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CNN TONIGHT: DOJ Charges Oath Keepers Leader, 10 Others With Rare "Seditious Conspiracy" Allegations In January 6 Insurrection; Attorney For Oath Keepers Leader Charged With Sedition: "Very Serious Charges"; Supreme Court Blocks Biden Administration's Vaccine Rule For Large Businesses. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Hey, Anderson, thank you so much. Nice seeing you, as always.
And I am Laura Coates. And welcome to CNN TONIGHT.
Look, I'm not going to mince my words. This is a very big day. And we can't underscore that point enough. But I just want to take a step back, for a moment. And I want to kind of unpack, in a way we haven't before, exactly what has happened, today, and the significance of it.
Because one year, to the day, of former President Trump's second impeachment, based on, you recall, his alleged role, in inciting the Insurrection, on January 6, the one that attacked the very citadel of our democracy, because, you see, he didn't want to admit that he had lost the race, which he did.
Remember ever since then, and since Merrick Garland was sworn in, as the Attorney General of the United States, we know that he has been ridiculed, for his pacing, in the January 6 investigation.
I mean, you've heard it. You may have said it so yourself. "He's not moving fast enough. He's contemplative, to the point of paralysis. He's just going to let them all off the hook, just so that the Department of Justice is not still somehow perceived as political, as it was, under the prior administration."
And even though his DOJ, as you know, has charged more than what, 700 people, connected to the attack, and that's just so far, look, he's been well aware, of the frustrations, out there. He hears them.
He actually responded, last week, and he vowed that it was far from over. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The actions we have taken, thus far, will not be our last. The Justice Department remains committed, to holding, all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable, under law.
As long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: "As long as it takes." I bet some of you probably heard that, and a part of you, somewhere within you, you conflated this, Attorney General, with maybe a Robert Mueller, right?
You had the deja vu of them, Mueller years. Hope it's not too soon to mention him. And you've probably rolled your eyes, thinking that it might only be the minions, or a drawn-out process, and if it's the minions, then not the leaders, could be prosecuted, for the worst attack, on our democracy, in modern American history.
But he told you, "As long as it takes." And I bet you thought, it would take a much longer period of time, and it's still not over, but more would be coming.
Well, guess what? Here it is today. The first charges of seditious conspiracy have now been filed, in connection with the terror that we all saw, and witnessed, unfold at the Capitol. Now, this isn't against the President Donald Trump, or the then-President, and now-defeated President Trump, or any of his aides.
But these people, on the screen, they're not insignificant players, in the grand scheme of things. And the DOJ has just filed these charges against, as you're seeing, the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, and 10 other people.
So, this was not, by all accounts, in the indictment, well, it wasn't spontaneous, if you ever thought it was, and somehow you construct gallows, on the fly, and everyone just happened to be here, on January 6. Spontaneity did not respond, as your first thought here, was it?
It wasn't a crowd going wild, all of a sudden, unprompted, or a group of overzealous, what was the phrase, "Tourists," according to some members of Congress.
And, according to the DOJ, January 6, was highly and allegedly, organized, and also planned. They lay it all out in the indictment that was handed down, by a grand jury, yesterday, but not unsealed until today, which is why we're now just learning about it.
And these defendants, they're accused of conspiring, and organizing, into teams, quote, "Prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C."
I mean, they're accused of conspiring, with other people, to oppose, the fancy language, to force, the execution of the laws, governing the transfer of presidential power, a fancy way of telling you, trying to stop what we come to expect is the peaceful transition of power.
(VIDEO - GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS LEADER)
COATES: And this man, you're seeing on the screen, is the biggest fish of the 11.
(VIDEO - GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS LEADER)
COATES: And while we always talk about who's the biggest fish, who was it going to be? You're looking at him, the founder of the far-right militia, Oath Keepers.
And he's accused of all kinds of plotting. I mean, the indictment says that even on his way, to D.C., on January 3, he allegedly bought an AR platform rifle, and other firearms equipment. We're talking about sights, and mounts, and triggers, and slings.
Tourist? I think not.
