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Pence Blames Media Rather Than Rioters for January 6 Riot; Facebook Whistleblower to Testify Before Senate; Father Wants Big Tech to Change After Daughter Took Own Life; Breyer to Hecklers Demanding Retirement: That's Their View. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 05, 2021 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, October 5. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.


On this NEW DAY, from gallows to gaslight. Developing overnight, Mike Pence, history boy. He was in the middle of history on January 6, the day insurrectionists were chanting, "Hang Mike Pence." They were yelling to kill him in order to overthrow an election.

Donald Trump and the rioters wanted him to unilaterally defy the election results. Mike Pence refused to upend democracy that day, though he had to run it by Dan Quayle first.

That is the history, known to all who saw it and all those who have written on it, including Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's in "Peril."

But in a remarkable moral and historical contortion, the former vice president, Mike Pence, is now trying to redirect the blame for the insurrection.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration's failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try and demean the -- the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and -- and 2020.


BERMAN: Pence telling it like it isn't. Again, from gallows to gaslight.

The media wasn't chanting, "Hang Mike Pence." The insurrectionists were. The people there to overturn the results of an election, to ignore the will of 81 million voters, and do worse to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Pence goes on to talk about his relationship with Trump.


PENCE: You can't spend almost five years in a political foxhole with somebody without -- without developing a strong relationship. And, you know, January 6 was a tragic day in the history of our Capitol building.

But thanks to the efforts of Capitol Hill police, federal officials, the Capitol was secured. We finished our work.

And the president and I sat down a few days later and talked through all of it. I can tell you that we parted amicably.


KEILAR: What part of all this do you think they talked through, exactly? How Trump wanted to use Pence as the centerpiece for his attempted coup? Or maybe they talked through what Trump said at the Stop the Steal rally.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a -- a sad day for our country.


KEILAR: Maybe they talked through the tweet that Trump sent during the breach of the Capitol, during the breach, where Trump said that Pence didn't have the courage to protect the country.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy and CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp.

S.E., you know, look, Pence makes it seem like this is some matter for "Architectural Digest." It was a problem for the Capitol building on January 6.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is -- it is grating to me, the way he continues to talk about January 6th as if it happened to him or, like, around him. As if he wasn't a part of how we got here.

Look, the people who got up that day and chose violence, right, chose to go and commit a crime at the Capitol, did so for Donald Trump, but there was a whole apparatus that got those people there. That apparatus included some Republican lawmakers, some right-wing media, and Mike Pence was part of that apparatus, too.

So it's very confounding to watch him deflect and act as if this was an event in history he was completely divorced from.

KEILAR: It's -- he -- it's a media problem, he says. It's a media fixation.

CUPP: What isn't, though, really, today? Right? I mean, if you ask a Republican, it's all our fault. We've done it all.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: When all else fails, attacking the media is the easiest thing for these guys. And obviously, Pence has no other way to explain this away, so he quickly pivots in that interview with Hannity to attacking the media. It's not surprising.

And obviously, Hannity was the -- the chief propagandist throughout the administration, and so he's very used to attacking the press, and they both seem to use that as a way to move on.

BERMAN: I will tell you, the record is what the record is. As I said, the history is the history. It doesn't matter, to an extent, what he says about January 6th for January 6th's sake. It matters for now. It matters for what is being done with it now and going forward, S.E. So why does this matter?

CUPP: Well, first, I mean, the whole thing sounds a little delusional. Not just the way he talks about January 6th but also parting amicably with the president. The president has been trashing him.

He might be saying, we're in a good place, but, per usual, the loyalty flows just one way. Trump is not returning the favor.


So you have to wonder, OK, if Mike Pence is trying to stay on Trump's good side -- well, he'd have to be there to begin with, and he's not. He's not on his good side. And what is this for? Does he still want to raise money? Does he want influence? Does he think he's running for president one day?

There are no natural Mike Pence voters. He lost Republicans like me, who felt betrayed by Mike Pence for not being a stopgap. And I think the Trump loyalists will never trust Mike Pence. Who is left? Who is clamoring for more Mike Pence?

So this strategy, if you can call it one, makes very little sense to me.

