Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Gas on Verge of $5 a Gallon, 13th Straight Day Hitting Record; Man Charged With Attempted Murder of Kavanaugh at Home; Lead Democratic Negotiator in Senate Gun Talks Joins New Day. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 09, 2022 - 07:00   ET



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They went at 82 percent at the time every time.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I like those numbers, very physical game, these finals getting very rough.

Coy Wire, thank you, deliver more news like that for me. I appreciate it

WIRE: You got it.

BERMAN: New Day continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, June 9th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And what goes up is going higher, gas prices ever so close to $5 a gallon. The national average now $4.97, the 13th straight day of new highs, the 30th in the last 31 days.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It may be cold comfort, but still worth noting that when you adjust for inflation, prices are not actually at record highs, but what is the White House plan for handling soaring prices and inflation that are affecting Americans so severely?

Joining us now is Gene Sperling. He is currently the White House American Rescue Plan coordinator and he is a senior adviser to President Biden. He was a national economic council adviser in the Clinton administration.

Gene, let's talk about maybe what can be done to take some of the edge off here. Is another release of more barrels from the strategic reserve a possibility here?

GENE SPERLING, WHITE HOUSE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN COORDINATOR: Look, we're trying to do everything we can. You know, when you are talking about looking in real inflation adjusted terms, the day that Putin moved troops to the border of Belarus, gas prices were at $3.31. That was actually below the average that we had over the last decade.

As you say, it's now $47.97. That is $1.60 -- that's over $1.60 tax, Putin tax, on the American public. Little comfort that it's higher for families in Canada or Europe and it's why the president, as you said, has already committed to releasing 180 barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is actually a million a day that is still going on.

In addition he has asked other countries, he's asked oil companies who are still sitting on 9,000 leases who have $35 billion in profits to do more of what they can do. He has, as you know, allowed E-15 gas over the summer to put more downward pressure.

But, look, there is no question, our families are taking a hit from this unthinkable aggression in Russia and we need to have everything on the table, not just bringing gas prices down, but why don't we do more things? Why doesn't the Republican Congress work more with us to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, of insulin, of child care? These are things we can do. They may be in different areas than gas but they all help the pocketbook of American families.

KEILAR: Do you have a sense -- can you tell us how much the releases from the reserve have dropped the price of gas?

SPERLING: Look, there's no question it's helped. It has increased supply and we're pushing our foreign allies to also increase supply at the same time. We are hoping that this helps --

KEILAR: Can you quantify it, though, Gene? Can you quantify it? I mean, are we talking cents?

SPERLING: That is an interesting question and it's always a tough issue, how much worse would things have been if you had not taken the positive action that you had?

I think that it is bringing oil down, but, again, if you look at just the price of oil in global markets, Brent, that was $87 when Putin made this first move, that's over $125. So, yes, it is -- it has given some relief compared to doing nothing, but it's not enough and I understand it's going to be very little comfort to an American family going through the grocery line, going through the gas pump to know, hey, it's even worse for a family in Canada or Europe and or it would be even worse if the president had not taken historic action on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

But I promise you this, there is openness to virtually -- to a variety of different policy options that we could get if we could get bipartisan cooperation to do even more to bring down the price of gas or the price of other basic goods or the cost of other basic things, from prescription drugs to child care for the very same American families who are dealing with this Putin tax hike.

KEILAR: What about a windfall tax for big oil so that some of the record profits go back to treasury?

SPERLING: Well, you know, as I said, there's a lot of options being considered.

[07:05:02] And I think, you know -- I think that people are looking.

KEILAR: Is that one of them?

SPERLING: And they're saying, hold it. Oil profits are $35 billion in the fourth quarter, they were four times higher normal averages and you can't do more to keep prices down? You can't do more to use your existing oil permits to increase supply? I think that basically begs a lot of policymakers to start looking at whether that's a source of relief.

But I don't want to, you know, get ahead of the president. I would just say that there are lots of ideas that are on the table that are being considered and you will know when the president feels ready to make a decision and also when he feels that there is enough bipartisan support so that it has a true chance of passage in the United States Congress and actually having a positive impact for the American families dealing with this unthinkable Russian aggression that is hitting us home at the gas pump.

KEILAR: If the White House, Gene, determines the economy is going into a recession, will the White House tell the American public so that they can be prepared?

SPERLING: Look, we're -- we are more reassuring than some of those who are raising the dark clouds. And I think if you look at the last job report, it gives some reason for that.

KEILAR: No, but I'm saying if -- if you -- if you determine that, though. So, you're reassured, but if you determine, can you assure them that if you were to think that this is where it was headed that you would give them a heads-up so they could prepare?

