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Inside Politics

President Biden Approaches 100-Day Mark; Ex-Police Officer Chauvin Found Guilty On All Three Charges; One-On-One With Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI); Interview With Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO); House Votes For D.C. Statehood, Bill Likely To Die In Senate. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): A busy almost 100 days for President Joe Biden.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we did it. Today, we hit 200 million shots.

PHILLIP: His promises kept, goals unfulfilled and the challenges that lie ahead. We'll talk to two freshman members of Congress, Democrat Cori Bush and Republican Peter Meijer about the president's performance and their first few months in office.

Almost a year after the death of George Floyd.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN DISTRICT COURT: We the jury find the defendant guilty --

PHILLIP: A verdict and accountability. What will Congress do to fix the problems with policing?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice.

PHILLIP: Plus, how D.C. statehood went from a fringe cause to the top of the Democrats' agenda.


PHILLIP (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Abby Phillip. And to our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for spending part of your weekend with us.

Joe Biden once described himself as a transitional figure, for the Democratic Party. But nearly 100 days into his presidency, his record is looking far bigger and bolder. His facing a deeply divided political -- politically divided nation struggling to beat back the deadly COVID pandemic, Biden has had his work cut out for him.


BIDEN: We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue.

Shots in arms and money in pockets, that's important.

It's not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It's a once in a generation investment in America.

I concluded that it is time to end America's longest war. It's time for American troops to come home.

We have to step up. Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade.


PHILLIP: The cover of "Bloomberg Businessweek" summed up the pace this way, a masked Biden with the title, "Move fast and fix things". And the story described the even bigger challenges that lie ahead.

The president faces a crisis on the southern border, a spike in gun violence, and despite calls for a new era of bipartisanship, there are few signs that Republicans are willing to sign on to his biggest legislative goal, the latest of which is his infrastructure plan.

And the Biden administration is now laser-focused on the coronavirus vaccine hesitancy as the rate of shots in arms dips below 3 million a new. In this graphic, you can see that older Americans age 65 and up are approaching that 75 to 80 percent marker need to get to herd immunity but younger Americans are far off that mark.


BIDEN: To put it simply, if you've been waiting for your turn, wait no longer. Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated.


PHILLIP: And joining us now to talk about President Biden's tenure as he approaches his first 100 days in office this week is "Politico's" Laura Barron-Lopez and Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times."

You know, Laura -- I'm sorry, Lisa, President Biden is dealing with obviously a lot of challenges but we've learned a lot about where his head is at, where his political compass is at in terms of what he thinks it going to do best for him. He's focused on infrastructure, he's focused on the COVID relief bill and they say this is about consensus but there is that new ABC News and "Washington Post" poll out this morning that gives him some good news, 52 percent approval rating.

But when you look at the context of recent presidents, he's only just above former President Trump who had 42 percent approval rating at this point in his presidency. In fact, Joe Biden is third to the bottom of the list of presidents since this poll has been conducted. So is Joe Biden's moral compass getting him the dividends that he

think it should at this point in the presidency?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Abby, one of the big questions of the Trump time was whether Trump was an aberration, which is something that Joe Biden himself argued a lot during the primary campaign, a break really from decades of what we considered normal in Washington, or if he was a new era.


And I think what we see in the numbers, he did bring in a new area of extreme polarization and that is reflected in Joe Biden's relatively low approval rating. You know, Republicans and Democrats have very different views on a lot of issues. A lot of times they believe very different basic facts, which is, you know, a pretty large problem for our democracy.

I think the way that the Biden administration sees it, is that, you know, Democrats believe their fortunes will rise on two things, needles and checks. So, basically, are you getting vaccines into arms and is the economy recovering? And that's really the focus of a lot of Biden's earlier efforts and there is a political reason for that.

And I've heard from people in the White House that Biden believes that the way to get past some of the polarization is not talking about it or having kumbaya moments but showing people that government could work for them. That is part of what you're seeing with things like the stimulus funds, with opening up vaccines. I think there is a political goal here and also sort of a larger democracy goal that the White House is trying to achieve, but it is going to be really hard for them.


