Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Growing Number Of Dems Urge Biden, Leadership To Act Without GOP; Biden Tested On World Stage As Domestic Agenda Is In Peril; GOP Leaders Cast Doubt on New Bipartisan Infrastructure Talks; Interview With Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Sources: WH Worried Harris Foreign Trip Is Overshadowed By Questions About Why She Didn't Visit The Border; President Biden Says "LGBTQ+ Rights Are Human Rights" As Justice Department Defends Law Letting Private Schools Discriminate. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 09, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Brian Todd reporting for us. Brian, thank you very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, President Biden out of the country as his domestic agenda grinds to a halt. Can he salvage his infrastructure deal as he prepares to come face-to-face with President Vladimir Putin?
Plus, Vice President Kamala Harris facing criticism after her first foreign trip, some of it coming from inside her administration.
And Attorney General Merrick Garland vowing to get to the bottom of that stunning leak of confidential IRS documents showing the United States' richest people pay little to no federal taxes. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Biden's test. President Biden on his first high stakes overseas trip, stepping onto the world stage for the first time as president and it comes justice his agenda at home is in serious peril. Because just moments ago, you see Biden landing in Southwest England. He is actually right, as I speak, making his way to St. Ives. He's on a trip that will include a face-to-face meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm heading to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know. I've been clear, the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way when the Russian government engages in harmful activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, Biden tonight out of the country after failing to strike an infrastructure deal with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who is leading negotiations for Republicans. Biden is now reaching out to yet another group of lawmakers to try to find a different way forward. OK. But can that bipartisan group that he just met actually make a deal that would go through when the other one failed? Top Republicans don't think so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): It's hard for me to see a scenario where even 10 Republicans would vote for something that gets very far beyond where Shelley's discussions were with the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Sen. John Cornyn telling CNN and I quote, "I think he thinks he is going to get a better deal, but there's nothing that says whatever this group agrees to other Republicans are going to support."
So that's just on the Republican side. So all of this has led the progressives on the Democratic side to say enough is enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Let's face it. It is time to move forward. We need to start nailing down the details on this infrastructure package and keeping it going. The Republicans have held us up long enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going much further, tweeting, "Biden and Senate Dems should take a step back and ask themselves if playing patty-cake with GOP senators is really worth the dismantling of people's voting rights, setting the planet on fire, allowing massive corporations and the wealthy to not pay their fair share of taxes, et cetera."
OK. She made that message very loud and clear. That's where progressive stand. They want to leave the Republicans behind and they want to go it alone. Forget it, just go on party lines.
The problem with that, though, even if you agree to it on principle, is that the Democrats would need every single one of their own to fall in line. That means Sen. Joe Manchin, that means you, he's got to get on board that our way or the highway strategy to go it alone. And Manchin tonight, he's not changing his tune. He doesn't sound like a guy who's giving up on Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): There's been good conversations on everything. I'm just saying there's a lot of good faith and a lot of good camaraderie and everything's been working well. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Everything's been working well. Certainly, President Biden may not agree. Phil Mattingly is traveling with the President, meantime, OUTFRONT live in Falmouth, England. Phil, so with the President's domestic agenda in peril right now on infrastructure voting rights, making this trip away from the action at home right now becomes even more high stakes.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I don't think there's any question about it. But to some degree, Erin, as you know quite well, this is the reality of the job. I feel like I've been told that by multiple White House officials over the course of the last 24 hours. You're never going to be able to focus on just one issue and make no mistake about it.
This is an incredibly crucial trip for the President, a president who has made clear his primary goal when it comes to foreign policy in the Oval Office is to reengage with allies and for decades relied heavily on the United States to serve a leadership role to play a dynamic role in the western relationships and felt like that really took a backseat over the course of the last four years.
And, of course, all leading up to that very essential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where President Biden has made very clear he plans to deliver a very clear and very tough message face-to- face with that leader who the President has known for a number of decades.
