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The Lead with Jake Tapper

FBI Director Compares Threat of Ransomware Attacks to 9/11; W.H.: Latest GOP Infrastructure Offer is $50 Billion Higher but "Did not Meet" Biden's Objectives; Former Trump W.H. Counsel Don McGahn Testifies on Capitol Hill; Rep. Madeleine Dean, (D-PA), is Interviewed about Don McGahn; Protests & Political Rage; Detained Journalist Appears on Belarus State TV; Video Shows Bruises, Injuries On His Hands & Wrists; Trump Suspended From Facebook Until At Least 2023. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 04, 2021 - 17:00   ET




JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ransomware locks up computer files and hackers demand payment to release the files.

JOHN CARLIN, PRINCIPAL ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: A study of cryptocurrency payments using similar techniques that will just distract you show a 300 percent increase in rents and payments over the prior year.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ransomware attacks have impacted everything from the gas pipeline operated by Colonial that led to gas shortages all along the East Coast to meat production plants being shut down. And even individual healthcare networks whose computer systems have been shut down sporadically across the country and the world.

JOHN HULTQUIST, DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, FIREEYE: Before long, we are worried that some people will get hurt especially when we consider all these incidents that are affecting health care. Ireland's health care system went down.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Department of Justice signaling this week it plans to coordinate its cyber investigations the same way it treats terrorism cases by sharing information and interagency coordination. Former FBI cyber official Shawn Henry says it's going to take an international effort.

SHAWN HENRY, PRESIDENT, CROWDSTRIKE: They've got to work collaboratively with foreign law enforcement agencies to take these people off the field.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The massive threat from cyberattacks have been looming for years. Former director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, warned about the threat three years ago.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The White House this week's and business leaders nationwide, a letter appealing for immediate action saying, "We urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat."


SCHNEIDER: And the FBI Director also called out Russia in that interview for knowingly harboring cyber attackers. But President Vladimir Putin today calling that nonsense. Calling it nonsense that Russia was ever involved in any cyberattacks.

President Joe Biden will get the chance to confront Putin at a summit in Switzerland later this month. And, Jake, the White House is saying that when they do have that confrontation, that President Joe Biden will address these increased cyberattacks, a lot of them that have been emanating from Russia.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this with John Negroponte. He's the first director of National Intelligence for President George W. Bush in 2005. He's also served in as ambassador too, to many countries for me to name right now.

Mr. Ambassador, the back-to-back cyberattacks on JBS foods and Colonial Pipeline are highlighting how this isn't just theoretical, this impacts every day Americans and could do so even -- in an even worse way. Tell the public what is at stake here?

JOHN NEGROPONTE, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE UNDER PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I agree very much with the FBI Director when he says that this was comparable, or possibly even considerably worse, in the long run over then 9/11 in the sense that the reach of these attacks can be global in nature. They don't take necessarily quite as much preparation as something like 9/11, which was in the works for years and took meticulous planning by a small group of terrorists. And they can hit economies across the board as has been mentioned, whether it's energy, healthcare, airline scheduling, ticket sales, you name it. So, I think the impact if it is not dealt with, and measures are taken, further measures, could be catastrophic to our economy, as well as others.

TAPPER: So, when you agree with the FBI Director Wray, who talks about this in the context of 9/11, I know you're not talking about the loss of life, almost 3,000 lives that day lost because of the terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda. But it is potentially something that could cost lives, right?

NEGROPONTE: Absolutely, no, and I certainly don't want to, in any way, minimize the tremendous costs that we suffered back on 9/11 in 2001. But just like you mentioned, an attack on a health care system, network of hospitals, for example, or, you know, other such facilities. Shutting down the energy supply, let's say, of the entire East Coast of the United States. You know, what could be the health impacts of something like that they could be enormous.

TAPPER: In 2010 on a different network, I was interviewing then CIA director, Leon Panetta, and I asked him, what keeps him up at night? Here's part of his answer. Take a listen.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The whole area of cyber security, we are now in a world in which cyber warfare is very real. It could threaten our grid system, it could threaten our financial system, it could paralyze this country.


