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The Lead with Jake Tapper
White House to Donate Millions of Unused Vaccines to Other Countries; Arizona Audit Observers Find Massive Security Problems; One-on-One with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs; Justice Department Opens Investigation into Trump-Appointed Postmaster General DeJoy; Trump Still Engrossed By Big Lie on Election Results; White House Pushes Companies to Take Cyberattack Threat More Seriously. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 03, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Back in March, the royal family said it was considering hiring a diversity chief but that has not happened as of yet. It sounds like they need to really fill that position.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yeah, watch this space.
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Some Americans need to be bribed with beer, but other nations -- well, they're desperate for the vaccine.
THE LEAD starts right now.
A proposal to try to help heal the world. President Biden announcing 80 million vaccines will be sent out of the United States to overseas. Who is going to get them, and how soon?
The sham recount going on by Trump supporters in Arizona. Even more of a cluster than we thought. Who is even looking at your ballot?
Arizona secretary of state will visit us to talk about the mess her team found.
Plus, Iranian war ships possibly full of weapons, seemingly headed for our hemisphere. Where could they be going? What is the Pentagon planning to do about it, if anything?
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we begin today with our health lead and the Biden administration's new plan to distribute 80 million vaccines worldwide by the end of the month. One source telling CNN this is expected to be a lengthy and complicated process. But so far, 25 million doses have already been allocated -- allocated though not yet delivered. The majority of the vaccines are going to be distributed through
COVAX, the World Health Organization vaccination effort. The U.S. is prioritizing Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia and Africa. The rest of the vaccines are going to toward regional partners such as Mexico, Canada and United Nation's frontline workers.
Here in the U.S., the president's top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that he's, quote, cautiously optimistic that children younger than 12 will be able to be vaccinated by this Thanksgiving, as CNN's Amara Walker now reports.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER ON COVID-19 TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The prognosis is good.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN America's battle against COVID-19 looks promising right now, but only if vaccinations continue at the same rate.
FAUCI: The one thing we want to make sure that we don't declare victory prematurely and feel that because things are going in the right direction that we don't have to keep vaccinating people.
WALKER: The pace of vaccination is slowing dramatically to an average of just over 1 million doses a day. Compare that to 3.3 million doses a day in April. New daily coronavirus can as are down by 94 percent compared to the peak of the pandemic.
But the CDC director says she's worried about a disturbing trend in hospitalizations among adolescence.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The level of severe disease even among youth that are preventable, that force us to redouble our motivation, to get our adolescents and young adults vaccinated.
WALKER: While Dr. Fauci says it's likely that children under 12 will have to wear masks in school next year, he's cautiously optimistic they will be eligible to be vaccinated by Thanksgiving.
FAUCI: We hope that as we approach the end of this calendar year, we'll have enough information to vaccinate children of any age.
WALKER: Meantime, cruise lines have started to announce sailing from U.S. ports, starting as early as late June and July. The CDC allowing sailings with 95 percent fully vaccinated passengers and crew. But cruise lines based in Florida are trying to figure out how the CDC rules will work with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' recent ban on vaccine passports, which prevents businesses from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Cruise ship outbreaks still remain a concern.
FAUCI: If you're on a boat with unvaccinated people and you have a person who is infected, we know from experience with cruise ships what can happen. WALKER: And in a bid to lead the world in ending the pandemic, the
Biden administration announced Thursday a plan to share at least 80 million coronavirus vaccines with the rest of the world by the end of June.
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Our goal in sharing our vaccines is in service of ending the pandemic globally.
WALKER (on camera): And, Jake, as you mentioned, 75 percent of those first 25 million donated doses will be shared through COVAX, global vaccination program. And 25 percent will be shared with countries that are experiencing surges, and that includes countries like Iraq, Ukraine and Haiti, and also the West Bank and Gaza.
I also want to mention, according to the latest CDC data, a total of 12 states have met the president's goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the U.S. adult population with at least one dose. Where we are here in Georgia, well, that is not the case just yet. In fact, we are here at a vaccination site in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta. You can see behind me it's pretty empty. It's been quite a slow afternoon -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Amara Walker, thanks so much for that report.
Let's bring in Dr. Michael Saag. He's a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Saag, thanks for joining us.
