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Capitol Police Request Fence; U.S. Democracy is in for a Rocky Road; Taliban Allows People to Leave Kabul; Manchin Lays out Demands; Buccaneers Begin Tonight Against Cowboys; Lawyers Help Election Officials Under Attack. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New video this morning of the person believed to have planted two pipe bombs near the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington the night before the Capitol riot. The FBI says it shows the person sitting on a bench near the DNC, where one of the bombs was placed. The agency has also released a virtual map highlighting the root they believe this suspect walked. So far the FBI has been unsuccessful in identifying the individual despite posting a $100,000 reward.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And developing overnight, Capitol Police are requesting that a fence around the Capitol be reinstalled temporarily ahead of a planned right-wing rally coming up on September 18th. The chief of Homeland Security says he's seen (ph) traffic around the planned rally as law enforcement officers brace for potential unrest.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us now on this.

You know, it sounds like they think there is really a credible threat here and they need to be prepared.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. They would not decide to bring back the fence unless they did think there was the potential for violence and unrest and they are taking this absolutely seriously.

And a new internal Capitol Police memo, reviewed by CNN, sheds new light on the intelligence that they are using to make those decisions. That memo says there's been a noticeable uptick in violent rhetoric surrounding this event, that some members of the Proud Boy are encouraging members to attend, and that there's been particularly heated discussions surrounding Ashli Babbitt, the rioter who was shot and killed as she tried to storm the Capitol.

There's also counterprotests being planned. So the assessment concludes that because of all of that, there is cause for concern and that it's not unreasonable to plan for violent altercations.

Now, the good news here is that the event is taking place on a Saturday. It's when the House is still in recess. And past demonstrations organized by this exact same group have not been violent and they have been actually a lot fewer attendance than expected.

But, look, the Capitol community is still very on edge. Lawmakers are set to receive briefings in the coming days. And no one wants to leave anything to chance here.

KEILAR: There were -- that chatter about violence, they're looking back sort of like past is prologue for January 6th it sounds like. Is that right?

ZANONA: Exactly. And one of the briefings that one of the lawmakers received yesterday we're told here at CNN that it was a lot more detailed than what they got before January 6th. So, clearly, they're looking at how they handled that situation, learning from their past mistakes. There's a new police chief in charge of the Capitol Police and so they are going to do all hands on deck for September 18th.

KEILAR: All right, we'll see if that fence goes up.

Melanie, thank you so much.

ZANONA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So our next guest says that U.S. democracy is in for a rocky road and the country is not prepared for the possible tumult that lies ahead.

Joining us now, CNN contributor and "Wire" contributing editor Garrett Graff.

Garrett, great to see you this morning.

Look, you wrote, and this was eye-catching, you said you don't think that we fully understand how dangerous the next two years could be. What do you mean?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think what we are seeing is that -- exactly as you were just talking about here, that January 6th was not the culmination of the election rallies and election protests. It was the beginning of something much more cancerous, much more troublesome that we are now beginning to see filter down to even local school board meetings, to anti-vaccine protests, to mask protests at the local level. And that we, I think, collectively as a nation, and particularly the nation's leadership and law enforcement leadership, are underestimating the potential for more upheavals of violence against our democratic process heading into the 2022 midterms and then particularly the 2024 presidential election.

KEILAR: I mean just look, right, you don't have to come to Washington to go to the Capitol if you want to, you know, have your voice heard or even be, you know, violent. There's school board meetings where we see people harassing local officials, for example.

GRAFF: Yes, I mean, one of the things that I think is notable in the way that Trump and the Republican Party have changed our national rhetoric in the last two years is that there used to be actually a pretty clear divide between local politics and national politics.


That, you know, something like a school board meeting, something like a county commission meeting or a city council meeting, there might have been people who had party affiliations, but, you know, mayors and city counselors, you know, they'll tell you there's not a Republican way or a Democratic way to pick up the trash. But that is actually exactly the types of divide that we are now seeing at school board meetings, at county commission meetings where you are seeing national politics localized in ways that are leading to threats against local officials and particularly threats against local election officials that remain very troubling and are sort of coming from a segment that are going to try to actively discourage local election officials in the next couple of years from doing their jobs correctly.

BERMAN: And, Garrett, I'm going to leave you right now but with this famous line, what do you call a failed coup?

GRAFF: Practice.

BERMAN: People need to pay attention to that.

Garrett Graff, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

And we do have breaking news just in.

CNN has learned that the Taliban is allowing 200 people, including a certain number of Americans to leave Afghanistan on a flight today.

Sam Kiley is in Qatar in Doha.

Sam, what can you tell us about this flight? Who's on it? When it leaves? Give it to us.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a Qatari Boeing 777 that has already landed or is landing almost now in Kabul. And according to Qatari officials, this is part of an ongoing negotiation or the results of ongoing negotiations for the evacuation of foreign nationals from Kabul. It's the first flight out of Kabul of this nature that we know of at least since the 31st of August when the whole U.S.-led evacuation was over.