TAPPER: That was 11 years ago. I guess a larger question, why is the U.S. government not better prepared?

NEGROPONTE: Well, of course, you know, number one, it's got capabilities have increased all around, it's gotten worse and the scope has gotten larger. I think the attack on Colonial energy was a real warning signal on JBS to some extent. But I think the attack on the energy company was really a warning. And I think that now we've really got to get serious.


I think the President's executive order is excellent. I think that portends some additional legislation that is needed in the future. And I think we have an excellent new cyber security coordinator in the White House, Miss Anne Neuberger, who is already, you know, made a lot of sense out there in her public commentary. And she talked yesterday about how we got to improve our cyber hygiene.

I mean, the analogy with treating viruses is kind of striking. I mean, you got to both improve the hygiene in your practices, whether it's having backup systems or checking on your security operations or having public private partnerships. And then you've got to deal with improving prevention of various costs. And that too, may ultimately require more legislation.

I think there's been a reluctance to move because I think the private sector has resisted being compelled to cooperate in certain areas. And I think ultimately, there is going to have to be legislation. And some measures are going to have to be determined by law, obviously, in consultation with all elements of our society. But I think we probably need more law and regulation in this sphere.

TAPPER: Like what? What's a regulation that you think, I mean, not paying -- not telling companies not to pay the ransom when there's -- when they're hit with a ransomware?

NEGROPONTE: No, I wasn't taking so much of that, as I was thinking we have obligatory standards, for example, or compulsory reporting of cyber incidents, the minute they occur to some centralized repository or authority for that kind of information. In other words, you can't -- you can't make that kind of thing optional. Up until now, companies were sometimes resisting reporting or concealing the fact of incidents, because they felt it involved a reputational risk that if the word got out that they'd been hacked, their stock might fall on the stock exchange.

I think we've got to agree as a society on certain minimum precautions and security measures that are going to have to be taken and established in order to protect this very infrastructure that we're so concerned about. And it's very public private cooperation is important because 85 percent of the country's infrastructure is owned by the private sector.

TAPPER: Exactly. Exactly. Former ambassador --

NEGROPONTE: And it's only the government that can pass the laws.

TAPPER: Right.

NEGROPONTE: So there we are.

TAPPER: Former Ambassador John Negroponte, thank you so much, really appreciate your time and expertise today.

NEGROPONTE: Thank you.

TAPPER: President Biden a short time ago wrap the call with the GOP point person on infrastructure talks. Are negotiations still alive?

And one of the hottest items during the pandemic, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer. Nope. How about guns? Why are a record number of Americans arming themselves? Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our politics lead, we are getting brand new details about today's crucial meeting between President Biden and the Republican Party's top negotiator on infrastructure, that's Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. We're covering this from both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill, but we're going to start with CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

Kaitlan, the White House is saying that there was a new counteroffer from Senate Republicans today.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And it doesn't sound like it was received well by the President during this call, Jake. This readout that we just got from the White House is a little bit more detailed than the one we got from Senator Capito, who was of course, the Republican's top negotiator. And instead, the White House's that during that call today, Senator Capito, offered to come up about $50 billion in the Republican offer on infrastructure. That's, of course, compared to what the President's plan is, his latest offer was about a trillion dollars in new spending. The previous Republican offer had been about 260 billion in new spending. So still, very far apart on the spending there. And it doesn't appear that the White House took this to well, Jake, because in this readout the White House says, the President expressed his gratitude for her effort and goodwill but also indicated the current offer did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis and create new jobs.

And he indicated to Senator Capito that he would continue working with both Republicans and Democrats. But basically, is saying he's going to meet with other Republicans on their ideas for infrastructure, Jake.

So, just sum it up pretty shortly. It's a White House readout saying thanks, but no thanks to this latest offer from Senator Capito, given it was only coming up about $50 billion in funding.

TAPPER: Right. And we've heard from the administration before that Monday is pretty much the deadline of when they need to just make a decision to fish or cut bait. Manu, what's the thinking on Capitol Hill today?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to shift the center of universe about these infrastructure negotiations, which had been for weeks between Shelley Moore Capito, this group of Republicans she took the lead and the White House. And now they're going to be other members who will try -- will try to get involved, try to get engaged and try to see if there's a deal that can be reached with the White House.