He believes and his aides to tell me that the President believes that he can be engaged on the domestic front as well. He has made clear he will be available by phone to the senators in that bipartisan group should they need to get in touch with him.
He has designated a number of his aides on the domestic side of things, particularly top economic aides, his top legislative affairs aides and his chief of staff all back home, all available to meet in- person with this group by the President's designation, hoping that that will help break things loose.
But I think you also have to look at it from a broader perspective, which is kind of how the White House is framing this at this moment in time. They recognize the progressive pressure that they're getting right now. They recognize that the President has put $4 trillion domestic economic agenda on the table and the window is closing fast for an opportunity to do that.
But they also recognize, Erin, what you've just pointed out, they can't do anything Democrat-only if they don't have Sen. Joe Manchin. And if they don't have Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Those two senators are in that group of bipartisan senators. Those two senators got phone calls from President Biden yesterday. They know exactly what's happening right now and the President made clear to them, I'm told, they have an opportunity to strike that bipartisan deal that they say is a necessity. If they can't do it, the President is ready to move on. It's on them now to some degree, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much for your reporting, as I said, live in England tonight.
OUTFRONT now, I want to go to Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, because he sits on both the Budget and Foreign Relations Committee. So if there's anybody who can walk and chew gum at the same time, Senator, it would be you on all of these issues. So let me just ask you do you believe, in your heart, that a bipartisan deal on infrastructure is remotely possible?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): So Erin, it's good to be with you. I don't think it's shaping up to be successful. I mean, that's my assessment as of right now. And the most important thing is at the end of the day what we pass has to embrace that bold vision that President Biden put forward in both the American jobs plan and the American family plan.
And even if somehow this bipartisan agreement were to work out, it would not begin to cover and match that vision, so no matter what, we need to be working right now on that reconciliation package and bringing everybody on board. After all, the President has negotiated in good faith, but just like he did with the American rescue plan when Republicans refused to come to the table, we need to do the right thing for the country.
BURNETT: So is there anything that you have heard and it sounds like the answer to this is no, given what you're saying about your outlook here. But from Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema, that makes you think at this point they'll say, OK, cool, we'll get on board. We're going to vote for this even without any GOP support, because obviously to get this through, you need Sen. Manchin right now. He has just not indicated he's there on a party line vote.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, you just cited some Republicans in the Senate that made the point that you need to get to 10 Republican senators to have any chance of bringing this forward. And right now, I don't see any way to count to 10 on any kind of bipartisan bill that would meet the President's test, even that narrower test as a first part of a plan.
So the President has done everything that those Democratic senators asked for. He's engaged in weeks of bipartisan negotiations. At the end of the day, if we can't get the Republicans on board, we need to move forward and my view is that time has come. My view is we need to ...
BURNETT: But are you willing to fail? I mean, what if Manchin doesn't go with you, then you guys fail even on a party vote.
VAN HOLLEN: I think at the end of the day, when it comes to the President's jobs plan and President's American Families Plan, we'll see the same result as we saw on the American Rescue Plan, which is attempt the bipartisan approach. Time has run out. Now, we need to take the other path. We cannot just sort of twiddle our thumbs at the negotiating table, while the time fritters away.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you, because I mentioned you do sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is obviously overseas on his first trip in that capacity as president. And he's going to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, it's on the schedule.
According to our reporting, there are some in his own administration, his inner circle who are skeptical of setting up a meeting with Putin. Do you think a meeting with Putin is a good idea, Senator?
VAN HOLLEN: I do. I think the President needs to sit down with Putin face-to-face and make it clear that the conduct and the actions coming out of Russia and from Putin are unacceptable to the United States, whether it's Russia essentially harboring those who are launching cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure, whether it's the actions Putin's taken in Ukraine and most recently the court decision in Moscow today to outlaw Navalny's political move.
What this shows is that Putin is afraid of democracy, we know that, and it would be really important for the President as the leader of the free world, somebody who has reengaged United States on the global scene, focusing on democracy and human rights to tell Vladimir Putin that what he's doing is unacceptable and why is he so afraid of a vote by the Russian people. I think we know the answer, but I think it's important that President Biden make that point directly.
