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The Situation Room
Biden Floats Lower Price Tag But Wants GOP Concessions in Effort to Bridge Gap on Spending Plan; Justice Department Investigating Gaetz for Obstruction of Justice as Part of Sex Trafficking Probe; Don't Make Me Do This, Body Cam Video Shows Florida Deputy During Shootout With Children; Justice Department to Apply Terrorism Protocols to Ransomware Investigations as Cyberattacks Surge. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 03, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her frustrations are echoed by many residents I speak to here in Tokyo who feel that money and politics and sport are being put ahead of people's lives. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Selina Wang in Tokyo, thanks so much. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin speaking out only moments ago to CNN. His vote holds the key to President Biden's agenda and we're about to hear what he has to say about the president's major new concessions in an effort to strike a deal with Senate Republicans.
Also, federal investigators are now looking at whether Congressman Matt Gaetz tried to obstruct justice in the ongoing sex crimes investigation targeting the Florida Republican.
And the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gearing up right now to fight for his political survival, calling on the parliament to vote down a new coalition government that would replace him.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in The Situation Room.
President Biden and Senate Republicans are moving closer and closer to a deal on the price tag for his infrastructure plan, but tonight, they are still billions of dollars apart even after the president cut his request, his initial request in half.
Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is working the story for us. Kaitlan, the president conceding in order to save his infrastructure bill, is this his final offer?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is far from his initial offer, Wolf. But in this meeting yesterday with the top Republican negotiator, we are told that President Biden said he would be willing to come down to just $1 trillion in new spending.
Of course, that is a lot of money, but it is a far cry from that initial proposal that you saw from the White House. That would be a total of about 1.4 trillion from this bill. That's his latest offer. And, of course, it is still substantially higher than the latest Republican offer, which is around $900 billion but only $257 billion of new spending. So, they are still really far apart, about three times far apart on what it is they actually want to spend in this infrastructure bill.
But, Wolf, one other important concession that President Biden did float yesterday during this meeting with Senator Capito is he said that he would be willing to forego his wanted changes to the 2017 Trump tax cuts that's raising that corporate tax cut from 21 percent to 28 percent, at least in the immediate future.
Now, that is a big acknowledgment from the White House that they feel this is one way they can actually get Republicans on board with a potential package, though it's far from clear what this is ultimately going to look like because we know a phone call is supposed to happen tomorrow again with President Biden and the Republicans. We'll see if they make any ground there.
But remember that the transportation secretary had set a deadline of Monday for big progress on these talks. But earlier, when we asked the White House if President Biden feels that there needs to be a timeline, this is what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Does he see Monday as kind of the deadline for any major breakthroughs on where these talks are going.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. He's going to continue to have conversations with Democrats and Republicans about what the path forward may look like. And certainly, it's an important moment in the timeline, of course, because there will be movement then. We've seen Speaker Pelosi talk about how she wants to move forward with infrastructure in June. We've seen Senator Leader Schumer talk about how he wants to move forward with infrastructure in July. Those are some realities in the timeline. But the president is not -- we're not here to set new deadlines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, the White House is not setting any deadlines, Wolf. We wait to see what progressive Democrats say about this new offer that is coming out of the White House and whether they believe there should be some deadlines here and if the White House should move on from these talks with Republicans.
BLITZER: Kaitlan, I want you to stand by, I will get back to you shortly, but we're about to hear right now from a key Democratic senator whose vote could make or break President Biden's infrastructure plan. We're talking about the West Virginia senator, Joe Manchin. He just spoke to our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, he is on the scene in West Virginia, Morgantown, West Virginia, for us.
Manu, so what did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Democrats are losing patience with these bipartisan talks with the White House between Senate Republicans on a major infrastructure package, one person is not, and that's West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
He's making clear that he wants these talks to continue with Republicans. He says this is going to take time and that is much different from the tune we're hearing from Democrats up and down in the House and the Senate, who believe at the talks have essentially reached their final round and they want to go on their own, try to pass legislation along straight party line, a process known as budget reconciliation.
Significant because they could do it if they're all united, all of 50 Democratic Senators without the support of Republicans.
But Joe Manchin is just not on board on that idea right now and says talks with Republicans should continue.
RAJU: What is it your fellow West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, she put on the table, just under trillion dollars, about $250 billion in new spending? Do you think that is going to be good enough for West Virginia?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, basically if you look at the infrastructure all that, they're looking at some of there's a jobs portion that are just traditional infrastructure. So if they're going to split that apart, and they've talked about doing that to -- I haven't gotten intricately into that with the White House yet and I'm glad that Shelley is doing and she's doing a great job out there trying to find that sweet spot, if you will.
