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Senate Passes Dems' $750B Climate, Tax, Health Care Bill; Documents: Trump-Backed Candidate For Michigan AG Under Criminal Investigation For Possibly Tampering With Voting Machines; Police: Killings Of 4 Muslim Men In Albuquerque May Be Linked. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 15:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Sen. Manchin announced that surprise agreement that led to that Senate passage of that economic and climate bill yesterday.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, we heard a bit of the PR push in these remarks from the President. He also mentioned the $1.2 trillion. I think the President said billion dollar, but trillion dollar infrastructure legislation that he signed into law. So we're already seeing some of that rollout of promoting what has passed the Senate thus far.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Victor. And Democrats are especially keen to sell some of that as they leave the hill and go back to recess. The Senate now - the House coming back as Kaitlan mentioned to vote on this later this week, but they're all back in their districts and a lot of these people are up for reelection. They want to be talking about what they've done here in Washington, D.C.

And this bill is so key to part of Biden's economic agenda. And, frankly, most Democrats didn't think they'd get something this substantial and this big once those talks broke down with Joe Manchin earlier back in July. But now we do have this bill that has passed the Senate. It is headed to the House. It has the biggest investment in climate ever to come out of Congress, some $369 billion. It also has a host of health care provisions in it, including expanding those Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years.

For the first time ever, Medicare will be able to negotiate the price of some drugs. It's going to cap out of pocket expenses at $2,000 for people on Medicare. It's also going to limit the cost of insulin, which is a very popular drug that a lot of Americans on Medicare use for - anybody on Medicare, it's going to cap that at $35 a month, and it puts in some new tax provisions as well, chip among them; a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations with the largest corporations in America.

So that's a little bit of what's in this bill. As I mentioned, it does go over to the House where we are expecting it to pass and go to President Biden's desk. And Victor, you alluded to this, but it is really the latest in a string of victories for President Biden here on Capitol Hill, a lot of them bipartisan, frankly. But this one, of course, voted on party lines. But you have the

American Recovery Plan, the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PAC Act, of course, the gun legislation that nobody really saw coming that got done earlier this summer. So that's what, again, Democrats are eager to go back and talk about. They want the President talking about it a lot as well.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jessica Dean for us, Kaitlan Collins and Joe Johns, thank you all.

Let's discuss further with CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis; he's Political Anchor for Spectrum news and a columnist for New York Magazine. And strategist Rina Shah is Senior Advisor to Republican Women for Progress. Good to have you both back.

Errol, let me start with you. That list of accomplishments that was just up on the screen, do you think that changes significantly the landscape for Democrats heading into the midterms?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly gives them a lot of ammunition and a lot of energy to go out on the campaign trail. Now, will it sell? That's the real question. There are a lot of Democrats, I think, that are already dispirited. They don't like the way the polls are looking. They understand, frankly, Victor that there's a difference between getting a legislative win here in August and somebody seeing it play out in their lives.

I mean, a lot of those energy credits are going to be for - if you put a new heat pumps or solar panels on your house, you can deduct 30 percent of the cost of that next year. Is that going to really get people excited in the next 90 days, which is what really matters for congressional Democrats? Not necessarily.

So it's going to be it's going to be a real political balancing act. They're going to have to really get out there and sell this about what's going to happen in the future. That doesn't always necessarily work when Americans are cranky, paying high bills and not necessarily believing that this is going to work for them.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The Inflation Reduction Act as it's called, Rina, won't reduce inflation today or in September. What do you think the impact will be on the midterms?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, number one, the Congressional Budget Office has told us it's not going to drive up the deficit and that's something that conservatives have long cared about and messaged on. Look, I think that the reality is this: Republicans are going to say one thing, but they know in the back of their minds there's another and that this was a jobs bill, in many ways.

If it's messaged correctly by people like Sen. Manchin from my home state of West Virginia, he can get that message through to his constituency and say, this is going to give you options for your future, for your kids to not have to go and work in coal, for example.

I think that it gives hope. And look, is it a perfect bill? Nothing on Capitol Hill is. But within a starting place? Absolutely. The downside to this is the rhetoric that the Republicans are going to employ from now on. My how the mighty have fallen, Victor.

