Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Democrats Explore Options to Raise Debt Ceiling; Tom Wheeler is Interviewed about Facebook; Homicide Rate Rose from 2019 to 2020; Leonne Armstrong is Interviewed about the Homicide Rate Rising; January 6th Committee Can't Find Trump Aide. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 09:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: So much. All of the success on the book. And we appreciate you being with us.

DAVE GROHL, MUSICIAN, SONGWRITER AND FOUNDER, FOO FIGHTERS: Thank you so much for having me. It was great to be here.

CNN: And CNN's coverage continues right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill.


Running out of options and time. Today, on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are scrambling as the nation barrels towards a potential economic precipice. They've set a vote at 3:00 Eastern Time to raise the debt limit, avoid the first ever government default, which could come as early as next week. But the result of that vote likely a foregone conclusion. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell continues to hold firm that no Republican senators will vote to raise the debt ceiling. Something, we should note, they've never hesitated to do many times in the past, including when their own spending plans go through.

HILL: This is an excellent point. And yet here we are.

And all of this as President Biden is now suggesting Democrats could make a one-time change to the Senate's filibuster rules to get this done.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House. CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

Arlette, let's start with you.

So that comment from the president getting a lot of attention. He is also set to meet with CEOs and business leaders just a few hours from now. That message is going to be very important as well.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, President Biden is expected to argue that Republican obstruction is putting the country's economic situation at risk as the GOP continues to stand firm in their refusal to vote to raise the debt ceiling. The president is expected to make that argument as he meets with top business leaders and CEOs here at the White House to say that there needs to be bipartisan action to address the debt limit.

But this comes as Democrats are scrambling to find ways to avoid a possible default. And President Biden, last night, said it's a very real possibility that Senate Democrats could allow for a one-time carveout of that Senate filibuster rule, changing the threshold from 60 to 50 votes. But it's unclear whether all 50 Democrats would actually be on board with that rule change.

And, yesterday, President Biden said that Democrats are really limited in their options at this point and urged Republicans to come to the table and act.

Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Quite frankly there's not many options. If they're going to be that irresponsible, there's not many options. There's not much time left to do it by reconciliation. They can keep it on two tranches. They can keep this on the floor for hundredths (ph) of amendments. They can just delay this. I don't think they're going to end up being that irresponsible. I can't believe it.


SAENZ: Now, here at the White House this afternoon, the president will be ramping up his public pressure campaign on Republicans as he hosts CEOs and business leaders to talk about the need to raise the debt ceiling. He will be hosting CEOs of major bank companies like Bank of America and JP Morgan. He's also hosting the head of AARP, which the White House notes is an organization that represents millions of Americans whose Social Security and Medicare benefits could be at risk if the nation were to default.

All of these issues are top of mind for this White House and Democrats up on Capitol Hill as they are trying to avoid any major financial and economic calamity if the nation were to default.

SCIUTTO: All right, so let's be frank, it doesn't look like Republicans are coming around on this. And Mitch McConnell, never bet against him when he set his mind on something.

So, Lauren, the two options for Democrats, given that you would need 60 votes under normal rules, are either carve out an exception to the filibuster to raise the debt limit or go via reconciliation. The trouble is, it seems like Manchin, Sinema and others view that a carveout would then open the floodgates, right? In other words, the filibuster goes for a whole host of other things. So, based on what you're hearing up on The Hill, what's the most likely path forward?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends who you talk to, Jim. Democratic leaders are being very insistent that this option of using that special budget tool known as reconciliation up here on Capitol Hill is not going to happen because they're arguing it simply takes too much time at this point. You would have essentially two marathon vote-a-ramas. You would have a whole host of other votes that had to happen. That is something that Democratic leaders say that's not on the table anymore. There's no time for that.

But, like you noted, an exception to that filibuster rule is something that Democrats by and large in their caucus have struggled to do on other issues in the past. Whether that was voting rights or immigration, other potential issues that are very important to their constituents. And that's because they have two moderates, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who both have argued that they want to preserve that.

Now, do they or would they see this exception as potentially so important to the country's economic future and the potential calamity that would happen if the debt ceiling wasn't increased, would they change their minds on this specific carveout?


That's what we are trying to understand right now.

Yesterday, Joe Manchin did not answer our questions specifically about it, saying that he thought that Schumer and McConnell should get in a room and come to some kind of consensus.

