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The Lead with Jake Tapper
DOJ Watchdog To Review Secret Subpoenas In Trump Era Targeting Data Of House Democrats; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, (D-IL), Is Interviewed About Trump's DOJ Investigating Democrats; Calls For Bill Barr & Jeff Sessions To Testify About Subpoenas For Data From Democratic Lawmaker; Kremlin: Biden-Putin Meeting To Address "Poor State" Of Relationship; Internet Sleuths Help FBI Hunt Down Insurrectionists; COVID Variant First Found In India Now Tearing Through U.K.; Jill Biden Flexes Her Independence Abroad, Prepares For Royal Meetings. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 11, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: "The New York Times" reports prosecutors were looking for the sources behind those stories Trump hated so much. And we're now just learning about it because Apple was under a gag order that expired this year.
Congressman Eric Swalwell, who had his data seized, accused Trump of weaponizing the Justice Department to go after his political opponents.
And to CNN's Manu Raju now reports, there are now growing calls for Congress to bring in Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr to answer questions.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump's Justice Department under intense scrutiny today, after new revelations suggested he employed the department's awesome power to investigate his enemies.
The Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, asking the department's inspector general to begin an investigation after news broke that Trump's Justice Department seized records of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Committee Democrats Eric Swalwell, along with staff and even their family members.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I can't say that it was extraordinarily broad. People having nothing to do within, you know, the intelligence matters that are least being reported on. It just shows what a broad fishing expedition it was. And so many norms were broken in connection with this.
RAJU (voice-over): Sources tell CNN, the ever began in February 2018 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions ran the department. The subpoenas were related to leaks of classified information regarding contacts between Russians and Trump associates. More than 100 accounts were affected, casting a wide net that even swept up at least one minor that included a gag order, which was renewed three times before expiring this year. And it wasn't until May that Apple notified customers that the records have been seized.
On a private conference call today, sources tell CNN that committee Democrats were animated about getting to the bottom of who was behind this effort, and are now asking Apple to provide them with more details about whether additional members were targeted.
The source tells CNN that Sessions was not involved in the subpoenas, even though it began under his tenure. And the effort continued under Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, who had this exchange with then Senator Kamala Harris in 2019.
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Can you repeat that question?
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will repeat it.
HARRIS: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no? Please, sir.
BARR: The president or anybody else.
HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us?
BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word suggests.
RAJU (voice-over): This afternoon, Barr told Politico that he was, "Not aware of any congressman's records being sought in a leak case." Barr adding, "I never discussed the leak cases with Trump".
In the Senate, the top two Democrat, want Barr to say that under oath, threatening to subpoena him along with Sessions and other officials to compel their testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
RAJU: Now, the two top Republicans in Congress, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell both have not yet weighed in on this. But one other senior Republican has, Chuck Grassley, who was the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He issued a statement saying in part, "Investigations to Members of Congress and staff are nothing new, especially for classified leaks." And that position is important because they need bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee to issue a subpoena.
On the House side, though, Jake, Democrats can issue subpoenas on their own. And they are frustrated with Merrick Garland, the Attorney General, for not giving them enough information about this case so far, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much. Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, who is also on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman, thanks for joining us. Have you figured out or confirmed whether or not you were targeted in this Justice Department hunt for leaks?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): No, I'm still trying to figure that out, Jake.
TAPPER: So, going after metadata from Apple is just one way to spy on people. You were expected to be briefed by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff earlier today about this.
Given what we know how extensive was this search for whoever was giving media, whoever's giving journalists stories could it extend beyond this court request to Apple?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: It might, I saw reports that at least one other internet service provider may have been contacted. You have to remember that they were going after not only members, but also their families. And not only just the staff of the Intelligence Committee, but also staff in the personal offices of the members. And so, just a number of questions come up. One of them being, was there any complicity on the committee with this investigating secret subpoenas?
And then, two, why are we finding about this from Apple as opposed from -- as opposed to the Justice Department? I'm still grappling with that question. I don't understand why we weren't given a heads up notice from this Justice Department.