And the DOJ says that he sent out a chat room message, get this, on November 5, which is two days, after the election, November 5, but even before the race had ever been called, saying, quote, "We aren't going to get - aren't getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body and spirit."
How can two days, after an election, be too late, for what, exactly? And talk of a civil war, on November 5, alone?
Look, these defendants are facing serious jail time, if convicted. But I bet some of you are surprised that the word "Treason" hasn't come up, which brings me to what I want to explain, about the difference, between treason and sedition.
And look, I know that a lot of people will use the term "Treason," colloquially, casually. "That's treasonous. This is treasonous behavior." And I get why we say that casually. But it's not a casual term.
It's a legal term that requires the government to prove something that someone has actually aided and abetted an actual enemy of the United States. And the way that's been interpreted, as a nation, is as how or who we are at war with. That's the enemy of the United States.
Now, we are politically divided. And no one can really argue that we are not, unfortunately. But we're not literally at war, under that definition, as it has been interpreted. And there's also a political angle, to this.
Because, the Founding Fathers, recall, they intentionally limited the application of that term, in the Constitution, because they were concerned that like the case in jolly old England, that this term, and this accusation, would be used, as a, some excuse, and opportunity, to silence opposition, and punish political dissent.
I mean, even Henry the Eighth had one of his wives executed, because they defined treason, so broadly, and so subjectively, to harm the king that apparently even allegations of adultery, somehow qualified.
But thankfully, in the United States of America, we don't have a king! And we don't want a king! And that history, the political issues, constricts the way we are able, or want to charge certain crimes. But seditious conspiracy? Well, that's a horse of a different color. In fact, it might surprise. It's a more serious crime, technically than insurrection.
And it's when two or more people conspire, the meeting of the minds, conspire to overthrow, or destroy, by force, the government. And what it is, is a definitive statement that those weren't tourists, after all.
So, where will this investigation go next? And how high-up the alleged conspiracy, are we really going to go?
Here, we got three key guests, tonight, as we take this news apart.
We have a lawyer for the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, who's also representing another defendant.
We also have Michael Fanone, who was a victim, of that rabid mob, and a former D.C. Police officer, who, we know, was injured, fighting them off that day, in protection, of everyone, inside of the Capitol.
But we begin with a member of the January 6 panel that issued Rhodes, a subpoena, back in November, that same month, where you heard that sort of chat about "Too late," and a "Civil war."
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, of California, welcome to CNN TONIGHT. I'm glad you're here. Thank you.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Thank you. Good evening.
COATES: Good evening.
And Congresswoman, it strikes people, first of all, to recall that there is the January 6 committee, of course, and there is the DOJ investigation. You're operating on really parallel tracks. But there is some intersection here, because you had subpoenaed Rhodes, as part of the committee, back in November.
What did you want to know then? And any idea of, and you can tell us, about why you identified him so quickly?
LOFGREN: Well, I can't get into all of that. But certainly, it became quickly apparent that Oath Keepers had played a role. And we wanted to learn a lot more about that. We did issue a subpoena to him.
I want to make clear that the Department of Justice investigation is separate from ours. Obviously, we're a legislative committee. We can't indict anybody. DOJ can. But it appears that we are looking at similar things, in some cases, including this one.
COATES: Was there any heads-up that was given? Or did you find out the news about these charges, like everyone else did, in the news today?
LOFGREN: I found out about it on the news. Actually, one of the committee members texted me the news. We've been in depositions, all day long, and - as we seem to be every single day. And so, we're plowing through the evidence. And I think this is a significant charge, that DOJ has made very serious charges.
COATES: And, on that point, and the idea - and I understand you guys are doing a lot of work, a lot of interviews, a lot of investigatory work, as part of your oversight and legislative function, Congresswoman.
And it strikes me, of course, I wonder if it is impacting, your ability, to convince, and persuade, if you are voluntarily seeking their cooperation, people who are now looking, at the DOJ charges, they may say to themselves, "Look, hold on! The legislative action in the Select Committee is one thing, giving testimony. But if what I say may be used against me now, in a court of law?"