There had been another group of a bipartisan group of senators who have been trying to come up with their own proposal. That's includes Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Democrat, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, among others, had been trying to come up with some sort of alternative plans of can they become the new negotiating partners with the White House and can they ultimately reach a deal. And then ultimately, there'll be decision by Democrats is, if there is no bipartisan path forward, can they go it alone?

To do that, they got to get all 50 Democrats on their side in the Senate to do to go ahead and use a procedure to essentially circumvent Republican filibuster. But Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat told me yesterday he is just simply not there yet and saying Democrats should go it alone. So, expect these bipartisan talks in some form to continue.


But Jake, at the same time in the House, a major surface transportation package will move next week, $547 billion will be a chunk of the Biden administration's plan. But can they move that, and can they get closer to the $2 trillion he initially proposed? That's going to be the huge question going forward.

TAPPER: Kaitlan, what does the White House do next? I mean, I guess Republicans made the most recent counteroffer. Did they want another Republican counteroffer? Are they going to make a counteroffer?

COLLINS: I don't think they're going to be making a counteroffer. Based on this readout to Senator Capito since basically they're saying they don't like her latest proposal, it didn't come up high enough to meet President Biden standards or for them to continue negotiating between the two of them, because remember, they had been meeting one on one.

And the indication from this readout and from what Jen Psaki told reporters earlier during the briefing is they're going to talk to those other Republicans who were bringing something forward. Senator Mitt Romney, Tester, Manchin, all of these other Republicans who basically had been coming up with a plan B in case these talks between the White House and Capito had failed. They said that was going to be something that they would explore, and that the President wants to continue talking to Republicans on this.

But how much longer those talks are going to go on, given they were already under intense pressure from some Democrats to basically move on from these negotiations. That really remains to be seen, because the other person that President Biden talked to is one of the top Democrats who is working on the markups of this bill. That starts next week, so that is a deadline the White House says they have in the back of their mind.

TAPPER: So, Manu, so much of this and whether or not Democrats can even go it alone depends on whether or not they're going to be able to get Joe Manchin of West Virginia Democrat, and Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat of Arizona, on board. Manchin and Sinema have made it very clear they would like a bipartisan bill. So, it's kind of almost as if they -- I mean, they're -- I don't want to say this is performative, because I think the negotiations are legitimate. But there's a question here as to whether or not the White House is going to be able to convince Manchin that they've really tried, they've really tried.

So, where do Sinema and Manchin come down then ultimately if this all breaks down? Do they go along with Democrats and say, OK, we'll pass this, even though it's not bipartisan?

RAJU: And just talking to Joe Manchin yesterday, he made pretty clear he's not ready to go at that -- at that point. He's still think there's still -- there's still negotiations that could be had, including the one that he is trying to work on right now, his own proposal. So, expect him to try to push to see if they can exhaust that effort before deciding whether he can agree with the strategy to go it alone.

But Jake, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has circled July is when he wants to move forward on some sort of infrastructure package in the Senate before their August recess. And Nancy Pelosi wants to get something done out of the House by July 4. So time is ticking, Democratic leaders need to make a decision and they need to get their caucus in line. Jake.

TAPPER: Yes. Manu Raju and Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with our august panel, Ryan Lizza joins us. Good to see you in person.


TAPPER: First time in 15 months.

Abby, so the White House says a new Republican offer is about $50 billion than -- higher than what the Republican Party was proposing but, "did not meet Biden's objectives." They both plan on talking again on Monday, Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Capito, do you think it's over?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's probably still more time. And the fact that they're going to talk again is a sign that it's clearly not over today. But as Kaitlan, indicated that golf is huge.

And it's an ideological golf, not just one about the numbers. It's one about how infrastructure money should be spent, whether there should be new funding and whether the economy even needs it, that I'm not sure can be overcome, frankly, even with time. But I think the Biden administration still wants to continue in good faith as long as the conversations are able to happen.