TAPPER: So far, we haven't heard of any Republicans targeted in this search or any Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It seems to be exclusive to people Trump received his political opponents on the House Intelligence Committee and their staffers. Is that your understanding?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, that's my understanding so far.
TAPPER: Is there any indication that any of these into that there was any grounds for this suspicions? Or were they just fishing? I mean, people do leak. I've never personally heard of any of the people that have been named specifically leaking, but their names get bandied about by Republicans and conservatives in the media as people that they suspect of it. Was there any evidence of it?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And quite frankly, the fact that they were fishing in the personal offices of some of these members who have nothing to do, that those personal staffers have nothing to do with the national security issues, or to the Russia or anything like that means that they were looking for other information as well. And that's deeply disturbing.
TAPPER: Yes. And just to explain for people watching, let's say, Congressman Schiff, he's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, his staffers on the committee would know things that the staffers in his California congressional district office would have no idea and they wouldn't be sharing that information.
Do you think the Congress --
TAPPER: -- needs to call in former Attorney General Bill Barr, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for questioning? How far do you think you need to go, Congress needs to go to get accountability here?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that not only do they need to be called in for questioning under oath, but you have to remember there are multiple DOJ attorneys who were under bar conducting this investigation, who remained there today. Top of mind is this gentleman, Mr. Benvenuto, who was a game land prosecutor brought in from New Jersey in 2020 to basically revive this investigation into members of Congress. He's still there in the National Security Division.
I don't know why. But he's still there. And he has a lot of explaining to do as well.
TAPPER: I've heard and seen some comments by civil libertarians saying, look, you guys sign off on these kinds of laws that allow prosecutorial discretion to take and grab the metadata of almost any American and based on their own discretion. Now, it's just applying to you, so you're offended by it. But this is the -- this is the fault of the House Intelligence Committee to begin with, Democrats and Republicans, for allowing prosecutors to have discretion to do this for any American.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think we have to look at that. I think at this point, the Justice Department has way too much discretion, prosecutorial discretion. The grand jury in panel to conduct this investigation basically just rubber stamped whatever the Justice Department attorney said was necessary for their -- for this investigation. And the court basically entrusted these Justice Department attorneys to do the right thing. Well, obviously they were wrong in that assumption.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from the great city of Chicago, thanks so much. Hope you have a good weekend.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up, President Biden about to face Vladimir Putin. What the Kremlin is telling CNN about the meeting, that's coming up.
Plus, how internet sleuths are hunting down potential insurrectionists and helping the FBI bring them to justice. Stay with us.
[17:12:38] TAPPER: Breaking news in our politics lead, new details and how former Attorney General Bill Barr handled leak investigations at the Justice Department like the one involving House Democratic lawmakers, which has sparked renewed scrutiny of Barr. Let's bring in Evan Perez at the Justice Department who is breaking the story.
And Evan, tell us what you know.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, they say that victory has 1000 fathers and defeat has -- is an orphan. And so, that's what we're finding in this story today. It's a case that didn't go anywhere. And we can't find anyone who says that they were behind or they authorized for Congress -- members of Congress to have their records seized from Apple.
And so, we talked to someone familiar with Bill Barr's thinking. And what we're hearing is that Barr has no memory of approving this. He doesn't remember this particular case. He remembers getting briefed on multiple leak investigations. And he knows that President Trump was frustrated with the cases that were ongoing.
But he says that, you know, according to people who talk to him, he says that he doesn't remember the president instructing him to seize the records of Adam Schiff and Congressman Swalwell. And that he believes that what was happening in early 2020, when he brought in this new prosecutor from New Jersey, was simply that he was frustrated that a lot of these cases were sitting around. He wanted Justice Department officials to either charge cases or dismiss them. And that's what ended up happening in this case. Jake.
And in this case, the new attorney general, Merrick Garland, decided that there wasn't enough here to bring charges. And that's now why there's no one investigation as to how this came to pass.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez at the Justice Department, thanks so much.