Among the 200 or so being evacuated on this flight are a number of Americans. We don't know how many Americans. They're said by Qataris to be mostly foreign nationals. Again, we don't know if there are any Afghan nationals on this flight. The Taliban have been saying in the past that anybody with the right documentation could leave Afghanistan and there had been holdups with the State Department on other flights out of Mazar-i-Sharif re-enforced by the Taliban doing scrutiny of documents and saying that some Afghans couldn't fly out of there.

So there has been a bit of a muddle basically in recent days over people getting out but this might be the beginning of the clearing of the log jam with the Taliban now giving permission to the Qataris to fly out this evacuation flight. And there's going to be a joint press conference, the Taliban have said, later on today with the Qataris and the Taliban out of the Kabul International Airport, which may announce at that point a resumption of some kind of normal service.

But it has been a long and painful negotiation led by the Qataris.

John. Brianna.

BERMAN: Yes, I guess what remains to be seen is -- is that this is the fulfillment of their claim that they would let this type of thing happen indefinitely or if this is some kind of one-off. We'll have to wait and see.

Sam Kiley, though, a very important development. Thank you.

KEILAR: And we'll be asking the White House press secretary about that ahead as more Americans continue to be transported out of Afghanistan.

Also ahead, a new wave of anger from both parties as some Americans continue to refuse to get vaccinated.


GOV. JM JUSTICE (R-WV): For God sakes of living, how difficult is this to understand?




KEILAR: Negotiations over President Biden's budget proposal entering a critical phase this morning. And we have some new reporting about the long list of demands that West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is making as Senate committee chairs struggle to get him on board with this.

We have CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju with us now.

All right, what's on his wish list, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not just the price tag, which he has raised concerns about, that $3.5 trillion price tag with the Democrats, Joe Biden wants to get through. Manchin, of course, has proposed something around $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, potentially even a few -- a little bit higher.

But it's also the long list of demands, including some of the key items that Democrats, particularly progressives, have been pushing, whether it's things like the child tax credit, that is something that the Democrats have wanted to make permanent, potentially, or at least extend it, expand it. He has raised concerns about that. He wants to limit the child tax credit, issues like universal pre-k, another essential measure. He's suggested means testing to ensure that -- to limit the eligibility of people who could be -- who could get universal pre-k. that is an issue that he has raised.

Tuition free community college another major issue for Joe Biden. He has suggested potentially accountability measures, ways to measure student's performance. He wants some changes to that language, as well as corporate tax hikes. Those are things that he and Senator Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Finance Committee, have talked about for weeks behind the scenes I'm told.

Home healthcare, roughly $400 billion Democrats want to include in home healthcare policies. He wants to pair that back.

And perhaps the most significant of all is climate change. He comes from a major coal producing state. And Joe Manchin has made clear to Democrats, he won't go nearly as far as many want to go to combat global warming, whether it's to impose a clean energy standard or to impose a tax on carbon admission.


And that really raises the question about how far Democrats can ultimately go because, as you know, Brianna, every vote is essential in the United States Senate. They need all 50 Democrats in line. He is the one who is digging in the most. While a number of them have concerns and they're trying to get all the members in line, each of these individual committee chairmen who are responsible on some of the key issues have been talking to their individual members on the committees. Then they've been having separate meetings with Joe Manchin, who does not even serve on their committees, to get him on board. And the goal is to get all 50 Democrats, at least on board and resolve some of these agreements or most of these agreements by next week.

That is a big question about whether they can do that before they try to actually have the votes and whether Joe Manchin's ultimately there is also a big question.

KEILAR: No, it is. And President Biden said this about him on Tuesday.

Let's listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe, at the end, has always been there. He's always be with me. I think we can work something out. And I look forward to speaking with him.


KEILAR: I mean what do you think? And, also, where's that sweet spot where you get the Joe Manchin and then you bring along the progressives?

RAJU: Yes, that is really the big question because Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, has a real issue here because if he caters all to Joe Manchin's demands, then he's going to lose the left, particularly in the House. That is the concern that Nancy Pelosi has. They have to make sure that the left does not revolt against a bill that they may consider too meager. So, at the end of the day, they all have to decide to hold hands and agree to vote because not only this is getting all members is contingent to getting this big social safety net expansion, but also that separate bipartisan Senate pass infrastructure package, $1.2 trillion, that was approved last month in the Senate. House progressives are threatening to tank that bill if they don't get what they want out of the Senate on the larger Democratic only approach.

So a very, very difficult balancing act. They want to try to get this done by the end of the month. But, Brianna, anybody's question about whether they can get there. And the big question, will Joe Manchin be there. It's uncertain just of yet.


KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching.

Manu, thank you so much.

A teenage student mocked by anti-mask parents at a school board meeting while talking about how his grandmother died of coronavirus. He's going to join us next, ahead.

BERMAN: Plus, we have two major breaking news stories.

Los Angeles poised to become the nation's first major school district to mandate the COVID vaccine.

And the Taliban allowing some 200 people, including a certain number of Americans, to fly out of Afghanistan this morning. Stand by for some new details.