KEILAR: I mean, that's why he's on "Hannity," right? Because he's courting those folks that he doesn't, as you say -- who is the constituency here. He's trying.

But in a -- in a logical world, what would happen is Trump would apologize to Pence, right, because of what happened.

CUPP: Right.

BERMAN: You mean on Earth.

KEILAR: On Earth. Here on Earth.

CUPP: Earth one, not Earth two.

KEILAR: Now on Earth two, it's the other way. It's Mike Pence, as so many Republicans who decided to break with Donald Trump a little bit around the insurrection, he's now sucking up. He's on the full suck-up mode.

DARCY: Right. And what he's saying actually does make some sense if you watch right-wing media. Because in right-wing media, January 6th wasn't an insurrection. It has been portrayed as, you know, people just going to the Capitol, and seeing things, and police taking selfies with the -- with the protestors or, you know, that's how it is being portrayed in right-wing media.

And so for him to go on there and to downplay it makes sense if he does want that future in Republican politics. Whether he actually has one, you know, I tend to agree with S.E. I don't see who the natural Mike Pence voters are. But it seems that he's trying to court them on Sean Hannity's show.

CUPP: Yes. He doesn't have to go on "Hannity." He can retreat and retire to private life and pretend in his own mind that he wasn't involved in any of this. But he is actively pursuing a spotlight again and, again, I'm not sure why.

BERMAN: What bothers me most is bigger than Mike Pence. Which is that if you say it didn't happen the way we saw it happen, if you say it doesn't matter that it happened, then what you are saying is it's OK if it happens again.

CUPP: Right.

BERMAN: And that's my biggest concern right now, is that everyone is dumbing down history so much, you are creating a permission structure for this to happen again.

CUPP: For sure. But I think most infuriatingly about Mike Pence and why he's such a disappointing character in all of this is he's trying to split the baby. He has said this was a very dark day.

BERMAN: For the building.

CUPP: In -- Right, right. In American history. And he has lamented what happened. He said he was proud to certify Vice President -- Joe Biden as president.

So he's trying to kind of have it both ways, and acknowledging what a lot of Trump voters are talking about will not, which is what happened that day. I'm not really sure what the master plan is, because he's constantly contradicting himself.

DARCY: I do think, though, if you do pay attention, again, to the right-wing media world, after January 6th, there was a lot more -- in the immediate wake, there was a lot more OK permission structure to say this was not good, you know, and condemn these people.

But over the past, you know, what, ten months, it has really been watered down. And what happened has sort of -- you know, you're watching Tucker Carlson and some of these programs. It has really been whitewashed, what happened on January 6th.

And so now, maybe he's realizing that, hey, like, if I actually do want this future in Republican politics, it's no longer acceptable to say what happened on that day. You have to kind of excuse it for, you know -- excuse these insurrectionists.

BERMAN: It's dangerous.

DARCY: Yes. But they don't care. I mean, they have shown no interest in -- in the -- caring about the well-being of the country, right, for the past four years. They made up excuses after excuses after excuses. So it's not really surprising that they're not paying attention maybe to the health of the society.

CUPP: I have to say, I mean, people fixate on the fact that, like, these people were calling for Mike Pence to be hanged, right? And how can he sort of, you know, reconcile that?

But it's -- If it makes any sense, it's worse. These people were calling for the destruction of American democracy. It wasn't just personal to make it awful. It was awful for the country. That should have been enough reason for Mike Pence, too.

KEILAR: He knows that.

CUPP: And he disavowed.

KEILAR: Pence knows that.

BERMAN: Yes. He certainly did at one point.

DARCY: Everyone knows it. Everyone knows it.

BERMAN: Oliver, S.E., great to see you this morning.

CUPP: Thanks.

KEILAR: Here in just a few hours, Facebook's whistleblower, Frances Haugen, will testify before a Senate panel about explosive allegations that Facebook knowingly pushes disinformation on its site to make a profit.

Haugen also alleges that Facebook's Instagram app harms teenage girls and that the company isn't doing enough to stop it.

In her opening statement, Haugen writes this. She said, "Their profit- optimizing machine is producing self-harm and self-hate, especially for vulnerable groups like teenage girls. These problems have been confirmed repeatedly by Facebook's own internal research."