So she'll report back. She's part of our G20 group, ten Democrats, ten Republicans. She'll report back next week. We'll see where she is on this, and what we can do to assist and help, get over the line, it needs to be done. We need to do something in a bipartisan way. We can't continue on these types of projects because we were able to bring everything to fruition working through a bipartisan way.
Republicans didn't get everything they wanted last time as you recall. And, basically, we're not going to get everything, but we can move forward. And the president has that desire and urgency to get something big done.
RAJU: I mean, the president did try to move a bit on the issue of infrastructure. He came down to roughly $1 trillion. He also said that there could be a 15 percent corporate minimum tax coming off of what he proposed, the foreign (ph) corporate tax, which you have been concern about that? MANCHIN: Well, yes.
RAJU: I guess my question is, do you -- these negotiations have been going on for quite some time. Is this sufficient amount of negotiation right now? Are you saying, okay, they don't get a deal, it's time for Democrats to move on their own?
MANCHIN: Manu, my friend, this is the United States senate, the most deliberate body in the world and it was by design. And these take time. You just can't -- I know everyone's in a hurry right now. If anyone understands the process, it's President Joe Biden with 36 years of experience or more here. He understands and gets it well.
I hope his staff understands that also what we're trying to do. We've got to bring our country together. We can't continue to split and go further apart. We just can't do that. And we've got to work together. And that takes a lot of time and energy and patience.
RAJU: So he's making it very clear there, Wolf, that it is key for these negotiations with Republicans to continue. So if you're a Democratic leader, like Chuck Schumer, and you're looking at your caucus, you know, determining whether or not they just try to essentially pull the plug, you're at the White House and that we should move, we're on our own. You're looking what Joe Manchin is saying right there, saying he's not ready to do that. He's saying, give these more time.
And remember also earlier this week, Wolf, when President Biden essentially called out Joe Manchin. Saying, Joe Manchin -- he didn't say Joe Manchin by name, but he was clearly referring to both Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema saying they vote more with Republicans than with Democrats, which also is not true, but he did call out Joe Manchin. I did ask Manchin about that. And he said that comment was taken out of context. And he said he had spoken with the White House about it afterwards. So, the first time we're hearing him about that.
He didn't seem too concerned about the criticism that President Biden seemed to be leveling against him, but he is concerned about the idea of Democrats moving on their own, which will be an important signal for the White House. And they decide whether to keep negotiating or whether to try to just do something with Democrat, but here, one key Democrat just keep talking, Wolf.
BLITZER: I understand, Manu, you also had a chance to ask him what the Senate might be able to still do to create some sort of commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection.
RAJU: Yes. And it is all around my discussion about Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, who would deny the 60 votes needed to move ahead. And Joe Manchin has been a stalwart defender of the Senate's filibuster rules, refusing to back off the idea of essentially gutting the filibuster.
And he was sharply critical of Mitch McConnell, said that he totally disagreed with what McConnell did in opposing the commission. McConnell had raised concerns about essentially this undercutting Republican chances to take back the Senate next year, saying they need to look forward, now backward.
Now he was critical of that, but still not critical enough to essentially say that the filibuster must go. He believes that the filibuster is still designed for the two parties to work together, which is why he said that he still onboard with the idea of keeping the filibuster.
Now, why the filibuster is so important, though, Wolf, is that it is a 60-vote threshold, that means 60 senators will have to agree to overcome any stalling tactics. It's a 50/50 Senate. Some Democrats -- a lot of Democrats want to kill the filibuster all together so they could pass things with 50 votes. Manchin is just not there right now.
But take a listen to what he had to say in saying how he plans to defend that filibuster rule going forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: You're also just in the center of so many issues in Washington. One of the issues is you're working on trying to get a voting rights bill passed. But Lisa Murkowski -- just let me finish the question. There's no sign that there's actually going to be 60 votes to get that done.
Some of your Democratic colleagues say Joe Manchin should agree for an exemption, allow voting right to pass on a simple majority, change the Senate filibuster rule to do that. Would you be open to that?
MANCHIN: I asked everybody how well did the 2013 nuclear option work when in 2017 they came back and took it off the Supreme Court. That's all. What goes around comes around. So, let's work together, let's find a pathway forward.
RAJU: So, you wouldn't do that, an exemption?
MANCHIN: Let's find a pathway forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So pretty clear there. What he's referring to in that 2013 effort was when the Democratic leader, Harry Reid, has changed the filibuster rules to allow presidential nominees other than the Supreme Court, to be confirmed by a simple majority. Then when the Republicans took charge in 2017, Mitch McConnell came back and did the same thing for Supreme Court nominees. And as a result, Donald Trump got three Supreme Court justices confirmed.
