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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Soon: Biden to Address Nation on Rise on Violent Crime; Progressives Express Frustration with Pace of Bipartisan Talks; Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is Interviewed About the Election Reform Fight; Delta Variant; Kamala Harris Set to Visit Border; Emails Show Biden Campaign Thought Facebook Didn't Do Enough to Address the Spread of Election Lies; Biden & A.G. Address Nation on Rise on Violent Crime. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 23, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden today turning his attention to a different epidemic.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The president to address an eruption of crime in gun violence across the United States, ut if Congress cannot even agree on bridges and roads, how are they going to come together on the more politically complicated issue of gun violence?
No one else has to die. The plea from the CDC for the rest of the American people to go get their shots before a vicious new variant takes hold.
Plus, clicking ignore. What Facebook was and was not doing as voter fraud misinformation spread despite repeated requests from political professionals, and CNN has the receipts.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we begin today in our politics lead. Any moment we're told President Biden will lay out a plan to combat a nationwide surge in violent crime. Across the United States, homicide rates are up this year. There have been 296 mass shootings, nearly 9,500 gun violence deaths, all higher than at this time last year.
And 2020 had to have been the deadliest gun violence year in decades. Making matters worse, local authorities are now warning of a brutal summer of killing, that it could lie ahead.
Now, President Biden we're told will call on Congress and use executive action to try to propose measures to curb gun violence. He says he has a five-point plan. Let's get right to CNN's Phil Mattingly who is live for us from the White House. And, Phil, the president has failed to be able to get Congress to act
on gun legislation such as universal background checks before. What makes him think this time's going to be any different?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I don't know that White House officials think any of the dynamics have changed. They know that this is a visceral issue of public safety that obviously kind of pierces any everyday American and has kind of downstream effects related to the economy, related to just how people live their lives, their education, and recognizes the need to address it.
Now, federal legislation, obviously, the president will push for that, but that recognition that there's still a pretty high hill to climb on that is, in part, why you are going to see the president lay out a five-point plan today that is mainly detailed through executive actions. It includes one of the primary issues that the White House wants to focus on as it relates to guns. And that's a crackdown on weapons that are used for violent assaults.
The Justice Department will, for the first time, push to revoke the licenses for dealers that knowingly sell guns to individuals who aren't eligible to use those guns. But there's also a financing component of this as well. And I think administration officials have really keyed on using millions of dollars from the COVID relief funds to help surge federal sources to assist local law enforcement, fund community-based intervention programs, help with recidivism for individuals coming out of jails, also help fund job and after-school programs for kind of young adults and teenagers. They view this as kind of a comprehensive plan to try and address what they've seen.
And, obviously, Jake, you mentioned some of the numbers. Double increases in murders, increases in violent crime, particularly over the course of the last three months. And I think this is also an implicit recognition from the White House that they understand this is also politically potent issue as well, and they have heard about it, I'm told, from Democrats on Capitol Hill. They are regularly hearing about it from local officials including some of those who will be meeting behind closed doors on this issue right about now. And they recognize they need to get the president in front of it.
Now, obviously, this is complicated within the Democratic Party. But White House officials feel like the president has some grounds here. He's pushed back on the idea of de-funding the police. He obviously has a lengthy record on crime issues, some of which he's moved away from since the 1994 crime bill.
But they believe he's the person in the party that can come out and talk about this, come out and address this. And that's what you're going to see today. A major focus on gun violence, but an overall effort to do something to address what has become a serious issue nationwide.
TAPPER: All right, Phil, that's fascinating. Thank you so much.
Let's discuss this with our panel. Gloria, let me start with you. You just heard from Phil some of the
proposals Biden will make include allowing cities and states to reallocate COVID funds to fight crime, imposing a zero tolerance policy when it comes towards gun dealer who's break deals, investing in community policing, the opposite of de-funding the police, increasing funding by the police.
Can this get by Congress?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, maybe some of it can, which is sort of reallocating some of the COVID funds, although they will probably disagree on how much COVID funding is left to reallocate. But the rest of it you have to see through a political prism. This has always been the issue.
Look, the House has a couple of gun control measures.
They're stuck in the Senate right now on background checks. And, you know, I think that that's always been a problem.