Let's discuss with our panel. Gloria, let me just start. These stinks. This whole thing stinks for finding out that there were all these leak investigations based on supposedly, well, we don't know in some cases why there were these court orders to get the records of Barbara Starr at CNN plus in "New York Times," "The Washington Post." Now we find out they're these metadata searches for members of Congress.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Gag orders.
TAPPER: And it's it stinks.
BORGER: It does, it does And so, you know, whatever that says the Attorney General is saying, you know, I really didn't know about this. And what --
TAPPER: Yes, it's immaculate leak investigator.
BORGER: Right and what do you what do you said to Politico on the record was, you know, I was getting criticized by cabinet members and members of the Intelligence Community about the department not having done anything on leak cases. So I wanted to make sure they were being pursued.
BORGER: OK. But what if the leak case involve the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee or another member, at least, of the House Intelligence Committee? Shouldn't the attorney general had some information that -- about that? About where they were going on these leak cases? I mean, publicly, the president of United States accused Adam Schiff of leaking, right? We know that. He did it many times.
BORGER: So, the question is, how could he not have known when he appointed someone to revive what were dormant investigations? He revives them. And you know, says, go ahead. And then, what? No one reports back to him about what they're doing.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, Republicans say this, right? They -- just like they say a whole bunch of stuff. All sorts of political operatives say a whole bunch of things. But Schiff is a leaker. That doesn't make it evidence.
The fact that like people on Fox are saying it is talking points. Now we have the top Democrats in the Senate, Schumer and Durbin, calling for former attorneys general, Barr and Sessions, to testify. What do you think -- where do you think this is going?
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, right, Democrats privately acknowledge that the chance of that subpoena succeeding is actually not guaranteed, because --
TAPPER: Because Sessions and Barr are going to testify.
KIM: Right, exactly. Because as Manu pointed out earlier, because the Senate judiciary is split, you know --
KIM: Fifty-fifty equally and half, there has to be at least one Senate Republican to join in with Democrats on that subpoena. And if you look at the panel, it's not -- there's no Mitt Romney or Susan Collins on that panel. It's stacked with a lot of Trump loyalists and Trump allies.
I would be watching, for example, perhaps Ben Sasse or Mike Lee, who has made a -- who is very vocal on civil liberties issue and privacy issues. But otherwise, we think this is something that's going to die in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And obviously, the focus is going to be on the chamber that does have unilateral subpoena power, which is the House. And we haven't heard too much yet, specifically, from House leaders on what their plans are regarding trying to get Barr and Sessions to testify.
TAPPER: And meanwhile, Gloria, the watchdog for the Department of Justice, the Inspector General, he has said he's going to launch an investigation.
BORGER: He will.
TAPPER: But I mean --
BORGER: So what?
BORGER: I mean, not to put too fine --
TAPPER: That's just a report that drops in seven months, and there's no necessarily --
TAPPER: -- any accountability.
BORGER: Right. It's going to be an important report. And the accountability will be in the report. But the question is, what can they do about it?
BORGER: So, where are the guardrails? How do you put the guardrails back, you know? There's some folks like Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Wyden, who are talking about strict limits on Gag orders that would say, you know, if you're the target of one of these investigations, you ought to know about it sooner than the members of Congress did. But that's sort of around the edges.
I mean, they aren't -- nobody ever thought you would need these kind of guardrails.
BORGER: But it's very clear that you do.
TAPPER: And, you know, we heard -- Seung Min, we heard from a lot of Republicans, rightly so, when there seemed to be FISA (ph) abuses, when it seemed -- when Carter Page, it seemed like he was spied on inappropriately, when information was left out of the warrants. Making good arguments, I'm not to taking issue with anything they were saying, it did look like the FBI abused their power. Are any Republicans speaking out about this today?
KIM: I mean, not really. I mean, Republican leaders have been pretty quiet on this news so far. Obviously, they will get asked this when they return to Washington next week. But I can tell you their answers on whether, for example, the subpoena should be issued.
