Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Russia Ready to Discuss Prisoner Swamp with U.S.; Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Discusses Sinema Yes on Dem's Economic Bill & Dems Funding Election Deniers, Gamble Will Beat in General Election; Israel Reports Sirens and Incoming Rocket Fire. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 14:30   ET



KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And while President Biden has called that sentence unacceptable, U.S. officials were previously saying that they thought, if there was a swap, a prisoner swap to be had, that there would have to be sentencing before that time.

So the system does appear to be moving in the right direction here.

President Biden himself expressed very briefly some optimism earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you give us a comment on Brittney Griner, sir?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hopeful. We're working hard.


ATWOOD: And just to remind folks, Dana, earlier in June, it was U.S. officials who put a proposed deal on the table to Russia.

They were proposing that Viktor Bout, a convicted arms smuggle serving a 25-year sentence here in the United States, be traded for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Paul Whelan is another American wrongfully detained in Russia.

The Russians then came back saying they want another Russian included in that deal. That Russian is serving a lifetime prison sentence in Germany. The Biden administration didn't think that it was a legitimate counteroffer.

So can they go forward here in a productive way in this framework that Russia is now saying they want to have these discussions in -- Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Kylie, thank you.

And you mentioned Paul Whelan. We'll be speaking with his brother next hour.

Up next, a potentially big win for Democrats and the Biden legislative agenda. Senator Kyrsten Sinema says she is a yes on the sweeping economic package. So what concessions were made and what is still in there? What does it mean for you? We'll talk about that after the break.



BASH: Senator Kyrsten Sinema threw President Biden's agenda a major lifeline, offering support for the Inflation Reduction Act after parties agreed to change new tax proposals at her request.

If this passes, the bill would provide $369 billion to combat climate change. It gives Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices and cap out-of-pocket costs. And extends Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years.

This bill could pass the chamber tomorrow before moving to the House for final passage.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen joins me now.

Senator, good to seed you.

This bill has a lot of provisions focused on health care costs and climate provisions, as I mentioned, to get the support of Senator Sinema.

One thing it does not have is what's known as the carried interest provision. I'm going to try to put this in English. It's effectively a tax on hedge funds and private equity.

I know you plan to vote yes, but are you disappointed that that provision, which is aimed at taxing wealthier Americans, is no longer in this bill?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Dana, it's good to be with you.

And I strongly supported getting rid of the carry interest loophole. It's a tax give away to big hedge fund owners. But we did replace it with a 1 percent tax on stock buybacks.

And stock buybacks overwhelmingly benefit very wealthy people and CEOs as well, including a lot of people who are overseas and own stock in U.S. corporations, which actually raises more money than closing the carried interest loophole.

So I support both of these measures. I hope sometime down the road we can come back and get rid of the carried interest loophole as well.

BASH: The election is about three months away. In your past -- you're not just a Senator from Maryland. You ran campaign committees in the House and Senate, which means you were in charge of getting Democrats elected in both places.

How worried are you looking forward to this weekend when Republicans are going to try to put tough votes on the floor, like on immigration, for example?

How worried are you about that process this weekend, that Democrats might have to take tough political votes?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think this weekend is going to give us a boost, because I think we're going to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

And I think the American people are looking for results and action. And they say Republicans talking about inflation as a campaign issue, but not willing to do anything about it.

And this bill will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. It will make energy cheaper and more affordable for homeowners through rebates for energy efficiency. And that will put down heating bills, as well as cooling bills.

So my view is that what the American people want is action. And that's exactly what we're doing. We'll be reducing the deficit, which will also put downward pressure on it.

BASH: Another political question for you. In your state, the Democratic Governors Association spent $2 million boosting Republican Dan Cox, the Trump-backed candidate. He ended up winning the primary for governor there.

Democrats also put money in the Michigan Republican primary this week and helped take out moderate Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

I want you to listen to what he told CNN this morning.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Any party that pretends to have a set of principles, any party that pretends to have a set of values, and that comes in and boosts exactly the same type of candidate that they claim is a threat to democracy, don't expect to be able to hold onto that sense of self-righteousness and sanctimony.