The Republicans want to use this as an issue. Democrats want to defund the police -- Phil Mattingly points out that has never been Joe Biden's position, nor is it his position now. But it is an issue that they feel that they can use in the midterm elections.
And while I would argue that high crime rates don't help any politician anywhere because it's in big cities as well as in rural areas, I think that Republicans believe that they can use it more to their advantage, which is why you see the White House pushing back so hard on this. Because half of the American public believes that we ought to strengthen gun laws.
TAPPER: Yeah. But, to that point, is it not also the case, Nia, that Democrats also see potent political issues in the fact, for instance, Pat Toomey, Republican from the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania who put forward with Joe Manchin, two of them both big NRA guys, a measure to close the so-called gun show loophole, requiring that private sellers also have to do background checks at gun shows and the like. Toomey told me a few months ago that he thinks a very narrow version of that could pass and a Democratic Senate could get ten Republican votes.
But they haven't brought it up, right? They want -- Democrats want to bring up a big expansive package that can't get 60 votes.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Listen, I'm skeptical of even what Toomey was telling you about getting something through this Congress with --
TAPPER: Not ten Republicans?
HENDERSON: I don't think so. I mean, I think we have an issue with guns and with Republicans not really wanting to be bipartisan. There's really no reason of history of bipartisanship when it comes to guns over the last many, many cycles, presidents that we covered and congresses, we covered.
I think the most important issue here is Biden wants to defang this issue politically for Democrats. Democrats have been tagged as soft on crime for decades. Biden himself in 1994 aware of this issue so he brings up the crime bill, which, of course, in some ways hurt him later politically. But they know that the Democrats have always been sort of known as the mommy party, Republicans as the daddy party. And so that is why they are doing this.
They see what the statistics are showing in terms of this rise in crime all across the country on not just in places where defund the police is a slogan, but everywhere. And so, I think that's the main issue. He wants to be caught trying to do something on this issue.
TAPPER: And meanwhile, Laura, while this is going on and communities are crying out for help, and in some cases crying out for more police. We heard that from the Baltimore police commissioner yesterday on the show. Policing reform, which is still being negotiated by a bipartisan group in the Senate including Senator Tim Scott, Senator Cory Booker, still being negotiated, only one day left before the July 4th recess.
And, look, it's nuanced, you can support more cops and also policing reform, although in this political world that's a tough argument to make. But how does this affect that, do you think?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Biden is clearly trying to balance this all right here, as you just said. On one hand, Biden is the person who is very close with cops, who has had a history of being close to police unions. And, on the other hand, he is very much trying to get police reform done. But there are a lot of things in that bill that Republicans aren't okay with, which is why we're seeing it stall so much.
Then you also see him with today's speech, trying to address and get ahead of what they expect is going to be a long, hot summer with a lot of crime. But, at the same time, you saw yesterday him announce that he supports changing drug sentencing. So, you see Democrats and Biden himself trying to appease progressives and appease what he sees as the future of this party and the direction that the party is headed in, which they are not any more okay with a tough on crime, you know, mass incarceration of the past that Biden used to support. But he is also still trying to make sure that they aren't weakened to Republican attacks heading into the 2022 midterms.
TAPPER: Yeah, and meanwhile there was an interesting message, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, probably going to run for president in 2024, assuming Trump does not run, putting out a message yesterday, along the lines of, it's true that it's unfair that there are disparities in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, but the solution is not to alleviate the sentences on crack cocaine, it's to make sentences against powder cocaine tougher.
So there it is, an acknowledgment of racial disparities but let's punish everybody even harder.
HENDERSON: Yeah, that in some ways has always been the Republican Party orthodoxy in terms of cracking down on crime, supporting police, more police on the street. So in some ways, it isn't surprising that you have Tom Cotton saying let's throw them all in jail even though you have greater discourse about this, say, you know, people who are either drug addicts or they're selling drugs.
There's some different way to address this rather than lock people up and throw away the key.
BORGER: If you're Joe Biden, imagine this. So in 1994, you're part of the crime bill. You're a primary sponsor of this crime bill saying Democrats are tough on crime. You run in the primary, the Democratic primary, and you have to run away from that crime bill, which gave you mandatory minimum sentencing, which everybody criticized as putting too many people in jail, et cetera, et cetera.