Do you have concerns that the pacing, and the decisions, of the Department of Justice, might impact your ability, as a committee, to get the information you're seeking, from this point on?
LOFGREN: Well, so far, we've had, for the most part, good cooperation, from witnesses. Obviously, the few, who have stonewalled the committee, take up most of the new space. But the vast majority of people we've asked to speak to us have come in, to speak to us.
A few have asserted Fifth Amendment protection against prosecution. One of the things that we're considering is whether or not, and to seek use immunity, to require testimony, in some of those cases. We haven't made a decision on that.
We are proceeding very vigorously. There's a lot of information that we have received. But there's a lot more to find out. And we're working, as quickly as we can. We worked through the holidays. It is a very intense, investigative experience.
COATES: And Congresswoman, of course, for the audience, the idea of a use immunity essentially, is whether you're not going to be able to prosecute someone, in the future, if there is that motion to do so, and that nod, based on what they're telling you, in front of the committee, right now.
Are they getting protected, to make sure they can be, as forthright and candid, with you, and down the line, as possible? I'm curious, to see, how that actually plays out.
Final question for you, though, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, is that, a lot of focus, of course, for people - we talk about the audience of one.
But really, there's a focus of one, for so many Americans, who think to themselves, this entire committee, and you've been accused, as a committee, on this very notion that the whole focus is about the former President Donald Trump. Is the investigative committee, right now, looking, very broadly? And to what extent, do you think, the Oath Keepers are tied to the former President?
LOFGREN: Well, we're looking very broadly. I can't tell you what ties they have, if any, to the former President. But obviously, that's of interest.
Our goal is to find out everything that happened, leading up to the 6th. What was the plot? What happened on the 6th? And then, to take steps, to let the American people know, everything we've found out, and to recommend steps, legislation or administrative steps, so that this will never happen again. That's our mission.
COATES: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
LOFGREN: Thank you.
COATES: Up ahead, she was just talking about "Use immunity." I'm having flashbacks, of being a prosecutor, right now, trying to figure out who's going to get it, and who's not.
But ahead, reaction to these significant developments, from someone, who was attacked, at the Capitol, that day. Retired officer Michael Fanone, was badly beaten, and even suffered a heart attack.
I want to know what he makes, of these first charges, of seditious conspiracy. So, I'll ask him, next.
COATES: All right, now look, we can probably finally put one big distortion, from Trump World, to rest. Finally, at this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: "Oh, it was an insurrection!"
So how many of the participants in that insurrection have been charged with insurrecting, with sedition, with treason? Zero, by the Biden Justice Department.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: Thus, no one has been charged with sedition or insurrection. Most have been hit with charges, like parading. Parading! Who knew that was a crime?
MARK R. LEVIN, LAWYER, AUTHOR, & RADIO PERSONALITY: Has anybody been charged with sedition? Nobody. Has anybody been charged with treason? Nobody. So, why do they keep calling it an "Insurrection?"
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: How many times do words, like "Insurrection," "Sedition," or "Treason," appear in Biden's own DOJ indictments, against the January 6 rioters? The answer? Zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And how much they know about what they're talking about? The same thing. Nothing!
Let me tell you about this issue here. Of course, I've already explained, earlier in the show, as to why treason would not be charged. It would not be applicable, unless we were actually at war, and they were aiding and abetting, or getting some comfort to it.
But now the idea of sedition? Well, that actually is there now. And there are 11 people, 11 charges, right now, 11 people, who have been charged, excuse me, and members of the Oath Keepers, and associates, and they have now been charged. So, I hope that ends that line of inquiry. Something tells me it might not.
But the DOJ says that its indictment - in its indictment, they organized into two different groups, at the Capitol. And they're referred to one, as stack one, and the other, as stack two, as you see there.
Now, stack one, they joined a mob of people, some of whom attacked officers, law enforcement officers, using things, like pepper spray, and flag poles, and numerous improvised weapons, and projectiles.
And the other members, of what's called stack two, were standing nearby, according to the indictment, aggressively berating, and taunting, law enforcement officers, who were just guarding, the perimeter, of the Capitol Building, and threatened officers that were already outnumbered.