BURNETT: Sen. Van Hollen, thank you.
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And let's go straight to John Avlon. John, a lot to ask you here, but let's just start with the Putin meeting out of the Senator is talking about. Biden says he's going to meet with Putin 'to let him know what I want him to know'.
Look, you can say something to someone's face and they can roll their eyes at you behind their back and not care at, we know that's how Putin handles these kinds of things. But that doesn't mean a meeting would be unproductive. I mean, does it make sense to do this?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think so and I think the Biden team believes despite the internal debate, that at the end of the day it's better to have Biden meet him from a position of strength to engage in diplomacy, to defend democracy and for Russians thinking this is a meeting of equals, to make it clear in that meeting, it's actually a meeting they see that Russia and Putin as more of an irritant than an equal.
But it's going to require some tough talk in sharp contrast to the kind of kowtow when we became accustomed to under Donald Trump.
BURNETT: All right. So this is happening right as - this trip - as the President's domestic agenda that he's trying to move forward right now truly is in peril. Now, you just heard what the Senator said on this infrastructure deal is that forget bipartisanship, let's go it alone.
But then when I specifically asked what you're going to do about Joe Manchin who seems to have no interest in doing that and he obviously can't get it through without his vote, he didn't answer that part of it. I mean, can they do this alone? They just don't have the votes right now.
AVLON: That's right. I think what you heard Sen. Van Hollen say is they should pursue a parallel path. They should get the reconciliation version together, but also see if Republicans can negotiate in good faith, put that on Manchin. But you already heard Sen. Thune there for the Republican leadership say that they need to get 10 votes.
So even if Biden is trying to say, look, individual senators, let's see what I can give you. Let's find a way to reason together. That delay tactic can't be rewarded indefinitely. What progressives need to realize is that for all the big talk, Joe Biden doesn't have the kind of super majorities in Congress that FDR or LBJ did. That's just reality.
And so, if you want to grow this majority, you got to reach out to rural and red state Democrats. You don't do that by attacking your own. At the same time, the Senator needs to realize that they can't get played by Republicans with these delay tactics indefinitely. And the January 6 vote itself should have been a warning sign that good faith negotiations are in short supply, infrastructure should be something they could agree on, but time is ticking.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thank you very much, John.
AVLON: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, Kamala Harris taking heat even from inside her own party after her first foreign trip as Vice President.
Plus, the Attorney General vowing to track down whomever leaked IRS documents, the wealthiest Americans to ProPublica, which revealed how little some billionaires pay in actual income taxes.
And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's husband is my guest. That Chasten Buttigieg is taking on the Chairwoman of the RNC after she tweeted about Pride Month.
BURNETT: Tonight, Vice President Kamala Harris returning to Washington after her first foreign trip, which administration officials worry will be overshadowed by this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any plans to visit the border?
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point. We are going to the border, we've been to the border, so this whole thing about the border, we've been to the border. We've been to the board.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven't been to the border.
HARRIS: And I haven't been to Europe. I don't understand the point that you're making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Dana Bash, CNN Chief Political Correspondent and Co-Anchor of STATE OF THE UNION.
Dana, it would, I guess, to state the obvious that would not be the answer that her team would have prepared her to give to that question. What are your sources in the White House telling you about how they feel after Harris' first trip abroad?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Perplexed is the word that I heard from sources. And these are not people who are looking for her to fail, just the opposite. There was a great hope inside the Biden administration that this would be a big success and the perplex part comes because this is a question that the vice president was clearly going to get the question about the border.
Yes, the Vice President's office has been kind of annoyed at those questions about whether she will go because they feel that it is simply the right-wing conservative media trying to tie her to their favorite wedge issue, which is immigration. But the reality is that she was in the region talking about the northern triangle countries, talking about as she says, the root causes.
