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President Biden And Speaker Kevin McCarthy To Work Out Final Agreement To Prevent Debt Ceiling Default; Interview With Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND); Three Years After George Floyd's Death And The Racial Injustice In America; Ken Paxton Impeached Even With Support From Trump And Cruz; National Strategy To Combat Anti-Semitism Released By The White House; Gang Violence In New Mexico, Three Killed And Five Injured; Bus Driver And Passenger Shoutout Caught On Camera. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 28, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. We begin the hour with the most important sales pitch in Washington this week, selling the deal to avoid a catastrophic debt default. This afternoon, President Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were to finalize details on a compromised plan to prevent a default.
A source says that call scheduled for two hours ago has not happened yet. Experts say a default could be disastrous to the U.S. and global economies and that threat still looms ominously.
Up on Capitol Hill there are lawmakers from both parties grumbling, so passage is not guaranteed at this point. And all of this is unfolding as a June 5th deadline race closer. Let's go to the White House and CNN's Priscilla Alvarez. Priscilla, what is there to make of this Biden/McCarthy phone call? Do we think that's going to happen any time now or any update on that?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Jim, there's every expectation that this call will happen. It just hasn't happened yet according to a source I spoke with about half an hour ago. Now, President Biden when he arrived at the White House earlier this afternoon did say that the intent of this call was to, quote, "dot the I's and cross the T's." He felt like the deal was in good shape.
And when asked by reporters whether there was any sticking point, he said, quote, "none." So, there is general optimism from the White House as to where the deal is where talks have been. I mean, throughout the day, White House officials have been on the phone with House Democrats and Senate Democrats as they walk them through the deal and as they try to coalesce support for what will be a challenging phase ahead.
Now, we know a little bit about the framework of this deal and it includes, for example, increasing the debt limit for two years as well as expanding work requirements for certain adults receiving food stamps, raising that age from 49 to 54, again, for adults who do not have children and are considered able bodied. Work requirements was a major sticking point within the Democratic conference. It was something that Democrats had expressed frustration about.
The sign so far today is that it is the devil is in the details. Everybody wants to see what this text is going to be. That has not been released yet. And once that it's released, it will provide a little bit of a better sense of what the contours of this really mean moving forward.
Now, President Biden in a statement after this tentative deal was reached did say, quote, "the agreement represents a compromise which means not everyone gets what they want," and he went on to say, "that's the responsibility of governing." So that's really the message from the White House today.
Both sides had to concede on certain parts of this deal and now it's about racing to get those Republicans and Democrats on board for the -- for a House floor vote and then later getting it past the Senate. Again, President Biden telling reporters a few hours ago that he expects and is confident that this is going to reach his desk. Jim?
ACOSTA: All right, Priscilla Alvarez, we'll be watching. We know you will as well. Thanks so much.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will face his first big test on the debt deal on Tuesday. The rules committee must adopt a rule to allow the bill to be approached. Here's a catch, to when the speakership McCarthy named three conservative hard-liners to the panel and two of them have been sharply critical of the deal.
Let's bring in Republican Congressman Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota to continue to talk about this. Congressman, I mean, what do you think? Do we see any potential hurdles there, roadblocks when it goes to the rules committee? Not to get too far into the weeds, but i0t might be a problem there or what do you think?
REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): I don't think so.
ARMSTRONG: I mean, moving forward, I mean, getting the rule on the floor, if it follows the rules, I mean, there's going to be, I mean, there's -- obviously, everybody has their own opinions on this thing and it's going to continue to move through that. But getting the rule on the floor and voting for the rule are two different things. And one of the things that we dealt with when we actually won the speakership is making sure we follow regular order, and I think that's important.
We're going to put this out for 72 hours. It's not going to come off a printer in the Speaker's office at midnight. We're not going to force feed it to the entire membership at noon the next day. And that's kind of how Kevin has run his speakership and it's been good for our conference and I think good for the country.