SPERLING: Brianna, we will always be straight with the American people. And one of the things we've said and we've said so far is that the type of record growth, the highest growth in 40 years that you saw in 2021, the record job growth, the, you know, 400,000, 500,000, 600,000 jobs a month, we've been very clear, that kind of job growth and growth was great in getting our economy back from this historic pandemic, but we don't expect that that can go on forever.

And what we are saying to people is we do think there's going to be a move to more stable growth that will have lower prices but we have also wanted to be and are rightly reassuring that the U.S. has shown greater resilience than virtually any country because those strengthened job markets. The facts that the last market showed another 300,000, 400,000 people, now 4.2 million, as part of this great return to work, means that there is resilience in the economy.

So, we are being straight with people. Hey, you are not going to have record job growth go on every month, but that we are better positioned than any country in the world to make that transition to more stable, balanced growth with lower prices and without giving up these job gains. And so that's what we see. I think that's what a lot of economists in the world see. There will always be different opinions by economic forecasters and we are not going to play economic forecaster, but we're straight that we need to get to more stable growth. We're not going to pretend you can have the record job growth we have had every single month. We're not going to suggest that a team could hit 12 out of 15 three-pointers all the time but that we think we are well-positioned because the American Rescue Plan, because of the strength of this recovery, because of the number of people coming back into the workforce who are working to have resilience.

That's what we see and we will always be straight about how we see the economy. That's where we see it right now.

KEILAR: Gene, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you. We do appreciate it.

SPERLING: I appreciate you having me. Thank you.

BERMAN: We do have new video overnight showing the FBI raiding the California home of the 26-year-old man charged with plotting to murder Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Police say he called emergency services after arriving outside Kavanaugh's Maryland home and said he was having suicidal thoughts and had a firearm in his suitcase. That all led up to his arrest.

CNN's Whitney Wild has been reporting on this story and joins us now with the very latest. Whitney?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this man told police that he was angered over a pending Supreme Court ruling on abortion, he was angered over what he saw in Uvalde as well. And he thought that by killing the Supreme Court justice and then killing himself, he would give his life purpose.

It is the very type of crime federal officials have been warning for months is possible in this heightened threat environment and it is particularly alarming for law enforcement throughout Washington as a series of high-profile events descends on the city.


WILD (voice over): A California man is in custody this morning after he told police he wanted to kill a Supreme Court justice and then kill himself, he said, to give his life purpose.


Upset over the leak of a draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and the possibility that the court could loosen gun laws, authorities say the man went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home with a gun, zip ties and other tools. But after seeing two Deputy U.S. marshals outside he called 911 on himself.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This kind of behavior is obviously -- is behavior that we will not tolerate. Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices, of course, strike at the heart of our democracy.

WILD: Attorney General Merrick Garland and law enforcement vowing to ramp up security in the nation's Capitol as the January 6th hearings are set to begin tonight in prime time and Washington gears up for a potentially volatile June. That's when major Supreme Court decisions, large-scale protests and more tours at the Capitol will converged in an already heightened threat environment.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: There's, I think, a lot of vitriol.

WILD: Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger is ramping up security while D.C. police are activating their riot cops throughout the month. These moves come as the Department of Homeland Security warns of the possibility of a violent summer and fall fueled by conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies.

A major concern, the pending abortion ruling, intelligence analysts warn of potential threats toward lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, abortion providers and religious groups, the threats coming from both sides of the abortion debate.

MANGER: I am worried about the violence, I'm worried about the lone actor coming in and doing something dangerous.

WILD: Protests related to abortion and gun laws could bring thousands of people to Washington just as the highly anticipated public hearings into the January 6th insurrection begin. And more visitors are expected to flow into the Capitol after a two-year COVID related closure. Sources say Capitol police are now adding overtime shifts.

MANGER: The focus is really on what the protests that are going on at the court, the protests that are going on at the homes of the justices.

I understand that tension could very quickly turn to, you know, to the Capitol.

WILD: That tension already surfacing on social media and captured by intelligence analysts from D.C.'s homeland security agency.

CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ, DIRECTOR, D.C. HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: This is occurring almost on a daily basis in terms of any types of threats. The posts that concern us the most are threats against individuals or specific places.

WILD: Intelligence analysts have flagged roughly a dozen threats as credible enough to be investigated further.

RODRIGUEZ: We're seeing threats from all parts of the political spectrum.


WILD (on camera): Federal officials say that this tense environment, again, is going to continue through the summer and very likely through the fall as we lead up to the midterm elections.

Fending that off comes down to resources, it comes down to the number of officers and agents -- agencies can put up to fend against this potential risk. Capitol police say they are still down hundreds of officers and so they are doing everything they can to recruit more officers, they're raising the base pay, they're adding a retention bonus and they're also opening up the opportunity for federal officers and other agencies to lateral over because they know at the end of the day this becomes a manpower issue.