But this was a question that people who I and Phil Mattingly and others have talking to you thought that she could have much more kind of deafly turned into what she wanted to talk about as opposed to not answering it and making it a story.
And so that was the concern that we are hearing from sources, again, because this is something that is important, for two reasons, one, just first and foremost, because of the policy, because the focus should be on what she's trying to attain there with regard to all different aspects of talking to the government and talking to businesses and so forth. But then also because this is her first foreign trip.
BURNETT: Yes, right.
BASH: And she is going to be judged in a big way on that.
BURNETT: Right. Right. I mean, it's like, of course, I'm going to go to the border. I came here first, because this is what I think is the root of the problem. I mean, anybody could kind of go through various answers to that question which would have both answered it and turned it to what she wanted to talk about.
In addition to immigration, which she's leading up the effort on for the administration, Vice President Harris also is leading the efforts on voting rights. [19:20:05]
Of course, Dana, as you've been reporting on.
BURNETT: That's a lot. And there are two issues that don't appear to be set up for wins right now by any basic metric of legislation or anything else. But the White House says that or tells you, I believe, that she's she is discussing her portfolio very closely with Biden, this is what she wanted to do.
BASH: That's the reporting of our team and it certainly tracks with what I am hearing. I think the question is what is the it, right, Erin? Because when it was initially reported, the question is whether or not the Vice President/former senator would go up to Capitol Hill and start negotiating like the President did when he was vice president cutting deals with Mitch McConnell on issues.
And quickly her team said, no, no, no, that is not what she is going to do. Understanding that that is setting her up for failure, because the idea of threading that needle on this issue is going to be very, very difficult. So instead, they defined it as going out into the country, rallying the stakeholders getting public support behind the idea of federal legislation for voting.
So the issue is that these are very complex problems and they're trying to define, the Vice President's office is trying to define her role in them in a very narrow way and the nuance is kind of hard to get across and they're definitely feeling that inside her office.
BURNETT: Yes, I'm sure. All right. Dana, thank you very much. Dana Bash's reporting.
BASH: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next an inside look at that revealing leak exposing how little some billionaires pay in income taxes. But who is behind a leak of IRS personal tax data. Should it have been published in the first place?
And the Justice Department says it will keep defending a federal lawsuit allowing religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students. Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg response.
BURNETT: Tonight's inside look, the world's richest people and the taxes they pay or don't, Attorney General Merrick Garland tonight saying he is making it a top priority to investigate the leak of 15 years of confidential IRS documents from thousands of taxpayers. That data published revealed in a stunning report by ProPublica.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is an extremely serious matter. People are entitled, obviously, to privacy with respect to their tax returns. I promise you will be at the top of my list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Garland's remarks coming after ProPublica reported that some of the richest people on the planet, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg paid little if any federal income taxes. Also, according to ProPublica, the true tax rate for Bezos, the richest person on the planet was 0.98 percent.
All right. They calculate that by comparing how much his wealth grew compared to how much he paid in income taxes, that's the calculation they used for this rate. That rate for Elon Musk who is the second richest person on this planet was 3.27 percent.
And for Warren Buffett who for years, of course, has called for higher taxes on the rich, his true tax rate happened to be the lowest of all, 0.1 percent, less than 10 cents for every hundred dollars he added to his wealth. OUTFRONT now, Binyamin Appelbaum. He's the Lead Business and Economics Writer for The New York Times Editorial Board and Douglas Holtz Eakin, Former Director of CBO, the Congressional Budget Office.
So Doug, you say this never should have even been reported by ProPublica, I suppose now echoing the outrage we heard from the Attorney General Merrick Garland, why?
DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: Revealing taxpayer's confidential information makes you liable for a five year prison term. So there are hundreds of years of prison terms on the bull's eye here for whoever released those data. That says that our nation values the confidentiality of these documents and that we have placed a high premium on that.
ProPublica, knowing that, went ahead and disclose the numbers anyway. I think it was a mistake in judgment.