BERMAN: The wait is finally over. Tom Brady is back. Tom Brady and a bunch of other football players and football teams start playing tonight when the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs host the Dallas Cowboys.

Andy Scholes, pretty close to the man himself, in Tampa with a preview.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: John, I know you're jealous that I'm in the same city as Tom Brady and you are not, but, of course, you can watch him on TV.

But it's going to be a big night. NFL kickoff season opener, Bucs hosting the Cowboys. More than 165,000 fans expected here tonight at Raymond James Stadium. They're going to get to see the Bucs unveil their Super Bowl championship banner as they begin the quest to repeat as champs. And as you mentioned, Tom Brady's back. Forty-four years old now. And

he said this season is going to be even more challenging than last season because of where we are as a country dealing with COVID.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: We're certainly at more risk this year than we put ourselves in last year. I mean, just look at all the different things that we're doing differently from last year at this time. So I definitely say the risk is up for everybody. It's just kind of our reality. So, I mean, hopefully we can just navigate it as best we possibly can. I know every team's dealing with the same stuff.


SCHOLES: Yes. And Brady's Bucs are one of two NFL teams, along with the Atlanta Falcons, that are 100 percent vaccinated heading into this season. The NFL says right now 93.5 percent of the players are vaccinated.

And when it comes to COVID protocols, the stadiums, teams approaching it very differently across the country. The Los Vegas Raiders, the lone team saying you've got to be vaccinated in order to get in. The Seahawks and Saints, meanwhile, requiring vaccination or a negative test. Saints are playing in Jacksonville in week one due to the hurricane. The Chargers making fans acknowledge they are vaccinated or have a negative test before downloading their tickets.

Here in Tampa, though, John, no vaccination required or a negative test. You don't have to wear a mask to go in. By our count, 17 of the NFL 32 teams have a similar policy, no vaccination, no mask, in order to go to the games in their stadium this season.

BERMAN: One word answer, your Super Bowl champ is?

SCHOLES: I'll go with your Bucs and Tom Brady. Or, I should say, Tom Brady and the Bucs. I know you're a Patriots fan.

BERMAN: That's the right order.

Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

We are following breaking news out of Los Angeles where the school board is expected to mandate vaccines for students 12 years old and older later today. Is this the beginning of a national trend?

KEILAR: Plus, two bipartisan lawyers teaming up to defend local election officials amid an onslaught of attacks from Trump supporters. They'll join us, next.



KEILAR: California's recall election is the next target of right-wing campaigns aiming to discredit the results of an election.


TOMI LAHREN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud. So as they say, stay woke, pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California.

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION GOV. CANDIDATE: So there are all sorts of reasons why the 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans. And my fear is they're going to try that in this election right here in recall.


KEILAR: Now, this is a new reality for the country after the 2020 election that also saw death threats, conspiracy theories and legal penalties against election officials for simply carrying out their job. But a bipartisan group of attorneys is offering pro bono legal help for public servants who may find themselves under attack.

And joining me now are the co-chairs of the organization, CNN legal analyst and Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who represented George W. Bush's campaign, also election law attorney and former White House counsel in the Obama administration, Bob Bauer.

Ben, to you first.

I mean tell us how you decided there's a need for this, we need to address this in a bipartisan fashion.

BEN GINSBERG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Bob and I got to know state and local election officials when we did a bipartisan commission several years ago. Came away incredibly impressed with these people for their dedication and professionalism. And now they've come under attack in the 2020 election in ways that dedicated public officials, especially the people who called balls and strikes in our elections, should not be under attack.

So it's both criminalization of laws in certain states and the threats that have been made to them that inspired us to come up with this bipartisan effort.

KEILAR: You know, Bob, on one hand you have legislation that has been passed in some cases that just usurp the ability of some of these folks really to do the job that they did in the last election. And then, on the other hand, you also have a bit of a brain drain. I mean some people have decided it's not worth the risk to themselves or to their family to do this work.

So how does this defense network address some of those issues?

BOB BAUER, ELECTION LAW ATTORNEY: It's precisely, as Ben says, it's important that we have their backs, that we express respect for professional administration and that we give them the sense that if they're under attack they can continue to do their jobs and there will be those who have the capability to defend them. So, this is both an attempt to deter individual threats that make it very difficult for individual election administrators to do their jobs, but also to send a message to the election official community that there will be a systematic effort to protect them and that we want them to stay on the job because we depend on them so vitally for the operation of our democratic system.

KEILAR: How do you see this playing out realistically in the coming elections, Bob? How do you see this interaction between the defense network and the challenges that these election officials are going to face?

BAUER: So, as threats develop, they may come from the state legislature, they may come from political parties, they may come from, you know, self-styled (ph) citizen groups that are policing quote/unquote following (ph) the polling place. They will have a place they can go immediately if they need legal advice and representation. The direction that representation could take in a particular case depends on the facts. But they will know that there is an entire network of national lawyers that is there to uphold the rule of law in the polling place and in the operation of the democracy.