ACOSTA: And this deal has your support, I take it --
ARMSTRONG: Yeah. I've always said if we negotiate in good faith for the best deal we can get and avoid the X date and a credit downgrade and a lot of things that would be catastrophic to our country and the global economy, I would support it.
ACOSTA: And what about the portion of the debt here that extends the debt ceiling into 2025, past the next presidential election. A lot of Republicans --
ARMSTRONG: Yeah, and then I think some people want it shorter.
ACOSTA: -- they're happy about that.
ARMSTRONG: Yeah. Some people want it shorter. Some people want it earlier. I mean, I think having a debt ceiling fight in the middle of a presidential election is something that is problematic -- can be problematic for both sides. But more importantly, when you get the wins out of it such as administrative PAYGO, we're going to get one agency permitting reform. We're going to put the shot clocks back in. I mean, just the PAYGO alone would have saved us $1.5 trillion over the last three years.
ACOSTA: All right. And for folks who don't understand PAYGO, just --
ARMSTRONG: It means, essentially the White House and anything they spend over $100 million dollars they have to offset. So, think student loan debt, interest payments, some of those things. They can't do those programs without finding -- it's hard to find $600 million offset in the bureaucracy. So, it's really reining in the administrator state and making Congress pass bills instead of the agencies.
ACOSTA: Several conservative members of the Republican Conference have slammed this deal. As you know, your colleague Bob Good of Virginia tweeted, "No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a yes vote." Lauren Boebert, "You can me as a no on this deal. We can do better." Chip Roy, "I mean, you can't make this crap up." Those are his words. And Ralph Norman, "This deal is insanity." I take it you disagree with them?
ARMSTRONG: I do and I mean, I consider a lot of those guys friends and close colleagues. But I think we're in divided government. We control one-half of one-third of the branches of government -- or one-half -- or one-half of one of the three branches of government, and it's important that we recognize that.
But we're getting really legislative wins that are going to be hard to unwind. You know, taking just the food stamp and TANF and making it go down from 12 percent and 8 percent and phasing the age in from 49 to 55, those are wins that are going to exist long after this and we're going to -- I mean, rescinding of the IRS agents in the first year, rescinding of the COVID funding, this was -- federal money will be more than all of them combined in packs (ph).
ACOSTA: Are your colleagues -- when they say those kinds of things, are they posturing there or they --
ARMSTRONG: No. I think that, I mean, you know, we have a lot of people that are really considerate.
ACOSTA: Meaning they're sincere when they say that?
ARMSTRONG: Yeah. I think it depends on how you feel like the negotiation were going. I think a little of this is a victim of our own success. I mean, nobody expected us to get limits (inaudible) across the finish line. And if you take it from that and where we came off, I mean, I can see some concerns.
The problem is, there's a whole bunch of those things that we're never going to get any Democratic support. And it's the first time Republicans, I mean, under the previous speakers have ever gotten it across. But if you take it from the posture of, we're not going to negotiate for anything but a clean debt limit increase --
ACOSTA: Did they --
ARMSTRONG: -- we got a lot of policy wins and we're bring non-defense discretionary spending back down to 2022 levels.
ACOSTA: Did they communicate to you or did any of those very conservative members, some from the Freedom Caucus, communicate to you what they did want? Did they want (inaudible) fight next year. Did some of them want that?
ARMSTRONG: Yeah. I think there's different parts. One, you just want more cuts and more spending. Listen, I agree with them. If I could write the debt ceiling deal, it would be significantly more conservative than this. I would have just about everything that was in limits grow in that.
And I just recognize that we're going to have to get at least 11 Democrat votes in the senate and we have a Democrat in the White House. I think this is -- I mean, there are real conservative wins in this deal and I can't really figure out what we've given up in it other than raising the debt limit.
ACOSTA: And, you know, I talked to Democratic Congressman Maxwell Frost yesterday and he is among many House Democrats who say they feel like they were held hostage in all of this and they're accusing Republicans of holding the country hostage during all of this. That you didn't have to do this during the debt ceiling process. You could have done this during the budget and appropriation process. Why do it during the debt ceiling process? Was your party --
ARMSTRONG: When you have --
ACOSTA: Was your party holding the country hostage?