And this is coming as a new analysis by Sen. Richard Blumenthal's staff shows that Instagram's algorithm actually promotes accounts that glorify eating disorders.

Joining me now is Ian Russell. His daughter Molly took her own life when she was just 14 years old.

Ian, first thing here, just tell us a little bit about your beautiful daughter.

IAN RUSSELL, FATHER OF SUICIDE VICTIM: She was beautiful. Thank you very much. She was very beautiful. Adorable. And in many ways, very ordinary. She went to school. Did well enough but wasn't super bright. But was loving, caring, and couldn't do enough to help other people.

KEILAR: And so you learned -- I mean, as you have described it, it was a very normal-seeming day that ended with family time and her going to bed as usual. And after her death, you realized that she'd been consuming a lot of social media. What -- what kind of social media was she consuming?

RUSSELL: Well, Molly didn't seem to be much of a social media person. She didn't have a Facebook account and had deleted one of her Twitter accounts.

But what we discovered after her death was that she'd been seeing material on various platforms, but -- Instagram was one of them -- that promoted just being miserable.

First of all, she would have seen material that made her feel miserable and hopeless and encourage that sort of depression and anxiety.

And then, even more worryingly, she saw material that suggested suicide might be the only way out, which, of course, isn't true. And there's always help available. But in this online world, she was confronted with really, really sinister, harmful material that made her think otherwise.

KEILAR: And we should be clear, suicide is very complex. There are often many factors. But the fact that she was consuming this kind of material before her death rings all kinds of alarm bells for you as a parent, for any parent watching whose child is on social media and they may not even know it.

A Facebook spokesperson, Ian, didn't comment specifically on this, but Facebook, of course, is Instagram's parent company. And they have said that advertisers don't want their content next to hateful, extreme, or unpleasant content. They say they have no commercial incentive, no moral incentive to have this kind of content on their platform. What do you say to that? RUSSELL: Well, Facebook are very good at saying positive-sounding

things. And in fact, after Molly's story came to light in early 2019, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, came to the U.K. to say that they would be banning graphic self-harm content from the platform. It surprised me that they hadn't banned it before.

But if -- sadly, if you look, that sort of content is still available on Instagram and on other platforms.

So the platforms are all very good at saying the fine words, but they're less good at taking action. And if you consider how big they are and how much resources they have at their disposal, they should be able to do far more than they've done since Molly died.

KEILAR: Ian, I am so sorry for what your family has lost, and I appreciate you talking about this so that other families can listen, as well. Ian Russell, thank you.

RUSSELL: Thank you.

KEILAR: If you are struggling, if you know someone who is struggling and needs someone to talk to, please reach out any time, day or night, seven days a week, to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1- 800-273-8255.

And coming up, a brand-new interview with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. His response to protesters calling on him to retire.

BERMAN: Plus, the former White House press secretary naming names, peeling back the curtain on the former president and first lady. Does Melania really believe the big lie? What does she think about Trump's alleged affairs? And also, who's known as the Slim Reaper?



BERMAN: In a wide-ranging interview, 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer talks about the new Supreme Court term, seeing his fellow justices in person again, and the pressure to leave the bench.


JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: What do you say to people who argue that you should retire as soon as possible while the Democrats have the Senate majority? That's the basic issue that those -- those protesters --

JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT: That's -- that's their point of view. I've said pretty much what I have to say. There are a lot of considerations, and I don't want to add to what I've had to say tonight. Because I notice every time that I add something, it becomes a big story. And so the less I add, the better.

And it's -- I think I'm not from Pluto. I think I knew what this gentleman thought. And I think I have most of the considerations in mind, and I simply have to weigh them and think about them and decide when the proper time is. I've also said that I don't -- I hope I don't die on the Supreme Court. And there we are.


BERMAN: There we are indeed. So that came after Breyer was heckled during this forum with calls for him to step down.

The reason people want him to step down, people on the left, Democrats, is they want to have Joe Biden be able to nominate his replacement while the Senate is in control of the Democrats. They fear if he waits too long, Breyer to step down, than either the Republicans take over the Senate or it would happen in the next administration.