BURNETT: Binya, you're all for the report. I mean, you've argued actually that everyone's income taxes should be public. What do you say to Doug's reasoning?
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, LEAD BUSINESS & ECONOMICS WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: Yes. I mean, first off, we should be clear that ProPublica didn't do anything wrong. They're not the source of the leak themselves. They obtained the information and they published it. And that was a tremendous public service.
We've learned a lot from this information. We've learned that the definition of income that the IRS uses is far too narrow, because these billionaires are accumulating vast wealth that never gets taxed and it's valuable to the American people to know that. And the idea that these records should be secret seems to me primarily to serve the interests of the wealthy and of the government that's been failing to collect taxes.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: So if I could ...
BURNETT: So the ProPublica admits there's a lot of questions about this IRS documents about the provenance, OK? So let's just talk about this. They say, "We do not know the identity of our source. We did not solicit the information they sent us.
The source says they were motivated by our previous coverage of issues surrounding the IRS and tax enforcement, but we do not know for certain that this is true. We have considered the possibility that information we have received could have come from a state actor hostile to American interests."
So Doug, how important is the source? I mean, they're being very open here. It could have come from China or Russia or somebody hostile, they're not beating around the bush.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: So here's the point, these documents shouldn't be made public. We've made it a national priority that they not be made public regardless of who is giving them to ProPublica in this case. Binya made a very important point that if we learned a whole lot about something, then that would be a tough call, but we didn't learn anything from this. Did we learn that billionaires were falsifying their documents? No.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: These are legally filed legal tax compliance.
OK. Did we -- did we learn anything about the tax code? Now, we knew that their interest was deductible. We knew that charitable donations were deductible. We know that capital gains were not taxed until realized, and then when realized, taxable lower rate.
We learned nothing about the revelation of these documents. All we did is harm the confidentiality of the individual's tax insurance.
BURNETT: I mean, Binyamin, you know, obviously, there's a possibility it could be because of a hostile state actor, which I know, you know, does that -- does that change your analysis at all? You know, if this came from somebody inside the IRS who feels a moral obligation to leak it -- by the way, it carries a jail sentence or it came from Putin, Putin's KGB?
APPELBAUM: Look, here's what we know for sure, which is that the information came from the IRS. None of the billionaires have disputed the accuracy of the information. How it got from point A to point B I don't know. But I think the real point here is that the information has value, and that "ProPublica" acted responsibly in publishing and then sharing it with the American people.
You know, it's interesting that when we start having an income tax a century ago, we did publish the amounts that people paid. BURNETT: Good point.
APPELBAUM: There was an outcry by the wealthy. We stopped doing it because the wealthy didn't like, and maybe the reason the wealthy don't like it is because it cast a spotlight on the kind of behavior that I think a lot of Americans will not be happy about.
BURNETT: I mean, Doug, you know, to that point, and they said, you know, I was talking to Jesse Eisenberg who did a lot of the reporting on this, they're going to be doing stories all year from the data that they got. But one point that he made very loud and clear is the point you're making, that everything in here is legal.
But somehow when you actually see the numbers and you can explain to people with explicit examples, it might raise awareness of, hmm, should we consider something different? Should we have a different policy conversation? Is there not any value to it from that perspective?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: So, as I said before, all of this is knowable, and these are well-known techniques. If people are outraged and people will be, I promise you, they should not be looking at Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett.
They should be looking at Capitol Hill and the White House where these tax laws are made and where the decision to make them confidential was enforced. That's the place you want to exchange it. If you don't like the way it is right now, I hear Binyamin.
I mean, he doesn't like it this way. That's the way you change it. Not by going against the law of the land and the values that embodied in them the way ProPublica did.
BURNETT: Yeah. Binyamin, let me just ask you a question, though, it's kind of interesting when you think about this, right? Years of trying to get Donald Trump's taxes and they never were -- they never came out, and yet now, all of a sudden, they have at least 14,000 Americans tax returns including the top wealthiest people. I mean, it is bizarre, isn't it?
