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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Discusses Gun Talks; Tapes Of McCarthy After Attack: Can't "Sweep This Under The Rug"; NASA's New Space Telescope Suffers Impact By Space Rock. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 09, 2022 - 07:30   ET



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

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, again, there's this complicated question of access to juvenile records. Some states seal those records, others don't. There are -- in fact, many states now that upload those records into the national database system -- these are -- these are complicated legal questions and we're sorting through them right now to try to find a path forward.

BERMAN: I'm just curious when you're talking about getting to 60 votes. The Republicans you're negotiating with -- are they negotiating trying to get a majority of Republican votes or are they focused on 10 -- getting 10 Republican votes for the measures?

MURPHY: I think you'd have to ask them. I think that we can put together a package that will get more than 10 Republican votes. And again, the reason for that is the demand from their constituents. You know, you've seen news reports in CNN about senators from very conservative states who are considering voting for this because they have been deluged by phone calls from parents telling them that they need to step up and do something about this.

So, I can't speak to what the goal is for my Republican colleagues in terms of the number of votes out of their conference, but I certainly think that we can get well above 10 Republican votes for this package.

BERMAN: So, CNN has reported that Sen. Mitch McConnell, in private, has expressed an openness to raising the age to buy AR-15-style weapons to 21. I'm not going to ask again about that.

But what I am going to ask about is Sen. McConnell because last night on "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!" President Biden talked about the Senate minority leader and how he trusts him in these negotiations -- listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've always had a straight relationship with the majority -- with the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell. You know, he's a guy that when he says something he means it. I disagree with a lot of what he says but he means it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Do you share that trust and the idea that McConnell is a trustworthy negotiating partner on this issue?

MURPHY: Well, Sen. McConnell has empowered Sen. John Cornyn from Texas, who has been through too many of these massacres in his state, to sit at the table with me and others to craft this compromise. My assumption is that Sen. McConnell is read-in to all of the negotiations that we've had. And I appreciate the fact that Sen. McConnell has given Sen. Cornyn and myself, and others the space to negotiate.

And I can't sort of speak for the conversations that Sen. McConnell and Sen. Cornyn have had but I think it is significant that Sen. McConnell has empowered these negotiations to happen.

BERMAN: I also want to play a little bit more from the president's interview with Jimmy Kimmel when he talked about whether or not executive actions would help her -- listen.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": Can't you issue an executive order? Trump passed those out like Halloween candy.

BIDEN: The answer -- well, I did.

KIMMEL: Isn't that something that could happen?

BIDEN: Well, I have issued executive orders within the power of the presidency to be able to deal with these -- everything having to do with guns and gun ownership. Whether or not you have to have a waiting period. All the things that were within my power.

But what I don't want to do -- and I'm not being facetious -- I don't want to emulate Trump's abuse of the Constitution and constitutional authority.


BERMAN: So there are gun safety advocates who do with President Biden would do more with executive action. Do you think he's as limited as he said?

MURPHY: Well, I mean, first of all, that's a good answer. Just because Trump exceeded his authority under the Constitution doesn't mean that Biden should.

I think there is a limited amount of changes that the administration can make through executive action on the issue of gun violence.

Our statutes are broken. They are just broken. Right now, there are far too many commercial sales that happen without a background check. It's too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on weapons. We aren't doing enough to empower states to temporarily take guns away from people who are posing a threat to their neighbors.

The primary problem here is not lack of executive action. The primary problem are broken statutes. The law in the United States needs to change. And so, I think he is right that it is our responsibility in Congress to pass laws that save lives and not just simply pass the buck to the administration.

BERMAN: So I will say you are projecting a sense of optimism in these discussions and with your public statements that they are going well. That they are continuing. That they are good-faith talks. So I don't want to necessarily cast a shadow over it.

But if they do fail, what will be the reason? How will you explain that?


MURPHY: I mean, listen, I think I've been honest that while I acknowledge that these are more serious than any other talks we've had that there is a reason why for 30 years nothing has happened on the issue of gun violence. If we achieve an agreement it will be historic. It won't include everything that I want but it will break a three- decades-long logjam.

If we fail -- I mean, I guess I can't pre-diagnosis the reasons why we would fail but I can tell you the stakes. Parents and kids, and families out there -- I think they're already casting doubt over the efficacy of democracy because it hasn't been able to deliver for them economically. They're just treading water out there.

But if you can't deliver on the thing that matters the most to parents -- the physical safety of their kids -- then they are going to ask this fundamental question -- what on Earth are we doing here? And that's the question that I posed at the outset to my colleagues. Why are you here if not to solve this problem?