What do you make of this image? Some Americans, including in Alabama, where vaccine rates are low, have to be bribed with free perks, booze to get the vaccine, while other nations are struggling to provide shots to willing populations and begging the United States for help.
DR. MICHAEL SAAG, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Jake, it's really hard to understand for a lot of us. Many of us, myself included, we're right in the front of the line, clamoring to get the vaccine. And that continued through April, as your reporting showed. There's a group of people who are hesitant.
And I think these lotteries and the encouragement through these competition programs will get a lot of those folks to sign up. Why we need to go to that, I can't tell you. But I think this is a necessity. We need to get as many people vaccinated as we can. And we heard in Georgia, the numbers are low. Alabama is even worse than that.
So, whatever it takes to get people vaccinated, that's I think what we need to do.
TAPPER: I want to get to hesitancy in a second, because it's a real challenge here. But let's talk about the announcement that the Biden White House made. Eighty million vaccine doses sound like a lot maybe, but really, it's a drop in the bucket when you look at how many vaccines are needed worldwide. I mean, 80 million compared to 6 billion.
I mean, tell us what you think.
SAAG: Well, I agree with you. It's not going to be just the United States. This is going to really require a global effort. And Europe is still moving along. They're not quite fully vaccinated yet.
But countries like Mexico, South America, Africa, we're all going to have to roll up our sleeves and get had done because the adage in infectious diseases. This virus won't be going anywhere until it's gone everywhere. And we all need to roll up our sleeves and make that happen.
TAPPER: So, nearly 63 percent of American adults are vaccinated, with at least one shot. But the rates have been slowing over the past few weeks, as was predicted.
Do you think the U.S. is going to get to 70 percent of American adults with at least one shot in an arm by Biden's deadline, the Fourth of July?
SAAG: Well, the predictions are looking like we might get to 68, 69 percent as a group. What I'm worried about is states like Alabama, states like Georgia, Louisiana, Wyoming. Those states, my state, is lagging behind. And that is hard to explain because, to me, the fact that this vaccine worked is a true miracle.
We study religious pretext and context for most of our lives. And we never think a miracle will happen in our lifetime. I worked on AIDS research since 1985. We still don't have an AIDS vaccine.
And the thought that a vaccine could be developed and deployed within ten months that's remarkably effective and very safe, and people aren't sort of lining up to get that on their own is baffling to me. But that hesitancy exists. A lot of it is because of poor understanding by some people of the safety.
We have to keep talking about that. We have to get trusted voices to let them feel like they're part of the conversation. A lot of that can just be the primary provider, the initial physician who they usually work with. We've got to pull out all the stops to get people vaccinated or else we could go into the fall and be in some degree of trouble.
TAPPER: Do you have any data as to who the vaccine hesitant in Alabama are? Because that's a state that has a lot of Republicans, who have been reluctant statistically, to get vaccinated, especially Trump- supporting Republicans. And then also a lot of members of the black community have been suspicious of the medical community because of -- for good reason like the Tuskegee experiments and those heinous events.
So, who it needs to be focused on in Alabama? SAAG: I don't think we can put them into buckets of political
persuasion or otherwise. I think I can summarize it this way -- there's a group of people who are hesitant because they just don't know enough information and want to see others go first. I think they're lining up now.
There's another group who, as you allude to, don't trust the system. Don't trust the government. And that's where trusted voices can help.
There's a group, though, about 15 percent of people across the country, probably a little larger in Alabama, who just think this is a hoax. That this is not real, that these almost 600,000 people who have died is not truthful, that they didn't really die, that COVID is just sort of being promoted for political purposes.
And I don't think there's much hope for persuading them over time. But that other group that could get us to, say, 80 percent of vaccination, that's where we have to target and focus on right now. And it's different state to state, Jake.
TAPPER: And we've been watching people who are skeptical that the pandemic is real die one after another since last year. And you see it in obituaries. It's absolutely tragic that these people have been lied to by irresponsible politicians and people in the media.
Dr. Anthony Fauci today said that he is optimistic that children under 12 are going to be able to be vaccinated by Thanksgiving.
Do you agree?
SAAG: Yes, absolutely. The studies are under way right now. And just to review, for people to get a vaccine, you have to have the safety data. We hardly ever start with very young people. We'll do the 18 and older. Now we'll do 12 to 18.