So what Manchin is saying here is what comes around goes around. So, he's making clear to his caucus that the calls to essentially create some sort of exemption, some sort of carve-out to pass a sweeping voting legislation, some sweeping election overhaul, even a narrow one, would essentially face resistance from him. He is simply not ready to go there, Wolf.
I did try to get him to say he will never ever touch that 60-vote threshold for the filibuster. I asked him several times, he just he'll never do it, and he would not say that. So there are at least some people discussing what he actually meant but ultimately he's pretty clear. He wants the two sides to work together. And if they don't, then Biden will have to deal with potentially a stalled agenda in the Senate, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm glad you drove over to West Virginia for that very important interview. Manu, thank you very much for all the excellent work.
Let's get some analysis right now. Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is with us and our CNN Political Director David Chalian is with us as well. Kaitlan is still over at the White House for us.
Dana, what's your reaction to what we just heard from Senator Manchin? He's obviously got a lot of power right now.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Vintage Joe Manchin. And that is that he is still on the negotiating train, and he doesn't want to get off. He has no intention of getting off anytime soon. But at some point, that train is going to stop and the question is going to be how is he going to deal with the reality that he is going to have in front of him, because this is assuming, let's say, for example, infrastructure, there isn't some magic deal that his Republican colleague from West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito doesn't make with the president and other administration officials.
And that is going to be is this enough time, the time that he demanded, the negotiations that he demanded across party lines and is he ready for -- whether to entertain the idea of allowing, let's say, that bill, to go forward with just Democratic votes. He's never said no to that, but he definitely isn't ready to -- maybe it's that these negotiations are so hot right now. He doesn't want to pull the rug out of from under them. But that is very clear.
And I thought it was also fascinating what Manu asked at the very end about voting rights, because that is one of the core questions for the Democrats right now about the fundamentals of democracy. They feel it is being undermined in states across the country and legislatures. And if there's no federal fix, then this democracy is in trouble. He holds the keys to that.
BLITZER: He certainly does. What do you think, David?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, just what Dana was saying about infrastructure first. So, look at where we are, Wolf, right. You heard Kailan report earlier. The president has come down nearly half of the amount he originally proposed for the initial infrastructure jobs plan package, right? He's now agreed to basically a top line number of around $1 trillion.
Today, we learned his jettison, his plan to raise the corporate tax rate as pay-for for the infrastructure bill. He still would like that to happen but no longer committed to that being the means to pay for some of this bill. No. Now, it's this 15 percent corporate minimum tax.
It seems to me that's a lot of give that the president has been doing to try and get a deal. What Joe Manchin did not say today is that's enough give. He didn't say, no, you know what, President Biden has come so far, if my Republican friends can't agree to that, we'll have to do Democratic only. No. Joe Manchin still said stay at the table.
And, you know, he's not citing substantive reasons why. Nothing in his conversation with Manu was about the substance of voting rights or the substance of infrastructure. It was about bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake.
He believes the tradition of the Senate and where we are as a body politic in America right now, he clearly thinks that the Senate needs to work together in a bipartisan way on anything to be able to point a path forward for America's body politic to begin to heal itself. That's the Manchin viewpoint and he is not ready to deviate from that.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Kailan over at the White House. How do you think the White House is going to react to what we just heard from Senator Manchin?
COLLINS: Well, I think they're watching Senator Manchin very closely. And his desire to have these talks continue is one that's reflected even by President Biden. Some of his top aides, of course, there are a lot of them -- or several of them at least who also believe that these negotiations with Republicans may end up going nowhere. Republicans may not actually come up to that trillion dollars in new spending that President Biden now says he wants.
But I think that they are watching what Manchin says pretty closely. Of course, this comes after you saw those comments that President Biden had made earlier this week when he was in Tulsa where he singled out Manchin and Senator Sinema as well, saying they vote more often with Republicans.
I think it's notable, he told Manu that he believes that was a comment that was taken out of context. Of course, that was a comment that played out on camera, we all saw what happen. But there was a bit of backpedaling here at the White House when they were saying it wasn't a criticism coming from President Biden.
And one other thing I think he said that was notable, which is something that we have heard from Republicans like Susan Collins and a few others as well as, is they believe the staff has been too involved in some of these negotiations when it comes to infrastructure. And he said when he was talking about how he wanted talks to keep going, I hope his staff understands it as well. That's the pretty clear message to a few staffers here, which is why part of that meeting with Capito yesterday was one-on-one between her and President Biden.
