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CNN TONIGHT: 1/6 Committee: Trump Campaign Fundraised Off False Fraud Claims, "The Big Lie Was Also A Big Rip-Off"; Attorney General Garland: "I Am Watching" All Hearings And Can "Assure You" January 6 Prosecutors Are, Too; 31 People Tied To White Supremacist Group Arrested Near Pride Event In Idaho. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 13, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.
I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
Look, there is a difference between believing something, and wanting it to be true. See, Donald Trump, wanted it to be true that he won the 2020 election.
And he wanted it to be true that Fox News had not called Arizona for Joe Biden.
And he wanted it to be true that his hand-picked Attorney General would come out publicly, and say that there was widespread voter fraud that would ultimately overturn the election results.
And he wanted it to be true that Rudy Giuliani's wild suggestion that he proclaim victory, before all the votes were even counted, would not be challenged by his campaign manager, or any of his advisers, a group we learned today was apparently on something called "Team Normal."
And he wanted it to be true that someone stole a second term from him. Not that he just lost the election.
Now, these are things that he wanted to be true. But, as I said, there's a difference between believing something, and wanting it to be true.
Now, the Committee, today, set out, to try to show the American electorate that Trump couldn't possibly have actually believed any of the things, he wanted to be true.
Not when adviser, after campaign manager, after campaign lawyer, after Deputy Attorney General, after Attorney General, after Secretaries of State specifically told him that none of it was true, and told him more than once, and for months, that the "Emperor had no clothes on."
Now, testimony, from some of the people, closest to the ex-President that builds a case that Trump was well aware that he lost the election, but went ahead, anyway, with a sham to scam the American people.
They walked us through, who had Trump's ear, on Election Night and beyond, and who he turned a deaf ear to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: The mayor was definitely intoxicated.
There were suggestions by, I believe it was, Mayor Giuliani, to go declare victory and say that we'd won it outright.
BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It was far too early, to be making any calls, like that. Ballots - ballots were still being counted.
IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: I don't know that I had a firm view as to what he should say, in that circumstance. The results were still being counted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever share, Mr. Kushner, your view of Mr. Giuliani? Did you ever share your perspective about him with the President?
JARED KUSHNER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what you said.
KUSHNER: "Basically, not the approach I would take if I was you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: But, as you know, Trump did take the Giuliani approach against the advice of his son-in-law, though he seemed quite likely to tell anyone that, and some other top advisers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: But perhaps the most compelling witness of all, today, was Trump's former Attorney General, Bill Barr, expounding much further on his, quote, "Bullshit," unquote, assessment of what his boss, at the time, had been spewing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I told him that the stuff that his people were shoveling out to the public were bull - was bullshit. I mean, that the claims of fraud were bullshit.
Which was complete nonsense. And it was being laid out there, and I told him that it was - it was crazy stuff.
I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with - he's become detached from reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: But whether Trump was detached from reality or not, these election lies were allegedly attached to the bank account of many Trump supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): The Trump campaign used these false claims, of election fraud, to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, from supporters, who were told, their donations were for the legal fight, in the courts. But the Trump campaign didn't use the money for that. The Big Lie was also a Big Rip-off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, not only is the Committee accusing Trump, of trying to dupe his base, into believing that he was robbed, of a second term, in office.
The panel is accusing his campaign, of using those lies, to swindle his own supporters, out of money, for his legal fight, money that was allegedly not even allocated to that at all. "The Big Rip-off," as Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, calls it.
Now, right after the hearing, she told CNN that she thinks Trump, and his family, personally, personally benefited, from some of those donations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOFGREN: We know that Guilfoyle was paid, for the introduction, she gave, at the speech. I mean, on January 6, she received compensation for that.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN HOST, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER: But is that a - is that a crime?
LOFGREN: I'm not saying it's a crime. But I think it's a grift.
$60,000 for two and a half minutes. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, I'm a lawyer, so I don't do math, unless I'm billing someone. But that's $400 a second that Guilfoyle was allegedly paid.
So, what will the accounting, the committee seeks, end up being? Let's be clear. Accountability for a congressional committee, is not the same thing as a criminal prosecution. So, what exactly is the committee's endgame here? She didn't even want to call it a crime.
So, is the endgame to lessen the division, and maybe unify the electorate, at least on one crucial point? That our elections are free and fair, and that 2020 was no exception? Or is the endgame, perhaps, to effectively disqualify Trump, from a future run, at least in the mind of his supporters?
Or maybe to persuade the DOJ to pick up where they've left off? I mean, after all, someone very important has been watching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am watching, and I will be watching all the hearings.
