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Jennifer Granholm is Interviewed about Oil Supplies; Election Lies Became Big Business. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 15, 2022 - 08:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: To run again as president of the United States considering the reports that are coming out and considering my eyes and my ears, I can hear him and I can see him every single day.

And as someone who is -- my mother is -- will be 80 this year, I doubt that she would want to be president of the United States. And she is a sharp woman. And so I think we need to really think about that. Younger people being more involved in the political process. Younger people, of course, can be involved in the political process. But we need to think about, at a certain time in one's life, perhaps they should think about that. And that includes Donald Trump as well, who is not far behind the current president of the United States.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've also seen you on social media, Don. This --

LEMON: Wait, wait. Hang on. And -- and I think liberals -- hold on, this is -- you're putting up the LeBron thing. But liberals need to stop having a double standard when it comes to questions that we can ask Democrats and questions that we can ask Republicans.

I reported a number of times, many times, on Donald Trump's fitness for office. And it is OK. And it is OK and expected for journalists to report on the current president's fitness for office. Whether that president is a Democrat or a Republican, we have to have the same standards for both.

Sorry about the -

BERMAN: No, no, no. Look, I just was trying to give you a little promo for this video you had with LeBron James, which is incredibly compelling.


BERMAN: Just tell people what it is.

LEMON: This is LeBron James's show called "The Shop." It is - Uninterrupted is the production company. It's (INAUDIBLE) production company, NPR, a Republican - a company, a production company. And they asked me to be part of this program called "The Shop." And these are conversations that I would love to have a lot more of here on CNN, the conversation that we're having now. And it is just no holds barred. And we talk about issues of the day.

Amy Schumer talked about being a comedian in this climate, where people are being canceled just for making jokes, where people are getting slapped and attacked on stage. She talked about that. We talked about the role of journalists in the society. And I - I had to inform them that we no longer live in a Walter Cronkite society where there are three major networks and just a couple of major newspapers around the country. That people - that us, as anchors, have different roles depending on what we do. If I was an anchor on a broadcast network, I would not be able to give my point of view as much, and nor would I feel the need to be able to give my - to have to give my point of view as much as I do now. But I'm a cable news anchor and I'm on, unscripted pretty much, for two hours every single day and then eight minutes in the morning, which you said Madonna is --

BERMAN: I think it's a lot more than eight minutes at this point, just to be clear.

KEILAR: I think we're going on nine and a half, Don.

LEMON: And so not giving your point of view and not stating the truth and not really standing up for what is right and I think is an imperative. And so I would like to be able to have those conversations much more.

And I also like to inform them that, you know, during the time that they were - you know, this time that people are being so romanticizing about journalists is that there were no journalists on television who even looked like me. So, we live in a different time now where it is OK to give your point of view, but one must be factual about the things that we are telling the American people and putting in front of the American people.

BERMAN: It was just - it was an incredibly compelling discussion that you had with them. You are my favorite character in that show, just to be clear.

LEMON: Even more than LeBron James?


LEMON: But one -- one thing we did come to a consensus about --

KEILAR: We need to explore that another time.

BERMAN: No, it just - I -- that says more about my affection for Don.

And, you know what, Don?


BERMAN: We're going to leave it there.

LEMON: I know. We are. But let me tell you, we have to --

BERMAN: Then, we're not leaving it there, to be clear. LEMON: Just - we have -- we cannot have a false sense of equivalency

about what is happening when it comes to politics in our country. There's one party, right now, that's not operating in fact. That has been misleading the American people. And that is the Republican Party, sadly, of which I used to be a member of the Republican Party years ago. I'm not a member of any party right now, but we have to -- we cannot pretend as journalists that it is equal. It is not.

Democrats are doing their Democrat thing and they're being, you know, liberal and they want all these things, but that's the way normal politics operates. And you -- we can deal with those things. But what the Republican Party is doing now and not standing up for our democracy and being quiet, that is very dangerous. We cannot have all of -- we cannot fight all of these things and make a better world and do what Larry Summers told me last night about getting our economy together if we don't have a functioning democracy. And so we, as journalists, need to stand up for that and not pretend that it's -- that we can both sides this. This is not a both sides thing.

BERMAN: You want to hear a lot more of this, right? You can watch Don Lemon on "DON LEMON TONIGHT" at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

LEMON: Are we going to leave it there?

BERMAN: Well, we left it there before. We tried to leave it there before, but that didn't work out.

KEILAR: You didn't get off the train.

BERMAN: Don, listen, thank you so much.

LEMON: I love you guys.


LEMON: You guys are the best. It's so good to see you.

BERMAN: Nice to see you in person.

LEMON: You, you know.

BERMAN: He doesn't -

LEMON: We'll always have the -


LEMON: We'll always have the b (ph), John.

KEILAR: I'm here. Don's here. No coincidence.

BERMAN: Only new (ph).

All right, new this morning, President Biden penning a letter to the major oil refinery companies in an effort to address rising gas prices. [08:35:00]

The energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, joins us next.