ARMSTRONG: We were not holding the country hostage. We were negotiating for a deal in a divided government and I think it's really important to recognize and I think the White House is finally coming around to the point that they don't control all three branches of government anymore. As we've done through congress and all times in divided government, that we're going to take the leverage we have and we're going to force fiscal sanity back into Washington, D.C.
I mean, there's a reason the polling was 60/40 in favor of this in moving forward because people know we're spending too much money, particularly if you take the two years during COVID, which for a lot of those things were very unique, but we got to get back there -- $32 trillion in debt, $100,000 per household. I mean, that's -- it's the biggest threat we face as a country and we have to get our fiscal order back or our fiscal house back in order.
ACOSTA: And Speaker McCarthy says vote on Wednesday.
ARMSTRONG: Yeah, I think a lot --
ACOSTA: Is that possible?
ARMSTRONG: Yeah. I think a lot of it depends on what the text says, but we're going to honor the 72-hour rule and we're going to continue to do that. We're not going to change our rules for this. So, if text gets -- if they get in agreement tonight and text drops tonight, we should be able to vote on Wednesday.
ACOSTA: And if it doesn't happen on Wednesday, do we start to get into, you know, a serious situation where we might hit the debt ceiling and go through it?
If it takes too long to get it out of the house, if there's a delay getting it out of the House over to the Senate.
ARMSTRONG: Yeah, I've never been able to truly figure out Senate procedure and timing. That is for somebody on the other side. But I think, no. I think once -- first of all, once we get it through and you're aiming -- it's a lot of things. One of the things, the NEPA reform is going to do is signal to markets that we're actually open for business. A lot of those are, I mean, the negotiation is different than when you're trying to get the bill through.
ACOSTA: There's something to be said for getting it over to the Senate. You want to get rid of this hot potato a little bit.
ARMSRTONG: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I want to honor it. I want everybody to have a chance to read it. You know, we've been making calls all day and, I mean, I'm really -- all of my members, I mean, people are broadly supportive of it for the most part, but they also want to see the text.
I mean, even for me, like, somebody from an oil and gas-producing state, I wants to see what the actual text is. I know what the outlines are, but a lot of this is the devil in the details, which is what I'm assuming is delaying the call a little bit.
ACOSTA: All right. Congressman Kelly Armstrong, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it. ARMSTRONG: Thanks a lot.
ACOSTA: Good luck in the coming days here. All of you might need it, but thanks so much.
Up next, will Democrats get on board with a tentative deal to raise the debt ceiling? Are the numbers there? I'll ask two Democratic congresswomen ahead.
Plus, three years after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, has progress been made? Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joins me next to discuss that.
And later, the White House revealed its first ever national strategy to combat anti-Semitism. Details on that plan. That's also ahead. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: This Thursday marked three years since the murder of George Floyd who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer after being pinned to the ground for more than nine minutes. A special celebration to honor his life was held at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis. And in a symbolic step, city council members passed a resolution to honor victims of police brutality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANELLE AUSTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGE FLOYD GLOBAL MEMORIAL: Our goal is to really set the stage for Minneapolis to lead this nation, to end lynchings in America. That's why George Floyd Square still stands as a protest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Joining us now is civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, who led the fight for justice in the George Floyd case. Ben, great to have you on as always. All four police officers at the scene that day, if I'm not mistaken, they're in prison now, is that right? What does that mean? Is there some accountability now in policing in America?
BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, it means that we're making progress, Jim. The fact that all four officers were convicted on the state and federal level was unprecedented and so we have this precedent now, we just have to use it more when anybody, especially black and brown people are unjustly killed and we have all the objective evidence.
But what we did not do, Jim Acosta, is we did not get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed by the United States Congress and signed by the president into law. And so, we still have work yet to do, my friend.