And I can assure you that the January 6 prosecutors are watching all the hearings, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Or maybe it's to secure the buy-in from both chambers of Congress, to make new laws, or even beef-up existing laws, so where the Electoral College certification process, is not vulnerable to a future power grab. And, I mean, by either party.
I'm joined now by a member of the House Select committee, Congressman Pete Aguilar.
Congressman, thank you for being here, tonight. Nice to see you.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Thanks for having me.
COATES: I am asking about what the endgame is. It seems quite clear that there's a lot of information, coming out, about the fact that the Big Lie was actually much larger, in magnitude, and scope, than even people thought.
But what is the endgame for the committee? What is the legislative hook, you want people to know?
AGUILAR: Well, our responsibility, our task, and our job is to tell the truth, and to find out what happened, on January 6, and the lead up to January 6. That is our task and our responsibility.
We will develop legislative recommendations, as a part of that. Changes, like you highlight, to whether its campaign finance laws, or the Electoral Count Act, could be included, as suggestions. But our job, right now, is to tell the story, specifically, what happened on January 6, and what led up to it.
COATES: And it's unfolding, and how Congressman? I mean, the idea, one of the accusations, the notion that what's now gone from The Big Lie, to The Big Rip-off, do you suggest that there has been a criminal offense here?
AGUILAR: Well, that's going to be for the Department of Justice to decide. Our job is to - is to tell this story, and to tell the truth. We've done an amazing job, over 1,000 interviews, hundreds of thousands of documents.
And these public hearings will be the product of all of that hard work. And so, that's what we're focused on right now, to the extent that other federal agencies are watching, and tuning in. As you showed, the Attorney General say, that's positive, that's good. But our task and our responsibility is to just singularly tell the truth.
COATES: So, the way you've gone about it, it almost had the documentary style, you're drawing from different videotape statements, also live testimony? It's obviously been broken down, between different members of the committee.
What do we expect to come next? We were told, today, the big cliffhanger essentially, is bringing in the Eastman memo, the work that was done, attempts to try to corrupt the Department of Justice. What's next?
AGUILAR: Well, we're going to highlight the different pressure campaigns that the former President undertook, in order to accomplish his task, his goal. And his goal was to ensure that there was not a peaceful transfer of power.
So, he pressured, even his own Vice President, we will tell that story, as well as using - his use of the Department of Justice, to try to meet his needs, to rerun elections, and to ensure that they set aside President Biden, winning key contested states.
COATES: Do you have concerns that by focusing on the former President that there will be this thought that the committee is trying to get a second bite at the apple of the second impeachment hearing? How do you convince people that this is not a partisan exercise, keeping in mind that the focus has largely and primarily been about Donald Trump?
AGUILAR: Because we use the multimedia, and we tell the story, through the eyes of those individuals, who were around the former President. So, this isn't just a committee, saying things.
This is individuals who were there, whether it was rioters and insurrectionists, or whether it was people, working in the White House, corroborating exactly what we found. So, we feel that that's clear and compelling. We feel that that will capture the attention of the American public. And based on the viewership, of the first hearing, we think it was a success. And so, we plan to continue, to roll out different aspects of that story. This is all about stitching together, different pieces of the puzzle that tell the full and complete story.
COATES: Will we hear from or about members of Congress, and I mean, sitting members of Congress, who may have played a role?
AGUILAR: Yes, we - Vice Chair Liz Cheney did talk specifically about pardons that were sought, by members of Congress, that those details will be contained within future hearings.
The role of some of our colleagues, here, in Congress, to thwart democracy, and to try to stop a peaceful transfer of power, is definitely a thread that we will continue to talk about, throughout these hearings.
COATES: And we'll see where it leads. Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you so much.
AGUILAR: Thank you.
COATES: Republican senator Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump, politically, for inciting an insurrection, he said today that he didn't think the hearings have included, any major revelations.
Do my next guests agree? Why do you think, and what do you think, is yet to come, from the committee? And do you think that any of these findings, everyone, is going to lead to that pull thread he's talking about? I mean, we'll talk about that, when CNN TONIGHT returns.
COATES: "Team Normal" versus "Team Crazy." Those were the two groups that former Trump campaign manager, Bill Stepien, says were advising Donald Trump, in the days after the election.
And apparently, he wasn't alone, in the assessment. One by one, a number of well-known Republicans testified, before the January 6 panel, today, having the same sentiment that Trump knowingly pushed election fraud lies, and he did so, in large part, for profit.
