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Looking Back When America Is Hit The Way It Was On 9/11; FBI Citing A Search Warrant For A Lawyer Who Was Allegedly At The Capitol On January 6; Federal prosecutors zeroing in on one of the gravest charges connected to the Capitol Riots. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 07:30   ET



DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think that there was just this hardening of our partisanship that emerged out of that time. I think it was building really back into the 80s, but I think 9/11 hardened it.

Think about questions like who's a real patriot, right? I mean, you see echoes of this now over the question of freedom and the vaccine. Well the question then was who's a patriot? You know, you're with us or against us. That was a charge by Bush, you know, to our allies around the world, but that was true internally as well. Like you're either onboard on this kind of, you know, war footing, this counterterrorism enterprise that went on for decades, or you're not. I think it was very divisive.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY HOST: What do you think the lesson is with the benefit of hindsight now looking back when America is hit the way it was, a victim, yes, of 9/11, and then the question of, OK, well what do you do in response? What do you do? Who is it going to hurt? Who is it going to help? We now have 20 years of ware behind us to look at that question. We also have, like you said, unity except if you were say a Sikh-American or a Muslim-American -



KEILAR: -- you say I sure didn't feel safe or more unified. What's the lesson?

GREGORY: You know, I think what countries and particularly governments do when they're scared is often not very pretty with the benefit of hindsight. You know, during the Civil War suspending habeas corpus for Confederate soldiers that Lincoln did (ph), and the attornment (ph) of the Japanese.

I mean, these are - these are ugly episodes in our history, and I think whether it was Abu Ghraib or whether it was torture, which in many cases did not work still debated by some of those suspected terrorists. I think those things have a real impact, and you know, we have to weigh - look, we have not been hit again, and that was something that the president said - President Bush at the time - would be very important.

He also said if we take the fight to them we won't have to fight here. That has largely been true but at what cost, you know, to our politics, to the fact that people don't believe in institutions anymore, not that - by the way, the splintering of the media was a big byproduct of all of this. That was happening beforehand. That had a real impact on the legacy of 9/11 I think 20 years later.

But you know, all of those things, that lack of trust in whether it's media or government to be competent and to do things, you know, fighting two big wars to at best a draw leads to all kinds of thoughts about well what is America? What influence does it have around the globe? It has a lot by the way, but all of those things I think have hurt our politics and hurt our ability to deal with big things like a pandemic, like climate change.

I think we struggle right now as a country to meet a big threat, and I think the one thing that President Bush understood -- and John, you remember this - when he began his presidency was he said, you know, a president has political capital. Only so much political capital, and he drew all of that down and he lost it in the course of Iraq as well.

Government as a general matter only has so much capital, and I think we've seen the diminution of that capital over these couple decades.

KEILAR: Look, it's a logical time 20 years out from 9/11 to have some reflection, some lessons learned, right?


KEILAR: And I think that's sort of a period that we're in right now. David, thank you so much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

KEILAR: John Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, and Paula Reid as we remember September 11. Live coverage beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. on CNN.

The FBI citing sedition in a search warrant for a lawyer who was reportedly at the Capitol on January 6. What does this reveal about the investigation into the insurrection?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY HOST: Plus former New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, says now it's time for Republicans to discredit extremists and accept the realities of the 2020 election.



Federal prosecutors maybe zeroing in on one of the gravest charges connected to the Capitol riot. A court document cites "seditious conspiracy as a crime under investigation as part of a search warrant for the phone of a lawyer linked to the far-right group, the Oath Keepers. Joining us now to discuss, CNN Legal and National Security Analyst and former FBI Special Agent, Asha Rangappa. Asha, this is a warrant having to do with Kelly Sorrell who is a lawyer somehow connected to the Oath Keepers and it includes sedition as part of the warrant. What exactly does that mean? What does it tell you?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. So we have to remember that this is a search warrant, which requires probable cause that a crime has been committed and that they're going to find evidence of that crime in the location that they're searching.

So this is still, you know, a long ways from gathering that evidence, having enough to charge someone. It's early enough in the investigation, but it also means that they have gathered some evidence at this point to suggest that they might be able to find evidence of seditious conspiracy.

And seditious conspiracy is the use of force to overthrow the government, prevent the execution of the government's functions, or say to seize or posses federal property or to levy war against the United States. So these are all very serious crimes, and seditious conspiracy is pretty much the closest crime we have to treason itself.

BERMAN: You know, Evan Perez at CNN had been reporting that the Justice Department - the Merrick Garland-led Justice Department was reluctant to go after the insurrectionists as or for sedition or seditious conspiracy. Has that changed do you think? Does that indicate this has changed?


RANGAPPA: Well I think that they - the Justice Department is rightly being very judicious in pursuing this particular crime for a couple of reasons. You know, they don't want to try to charge a number of people for whom the going on the Capitol grounds may have been an extension of the rally and then they go there and it becomes conflated with, you know, maybe some protected First Amendment activity because then it just sort of politicizes the whole thing.