ACOSTA: Well, I know. I was just going to ask you about that. In 2021, President Biden invited the family of George Floyd to the White House, had a -- they hoped to push a police reform bill through Congress by the one-year anniversary of George's death. But ultimately as you said, that effort failed. Nothing has happened with that bill since. Is there any progress happening here in Washington on that front or is it just in permanent limbo? What's your sense of it?
CRUMP: Well, you know, Jim, the United States House of Representatives, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, has proposed a new George Floyd Justice in Policing bill. Obviously, it's going to be harder to get out of the House now with Republican control and also, they are proposing legislation in the United States Senate.
It was our hope at the state of the union address after the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols when President Biden had his parents and talked about, we have to speak to this issue of excessive force against marginalized people in America. We were hopeful that that would give synergy to give the bill new life, but yet we still wait and we're bogged down in politics.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. And let me ask you about what's happening in Minnesota. The Minnesota legislature passed a significant number of police accountability packages, including new laws passed this past month, I believe, that tighten restrictions on no-knock warrants. Are you hopeful that there's real lasting change in Minnesota? And I guess, if the federal government isn't going to step up, if Congress is not going to step up, do you really have to work on this state by state?
CRUMP: Yeah. You hit the hammer on the nail, Jim. I am very hopeful not because of the gridlock that's going on in Washington, but what we're seeing in cities and municipalities and states all across America. And like I said on May 25th, on Friday the anniversary of the tragedy, we all can do something as Dr. King said. We all have a role to play in this struggle for equality and justice for all.
And so, what you can do is find out in your city, have the choke hold banned. And if it has not been banned, then that's what you can do to help fulfill the legacy of George Floyd when everybody said until we get justice for George Floyd, none of us can breathe.
And so, we still have work to do to make it where all of our children can continue to breathe with police knee or excessive force stopping that breath.
ACOSTA: And I want to change topics to another case that you're fighting. You fight on a lot of fronts but this one I want to talk about. On Wednesday, you and your team filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Hancock County Sheriff's Office in Georgia on behalf of the family of Brianna Grier, the mother who died while in the custody of sheriff's deputies last year. Let's talk about this. What more can you tell us about this legal challenge?
CRUMP: Well, Jim, it speaks to this issue of the mental health crisis in America. Brianna Grier was a young 28-year-old mother of 4-year-old twin girls when her parents called for help saying that she was having a mental health crisis. She was documented to have schizophrenia and the police came and regrettably, often, too often times when you have inaction with police and you are a person of color and you're having a mental health crisis, it equals a death sentence.
Where Brianna, they put her in handcuffs, put her in the back of the police car then closed the police door good, driving down the highway, taking her to the jail instead of the mental health facility, and she falls out of the car, cracks her skull in two places. Her brain starts to bleed. She goes into a coma and six months later her twin daughters, Mariah and Maria have no more mother.
And that's why we filed that $100 million lawsuit to send a message that we can do better about our mentally ill brothers and sisters. In Atlanta, Georgia, LaShawn Thompson died from eaten by bedbugs, Jim, while he was in the psychiatric ward of the Atlanta Fulton County jail. And it goes on and on. Irvo Otieno, in which (inaudible) suffocated to death in a psychiatric ward by law enforcement.
We have to do better by our brothers and sisters who are suffering from mental illness. They deserve the same dignity and respect as all of us as American citizens.
ACOSTA: That's right. And all too often, Ben, as you know, we're dealing with people with mental health issues in the judicial system, in the law enforcement and judicial system. In many cases, what they need is treatment, the need help. It's such an important topic. Ben Crump, we'll have you back and talk about it again. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it this weekend. Thanks so much.
CRUMP: Thank you, always, Jim Acosta.
ACOSTA: All right, thank you. Up next, President Biden and Speaker McCarthy have a tentative deal. Now comes the harder part, selling it to their members as the clock continues to tick closer to a potential default. More on that ahead. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
ACOSTA: There may be an agreement in principle on a debt ceiling deal, but we are still several days away from an actual vote on an agreement. Republicans have already been briefed on the particulars by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. House Democrats there are just now getting a look at the language and call this hour with President Biden. Senate Democrats are also up next apparently in the next hour.