TAPPER: So, there is a debate within the White House. Some want to just, look, let's just go big with the Democrats, assuming they can get them. And then there's -- there are others who think no, it'd be good for Biden to have a bipartisan bill.


TAPPER: Steve Machete, the counselor, you've written about this for Politico Playbook. What's his calculation? How would it -- how does it -- how does it benefit Biden?

LIZZA: Well, trying to get a deal, even if they can't, he did -- as a candidate, he did promise that. So, they have to make this look like a real negotiation. And the only way to make it look like a real negotiation is to have a real negotiation.

And there are Democrats both in the House and in the Senate, as Manu pointed out, that are not willing to move to reconciliation, which can't be filibustered. They're not willing to move there unless Biden has really exhausted these bipartite negotiations.

Now, there used to be $2 trillion apart, right, the White House and Republicans. Now, on my math I think there's $700 billion apart. So, you know, they're inching closer, but it seems like a pretty paltry offer that Capito came up with today.

I do, but the one thing that Mondo pointed out that is, you know, that everyone on the Hill is watching, there is this group that have eight senators, four Republicans, four Democrats, they have been waiting on the sidelines and saying if the Capito talks fail, we're going to pick up the negotiations. So, the White House has been silent on that.

[17:20:15] And very importantly, that group includes Manchin in Sinema. So, I think that's the next thing to watch is does that group become a player here and push aside Capito, or, as the White House press release with the readout of the call today pointed out all eyes go to DeFazio in the House who's moving this bill and the White House has sort of done with the -- with the Senate Republicans.

TAPPER: Yes. And with the House Democrats, they don't need to worry about bipartisanship, and they tend to not.

LIZZA: They do have -- but they do have some moderate Democrats who are worried about some of the tax hikes --


LIZZA: -- in the Biden plan. And, you know, that's -- we don't have full clarity and visibility into whether those Democrats are ready to push through on Biden's original package.

PHILLIP: And they have a progressive problem, too, with some progressives saying, we're not going to take a smaller bill, we're not going to take a bill that's cut down. They don't have a huge margin even in the House.

TAPPER: Right.

PHILLIP: So, if they're really trying to --

TAPPER: It was nine votes.

PHILLIP: Yes, it's probably more like a handful of votes depending on how, you know, who is president at a particular time. So, they don't -- they have to really be careful on both ends of the spectrum here, the White House does --


PHILLIP: -- in order to get a good bill. Although, I think there's some skepticism that even the progressives would say no to a trillion dollars if you put it in front of them.

LIZZA: Absolutely.

TAPPER: So, one Democratic aide, Abby, told CNN this about the negotiations, "People simplify Biden as naively pursuing nostalgic and non-existent bipartisanship and that's missing some of the play here."

So, Biden spent nearly 40 years in the Senate. He does know how it works. He does know how to cut deals. Even when he was vice president --


TAPPER: -- he cut a deal on the Bush tax cuts with Mitch McConnell. The two of them were able to do that, they were expiring. So, what do you think? I mean, do those who think that Biden still thinks he operates in a Senate chamber where Republicans and Democrats are far more capable of coming together? Are they right? Or are we not giving Biden enough credit?

PHILLIP: I think it's a little bit of both. I think Biden does know how to cut deals in a Senate. The question is --

TAPPER: In a Senate. I heard you. I heard the determent (ph) there.

PHILLIP: The question is, does not work in this Senate?

TAPPER: Right.

PHILLIP: And I really am not sure that it does. He has to get to 10, right? Ten Republicans.

TAPPER: Ten Republicans.

PHILLIP: He can probably use the old Senate playbook to get to like five. I just am not sure where that other five comes from. And that's where I think both sides have a little bit of a point here. He's not being naive, necessarily, he does know how to get a few people on his side, it just may not get him to 10.

The problem, though -- the thing is, he may not need to get to 10. The question is, what does Joe Manchin really want out of this process? He wants a show of bipartisanship, an effort of it. And I also think that he wants a bill that is not as liberal. And he might end up at the end of the day, getting both of those things.

Will he then vote for a goat alone approach? We don't know yet.