I'm going to get some perspective, from political insiders, like Michelle Cottle, and Kasie Hunt, and Scott Jennings.
I'm glad that you're all here. I've got to know your reaction to what you heard today, because we went from the headline of the Big Lie to now the Big Rip-off. Did that set well with you?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR CAMPAIGN COMMS ADVISER TO SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, I was stunned at the amount of money that Guilfoyle made, for that speech. I'm sorry, I mean!
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Don't you want to be paid for all the seconds, Scott?
JENNINGS: I mean, I mean, I got to--
HUNT: I mean, the words coming out of your mouth, right now--
JENNINGS: I got to renegotiate.
HUNT: Call your--
JENNINGS: I mean--
HUNT: --call the bosses.
JENNINGS: Yes but that - but that is a startling thing. And I'll be--
JENNINGS: --if I were like Donald Trump, or around Donald Trump, right now, my eyebrows would be raised, like "Who is profiting off of me?" So, that caught my attention, today.
The other thing that caught my attention, though, was the fact that you had really credible people. Bill Stepien, who I know, professional, credible guy, the Attorney General, Jason Miller, I mean, all these people were saying, "Look, we don't - we don't know what's going to happen. They're still counting the votes or whatever," and he was venue shopping.
It struck me, as someone, who has really spent, their entire life, being told "Yes," by everybody they encounter, and constructing a world of "Yes." And all of a sudden, you have these political people saying "No," and he wouldn't accept it.
MICHELLE COTTLE, EDITORIAL WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes.
HUNT: But the thing is so all of them were up there, today, saying "We're members of Team Normal."
HUNT: Right? This is what Bill Stepien says. And had I evaluated Mr. Jennings, here, who's a political operative? Bill Stepien? I've covered these people, for my entire career. I would have said all of them were on Team Normal, that they were running normal campaigns against Democrats, because they believe different things, and thought the country should be run a different way.
HUNT: But all of those people stayed, until the very end.
We spent four years, covering this presidency, where - I mean, think about what had happened, before you get to the point, where Bill Stepien finally says, "I have to walk away. This is too much." And even when he does walk away, he doesn't do it in public. He doesn't tell anybody about it.
I mean, General Milley had marched across Lafayette Square, while protests were being - protesters were being tear-gassed. I mean, the number of things that happened, and so many Republican members of, quote-unquote, "Team Normal," justified it.
COTTLE: Well that's?
HUNT: I'm sorry, they did like they--
COTTLE: That's an important thing to remember is that Team Normal is also Team Chicken. They knew what was going on, and they couldn't bring themselves--
HUNT: At the very least, they were seen enabling.
COTTLE: --to do anything about it, to stop what even Bill Barr said, is doing a grave disservice to the country. So?
COATES: The question is why? I mean, is it a political hack (ph)?
HUNT: Because they thought that they--
COATES: Is it about of self-preservation?
HUNT: Some - some of it is.
COTTLE: They were just good, yes, bracing out.
HUNT: But they thought that they also could maybe fix it.
HUNT: That it was like a better plan, to stay in the game, and try to redirect it.
HUNT: Try - I mean, I had one very senior Republican, tell me, at the very beginning of Trump's term that they needed to be the ballast in the ship of state. And a lot of them stayed. And they tried, they tried very hard. But by the time we get to Election Day, they're still saying, "Oh, you got to give him a couple more weeks. You got to like just let him"--
COATES: But you're talking about the past. Remember, Bill Barr has said that he would still vote for Donald Trump.
You have Bill Stepien, who, I believe, is working on a campaign of somebody who is against Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is promoting foundationally very much what Trump, who's endorsed this candidate.
So, it's not too long in the past this has actually happened, about who they once were. COTTLE: Yes.
COATES: You say, Team Chicken.
COTTLE: This is not about what happened, then. This is about where they're going with it forward.
COTTLE: They're not willing to let this go to the degree that it's going to hurt the - what they see as the party's way, to cling to power, in this degree. They are willing, to keep putting up with, if not actively advancing, this complete BS story that this election was stolen.
JENNINGS: But to ask a Republican, like Bill Barr, who has been a stalwart Republican, his entire life, to put it to him, and say, "Your choices are to abandon your entire political value system?" I don't - I don't personally think it's a fair question.
He's already said he's going to support someone else in the 2024 primary. He's made it perfectly clear, he doesn't think Donald Trump should be the nominee again.
But you have to understand, Republicans deeply believe that what - and what Bill Barr has directly said, is what a lot of us believe that the progressive--
COTTLE: I think that--
JENNINGS: --policy mindset is terrible for this country. And they're not interested in electing it--
COTTLE: But at - at--
JENNINGS: --just because they don't like Donald Trump.