And studies for the young, the very young are under way right now. It will probably be into September before those data are out. By that time, we'll know the dose, we'll know the safety. We'll know quite a bit about efficacy. That's when it's going to be released.
A lot of questions I get, Jake, are why do we need to vaccinate young people since they're not likely to get that sick and are not going to die? Is because they do transmit. They do get infected and they transmit.
We don't know how long our immunity is going to last, even for vaccinated. But especially for people who have the infection and think they're immune, that immunity wanes. So, it could be percolating in younger people, and coming back to the adults and especially grandparents. So, it's very important to get the young people vaccinated along with everyone else.
TAPPER: Right. Also, young people are not impervious. I mean, kids have died of COVID and kids have gotten very, very sick from COVID. Dr. Michael Saag, thank you so much.
TAPPER: Appreciate it, sir. Good to see you as always.
New details about that sham election audit in Arizona, which would be hilarious if they weren't so terrifying. The Arizona secretary of state joins me on that next.
And Democrats have accused him of trying to sabotage the election. And now new today, the FBI is investigating the Trump-appointed postmaster general.
TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead.
The bogus ballot audit in Arizona now plague with massive and alarming security issues -- security gates left unattended, confidential documents left out in the open, unidentified people rifling through thousands of military ballots and overseas ballots. Those are just some of the problems detailed by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has a team of observers on the ground in Maricopa County.
Secretary Hobbs joins us now live. But we should note, she is running as a Democrat to be Arizona's next governor. There's an open seat there.
Secretary Hobbs, let me start with this breaking story in the "National Review" where Charles Cook reports that President Trump truly believes and is telling people that this sham audit in Arizona and another one in Georgia will not only lead to him being reinstated as president which, of course, is not a thing, but also former Arizona Senator Martha McSally will be reinstated.
I know this is crazy. I know there's no base for it. But you're the secretary of state of Arizona. What are the chances that Arizona is going to flip to supporting Trump and McSally from last November's already certified election?
KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, there's literally no chance of that. And, you know, what Trump is saying now is not surprising. He has been saying for a while that Arizona is going to be the first domino to fall.
But the fact of the matter is, there are no dominos to fall. The results of the election are final. They were certified in November. Those certified results are an accurate reflection of the will of the Arizona voters and any period to bring forth evidence of fraud has been long passed. And, in fact, people tried to do that and there was no evidence.
And so this is just, you know, Trump trying to continue to perpetuate the big lie. And it is dangerous. We saw what happened on January 6th and his cult of followers believe that he's the rightful president and he's going to instigate another riot like that. It is very, very dangerous.
TAPPER: And I should note that last month, you started receiving protection from Arizona state troopers because of death threats you're getting about this audit.
Do you think that Trump putting that crap out there is putting your life at risk?
HOBBS: You know, certainly, I have felt at risk. My office has been threatened. My family, we had armed protesters outside of our house who felt entitled to be there because they -- because he's telling them that the election was stolen. It is not okay.
TAPPER: So let's talk about this fraudit going on, on the floor, where these very partisan election liars are counting votes. One of the security issues at the scene noted by somebody on your team saw people on the floor where these ballots were being counted using black and blue pens. So, this might seem minute to people but your office thinks this is serious.
Explain what's going on here.
HOBBS: If you go into any tabulation center in a county in Arizona, you will not find a black or blue pen anywhere because you cannot have that color ink around live ballots because it can potentially alter a ballot. It can be ready by the tabulator. And so, just to avoid any error, there's only red pens in those rooms.
And we alerted early on a list of security measures that we sent and said these should be followed when you're handling these ballots and equipment. The ink was an issue then. It was an issue that we brought up early on, when they had black and blue pens around live ballots and has continued to be an issue throughout this entire exercise.
And we have repeatedly said, you know, anyone who knows what they're doing around elections does not want to have a device that can mark a ballot in a way that can potentially alter that ballot. And they're continuing to ignore that and continuing to do this.
TAPPER: And we should note that not only has the Republican governor who has supported Trump, Doug Ducey, stood by the results that went to Biden and Maricopa County results which went to Biden but also, most of the election officials in Maricopa County are Republican and they have stood by the results and do not agree with this bogus audit.