APPELBAUM: It's an amazing thing, it's an amazing trove of data and I think it really underscores that sometimes the real scandalous is precisely what's legal. And I agree with Doug, that the intention here should be focused on tax policy.
But the reality is that for many people, what makes these abstract debates tangible are specific examples, and I think there is tremendous value in being able to parse the details of individual lives, individual taxpayers in order to see the magnitude of what is gone wrong in the system.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both so very much.
And OUTFRONT next, Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Secretary Pete Buttigieg, is my guest. Why he took on the head of the RNC after she tweeted about Pride Month. So, you'll see him next. Plus, cicada invasion. They're landing on the president and our own Manu Raju, and they taste delicious, so I hear. I almost fried one the other day.
The buzz from these red eyed insects is real.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden urging Congress to pass a bill that would prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, tweeting, quote: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. As we celebrate this month, we will rest until full a quality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved, and codified into law. The Senate must pass the Equality Act.
Yet that coming as the Justice Department says in a new court filing, that it will keep defending a federal law, which allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
OUTFRONT, Chasten Buttigieg. He's the author of the memoir, "I Have Something to Tell You", and also the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten, thanks so much for coming on. It's nice to see you, even though it's through the camera this time.
CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG, AUTHOR, "I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU": Nice to see you, too.
BURNETT: You know, Biden come out with a statement supporting LGBTQ rights, and you got the Justice Department, the Biden Justice Department, defending a law that allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ.
How do you square that circle?
BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, well, the Justice Department is doing its job defending federal law, which is why we need to change the federal law. That's why the Biden administration is asking the Republican Party to pass the Equality Act.
We need to pass the Equality Act so that we don't have to keep having these debates, whether or not people get to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, in the workplace or at home.
BURNETT: So, you took on the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. And here's what she tweeted that caused a reaction.
She said: Happy Pride Month. GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last four years and we will continue to grow big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs.
That last clause obviously being important. You fired back, quote: Those with deeply held religious beliefs are often the parents who force their LGBTQ children out of their homes and onto the street, revisit your party's platform before you open your mouth about pride.
And I know, Chasten, it's not -- you didn't just do this, you know, quickly out of anger. You thought about it. You chose your words. You considered about it.
Why was it so important for you to send that message to Ronna McDaniel?
BUTTIGIEG: Because I was one of those kids. My parents, you know, I should first say religion is not the issue when it comes to people with deeply held religious beliefs. I know a lot of LGBTQ people who consider themselves religious.
I grew up in a religious home and I just thought that I was going to be a disappointment to my parents.
I ran away from home. I was one of those kids, one of those 1.8 million LGBTQ kids a year who contemplate suicide.
Her language is divisive, and it's dangerous. And it's making a space for people in their party who seek to harm LGBTQ Americans. It's making space for people like Ron DeSantis, who use the first day of Pride to sign anti-trans legislation in Florida. He vetoed mental health funding for survivors of Pulse.
I do not believe that is the party of inclusion and acceptance for LGBTQ Americans. I know what it's like to be on the outside of acceptance. And it hurts deeply when I know that she is purposely hurting millions of vulnerable kids in this country.
BURNETT: I think it's so important because I -- until you say what you said, which is I grew up in a religious household, this is my experience, I think a lot of people wouldn't understand, you know, the stress point of what she said, because you do write a little bit about this, Chasten, in your -- in your memoir, you write about the anxiety, and the alienation you felt in your own family, after you came out, so much that he left home.
BURNETT: Even at one point living at your own car, and you write about your decision to leave the house, quote, I said that I was sorry, but I was such a disappointment that I couldn't stand to be in the house. We can call this a product of homophobia, and the messages our culture sends to gay kids. I left because I was so embarrassed that I had to get away from them. I assume that they were mad me, but they wouldn't talk about it unless I somehow took it back.
You know, it's really hard to read that.
BURNETT: I think your perspective made such difference.