And even scarier, if it can be called that, the indictment says that the group had set up, what they call, quote, "Quick Reaction Force teams," off-site, who were prepared to rapidly transport firearms, and other weapons, into Washington, D.C.
Still think they're tourists?
Joining me now is one of the officers that was attacked that very day, former D.C. Metropolitan Police officer, and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Michael Fanone.
I'm happy to see you, Michael. But I'm sad to see you, under these circumstances, because this is not where we should be, and thinking about this. And yet, here we are, a year later, still talking about it. And I know you're personally reeling from it, as the nation is.
I want to hear, Michael, what is your reaction, to now hearing that there are sedition charges, against 11 people? What's your thought?
MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: Well, first, thanks for having me. Now, I think these charges confirm that the FBI has uncovered evidence that supports, what many of us who, were on the ground that day, defending the Capitol, witnessed firsthand.
That there were highly-organized groups, who were exploiting the chaos, of that day, and that the leaders of these extremist groups were intimately involved, in the planning, the preparation, and the training, of their members.
The charges also speak to the group's specific intentions, to interfere with, and impede Congress, from certifying the 2020 election. I also think they directly contradict the narrative that January 6 was some kind of wholly spontaneous event.
My familiarity, with these groups, is limited. I was a drug guy, in the department. But from what I do know, many of these groups ascribe to a nationalist, anti-government ideology. And these are the people that Donald Trump, and his political supporters, invited to into the Republican Party.
And I think while their efforts, to overtake the Capitol, proved unsuccessful, they have been successful, in holding the GOP hostage.
COATES: And, you've mentioned the idea, of your background, and working drug cases. Frankly, I think it's very transferable here. And I was a prosecutor, as well. And thinking about what your priorities are, and where you're looking at things.
And these conspiracy charges, as you know, you don't just go after, say, in a drug case, you don't just go after the person, who is the drug pusher. You want to go to the kingpin. You want to figure out who has been the decision-maker, who is delegating the different criminal activity, right?
And so, when you think about this, and think about how we're looking at the conspiracy, people who are, organizing it, I mean, what about your experience there, letting you say, "There's something here about the organization. This is something that was not spontaneous at all."
What about their activity led you to believe, in those moments, those harrowing moments, frankly, that this was a coordinated attack?
FANONE: I mean, it was clear to me that there was some degree of coordination, specifically at the Lower West Terrace tunnel. I mean, while there was, elements of spontaneity, there was also individuals there that clearly had prepared, for the events of that day.
They were wearing military-styled gear, Kevlar vests, Kevlar helmets. You don't bring those types of equipment, to a peaceful protest. You don't come equipped, with chemical irritants, with weapons, firearms. Those are just things that you don't bring, if your intention is peaceful protest.
COATES: I think you're right. And DOJ confirms that, at least today, in their thoughts, and a grand jury, more importantly, has now issued those indictments. Michael Fanone, thank you so much.
FANONE: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for having me.
COATES: When we come back, you're going to hear from a lawyer, for the founder of the Oath Keepers. We keep talking around it, and about it. But he actually is an attorney for him, who is - and they know they're now in very serious legal trouble.
So just, I'm curious, what will Stewart Rhodes' defense be? I mean, could this arrest lead to even maybe bigger names, in the Trump World orbit? Or is he the biggest fish, on the hook? Coming up, next.
COATES: So, the names of the Oath Keepers, arrested today, well, frankly, they may not mean much to you. Not a whole lot of name recognition for some people.
But I assure you that Stewart Rhodes, he is well-known in the MAGA world. He's been a regular speaker, at pro-Trump events, including another D.C., "Stop the Steal," rally that took place, less than a month before the January 6 attack.
And it's those connections that really make him a key witness, for the House Select Committee, as we talked about with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. But also, my next guest, represents Rhodes, in his conversations, with that very committee, as well as Rhodes' now, co- defendant, Kelly Meggs.
Jonathon Moseley, welcome to the show. How are you?