The people running the audit, we should note, they're not government employees. So, they can come out. They can say whatever they want. They can claim they found mass massive voter fraud. They can check with black ink the ballots.
You've even suggested that you think they might cook the books. If they ultimately do that, how do you fight back?
HOBBS: Well, you know, we've been -- I'm grateful for the platform to talk about all of our concerns about this so-called audit because it's helped us highlight all of the lack of procedures, the lack of best practices, the lack of anything in place that will lend to the credibility of whatever results they produce because, you know, that information is important for people to know that this does not even closely resemble what you would see in a legitimate post-election audit that was trying to verify election results.
And we know that they are creating an atmosphere that is prime for cooking the books so that they can produce the result that they want to produce. And we're just going to continue to tell the truth about the election that we know it was fair and secure, and that voters made their choice, and the certified results are an accurate reflection of their will.
TAPPER: All right. Secretary of state of Arizona, Katie Hobbs, thank you so much and best of luck. I'm so sorry you're going through these death threats. Nobody should have to face that, Democratic, Republican, independent. No one should have to face that. Thanks for being with us.
HOBBS: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Breaking today, Trump donor and head of the U.S. Postal Service, Louis DeJoy, is under investigation. Why is he now under the Biden Justice Department's radar?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, the FBI is investigating campaign contributions made by the employees of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to Republican candidates. Now, DeJoy has been embroiled in controversy ever since he took office in May 2020. He gave $1.1 million to joint fundraising efforts for Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican Party.
And once he was in office, reduced overtime and put limits on mail trips for mail carriers which led to massive mail delays in the lead- up to the 2020 election when, of course, a record-breaking number of Americans were voting by mail because of the pandemic, disproportionately Democrats voting by mail. DeJoy was accused of trying to secretly sabotage the election.
CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us now.
Kristen, what do we know about these campaign contributions by his staffers and how unusual is that?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, if proven to be true, it will be highly unusual and, frankly, inappropriate. I mean, here's what we know so far. This appears to be following reports last fall that cited former employees of DeJoy's, most of them anonymously speaking that saying while working for DeJoy, they felt urged to and at times pressured donate to Republican candidates and those who did actually received money back in the form of bonuses.
Now, this is something that DeJoy vehemently denies. But here's a statement from his spokesperson said. It says: Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector. He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.
But, of course, one thing to note here is, of course, we know DeJoy is a big-time Republican donor. He was a Trump mega donor. He is a bundler, and so, all of this is highly suspect. And something we have been hearing about for a long time. Now, of course, we know it's under a formal investigation.
TAPPER: Is there any chance here that DeJoy would lose his position as postmaster general, which would be very difficult for him to be forced out?
HOLMES: Yeah, that's always the big question, Jake. Of course, we know people have been calling for his ouster now for roughly a year. The thing that's important to note is that the only people who can remove DeJoy from office are the board of governors, that Postal Service Board of Governors.
And for all the allegations through the election, we have heard from the board of governors saying they have full confidence in DeJoy. Right now, there's no indication that has shifted. Now, President Biden has added more people to the board of governors. However, in order to actually oust DeJoy, they have to get some of those Trump- appointed, Trump-nominated members to sign up for that. And again, there's no indication of that.
Now, the press secretary was asked whether or not Biden believed that DeJoy should be removed or replaced and unsurprisingly, she dodged the question, saying that he would like the investigation to just play out. But again, it is ultimately going to be up to that board of governors. We'll have to see where this investigation goes.
TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.
CNN's Abby Philip joins me now in studio.
And as Kristen just noted, Biden can't remove DeJoy. It's up to the board of governors. Now, Congressman Bill Pascrell, a Democrat of New Jersey, he wrote a letter to the three Biden appointees that he added to the board of governors, urging them to vote DeJoy out.
He said he's corrupt to the core, DeJoy, and that, quote, Mr. DeJoy's continued gross mismanagement, self-inflicted nationwide delays and mail delivery and rampant financial conflicts of interest justly warrant his expeditious removal so that the board may appoint in his place a qualified and competent postmaster general prepared to lead with bold solutions to save our post office.
You know, that's a Democrat congressman's letter. You know, it will have whatever impact it has. But there is this Justice Department appropriate probe.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, and depending how it turns out, I mean, there will be a lot of pressure for him to step down. Look, Democrats have been trying to push DeJoy out for a long time. These allegations have been out there since last summer.