So, who's going to support this bill? It's vital to preventing a default that could happen as soon as June 5th. Joining us to talk about this, CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover and CNN political analyst, senior political analyst, John Avlon. Guys, great to see you as always. Happy Memorial Day weekend. Let's start with this comment from Republican negotiator on the bill Dusty Johnson, Congressman Dusty Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): There were no wins for Democrats. If you look at the state of policy today in this country and you say, okay, we're going into a deal and one side is going to get half and the other side is going to get half. Republicans have pulled their half this way; Democrats have pulled their half this way. There is nothing after the passage of this bill that would be more liberal or more progressive than it is today. It's a remarkable conservative accomplishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, Margaret, I'll start with you first. I mean, some of the members of the Freedom Caucus beg to differ with Congressman Johnson there. They're describing this deal as insanity. One lawmaker saying you can't call yourself a conservative if you support this bill and so on. Republicans, they are not making it easy on their fellow Republicans to get this deal through, are they?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and Dusty Johnson is an incredibly conservative member of the House Conference. What you're seeing here and this is not done. I mean, it's great that there's a deal. We all recognize that defaulting on our debt is not one of the choices on our bingo card in front of us, Jim, but what you're seeing is a wedge. I mean, there is a wedge.
There are inflection points on the right and you're seeing an incredibly conservative bona fide member of the conference go out and tell all of the further right members of the conference, this is a good deal and here is why, we won, they lost. I mean, it is not the bargaining and accommodation that the founders intended for congress. But I -- it is where we are in terms of how the right and Kevin McCarthy has to hold his voting bloc together.
ACOSTA: And what do you think, John?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, look, I think what that member is doing is trying to sell Republicans, conservatives on the deal which was certainly far short of the ludicrous list of demands they initially put forward, but that itself was never going to be what came down.
Look, this is a win for the American people to the extent that we are not going to default on your debt. We're not going to play this game again before the next presidential election.
Republicans have some wins that they can look to. They are modest. They are reasonable concessions by the president. But, of course, what Republican leadership needs to do is sell this as we owned the libs because that's how they increase their margins.
At the end of the day, this bill, if it is passed, will be passed by a supermajority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans including the leadership which is the same old Groundhog Day we've seen when there's an impasse that's about to really hurt the country. Where the extremes sort of go off in their own directions, particularly on the right.
ACOSTA: And, guys, let's talk about the Democrats. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal chair the Progressive Caucus, refused to commit to anything until she has seen the actual language of the proposal, but she said yes. The Biden administration has to worry about concessions to conservatives. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): That's basic spending on things like health care, education, childcare. All the things you care about is what Republicans want to cut. And they even took back $10 billion from the IRS that was supposed to go to taking on wealthy tax cheats in order to make regular Americans pay for wealthy people to be able to continue to get tax breaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: I mean, what do you think, Margaret? I mean, should the president worry about losing support from Democrats? I mean, I would have to think that, I mean, most if not all of them are going to be with them. They've been with them just about every step of the way throughout his administration. I can't imagine him not having that support this time around.
HOOVER: I can't imagine that not being the case in the end. But there's a lot of space for principles and ideological even disagreements between the progressive left and the conservative base of the Republican Party and you're seeing it play out. I mean, the IRS funding is but a small piece of it. There's a larger and more substantive piece around work requirements and on unspent COVID monies.
And these are -- these are the things that we ought to work out in our regular budgeting process, a healthy budgeting process that actually gets us to the point where we are deciding what we're going to spend at the beginning of every fiscal year, spending that and then appropriating along the lines of the budget, okay. That's how we should be operating and that's how we should be controlling our spending.
ACOSTA: That's how it's supposed to work.