That's probably going to track along with Senator Chuck Grassley, who's the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee said, you know, a couple of hours ago. He's pointing to that inspector general investigation as sufficient. And he's pointed out, you know, there are investigations into members of Congress, and that's not a new thing.
So I can tell you, when Mitch McConnell gets asked about this, that's the line that we're going to hear from him.
TAPPER: All right. Seung Min Kin and Gloria Borger, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
Putin's spokesman talking to CNN and saying that Russia's relationship with the U.S. is poor, right before Biden and Putin meet face to face. What else did he say? That's next?
TAPPER: In our world lead, the start of the G7 summit was all smiles today as leaders from the world's most advanced economies discuss climate change, the global economy, they met with her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Tomorrow, it will be more serious. Focus turns to Russia, President Biden hoping to get the allies on the same page ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Putin's press secretary said the main reason Putin is even meeting with Biden is because the two countries have a, quote, poor relationship.
Here's some breaking news for you. CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now live from Moscow. Matthew, what else did the Kremlin spokesman say?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, first of all, we spoke about the possibility of a joint press conference. And you know, I think what came out of the conversation I had with Dmitry Peskov, the press spokesperson for Vladimir Putin is that there wasn't going to be a joint press conference. And that was disappointing to them.
They said they've gone into this process expecting and asking for a joint press conference, but it seems that the American side did not want to do that, obviously, for various reasons. And, you know, that's interesting, because I mean, one of the main reasons that Vladimir Putin, you know, so keen to have a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden is that he loves the idea of standing on a platform, the same platform as the American leader.
He can be seen around the world and to his domestic public as being an international statesman. So, if you take that away from him, it undermines one of the main motivations, then going to Geneva, Switzerland in the first place.
Nevertheless, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Vladimir Putin say that that was not a factor at all. And that was not the reason that Vladimir Putin wanted to have this summit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY PESKOV, PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT PURIN: The main reason for him is it for stable relationship between our two countries. And a critical level of this relationship that demands -- and that demands a summit between our two countries because this is the only way to arrange an evaluation of the situation in our relationship to prevent further, further degradation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Well, there you are. Dmitry Peskov saying that basically, the relationship is bad. And a summit is the only way really to start the process of addressing that.
There is a list as long as your arm when it comes to fraud issues between the United States and Russia, whether it's the military buildup in Ukraine, cyberattacks against the United States, whether it's the crackdown on democracy here and there's crackdown on dissidents here.
But on none of those issues, the sense I got from Dmitry Peskov there, is Vladimir Putin going to this summit prepared to back down. In his words, don't expect any breakthroughs in this summit.
TAPPER: Matthew Chance, thanks so much for that. Appreciate it.
Let's bring in David Remnick. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning author and editor of the New Yorker magazine. He's written books and articles about Russia and Putin. He also speaks fluent Russian, just in case you didn't know.
So David, as far as we know, Putin has been testing the U.S. for quite some time, perhaps even especially in the last few months. What do you think is the best way to get him to stop, let's say, the cyberattacks? Do you think diplomacy is the way to do it?
DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER: Diplomacy can't hurt. I think what's foolish is to have illusions about diplomacy, which have illusions about one meeting can accomplish.
Remember, Barack Obama's first meeting with Putin in Moscow, Putin opened that meeting with what amounted to a 45 minute long lecture on the great sins of the United States. Obama barely got a word in edgewise for quite a long time. And I expect that Putin will be very eager to go at Joe Biden, with the same sense of -- presenting him with what he sees, this is an important aspect of Putin's psychology, what he sees as the hypocrisy of the United States and are daring to quote, unquote interfere in his affairs.
And, of course, the irony is that this is a country that has demonstrably interfered in our most sacred thing, in a presidential election, to say nothing of cybercrimes and all the rest. So, it's going to be a very tense meeting. I think it's better to have it of course, I think everybody thinks it's better to have it than not to have it. But expectations need to be limited.