Further, John, up on Capitol Hill, there is still some -- some effort to try to look for creative ways and further ways to add security, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court. There is a bill up for debate still that would extend the security from the Supreme Court police to members of the Supreme Court justices' families, staff and anyone else that the marshal of the Supreme Court deems as necessary, as needing that enhanced security, John.

BERMAN: Whitney Wild bracing for potentially dangerous month, thank you so much for your reporting.

KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in CNN Anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt and CNN Political Analyst David Gregory.

I think, theoretically, we were worried about threats and now we understand why there has been so much of a concern, David.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And this is horrifying. I mean, activism has its place, of course, speaking out has its place, but to threaten a Supreme Court justice and his family outside of his home is beyond the pale, cannot be tolerated. Every politician has an obligation to stand up, condemn this and to do something about it.

And the truth is that a lot of people on the left who are in political power are being so hypocritical about this. They lecture us all the time about the excesses of the right, including Donald Trump on January 6, fomenting mob violence and yet they are out there countenancing, as they have with statements before, that it's okay to stand outside these people's homes.

KEILAR: Can we listen to that sound? This is former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.


JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know that there's an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date and we certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges' homes and that's the president's position.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If protests are peaceful, yes, my house is -- there're protests three, four times a week outside my house. That's the American way to peacefully protest is okay and I've been -- that's my wife, sorry --

REPORTER: She's protesting.

SCHUMER: Maybe there is a protest outside.


KEILAR: It's not a laughing matter as we're thinking about it now. Just to be clear those were statements made after that abortion draft was leaked.

GREGORY: Right. But the problem is, yes, peacefully protest, but what's happening -- I mean, I go back to, you know, bill Clinton's admonition, right, about a right-wing radio, be careful on whose ears these messages fall. You go outside someone's house, that is menacing when there's children there who are not protected by security.

The justices are, their families are not and they're going off to school in the morning. It's intimidating. And then you can have an instance here where you apparently have someone who, by any, you know, measure, appears to not be mentally well and is talking about suicidal ideation and turning himself in, but this is what can happen when you have this kind of intense incendiary atmosphere.

KEILAR: Also there is this House bill that's hung up. They could have acted on something to protect the family members, as David talked about. It's not been passed yet.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. So, the Senate unanimously said, okay, if the officers of the court think that family members or other staff members need protection, they should be able to call for that. It's still hung up in the House of Representatives.

I think it's going to be important to watch what is the timing on this. I mean, we are expecting -- we're heading into the final days of the court's session, always the most volatile and intense, we're expecting obviously a potentially earth-shattering decision on Roe v. Wade, there's also some gun decisions coming out.

And so I'd like to know whether that bill is likely to get through the House of Representatives before that happens. It's not right now on track to do that.

I think to David's point, too, there's no question, yes, peaceful protests are part of being American, but there is a responsibility for people in leadership positions to talk to people who believe in them and who elected them about where is the line and where should we be drawing that line, especially when we're seeing political violence seep into more and more of our conversations, whether it's January 6th or what's going on with Brett Kavanaugh here. I mean, at what point do we say these people deserve -- our public servants deserve to be able to live a private life in safety?

And, sure, you want to show up at the Supreme Court and protest, maybe that's the place to do it. That's clearly not where Democratic leaders are right now and I think it's because of their base.

KEILAR: We have a lot more to talk about ahead, and I want to make sure that we leave room for it.

I should just say real quickly, Steny Hoyer did say relatively soon, but, again, there is no hard and fast date for when this --

GREGORY: You can't keep tearing down institutions and saying to people that they are political actors and go protest them. You have to protect the Supreme Court as something that's above politics. Even when there is politics involved in some of what they do, we have got to do that for their safety.

KEILAR: All right. You guys, stand by for me, if you will. President Biden telling Jimmy Kimmel he trusts Mitch McConnell even on issues like guns.

BERMAN: And this has negotiations intensify on Capitol Hill. We're joined by the top Democrat involved in those talks.



BERMAN: A bipartisan group of senators says they are making progress on bills designed to prevent gun violence. The lawmakers who met in Senator Chris Murphy's office yesterday told CNN that there are still sticking points but there is a willingness to get a framework together.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He is the chief Democratic negotiator in bipartisan talks on gun reform legislation. Senator Murphy, thanks for being with us.

Can you give us the latest on these negotiations?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): So, we are making real progress. And let's be honest, there is a reason why Congress hasn't passed any serious anti-gun violence legislation in 30 years. It's really been since 1994 since we have attacked this problem. This is the most politically complicated, emotionally fraught issue that Congress deals with, it too often incentivizes both sides to retreat to their political corners and just run to litigate the issue in the next election.