PHILLIP: He has a better -- we have a better chance of that, I think.

TAPPER: Joe Manchin does not have a progressive problem. He represents West Virginia --

PHILLIP: Exactly.

TAPPER: Abby Phillip and Ryan Lizza, thanks so much.

And of course, you can catch Abby this Sunday morning anchoring CNN's "Inside Politics." And don't forget to catch Politico Playbook, which Ryan helps write every day.

The Trump White House lawyer who refused to fire Robert Mueller finally speaks to House investigators. The Democratic lawmaker who was in the room for the testimony will join me next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn finally testified on Capitol Hill this morning after a two year long legal battle with House Democrats who are trying to get him on the record. The closed-door interview was part of the House probe and the former President Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation.

McGahn was put on record, we're told, about some of the most pivotal moments of the Trump presidency such as when Trump directed McGahn to fire, then Special Counsel Robert Muller, and McGahn refused.

Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. You were in the McGahn meeting today. Your colleague Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said that McGahn was forthright. How would you describe them?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, first of all, thank you for having me. And today's a good day for democracy. You're absolutely right, it was April of 2019, that our committee subpoenaed Mr. McGahn to come before us, he did not come before us, based on an administration that claims some sort of blanket immunity. So, this is a good day for a coequal branch of government to exercise our constitutional oversight.

You probably know the terms of the arrangement for today's testimony, closed door, and it will be published. But they first have to transcribe it, run it past his team to make sure there are no faults in it. And then, it will be published.

I have found Mr. McGahn to really bring to life Volume 2 of the Muller report. You know, he plays prominently in that and his testimony before the special counsel talks about the president in a tumultuous time in the White House in a panic, clearly, over the Muller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But also, of course, Volume 2, the attempts to obstruct justice by a president of the United States.

Lots of pressure on Mr. McGahn when he served as counsel to the president to direct Rod Rosenstein to let Muller go, so that they could end this investigation. Of course, Mr. McGahn did not do that. But he brought to life his testimony that everybody can read in Volume 2 of the Muller report.


TAPPER: So, I know you can't say what he said that was part of the agreement, what you just explained, it gets transcribed, it goes to his lawyers and then it will be released. Can you tell us, did you learn anything new? Is there anything that we don't know if we have read Volume II of the Mueller report?

DEAN: I believe we did learn some new things. I have to tell you, our counsel in judiciary is just superb. So, she's been doing an excellent job. It is not over yet. I can report to you. The testimony is not yet complete. I'll be going back to see whatever else is left. But, yes, there is new information in there.

TAPPER: Congressman Nadler, Chairman Nadler says McGahn's testimony, quote, vindicates the congressional subpoena. McGahn fought that subpoena for years, as we just discussed, he only agreed to testify once he reached a deal with the Biden Justice Department. Now that you've heard from him, was it worth all this effort?

DEAN: Absolutely. To get to the truth of what the former president was doing, in terms of trying to block the investigations by a special counsel, it's very important that we get historically the truth of what happened. The other thing that it raises is I have a bill, a subpoena compliance bill that actually was introduced in 2017 by Representative -- Republican Representative Darrell Issa, that would expedite subpoenas so that we wouldn't go through this again with a president who is hell bent on obstructing. So, I hope that this will show the urgency of the reforms that are needed, because certainly there could come a day when we would come up against a similar set of circumstances where an administration would not want to cooperate with a co-equal branch of government.

TAPPER: So Trump is obviously out of office. He lost decisively in November. He was impeached twice by Congress, not convicted by the Senate either time. What do you say to people who say, is this really the best use of the time and resources of the House of Representatives?

DEAN: Well, we have to walk and chew gum at the same time. Absolutely, it's important resources to be used, to get at the truth. We have a constitutional authority, and I would say obligation to perform oversight on administrations when they appear to be going rogue. And you saw that Mr. Mueller investigated very thoroughly both Russian interference in our election, and as I said, Volume II, possible obstruction by the former president, obstruction of justice. It's absolutely an important use of our time to protect democracy.