I mean, Laura what, are we learning about what Biden's priorities have been based on what he's not putting his personal political capital on the line for. Namely a couple of things that are big issues, immigration and policing, he's kicked those issues over to Congress. What does that tell us?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, so I'm go adopt what story that I was talking to recently said, which is, and it speaks to Lisa's point, which is that Biden appears to be going FDR for the first two years of his term, which is he's trying to do big social safety net, health care expansion, jobs programs and then follow that up potentially with action on immigration, with action on racial justice issues like the George Floyd bill which would reform policing.

And so that appears to be his path right now, which is the primary focus for this administration early on is the pandemic, is the economy. They're right now moving on the infrastructure bill, which is jobs, traditional infrastructure, broadband, followed up by more of a families plan focused on child tax credit, focused on paid leave.

And so, those are the priorities that they are betting that the American public is going to want, that is popular and that they're hoping will help them stay in the majority in 2022.

PHILLIP: We also know, Lisa, that this speech this week that he's going to give for a joint session of Congress is going to actually talk a lot about racial justice issues and you have a piece this weekend that talks about some of these sky high promises.

Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, told you, I don't want to be classifying this as some sort of out-front radical leadership. That would not represent everything that could be possible if we leaned in more.

So, what is -- how is all this rhetoric from Biden on racial justice issue, issues being received versus what he is actually delivering for them?

LERER: So one thing that the administration has done that we haven't seen before is they've really infused race in all aspects of their agenda so race is being taken into account, and racial inequalities to where roads are built to climate change to how vaccines are distributed.

Now some racial justice activists like Rashad would say that is not enough, they point to issues like policing where we haven't seen the administration roll out some huge plan. Of course, they did during the primary. But since being in office, they've really left that to Congress and there are some proposals around reforming policing making their way through Congress.

Some folks, lawmakers believe that the Floyd verdict gives this extra momentum. But as we talked about in the top here, like it's really hard to see in this polarized environment, things getting through Congress, at least not with a 60-point margin. So, that's part of the reason you see people involved in criminal justice really pushing for Democrats to change the filibuster, which is something Biden has shown some hesitancy to doing.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, one of the other big decisions that the Biden administration and Congress needs to make is what do they do about taxes and they've indicated they're going to increase taxes pretty significantly on wealthy Americans, corporations as well.

Tom Donilon, who's a senior adviser to the president, described their mandate this way to "The Atlantic". He said: The pandemic has fundamentally changed a lot about the economy. He says, the president believes the country is in a place where it wants to do big things and wants to do transformative things.

But at the same time, again, this ABC News/"Washington Post" poll gives us some indication of where the country is at and Americans are saying 60 percent of them are saying they want Biden to try to win support from Republicans in -- by making major changes to legislation.


And just 30 percent say that they want to try to have these proposals, these bold proposals, though they may be, enacted without major change. So, you know, Laura, I mean, is the Biden administration really reading the room correctly here in terms of what the American people want?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, they're placing a bet that the American public and even articulated this explicitly, that the American public is maybe not going to be -- notice if they pass massive pieces of legislation that help the American public, if they pass it through reconciliation, which is that process that allows them to pass it without Republicans, with a simple majority vote.

And so they're betting that if that is the route that they ultimately take and they're not able to get Republicans on board with their big proposals, that as long as it ultimately helps peoples' paychecks and helps keep them safe, then they are thinking that it will help them come 2022.

But it is a balancing act. And one thing that a number of Democrats have told me is that as they look to increase taxes on those top earners, on people earning more than $400,000, that they are very aware of the attacks that are going to come from Republicans and they've been telling me that they are worried about the fact that they need to get out ahead of the attacks and make sure they aren't characterized as taxes raised on all Americans or raised on middle class or lower income earners.

And so, that's something that they're paying attention to as they head towards the midterms.

PHILLIP: And we'll see the Republican rebuttal coming from South Carolina Tim Scott this week. So, I think, on the Republican side, we're also seeing them positioning themselves to rebut some of the issues of race, but also presenting a kind of new face of the Republican Party.

Lisa Lerer and Laura Barron-Lopez, thanks for being here and sharing your insights.

And up ahead, what Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict means for the future of policing in America.



PHILLIP: Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin stood trial for three weeks for the murder of George Floyd. But it took a jury just ten hours to deliver a guilty verdict on all three charges he faced.

Floyd's brother who was in the room, in the courtroom reflected on the conviction.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: Being able to know that it's justice for African-American people, just people of color period in this world, this is monumental, this is a story, this is a pivotal moment in history.