JONATHON MOSELEY, ATTORNEY FOR STEWART RHODES, ATTORNEY FOR KELLY MEGGS: Thank you. Good to talk to you.
COATES: I'm very eager to talk to you because it's, first of all, it's a very big day.
And to be very clear, you don't represent this defendant, on the criminal front. Just in terms of the committee. But they're on very parallel tracks, as I'm sure, you can imagine. And they probably want very similar information.
And I'd love to hear from you, what you anticipate the defense being? Because if they've got these Signal messages, if they're suggesting that he sent messages, even in November, long before the January attack, as well, that there is some notion of conspiracy? Are you concerned at all about what defense he possibly could mount?
MOSELEY: Well they're very serious charges. And let me say that nobody represents them on the criminal charges, because they just happened. So, there's that.
But there are very serious charges. When they go to trial, though one must put the entire document, or post the reported statement, before the jury, which is not what we see here.
So, I think their main defense, is going to be that some very serious things happened, like on the arch tunnel, what Michael Fanone was just saying, about the Lower West side Terrace, but that these aren't the guys, who did it.
Now, even the government says that they're accusing them of an organizational role. They admit that they did not commit any violence. They did not hurt any Police officer. They did not damage any property. What they're charging them is being conspirators, the organizers, or aiders and abetters, that sort of thing.
MOSELEY: And so, those are very serious charges.
MOSELEY: But we do believe they have to prove it. And I know from the documents that they have, they knew in last May and March that they came to be support services, for demonstration.
MOSELEY: So, the thing--
COATES: But on that point though? Excuse me, on that point, yes, they are - they are charged with conspiracy, which, of course, is a very serious crime. But we also know we're talking about ideas of having weapons in other places, in close proximity, if they need to have it all of a sudden.
I mean, your clients' own statements, in different chat rooms and messages, talks to about the issue of civil war, and about the idea of, essentially, the urgent behavior. And so, it's not like - I mean, if we're being realistic, here? It's not as if they were going there, to braid each other's hair, right?
They actually were - what was the role? Why do you think they were actually there? Was it to disrupt the government? Was it to take more violent action? Was it to - what was the reason they are telling you that they were actually there?
MOSELEY: There're about - there're about three reasons, which the government has well-documented, the prosecution, is that they wanted - they were providing security usher services, and whatever, for the peaceful demonstration, at the Ellipse.
They were coming to the Capitol for a permitted demonstration on lat eight (ph) that Alex Jones, and Ali Alexander, were going to have. That went off the rails, and didn't happen.
They also believed, and I don't pretend to understand this, but they thought that the President was going to invoke the Insurrection Act. And they might be called up in the nature of a militia. That sort of escapes my understanding. But they really did believe that it might come to that, that the President would call on them.
COATES: So, who? But who?
MOSELEY: But, in my opinion, they did--
COATES: I'm sorry. But who asked them? I want to get to your opinion. But I also want to focus on what they are saying.
Who told them to provide security? Are they acting under the direction of someone, in particular? Or were they volunteering and assuming, to provide it, in some way? Were they instructed?
MOSELEY: No, they were volunteers. But they were asked by - originally by Ali Alexander's event planning firm, to come to one event, and then they were redirected over to the Ellipse, for the "Women for America First" rally. And they were there, and were - well in their role, is to escort people, through the crowd, provide medical support, help with VIP people, that sort of thing.
COATES: I know you can't see me, Jonathon. And I - so, I'm frowning a little bit. And I want to tell you why I'm furrowing my brow, the way I am.
MOSELEY: All right.
COATES: And it's because I'm having a hard time believing the notion, just from seeing what the indictment says, and some of the documents that they believed they were only there, to provide security.
Because if you're looking at the Oath Keepers' own words, right? I mean, you've got January 6, after Trump was speaking, which, by the way, I think might actually emerge the benefit of Donald Trump.
"All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They've had enough."
Another time, on December 25, in a Signal message, and thread, it was, "There is going to be blood in the streets no matter what."
Another time, December 26, "Wait for the 6th when we are all in D.C. to insurrection."