We are also going to be watching out for Kyrsten Sinema and whether or not she would be open to that kind of rules change.

One of the arguments those moderates have been making on the filibuster in the past is that you don't want to change the Senate rules on legislation because you'd have wild swings in what the country was going through from administration to administration.

However, the debt ceiling increase isn't going to be this massive policy shift, it simply is just increasing the country's borrowing limit. Do they see these two issues as different? That's going to be the main question.

I can guarantee you that Republicans, however, on Capitol Hill see this as a major and colossal change if Democrats were to go through with it.

Jim and Erica.

HILL: A lot to watch for. Here we are again.

Lauren Fox, Arlette Saenz, appreciate it. Thank you both for the reporting.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg firing back against the whistleblower who accused him of putting profits over public safety. In a 1,300 word response, Zuckerberg arguing that the company's work and motives have been mischaracterized. As a reminder, here's what Frances Haugen, that whistleblower, told a Senate panel on Tuesday.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth and virality and reactiveness over public safety. They shouldn't get a free pass on that because they're paying for their profits right now with our safety.


SCIUTTO: Zuckerberg responded, not surprisingly in a Facebook post, writing, quote, the argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. I don't any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.

Joining me now, Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Good to have you on, Tom.

You know, Erica and I were speaking before the show, just asking, what would regulation look like, right, because you had a rare moment of bipartisan agreement in that hearing yesterday that you had both Democrats and Republicans agreeing on some form of regulation. And even Zuckerberg has said that, you know, he would support it, but it's up to Congress to do so.

So, tell us, what would the road map be?

TOM WHEELER, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Well, Jim, you are right, we are at a bipartisan moment here to do something. The challenge with what we do is we need to be looking forward rather than looking backwards. We need to be saying, OK, we are in the middle of this digital revolution, and how do we plan for it going forward, and not use the kind of thinking that we used in the industrial age.


WHEELER: And so what I have been proposing, along with several colleagues, is that what we need is a new, focused federal agency that has digital expertise and can develop a new, more agile regulatory structure than the kind of rigid, sclerotic process that we have now so that we can keep pace with the effects of the technological changes.

HILL: So we need to plan for what we don't know is coming essentially, which so many would agree with.

But I think the issue here for a lot of people too is, it's great to propose a new agency that would better understand what's happening and where the industry is going. The reality is, there is urgency here and something needs to be done now.

What do you see that could be a more immediate solution today? WHEELER: Well, the Congress has the opportunity to go in and address

issues of algorithmic bias. They have the opportunity to go in and address other kinds of issues. They -- they -- what we want to make sure we don't have happen, Erica, is that they go, OK, we've done it, and walk away, because Facebook is just the canary in the coal mine, if you will. It's the example of the kinds of abuses that have happened because for the last couple of decades we have allowed the innovators, God bless them, we have allowed the innovators to make the rules. They have become pseudo governments. And we need the real government to step up and say, no, here are the rules that are going to apply in the digital era. And if the kind of activities as was talked about yesterday are taken, that's a step forward, but it's not enough.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, so many lessons about how self-regulation of industry just simply doesn't work, whether you're talking about tobacco or fossil fuels or something like social media.

One particular measure that even Mark Zuckerberg talked about is setting a minimum age for accessing some of these platforms. I wonder, is that the kind of step that you think could make a difference?


WHEELER: So, obviously, any kind of step like that is a positive step. The question becomes, OK, how do you enforce that?


WHEELER: You know, you're -- this is -- this is -- this is somebody sitting behind a machine, being judged by another machine, as to whether they are actually over, fill in the blank, age.


WHEELER: Yes, it makes sense, but I don't think that we can consider it to be the be all and end all solution.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. I mean I think, as an example, right, if you, for instance, say buy wine online, you know, you go to that website, it will say, are you 18? I mean, I don't know, a puppy -- a puppy could click that, right?


SCIUTTO: So how does it work, yes.

HILL: Oh, the cases of wine my dog has ordered. You're right, Jim.


WHEELER: That's -- that's -- that's -- that's the old -- on the -- on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog situation, right?

HILL: There you go.

SCIUTTO: Exactly.

HILL: Such an important conversation. One we clearly need to continue because this is an issue that does need to be addressed immediately.