COTTLE: --at some point, you have to decide, whether salvaging democracy is more important than your political view.
JENNINGS: They don't - they don't see it that way.
HUNT: And the whole - but the whole point, of these hearings, is to show - it's not saying, "The Republican way of governing the country, is the wrong way."
I mean, Liz Cheney is sitting up, on that dais. She's one of the most conservative Republicans, in the party. They're saying "This man, this man, criminally undermined, our peaceful transfer of power." I think that's where people get stuck.
JENNINGS: But the question is always, "Well, then you must be ready to vote Democrat, in 2024." Well, no Bill Stepien, or--
HUNT: Well that's where our system is set up. But.
JENNINGS: --Bill Barr has said "No, we're going to cross that bridge when we come to it." But what I hear all these people saying is, incorrectly, "Let's get a different nominee. Let's do something different here." That's the first bridge we have to cross.
COTTLE: And the way--
JENNINGS: And it's the correct bridge.
COTTLE: --and the way, to drive that home, is to make clear that "No, you will not support the man, who has been willing to burn down the system." If it's the "Oh, well, I'd rather have somebody else. But if he makes it to be the nominee, yes, I'll back him, because these guys are so bad." That's no way, to make it clear, what you're standing up for.
COATES: And you know?
COTTLE: And that's complete cowardice.
COATES: And you know? Part of it is the interesting conversation about where we are in America, right now.
We have dealt with this notion at election time of "The lesser of two evils" phenomenon, right? We've seen it in successive presidential administration runs and campaigns, the idea of, this is where we are that you either have to pick this person or that.
Is there no one else?
JENNINGS: Well, by the way, the point you just raised, if you look at some of the opinion polls, like 80 percent of Americans don't want either Trump or Biden to run again.
JENNINGS: And that's, I mean, I'm there.
HUNT: So - so--
JENNINGS: I don't want either of them, either.
COATES: All right.
HUNT: --so you're there.
JENNINGS: And so, that's where most people are. And you have to believe, and it looks like even some Democrats are coming around to this, that maybe the two parties might go that way, that most people want.
HUNT: I'm willing to believe you that you say like you want to go somewhere else. But like, what are you doing, today, to make sure Donald Trump's not the Republican nominee?
HUNT: What are you doing today? Like, what are you--
COTTLE: Because once he is, it's too late.
HUNT: I mean, Mitch McConnell--
JENNINGS: I mean I--
HUNT: --or the universe in which you live?
HUNT: There are things - I mean, my God, people are running for president already.
HUNT: Ron DeSantis is running for president.
JENNINGS: I got - I got like eight people that I would rather support.
HUNT: No, I get that.
JENNINGS: For President of the United States.
HUNT: But like, what are Republicans, who are in power, doing right now? I mean, some of this - for the - I will say, I think it's interesting that McConnell has been relatively silent, as these hearings have gone on. I mean, he could have been much more vocal and critical of them, the way some pro-Trump Republicans are.
But like, what are Republicans today doing to make sure - I mean, I don't care if it's--
HUNT: You pick up your nominee, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, like Tom Cotton--
HUNT: --there's a whole list of people.
COTTLE: Kevin McCarthy is coming up with a separate investigation, to try and discredit the whole thing, so.
JENNINGS: But the people - but the people you just mentioned, by virtue of preparing to run, that's what they're doing. There's nothing to do to Donald Trump today, politically. But there is something to do, in 2024. And that somebody's got to beat him.
HUNT: Right. So, so--
JENNINGS: That's what - and people are obviously--
HUNT: And how do you enable that?
JENNINGS: --preparing to do that.
HUNT: How do you enable that?
JENNINGS: Oh, I think a lot of Republicans are going to support DeSantis or Pence or Tim Scott, or you name it.
HUNT: But last time, the whole field split, right?
HUNT: It was like Whac-A-Mole.
JENNINGS: And fragmentation is his best friend.
JENNINGS: Fragmentation is his - and we'll see if we get it. But you're exactly right. Fragmentation is Donald Trump's best friend here.
COATES: Well, speaking of fragmentation, let's go to break. We'll fragment--
HUNT: We're going to fragment this conversation.
COATES: --we'll fragment this whole thing. We'll fragment this. We'll Whac-A-Mole a couple things.
Stay with me more, to discuss ahead, everyone.
COATES: Peacefully stopping a potential riot, prompts death threats, toward police officers. This weekend's Pride parade, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was the original target, according to the police. Now, a stranger called 911, after seeing uniformed men, piling into a U-Haul vehicle.