So I think this is a potential crisis for democracy if we don't step up and do something about this when you have so much demand from Democratic parents, Republican parents, apolitical parents telling Congress to protect their children.

BERMAN: Senator Chris Murphy, I know these have been late nights for you. I know this is difficult work and I do appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot. Thank you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And we're back now with Kasie Hunt and David Gregory to talk about what was really an optimistic interview full of so much information there.

But Kasie, I just want to zero in on one thing in particular, which was you were agreeing when Chris Murphy was assessing that Republicans are under some pressure because there is a shift in public opinion in their states that something has to be done. KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And you saw this. CNN had reporting that Cynthia Lummis, the senator from Wyoming, said people are inundating my office with phone calls on this.

I think this has been an ongoing sea change. Every single time one of these terrible tragedies has happened the pressure has gotten more and more intense.

And I think -- look at what happened in Florida after Parkland. You had Rick Scott -- then the governor and now he's running for president, so the way he talks about is a little different, right? He's -- we suspect he's going to -- he's going to run for president.

But they all looked at this together and the Republican Legislature there -- across the board, they made significant changes around a lot of the areas that they're talking about here. Red flag laws and other ways to try and prevent these things from happening.

And I think that's one of the reasons -- like, the fact that was possible in a Republican state like Florida shows you that people in the middle -- and Chris Murphy called them apolitical parents -- people that don't necessarily pay attention to the process -- they're engaged on this issue and they're really, really upset.

And you can see the difference between when we were talking about this after Sandy Hook to now. There is political pressure on Republicans to be seen doing something, even if it's very small.


KEILAR: Should we get our hopes up?

GREGORY: Well, it's hard. It's hard if you've been following this. I liked hearing Chris Murphy. I like that John Cornyn is involved.

There have been serious attempts to do some things that are still narrow but important -- raising the age. I mean, again, if you look at the data, why shouldn't you raise the age from 18 to 21 to be able to purchase a long gun or any kind of assault gun?

KEILAR: But that's not what they're talking about, right?

GREGORY: I know, but --

KEILAR: They're talking about --

GREGORY: -- there's other things --

KEILAR: -- more scrutiny for those -- for that age group.

GREGORY: Right. You know, as a parent, my kids have been locked down in school recently. There was a shooting in Washington, D.C. that forced the lockdown of two schools. And we all confront this in a way where we want added protection at the school. We want armed officers there. But, my God, if guns were the answer we'd be the safest country in the

world. That's not -- that's not the answer as much in school security as finding ways to abridge freedom where necessary, as we do in other areas -- counterterrorism or laws with regard to safety in our cars to just try to make this harder.

And as we were talking about just a minute ago, we also have to focus on the fact that we do have this epidemic of young people who are engaging in suicidal behavior by carrying out these mass shootings knowing they will get the kind of attention that all of this engenders to ultimately die in the process of it. We have to deal with a focus on resources and attention on how that's building up in communities and leading to these events.

HUNT: Bottom line, there is something very significant and important about the idea of Congress actually passing something, especially with Republican support even if those measures are relatively limited. They haven't been able to do it before.

Chris Murphy has said this out loud that there is value in showing Republicans who have not done this in the past, but they can do it without losing their political lives. That could potentially --


HUNT: -- set the stage for more.

GREGORY: And that it doesn't just have to be a debate about getting rid of guns. Because I think that's been the playbook for the left for a long time. It hasn't worked.


And the right stands up to its base by saying no, we can abridge some of what we consider bedrock freedoms in the name of gun safety; not in the name of gun control and getting rid of guns, which again, I just think is a political nonstarter.

KEILAR: David and Kasie, so great to talk to both of you this morning. Thank you.

GREGORY: Thanks.

HUNT: Thanks, Bri.

KEILAR: John Stamos opening up about the loss of his friend Bob Saget. What he told CNN.

BERMAN: And why an about-face from House minority leader Kevin McCarthy on finding out the truth about the Capitol attack. What new audio is revealing this morning.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We cannot just sweep this under the rug We need to know why it happened, who did it, and people need to be held accountable for it. And I'm committed to make sure that happens."


BERMAN: That was House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy just five days after the Capitol riot vowing to find out what happened -- even suggesting the creation of what seemed to be a bipartisan commission to investigate.


All this coming out in newly released audio from New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin for their book "This Will Not Pass."

Joining me now is CNN political analyst and New York Times senior political correspondent Maggie Haberman.

To hear Kevin McCarthy say what he wants is a full accounting of what happened, though he opposes this committee that's holding these hearings tonight.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Opposes this committee. And really, just huge kudos to my colleagues for getting these tapes because they're a really important piece of a historical record.

