the former president can't feel any shame. I mean, I voted for debt ceilings with Republican and Democratic presidents and to condemn Mitch McConnell for protecting the country from going into some kind of catastrophic economic situation is ridiculous that the former president would make these claims.

He stirs up people for no reason. He's pitting Americans against each other. And I seriously worry about further civil strife and potential violence because of this type of reckless, incendiary behavior by Donald Trump.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The fear is that January 6th was simply a prelude of what's come. I want to share with our viewers a poll from Iowa last month, Trump with a huge 91 percent approval rating in the state. Of course he's not actually governing but it shows that he doesn't have much competition when it comes to Republicans in Iowa, obviously, that could be a state critical in 2024. In your mind, is there anybody who would be able to stand up and challenge him in a primary race? DENT: Well, at this point, it doesn't look very promising. And I've said for some time that silence among elected Republican leaders has not been a way to deal with Donald Trump. That has not worked. And that has always been the answer. Until more of these leaders, particularly those who are thinking of running for president, stand up and take him on.

When you're running for president in a primary, they're going to have to tear the bark off of Donald Trump if they want to beat him. They're not just simply going to be able to agree with him. That's what too many of them did last time hoping that he would collapse.

So, bottom line is Trump is in a commanding position to win re- nomination unless some people are going to stand up and actually fight. And it's going to take a lot of people using -- raising their voices. It just can't be a handful like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and a few others. We need a stronger movement than we have now. That's the only way we're going to be able to defeat him.

SANCHEZ: And with so many officials at the local level, electoral officials being replaced with people that believe the big lie and push it forward, you have to wonder what's to come in 2024, if there is a contested election. Former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, thanks so much for the time.

DENT: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, the World Health Organization imploring world leaders to address what they call the single biggest health threat to humanity. We'll tell you what it is and what they're calling for, next.



SANCHEZ: The World Health Organization is urging governments to act with urgency over what it calls the single biggest health threat facing humanity, climate change. In a new report, the WHO recommends ten actions to combat the current climate and health crises.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard joins us with the details on this report. Jacqueline, walk us through what it says.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Boris, first, you know, I have to say this is one of the most urgent calls for action that we've heard from the World Health Organization so far when it comes to climate change.

And what this report says, it outlines ten recommendations for governments to follow not to just curb climate change but to really address the health consequences of climate change. Some actions include committing to agree to a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, making health and social justice center of U.N. climate talks, transitioning to renewable energy, as well as protecting and restoring nature and promoting sustainable food production. So, you see the list there. This report gives several recommendations and also the World Health Organization's director general writes this in the report, quote, the health arguments for rapid climate action have never been clearer. I hope this report can guide policymakers and practitioners from across sectors an across the world to implement the transformative changes needed. Let's get to work.

And, of course, Boris, the United Nations Climate Change Conference is later this month and we'll be keeping an eye on the work being discussed there and the work being done.



SANCHEZ: Yes. Notable that even amid a global pandemic, they say climate change is the biggest threat to humanity.

HOWARD: Exactly. Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, Comedian Dave Chappelle under fire for anti- transgender jokes in a new Netflix special. A member of the trans community reacts to the latest controversy in just a few minutes. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: Now to a controversy involving one of the biggest comics in America. Dave Chappelle is facing backlash for, once again, making insulting and insensitive jokes about transgender people in a Netflix special. Listen.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Cancel J.K. Rowling, my God, J.K. Rowling, with all of the Harry Potter books by herself. She sold so many books, the bible worries about them.


And they canceled her because she said in an interview, and it's not exactly what she said but, effectively, she said, gender was a fact. And then the trans community got mad (BLEEP) they started coming her a TERF. It stands for transexclusionary radical gender feminist.

I'm Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.


SANCHEZ: Chappelle reveled in the latest firestorm in live shows over the weekend reportedly suggesting that he wants to cancel cancel culture.

We should note that today is National Coming Out Day. In a statement, President Biden says, quote, I want every member of the LBGTQ+ community to know that you're loved and accepted just the way you are, regardless of whether or not you've come out.

Joining us now is Lina Bradford. She's a transgender D.J. and actress. And, Lina, we're grateful to have you this morning.

In a video you posted on Instagram, you said, quote, shame on Netflix. We asked the company for a statement about the controversy and a spokesman said they -- they don't have any comment. What do you want to tell them or what do you want them to do?

LINA BRADFORD, TRANSGENDER D.J. AND ACTRESS: Well, first of all, good morning, Boris, nice to speak with you this same morning on National Coming Out Day, how a pro (ph). Well, you know, Netflix, it's interesting that they have no comment, when, you know, it's certainly okay for them to accept gay coin and have gay content and yet not be accountable for this display that we're seeing. I mean, they knew what the cut was before this even went to play this. So, this isn't. This wasn't just something that was happening. They had to see all of this beforehand.

So, that's just one clip that you could show because there's so many that are just so harmful, and it's just like especially as a black man, you know, we have to really kind of be a united front when we have everybody else coming at us. So, why does it have to continue to be in your dialogue to not only rip in but it's harmful what you do, your words. They -- they have accountability.

Like, for instance, a Caucasian comment -- comedian, you know, who would constantly be speaking about derogatory things about Afro- American people. You know, it's really (INAUDIBLE) like that. It's kind of back and forth and you've got to be thoughtful of those things. Trust me. I'm a goofball all day. I love foolishness and there's a point and especially where we're living today, you've got to keep cute and put it on mute when it comes time to stuff like that.

SANCHEZ: Lina, he does argue in his special that if his content offends, you don't have to watch it. And I've also heard the argument that we shouldn't look to comedians for morality, somebody whose job it is to incite an emotional response. What do you make of those arguments?

BRADFORD: I 100 percent agree to a certain extent. What I do have a problem is that because we're speaking about Netflix, you know, when there is content of, you know, the LBGTQ+ community, you have to take that into accountability. Listen, we don't need everybody to be on the same page, but at the end of the day, we kind of do need the respect. And the respect that is not there you can't expect to have that brought back to you if you're not giving it to other people.

Like I said, comedians do have a certain pass in a sense but not when it becomes harmful and to also to have a whole real of people applauding this tomfoolery, like the show wasn't even funny. Sorry.

SANCHEZ: Let's talk about the data and the harm that you're noting, because the National Black Justice Coalition says that this year is, quote, on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States and the majority of whom are black transgender people. What do you think needs to be done to address that?

BRADFORD: Well, Boris, I mean, you just kind of brought it down in that sentence. You know, when you have a black man speaking on, you know, trans life that, you know, you really don't know too much about but yet you seem to have a lot to say about it, you know, whether it's funny or not, it becomes harmful. And that's when, you know, your accountability for your art has to be placed into question. That's where Netflix has to have a comment.

So, you know, people just -- like you said, look into where it is that you're getting your content from, don't go to comedians and maybe not give your money to a conglomerate that is very insensitive to a community, but yet okay to take that coin.

SANCHEZ: And, notably, there are several Netflix-affiliated artists that have now boycotted the company over their tacit endorsement of Dave Chappelle.

Lina Bradford, we have to leave the conversation there. I appreciate you sharing some time with us.

BRADFORD: My pleasure. Have a good day, Boris.

SANCHEZ: You do the same.

And thank you so much for joining us today.


Kate Bolduan is back tomorrow. And don't go anywhere because Inside Politics with John King starts after a short break. Stay with CNN.



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