Look at how Leader McConnell is talking about this. Look at how Senate Republicans are talking about this. They're employing misinformation. They're taking on a very, very ugly veneer and talking about this bill in a way that, frankly, doesn't quite make sense to me. They should just be silent, I think, and Democrats seize the day, hop in there and talk about how this is going to change the lives of young Americans and old Americans. Every single American across the country can benefit from this bill.


BLACKWELL: The most recent bill passed by the Senate, again, as Jessica Dean says now has to go to the House. Errol, that was passed on just Democratic votes.


BLACKWELL: Most of the legislative accomplishments on that list were bipartisan. I want you to listen to Frank Luntz, he is a pollster who talks about the promotion of the legislative wins.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: And the problem is they communicate a partisan victory rather than a bipartisan success, that they're communicating the difference to tribes, the arguments, rather than the unity that a majority of Americans still want. And that affects not just the House races and Senate races, but it affects our entire mood.


BLACKWELL: What do you think of that?

LOUIS: Frank Luntz is a very smart guy. He put his finger on the problem that has been dividing America for so long. First of all, there's a whole bunch of independents, we're not necessarily partisan. But that's not how you win elections.

How you win elections is you get your basic cited and then you see how much more you need, then you just your base and then you pull in maybe a couple of independents, but you don't necessarily have to go across the aisle for bipartisan victories at the polls. Partisan victory on Capitol Hill is very different from a bipartisan victory in the streets and so that's the real problem with the system.

It's really what makes it feel broken, because everybody goes to their base. That's what you're supposed to do. That's how you win elections. And we're asking people to do exactly that in the next 90 days. It's going to really cut against this broad bipartisan in some respects or I should say, broadly popular set of proposals that they just passed in the Senate. BLACKWELL: Rina, let's talk about some of these Republicans who are

now the nominees of their party for the Senate. Rick Scott, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee whose job is to get Republicans elected so they can get the majority was on CBS this weekend. Margaret Brennan asked him about the standard that he said that voters should elect candidates who they would hire. Here's part of the conversation.


MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS HOST: In Georgia, Herschel Walker, Republican Senate candidate has lied about the number of children he has, about his business dealings. His ex-wife said he held a gun to her head and said, I'm going to blow your effing brains out.

In Arizona, the candidate Blake Masters called the Unabomber an underrated thinker. Would you hire these people to work for you?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Well, you'd go through each person and - but I'm not the one doing it, it's the voters of those states who are doing it. The voters of those states are going to make a choice.


BLACKWELL: That ain't a yes. And there are other candidate, J.D. Vance has said some questionable things in Ohio. So what do these candidates mean, looking ahead, to the potential that the Republicans can win the majority in the Senate?

SHAH: I don't mean to be an alarmist here, but these kinds of candidates signal the death of a democracy as we know it. And I'm not trying to be - I can't believe I'm saying that, I made my career in this Republican Party. I've never seen the clown cars that keep coming out of some of these states of candidates that, frankly, don't deserve a second look much less to be the nominee.

Here's the thing about these candidates as they are have been allowed to get this far. We've allowed our politics to become sensationalized. We've allowed our electorate to dumb itself down. We've said it's okay to not be engaged. How can you change the system if you don't understand how it works?

That is what local Republican parties are counting on. They're counting on their voters to not understand the system and just fall in line. We don't see it change locally or federally. So guess what the playbook has to be, how people hit back is with real facts, is with a plan of action and unless Democrats - unfortunately, it's on their shoulders - unless Democrats hit back with a real plan and say, don't worry about this right now, which means this, meaning the economy, the prices on the shelf, people will want to punish Democrats for that.

But they need to thread the needle here is what I'm getting at. They need to do the delicate dance of preserving our democracy and proving that these candidates are too crazy and unqualified to take office, while also showing that they have a plan to get our country back to normal and get people keeping more money in their pocket books. It's a delicate dance, as I said.

BLACKWELL: Errol, I see you nodding here (inaudible) ...

LOUIS: Absolutely.


LOUIS: You have to ask yourself, is there a baseline? Is there something that somebody can say or do that simply disqualifies them, and that is been one of the more unfortunate changes in politics over the last five years is that there's almost nothing that can disqualify you. And for Sen. Scott to not even say the idea that like, yes, some of this is disqualifying, even to hedge it in some way and say, like, I personally wouldn't hire these guys, but it's not my choice. It's the choice of the voters, which is the reality of it.