CNN's Joan Biskupic, who was the one doing that interview with Justice Breyer, joins us now. He seems, I guess, weary of those questions, but it is such an important question, Joan.

BISKUPIC: It really is, John. And it was interesting, at the point that the hecklers actually held up their sign, we were just about six minutes into it. He was going on about how intriguing it was to hear his colleagues during oral arguments in person, the kinds of cues they were giving to each other during -- during the back and forth.

He talked about how he was happy that Clarence Thomas was still joining in the oral arguments after having been silent during that in- person format before.

So we were in sort of a tame part of the discussion, very early on, when they stood up.

But their issue is exactly what you're -- you're talking about. Democrats have a slim, one-vote majority in the Senate. And a lot of people fear that anything could happen, certainly, in the midterms next year, but maybe even before then for the Democrats to lose that.

And he has gotten weary. He's -- he's on this book tour, and he's getting weary of answering any of these questions. But you sign up for a book tour, you sign up for these kinds of questions.

KEILAR Look --

BISKUPIC: And -- Go ahead.

KEILAR: I was just going to say, and they have to -- they have to answer these questions. And we're hearing the justices say this, specifically, Joan, on this approach by the Supreme Court, which obviously, Breyer isn't a fan of, I'm sure, of this sort of action by inaction when it came to Texas's abortion law. What did he say?

BISKUPIC: You know, that's exactly right. Brianna, he was at first reluctant to say anything negative about the way they handled that Texas order in such an emergency fashion. And then when I pressed him on the consequences for women in Texas, he finally allowed what you -- I think you have that clip there that you'd like to play.


BREYER: In my opinion, what we should have done was we should have issued an injunction and stopped the Texas law from taking effect. But the -- the -- but that was -- did not command the majority.

Because there were a lot of women who believed they had a right to abortion and that this might discourage or prevent some from doing it. And that fits into the procedural law, because one of the things you take into account is weighing the equities. That is to say, if you issue an injunction, will it -- who will it hurt and how much? And if you don't issue an injunction, who will it hurt and how much?

And in my own view, it might hurt a large number of women -- that's what I wrote -- who wish to exercise their constitutional right to have the abortion. And on the other hand, I didn't think it was of enormous harm to Texas to postpone their law.


BISKUPIC: Brianna, you notice that what he did there was, you know, cloak the nut of his concern, that women in Texas have no access to abortion right now, virtually no access to abortion, with a lot of legalese about the injunction, the legal method that was at issue here. And that's kind of his approach.

And that's what frustrates, I think, some of the people in the audience and some other people who he encounters, is that there is a very different court right now, a 6-3 conservative liberal court. And lots is being changed in the law because of that new dynamic.

And Justice Breyer is one of the last liberals, and I think they want a more robust commentary on what is happening in America and what could happen in America.

And he will do that sometimes in his opinions, but as he's gone out publicly, he's pulled his punches.

Although, one last thing I do have to mention for you, toward the end of the evening, he did start to acknowledge, yes, I am getting more concerned about the drop in public confidence in the court that's emerged in recent polls. And that there might be more threat to democracy in America and the rule of law in America.

But -- but it's a very tentative message he wants to give out, because he mostly wants to talk about the book.

KEILAR: Yes. Well, Joan, I'm glad that you could translate his answer. It was sort of a slow, meandering walk that he was taking us on that I know would frustrate a lot of people. So thank you so much, Joan. And great interview. We really appreciate it.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BERMAN: Like, I remember sleeping through that class in college.

KEILAR: I know. Right? BERMAN: It was what that felt like.

KEILAR: Sort of -- it was like waves, right, rocking you to sleep.

All right. Former President Trump could be deposed this year in a defamation lawsuit related to a former "Apprentice" contestant who accuses him of sexual assault. So what should he expect, and can he just, you know, refuse to talk?


BERMAN: And plus, new details about what Trump was most afraid of during his presidency. His closed-door conversations with world leaders. The author of an explosive new book about the Trump administration will join us, coming up.


BERMAN: A New York state judge issued an order that could force former President Trump to be questioned under oath by Christmas. The deposition request stems from a 2017 defamation lawsuit brought by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, who claims Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007.

Here's Zervos, detailing her accusations against Trump at a news conference just one month before the 2016 presidential election.