Another time, in November, "You're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody - you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or a fight. The fight's coming."
He doesn't say "We're going to go ahead and help navigate people and escort them through a crowd." Doesn't that say to you that there were plans, in some way, to engage or at least expecting violent behavior?
MOSELEY: Well I see how someone can see it that way. But I'm going to demand that all of the entire conversation be in front of the court, when that comes out. COATES: Fair enough.
MOSELEY: Because I don't think a lot of these things are about what they intend, but lamenting the state of our - of our situation.
And the last time the Sedition Conspiracy Act was brought, in 2010? It failed. The judge threw it out saying just statements can't be a seditious - should - seditious conspiracy.
And I know what the prosecution has. They know that it's an ironclad lock that they were there to support the demonstrations that they've had permits.
But like I'm saying, they also believed that there could be a massive attack, by Antifa. And the middle word, in "Quick Reaction Force," is "Reaction." They also believe that the President might call on them, to be deputized, in effect, to deal with something out of control.
So, I don't get that. But that's what they thought. They thought that he was - that they might be asked, to step in, and they had all these weapons ready. But of course, the thing is, they didn't bring them into the District of Columbia.
MOSELEY: And the President didn't invoke the Insurrection Act. And they didn't - they didn't take it upon themselves.
COATES: Well, Jonathon, I understand your role, as an attorney. I've been there myself. And the idea of having to represent your clients. And I understand. And I'm not attributing these statements to you.
But we both know, as lawyers that, the idea of conspiracy means you have to take at least one step in furtherance in an overt act.
And the preparation, you're talking about? The idea of planning? The idea of assuming and preparing that you might be deputized by the President? And then, having guns placed somewhere that you could actually use them? These are things that are not - as we call them in the law, these are bad facts, for the client.
But we'll talk another day, as well. Jonathon Moseley, thank you for your time.
MOSELEY: Thank you.
COATES: We're going to turn now, to the major defeat today, for President Biden, on federal vaccine mandates, for businesses.
HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra, is here tonight.
So just the question is what can the Administration do now, to stop more waves of outbreaks, among the unvaccinated? Are they being hamstrung by the Supreme Court? And where is the government in its race to make testing and high-quality masks, available to all Americans, all who want them?
Secretary, up next.
COATES: Well, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow, to President Biden's anti-COVID efforts today. They've now blocked the Administration, from enforcing a nationwide vaccine or testing mandate, at large businesses.
And the Conservative Majority's reasoning? Well that the agency, known as OSHA, which oversees workplace safety standards, they had overstepped, saying, quote, "Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly."
And "Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category."
Now, notably, however, they are allowing a separate policy, remember, these cases were kind of heard, at the same time, a vaccine mandate, on some health care workers, to go into effect. And that's going to apply to those people, who work at facilities that receive federal funds. That's the hook weighing to get their authority there.
Joining me now is Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, who has been at the very forefront, of these legal battles.
I'm glad to see you. How are you, Secretary?
XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Good, Laura. Thanks for having me. Happy New Year!
COATES: Happy New Year!
And Happy New Year. But not a very happy day, when it comes to the idea of how the Administration plans to be able to enforce these mandates. It's been a very big pillar, in the Administration, and your efforts.
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision that "Look, you may have the power to regulate safety and business practices in any office. But this is a bridge too far."
BECERRA: Well, first, we are going to get to require that all those workers, in America, who are health care workers, who are dealing with patients, and risk themselves, and their colleagues, and those patients' lives, if we pass the COVID virus, around, there, we will be able to move forward. That is good news.
Disappointing news that the President's efforts to try to make sure workers, at these companies, with over 100 employees, are also required to vaccinate, didn't go through. And it's unfortunate, because, many of us believe the President has that authority, in these times of emergency. And it's unfortunate, because we know vaccines, save lives. Vaccines work. And not getting people vaccinated is putting not just themselves, but others in peril.
So, we'll move forward. And the President is leaning forward, in all of these measures, because his job is to make sure that the Americans are protected.