BLITZER: You know Dana, Senator Manchin makes a fair point in saying you want to change the filibuster rules where the Democrats have a slight majority, well, what happens in two years or four years if the Republicans have a slight majority and they decide there's no more filibuster, they can do whatever they want.
BASH: I mean the way he argues it, he is trying to protect Democrats from themselves, because we have seen in recent history that Mitch McConnell, assuming he is still the Republican leader, has no problem changing rules like this and getting his people on board to do that.
And so, yes, maybe it's a short-term fix for the Democrats to get their big legislative priorities through, but what happens -- not if, but when the shoe is on the other foot, absolutely.
I thought that -- I agree with Kaitlan that the Manchin comment about how the president was taken out of context was quite interesting, because we know -- I know from my reporting and I know you do too, David, that there is a very, very open line of communication between Senator Manchin and President Biden --
CHALIAN: The two Joes.
BASH: The two Joes, and Senator Manchin and his aides. And we also know that Senator Manchin doesn't take too kindly to being pressured in public. That happened with Kamala Harris, you know, several months ago and I'm sure this was a walk back in private, as it was in public, with Jen Psaki on the podium saying, and, well, he didn't really mean it exactly the way it came out. That's my paraphrase.
CHALIAN: The Kamala Harris reference you just made, you'll recall, Wolf, she did two local interviews when she came into office as vice president, one to Arizona, one to West Virginia, Sinema, Manchin. These same two Senators who were clearly the blockade at the beginning of the administration, and that did not sit well. It didn't sit well with Manchin, it didn't sit well with Sinema that Kamala Harris was doing these interviews and trying to sort of lay political groundwork to come around them and build support and build pressure on them to get rid of the filibuster or join with the Democrats' agenda and not be a roadblock to it in anyway.
It hasn't yet worked. They're still, there and need to be dealt with. And the Biden administration has not yet found a way to get through that and this is still going to take more work. That to me was the big takeaway from --
BLITZER: Very quickly, Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin, they almost always vote with President Biden, right?
CHALIAN: Yes, as Manu said. The attack was totally inaccurate from Joe Biden. They are indeed reliable votes thus far in the Biden administration.
BLITZER: Certainly are. All right guys, everybody stand by. There's more news we're following here in The Situation Room. Just ahead, growing legal trouble for Congressman Matt Gaetz, CNN has learned that the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating the Florida Republican for obstruction of justice. We're going to have new information, new details right after the break.
BLITZER: Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida could be facing even more legal jeopardy right now as prosecutors are looking into whether he obstructed their investigation into allegations of sex trafficking.
Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is now joining us. She has details. Paula, tell our viewers what you're learning.
PAULA REID, CNN LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we learned that investigators had concerns about possible obstruction almost as soon as the investigation into Congressman Gaetz began in the final months of the Trump administration. Now, sources tell us that investigators are scrutinizing alleged contacts to the congressman, his associates and some key witnesses in this case.
REID (voice over): Tonight, federal investigators looking at whether Congressman Matt Gaetz or his associates have tried to obstruct an ongoing sex crimes investigation, according to sources familiar with the matter.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is bad news for Matt Gaetz on two levels, really. First of all, first of all it is a federal crime and a serious one to obstruct justice. People get charged with obstruction of justice all the time. People go to jail simply for obstruction of justice.
REID: A source tells CNN that investigators have been told about Gaetz and an associate discussing a plan to visit Gaetz's ex-girlfriend in October 2020. Investigators have also been provided with material that suggests the woman may have been influenced related to the investigation.
The woman is seen as a critical witness in the probe as she was linked to the congressman in the summer of 2017 when he allegedly had sexual contact with a different woman who was just 17 at the time. Politico, which first reported the obstruction investigation late Wednesday, also says investigators are looking at a phone call Gaetz had with a witness in the sex crimes investigation.
The call reportedly originated between the witness and Gaetz's ex- girlfriend and the lawmaker joined at some point. The outlet did not report when the call took place or what was said.
The congressman has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors.
REID: In a statement in response to CNN's new reporting, a spokesman for the lawmaker said Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he doesn't obstruct it.
After two months there is still not a single on-record accusation of misconduct, and now the story is changing yet again.
REID (on camera): But, Wolf, the story isn't changing. Our reporting indicating that what's actually happening is the investigation is expanding. Now, in addition to allegations of possible sex with a minor, sex trafficking, public corruption, we've now confirmed they're also looking at obstruction of justice. We hear from our sources that this investigation is active and ongoing and investigators continue to talk with witnesses. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Paula Reid, I wanted to standby, I want to bring in the State Attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida, Dave Aronberg, who's also assessing what's going on. Dave, thanks for joining us.