And after all, look where we are now, Jake, we have just gotten through January the 6th, and we have Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate who do not want to get at the truth. I'm not sure what they are afraid of. I now ask, what are they covering up.

TAPPER: Yes. well, I mean, I think we know what they're afraid of. They're afraid of the truth. You were on a call with Speaker Pelosi this week where she outlined four different options to re-up a January 6th investigation in the House. Which of the four options is most attractive to you?

DEAN: Well, always troubling to me is that somebody is immediately reporting what happens in caucus. I don't speak outside of caucus, but certainly what I have been really arguing for and that's not a mystery, and of course, the Speaker's arguing for it too, is that I hope Representative Schumer, Leader Schumer, will be able to bring up the independent commission again and have the votes to pass it. It is beyond shameful, frankly, that Mitch McConnell made phone calls asking for personal favors from representatives to vote no.

This is the day after Mrs. Sicknick and the partner of Capitol Police Officer Sicknick went around door-to-door --

TAPPER: Yes. DEAN: -- draped in their grief and asked them to please just find out the facts of what happened. They weren't trying to condemn anybody. They said, simply find out the facts of what happened. What took my son's life and what threatens so many others. It is shameful. And then of course, you saw those same members go home. I wonder if they recognize the hypocrisy of going home from Memorial Day weekend and lifting up more dead, those who fought and gave the ultimate measure to protect us, to protect our democracy.


DEAN: I guess they can't smell the hypocrisy. We need an independent commission.


DEAN: Failing that, we have other options as you well know.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, thanks so much. Good to see you again.

Coming up, sales of firearms surging across the U.S. and the buyers may not be who you might expect. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, how's that new gun? Each month, millions of Americans in the United States are buying a new firearm, many for the first time. CNN's Nick Watt went looking for the reasons why, the reasons behind this country's surge in purchasing firearms.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the pink earmuffs, that's Robin Armstrong, just bought her first gun.

ROBIN ARMSTRONG, GUN OWNER: I bought a Springfield XD, it's 9- millimeter. That's my first one but I do plan on buying two more.

WATT (voice-over): America is on a gun-buying spree.

PROF. JACK MCDEVITT, SCHOOL OF CRIMINOLOGY & CRIMINAL JUSTICE, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: We've seen record numbers for the past few months, and I fear that's going to continue.

WATT (voice-over): The government doesn't keep a tally but the FBI counts presale background checks, not perfect but shows the pattern. Take March 2019, 2.6 million, March 2020, 3.7 million. This March, nearly 4.7 million, most in a month since the FBI started counting 20 plus years ago. Why?


WATT (voice-over): First up, pandemic panic. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think it's the perfect time to get a weapon for ourself.

WATT (voice-over): 40 percent of buyers in early 2020 were first time buyers, says one industry group.

PHILIP SMITH, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN GUN ASSOCIATION: Up until now, there's been a recent gun owner that first thing that pops into your mind probably an older white gentleman or a younger white gentleman.


WATT (voice-over): Now? Not so much. In 2020, half of all buyers were women, say researchers, a fifth Hispanic, a fifth black.

SMITH: 2020, by far, was the most growth we've ever seen.

WATT (voice-over): Many reasons why among them, the murder of George Floyd, protests followed both violent and peaceful prompting fear and more people reaching for protection.

MCDEVITT: People don't trust the police as much as they used to.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): White lives matter! White lives matter!

WATT (voice-over): And then there's this.

SMITH: Some of the fringe groups that were on their friends that were now mainstream, our community saw that. And they're like, you know what, I'm going to get a gun because I see these folks and these folks truly do not like me.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The consequences here are both enormous and quite obvious.

WATT (voice-over): Since then, an election, an insurrection. a loser who still says he won convinced his followers they were cheated --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you have to get your people to fight.

WATT (voice-over): -- more political polarization, more fear. Will there come a time when Robin Armstrong feels she doesn't need a gun anymore?

ARMSTRONG: I do hope that but I don't feel it that's going to happen anytime soon in my lifetime.