The 31 men arrested live, not only in Idaho, but nearly a dozen other states. They're believed to be associated with a white nationalist group, known as Patriot Front.
The town, in northern Idaho, Coeur d'Alene, has a troublesome relationship, with white supremacy. And it dates back to the 1970s. So, I want to bring in Mayor Jim Hammond on the threat and how we confront it.
Mayor, thank you for being here. How are you? MAYOR JIM HAMMOND, COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO: I'm well. Thank you for letting me be a part of your program, this evening.
COATES: Well, I'm glad you're here. And I'd love for to hear your opinion, and your thoughts. This is not the kind of thing one wants their town in the news for. It's quite disturbing, for a variety of reasons. What was your reaction?
HAMMOND: Well, actually, I think that it turned out very well.
Because these young men came to create problems, and tried to create a riot, in our community. And instead, before they were even able to get out of the U-Haul truck, they were arrested and stopped.
So, it showed that we're a town that will not tolerate any kind of efforts, to create harm, or to spread any kind of hate, or any kind of discrimination toward others.
COATES: Well, it was a case of "See something, say something." You're absolutely right. But one of the big questions, is why would they think to converge on your town? Any idea?
HAMMOND: I think that there's a possibility that they may think that a smaller town might be an easier target.
It may be also that there was chatter, on the internet, about this gathering for gay pride, and in a smaller town, they might have more of an opportunity, to create problems than they might, in a larger community.
COATES: Now, tell me about the risk involved. Because I know that it's a good thing that they were alerted to the authorities. But how big of a risk was it? Many of them were unarmed. But there was still a potential and really serious risk, to the community. Wasn't there?
HAMMOND: There was, and that they wanted to create trouble. And you can do that easily, even unarmed. But the planning, by our police department, was what enabled them to react quickly, and with sufficient personnel, to be able to deal with this problem.
And in fact, even before this occurred, there were at least a couple other young men, who were trying to create a problem. Now, they were also from out of town from the Portland area. And they were quickly arrested, and taken care of.
COATES: Had there been directives to the officers to try to prepare for some - I mean, I guess, I mean, we hear, all across the country. You remember, there was the DHS bulletin, just last week.
There have been conversations, we've seen, increasingly, about people, using their personal grievances, to try to justify violence, or be troublemakers, and not the good kind of trouble. Are you seeing this, as a microcosm, in your own town that this is reflected now? HAMMOND: This is an unusual occurrence, for our community. And we get a lot of visitors, used to be just in the summer, now it's almost year round, because it's a beautiful place, to come, and to enjoy, all that nature has to offer.
So, we're getting a lot of tourists, from around the country, particularly the Northwest, who come and enjoy it. And so, it really does provide a great environment, for folks, to come and create troubles.
COATES: Have you had conversations, with members of your community, and people among your Council, about any concerns, about the community feeling, as though they are vulnerable? Or not as safe?
Are you thinking about ways to ensure that your community sees this, really, as an aberration, but one that was corrected, as you've spoken about?
HAMMOND: I think you've expressed it well. I don't think that there is fear in our community.
The police are - excuse me. The police department makes a great effort, at providing statistics, about all the activity, within the community. And those statistics show that Coeur d'Alene is a very safe community, in which to live, or which to visit.
And so, with that in mind, this was an aberration. And I don't expect anything like this to happen, again.
COATES: I want to play for you what your Chief had to say, Chief White, on this issue. Because it really is interesting to think about how police, in particular, were ones to be able to diffuse particularly (ph) divisive issue.
Let me play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF LEE WHITE, COEUR D'ALENE POLICE: Of the 149 calls that we know of so far that have come in, they're about 50/50 split, between individuals in our community, who are happy, to give us their name, and tell us that they're proud of the work that we did, and they're happy to be a part of this community.
And the other 50 percent, who are completely anonymous, and knew nothing more, than to scream, and yell, at us, and use some really choice words, offered death threats, against myself, and other members of the police department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: The divisive issue being that they intervened. What do you make of this?
HAMMOND: Well what I make of it is that, because I've received a lot of phone calls as well, and emails, and - but I'm noticing they're from all over the country.
And so, it's - the locals have told me, and told the Council that they are very grateful to the police. They're great - very grateful that they did the proper planning, prior to this event. And so, that kind of thing is happening.
But what's happening is due to the internet, people from all over the country are getting into the act here, and want to be a part of it.
COATES: They're weighing in.
Mayor Jim Hammond, thank you for weighing in, here, on this program, tonight.