TAPPER: There is obviously a range of pressing issues for the two to discuss not just the cyberattacks by the Russian government and by cyber criminals in Russia, but the imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, interference in the American elections, Russian aggression in Ukraine. How can Biden best be the leader we need him to be, the United States needs him to be? What's the best approach?
You sit there and listen to the lectures about how hypocritical the United States is? Do you interrupt and lecture him back? What's he to do?
REMNICK: That's what inevitably will happen. There will be lectures back and forth, or eventually there'll be some sort of dialogue. But, you know, we have to remember, we have to remember that this has been a long process for Putin.
Putin came into office 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago, and there were some signs, at least to some people in the United States, that this was somebody that was willing to do business with and have a decent relationship with the United States. Eventually, that went south for all kinds of reasons.
You know, what he would say is Iraq and our unreliability and all kinds of things, the United States has its own grievances. It's a very fraught relationship. It can't be overstated.
But the first thing that Joe Biden can do, what I think he's accomplished biologically, is not be Donald Trump.
REMNICK: He told Trump, was putty in the hands of Vladimir Putin. And I think we all remember that incredible, historic press conference in Finland when Donald Trump basically seated what was true and what was not true to the -- to the leader of Russia, rather than empirical evidence. It was -- it was a pathetic display and an embarrassment to the United States and even to some people in the Trump administration itself.
TAPPER: Yes, it was shocking. You are lowering --
TAPPER: -- expectations for the meeting, the White House has also tried to lower expectations for the meeting, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said no one should expect any quote, unquote, deliverables. That's what happened to these meetings. People like, oh, we have agreed to do X, Y, or Z. Press Secretary --
REMNICK: Right. Deliverables is a diplospeak for agreements or exchanges and so on and so forth. The very fact of the meeting is the most important part of the meeting, which is to set the bar pretty low. TAPPER: Yes. And usually, we should know, these deliverables are arranged and negotiated and figured out before the meeting, they know what they're going to come out. It doesn't seem like anything like that is happening here. What is a successful meeting look like to you? We now know what a -- an unsuccessful meeting looks like? We saw it in Finland a few years ago. What is a successful meeting?
REMNICK: That wasn't an unsuccessful meeting, that was a travesty. That was a travesty and a stain on this country and on the history of our leadership. It was a misery, an absolute misery. What -- the best thing that can be achieved here is an exchange of truths that Biden can reassert an American sense of what is true and what is not, what we intend and what we do not. And what our feelings are about and our ideas about and intentions are about essential matters, like human rights, cyberattacks and the rest.
Russia has gotten worse and worse and worse, where -- remember this is, if we go back a long time, when I lived there, there was a revolution and there were many people that spoke of democracy as something to be aspired to in Russia. This is spoken of with deep cynicism at the top of the Russian government. I won't even tell you the name of what democracy is twisted into now because it would be censored. It's ugly. And we just witnessed an act by the Russian President, essentially getting rid of any real opposition with Alexei Navalny and his movement. And that -- and he has his main political opponent in a prison camp --
REMNICK: -- after attempt to poison him to death. And he's not the only one who's been poisoned, right?
REMNICK: But he seems off, who was a former deputy prime minister was shot, was murdered, you know, within spitting range of the Kremlin itself not so long ago. This is an ugly situation.
TAPPER: David Remnick, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise and your time, as always.
REMNICK: Always. Take care, Jake.
TAPPER: Terrifying texts sent to public officials even to one of their wives, forcing one to leave his home for days, that's next.