WATT: Now, we hear anecdotally that quite a few of these new gun buyers are reluctant gun buyers. They didn't really want to buy one, but they feel now that they have no choice. They need one. And what's the impact going to be of more guns on the streets? Well, we don't know yet. We'll see. But Phil Smith, who we just heard from in that story, he told me, listen, as long as everybody is law abiding, we'll be fine. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt thanks so much.

Former President Trump could get his Facebook back before the next election. Why? A top official from Facebook joins me to answer that next.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Belarus prorated detained journalist Roman Protasevich on state television yesterday. During a so-called interview, he supposedly confessed to organizing protests against the regime of strong man leader Alexander Lukashenko. This is the latest outrage that started with Belarus essentially hijacking the commercial airliner that Protasevich was on last month when it crossed over the former Soviet republics airspace on a flight from Greece to Lithuania. After that forced landing, Protasevich and his girlfriend were hauled off the jet by security forces.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is monitoring events in Belarus from Berlin. And Frederik, this new video is even more damning when you look at it closely.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Jake. And the opposition is already calling this a hostage video and certainly causing even more outrage than a lot of the other events that we've seen around the detention of Roman Protasevich. He clearly looks like he's very much under duress, that he certainly isn't doing that voluntarily. But what we did is we actually focused in to one part of the interview where he's sort of holding his hands in front of his face. He breaks down several times and sort of touches his face with his hands. And there you can see that he has some clear bruise and even blood marks on his wrists, which clearly points to the fact that he seems to have had handcuffs on in a very tight way and for an excessive period of time. Certainly, most probably until right before he was actually doing that interview.

Now, in the interview, he allegedly said that he was doing voluntarily, but certainly it doesn't seem as though anyone in the international community is buying that. Certainly, the opposition isn't buying that. As you mentioned, he then said that he was pleading guilty to the charges. He also then went on to have to praise the strong man of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The opposition now is saying they want even tougher sanctions on Belarus because they obviously say that this was an absolutely outrageous thing, Jake.

TAPPER: And Frederik, what kind of what kind of reaction is the interview generating?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Yes, I mean, generating reactions across the board. I mean, we saw today a lot of strong reactions coming in from Europe, the Brits calling it disturbing. The Germans even calling it a disgrace, not just for the government of Belarus, but also for the for the TV network that actually aired it, which is government TV in Belarus. And then you have the father of Roman Protasevich who, of course, is extremely concerned right now. And he was quoted by a member of the opposition is saying, they beat him, you can see the marks for the handcuffs. It's terrible. He then goes on to say, this is the last sentence of what he said, all his words are the result of psychological and physical violence.

So you can see there, a lot of people are extremely concerned about the situation. Obviously, the U.S. also finding some very tough words, saying there's going to be new sanctions against the Belarusian regime. The one leader who remains in the corner of Lukashenko, however, is Vladimir Putin, who today was actually asked about all this and said he didn't want to talk about it at all, Jake.

TAPPER: Frederik Pleitgen, thanks so much.

Turning to our tech lead now, Facebook just this afternoon decided the former President Trump will be banned from the world's biggest social media platform for at least two more years, in response to the independent oversight board's ruling. His case will be revisited Facebook, says, in January 2023. That, of course, will be right as the 2024 presidential election is beginning to heat up.

Let's get right to Nick Clegg, he's the Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook. Nick, first of all, thanks for joining us. So Facebook is acknowledging that Trump used its platform for harm. He incited the deadly insurrection. Trump continues to spread lies that prompt death threats. Why give him your platform at all?

NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS, FACEBOOK: Well, that's a legitimate question. Some people think that Donald Trump should be able to use Facebook immediately again, and others think he should never be able to use at all.


And as you know, social media companies responded in somewhat different ways. Twitter have banned him permanently for life, spective of, you know, future behavior. Google have said he will come back on YouTube when the conditions allow. And in a sense, what we've done in response to the comments we received from the independent oversight board, is to stipulate what penalty we think should be applied to match the gravity, what happened in January, and we're applying the most severe penalty that we have in the range of penalties now available to us under the new enforcement arrangements that we've published today.