We know now that Kevin McCarthy was saying things to his caucus that he didn't live up to at all. That within two weeks of Donald Trump leaving office, he went down to Mar-a-Lago to make peace with him. And why? Because Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker and this was seen as the fastest way. Donald Trump was not getting off the scene.

It was clear that the -- that the reaction in Congress to what happened on January 6 was just not commensurate with the Republican base.

And so, Kevin McCarthy moved on quickly and he hindered the work of this committee. He has shown very little interest in finding out exactly what happened and who was accountable -- and who should be held accountable for it. And so, it's really startling to hear this audio.

BERMAN: I want to play a little bit more that Jonathan and Alex got here, and it has to do with what you might think is important from these hearings over the next week and a half or so. It is Kevin McCarthy again, talking about that day, January 6 -- listen.


MCCARTHY: When they started breaking into my office, myself and the staff got removed from the office. In doing so, I made a phone call to the president telling him what was going on, asking him to tell these people to stop, to make a video, and go out. And I was very intense and very loud about it."


BERMAN: This gets to the subject of what then-President Trump was doing --


BERMAN: -- which is still -- for all the video we've seen and all the reporting that's been out there, it's still one of the things that is left unanswered.

HABERMAN: That's right, John. And look, the two hearings that I think are going to be the most significant in the coming weeks are going to be the one related to Mike Pence who, in many ways, was the target of a lot of this --


HABERMAN: -- and also was the hero in this story in terms of standing up and not doing what Trump wanted, and then insisting that the certification finish that day. And then the other is this 187 minutes and what Donald Trump was doing.

Now, I have had some reporting, CNN has had some reporting. We've all had dribs and drabs. But there is a 3-hour timeline that is something of a black hole, both about what Trump was doing and what activities he and his aides were taking in terms of getting the National Guard up to Capitol Hill. And if this hearing can answer those questions I think it would be really important.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, great to have you on this morning.

HABERMAN: Good to see you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much for coming in.

Space slam. How the James Webb telescope is holding up after being hit by a micrometeoroid.

KEILAR: Plus, the third Broadway show in three days announcing it is shutting down. What this means for the struggling theater industry.

And Madonna has found her material girl. Who is set to get into the groove for the icon's upcoming biopic?



KEILAR: This morning, NASA says a micrometeoroid collided with a giant mirror on the Webb telescope.

CNN's Rachel Crane is joining us now. What does this mean for the telescope and for its mission, Rachel? RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I just want to remind our viewers that this is a $10 billion asset of ours. It took two decades to develop this telescope, construct it, and launch it. So it is a huge asset of ours in the skies.

And NASA says that since its launch in December of 2021, it has been hit by four micrometeoroids. Now, NASA says that one of those four collisions happening between May 23 and May 25 -- had a direct collision with one of the -- one of the 18 primary mirrors.

NASA is saying that "The telescope is still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements despite a marginally detectable effect in the data."

Now, I just want to point out that NASA expected the James Webb telescope to encounter these kinds of collisions. Space, of course, is a harsh environment. You have charged particles from the sun that you have to deal with. And, of course, these micrometeoroids, in addition to harsh UV rays. So, space -- it's an incredibly difficult environment to survive.

The Hubble telescope, which has been up there for decades -- it's encountered hundreds of these collisions.

But NASA says that this particular collision was larger than they could have anticipated for. And James Webb -- it is able to adjust for these kinds of micrometeor showers that might happen, but they weren't able to detect that this one rogue micrometeoroid was going to make this collision.

NASA says that "We have designed and built Webb with performance margin -- optical, thermal, electrical -- to ensure it can perform its ambitious science mission even after many years in space."

Brianna, this all comes at a time when the first images from the James Webb telescope are set to hit us in just a month. So now those images will be even more hotly anticipated -- Brianna.

KEILAR: It certainly will be.

Rachel Crane, thank you so much for that.

Gas prices inching closer to $5 this morning, and inflation and economic uncertainty isn't just a U.S. problem. The World Bank's new warnings of a global stagflation.

BERMAN: Plus, CNN's Daniel Dale has a new fact check on Democratic claims about Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.



BERMAN: The Tony award-winning musical "Come From Away" announced it would take its final bow this October. This is now the third major Broadway show to announce it is closing this week alone following the closure of "Tina," the Tina Turner musical, and "Dear Evan Hansen."


MADONNA, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Singing "Material Girl."


BERMAN: Julia Garner may soon be the material girl. The "OZARK" and "INVENTING ANNA" star has reportedly been offered the role of Madonna in the upcoming biopic of Madonna directed by Madonna.


Theme song from "FULL HOUSE."


BERMAN: And finally, John Stamos breaks his silence on his late friend Bob Saget.