Now they're saying, look, he has his bona fides, he's tough on crime because of the 1994 crime bill. So, everything seems to have come full circle now for Joe Biden who has to continue to walk this line on crime a generation later.
TAPPER: Yeah, fascinating stuff. We'll see what he says.
Gloria, Nia-Malika, Laura, thanks so much for being here.
One of the biggest names on the progressive left now telling President Biden to stop trying to please Republicans when it comes to infrastructure. That's next.
And it's looking as though you might need another COVID shot in the fall. What vaccinated Americans need to know about staying protected.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We are back with our politics lead.
Tensions are boiling over inside the Democratic Party as progressives voiced their frustration over how long negotiations are taking with Republicans on an infrastructure deal, not to mention the size of the currently scaled-back version of the bill.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us.
Ryan, we expect top White House officials to meet with Democratic leaders on this issue tonight?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Chuck Schumer are expected to huddle with those White House officials who are actually here on Capitol Hill right now meeting with that bipartisan group of senators. And depending on who you talk to, the progress is either close to them having a deal or they're going to have a deal within 24 to 48 hours, but they all seem to agree that the negotiations are heading in the right direction. They all caution, though, that just one thing could send them in the wrong direction and someone could pull back from the table.
Right now, though, there is optimism that they could have a deal, and they want to have that deal done before the end of the day tomorrow because senators are going to be heading out for their July 4th break -- Jake.
TAPPER: Ryan, after the Democrats' sweeping election reform bill failed last night, progressives are now directly calling on President Biden to do more to publicly push the bill. What's next?
NOBLES: Yeah, Jake, this is a growing problem for the Democratic Party because, and particularly in the House of Representatives where the margins are so tight, only four-vote lead that the Democrats have in the House. Progressives are getting upset that the White House isn't doing more to push voting rights, which they consider to be their top priority in this legislative calendar.
And I talked to Congressman Mondaire Jones. He's a freshman from New York, and he told me that he specifically thinks that President Biden needs to be more vocal and needs to do more behind the scenes to lean on those moderate Democratic senators to break up the filibuster to push voting rights through.
And this could be a bigger problem for the Biden agenda because many of these progressive Democrats really aren't all that excited about that bipartisan infrastructure plan that we talked about. And even if it passes through the Senate, it's got to get back over to the house. If some of these progressives baulk because they feel the White House is not doing enough for their key legislative priorities, that could be a big problem.
So, they want to see action. And at this point, the White House has not shown what the next steps will be.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Senator, thanks for joining us, Mr. Chairman.
Your colleague, independent Senator Angus King of Maine who caucuses with Democrats, he tells CNN that he wants to try again to reach a deal with Republicans on election reform legislation.
Do you think that there is potentially common ground to be found on this, a more narrow bill? Or do you think Democrats and Republicans are just too diametrically opposed on this?
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Well, look, I hope that we can reach common ground. Preserving the right to vote and the ability to cast that vote is the very essence of representative democracy. Yet, what we see across the country, over 400 actions taken by Republican legislatures and introducing bills that restrict the right to vote, that make it far more difficult to cast a vote, particularly in minority communities. That's a telltale sign of where Republicans really are at.
So it is my hope that if it wasn't For the People, that then tell us what you're for at the end of the day to see what we can come together on common ground, at least to advance some of the democracy gains that we should be having in our society and make sure that everybody who is eligible to vote gets that right to vote and it gets to do it relatively in an easy fashion.
TAPPER: Do you agree with the progressives who have said that Biden was not sufficiently vocal, not sufficiently out there campaigning on the issue of election reform?
MENENDEZ: I think the president has been, you know, very forthright and engaged. The vice presidents have been very engaged.
You know, there's a reality. The reality is that we don't have 60 votes in the United States Senate, and for so long as the filibuster rule continues to be the rule in the history of the Senate, then we're going to have a challenge on some of these big things.
But I will say it takes two to tango. So, if I invite you to do things, whether it's on infrastructure or voting rights and you basically say no, then it creates the impetus for some to consider what is necessary to be done to change the rules to permit maybe at least a democracy exception, because this is the very core of our government and how we proceed.
And it affects all other things.