This time does feel different most part because the American public are just freaked out, frightened, anxious about the state of safety today and they want us to act. So, we're talking about -- we're talking about red flag laws, we're talking about improvements to our background check system, we're talking about targeting these 18 to 21- year-olds to try to make sure that only the right people get their hands on weapons. And we are talking about a massive and historic investment in mental health and school safety. We think we can get that done, but we worked late into the night last night trying to get agreement.

BERMAN: And I do want to ask about each of those issues you just brought up in a moment but I also want to mention David Hogg, gun safety activist who is a survivor from Parkland met with you yesterday, and he said just met with you yesterday. And he said, just met with Chris Murphy, feeling the most optimistic I have ever felt, he said.

Why did you give him such grounds for optimism? Why did he emerge from that meeting so optimistic? What did you tell him?

MURPHY: Well, I don't think you can be anything other than comparatively optimistic. I've been part of many, many negotiations before, since Sandy Hook. Obviously, my life is devoted to this cause on behalf of the victims and I have never been part of a negotiation that's this serious. Our group continues to grow in size, no one has walked away from the table.

I mean, listen, I still think there are more paths to failure than there are to success, but we've never gotten this far on complicated comprehensive negotiations before.


BERMAN: When do you think you will be done, by the end of this week?

MURPHY: I mean, I certainly had targeted trying to get an agreement by the end of this week. We're still driving towards that goal. But, again, this is -- this is complicated law and we want to make sure that we get it right, not do it fast. So, everybody is still at the table, nobody is walking away and I'm still confident we have a path to get there.

BERMAN: Does it get harder, though, if it depose on past this week, other events sure to happen?

MURPHY: Yes. That historically has been the difficulty here. Time is never our friend when we're talking about getting people to the table on something as difficult as gun laws and gun violence. I think that phenomenon likely still applies except for the fact that something different is happening out there in the American public in both conservative states and more Democratic-leaning states. You have parents that just are not going to accept nothing as an option this time and they're sick and tired of talking to their kids about where their kids are going to hide when a gunman walks into their school.

So, the urgency from the American public doesn't seem to be going away and I'm glad about that because it will keep the pressure on us.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about red flag laws, which does seem to be an area that you were very focused on with your Republican colleagues in discussion here, but I also understand there is some difficulty in the negotiation. I'm trying to understand what that difficulty is, because there are red flag laws in some states around the country, including Republican-led states. I don't believe you're talking about federally-mandated red flag laws, you're talking about incentivizing states to do it, so where is the tension?

MURPHY: Well, I think there has been some lingering confusion. Past proposals have suggested a federal red flag law. I've actually never thought that was a good idea. I don't think you want law enforcement to have to go into the federal courts to take temporarily firearms away from a dangerous individual. So, we have to clean up some of the confusion around what we're proposing.

We are talking about incentivizing state red flag laws and providing substantial funding to implement them. One of the problems we have seen, even in states that have them, is that unless everybody knows how to use them, that includes law enforcement, teachers, local officials, parents, then they're not as useful as they should be.

So, we're talking about substantial funding both to help states implement new red flag laws but also to help states that already have them make theirs more effective.

BERMAN: So, what's the hang up, though? Is it just the confusion you were mentioning?

MURPHY: Listen, as you know, there are just some members of the Senate, I think a decreasing number, who aren't interested in passing any laws on the issue of gun violence, and it does take some time to get over people's 30-year reticence to pass any new federal laws on firearms.

BERMAN: Is it still accurate to say as we have been told that raising the age to buy semiautomatic AR-15-style weapons is off the table or not on the table to raise the age to 21?

MURPHY: I think we continue to try to find a path to 60 votes that includes some provision that recognizes these 18 to 21 year olds tend to be the mass shooters and that many times they have juvenile criminal records or past histories of mental health that should prohibit them from buying a weapon.

So, we are zeroing in on this population, trying to find the path to bipartisan agreement. I will say I think there's Republican support for raising the age to 21. I don't know whether there are 60 votes for that proposal. So, we're exploring some other important and impactful options.

BERMAN: Talk to me about the parameters of those other options, if you will. Explain exactly what that means looking into the juvenile records or having access to juvenile records and how that equates to perhaps a waiting period.

MURPHY: Well, I'm not going to go into the details of our negotiations right now. It's important for me not to negotiate through the press. So, all I will say is that I think there is bipartisan agreement that this population merits additional scrutiny and I hope that we're going to be able to find a path to try to make sure that, again, only law-abiding citizens who present no threat of danger to their neighbors or to their classmates are able to get their hands on weapons.


BERMAN: Would additional scrutiny, though, does that lead perhaps to a waiting period?