BUTTIGIEG: It's really hard to live it. Thank you, thanks.
And, you know, by the time you are done chatting tonight, about five kids in this country will have contemplated taking their own life because somewhere in this country, oftentimes, folks from a deeply held religious background or very far right wing religious background, we'll tell them that they are twisted, that they are broken, that something is fundamentally wrong with them.
That's what I believe growing up, and that is why I believe we need to pass the Equality Act, so that every vulnerable child this country can look to Washington, and now that they are safe, that they're supported. And that there is federal legislation that protects them, at school, in the workplace, even hate crime legislation is so important, especially for trans community right now, especially for trans women of color.
I think a lot of you want to believe that Pride is just rainbows and parades, celebration, but our community is consistent under attack. That is why we need the Equality Act, that's why talking about this is so important.
BURNETT: So you and Secretary Buttigieg have been in Washington, D.C. I know about six months now, after living in South Bend, Indiana.
So, you know, people see you, you post pictures on social media. You know, like this one, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff is in that picture with you. You guys are out and about.
What has it been like adjusting to this new life? This very public life, this sort of responsibility that you've taken on in Washington?
BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I certainly never thought growing up that I would be in this position. But I love it, I love being here, I love being in D.C., being part of this new wave, this generation of hope coming to Washington, D.C.
You can sort of feel here in D.C., this sigh of relief that we have leadership back in Washington.
We have people in the White House who actually care about LGBTQ Americans, and it also makes me very happy being out and proud with my husband. Going out to dinner, getting a drink or just walking the dogs and showing people would love looks like. And with this new generation of politics looks like.
BURNETT: Well, Chasten, I really appreciate your time and I thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: Thank you so much. Happy Pride.
BURNETT: All right. You, too.
And next, Vice President Kamala Harris telling migrants not to come to the border. So, CNN went to the ground in Honduras, where people there tell us they love nothing more to stay in the country but, they can't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: We lost everything, says this man. I want to leave because I can't find a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And cicadas swarming all around, so many that they're actually showing up on the weather radar.
BURNETT: New tonight, the U.S. reporting record numbers at the U.S. Mexican border. There were more than 180,000 encounters with migrants in May, as the highest one-month total in two decades. And as we learned about this surge, CNN is on the ground in Central America, going to where migrants are coming from. Take a closer look at what is fueling this migration.
Matt Rivers is OUTFRONT.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twin 17 year olds Gerardo and Salen (ph) were born and raised in Choloma, Honduras, in a gang run neighborhood in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. They lived in abject poverty, but for the boys it is home. And they will miss it, because they are about to leave for the United States.
At the bedroom they share, they show us their new prized possessions, the brand-new shoes they will use to make the minimum 1,500 mile journey to the U.S. mostly on foot.
RIVERS: They plan on leaving the 17th or the 20th of this month. These clothes here that are going to bring with them.
Gerardo says it feels terrible because we're going to leave my mother, but we have no future here.
They'll join the tens of thousands of other Hondurans who streamed into the U.S. this year, leaving behind one of the poorest countries on Earth.
Northward migration isn't new, but the conditions forcing people to flee arguably have never been worse, starting with twin category 4 hurricanes that made landfall late last year just two weeks apart, utterly decimating this region.
People lost everything and a half a year later, hardly anything is back to normal.
RIVERS: We meet a family who built a makeshift shelter on top of their old home after it was subsumed by mud during hurricane flooding.
We lost everything, this man says. I want to leave because I cannot find a job. There is no report from the government.
And just up the street -- we need another family, another home wiped out during the storm.
(translated): Have you received some type of support from the government?
Water leaks right through the walls of their shelter, made of old doors and tarps.
They sleep on mattresses that are on a dirt floor in a house made out of makeshift supplies.
We are desperate, he tells. We don't have a choice, saying he'll soon be forced to migrate north, too.