HAMMOND: Thank you. Have a good evening.
COATES: You too.
HAMMOND: Now, you hear about the bipartisan Senate deal that was reached, on gun safety legislation? There was a framework announced that, as of now, would have the support of 10 Republicans needed, to get it passed.
Now, the key question is, can Democrats actually keep those 10, on board? That's next.
COATES: Tonight, the top Republican, involved in the Senate's gun talk, says that he hopes to have a text, on compromise gun reform, by the end of this week. Actual words. Word of the bipartisan deal comes nearly three weeks, since the Uvalde massacre.
Now, the framework is arguably modest, yet significant. It incentivizes states to implement red flag laws. It includes new investments in mental health and school security. And it closes the so-called boyfriend loophole.
And it forces a more thorough review process, for gun buyers, under the age of 21. And it also clarifies the definition of a federally- licensed firearm dealer, which means that buyers, from these dealers, will have to actually pass a federal background check.
Now, Democrats, however, they won't be getting, let's just say, most of what they want, or what they want most. No expanded background checks. No assault weapons ban. No raising the minimum age, for buying weapons, like the AR-15. That's exactly why the deal maybe has the backing of 10 Republican senators, enough to clear a Senate filibuster. But I wonder, will it stay that way?
I've got our great legal minds - well, legal and political minds. We have a legal mind. We got great political minds with us, today. COTTLE: You are--
JENNINGS: A great one! A great one!
COATES: I didn't know how to put it.
Back with me, right now, Michelle Cottle, Kasie Hunt, and Scott Jennings.
I'm glad you're all back with me. And your minds are all superior! It's wonderful.
Tell me what you make of this. Because you've got 10 Republicans on board now? Will they stay that way?
COTTLE: Look, it's always best to be nervous, when you're moving from a framework, to legislation, especially on gun issues, because this is so fundamental. It's not about policy. I mean, this has become one of those identifiers, for which team you're on. That said, as you note, it is very modest, and would be a great step forward, if they can kind of fight through all the nitty-gritty, so.
HUNT: Can we just ask Scott Jennings, like, are Republicans going to be better off in the midterm elections, if they actually show some backbone, here? I mean, there's potentially some real risk.
COATES: That question wasn't loaded at all!
HUNT: No! Like there's some risk. The public opinion, on this, is really changing. And there's some risks, for Republicans, to be seen doing nothing.
JENNINGS: Yes, I think that this is one of those moments, where the Rubik's Cube is like clicking in, for both parties, at the same time.
The Republicans have said for years, "Well, this is a mental health crisis. We want to address that." Well, now we're doing it. And the Democrats, of course, need to show their people they can get anything done, at all, on this topic.
So, this is one of those rare moments where all the little colored squares are going to line up, and the Rubik's Cube is going to look great. I think these 10 will hold. And I think the universe - I was up on the Hill, today. I talked to a few Republicans. I think the universe for this could be in the 20 range, for Republicans.
HUNT: You think it's--
JENNINGS: I don't know if they'll all go. But I'm thinking of it, in terms of the infrastructure bill. Because, I think, you got close to 20 Republicans in the Senate. Look, I think, if you're from a Western State, you're probably not voting for it. If you're in a primary, you're probably not. And if you're running for president, you'll probably not.
HUNT: You're definitely not. JENNINGS: But - but that leaves a universe of around 20 that could get there.
JENNINGS: And that would be a really nice win for everyone, and politically good, for both parties.
COATES: I got to say, it just strikes me. I would think that more would be willing to come out, for the 21 lives lost, than the 20 that went for infrastructure. That, just to me, this seems always to me, to be a political win, to be able to react to this.
They have compromises that are going on. Obviously, they didn't get everything they wanted. That's the sign of a good deal, right? And you've got people on board, at the moment. I guess it feels different this time.
HUNT: 20 for a gun compromise would be a huge--
COTTLE: It would be broth (ph), yes.
COATES: I think the floor is very--
HUNT: It would be a huge number.
COATES: --it's the floor, right now.
HUNT: And, look, people should judge our political system--
HUNT: --where they stand, based on that reality. But the political reality is that 20 Republicans, for a bill like this, would be enormous.
And, one of the reasons why Democrats are willing to come to the table, and accept something that's less than what they want? Because, let's be realistic. There have been times where Democrats maybe could have gotten a little bit more, but they said, "Look, we don't want to waste all of the momentum on something that's not good enough." So they've pulled back, right?