Tom Wheeler, appreciate your insight, thank you, this morning.

WHEELER: Thank you.

HILL: Up next, a CDC report released overnight shows a 30 percent surge in homicides in the United States in 2020. We'll speak with the police chief of Oakland, California, about what he sees driving numbers like that and how he believes we can address and even reverse the trend.

SCIUTTO: Plus, one of former President Trump's allies has one day left to comply with a congressional subpoena from the January 6th committee. The only issue is, the committee can't seem to find him. Is that deliberate?

And new details this morning about the ISIS-K bomber who targeted the Kabul airport, killed those 13 U.S. service members, hundreds of others. Turns out he was released from prison just days -- days before that deadly attack.



HILL: New this morning, the CDC releasing disturbing new details about the surge in homicides in the U.S. in 2020. That rate jumped 30 percent from 2019. That's the largest percentage increase year over year in modern history.

SCIUTTO: We should be clear, though, in absolute terms, the overall murder rate still significantly lower than it was in the 1980s and '90s. You can see that there.

CNN national correspondent Ryan Young in Atlanta with more.

So, Ryan, I mean the numbers have been heading in the wrong direction in a number of communities around the country. Tell us specifically what the CDC numbers show.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, this is really shocking, guys, when you think about it. We knew 2020 was a difficult year. When you throw in COVID, and the fact that police departments have been hit hard by COVID, then you add in all the violence, especially gun violence, that hit this country, we're talking about over 21,000 murders, you put on top of that the fact that hospitals are really good at saving people, that number could be a lot higher. But this number is pretty shocking when you think about a 30 percent increase.

When you look at the numbers, it's -- 2019 was 6.0 homicides per 100,000. In 2020, that number jumped to 7.8 homicides per 100,000. And when you include suicide in this, there was actually a drop there. In 2019, it was 13.9 suicides per 100,000. In 2020 it was 13.5 suicides per 100,000.

But, guys, as we have been tracking this throughout the year, and I've been going through city to city, this is not just something that's going on in large cities. In fact, midlevel American cities have been dealing with the increase in gun violence. And when you think about police departments dealing with, when you have a small detective crew that has to deal with homicides, you have to put your team around this and then try to suppress some of the violence. It's been taking them to put all their hands on it (ph).

I should note, though, there were three states that had a drop in homicides. That was Maine, New Mexico, and Alaska. So at least those three states saw a drop. But, right now, in 2021, we are still tracking crime trends across this country.


HILL: Ryan Young, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now to talk a little bit more about how this is impacting folks on a local level, the chief of the Oakland, California, police department, LeRonne Armstrong.

Chief, good to have you with us this morning.

You've been really clear, you've been very outspoken, especially talking about gun violence in your city and the need for the community to come together. I'm wondering, in terms of a message, there's so much being made about the rise in violence and specifically gun violence nationwide, but it's not a one size fits all solution.

What are you seeing in Oakland? What do you believe this morning would make a difference?


CHIEF LERONNE ARMSTRONG, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, POLICE: You know, well -- thank you for having me, Jim and Erica.

I really do think it's going to take a collective effort between law enforcement, community and our department of violence prevention, which brings forth additional resources around violence intervention, violence interruption and street outreach. We really need to reach those that continue to pick up firearms. But, you know, most difficultly they continue to use those firearms in our community to take people's lives.

And so it really is going to take those that care about people in our community, those that have loved ones that continue to utilize firearms and those that have been victimized, people who have experienced tragedies to come together and say, we need to stop the violence in our community, because we all feel unsafe at this point.

SCIUTTO: Chief Armstrong, my producer an I spent some time with the NYPD on patrol a few weeks ago and one thing NYPD leaders cite is what they call the iron pipeline, and that is a sort of pipeline of weapons from southern states with liberal gun laws up to New York. And I wonder, do you see similar where you are in California and how do they get in and is there a way to control, you know, those weapons getting in?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, we definitely have seen the increase in firearms coming across the California border, both from Nevada and Arizona. We've boneen working with the ATF to stem this influx of firearms that continue to come into our community.


I think one of the real difficult issues we're facing is this huge influx of ghost guns. We hadn't seen ghost guns in the city of Oakland in 2018 and prior years, but in 2020 and 2021 we have seen a significant increase in the recovery of these untrackable weapons. That is also problematic for law enforcement as well.