TAPPER: So you would support getting rid of the filibuster for an election reform bill exclusively not just in general?
MENENDEZ: In the absence of any visible demonstration by Republicans to come to the table and broaden the scope of how we make the right to vote is enhanced, how do we get dark money out of our system, how do we ultimately have greater transparency in the funding of elections -- I would consider that.
TAPPER: Speaking of working with Republicans, today, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told CNN that she's frustrated with how much time Democrats have been spending trying to negotiate with Republicans on the matter of infrastructure. She says, time's up, time for Democrats to go at it alone. What do you think?
MENENDEZ: Well, I'm hearing that they're on the verge of a potential bipartisan breakthrough. I want to see what it looks like. I hope there is one.
You know, when I was in the House of Representatives before I came to the Senate. I used to sit on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, it was always bipartisan. Our biggest challenge was urban versus suburban, rural versus, you know, some other elements, how much for highway, how much for transit. Those are the big issues, but we always got infrastructure done.
Now, we think of infrastructure far more broadly than roads, highways, and bridges. We think of it as broadband. We think about it in terms of innovation, research and development in order to be able to compete in the world especially against China. So we have a broader view.
So I hope it's a robust bill because we've been living off the investments of the greatest generation. We've done nothing to build on the greatest generation's investments that made us the infrastructure envy of the world. It's time to make a major transformational investment.
TAPPER: Speaking of China, I want to ask you about new comments from the director of national intelligence who told Yahoo News that the U.S. may never truly know the origins of COVID-19. Quote: We're hoping to find a smoking gun, but it's challenging to do that. She added: It might happen, but it might not, unquote.
Do you think that's possible? What happens if you cannot find out what really happened?
MENENDEZ: Well, it is my hope that we can and that we will, and we have to put all our resources to do that. For example, legislation that I have with Susan Collins that is bicameral and bipartisan for a National Coronavirus Commission Act that creates a 9/11-type independent commission, one of the charges would be to determine the origins of COVID-19.
And, so, I think that's something that we all want to see, we understand it, whether it was by design or by accident or by wet markets. However it came about, we need to know so that we can prevent in the future and we can hold those responsible if there was actions that ultimately should have been brought to the world and its attention so that less people could've died. We owe it to the 600,000 Americans who have lost their lives, and we owe it to their families and their survivors.
TAPPER: Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, thanks so much to you, sir. I appreciate it.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
TAPPER: Under pressure after her last trip, Vice President Harris finally will visit the southern border. The details ahead.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, after weeks of scrutiny, Vice President Kamala Harris' office announced this afternoon that she is going to go to the southern border on Friday. Harris will visit El Paso, Texas, with the homeland security secretary, following complaints from Republicans and border security and migrants' rights activists, all of whom urged Harris to visit the border after President Biden tapped her to lead the administration's diplomatic effort to stop the surge of migrants entering the U.S.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now live from the White House.
And, Jeremy, what led to today's announcement?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it was just a few weeks ago that the vice president embarked on that first foreign trip to Guatemala and Mexico. And she struggled to answer that question about why she hadn't visited the border and whether she would go. You recalled that she compared it to not having visited Europe. And it caused quite a stir, and it was quite a controversy.
Now, the vice president told me then after that interview that she would go to the border, and today her office announcing that she will indeed be going to visit the border in El Paso, Texas, on Friday. A senior administration official telling me that the main purpose of this visit is to continue her work in addressing the root causes of migration.
They see El Paso as an important location to visit, primarily, because it's a main entry point from Mexico into the United States, but also because it is the birthplace of the Trump administration's family separation policy. There was a 2017 pilot program actually in El Paso at a migrant detention center separating children from their families.
And so, the vice president is certainly going there to look to try and contrast the previous administration's immigration policies with the current policies even as Republicans attack the vice president and the Biden administration for a policy that they say is encouraging migrants to come from Central America, from South America, to the United States.
There's no question, Jake, ultimately this border visit, in part, is about trying to put that past controversy from her foreign trip behind her. Republicans since the vice president was named to this role addressing the root causes of migration, they have tried to paint her as the border czar. And they have repeatedly questioned why she had not visited the border.