PHILLIP: Since Floyd's death nearly a year ago, several cities and states have passed new policing reforms like a chokehold ban in Minnesota and California and Connecticut. And earlier this month, Maryland because the first state to repeal the so-called police bill of rights and in all, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have passed 40 new policing laws.

At the same time, other states are responding with bills that would penalize protesters. 12 states are considering those bills and since 2016, 15 states have approved similar laws.

Joining me now is Sara Sidner, CNN's own Sara Sidner, and John Eligon, of "New York Times". Both of them have spent weeks on the ground in Minneapolis for this trial and even before then.

Sara, you know, walk us through the reactions from the Floyd family and activists and community members after this verdict was read, was there a sense that something fundamentally had changed here?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and no. This is a verdict that the way in which it came out, the length of time the jury deliberated and the decision that the jury made, where they said guilty on all three counts for Derek Chauvin was big. The community knew that. They felt that they were vindicated because many people in the community remember many other cases, you can name the case, and remember the reaction.

And so, a lot of people said, look, there is a video, if this does not happen this time, then it will never happen. There will never be justice when a black person is killed by a police officers. So there was a lot of his hesitancy before we heard the verdict.

After the verdict, I think people felt like, OK, the jury saw what we saw, and they believed what we believe, they're eyes didn't lie to them and they did what the community there, most people in the community felt was right. And that was a big thing.

However, the other side of this was that a lot of people said, you have video from many different angles, you had literally every possible thing that you could need to convict in this case. You had police officers, many of them who came on the stand and were very pointed saying this was wrong, this was not policy, you had the chief of police standing up and saying this was a killing, this is not what we do, this is not the policy. He did not follow their use of force policy.

So you pretty much had every single thing you could imagine including eyewitnesses, several of them, who got on the stand and agreed to testify.


So you had everything that you could possibly need in this case to get a conviction and there are a lot of folks that say there are so many cases out there where you're not going to have any of this but there still needs to be justice. So it's kind of a two-way street. A lot of people were very heartened by this decision but also recognizing that there was so much evidence that they felt like no one could come to a different conclusion.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean it was such a strong case and so many different witnesses, but to that point, John, you reported this week that one thing about this trial that stands out among similar police shooting cases is the way in which George Floyd was humanized and not portrayed as a violent criminal or a super predator.

What effect do you think that had ultimately on the jurors?

JOHN ELIGON, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it really -- you know, was a rebuke of the old playbook that we see in these cases, when there is a police killing there is often an attempt by the prosecutors themselves or if there is a trial by the defense attorneys to say, hey, this person in some way deserved this because they had this law and criminal record, they are resistant to the police and different things like that.

But I think what we saw this time was we saw the script was really flipped, right? And you had a prosecutor in Keith Ellison who was himself a former civil rights attorney. He brought in private lawyers who were not necessarily prosecutors. So what you saw was this kind of unpacking of who George Floyd was.

You saw explanations you've never see, like for instance George Floyd, people might see him not getting in the police car as resistance, it was resistance, it was a man with anxiety, who police should have shown sympathy for.

So I think you saw this attempt to say that he was not just this man who was under the knee of a police officer, but he's a man who that day was with friends, was walking, was laughing and talking and as Barry Blackwell, excuse me, Jerry Blackwell, one of the prosecutors said in his press conference afterwards was that George Floyd's life matters and I think we're seeing the prosecutors embracing the spirit of Black Lives Matter movement.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and embracing his humanity on a profound level.

You know, Sara, you've been the ground reporting in Minneapolis for a year now. What is the reaction to the national debate over policing? There's -- we all are always hearing talks about what does defund the police really mean in a community like Minneapolis? What are you seeing there?

SIDNER: You know, what's really interesting in Minneapolis is there is a schism between those who would like to get rid of the police department altogether and those, both in the black community, by the way, and those who absolutely believe that the police have a role in the community and that something needs to change. But they do not want to get rid of the police department. So it is really interesting to see this schism play out. I was at of

the very well known historically black churches in south Minneapolis, the Floyd's all went there on the Sunday before the trial, the testimony began. And it was interesting, there was an argument that actually broke out pretty much went the pastor that was there and many of the people who regularly go to that church and some others who showed up who were activists.