ACOSTA: And that's what I was going to ask John. I mean, this is -- well, I was going to say, just to echo that point that Margaret was saying. We were talking to Congressman Martin Frost yesterday and he like many Democrats are saying we feel like we were held hostage. I mean, what about this notion, John, that -- I mean, that the -- this is not how this process should be playing out, that you should not grind everything to a halt and threaten default just to get what you want on your particular, you know, spending and, you know, debt- cutting issues. It's just not being realistic.
AVLON: That's not a notion. ACOSTA: Yeah.
AVLON: That's not a notion. That's a fact. I mean, you know, Congress has to control the purse strings. They don't have control on whether we default on our debt. So, frankly, someone should figure out the 14th Amendment side of this because I actually think this is not the way we're supposed to play ball, the greatest nation in the world constantly every couple years when there's a Democratic president, you know, flirting with defaulting on our debt because it's fiscal policy by extortion.
This is, you know, this is a win to the extent that we came up with a bipartisan agreement before we defaulted, but this is not the way the greatest nation in the world should conduct its fiscal policy. It's ridiculous. And it didn't happen when Donald Trump was president because Democrats worked with Republicans to ensure the debt ceiling was raised three times. You didn't hear Republicans say boo about it.
But now you got, I mean, you know, I saw Congressman Ralph Norman from South Carolina say I'm voting against this because I'm not going to let this country go bankrupt. Well, hold it right there. I mean, if you let the country default on its debt, that's functionally the same thing. So, you know, we should be doing this in regular budgeting. We should not be playing partisan politics with the debt ceiling or the full (inaudible) the United States, full stop.
ACOSTA: Yeah. I mean, we talked about the Republican congressman yesterday, Tim Burton, who said, you know, he's ready for government shutdown. Again, he'll vote for one this time around. I pointed out, you know, this is not a government shutdown. This is a debt default. It's a different thing.
And so, I think that there's a desire to achieve a certain goal, but doing it through the debt ceiling process, it just seems like we've now normalized this battle every time the debt ceiling comes up. We're going to have this battle again and again.
AVLON: You're right.
ACOSTA: Margaret, letter me ask you about what took place in Texas yesterday because it is pretty significant.
The attorney general there, Ken Paxton, was impeached. You know, it was a pretty wide margin. I mean, it was well over a hundred votes in favor of impeachment to impeach the Republican attorney general there, Ken Paxton. And you know, this is despite the fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were both putting out statements saying don't impeach Ken Paxton. What does that say that, you know there is --
ACOSTA: -- there is support -- take John or Margaret, whoever wants to take this, what does it say that their support did not -- for Ken Paxton, did not really move much, even down in Texas? AVLON: I think it says a lot. I mean, I'm going to jump in because
I've been following this really closely, Jim. Look, Ken Paxton, there's been a cloud around him for a long, long time. It's interesting that Republicans decided to finally to rein him in. There was a report that was in particularly damning and they went forward with the vote.
And you're right, not only Donald Trump, but Ted Cruz, you know, who is supposedly has a lot of sway in the conservative Texas caucus, didn't lay a glove on him because it was so egregious. At the end of the day, Republicans felt they could police their own.
That's not a sufficient way of doing business. There's going to be trial in the Senate. But it's really significant, especially if you take time to look at the charges, the voluminous things he's been accused of for a long time, finally coming to a head and Republicans saying we got to police our own extremes.
HOOVER: And I think there's also to be said, something to be said here about the Texas Republican Party. Ted Cruz doesn't have a lot of sway with many Republicans anywhere. You know, he's barely held onto that Senate seat with the grudging Republican support in his own state. And Donald Trump, same thing.
I mean, Texans -- there is a real, you know, for the state that was a Republican before it became a state, there was a real sense of fierce independence and not having anybody else tell us how we're going to run our business, how we're going to run our government, how we're going to run our parties. And so, I do think that the Texas Republican Party is in its own way a bit inoculated from elements of Donald Trump being able to tell it what to do.