That's not happening now. If you listen to what Chris Murphy has to say, the point that he makes repeatedly, is that if they're able to do this, if they're able to get across the finish line, especially if it's a big number, where there is strength in numbers, you're not the only - you're not the 60th vote, you're the 72nd, or whatever, that's a lot easier to be in politically, that they can actually do this, and not be punished, politically, in a way that basically threatens their career, right?
COATES: And that's - well you - think about that. I mean, we're talking about 10. And one of them is closing the so-called boyfriend loophole, which with the Violence Against Women Act--
HUNT: Big deal.
COATES: --the NRA was all over that.
HUNT: They couldn't do it. They pulled. They pulled.
COATES: So, really, are you saying that now that somehow the NRA is not the Big Bad Wolf enough, to push back on--
HUNT: They're going to put it to a test.
COATES: --like that's good?
HUNT: They're going to put that to a test. They are going to test whether or not the NRA and the Gun Owners of America are going to be such a political threat that you're going to lose your political life, if you vote for this.
HUNT: And that's what Democrats are saying--
COTTLE: And - and it's important--
HUNT: --"Hey, it's worth it."
COTTLE: --to know that - I mean, the NRA says it's, it's keeping its powder dry, so to speak--
COTTLE: --with the framework, and it'll come out, when it has some legislation.
But the Gun Owners of America are already issuing like state alerts, where people can go online, and fill out the form, so that you can tell, like the one I saw today, was so you can tell the North Carolina senators, to stop doing the devil's work.
So, there's already some pushback on this. And there is no free ride, on this issue, for Republicans.
COTTLE: They'll take some heat.
JENNINGS: Constituencies matter here. I mean, the more rural your constituency, the more - or the less interested they are in this. If you have more suburban populations, if you have more, purple areas, in your state--
HUNT: There's the reason the senator, from Pennsylvania, has been a leader on this.
JENNINGS: Absolutely. But - but you know? HUNT: Right?
JENNINGS: And so, people, they have to be responsive to those constituencies. I think that's largely how you're going to see this thing, fall down.
But this is an outcome. I'm sort of for outcomes Washington, you know? And this is an outcome. And, I guess, a lot of people are going to walk away from this saying it's a half a loaf or a quarter of a loaf, but it's not no loaf.
HUNT: But it's more than we've done in 30 years. If they do it? It's more than we've done in 30 years, on guns.
COATES: I hear you all. I mean, I'm an optimist. But, just as an observer, and a member of the electorate, I just say to myself, is that - is that all we ask for, just the bare minimum?
Everyone, standby. Answer to that (ph) question that was rhetorical. Everyone standby.
JENNINGS: Did you get--
COATES: I want to talk about that very disturbing alleged riot plot, against the Pride event, in Idaho. And we just got word, from Capitol Hill, on that security bill, to protect Supreme Court justices.
Right back, with new information.
COATES: This just in, sources telling CNN that Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her leadership team that the House plans to pass a Senate bill, to bolster security, for Supreme Court justices.
This would actually end a month-long standoff over with Republicans, after Democrats sought to expand protections, to clerks and other staff. The House plans to pass the bill, tomorrow.
I'm with Michelle Cottle, Kasie Hunt, and Scott Jennings, now.
This is pretty big news!
JENNINGS: Huge news!
COATES: They had a huge compromise. They didn't get what they wanted. But they're going to have protection.
JENNINGS: It's about time, because the - I mean, we already know the Department of Homeland Security, is tracking all these threats, against the Supreme Court building, the justices. I mean, somebody, who wanted to assassinate Brett Kavanaugh, went to his house, paced around, for a half an hour the other night, and had the means to do it.
And so, this was needed. It should have been done several days ago. But thank goodness, they got there, tonight.
HUNT: This has been a really emotional issue, on Capitol Hill, too. I mean, there have been reports, of very angry words, exchanged, between Steny Hoyer, who is the number two Democrat in the House, who is usually a pretty even keel, and Republicans, who've been frustrated, with the pace of this.
Because there is, potentially a political issue, in terms of, we're talking a lot about potentially the Democratic base, right? Nancy Pelosi has got the progressives, in her caucus, who feel extremely strongly, about the Roe versus Wade decision. There are, I think, I don't - I can count on one hand, the number of anti-abortion Democrats that are left in the House Democratic Caucus. So, that's like some of what's going on.
But the reality is political violence has been seeping into all corners of our system, in this really troubling and terrifying way. And I think, there is an imperative, to make sure that the people, who are actually deciding to put themselves, out there, and serve, in our public life, are protected.
COTTLE: Yes, it's very important that this is bigger - to note that this is bigger than any particular issue, the idea that political violence is now seen as justifiable, if you feel strongly enough about some issue, is very troubling, and it's not going to serve either side well.