And you heard the pastor saying, we need our police. We have -- we've had -- crime has gone up and murderers have gone up. We need help. And we expect help. But we expect it in a certain way. We expect it in a different way. Where there are, for example, counselors perhaps that go along with police, because a lot of times there are mental health problems that come along and the police don't know how to handle those.

And then you had folks in the crowd who were like, no, let's get rid of the police. We don't want the police. There has to be something else. And so, this went back and forth just for a couple of seconds. You could feel the tension rise in the church but someone is like you have to be respectful to each person and each idea.

But there is a schism going on there and I think you're seeing that across the country. There are a lot of folks that understand that defund the police doesn't mean take all of the money away from the police, it means putting some in the money in a different bucket that actually helps with things like mental health, where you have somebody along with police like a mental health counselor, a licensed counselor that could try to de-escalate the situation, because as we've seen, in many cases the de-escalation doesn't happen and it goes way beyond what anyone was expecting where someone calls the police, their family member is having a break down and the result is someone ends up dying when really they just needed help.

So there is an interesting argument going on in some of these communities that I think is going to play out in many different communities across the country.

PHILLIP: Yeah, fascinating but important debate.

John, before we go, there was an announcement this week of a federal investigation of the patterns and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.


Is there any evidence that you're aware of that this type of federal oversight could actually change what's happening in places like Minneapolis?

ELIGON: It certainly has in other places gotten police departments to really take into account the way that they treat the community and things that they -- and then their interactions with the community. So I think if nothing else, it really puts the public official or the police department, it puts everyone on notice that there is someone watching. But to Sarah's point, the question is whether this is a

transformational change that I think a lot of the people on the ground are looking for and that remains to be seen because as we know there are still many dead in actions. Police are still getting people at a very high rate. During the trial of Derek Chauvin, there were at least three police killings a day in this country somewhere in America.

So, that's the main question. Is it going to fundamentally shift this dynamic in which black people continue to get killed by police at such a high rate?

PHILLIP: Well, Sara Sidner, Jon Eligon, both of you. Thanks for all of your work on the ground in Minneapolis and for being with us.

SIDNER: Thanks for having us, Abby.

ELIGON: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, Biden's first 100 days from a Republican perspective. We'll hear from Michigan Congressman Peter Meijer.



PHILLIP: Michigan Republican representative Peter Meijer's first weeks in Congress were far from typical. Witnessing an insurrection at the Capitol, hours later voting to certify states election results, one of the few Republicans to cast that vote, and then less than a month later, the freshman lawmaker voted to impeach the leader of his own party, then President Trump. And days later he admitted that vote may end his political career.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): I want to make sure that we have leaders in office who are focusing on, you know, the fact that we are a nation of laws, not men. And putting the interest of the country first rather than their own political careers.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is Congressman Peter Meijer. Congressman, thanks for being here.

You know, obviously speaking out about the election lies that led to the January 6th insurrection took some degree of political courage on your part and you've actually said that you bought a flak jacket after casting that vote.

I do wonder, do you feel isolated in the Republican Party given that most of your colleagues didn't join you in most of these pivotal moments that we just described?

MEIJER: Well, thank you for having me on, Abby. I would say my goal is to not be a hypocrite. To be able to call balls and strikes fairly and have a voice that comes across as credible even if somebody may not have my same beliefs or agree on the political side but to realize that there are places and people who are trying to do the right thing.

I would say that there are plenty others who seek to do that as well but you look at a lot of the institutional incentives out there and it can be certainly challenging.

PHILLIP: To that point, you know, your colleague Congresswoman Liz Cheney was quoted in "The New York Times" saying, quote, "The GOP cannot become the party of Qanon. We cannot become the party of Holocaust denial. We cannot become the party of white supremacy. We watched in horror all that happened on January 6th.

So my question to you though, is why aren't more party leaders saying what she's saying? And if they don't, I mean is this ultimately where your party is headed given the voices that are the loudest and that seem to be driving the agenda right now?

MEIJER: Well I learned in my campaign that the loudest voices are not necessarily the ones who are being listened to. Just because you can shout doesn't mean anyone is opening their ears to what you're saying.

So I'm proud of those in my party who are looking to be governing, who are looking to earn that credibility. Because at the end of the day, we're not in control in the House. We lost the presidency in 2020. We lost the Senate in 2021. So we need to get back to a point where we can be offering solutions, where we can be earning the trust of the voter and getting that rare privilege of governing on behalf of the American people.