So, a lot of this has been known, questions raised around political donations. And I don't necessarily see this changing the dynamic. I mean, one on tenets of, you know, Trumpism, and if you believe Louis DeJoy as a sort of Trumper -- I mean, he donated $1 million to him -- is that you don't back down, you don't step down, you don't give any quarter to these kinds of allegations. So, I wouldn't expect him to do that.
TAPPER: Let's change the subject. I want to get your take on Dana Bash's new reporting, that former President Trump is, quote, more obsessed than ever with the 2020 election, unquote, and is only listening to, quote, the bottom of the bottom of the crazies in the barrel, unquote, according to a former Trump aide. This is never going to end, is it?
PHILLIP: I mean, I feel like we've been -- we've been having some version of this reporting for four years. I mean, this is a president -- a former president who constantly is scraping from the bottom of the barrel in terms of the people he keeps around him, the conspiracy theories that he fosters, and his obsession with not losing or not being willing to accept his loss is a defining characteristic of who he is as a person.
So, no, it's not going to go away. In fact, it's only going to get worse. And the disturbing thing about this is that this is someone who is becoming even more unhinged and disturbed from reality, and this is the person who the Republican Party has decided is the leader of their party.
They can't even defend this stuff. They're just claiming they haven't heard about it. But the reality is he's living in an alternative universe when it comes to the 2020 legislation, and Republicans are just turning the other way, the Republicans in Washington, at least.
TAPPER: Yeah, and, I mean, with deadly results, the January 6th insurrection. We have seen threats. The secretary of state of Arizona was just here talking about the threats to her.
Trump is also spreading the lie he's going to be reinstated in office in August. Let me make it clear -- that's not going to happen. There's no such thing.
But according to Charles Cook, writing in "The National Review", quote, Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians and other influential figures to promulgate this belief not as a fundraising tool, or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact, unquote. So, I mean, speaking of facts, he's not going to be reinstated. And senator Purdue, is not going to be reinstated. Senator McSally is not going to be reinstated. It's all craziness. It's nuts.
But what's interesting about Charles' reporting is, this isn't a grift. He's actually lost his marbles. That's what he's saying.
PHILLIP: Basically. And the reason that, you know, Charles Cook wrote that in the "National Review" for those who are listening, it's a conservative publication is to alert conservatives to what is different about this. This is not just, you know, Trump being Trump, this is not just Trump trolling. This is Trump espousing beliefs that are anti-democratic in nature, and that's different.
He makes the point that that is a completely, you know -- a former president, a current president should believe in the tenets of democracy and the idea that one could be reinstated after losing a free and fair election is not in accordance with democracy. That's the point of this being kind of put out there for conservatives to read. But the question s are they listening?
And I think a lot of people really are not at this point. They think it's the same. This is different. He's disconnected from the reality of the situation.
TAPPER: Although we should note, Fox has let go people who push back on the lie, including one of the political directors and people at the decision desk.
PHILLIP: Yeah, they are part of that conspiracy. They're buying into it.
TAPPER: Fox is, yeah.
PHILLIP: And they will be responsible for the results.
TAPPER: Yeah, absolutely. Abby Phillip, thanks so much. Good to see you again.
Be sure to join Abby every Sunday morning for "INSIDE POLITICS". That's at 8:00 a.m. A great show with a great anchor.
TAPPER: The White House is now pushing companies to take threats more seriously before another vital industry goes offline.
TAPPER: In our tech lead today, growing concern that private companies are simply not doing enough to protect themselves and the country. In a rare open letter, the White House is pleading with business owners to ramp up their online defenses after ransomware hacks against Colonial Pipeline and JBS led to gas shortages and meat production plants being shut down.
Top White House cyber official Anne Neuberger warned, quote, all organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware regardless of size or location, unquote.
CNN's Alex Marquardt now examines the tough spot for the White House attempting to sway the behavior of private companies on a key issue the White House cannot directly regulate.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We can't do this alone. That's the message from the White House to private companies in the growing war against cyberattacks. A rare open letter first obtained by CNN was sent today by the top cyber official in the National Security Council, Anne Neuberger, to business leaders nationwide appealing for immediate action, saying: we urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and insure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat.