BASH: Is this a tactic of supporting, in many cases, election-deniers, in the hopes that they will be more vulnerable against Democratic candidates in November, something you support?

VAN HOLLEN: Dana, first of all, let me say what I support is overturning the terrible decision in Citizens United. And I'm also the original author of the Disclose Act, which would prohibit the spending of secret money in elections.

So I would like to change the system entirely. Until we do that, we have the system we have.

Partly because Senator McConnell and the Republican Party opposed the Disclose Act and opposed trying to overturn Citizens United. So you've got to play with the current rules and --


BASH: And that means hardball?

VAN HOLLEN: I think it does mean hardball.

It is important that people be very careful, right, not to take actions that could backfire. And you have to look at that on a case- by-case basis.

So I support reforming this entire system to get rid of all of this. Until we do that, then political campaigns will look at where they think their opportunities are and where they're not.

But they do need to be very careful.

BASH: Senator, before I let you go, I know you suffered a mild stroke in the spring. It's good to see you healthy. You're feeling well?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm feeling great. Back to 100 percent. Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Good.

VAN HOLLEN: Just on the floor of the Senate talking about this Inflation Reduction Act yesterday. And I look forward to seeing that. But thank you for asking.

BASH: Glad to hear it.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION." I'm going to be joined by GOP Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal in an exclusive joint interview, as well as Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Stacey Abrams. That's Sunday 9:00 a.m. and noon right here on CNN.

We're following breaking news out of Israel. Sirens are sounding, indicating incoming rocket fire. This, as tensions grow between that nation and Palestinian militant groups. We're live in Jerusalem next.



BASH: Breaking news. Israelis report sirens, meaning incoming rocket fire just a few miles south of Tel Aviv. The warnings come after 10 people were killed and 55 injured in Gaza airstrikes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Israel said most of those killed in the airstrikes were Islamic Jihad militants. Palestinians said among those killed were a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman.

Joining me now with breaking news is journalist, Neri Zilber, in Jerusalem.

What's the latest, Neri?

NERI ZILBER, JOURNALIST: Well, Dana, as you mentioned, airstrikes earlier this afternoon by the Israeli air force in Gaza targeting what it said were Islamic Jihad militants.

One senior Islamic Jihad commander was killed. He's believed to be responsible for at least attempts at certain cross-border attacks using anti-tank missiles against Israeli soldiers or civilians.

Just in the past hour, Islamic Jihad has responded with a barrage of rockets. Some say perhaps up to 100 rockets. Targeting southern Israel but also up to and including the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv, the cities of Beit She'an (ph) and Rishon LeZion.

As far as we know, no impact on the ground or injuries or casualties were reported. Likely most of those rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.

But Islamic Jihad is threatening a further response, saying it is just the beginning and this will be an open-ended confrontation with Israel.

And on the flip side, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the Israeli public about 40 minutes ago.

And said that it would take all measures and would continue the military operations to keep Israelis safe and to go against what they said were concrete threats inside Gaza by militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

BASH: Neri Zilber, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

And Congresswoman Liz Cheney warns that if there's evidence against former President Trump and the DOJ doesn't prosecute, then that would call into question whether we're, quote, "a nation of laws." CNN's exclusive interview, next.



BASH: CNN is now hearing exclusively from one of only two Republicans on the January 6th committee.

Representative Liz Cheney sat down with our Kasie Hunt to discuss the investigation and her political future.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR & CNN NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Dana, it is good to see you. I did sit down with Liz Cheney in her home state of Wyoming about two

weeks before she'll face an intense primary. She's being challenged by a woman who says that the 2020 election was rigged.

But Liz Cheney told me that losing would be a small price to pay for telling the truth.


HUNT: We're here in Wyoming where you are facing a really tough primary, in no small part because of the role you've taken on in the January 6th hearings. And do you expect to lose on August 16th?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): No. I don't expect to lose. I'm working hard to earn every vote.

And ultimately, I believe the people of Wyoming fundamentally understand how important the fidelity to the Constitution is. Understand how important it is that, you know, we fight for those fundamental principles upon which everything else is based.