PHILLIP: I mean you make the point about the losses that the Republican Party faced and yet you see this parade of Republicans and senior leadership heading down to Florida to, you know, sort of kiss the ring of former President Trump. I mean does that concern you at all?

MEIJER: What concerns me is the fidelity to a very powerful and impressive low-dollar fundraising base and that being pursued at the exclusion of actually being able to again win more elections.

Now one of the biggest challenges is if you don't believe that you lost. If you think that the 2020 election was stolen and then you drag that out and say well, of course, then the Georgia Senate elections must be stolen, too. You just live in a perpetual state of denial.

And I know there are plenty who don't deny it but it is a conundrum and one that we hope to come out with again, by rooting in core conservative principles of limited government, of economic freedom, of individual liberty -- rather than tending towards the one size fits all top-down government solutions, especially federal government solutions, that I think are leading us down a scary path.

PHILLIP: Ok. To that point, it's been 100 days almost of the Biden administration. Reflect on that. I mean was it what you expected or hoped to see from a Biden administration?

MEIJER: I will say I was initially optimistic at opportunity for bipartisan reforms and solutions. That obviously changed a little bit after we lost the Georgia Senate because remember it was a very tight margin in the House. The Democrats were expected to pick up a number of seats and actually lost just about as many as initial prognosticators thought they were going to gain.


MEIJER: But with the loss of the Senate, I think a real revenge politics came in. And though President Biden in his initial speech on inauguration day said that he wanted to seek bipartisan solutions, that he would be a unifier, most of the unity has been on the left side of the aisle.

I think if you're a progressive, you've seen a lot of just wild sums of taxpayer dollars thrown toward -- or just thrown vaguely in the direction of things that you like. If you were hoping to see some bipartisan consensus, if you're hoping to see governance from the middle, I think you've been sorely disappointed.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you specifically about one of the things being hotly debated right now which is tax increases. The White House is proposing a series of tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, including the increase top marginal tax rate to 39.6 percent and the capital gains rate to 43.4 percent to pay for this infrastructure bill.

You know, these are taxes on people who have a lot of money in this country and several wealthy Americans and the corporations that they run say that they would support a higher tax rate for improved infrastructure.

So if that is the case, if corporations and the wealthy don't mind paying marginally higher taxes, what is wrong with that?

MEIJER: I think as with Amazon arguing for a $15 minimum wage and also the way that Facebook is very strongly supportive right now of some new Internet regulations, you see plenty of corporations who feel comfortable saying so because they know that they can figure out ways around it, that ultimately they can get some credit for being perceived as on the right of an issue without really having to pay for it.

And listen, there are very few folks who will argue that they don't want to see government funds invested well. I mean this is one of the reasons why President Biden can call just about anything infrastructure and hope to throw that cloak over it for broad approval.

But the reality is that if that money is going to be spent efficiently and wisely and intelligently, there is very little argument.

I live in Michigan. Our roads are not great. A lot of us spend a lot more on car repair and replacing tires than we would if there were some increased, you know, taxes on that gas that we have. So there are ways of having an effective tradeoff.

But the biggest underlying challenge is if that the money isn't spent well then you're just piling on to the debt. You're just doing more government programs that are not aligned again with going towards a better status quo but are much more focused on $100 billion on this input, $400 billion on that input without any guarantee we're going to a arrive at the place that's been promised.

PHILLIP: I want to get quickly to this issue of voting that you alluded to earlier in the program. At least 47 states have introduced restrictive voting bills this year, including your home state of Michigan. In Arizona though, former President Trump is cheering on a recount of ballots in Maricopa County, and he's claiming that it will expose, in his words, "large-scale voter fraud" in the 2020 election.

You know, as a Republican who has spoken out against these conspiracy theories, are you concerned that party officials across the country and specifically in Arizona are doubling down on the big lie?

MEIJER: I think one of the biggest challenges is that election integrity is important to everybody but how you hear it depends very much on where you sit. The idea that Republicans are out to, you know, broadly disenfranchise folks is false. The idea that all of these elections were stolen is also false.

The challenge right now is so many Republican voters want their officials to do something, but when that something is an impossibility, when it is this belief it's going to uncover widespread fraud, that there has been (INAUDIBLE) jurisdiction where that argument has been made, there has been no credible investigative body that's been able to find that, it is deeply challenging.