But we're in for some very tough times. I would say though, I'm a little bit more optimistic about this. People generally, overall, over time, make the right choice.


A lot of bad characters, a lot of bad candidates come forward, but they ultimately don't last.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, Rina Shah, thank you.

All right. Now it's a new documents obtained by CNN the Trump-backed Republican candidate for attorney general in Michigan is under investigation for possibly tampering with voting machines used in the 2020 election. The state's Democratic Attorney General is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Matthew DePerno. Let's get now to CNN's Sara Murray.

Sara, tell us more about what these documents show.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these documents confirm something we - one thing we already knew, which is that there's been this investigation ongoing in Michigan of these voting machine breaches in a handful of counties. But the new thing is that the Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel is saying, look, this investigation has now led me to Matthew DePerno. He's Donald Trump's pick to be the attorney general candidate in the state of Michigan. He's likely to become the nominee later this month.

And so she's asking for a special prosecutor to step in to continue this investigation, because she now is saying, look, there is a potential conflict of interest here. When this investigation started, it wasn't focused on Matthew DePerno, but this is where it's led. And in these documents, she says that DePerno was in a hotel room in early 2021 and there were a group of individuals that were performing unauthorized tests on these machines. So that's what she wants the special prosecutor to pick up and start looking into.

Now, DePerno, in his campaign have denied this all together. In a statement, Matthew - from the campaign, it says, "Matthew DePerno categorically denies the allegations presented. The petition itself is entirely an incoherent liberal fever dream of lies. The claims presented by Nessel show a completely unwarranted and erroneous attack purely based on political prosecution.

So no surprise in this political season, DePerno was trying to turn this into a political attack. We'll wait and see what happens if a special prosecutor is chosen.

BLACKWELL: Sara, what do you know about this reporting that Doug Mastriano, a Trump ally, GOP nominee for Pennsylvania governor, scheduled to appear before the January 6 Committee tomorrow.

MURRAY: That's right. This is from me and my colleague, Zach Cohen. He is scheduled to appear in a virtual appearance before the January 6 Committee, Doug Mastriano is a close ally of Donald Trump. He charted buses to the Capitol for January 6. He was talking behind the scenes with the Justice Department, as Donald Trump was trying to make these efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

As you might imagine, his lawyer has been in across roads with the committee and they've been arguing about the terms of this appearance. So we're now hearing that he will show up virtually. This could be a very short appearance, though. By the time they get to swearing him in, we could see Mastriano begin to back away from this because one of the things his side really wants is to be able to make their own recording of the interview or to have complete access to the Committee's recording of the interview. Not surprisingly the committee is not agreeing with that. We reached out to them for comment on the story, the Committee declined to comment.

BLACKWELL: And Sara, what does the committee want to know from Mastriano?

MURRAY: I think they're going to want to know a lot about certainly what brought him there on January 6th, but also these behind the scenes conversations. Anything he was discussing with the Justice Department at that time, any conversations he may have been having with Donald Trump.

Mastriano also held this sort of faux hearing that was at a hotel where Trump and Giuliani were making their false claims of election fraud. So I would imagine the committee would want to know a lot about sort of what led up to that. And any private conversations he had with the former president about what the former president's aims were, what he was trying to get Doug Mastriano or other state officials to do.

BLACKWELL: Sara Murray for us, thank you.

MURRAY: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: There are growing fears in New Mexico's Muslim community. Several men were killed in Albuquerque. We'll have details on that and the car police are now interested in, that's next.

Also ahead, more migrants arrived in New York over the weekend bused in from Texas as part of Republican Governor Abbott's response to the President's border policy.



BLACKWELL: Police in Albuquerque have just released a vehicle of interest in the murder investigation of four Muslim men. Now take a look at this, the car is a dark silver Sedan-style Volkswagen Jetta or Passat with tinted windows. And police say the car could be tied to these killings.

The most recent victim is 25-year-old Naeem Hassan - Hussain, rather. He was found shot to death on Friday night. He attended a funeral for two of the other victims just hours before he was killed and police say all of these men were ambushed. Albuquerque's Mayor tells CNN that he's taken the fear this community is feeling very seriously.


MAYOR TIMOTHY KELLER, (D) ALBUQUERQUE: We have marshaled every resource to have, now police presence at all our mosques during prayer time. We're working with our different police departments with respect to safety at schools and specific sort of buddy system related programs at school for kids. And we're even doing meal deliveries for families that are afraid to leave their house even to get food.