So --


HUNT: But if you do lose, what does that say about that belief?

CHENEY: Look, I think that this -- we're in a situation where former President Trump has betrayed the patriotism of millions and millions of people across our country and many people here in Wyoming. He's lied to them. And it is a really dangerous situation.

And what I know to do is to tell the truth and to make sure that people understand the truth about what happened and why it matters so much.

HUNT: Why do voters here believe Donald Trump?


CHENEY: You know, I think that it is the same thing that you see for tens of millions of people across the country. It is just consistent lying about what happened, about the election. Playing on people's patriotism.

And he's so dangerous that my view is that, at the end of the day, if defending the Constitution against the threat that he poses means losing a House seat, then that is a sacrifice that I'm willing to make.

I don't intend to lose. But some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign.

HUNT: So, the period August 17th to November of 2024, when it is very possible Donald Trump could be the nominee, the Republican nominee for president of the United States, what is Liz Cheney doing every day during that period?

CHENEY: Look, I'm focused right now on August 16th and on my primary race here. And --


HUNT: But truly, you've thought about it.

CHENEY: I'm very focused on my primary race.

But, again, my work on the January 6th committee, the work that we've been able to do, I think to help make sure people understand the truth about what happened, that is work that certainly will continue.

And you know, I intend to continue to be very involved and engaged again no matter what happens in the issues that are so fundamental to the survival of our republic.

HUNT: You've said repeatedly in interviews that you'll make a decision about whether you're going to run for president in 2024 down the line, which makes sense.

But the former president, Donald Trump, there's reporting that he could announce in a matter of weeks. He could announce he's running for president before the midterm elections.

How dangerous is it? Or how dangerous would it be to have former President Trump out there as the only voice campaigning for the Republican nomination?

Would you need someone to stand up and oppose him?

CHENEY: I think that he cannot be our nominee and he certainly cannot ever be elected president again.

And I think that -- I know that there are many, many Republicans who feel that way all across the country.

And whatever is necessary to make sure that he's not the nominee, and certainly that he's not elected, there are many of us who will fight to do everything necessary.

Because the prospect of him -- we know what he'll do. We know what he's willing and capable of and he did it. And so we can't let that happen again.

HUNT: Do you think there's anyone out there capable of beating Donald Trump for the Republican nomination?

CHENEY: I think so. But I think it will require Republicans to tell the truth. And it is going to require Republicans to stand up and say, no more, we're not going to do this anymore, we're not going to embrace this lie or this very dangerous man.

And, you know, I am hopeful that you will see more Republicans do that. But certainly, I intend to be a big part of making sure that we protect the nation from the threat that he poses.

HUNT: What goes through your mind when you see election deniers get elected to important posts that could influence out next election, like the Arizona secretary of state, for example?

CHENEY: I don't think anybody should vote for any election denier.

And I think that we have to do everything we can to make sure that people who say that, you know, that they will support Donald Trump no matter what the electoral count is next time, people who have bought into the big lie, that is a toxin to our democratic system.

And I don't think anybody should support those people.

HUNT: How do we stop it, if these people get elected?

CHENEY: Well, I think we need to make sure they don't. We have to make sure that we come together and form alliances across party lines to make sure that the people that we are electing are not going to unravel the republic.

And I think that is going to be a particular issue in '22 and certainly it will be again in '24.

HUNT: Speaking of that, Democrats spent a whole bunch of money trying to unseat Congressman Peter Meijer, of Michigan, who voted to impeach the former president. What do you think of that effort?

CHENEY: I think that was terrible. I think that Peter Meijer was one of 10 of us who stood up, who voted to impeach President Trump, who did it based on facts and evidence.

And I think that all of us, again, across party lines, have got to make sure that we are supporting people who believe fundamentally in our democratic system.

And so I think it is inexplicable and wrong for the Democrats to be funding election deniers, particularly against one of the 10 Republicans who so bravely stood up and did the right thing.


HUNT: Considering your past political career, your family, do you find it to be strange bedfellows to be working with Democrats the way you have, on the committee, across party lines, and you've even encouraged Democrats to vote here in Wyoming for you?