On the other side, Democrats see voter suppression around every corner. This is one of the real reasons why I'm supportive of having a reprisal of the 2001 Ford/Carter Commissions or the 2005 Carter/Baker Commissions so we can actually look and have an authoritative objective view on how we can actually increase participation, what are the impacts --


PHILLIP: When you see what is happening in Arizona, though, do you support what is going on there, that recount that is supposedly supposed to uncover some kind of fraud that we all know did not happen in the 2020 election?

MEIJER: If the recount is done in a credible way and shows that again a lot of these concerns are unfounded, I don't have an issue with that. I mean if the recount is one that manipulates key data points or uses obfuscation, or you know, weird terminology to try to say that there is a fire where there is not even any smoke, then it will just further undermine credibility in our electoral system and in the nonpartisan administrators in a lot of places who run those elections.


PHILLIP: All right. We'll be watching what goes on down there.

Congressman Peter Meijer, thanks for being with us this morning.

MEIJER: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, will this be a water shed moment for a federal police reform bill. We'll hear from Black Lives Matter activist-turned-congresswoman, Cori Bush.


PHILLIP: Cori Bush has a lot of things on her resume -- activist, nurse, pastor and a couple of months ago, she added another title, congresswoman. Her political career began in the streets with the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown in their shared hometown.

Now her activist's roots have prepared her to push for progressive change in Congress and last week's verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is a first step.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): This verdict is a step, it is a popping of the lock to be able to get to the place that we can open the door and really start to do the work. This was accountability but it is not yet justice. Justice for us is saving lives.


PHILLIP: We sat down with the congresswoman on Friday to talk about her -- about the verdict, police reform and President Biden's first 100 days in office.


PHILLIP: You became an activist because of Michael Brown who was killed blocks from where you grew up in Ferguson and you were running for office when George Floyd was kill and now Derek Chauvin has been convicted.

What does that mean to you as an activist and for, you know, the broader movement that you are a part of?

BUSH: You know, so many people just from around the country said so many things about us, you know, when we were a part of the Ferguson uprising and, you know, we would hear, you know, go get a job and, you know, people would tell us that we weren't making change -- that change wouldn't happen from people just protesting in the streets.


BUSH: Now six and a half years later, to see that the protests didn't stop, that we continued around the country, and other parts of the world continue to protest and to speak up and speak out against police violence that disproportionately affect our communities to see this officer receive the accountability that he needed to receive.

It was, you know -- it was incredible to see but it is also sad that, you know, it was incredible to see.

PHILLIP: Well, tell us about this moment between you and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley when you heard the Chauvin verdict come down.

BUSH: We just grabbed each other because it was just like, you know, if nobody else feels what we are feeling right now, for the two of us to be both young women in Congress, both young black women in Congress and both young women who are activists in our own ways in Congress, you know, there was that peace between the two of us because both of us have been in the fight for black lives. And we needed one another in that moment.

PHILLIP: And for so many people this has been an incredibly emotional week. The question, I think, Congress is facing right now is would you accept a qualified immunity alternative that would hold police departments accountable if it means getting the George Floyd police reform bill through Congress even if it is not 100 percent of what you initially wanted?

BUSH: You know, right now we need to end qualified immunity, period. You know, what is my stance. We, so --


PHILLIP: So you are not willing to compromise on that?

BUSH: So, we compromise on so much. You know, we compromise, we die. We compromise, we die. We compromise, we die. You know, I didn't come to Congress to compromise on what could keep us alive because the hold (ph) police officers specifically accountable because the thing is this. If you don't hurt people, if you don't kill people, if you are just and fair in your work, then do you need the qualified immunity any way?

You know, so the thing is all of the safety net -- the safety net shouldn't be there. But let me say this, where are all of the special protections for nurses and for other people in other positions that do very dangerous work, that is just trying to help people.

So no, I will not compromise on that. We need to end qualified immunity, and the reason why -- there is this open lane for compromise is because they see that people will do it.

I didn't come -- St. Louis did not send me here, St. Louis being number one for police murder in the country per capita and has been that way for years -- the people did not send me here to save their lives by falling down on the one thing that we needed the most. No.

PHILLIP: And I -- you know, I don't want to belabor this and I hear the passion in your voice on this issue. But if it comes back to the House, with a compromise on qualified immunity, would you vote against that?