BLACKWELL: All right. With me now, Ibrahim Hooper. He is the Spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem. She's a former Homeland Security official. Welcome to you both.

Ibrahim, let me start with you. Providing meal deliveries, grocery deliveries for people who are afraid to leave their home, help us understand the intensity of the fear, the concern in Central New Mexico after these killings.

IBRAHIM HOOPER, SPOKESMAN, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, when you have a - an apparent serial killer targeting a minority community, obviously that's going to generate a lot of fear.


And when people feel that they might be in danger going about their daily lives as these individuals who were killed, who were going about their daily lives, I mean, it's something that they need to think about. And we've really been encouraged by the support and the outreach by law enforcement authorities, by state and federal officials.

Initially, we're a bit concerned that there weren't enough resources being devoted to this, but I think it's all hands on deck now.

BLACKWELL: Juliette, Ibrahim used to phrase there, apparent serial killer here. JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Police say there is a connection between two of the killings, is that enough to say its serial and if there is a serial killer here is that something necessarily that police would go public with at this point?

KAYYEM: They want to go public at this point. And the term serial, I just think is sort of a generic way of saying there's this targeted attack on men who are Muslim. And I want to just focus on what Ibrahim was saying.

These are men who are sort of performing functions related to their religion in many ways when they're killed. So two are in the same mosque and then are home after and killed. One is killed after the funeral of the other two. So your worry if you're a police department is was the funeral or one or the two of them being targeted. Another was killed - the one from last year was killed near or around the halal market.

And so yes, I mean, this seems to be not random. It is a very small community in Albuquerque, less than 1 percent. So you're now looking at a very, very targeted community and it is good to hear Abraham and others sort of express thank you and also appreciation for what the police department and the political leadership is doing.

I think, we always compare this to Uvalde. Just even having that press conference yesterday in Arabic and in various languages related to the community is really important, because it's a community that needs assurances that law enforcement is looking out and going to catch this guy.

BLACKWELL: Let's put those four faces back up again and I want people to pay attention to the dates here, because we have three of these murders that have happened in the last roughly two weeks and then one back in November of 2021. We know that police say that Aftab Hussein killed on July 26, Mohammad Afzaal Hussain killed on August 1st, there is a connection. But with a murder so long ago, does that make it any less likely that that is connected to these three, Juliette?

KAYYEM: So it's interesting and I've been talking to some people in police departments what to make of in November 2021 and then this delay. So it could be that the first murder might have been known to the murderer, the first victim and then that begins a sort of focused killing. That's one speculation out there in law enforcement. The other is he does the first kill and then waits for whatever reason and then gets triggered again, because three killings in just seven or 10 days is a lot. So there might have been something triggered.

The third explanation is it is actually not related that there was one murder for whatever reason and then these three end up being a single killer. But it's good that the law - that Albuquerque is looking at them in their totality, because they could be related, but also the community is looking at it as a totality.

They don't - there are four Muslim men dead in a in a community that that represents what point 3 percent of the population, that is a significant number for that community who are targeted for their religious faith.

BLACKWELL: Ibrahim, you have - your organization, I should say, has called on the administration to have a direct role in responding to these shootings. We know the FBI is assisting in the investigation, describe what you'd like to see from the Biden administration?

HOOPER: Well, I said early on when these serial killings came to light, we were a bit concerned. But I think now we're getting a proper response. The President has put out a statement. The Vice President has put out a statement.

So I think their action is being taken. And I think, I hope, inshallah, as we say, God willing, that we'll soon have a suspect or suspects in custody because somebody out there knows something. And with the reward, $10,000 reward, we're offering and other people are offering rewards, I was just on a call, a community in Washington State raised money to send for reward. A former police official in New Mexico called me and said he's sending a check for - to add to the reward.


So it's a nationwide effort, I think, especially since we have the suspect or vehicle of interest. Hopefully this can be brought to an end soon and it has to be brought to an end to end this fear. We can't live in fear.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We've got that image of the vehicle of interest, either a Jetta or Passat, dark silver Sedan-style vehicle that authorities are looking for. Ibrahim Hooper, Juliette Kayyem, thank you.

Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren says that he's not going down without a fight after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him for his stance on abortion. Andrew Warren is with me, next.