COATES: I mean, vaccines do save lives. There's indisputable evidence about that. And I know, that's very important, which is probably one of the reasons, where, for health care workers, maybe it made more sense, in the emergency context, this court.
I'm not going to get in the minds, of the Supreme Court Justices, at the moment, because I can tell you, I have confusion about a lot of their reasoning, most recently.
But they all - you are doing that - starting this Saturday, there is something happening. You're going to make sure that insurers are covering the at-home tests for free.
And this is important for people to understand, because I know that equity has been a big push, the vaccine equity, the idea of vaccine diplomacy, worldwide, but also what's happening here domestically.
So, how is this going to help to sort of helping those costs? These are expensive tests, right?
BECERRA: Well, and the cost should go down. And so, what the President has said is that one way or the other, if Americans want to get tested, and we want them to be tested, we're going to make them available.
So first, the President has said that, where you have private health insurance coverage, and you go out, and buy a test, you should be able to get reimbursed for having bought that test, the rapid test, if you want to do it at home.
Secondly, the President said, "Well, we know some folks in America are not yet insured." And so for those folks, through our broad span of community-based clinics, health clinics that we have in America, that are certified by the federal government, we will make 50 million of these tests available for free.
So, if you don't have insurance, or if you haven't been able to access them, in any other means, you can go to one of these clinics, and access that test, for free.
BECERRA: That's on top of now, what the President is saying that coming soon, through a website that will be established shortly, we're going to try to make available, up to 500 million tests, to Americans, for free. In fact, this week, the President announced he's going to boost that up to a billion tests, over the course of the next several months.
So, he's doing everything he can, to make sure that one, we have all the vaccines, we need, two, we have the tests, we need, three, we have the therapeutics, we need, and four, we got to make sure people are masked, as well. We're going to do everything we can, to help there.
COATES: I mean, the costs are ridiculous. I mean, I know, I ordered the KN95 masks for my children. It was going to take 10 days, costing $68. I remember the price, for like 25 masks.
And the idea of thinking about the cost of the testing, I mean, for those lucky enough to find the tests, you're talking about? They range from 10 bucks to 50 bucks a pop. And you're talking about the amount of times you have to actually do it. It's very important.
And one of the concerns people have? And I'm not going to undermine the fact that this is being done right now. But there is a question, from people, as to why is it just being done now?
I mean, this was foreseeable, because you went from vaccine-curious, to then vaccine-hesitancy, to vaccine-reluctance, to really vaccine- refusal. So, we knew that there's going to be an issue to have, this still lingering, in our society.
Why didn't - why weren't the actions sooner? Can you explain?
BECERRA: So remember, Laura, that unlike the vaccine, these tests have been available, for quite some time. In fact, the PCR tests, which are the tests that you send into the lab, to get the results, have been available, for quite - and they were sitting around. People weren't using them.
But what's happened now is Omicron. Including people, who are vaccinated, like you, like me, are getting tested, and want to get tested. And the result is you have a much higher demand.
And so, the commercial market, where these tests have been available, hasn't kept pace. And the President said, "That's unacceptable." The commercial market, which is supposed to be able to meet demand, hasn't done so.
So, what he has done, is he has put the force of the federal government, behind the effort, to try to get us those masks faster, whether it's by getting people reimbursed, for those, they buy commercially, or by making them available, as I said, either through these community health clinics, or through the process of getting 500 million new tests, out there, very quickly, over the next several weeks and months, to people who want them, and go online, on a website that we'll establish very, very shortly.
COATES: That's important, because I know, I mean, I don't - I can't pretend to know the entire Greek alphabet.
But I know there are probably at least five more letters, and each wanting to name a variant, at some point, which I hope never happens. But hope there'd be preparedness, on this next round, thinking about what to do next now. Hopefully, past is prologue.
Secretary Becerra, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
BECERRA: Thank you. Appreciate it too.
COATES: Less than 300 days from now, less than 300 days from now, Republicans could win back control of the House. And if they do, what then?
We have new reporting on what they are already planning. And Van Jones, on what it means, up next. There he is.