The government is limited in what it can force companies to do, while attackers only get more brazen.
JOHN HULTQUIST, MANDIANT THREAT INTELLIGENCE: They really are in an impossible position. I think the way we're going really get after this is to basically start focusing on these adversaries. The government is going to have to step up and find ways to put pressure on these criminals.
MARQUARDT: The Biden administration says it has told Moscow it expects the Russian government to crack down on cybercriminals operating inside Russia.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think there's an obligation on Russia's part to make sure that that doesn't continue.
MARQUARDT: This comes after the back-to-back Russian ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods which caused gas shortages and meat processing to shut down. It's not clear whether JBS paid a ransom while Colonial paid almost $4.5 million to get back online, something the administration discourages.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our focus is on the destruction of ransomware infrastructure and actors, including through close cooperation with the private sector, part of that communication, building an international coalition.
MARQUARDT: Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the string of recent Russian cyber attacks by both government and criminal hackers will be a topic at the president's summit in Geneva in two weeks. In the meantime, a White House official tells CNN they are looking at
ways to require stronger cyber security standards for those companies that operate critical infrastructure.
Today's White House memo suggests five fundamental things that companies can do immediately to shore up their defenses, as the threat from ransomware attackers is not only spiking but evolving, from trying to steal companies and organization's data to trying shut down their operations.
LIOR DIV, CEO, CYBEREASON: If they believe a company can pay and pay a lot, they become a target almost immediately. If they believe that this company don't have the right measures in place, they're going to go after them for sure.
MARQUARDT (on camera): In another sign that the Biden administration is taking this growing cyber threat serious seriously, just a short time ago, the Justice Department announced that it is going to be handling ransomware cases in a similar way as terrorism. That means when suspected ransom attacks arise, there will be more coordination inside the Justice Department, more information sharing, more resources dedicated to them. A new step by the Justice Department, Jake, that recognizes this growing and major threat.
TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thanks so much.
Joining us now to discuss, the president of CrowdStrike, former executive assistant director of the FBI, Shawn Henry.
Shawn, good to see you.
What's your reaction to the Justice Department saying that they're going to be handling ransomware attacks in the same as terrorism, as Alex just reported?
SHAWN HENRY, PRESIDENT, CROWDSTRIKE: First it's a good step. It's important for them to come up with a comprehensive plan. At the end of the day this is a human problem. There are human beings involved in these attacks. They're using the cyber vector as a way into these companies but there are people that are located around the world that are launching these types of efforts.
And unless we come up with stronger programs to deter them and take them off the playing field, these attacks will continue uninterrupted, Jake.
TAPPER: Sean, in their open letter, the White House is suggesting that companies take measures such as backing of data, using a third party to check their defenses, separate business function networks, production networks among other steps. A lot of this seems like private measures many other companies will be doing.
Do you think the White House needs to be going further in their recommendations? HENRY: Well, these are measures that had been in place as best
practices for more than a decade. You know, the government, first of all, let me say, I appreciate what they're doing. Them leaning forward, leaning in and trying to get the message out is critically important.
But we've seen dozens of government agencies that have been breached in the last year. So, clearly, telling companies that they've got to do better while it's important, it really requires a government to take additional actions. They've got to work collaboratively with foreign law enforcement agencies to take these people off the field, to use law enforcement efforts, intelligence agency efforts, economic sanctions to disrupt and deter these actors.
That's not going to happen in the short term because there are just too many of these actors. So, companies are going to have to better invest in their security. They are going to have to use better technology and be more proactive, testing their environment regularly.
The risk to these companies is just so high, the actors are so sophisticated that organizations that fail to do that are going to suffer, like some of the ones we've seen in the last few weeks, Jake.
TAPPER: We've heard Biden say that he does think that Vladimir Putin needs to be doing more, so many of these attacks coming out of Russia.
Do you think the Russian officials, the government actually knows who these individuals are and they're not doing anything about it? Or is it that they're in Russia, they're not bothering Russians per se, so they're just not looking into it?
HENRY: I think it's the latter. I would be very surprised if they didn't know who is doing it. And if they don't know, they certainly have the capability to find out.