BERMAN: New this morning, CNN has obtained a letter President Biden sent to the major oil companies, including Shell, Exxon, BP, trying to pressure them to help reduce prices. And the implication seems to be do it or else. He writes, quote, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly on to American families are not acceptable. He also writes, I am prepared to use all tools at my disposal as appropriate to address barriers to providing Americans affordable, secure energy supply.

Joining me now is Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

All tools at his disposal. What tools specifically?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, John, I mean, you have heard talk about a variety of actions that Congress could take. The Defense Production Act has been on the table that the president has been using in other context. He -- but he wants to hear -- the reason why he wrote this letter is because he wants to hear from these refining entities about why was it, for example, when oil was $120 a barrel in March, and we paid about $4.25 a gallon, but today, when oil is the same price on a global market, we're paying over $5 a gallon?


What's causing that 75-cent delta?

We know that, as you noted earlier in the show, that capacity has come offline, refining capacity. But even between March and today, we are seeing these massive profit - this massive profit taking on the part of refiners. And so the president is calling both upon production of oil to increase in the United States and around the world, and he's calling upon refinery capacity to increase. And he's calling them to a meeting to say, what can we do to help make that happen?

BERMAN: When we talk about the tools, you mentioned some of the proposals being discussed in Congress.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat, has suggested a 21 percent surtax on excess profits from the oil companies. Is that one of the tools the president supports?

GRANHOLM: It is a tool. I'm not saying the president has made a decision about what he would support. He wants to hear from the companies first. But we know that that has happened, obviously, in the U.K.

And let me just remind everybody who's watching, that this question of refining capacity and oil production are both global issues. Global refining capacity has come offline. And we know that due to the war in Ukraine, Russia's ability to export millions of barrels of oil has also come offline because countries like the United States have rightfully said, we are not going to buy Russian oil.

And so the president has -- is looking at every tool always. And the biggest tool he has, of course, is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And he is releasing 1 million barrels per day. But it's not enough to account for the amount of oil that has been pulled offline due to the invasion of Ukraine.

And now it's summer driving season, John. And as you know, historically, during summer driving season, prices have gone up because demand has increased. We're also seeing that with China coming out of Covid, we will see another increase in demand globally.

But if you were in -- if you were in Brazil, you'd be paying the same amount for gas at the pump, over $5. If you were in Canada, you'd be paying over $6. If you were in Germany, you'd be paying over $8.

BERMAN: Understood. Understood, Secretary. We're talking about the United States, though.

GRANHOLM: So, this is happening around the world.

BERMAN: We're talking about the United States right now and what the president can do.


BERMAN: And I just want to be crystal clear about this, it's possible, you're saying, that he would support a surtax on excess profits from oil companies?

GRANHOLM: I'm just saying that no tool has been taken off the table and he wants to hear from the refineries, the companies who are doing refining, to see what is the bottleneck and how we can increase supply. And he's also asking, of course, for the oil and gas industry to increase supply as well by drilling more. They are about 100 rigs shy of what they were before Covid. They need to increase supply.

There was a study -- there was a study yesterday that came out of Reuters and it said that while the profits in the first quarter were record profits --

BERMAN: Do you want -- can I ask --

GRANHOLM: Were record profits, we also know that they returned about $9.5 billion to shareholders. If they had even taken half of that, we're not against profit, obviously, they've taken just half of that and reinvested it in supply, we would see hundreds more rigs, we would see hundreds of thousands more barrels of oil. We're asking them to be in this era, where we're on a war footing, to consider increasing supply, both domestically and, of course, internationally.

BERMAN: Do you want - do you want - do you -- five years from now, ten years from now, are you telling me you want them drilling for more oil, you want the refineries putting out more gasoline in five or ten years? GRANHOLM: What we're saying is today we need that supply increased. Of

course, in five or ten years - actually, in the immediate, we are also pressing on the accelerator, if you will, to move toward clean energy so that we don't have to be under the thumb of petro dictators like Putin or at the whim of the volatility of fossil fuels.

Ultimately, America will be most secure when we can rely upon our own clean, domestic production of energy through solar, through wind, through -

BERMAN: But that's the problem for these companies. These companies are saying, you know, you're asking me to do more now, invest more now, when, in fact, five or ten years from now we don't think that demand will there be. And the administration doesn't even necessarily want it to be there.

Just one last question on Saudi Arabia. The president is going to Saudi Arabia, where we understand he will be meeting with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Is there any kind of promise beforehand that the Saudis will increase production?

GRANHOLM: No. No, there's no promise beforehand. He's - no, there's not.

And let me just say, John -- John, I mean we're -- we really want to see us move to clean energy, but we also need to see this increase right now. And we are asking the oil and gas companies as well to diversify and make sure that part of -- that they become diversified energy companies, to be able to produce other means of clean energy because they have huge, deep pockets, they have a big ability to invest in the future, as well as investing right now so that we don't see oil and gas causing the inflation numbers and people being hurt every day.


BERMAN: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, I do appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you very much.

GRANHOLM: You bet.

BERMAN: We will hear more testimony from some of former President Trump's closest allies, directly undercutting his claims about election fraud. A "Reality Check" is next.


KEILAR: Many of former President Trump's closest allies turning on him in testimony before the January 6th committee. So, why did they wait so long to tell the truth about the 2020 election?