COATES: Republicans, as you know, could take back the House, and the Senate, in the midterm elections. And GOP leaders are already talking about well, what would come next, if they did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): There will be a lot of oversight and investigations. And we shouldn't predetermine where that's going to go. But let's get facts out, and finally start having real accountability.
We're going to be working hard, to get to the bottom of facts and transparency, so we can hold people accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, it's curious because this drive for accountability wasn't - well wasn't present during the Trump years, was it? But all of a sudden, well, here we are!
As my colleagues, here at CNN, report, there is an onslaught of probes, being plotted, in the run up to 2024.
Far-right members are already talking about impeachment proceedings, new investigations into Biden's son, Hunter, and shifting the narrative, on January 6, focusing solely, on security failures, also the origins of COVID, and more.
I don't quite hear the legislative component of any of these things. And I remember civics that that's the legislative branch. But maybe I'm just too nitpicky about how this goes down. It's like "Retaliation" now is the name of the game.
So, where does that leave us? Well, Van Jones is here. I'm glad to see him.
Van, how are you doing? VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm doing well. But I'm very concerned about where we're headed, as a country, at this point.
COATES: I can't imagine why, or I absolutely can. And here's the reason why, Van. I mean, we just heard essentially, we're hearing more and more, is the platform, retaliation? Because that's not going to do much for the nation.
JONES: No, it's not. And Kevin McCarthy, I think people sometimes forget, he actually used to be a real leader. I'm not just talking about when he stood up against Donald Trump, and called out the - his role in the Insurrection.
Before that, Kevin McCarthy was a responsible conservative. And then, there was a rebellion, in his party, to his right, that pushed him out of the way, in favor of somebody else becoming Speaker of the House. And he stopped being a leader, and has now become a follower.
He is following the worst elements in his party. He's so afraid that if he doesn't throw out this kind of red meat, and this sort of stuff, that he's not going to become Speaker, that he has stopped being a leader, he's now a follower. And it's really shocking to see.
I know Kevin McCarthy. The idea that he's going to say, "I'm going to come into power, and all I'm going to do is retaliate and attack the Democrats, and not help the American people," is really shocking and disappointing.
COATES: Well, I mean, to say the least. And you mentioned that.
And I remember seeing Steve Scalise, just now, on the screen as well. We remember. I mean, he was unfortunately the victim of a violent attack, shot at a congressional baseball game.
And there was talk then, about the idea of division, about what it be would like to come together, the idea of why political rhetoric can go awry, and be fatal, or this deadly, at least in the attempt.
But you mentioned the idea of the quest for power. And that's where I think people need to really understand what's going on here, Van. Because it's not about the idea of the GOP, simply regaining the majority. What you describe is the idea of the - the idea of the concession, and going along, to be able to get power.
But then, the question is, once you have the power? So, say, he becomes the leader, and the House Speaker, well what do you plan to do with it? Again, retaliation is not a platform. It's a verb. It's a - well it's really a noun. But retaliating is the verb.
COATES: Is that the plan?
[21:55:00] JONES: Listen, I hope that if he does get the opportunity, to be Speaker of the House that, he looks in the mirror, and says he's, third in line, for the presidency, in a country, with a bunch of problems.
We have an ecological crisis. We have an economic crisis. We have a crisis - we have violence, breaking out, in shocking ways, in different parts of the country. And we actually need some real leadership.
And "I'm going to be the best person to throw food in the food fight?" That's really disappointing.
Look, I think a lot of Americans, are looking, at the entire political class, right now, and wondering, "Where is the leadership going to come from?"
JONES: Kevin McCarthy knows better. It's sad to see what he's doing right now.
COATES: It is. And it's sad, really not just for one party, but really, the nation, because democracy is not a spectator sport. We're all in it.
Van Jones, thank you. Nice to see you.
JONES: Good to see you, as well.
COATES: I'll chat with Don, next.
COATES: Hey, thanks for watching. I'll be back tomorrow.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: You know?
COATES: Hey, Don Lemon?
LEMON: Hey? You know what I've been surprised, to see, Laura?