She will now on Friday, although she had, of course, previously, as attorney general and as a senator from the border state of California. But, ultimately, the vice president's team here certainly appears looking to put that controversy and those lines of attack behind them -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Let's discuss with our panel.
And, Ashley, I have to say, the idea that Republicans would attack Vice President Harris for not visiting the border was about the most predictable thing in this -- and so what I don't understand is why the self-inflicted wound? I mean, she could have just easily taken care of this early on by making that one of her first stops?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, the vice president made clear she was going to go to Guatemala first and Northern Triangle, because she really wants to get to the root cause of migration.
But the thing that is interesting, she says she's going to go to the border. She's going to the border now. I bet you the news tomorrow from Republicans will be, she's soft on immigration, she doesn't understand the issue. They're going to attack her either way, whether she was going to the border or not, because what they think we should be doing about migration and immigration is not the same as the Biden campaign.
The one thing that they do seem...
TAPPER: You mean...
TAPPER: The Trump campaign.
ALLISON: The Trump campaign,.
ALLISON: It seems like the one thing they might actually agree on is that migrants should not be coming to the United States right now, which she got a lot of flak from progressives and the immigrant rights community for saying that, even though that was Biden and Mayorkas' policy that has been out there before.
What's your take on this, Kristen? And also welcome back. Good to see you.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Great to see you.
Look, this is I think -- fairly or unfairly, it's going to be said that she's doing this because Trump recently announced he's going to the border on June 30. Conservatives have already sort of pivoted from saying, look, she needs to go to the border, which I think is a fair criticism.
If you're the government's point person this issue, go, be there on the ground, see what's happening. That was a very fair criticism. But now, of course, it almost looks like they're responding to Trump, which is not something that the Biden administration wants to be in the position of doing. You want Trump to be at his golf club tweeting out things that don't
affect you, not driving where your vice president goes.
Ashley, today, we learned about a dozen Republican lawmakers are going to join Trump on that border visit next week, clearly red meat for the base, for the Republican base. Is there a way for Biden to win a messaging battle with Trump on this? Or should he just not even try and just focus on the actual process of governing?
ALLISON: I think that the Biden/Harris administration needs to draw a very stark contrast with their policies and the Trump administration's policies.
Trump can go to the border, and then we should be reminded what he did on the border, how he separated mothers and fathers from their children, and the Biden administration is having to fix that. So I wouldn't take the bait and debate whether or not he should be going or not.
But I would point out how terrible his policies were, and how we're in a lot of the crisis because of how he treated and talked about immigrant families, and how he handled the border crisis and really actually created it. So I don't think he should take the Trump bait at all.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about this new article in "The Los Angeles Times" raising questions about Hunter Biden's latest project. He is an artist. He is selling his artwork. The prices range from $75,000 to nearly half-a-million dollars, which is quite a lot of money for a novice painter.
A new opinion piece in "The Los Angeles Times" says -- quote -- "The identity of buyers will not be disclosed, leading not just his father's political enemies, but also ethics experts and some of Biden's allies to speculate about whether this is just the latest example of Hunter exploiting the family name for profit."
I mean, he has a right to make a living and he can't really do government work anymore.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yes, but that's that's pretty good work if you can get it.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: I went down to Michaels over the holidays, bought some canvases. I'm pretty sure that nothing I could produce in my basement is going to be that good, worth that much money.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: So this certainly doesn't quite smell right.
And I just -- in some ways, my heart always kind of breaks for President Biden every time these stories happen, because Hunter Biden is just this magnet for all of this controversy. And he brings it on himself through his own actions, whether we're talking about everything that's on the laptop that's allegedly his or this new story. He's just this constant lightning rod for drama.
It has to be disappointing to the president. It has to be an unfortunate distraction for them. But it also speaks to the ability of -- there's so many loopholes that allow sort of money to slosh around, influence to be sort of peddled in ways that are just deeply unfortunate and counterproductive to democracy.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, the one of the points being made by this op-ed writer was that he could give the money to charity. Potentially, he could set up a trust for his kids.
Anyway, good to see both of you. Thank you so much.
The vicious new variant of coronavirus starting to snowball in the U.S. where vaccination rates are the lowest, believe it or not.
TAPPER: In our health lead: The FDA is expected to add a new warning to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after new cases of heart inflammation in teens.