So, you know, this is an important piece of this. Sometimes there is some overlap between these organized crime groups and nation states. I think it's also important to note that nation states are watching what these organized crime groups have done and have seen the impact on organizations. They've seen people standing in line for gas. They've seen people who aren't able to get hamburgers and the impact of cyberattacks.
They have that in the back of their head. They're going to use those opportunities down the road potentially against the U.S. Another reason we have to address this immediately, Jake.
TAPPER: We hear about the vague ransomware and cyberattacks that affect multinational companies but there are smaller incidents, too, that are just going after individuals. What should individuals do to protect themselves, besides the two-factor authorization type thing?
HENRY: Well, from an individual perspective, they're certainly not high on the target list, because the adversaries are looking for those organizations that have deep pockets and can pay millions of dollars in ransom. From an individual perspective, it is having multifactor authentication. It's being aware about fishing attacks, and not clicking on links that would expose you to malware being downloaded on your device.
But individuals are not high on the priority list. Absolutely major companies. But we are seeing the SMB, small and medium businesses being hit, municipalities, hospitals. There are thousands of these attacks that you don't hear about and these companies are absolutely suffering. In some cases, Jake, it's an existential threat to the organization.
TAPPER: CrowdStrike president, Shawn Henry, thanks so much for joining us, as always.
The Pentagon now sending a warning to Iran as a couple of Iranian war ships are moving closer to the Atlantic.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Our world lead now. The United States Pentagon is warning Iran not to engage in a, quote, provocative act, unquote. The warning comes as a couple of Iranian warships may be steering around the Cape of Good Hope into the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps, on their way to Venezuela.
Let's go to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, the U.S. is certainly sending the message, the Pentagon, that they think the Iranians are up to no good.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Jake.
The Pentagon is letting it be known it is watching these Iranian ships very closely. One of the ships is actually one of their biggest warships, a floating command base, if you will. And there's satellite imagery that now shows that ship has seven small attack craft on the deck. Those are the kind of little fast boats the Iranians have used for years to harass military shipping in the Persian Gulf.
This big Iranian ship carrying the little ships now, as you say, today making its way around the tip of Africa. The assessment is that the Iranians say, and they are right now being believed, that they're going to make their way to Venezuela.
That could be a big problem. Nobody knows if these -- this boat has the missiles, torpedoes, kinds of weapons that the Iranians use on these small attack boats, but it has the potential of putting that kind of Iranian weapons capability into this hemisphere, and that is something the Pentagon doesn't want to see. What they really want is for the Iranians to get the message, turn around, and go back home.
No indication right now that Iran is are going to do that, Jake. TAPPER: Barbara, you know, in a separate incident, but while we're on
the subject of the Iranian navy, one of Iran's largest warships, a different one obviously, caught fire and sank yesterday?
STARR: It did, in the Gulf of Oman, outside of the Persian Gulf. It was quite a fire that took some time to put out. There were a number of people on board. They were evacuated. There were, in fact, some injuries.
So, it raises once again the question, how did this happen? Was this an industrial or mechanical accident on board the ship?
Right now, U.S. officials are saying they see no evidence of foul play, of outside influences setting this ship on fire. But obviously, given past incidents, something they're going to watch, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.
Coming up, he's been nicknamed the prime minster of the United States because she's a vital swing vote right now. Will Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia save or sink Biden's infrastructure plan?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Ahead this hour, the vaccine has been remarkably effective in curbing the COVID pandemic, but doctors are finding a high vulnerable group of people might need a third shot in order to see the full benefits.
Capitol Hill police officers talking exclusively to CNN about the horrors of a January 6 insurrection, including one who was beaten with an American flag and thought he was going to be killed.
But first, the White House says it's getting close to put up or shut up time. A deadline is looming for Republicans to reach a deal with President Biden on his infrastructure proposal. Biden has come down on his price tag again in hopes of efforts to reach across the aisle on infrastructure are not ultimately a bridge to nowhere. Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying today she will not put a timeline on infrastructure negotiations.
But it's been clear for some time that Biden's team is running of patients, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg having told me, there needs to be a clear direction for talks by this Monday.
So, we will likely get a better idea tomorrow on whether there is any hope left or compromise, be one source saying tomorrow is when Republican senators are considering presenting the White House with a new counteroffer. Perhaps a final one -- as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.