Plus, hunting down the insurrectionists. There's (ph) a close look at the anonymous sleuths helping the FBI from their home computer screen. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, quote, you and your family will be killed very slowly. Quote, we plan for the death of you and your family every day. According to a report from Reuters, those are just some of the vile messages that Patricia Raffensperger, the wife of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, received after the 2020 election, because her husband deigned to uphold the law and refuse to find votes for Trump's instruction to overturn the democratic election process. As CNN's Amara Walker now reports.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "You and your family will be killed very slowly. We plan for the death of you and your family every day." And a warning that a family member was going to have a very unfortunate incident. The death threats came by text to Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Georgia Secretary of State, detailed in a Reuters interview. The messages coming in April, many months after Donald Trump lost the election, earlier threats even forcing them into hiding for nearly one week. Tricia Raffensperger telling Reuters, "Brad and I didn't feel like we could protect ourselves".
She said she canceled weekly visits at her home with two grandchildren, three and five years old. "I couldn't have them come to my house anymore. You don't know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff", she said. She described to Reuters how intruders in late November broke into the home of their widowed daughter-in-law.
Secretary Brad Raffensperger spoke about the threats to CNN in December as Trump attacked him incessantly for standing by the election results in Georgia.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's an enemy of the people.
WALKER (voice-over): Where Joe Biden won by a slim margin.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R-GA), SECRETARY OF STATE: Tricia got the first ones. For some reason, they targeted her. I think, you know, first of all, they said, tell Brad to step down, you know, and that type of thing. But then they've just really, you know, ramped up and then went to stage two, they just got vulgar and rude.
WALKER (voice-over): Trump's baseless accusations of voter fraud in Georgia also led to an election worker getting threatened with a noose.
GABRIEL STERLING, CHIE OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE' OFFICE: A 20-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying you should be hung for treason.
WALKER (voice-over): These incidents like Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official to angrily call on Trump and Republican leaders to stop the disinformation and condemned the threats.
STERLING: Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed. And it's not right.
WALKER (voice-over): Still, during a speech before the North Carolina Republican Party last week, former President Trump didn't skip a beat, still promoting false claims of election fraud.
TRUMP: I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I'm the one that's trying to save it.
WALKER: Now, some federal judges overseeing the January 6th insurrection cases have expressed concerns that Trump rhetoric could inspire more threats of violence.
There's also worry about the impact that disinformation could have on election workers and officials during the 2022 midterm elections.
In the meantime, Trump is being investigated here in Georgia for election interference, including that phone call he made to the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to overturn the election results. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Amara Walker, thank you so much.
And as the FBI continues to look for at least 250 people who took part in the January 6th Capitol insurrection, investigators are getting some unlikely assistance, groups of anonymous sleuths who call themselves Sedition Hunters. They scour the internet for clues and evidence on who may have been involved in the deadly insurrection, as CNN's Sara Murray now reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the mob, a seemingly unidentifiable hand reaches out with a taser, in an attack that would leave Officer Michael Fanone for known begging for his life.
OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I just remember yelling out that I have kids.
MURRAY: Forrest Rogers and the internet sleuth known as Deep State Dogs got to work.
FORREST ROGERS, SPOKESMAN, DEEP STATE DOGS: Well it was one of the more violent scenes at the Capitol.
MURRAY (voice-over): Within days, they compiled video tracing the taser and the man holding it through the crowd on January 6th. Others on social media pitched in to determine the man's identity.
ROGERS: You can see him reaching out, the suspect reaching out, putting the taser on Officer Fanone's neck.
MURRAY (voice-over): They delivered it to the FBI and a Huffington Post reporter, who further confirmed the alleged attacker, Daniel Rodriguez. Rodriguez now faces eight charges including assaulting Officer Fanone and has pleaded not guilty. It's not clear from the court documents whether their work helped the FBI's case against Rodriguez. The Deep State Dogs are one group in a sprawling social media community so-called Sedition Hunters rooting out insurrectionists in the wake of January 6th. John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto Citizen Lab says it's a diverse diffuse group united by a common goal.
JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB: What they are working for is accountability. And they're going about that in different ways. Whether it means publishing information, in collaboration with journalists, or whether it means making tips to law enforcement.
MURRAY (voice-over): But their efforts are also a rebuttal to Republicans looking to whitewash the horrifying events of January 6th.