HILL: Yes, and especially -- and we're looking at these numbers here too, the murder rate in Oakland.

The city council recently voted to approve a resolution that declared gun violence in Oakland, you know, a public health emergency.

You know, we looked at the -- the AMA, years ago, said this is -- this is a public health issue.


HILL: This is a public health crisis.

Does almost redefining gun violence as a public health issue, does that help you?

ARMSTRONG: I think it does. I think it sends a message to the entire community that it is not just about violence related to a certain group of people, or certain individuals. I really think it says that this is a problem that we all should pay attention to, that it has impacted all communities throughout our country as we've seen from the statists that you guys put out earlier.

I think it is a call in Oakland for every member of our community to be a part of our response to address gun violence. And I appreciate the council ringing at alarm, if you would, to say to everybody that this is a crisis, a medical crisis, that needs the proper attention.


You often hear -- before we go, Chief -- from police departments across the country about a drop in police officers' morale. Do you have that same experience and do you think that's part of the reason behind the jump in crime? I mean are officers policing differently in this environment?

ARMSTRONG: I haven't seen our officers police any differently. I think we reorganized to be more focused. I think we feel like we are accountable to public safety. And so our officers are going out there doing the best job they can to address violent crime.

But we have seen the impact of a reduce in staffing, that some people are choosing to not join law enforcement, some people feel like it's just a difficult time to be a police officer. So I think law enforcement departments throughout the country are definitely dealing with some recruiting and retention issues of keeping police officers in uniform.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's a story we hear so often.

Chief LeRonne Armstrong, we know you have a lot of hard work to do. We wish you the best of luck.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection wants to hear from former Trump aide Dan Scavino, but sources tell CNN they can't find him to serve the subpoena.

HILL: Where could he be?

And we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Stocks set to slide as the roller coaster ride continues for the markets here. Inflation, debt issues and the Fed easing its stimulus program all catching Wall Street off guard. So, today, investors seem to be most concerned about rising gas and oil prices, specifically that they could exacerbate inflation and slow the economic recovery.



SCIUTTO: Lawmakers investigating the January 6th insurrection face a roadblock of sorts in their efforts to get a former ally of President Trump -- or former President Trump's allies to testify. More than a week after subpoenaing former Trump aide Dan Scavino, the House Select Committee has been unable to physically serve that subpoena to Scavino. They can't find him.

HILL: Which is remarkable. Mind you, subpoenas -- the subpoena set a deadline of tomorrow to comply for the request for documents and another next week for depositions.

CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild joining us now.

So, there's a question of how does this impact the committee, but also it just sort of, you know, leaves you scratching your head, they can't find Dan Scavino?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Where in the world is Dan Scavino.


WILD: So the -- the timeline here is impacted a little bit because, as you had mentioned, the deadline for documents is tomorrow. However, the deadline for depositions isn't for another nine days. So there's still, you know, a lot of time to bring him in and actually depose him.

So the timeline, while not ideal for House investigators, is not stretched too far at this point. If we get to October 14th and they still can't find him, that's going to be a bigger problem for them.

The indication right now, though, is that many people who have been subpoenaed are planning to comply. We know that people who were a part of the rally organization, for example, sources telling us that they plan to comply. We already know that the on-site supervisor, who was the head of security that day, the private security for the event, plans to comply as well. So other people are out there taking this very seriously. It's just an inability to nail down where Dan Scavino's physical body is in this moment to actually hand him the papers, which is -- you mentioned, this is kind of baffling, because other people seem to have received these no problem.

SCIUTTO: Yes, by the way -- well, and also someone who's, you know, ubiquitous on social media but they can't find him when they need to serve him legal papers.

HILL: Right.

WILD: Exactly. Exactly. Yes.

HILL: Right. Right.

SCIUTTO: Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

Joining me now to discuss is Ambassador Norm Eisen, he's former House Judiciary special counsel in former President Trump's first impeachment trial, and Richard Painter, he's former White House ethics lawyer.

Gentlemen, thanks to both of you here.

I wonder, when you look at this Scavino case, are you concerned that folks involved in this can stonewall the investigation, right, delay, hide, not testify immediately, challenge in court.


Let's start with you, Norm. You've got a lot of experience here.