But this is also - it's a hard crime to charge. You have to prove that the intent was to, you know, levy war, to overthrow the government, to posses, you know, the property through the use of force.

And so, I think that limiting it to people that, you know, were actually engaged in a specific conspiracy, planning, aforethought, you know, which I think we're seeing with the Oath Keepers with some of the conspiracy charges that have come already about obstructing Congress's functions is the right thing because then it's limited to a specific set of people who are really planning to use violence on that day.

BERMAN: Asha Rangappa, I appreciate you helping us understand this. Thank you very much.

RANGAPPA: Thank you. BERMAN: So one-time Trump ally, Chris Christie, taking some not at all veiled shots against the former president in what could be a preview of the next two years inside the Republican Party.

KEILAR: And we have some new CNN reporting on Kevin McCarthy's behind the scenes strategy that could put him in Trump's crosshairs. CNN's newest member of the family, Kasie Hunt, joining us live to discuss.



Former New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, taking a shot at his one- time ally, Donald Trump, last night at the Ronald Reagan Library in Southern California. Christie urged Republicans to embrace truth and reject lies and conspiracies.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: We need to face the realities of the 2020 election and learn, not hide from them. We need to renounce the conspiracy theorists and the truth-deniers, the ones who know better and the ones who are just plain nuts.


KEILAR: All right. Joining us now to discuss, CNN Anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst, Kasie Hunt, with us. OK, so actually that was not file footage, but it might -



KEILAR: -- it might as well have been, right? It might as well have been from years ago, so why are we looking at this now?

HUNT: You know, it's pretty remarkable. I guess Chris Christie, he has such promise for Republicans, right? Back in 2016 everybody thought, oh, he's going to be the standard bear (ph), and then obviously he got crushed by Donald Trump and ultimately joined the Trump team. I mean, so many of the people that used to work for Chris Christie folded themselves into the Trump administration, are still working for Donald Trump now.

He clearly doesn't want to be out of the game but he's decided that he certainly can't compete with Trump on Trump's terms, and I think it's good for the country that somebody is saying this, right? But where in the (ph) evidence that the Republican base is willing to listen to it yet?

BERMAN: Can I quote American Pie, though? You know, say his name -


HUNT: Sure. BERMAN: -- Chris Christie! Say his name! I mean, what's with dancing around it? If you want to take some courageous stand in a speech, say his name. It's like three syllables long. Make your mouth say the words Donald Trump if that's what you're really talking about. Case in point. I've got another little bit of sound for you.


CHRISTIE: No man, no woman no matter what office they've held or wealth they've acquired are worthy of blind faith or obedience. That's not who I am, and that's not who we are as Republicans no matter as who is demanding that we tie our future to a pile of lies. See, we deserve much better than to be mislead by those trying to acquire or hold on to power.


BERMAN: That's not who I am, but I won't say his name. I'm not scared, except saying the name out loud. Kasie, you know, just -


HUNT: Well and providing a sound bite, right -


BERMAN: Yes. Right. I mean --


HUNT: -- that can go into campaign ads later.

BERMAN: I mean, I don't know what's the Chris Christie caucus right now inside the Republican Party besides Chris Christie and maybe Pat?

HUNT: Chris Christie, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger. I think that's it right now. Clearly we think Liz Cheney is running for president. I don't - I don't - in 2024. She certainly hasn't ruled it out, and based on that speech clearly Christie wants to be part of the conversation, too.

But as you point out, I mean, this is - this is exactly the problem. If they come out and say the name they end up a target. I mean, look at what Cheney is dealing with now. I mean, she is continuing to push ahead, saying bring in in response to what the former president is doing here, but again, she is actually going to have to prove it in an election. Christie obviously doesn't have that same challenge, but so far no one in a safe Republican area has been able to pull this off, and that obviously is what a Republican presidential primary is.

So I mean, the Republican - and I actually was looking at what was behind Chris Christie there in that speech. There was a statement that said a time for choosing. I mean, there you go. That's the campaign slogan right there, and it's not - you know, it makes sense but it's still, again, over and over and over again certainly covering Capitol Hill over the course of the last few years, every single time people step up and try to do this it's been a failure inside the Republican Party that is loyal to Trump.

So I think, again, praise for saying, hey, we got to focus on the truth. The truth matters. We as a country need to focus on that.


This is a problem that it is all based on this lie about the former president saying that he won an election that he actually lost, but again, right now they're listening to him and not to Christie, Cheney, or Kinzinger or anyone else who's willing to step up.

KEILAR: Yes. Maybe the time for choosing was during debate prep. I'm just saying, you know, just as an example.


KEILAR: Also I will say, Berman, I'm going to take a little issue with your quote. It's not just say my name. I mean, you're missing a word, right, in that quote?