But experts still say, get the shot. Do not turn back. Dr. Fauci put it this way on THE LEAD yesterday -- quote -- "Every death from COVID- 19 is avoidable," he said.
While the nation reckons with more than 600,000 deaths from COVID, some Americans are still shying away from the shot, however, as CNN's Erica Hill reports.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: About two weeks ago, we had about 10 percent of our strains being the Delta variant, and now, more recently, about 20 percent of our strains here in the United States are the death Delta variant.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rapid increase for this more transmissible, potentially more dangerous strain of coronavirus, and a warning.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: It will be the dominant strain among those areas, those regions of the country where the vaccination rate is lower than we would like.
HILL: These four states have the lowest vaccination rates for adults in the country. Among those 18 and older, less than half have at least one shot. Compare that to Vermont, where nearly 85 percent have at least one dose and 75 percent are fully vaccinated.
Yet, even in areas doing well, the push continues.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: We are going to keep innovating new ways to get people the vaccine, new ways to make it work for them.
HILL: More companies requiring shots. A source tells CNN employees and guests entering Morgan Stanley's New York offices next month must be vaccinated.
In Texas, 153 employees at Houston Methodist who refused to get a shot have now resigned or been fired. Despite a drop in COVID deaths, thanks to the vaccines, a new CNN analysis of CDC data finds those dying are now younger and disproportionately black.
WALENSKY: Nearly every death due to COVID-19 is particularly tragic, because nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is at this point entirely preventable.
HILL: As the Delta variant spreads, concern also growing for kids, especially those 11 and younger, who aren't eligible for the vaccine.
FAUCI: The best way to protect the children is to bring the level of virus circulation in the community down. The best way to do that is that those, i.e., adults, who are eligible for vaccination to get vaccinated.
HILL: And, Jake, one more note on those rare cases we have heard about an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Well, following a meeting today, we actually got a statement from top health officials, who said that this condition in younger people is extremely rare. And they note that the risk of not getting the vaccine is far greater than any risk of that extremely rare side effect, reiterating once again, Jake, that the vaccines are safe and effective.
TAPPER: All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much.
Joining us now to discuss, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, always good to see you.
We just learned the FDA is expected to add a warning to these two vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, after some, a very small number, but some young people reported heart inflammation post-vaccine.
First of all, how serious is this condition? I understand it's very rare, but how serious is it? And should teens ask their doctor before getting vaccinated?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the -- this warning will drive those conversations, for sure, between patients and their providers, and providers will also be more aware that this is a possibility.
But all the cases -- let me just say at the beginning all the cases of myocarditis, which is something that's reasonably worth investigating, were easily treated. They were mild cases. So we do know that at this point.
Let me build on what Erica was saying for a second Jake out of this meeting. We put together this graphic to give you an idea of how they actually look at the risk-benefit ratio, because that's what this comes down to.
For females, if you're getting the -- out of a million second doses that are administered, you would prevent 8,500 cases of COVID, 183 hospitalizations and one death, vs. eight to 10 treatable myocarditis cases.
For males, you would prevent 5,700 cases of COVID, 215 hospitalizations, and two deaths, vs. 56 to 69 cases of easily treatable myocarditis.
I show you all these numbers, Jake, in part because it gives you some insight into how they approach this. This is why they say the benefits outweigh the risks. But it will come with a warning. People have symptoms, they should see their doctor and know that can be easily treated.
TAPPER: Well, that's the important thing, is that it's easily treated.
People hear an inflammation of the heart muscle and they understandably get worried. Oh, does that mean the person is going to die? But you're saying, no, it's treatable.
TAPPER: This is a warning because everybody's trying to be responsible. But this doesn't mean -- don't jump to conclusions about how negative that could be.
GUPTA: That's exactly right.
I mean, people, especially young people, seem to be developing a strong inflammatory reaction to this vaccine. It's part of how the vaccine works. And that's probably why they're developing this myocarditis.
But now there's enough data to say, hey, look, how serious is this? Well, you obviously take this seriously. But if people have symptoms -- sometimes, it's chest pain, sometimes, it can be some shortness of breath -- check it out. Know that this is a possibility. And also know, as you point out, it can be easily treated.