SCOTT-RAILTON: Every time I hear a lawmaker try to downplay what happened, I think of the fear on their faces, and the pictures and footage we have of them fleeing from what was going on. And I know that they remember it too. This was a trauma for them.
MURRAY (voice-over): Sedition Hunters often crowdsource information. They assign hashtags to rioters to stay organized as new images emerge. Other times they build files on suspects in closed groups before sharing their findings. Their handiwork is sprinkled throughout core documents. Certain internet sites assign this individual the hashtag boyinthehood. The second tipster was a member of hashtag SeditionHunters. Unknown Twitter users created the hashtag Scallops to track photographs. The zeal from amateur sleuth led to some misfires early on.
SCOTT-RAILTON: There was a tremendous amount of desire and eagerness on the part of people who'd never done this kind of digging before to get involved and to help out. And that resulted in some over enthusiastic people, making some misidentifications.
MURRAY (voice-over): Now a set of best practices has emerged. Among the most important rules don't go tossing out names on social media. The FBI has arrested nearly 500 suspects related to the Capitol riots. They're still looking for the public's help in identifying more than 250 others.
ROGERS: The 400, that's a small number. This will continue. What we've seen now, in my opinion, is only the drop in the bucket.
MURRAY: Now in a lot of these cases, these Sedition Hunters are providing information to the FBI, but of course, the FBI is not necessarily keeping them in the loop about ongoing investigation. So we don't always know exactly what they are relying on from these online sleuths. We did hear from an FBI spokesperson, though, who said these tips really matter. The public has been a tremendous help in this widespread investigation and they're still soliciting the public's help in identifying hundreds more people who are involved in the Capitol insurrection, Jake.
TAPPER: And they're crowdsourcing the investigation but do not name people on social media. That's the key.
MURRAY: Do not name people.
TAPPER: Do not name them. No, no.
MURRAY: We don't like that.
MURRAY: That's rife with possible mistakes.
TAPPER: Yes. Sara Murray, thanks so much for that report.
Coming up, remember, this awful devastation in India, now a highly contagious COVID variant from India, is running rampant abroad. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, the Delta variant first identified in India is running rampant around the world especially in the U.K. and the health minister there said that the variant is now responsible for more than 90 percent of the new cases of COVID in the U.K. CNN's Phil Black goes to one Northwest town in England where cases have gotten so bad, British Army soldiers have been deployed.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this quarter of Northwest England, coronavirus anxiety is peaking again. Here, British Army soldiers walk the streets, handing out information and test kits. Mobile vaccination teams work to get doses to all willing adults. And masks are still everywhere, even outside, a rare site in the U.K.
(on-camera): You worried about what's happening around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes, definitely. If you're not, there's something wrong with you then.
BLACK (voice-over): The big science explain why. The town of Bolton is the U.K.'s leading hotspot for a highly contagious coronavirus variant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know a lot more people who've had it in the last three weeks than I did. Well, the last four weeks compared to last 12 months. A lot of people have got it.
BLACK (voice-over): First discovered during India's recent devastating wave, also known as the Delta variant, it has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K. Analysis conducted by Public Health England has found it's associated with a 64 percent increased risk of household transmission, compared to the U.K.'s previous dominant variant. And it's twice as likely to result in hospitalization. It's also driven an increase in school outbreaks since children haven't been vaccinated.
Eight-year-old Movin (ph) Soljar lives in nearby Blackburn, a community where cases of the variant are growing rapidly.
MOVIN SOLJAR, BOLTON, ENGLAND RESIDENT: No, I don't know how I've caught (ph) it.
BLACK (on-camera): Why was he tested?
MAZAR SOLJAR, BOLTON, ENGLAND RESIDENT: No temperature, no headache, nothing.
BLACK (on-camera): It was just a routine test.
SOLJAR: Yes, routine test.
ADAM FINN, U.K.'s JOINT COMMITTEE ON VACCINATION AND IMMUNIZATION: The trends suggest that we should be alarmed, but --
BLACK (voice-over): Adam Finn is a professor of pediatrics who advises the British government on vaccine policy.