BERMAN: I - look -


KEILAR: OK, I know. It's a morning show. I get it.

BERMAN: I can only go so far.


HUNT: Very good (ph).

KEILAR: All right, let's talk about Kevin McCarthy because our Melanie Zanona has some really interesting reporting where she's pulling back, you know, the curtain behind the scenes here, and it turns out that he and his leadership team have quietly been working to prop up some of these Republican incumbents who are not on the good side of President Trump, right?

HUNT: Right. Well I mean, Kevin McCarthy, here's another example. Right after the January 6 insurrection, I was at the Capitol on January 6. It was a horrible day. Kevin McCarthy was, you know, privately making it very clear to everyone that he was extraordinarily unhappy with the president. A few days later he turns around singing a completely different tune. What's going on here?

And this reporting from Melanie shows just what a difficult place Donald Trump continues to put his party in because all Kevin McCarthy wants is to be Speaker of the House. To be Speaker of the House he needs to win back the House. You can count the number of votes, the margin - the Democratic margin right now in the House on one hand, right? It's that close, and I think the expectation is McCarthy's likely to be able to win, but he needs these people. He needs the people that voted to impeach Trump to hang on to seats and swing districts. This is sort of about Liz Cheney. Wyoming is never going to be a seat

that's held by a Democrat, but John Katko in New York certainly somebody that they really need to keep in the House if they wanted to change things up here.

So you know, McCarthy I think has shown that he's trying to play both sides. I think a lot of people that I've spoken to certainly who oppose the president but still remain members of the Republican Party - the former president I should say - they have been really disappointed in how McCarthy has handled things, and I think perhaps this may be an effort to try and help some of those bruised feelings a little bit, too.

BERMAN: All right. Kasie Hunt, great to have you on this morning. Look forward to seeing you again very soon.

HUNT: Great to be here. Thanks, guys.

KEILAR: So 20 years after 9/11 and the Taliban promised it wouldn't support those who committed the attacks, but we'll have a REALITY CHECK next.

BERMAN: Plus Jake Tapper joins us live on President Biden's aggressive new moves targeting the unvaccinated and how Republicans are already launching into hyperbole.



BERMAN: It is one day before the 20th anniversary of September 11 and has been noted several times in the program this morning no terror attack of that scale has that happened on U.S. soil since. John Avlon on how some very dedicated people have been able to make that possible.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans are asking who attacked our country. The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely-affiliated terrorist organizations known as Al-Qaeda.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: 20 years after the attacks of 9/11 Al-Qaeda can seem like an after thought. Osama bin Laden is 10 years dead. His organization degraded through drone strikes that decimated multiple layers of its leadership. bin Laden's weak second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has disappeared from the scene believed by some to be in poor health or even dead.

And of course, there has been no domestic terror attack remotely on the scale of 9/11 since 2001. These are markers of success in the much malign war on terror. It's a testament to eh U.S military, law enforcement, and intelligence community that so many terrorist plots have been stopped before they occurred, including attempts to blow up planes, bridges, and trains.

In fact, 480 would-be terrorists have been charged since 9/11 according to the New America Foundation. But for all of this the threat of Jihadist is not over. Al-Qaeda has been eclipsed by others offering a more decentralized effort, motivating loan wolves through online radicalization resulting in deadly terror attacks over the past decade including the Pulse Nightclub Massacre that killed 49 and the 2015 shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14.

But only one Al-Qaeda affiliate has been connected with a domestic attack, the 2019 killing of three people by a Saudi national at a U.S. naval base in Florida. Make no mistake, though. Al-Qaeda's long-time ally, the Taliban, being back in control of Afghanistan is a bad sign.

There's been a lot of poluandish (ph) talk about how they'll be more pragmatic this time around. Don't buy it. The Taliban promised President Trump, quote, "not to cooperate with groups or individuals trying threatening the security of the United States and its allies." Spoiler alert, that was a lie.

Not much better was President Biden's claim that Al-Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan. His own pentagon confirmed that isn't the case, and it's not like this is a big secret. A June report from the United Nations warned that the Taliban is still in close contact with Al-Qaeda, and as of this week the two members of the interim-Taliban government's cabinet are members of the murderous Haqqani network with established ties to Al-Qaeda. In fact, one's already on the FBI's most wanted list.

As CNN's National Security Analyst, Peter Bergen, dryly notes, "Nothing says you're renouncing Al-Qaeda quite like appointing a member of Al-Qaeda to a top cabinet position in your new government. Many Jihadists cross their sprawling and sometimes rival networks no doubt see the Taliban's reemergence as a sign that they should be emboldened 20 years after 9/11.

Withdrawal from Afghanistan does not mean that the terrorists' war on us is over. Terrorism, unfortunately, always is one bad day away from being issue number one. And perhaps that's why President Biden quietly reauthorized the national emergency declaration put in place after 9/11 just yesterday.