TAPPER: And, Sanjay, also being discussed by the CDC advisers today, these booster shots, expected soon for those of us who are fully vaccinated, you, me.
What does that look like? Is it more like a tetanus booster once every ten years? Or is it more like a flu shot every year?
GUPTA: You know, I've been spending a lot of time reporting on this, Jake. I think where this is headed is that it's going to be different for different people likely. People who are more immuno-compromised who don't build up the same level of immunity in response to the vaccine, they're likely going to need it earlier. People who have chronic disease, things like that, people who have certain cancers, for example.
For the rest of us, I think it's just hard to know at this point, Jake. When you go back and look at SARS even, I'm talking 2003 SARS, people who became naturally infected from that, they had immunity going 17 years later, Jake. We don't know if it's going to last as long with this disease. I just don't think we know yet for certain if boosters are going to be necessary for the majority of people.
TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, good to see you, as always. Thanks so much.
He was allegedly part of a militia group that stormed the capitol on January 6th. The plea today from an accused MAGA terrorist. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, this afternoon brought the first plea deal in major cases against the extremist groups that took part in the Capitol Riot on January 6th. Prosecutors say that Graydon Young who made a deal to plead guilty was part of a military-style formation of Oath Keepers that cut through the crowd to move inside the Capitol. They also say Young was posting on Facebook about recruiting for the group, which brings us to our tech lead today, emails obtained by CNN reveal that the Biden campaign thought Facebook did not do nearly enough as lies about election fraud spread across its platform.
Our Donie O'Sullivan now reports.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just weeks before the election, this video from then President Trump's son began circulating online.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father. We need every able-bodied man, woman to join army for Trump's election security operation.
O'SULLIVAN: The video released on Facebook prompted a flurry of frantic emails between people working with the Biden campaign and Facebook. The fact that this video is still on your platform and is being used to recruit some sort of, and I quote, army for Trump's election security effort, is astounding, a senior Biden campaign official wrote to Facebook.
When a Facebook official responded saying it didn't violate their policy so the video would not be removed from the platform but it would be labeled, the same Biden official responded to Facebook: The Trump campaign has received the message that they may put videos on your platforms saying that millions of fraudulent votes would be used to steal the election. And the solution to that is for able-bodied people to enlist in an army. Good gracious. I struggle to believe that is the precedent you are intending to set.
The Democratic National Committee is worried misinformation is restricting voting rights and will be a major issue in next year's midterms.
SAM CORNALE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: The question for me is what has Facebook done to address what happened? The incitement of violence, the spreading of misinformation now being used to justify anti-voter legislation. And I just simply don't think they've done enough, Donie.
O'SULLIVAN: In the days after the election, the Stop the Steal movement began spreading on Facebook. A DNC official flagged to Facebook one group that was said to be suggesting political violence and included content from QAnon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is still your president!
O'SULLIVAN: Meanwhile, Trump supporters began taking to the streets repeating some of those lies they had seen on social media.
The ballots that you said you saw are lying around the place or in trash cans or whatever. Where are you hearing that from?
ANDREW WALKER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: The videos are going viral everywhere. I've seen them on TikTok. I've seen them on Facebook. I've seen them on Fox News. I've seen them on the local news around my area.
O'SULLIVAN: There is a ton of social media platforms.
O'SULLIVAN: Why are we talking about Facebook here?
CORNALE: Well, Facebook has the biggest reach, and I think presents one of the biggest challenges. This challenge isn't for the Democratic Party. This challenge is for American democracy.
O'SULLIVAN: Katie Paul tracks extremism online.
KATIE PAUL, DIRECTOR, TECH TRANSPARENCY PROJECT: What Facebook should be doing right now is the exact same thing it should've been doing a year ago and two years before that, ensuring this content is not easily accessible on the platform.
O'SULLIVAN: Facebook did take down some of the posts that were flagged by the DNC and the Biden campaign. Facebook declined an on- camera interview for this story, but Facebook's spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN we've done more than any other internet company to combat harmful content including limiting content that saw to delegitimize the outcome of the election both before and after January 6th.
But Democrats say Facebook is simply not doing enough.