ACOSTA: Interesting. All right. Guys. I've been -- I've reported in Texas many times. You're absolutely right about that. They do have a different sense of being who they are down there in Texas. No question about it. Very fiercely independent. All right, Margaret Hoover, John Avlon, great to talk to you guys. As always, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
ACOSTA: You as well, you as well. Still ahead, the White House revealed its first ever national strategy to combat anti-Semitism. Is it enough? Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League joins me next to discuss. We've talked to him before about this critical issue. We're going to do it again here in just a few moments. Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: The White House is taking steps to fight anti-Semitism in America. President Biden this week laid out his strategy to fight what he calls the immoral and unacceptable hostility against Jewish Americans. And joining us now to talk about this to discuss the first ever national strategy to combat anti-Semitism is Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
Jonathan, great to see you. Thanks as always for talking about this. The White House laid out four priorities. The first one is to increase awareness and understanding of anti-Semitism and Jewish American heritage. The White House said your organization found in 2020 that 85 percent of Americans believe at least one anti-Semitic trope. How do you reverse that number? And talk to us a little bit about that. That is still very disturbing.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Jim, the data is deeply disturbing, almost alarming. And in recent years, we've seen as we've talked about on your show before, a rise in anti-Jewish incidents. Last year was a record high. The third time in the past five years we've broken a record.
We've seen anti-Semitic attitudes increase as well. Last year, they reached a 30-year high. And there's widespread ignorance about the holocaust, et cetera. So, none of us should be surprised that anti- Semitism is up. What all of us should be surprised, pleasantly surprised to see that White House taking action.
This national strategy that was announced this past week literally, Jim, I've never seen anything like it before and I mean that in a good way. President Biden has now elevated the fight against anti-Semitism to other national priorities like combating climate change or addressing economic inequality.
So, for American Jews across the spectrum, to see the White House marshalling all the resources of the federal government, I mean, the document has a hundred concrete recommendations, Jim, with direct deadlines about when they'll deliver on it. It's fairly stunning in a really positive way.
ACOSTA: Well, let's listen to what the president had to say about this. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's on all of us. It's on all of us to stop it. We must say clearly and forcefully that anti-Semitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America. And silence, silence is complicity. You cannot remain silent. I will not remain silent and you should not either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Silence. I mean, that seems to be part of this. Folks sitting on the sidelines, not objecting to it. I guess, sticking their heads in the sand, is that part of this too? Is that part of the problem?
GREENBLATT: Entirely. I mean, one of the pillars of this four-part plan is reversing the normalization of anti-Semitism. And when athletes, entertainers, elected officials, you know, aspiring politicians, when they literally echo anti-Semitic tropes and no one does anything, that's a problem.
And by the way, you know, when leaders like university presidents, we had something this past week in New York where a university president was presiding over a graduation ceremony, Jim, and the speaker spouted disgusting anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic vitriol, the president did nothing.
So, you know, our sins of omission and sins of commission, this plan will address all of it. And there's nothing political about fighting prejudice. So, I hope that Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, can come together on this issue. That no one in our country should feel unsafe because of how they pray or where they worship or how they should identify.
This plan goes farther than any I have ever seen and I'm grateful that the administration released it. Now, though, Jim, we're going to hold them accountable and make sure they deliver on their commitments.
ACOSTA: And Jonathan, I wanted to ask you about Roger Waters, the "Pink Floyd" member. He's under fire for wearing a Nazi-like uniform, using props that have come under criticism. He's been doing this live satirical segment from "The Wall" album for decades. Last week after a concert in Berlin, German authorities opened an investigation for incitement. As we know, any type of Nazi symbolism is banned in Germany.
Tonight, apparently, Waters is playing in Frankfurt. Protests are planned. What are your thoughts on all of this. I don't know if we have some of the pictures available, we can show if we have them available, but I mean, it's disturbing to see what took place at this show.
GREENBLATT: Yeah. There's nothing satirical about stereotyping, scapegoating and spreading hate. Roger Waters is a bankrupt musician who I hope will open up his next act with Kanye. I mean, the things he's doing on stage in Germany are repellant on every level.