It's hard to believe that more than six months after this hurricane, authorities have done so little here to try to help people cleanup. I mean, look at this. What used to be a house, it got completely filled up with mud during the hurricane. And now obviously, the fellow that lived here cannot come back.
In response, the government told CNN they have been making repairs, giving us this video of some of their work. They said repairs like this take time and then back-to-back hurricanes would be difficult for any country to deal with. Critics though from citizens to NGOs say that their efforts have not been nearly enough.
And making the recovery worse, all of this damage came during a different kind of storm, the pandemic. A government mandated shut down and COVID-19 restrictions meant unemployment soared, around half of Honduras now lives below the poverty line, says the World Bank.
If they have more opportunities, people would not have to leave this country, says this a local priest.
For now, they will take the time they have with each other, because in a few days, the boys will likely end up here. A bus station where every night, a bus believes for the Guatemala border, from their, many make a reluctant walk north. This family for plans to do just that.
We can't take it anymore, this dad says, saying there's no jobs or good education for his kids. We've got no other option but to leave.
RIVERS (on camera): And you know, in that neighborhood, Erin, where the 17-year-old boys were leaving from. It's also a really dangerous place, we have to let go local gang leaders know that we were going to be there just so that there were no surprises. We spent 5 or 6 days, more or less, in that area. And I think the
takeaway for us was that you put all politics aside, seeing the poverty, seeing the violence, seeing the lack of opportunity, if you want people, less people, to be arriving at the southern U.S. border, you have to give them reasons to stay.
BURNETT: All right. Matt, thank you very much for that reporting on the ground in Honduras.
OUTFRONT next, cicadas take on Biden's press plane and the president himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Watch out for the cicadas, I just got one, it got me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, cicadas, because apparently, I prefer saying of cicadas as in the vast majority, are wreaking havoc in the United States and targeting the commander-in-chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Watch out for the cicadas, I just got one, it got me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: President Biden swatting one way as he was departing for his European visit. Cicadas also delaying a chartered plane carrying the White House press corps by more than six hours.
Pete Muntean is OUTFRONT.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As President Joe Biden arrived at Joint Base Andrews bound for the G7 summit, the buzz was about one thing.
BIDEN: Watch out for the cicadas, I just got one, it got me.
MUNTEAN: This morning just after the flight chartered to carry White House press was grounded by cicadas flying into a critical piece of equipment. Delta Airlines says the bug swarm the Airbus A330's auxiliary power units, rendering it unworkable.
Known as the APU, the small jet engine at the tip of the plane's tale is required for backup power on transatlantic trips.
The press boarded the replacement plane at Dulles airport early Wednesday morning, six hours late. But one could call at a delay almost two decades in the making.
Cicada Brood X is making its once every 17 year appearance across the mid-Atlantic. Their emergence so intense that cicadas even registered on a National Weather Service radar in Virginia.
DR. BRIAN LOVETT, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: They make themselves know. They make themselves known by appearing in such large numbers --
MUNTEAN: Entomologist Dr. Brian Lovett says cicadas have come out of the ground, shed their skin and are now in treetops with males screeching for a mate.
But part of their partners surge includes bumping into anything including CNN correspondent Manu Raju in the halls of Congress.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh! Oh my God! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cicada!
LOVETT: They don't really have behaviors to try to avoid people or predators. So because of that, when they're out, they'll just go anywhere. So, they will be climbing up your car. They will be climbing up into planes. They'll be climbing up trees, and into bushes.
MUNTEAN: Commercial airliners parked in the pandemic are sealed up to prevent things from getting inside including insects.
Entomologists say cicadas cannot make it to high cruising altitudes typical of commercial airliners.
Retired Captain Mark Weiss says that many cicadas can only bug travelers already on the ground.
MARK WEISS, RETIRED AIRLINE CAPTAIN: I think that's probably the last thing that they should be worried about, a cicada in an airplane. They're going to be going there in a couple of weeks, and you're not going to see them for another 17 years.
MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.
BURNETT: I love the sound they make.
Thanks for watching us.
"AC360" starts now.