John Avlon with our :Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So, there's a classic Chris Buckley novel called "Thank You for Smoking." It's about a lobbyist for big tobacco named Nick Naylor who goes on TV and lies to defend his clients. It sounds like you actually believe this stuff, he's asked.


It pays the mortgage, Nick says. He offered this rationalization so many times now that it was starting to take on the ring of a Nuremberg Defense, I was only paying the mortgage, Chris Buckley writes.

It's a timely reminder to follow the money, whenever self-interest collides with the facts. Which brings us back to the January 6th committee.

Now, we have seen multiple senior Trump officials testify that the ex- president had lost the election, they told him. It's getting to the point that the only people defending Trump's baseless claims are those folks who refuse to testify under oath. But it's worth noting that even some of the Trumpists who dubbed themselves team normal for recognizing the reality of the election in private were often amplifying the big lie in public just days after the election.

For example, campaign manager Bill Stepien testified that he told Trump there was just a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of flipping enough key states to win the election. But here's what he said on a conference call the night after Trump falsely claimed victory in Pennsylvania.


BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Numbers and data, not gut or spin. We did that yesterday. We're going to do it today.

We will win Pennsylvania. I have as much confidence today as I had yesterday as I had last week.


AVLON: Likewise, senior adviser Jason Miller testified that he brought in the campaign data guy to tell Trump the jig was up. But that didn't stop him from fluffing the big lie on Fox.


JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Whether it's in the recount process or as we go through the constitutionality of some of the elections that were held at the state level, that absolutely some of these states could change.


AVLON: So, why would someone tell the truth in private, but lie in public? Well, the answer, at least in large part, is the partisan economy.

Now, keep in mind that the total cost of the 2020 elections was 14.4 billion. And that's more than double the amount from four years before, according to the watchdog group Open Secrets. You see, it's doled out along partisan lines, meaning that political

operatives livelihood depends on picking a side and sticking to it, causing group think to congeal. It's their party, right or wrong.

Which was a convenient rationalization during the Trump years because it turns out that the big lie is big business. Now, according to the January 6th committee, Trump raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars by treating his true believers like rubes (ph), with appeals to donating to an election defense fund, which apparently never even existed. He shifted much of the cash into a Save America PAC, which gave a million dollars to a chief of staff's charity and a loyalist think tank, $5 million went to event planners, and more than $200,000 on Trump hotels. But little spent on proving non-existent mass voter fraud.

Now, the DOJ has been cracking down on some of the so-called scam PACs lately. It's a variation of one ensnared Steve Bannon. But there's no telling whether the same legal standards will be extended to the ex- president. The main point is that the promise of cashing in on this partisan gravy train was enough to stop most people from speaking out, until they were compelled to do it.

So, Bill Stepien testified that he separated from Trump after the election because his actions were not honest or professional. But Stepien still pockets 10k a month from the Save America PAC and 12 of his 15 federal candidates this cycle are vocal backers of the big lie, according to reporting from "Puff Post" (ph) reporters SV Date (ph) and Jennifer Bandrew (ph).

And that's just one high-profile example, right? The big lie is self- reinforcing. It's been sold to the base, which controls most partisan primaries. And so candidates and consultants alike continue to coddle the big lie, even though most know it's bogus and dangerous to our democracy.

So it's not really surprising that more than $100 GOP primary winners this year are backers of the big lie. The incentive structure is all screwed up. Fear and greed are driving our democracy into a ditch and professional partisans are content to let it happen so long as they get paid.

It's not just party over country, it's money over country.

And that's your "Reality Check."

KEILAR: It is big business.

John Avlon, thank you so much for that.

Soon, the Federal Reserve is expected to take its most aggressive step to tame inflation.

BERMAN: And the FDA meets today on Covid vaccines for children younger than five. What parents need to know, ahead.


BERMAN: Time now for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

In just a few hours, the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates by up to three quarters of a point. That's a lot. It's a bid to slow down inflation. It will be the largest hike in nearly three decades.

KEILAR: New this morning, President Biden taking aim at big oil, demanding immediate action from seven major oil companies to boost supply.

BERMAN: Chilling words from former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. A long-time Putin ally asking, quote, who said that in two years Ukraine will even exist on the world map.

KEILAR: And police say the man charged with plotting to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was convinced to call 911 on himself by his sister as he stood nearby Kavanaugh's home in Maryland.

BERMAN: FDA advisers are meeting today on expanding the Moderna and Pfizer Covid vaccines to include children as young as six months old. At this point, children under five are the only U.S. age group not eligible to get the vaccine.

KEILAR: So those are "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." We'll have more on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Just go to And you can also find it wherever you get your podcasts.

BERMAN: I know someone who's been waiting for those Covid vaccines for people younger than five.

KEILAR: I know. I have been waiting forever.


I'm ready. I've got the strategy. Three shots, we learned, three. I'm ready to go.

BERMAN: And one truck, right?

KEILAR: Three trucks, 99 cents Hot Wheels. It will be the best $2.97 I've ever spent. That's how we're getting through it.

And CNN's coverage continues right now.