Jim, he regularly spouts anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, having a floating pig above your stage with Jewish stars on it while you march around in an SS uniform --
ACOSTA: And to do this on Germany.
GREENBLATT: The only thing this is -- the only thing that makes this helpful Jim is he's a clown and I hope they throw the book at him.
ACOSTA: All right. Jonathan Greenblatt, I knew you'd have strong words on that. Thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it as always. Thanks so much.
GREENBLATT: As always, thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. And we'll stay on top of that story in Germany. Thanks, Jonathan. Coming up, a shooting on a moving transit bus. A driver and a passenger drew their guns after an argument. Some stunning video to show you. The details ahead live in the "CNN Newsroom."
ACOSTA: At least three people are dead and five others injured in a shooting at a Memorial Day motorcycle rally in New Mexico. It happened in the town of Red River. Police say the violence started after a confrontation between outlaw biker gangs. One suspect is now in custody charged with murder. CNN's Mike Valerio has the latest on the investigation. Mike, this is a really stunning story. What are police doing to increase security? What more do we know about this?
MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should tell you, Jim, that this rally is continuing because they tell us that this crime, as you alluded to, was between not an attacker and innocent random families, but rather between two criminal biker gangs that have a history of antagonism with each other.
So, what they're doing is roughly doubling their presence in this town in New Mexico. So, it's Red River that we're talking about, Jim. A town, if we open the aperture here, that every single year looks forward to this Memorial Day tradition when families, motorcycle enthusiasts come to this mountain idyllic scenic town to have this celebration, have this rally.
But the mayor tells us that more and more frequently these criminal elements of criminal biker gangs have infiltrated the rally. So, we know that yesterday there is an argument that happens. Somebody, according to law enforcement, gets upset about a photograph that's taken in Albuquerque.
Miles away, the argument carries onto Red River, New Mexico. Somebody opens fire ultimately killing three people. Five people are wounded. And here is the state's police chief talking about the absurdity of how this all happened. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM JOHNSON, NEW MEXICO STATE POLICE: These gang bangers who are lawless and what they are, are gang bangers, choose to have a three- day sleepover in New Mexico and not follow any of our laws and bully people around here and that's not going to be tolerated for the rest of this weekend or any Memorial Days moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: You really feel for Red River, Jim, because it has 450 people. It's this town that really depends on this economic activity to jump start their summer -- 25,000 people descend upon Red River. So, the mayor, bottom line is saying that so much of Main Street had been shut down. Restaurants closed because of this violence. She's hoping that things start to get back to normal tomorrow. And on Wednesday, she and members of the community will meet to discuss how to have this rally moving forward, Jim. ACOSTA: All right, Mike Valerio, wild story. Thanks very much.
Appreciate it. Now to Charlotte and shocking new video of a shooting inside a city bus. It all happened while the bus was moving. Let's go straight to CNN's Isabel Rosales. Isabel, what happened?
ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this video is fairly shocking. Bullets fly it seems so suddenly. The intensity just in a snap of a finger going off.
Before we show that video, though, let me set the stage for you. According to the interim CEO of the CATS or the Charlotte Area Transit System, there was an argument that occurred for around two minutes between the bus driver and a passenger. That passenger angry because he wanted to be let off. The driver refusing to let him off because they have designated stops. This was not a designated stop, telling that passenger, the driver, that he needed to wait until a designated stop.
Well, then Omari Tobias, the passenger, pulls out a gun. The driver, David Fullard, seized the gun, pulls out his own gun, and then a shootout ensues. Take a look at this video, but first, a warning. It is graphic.
ROSALES: Right. And just an incredible moment right there. You can see the suspect crawling toward the back of the bus. The bus driver puts the bus into a stop, goes after him, shoots a few more rounds. There are two bystanders in the bus who were not harmed. They were also trying to get away from there. And that passenger is facing charges, Jim.
ACOSTA: Wow. What a scary situation. All right. Isabel Rosales, what a disturbing story there. Thank you very much for that reporting. We'll be right back.