CORNALE: We're not asking them to take down everything that we don't like. We're asking them to take down rhetoric that incites violence, that disenfranchises people from their constitutional right to vote, that spreads misinformation about democracy or about elected officials, or it makes it harder for us to compete on a fair playing field.
O'SULLIVAN: And, Jake, Facebook officials, of course, are keen to point out that Facebook isn't the only problem here. There are other social media websites. There's a whole ecosystem of pro-Trump media that is pushing conspiracy theories.
But as you heard, Democrats are most concerned about Facebook because of the pivotal role it plays in political discourse in this country.
One important thing to point out, on that video from Trump Jr. where he was spewing these nonsense, these lies about the elections and millions of fake ballots and calling for an army for his dad, a few weeks after that video was posted, Facebook actually changed its policies, and they put in stricter rules about talk of militarization when it came to polling locations.
However, those policies did not apply retrospectively, meaning that that video of Trump Jr. is still up on Facebook today -- Jake.
TAPPER: Donie, what are people most concerned about now looking forward to the midterms?
O'SULLIVAN: Yeah. I mean, even before you get to the midterms, there is a lot of concern, I think, about all this talk of the audit in Arizona that Republican-led audit. We're already seeing talk and we know from reporting from Maggie Haberman and others that Trump is talking about possibly trying to come back to office this summer, which, of course, is nonsense. But there are people engaging that, and there is that sort of level of energy, and I guess sort of anticipation that something is going to happen in Arizona.
So, Democrats are very concerned about the talk of that. And then, of course, Jake, going into the 2022 midterms, as well as --
TAPPER: All right, Donie, I got to interrupt you, I'm sorry, we have the president of the United States coming out with the Attorney General Merrick Garland. Let's listen in.
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good afternoon, Mr. President. It's good to be here with you and with the local elected and community leaders and with representatives of law enforcement.
Protecting our communities from violent crime is a top priority for the Department of Justice and one of our most important responsibilities. I'm glad the president brought us together today to discuss the subject of such importance to the public we served.
As our participants in today's roundtable have noted, the increase in violent crime in 2020 and early 2021 is deeply troubling. That is why, last month, the Justice Department launched a comprehensive violent crime reduction strategy.
This strategy is built around four principles: setting strategic enforcement priorities, fostering trust with and earning legitimacy in our communities, investing in community-based prevention and intervention programs, and measuring the results of these efforts through a decrease in violent crime, not merely by arrests and convictions as if they were ends in themselves.
Now, we know that the lion share of violent crime reduction work is shouldered by our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners. Core to our strategy is targeted support of the critical work that you will be doing in the weeks and months ahead. Every one of our U.S. attorneys' offices is working with its local partners to establish an immediate plan to address the spike in violent crime that typically occurs during the summer.
And the law enforcement components of the department are making enhanced resources available to help prevent and disrupt violent crime and to focus on the most dangerous, most violent offenders.
The department is also strengthening our project-safe neighborhoods, our cornerstone initiative that brings together law enforcement and community stakeholders to develop solutions to pressing violent crime problems. Community-led efforts are vital to preventing violence before it occurs. The Justice Department has available over $1 billion in funding through over a dozen grant programs that can be used to support evidence-based community violence intervention strategies.
And I want to say that's what I found particularly useful in our discussion just a few minutes ago was the fact that there are such evidence-based programs available. And I'm hoping that you will get together with us so that we can spread those across the country as well, of course, funding your own.
A properly functioning criminal justice system is essential to our efforts as well. The department has grant funding available to help cities resume court operations and services that were curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes funding for technology and equipment, for courts to address the backlog of cases and enhance access to justice.
We know that an effective violent crime reduction strategy must also address the illegal trafficking of firearms and focus on keeping guns out of the wrong hands. And, so, the department is delivering on the promises we made here at the White House in April. On May 7th, we issued a proposed rule to help address the proliferation of ghost guns. On June 7th, we issued a proposed rule to clarify that pistols equipped with certain stabilizing braces are subject to the same statutory restrictions as easily concealable short-barrel rifles.
And on the same day, the department published model extreme risk protection order legislation for states to consider as they craft their own laws to reduce gun violence. We are now taking further steps. First, we will hold gun dealers that break the rules accountable for their actions. Most federally licensed firearms dealers operate legally and selling guns to individuals who have passed background checks.