BUSH: I'm not prepared -- I'm not prepared to support that.

PHILLIP: President Biden, this week, will mark his 100th day in office. And a lot of progressives like you were really critical of him as a candidate. You were an early supporter of Bernie Sanders.

But when you look at what he has been able to do in office so far, would you say that he's progressive enough for you?

BUSH: You know, I guess the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about President Biden's first 100 days in office is the American Rescue Plan. That is the first thing that just comes to me and that is a truly progressive and it is bold -- that package. So I have to give credit for that, you know.

But our work is not done, you know. So we're going to continue to work with the Biden administration. We're going to continue to talk to the White House because we want to see direct cash payments, you know. We want so see those into our communities. We need to see that.

The conversation isn't done. We need to prioritize raising the minimum wage to at least $15.

PHILLIP: In the Senate, Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has essentially, you know, used what seems to be a veto power against a lot of progressive priorities, including some of the ones that you've mentioned.

But in the House, Democrats have this two-seat majority. There are six members of the squad of which you are a part.


PHILLIP: What is stopping you from flexing that same power for your agenda? You just said you would vote against a compromise on qualified immunity. Are you prepared and the rest of the squad prepared to use that kind of veto power that you have if you vote as a bloc?

BUSH: You know, I'm prepared to do whatever is needed, that our agenda moves forward, but I can't speak for the rest of the squad members.

At the end of the day, my sister Ayanna -- Rep. Ayanna Pressley says it all the time, you vote alone, and you're voting for your districts. So you're voting for the people who voted you in. You're voting their needs and their values.

PHILLIP: Your first real day as a member of Congress was January 6th. What are your, you know, actually -- here are your thoughts on Twitter two days after. You said "Expel the Republican members of Congress who incited the white supremacists' attempted coup."

You know, you can't miss that we live in this country where you were elected but so were Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, what does that tell you about the America that we're living in in 2021?

BUSH: You know, we all know and maybe some people just didn't -- don't want to acknowledge it, but racism never left. It didn't go anywhere. It was just people, I believe, that people felt emboldened, empowered by a president in our former president Donald Trump, you know, to be able to express their views publicly about -- and those views that are white supremacist views.

People will get to see the actual work that comes from the people that if they're bringing home what needs to be brought home to their communities, if they're actually doing the work. If they're actually helping people. If they're saving lives, if they're changing the lives of their people for the better.

But not all of this rhetoric that has to do with me being Anglo-Saxon and great -- all of that foolishness. No, like are people eating now because of your work? Do people have shelter now because of your work? Do people have housing? Do people have health care and all of those things that they need because of your direct work or not. Or not.

Is it just that they get to hear you and they see that you fund raise, you know, that's what it is. Let's be real, it's to fundraise.

PHILLIP: Congresswoman Cori Bush, a few months under your belt -- you've got many, many more to go. Thank you for being with us today.

BUSH: Thank you. Have a great one.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, a 51st state? The D.C. statehood debate is back in the headlines and at the top of the Democratic agenda.



PHILLIP: Lawmakers are once again debating legislation to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. The argument in favor of statehood is familiar.

Democrats say D.C. residents pay federal taxes and should get representation and voting rights in Congress. On Thursday, the Democrat-led House passed statehood legislation narrowly with President Biden's support.

But what's new are some of the arguments on the Republican side against statehood. Republicans say making the capital city a state violates the constitution. But in recent weeks, other GOP members and their supporters have made all kinds of other arguments against statehood, like D.C.'s crime is too high or that residents here influence Congress through yard signs and don't need a vote at all.

Or that not enough people live here for it to qualify for statehood, even though D.C.'s estimated 2019 population was larger than Vermont's and Wyoming's population, both of which have congressional representation in both the House and the Senate.

But mostly, the debate boils down to this, who would get more power in Washington if the heavily-Democratic leaning district becomes a state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They plan to make the District of Columbia a state, that would give them two new Democratic senators.


PHILLIP: And of course, this measure has an uphill climb facing it. It needs to clear a 60-vote threshold in the Senate in order to pass and several Democrats in the Senate like Joe Manchin aren't committed at all.

But at least now, the arguments are all out in the open. This, like many things in Washington comes down to power with D.C. residents still hanging in the balance.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time and the weekday show as well at noon Eastern.

Coming up next, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER AND DANA BASH" and Dana's guests include the Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day.