And we've also said very clearly that if Donald Trump or anybody else in this position, where to seek to repeat those violations again, once back on, that we would then apply very swiftly new sanctions up to an including a permanent removal. And, of course, he -- you know, when it comes to the point in early 2023, when he's entitled to come back onto Facebook, we'll obviously only do so if the conditions in terms of public safety, public order, and so on, are in place. So we feel we put in the right guardrails in place, we hope we've applied a sanction, which we think is proportionate, totally accepted. Some people will always as ever, say doesn't go too far, or it goes too far.

TAPPER: Right.

CLEGG: But we have done it in a way that is transparent and proportionate.

TAPPER: So I guess, Nick, do you -- if today, just today, Donald Trump is telling election lies, today, not, you know, back in January, today, he's doing it. So I guess my question is, isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? I mean, you know, that when he returns, he's going to use his platform to tell lies, lies that have provably incited violence, not just violence, but an attack on the Capitol, and some considered an attack on democracy. What kind of clues are you looking for? I mean, there's no indication that --

CLEGG: Sure.

TAPPER: -- he's getting any better. His lives are getting worse. He thinks he's going to be reinstated as president in August.

CLEGG: Sure. I mean, look, I'll be very clear about what I think and what we think Facebook can and can't do. What we can do is enforce our roles in terms of his behavior on our platform. It's not our role nor should it be to try and vet, delete or censor everything that Donald Trump does say, you know, good, bad or ugly.

TAPPER: No, no, of course not. But if he tells lies that incite violence and have proved to do that in the past, does that matter?

CLEGG: The key thing is incitement. The key thing -- and in the instance of the post that he posted on January 6th was the praise that he expressed through his posts on Facebook and indeed on other social media platforms for rioters who were involved in that violent insurrection at that time. I mean, the violent was ongoing, which is, of course, we all know, tragically led to the loss of life of five people and even his own Vice President was sheltering fearful for his own well-being in the Capitol at the time. But our rules are not candidly to try and adjudicate exactly the accuracy what the billions of people who use our platform might be, but whether what they say will lead to real world harm. And that was the, if you like the tripwire, that was the violation of the rules that occurred in January and that's the violations for which we were very, very vigilant.

TAPPER: But the tripwire was praising the mob. I mean, that was the tripwire --


TAPPER: -- not the lies itself, that is not the lies that incited the mob.

CLEGG: No. The immediate response was because those posts praising those insurrectionists in the Capitol at that time as the violence was ongoing, was a clear breach of our rules. And the Oversight Board subsequently said two things. Firstly, they said we were (INAUDIBLE) because that was a clear violation of our rules. But we were wrong to do so indefinitely, and without clear due process and standards, which is what we have now announced and put in place today.

TAPPER: So what happens? He returns to the platform in January 2023, in two years, less than two years, and he continues spewing these election lies that we know are deadly. That is not going to trigger anything. He would have to -- he would -- that would have to incite violence and then he would have to praise people committing the violence and then he would lose his platform again?

CLEGG: Anything which incites violence, anything which in our judgment, and in that of other people who observe this leads to the risk of real world harm, which is clearly the case in January, is unacceptable on Facebook. I -- you're quite right, this is what you're pressing out. You're quite right that what we don't do is seek to monitor and vet every single politician, and by the way, unfortunately, this happens across elections in many, many parts of the country, and by the way, from all shades of political opinion where politicians start casting doubt --


CLEGG: -- on the validity of particular election outcomes. That's not the focus here.


Our focus is harm, its physical violence, its harm. It's exactly the kind of thing that we acted on in January.

TAPPER: Right.

CLEGG: And as I said earlier, we make sure that if he does -- when he returns in early January, that we have clear guardrails in place that if you were to repeat that all over again, which is your question, that we would very quickly impose new penalties up to an including permanent removal from using Facebook.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Clegg, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

CLEGG: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still ahead, a dire warning about the cyber threat facing the United States. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Be sure to tune in this Sunday to CNN's State of the Union. My guests will include Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Independent Senator from Maine Angus King and Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves, that's at 9:00 a.m. and the noon Eastern on Sunday. Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in The Situation Room. Have a great weekend. I'll see you Sunday morning.