I mean, it kind of spreads. You're already seeing Republicans reaping the whirlwind, from Trump, making this a kind of common idea that it's OK to, hit somebody at a rally--
HUNT: "Stand back and standby."
COTTLE: --or stand--
COTTLE: So, like, there are Republicans, who've experienced death threats. It's not any one particular team that this is an issue of, and it's not tied to any one particular policy. So, it's very important to set a marker that says "Inappropriate."
COATES: Even today, you heard one of the sound bites in the Hill - on the Hill hearing, today, where you had somebody, who was from the Capitol said, "I'm not saying what we're doing is the right thing. But what else can we do, if we feel this strongly about something?"
And that question, to me, felt like, really, the question that everyone's asking, the DHS must be asking, the bulletin, talking about the notion of, well, isn't the way that you resolve personal grievance, and you resolve disputes, part of what it means to be in a democracy, and a republic? Isn't that how you lose what you cannot keep? JENNINGS: I mean, this is - this is the wages of a complete and total collapse of trusted institutions.
When you believe that the institutions have failed you? When you believe that, Washington has failed you, whatever? Then, you turn to extra institutional activities, such as storming the Capitol, such as plotting to kill a Supreme Court justice, such as going over to the congressional baseball game, and shooting Congressman Scalise.
JENNINGS: I mean, you resort to these things, because you feel like there's nothing else to believe in. And here's where the rubber hits the road. The politicians have to be careful with their phrasing.
Because if you hear something like "Stand back and standby?" You see that as instructions. Or if you hear Chuck Schumer say, "Reap the whirlwind, Brett Kavanaugh. You don't know what forces you've unleashed. You'll pay for this?" They take those, as instructions.
And so, I think, what you said is exactly right. This is corrosive. It's bad for the country. And people - when my friend, Erick Erickson, in Georgia, says "When you make politics your religion, this is what you do," every person in the Congress needs to condemn this, and stop it now.
COATES: There's a poll, I want to show you all, right now. It's about what Republicans, Democrats, Independents are feeling about the idea of what you do, when there's anger towards the government.
Let's show it. Here it is. They say that 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Independents, 23 percent of Democrats think that violence against the government is sometimes justified.
Those are pretty big numbers. I mean, 40 percent, not just disagreement, but violence against the government? Does that surprise you?
COTTLE: It doesn't surprise me. Because what we've been talking about, is a stretch of time, where people have been told again, and again, "The system's broken. There has been fraud. Your vote doesn't matter. It's rigged. The Establishment is out to get you. You cannot have an impact through the normal, peaceful democratic channels."
And so, where does that leave you? You absolutely feel like there's nowhere to go, except to take to the battlements. And it's insane.
HUNT: Yes. Well, and, one of the things we didn't touch on this, when we were talking about guns, but there's also been messaging around the Second Amendment that has said, like, "You got to be ready to stand up against your government."
And there's some of that that is very firmly rooted in what America, or there's a reason we have a Second Amendment, and it's because of the way that the country was born, in this idea that like, if your government gets out of hand, like you should have the right to do certain things.
But doing it that way, is the antithesis of, if the system is working - and I think this is what we have to be so careful, to protect, going forward. This is what is, when we talk about all the threats to democracy, and things are on the line, right? A lot of that is yes, corrupt politicians screwing around, with the system, some of what we've heard, in January 6.
But a lot of it's actually the populists, in America, buying into the idea that this is a government that represents all of us that this is the way that we can solve our problems.
And the rhetoric is getting outside of that. The trust of - distrust of institutions is undermining that. And if we can't all be on that same page? We're in a lot of trouble.
JENNINGS: It's an interesting duality we have, right now. We have higher political engagement than at any other time in 100 years. But we also have this high distrust, in the government that that engagement creates. It's an interesting duality. We don't have the answers yet, but we need them.
COATES: Interesting dynamic. But here we are, on the backdrop of January 6, talking about people, who've had a seed planted, to not trust the various system that we're in.
Michelle, Kasie, and Scott, thank you so much.
COTTLE: Thanks for having me, Laura.
COATES: Listen, we'll be right back, everyone, here on CNN.
COATES: Hey, thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT," starts, right now, with the great Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Had you forgot? Hey, we're going to see you, in an hour, here. I have some questions for you.
COATES: Of course.
LEMON: And I will ask you then.
COATES: Oh, well can't wait!
COATES: I can't wait.
LEMON: I'll see you then. Thank you, Laura. COATES: Bye.