FINN: Because children tend to get this infection less than 10 to transmit it less than adults do. So certainly seeing cases amongst children is another canary in the mine, if you like. It's another sign if it goes on going up that we're dealing with a highly infectious variant.
BLACK (voice-over): The U.K.'s vaccine program has made huge progress with more than 50 percent of all adults now fully vaccinated. At around, another quarter of the adult population covered by a first dose. But some scientists fear this new variants could tear through the remaining unprotected population in a wave of cases that would, once again, place huge pressure on the health system.
The government had hoped to lift all remaining social restrictions and reopen society on June 21st. Whether to proceed with that plan is looming as one of the most difficult decisions of Britain's pandemic experience.
FINN: Opening up and having a big further wave and having to shut down again would be worse for everyone.
BLACK (voice-over): The government is blamed by critics for moving too slowly to stop travel from India, allowing the variant to take hold here. The government says that assessment is unfair, but what it does next will be fiercely scrutinized in a country that has sacrificed much and is desperate to move on.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Our thanks to Phil Black for that report.
In our sports lead with a coronavirus twist, something that has not been seen in Paris throughout The French Open.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)
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TAPPER: Those are fans that The French Open cheering wildly when they found out they were allowed to stay past the 11:00 p.m. COVID curfew in order to finish watching the semi-finals between superstars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Now previously, spectators were forced to leave mid-match in order to get home before the curfew. By the way, moments ago, Djokovic upset Nadal becoming the first player ever to beat Nadal in a Paris (ph) semifinal.
Up next, it's not just President Biden on the world stage of course, but we're learning about the First Lady's plans as she gets a royal welcome abroad. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, Jill from Philly is making her debut across the pond as First Lady Jill Biden. And this week, First Lady Biden has proven that she is carving her own path as a political spouse, gaggling with reporters, serving as her husband's best hype woman, spreading what she says is love from America. CNN's Kate Bennett has been following the First Lady. Kate, so what do you make of her performance so far?
KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think she's doing exactly what she would want to do as authentic Jill from Philly. I mean, you can sort of see that she's spreading her wings, so to speak, as she's always, you know, second lady or sort of second fiddles (ph) in a way. She knows these trips, she knows how they work. But this time, she's really in the spotlight. And I think what she's saying is, I'm independent, I'm doing things independent of my husband.
She has a number of solo events. We saw her today this morning, with Kate Middleton, of course, at a school event. I mean, that's separate from the G7 spousal events. She's doing a military families event, she'll do something else after she meets the Queen on Sunday at Windsor Castle.
So clearly what Joe Biden's saying is, I want to do my own thing. I want to talk about my own causes. I want to talk about my own issues. I'm here to support Joe. Remember what she said. He's over prepared. He's going to be great. But certainly what she's also saying is, look at me a little bit. This is my time. She's always prepared for this. She's, maybe, always known at some point, this could be her life as First Lady. So what she's doing is taking advantage of that. And still not losing her, you know, call me Jill, call me Dr. B., I don't really know where to stand. I mean, she's not someone who practices this kind of protocol with the Queen. So it should be interesting on Sunday to see. But she's certainly someone who is thinking about how to still be true to herself, true to her husband, support him, but also say, I've done all this stuff before for decades. Like let me have a moment here. This is it on the world stage.
TAPPER: And her cause, her causes support for military families, which I think would make sense given the fact that Prince Harry is a military family himself, anyway.
BENNETT: Yes. And then they're good friends. I mean, that's part of one of our big causes, for sure (ph).
TAPPER: Kate Bennett, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
TAPPER: Be sure to tune in to State of the Union this Sunday. My co- host Dana Bash will talk to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that's 9:00 noon Eastern on Sunday. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at The -- that's right, TikTok. You're a little surprise there. Or you could tweet the show at TheLeadCNN.
Our coverage now continues with Wolf Blitzer right next door in The Situation Room. Thanks for joining us.