What is this addition of this obstruction of justice investigation actually mean for Gaetz's case?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good evening, Wolf. It's bad news for Matt Gaetz because this crime could be punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. But according to sentencing guidelines, Matt Gaetz would probably face, if convicted of witness tampering, about two years. But it's still bad news. And it depends of what he said to his individuals, if he tried to tell a witness a witness, to mislead federal investigators who are engaged in a criminal investigation.
And on that phone call in question, there are two other individuals on that call and both, according to reports, are cooperating with federal investigators. And I think this does tell you how wide-ranging this investigation is. It's not just about child sex trafficking. There are a lot of other potential crimes here, including how it had violations of campaign finance laws, also aggravated identity theft. Joel Greenberg pled guilty to that. And then there's a Bahamas trip in 2018, so you have question of pay to play and violation at the Mann Act, which says that you can't transporting individuals across that in lines for purposes of prostitution.
Also, Wolf, this does show why this investigation is taking so long because it's more than just determining whether Matt Gaetz had sex with an underage girl. It's much broader than that.
BLITZER: How will investigators, Dave, seek to prove Gaetz's contact with his ex-girlfriend was more than just reconnecting?
ARONBERG: You're going to have to talk to the two people on the call and anyone else who is a witness to these conversations. If they could show that he tried to tell a witness to mislead federal investigators, well, that would be witness intimidation. If he tried to delay their communications with federal investigators, that's also a crime. And so he's in a lot of trouble because there are witnesses there who are apparently cooperating.
And also, Gaetz has a bit of a history with alleged witness intimidation. You may remember back in 2019, the night before Michael Cohen was set to testify before a House committee, Gaetz put out a tweet saying that said, do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. He later apologized for that tweet and deleted it, but a House Ethics Committee admonished him, although they found it did not raise level witness intimidation. He may not be so lucky when it comes to federal prosecutor this time.
BLITZER: Dave Aronberg, Paula Reid, guys thanks very, very much.
Coming up, new body camera video captures the anguished words of a sheriff's deputy during a shootout with two children. I'll discuss the growing gun violence epidemic here in the United States with two of Florida's top law enforcement officials who are standing by live.
BLITZER: New details tonight on that very disturbing shootout between two children and sheriff's deputies in Florida. Brian Todd is on this story for us. Brian, you've been going through new body camera video of this gun battle. Update our viewers.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Wolf. And this video is very dramatic, not only showing how careful the deputies were but how close they came to being wounded or killed. We have to warn viewers that some may find some of the video on our story disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting out the rear window toward my direction. Stand by.
TODD (voice over): Tonight, sheriff's deputies in Volusia County, Florida, are being praised for their restraint after facing off with a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl who fired at them several times in a 30-minute standoff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by. She's got the AK and the shotgun. Shots fired.
TODD: At one point in body camera video released by the sheriff's department, a deputy is clearly anguished at what he might have to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't make me do this. Don't do this.
TODD: The girl was shot and wounded after police say she leveled a pump shotgun at deputies. The boy surrendered. No deputies were hurt. Tonight, charging documents obtained by CNN, say the boy told detectives the girl had said when they saw the deputies, quote, I'm going to roll this down like GTA, referring to the video game, Grand Theft Auto.
According to the documents, the boy told detectives, he knew they were cops when he shot at them and shot to cause harm to them.
SHERIFF MIKE CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: I am furious that we could be burying somebody tonight.
TODD: Meanwhile, three masked suspects who opened fire outside a concert in Miami on Sunday, killing two and wounding more than 20, are still at large. This security video shows one of the gunmen spraying the crowd, striking at least two people.
ROBERTO VILLASENOR, FORMER TUCSON, ARIZONA, POLICE CHIEF: I think the fact that they shot indiscriminately into a crowd, shot over 20 people. They are extremely dangerous.
TODD (on camera): A Miami-Dade police detectives tells CNN they're now looking at the possibility of a second car being involved in that concert shooting and there may be more suspects. As for that Volusia County shooting involving the deputies, the 14-year-old girl and the 12-year-old boy now face charges of armed burglary and attempted first degree murder.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you very much.
Let's discuss with the Sheriff of Volusia County in Florida, Mike Chitwood, and the Police Director of Miami-Dade County, Freddy Ramirez.
And, Sheriff Chitwood, we just heard one of your deputies on his body camera saying, don't make me do this, as he responds to shots fired by these two children. How often do your -- deputies find themselves in these truly impossible situations as they confront this gun violence epidemic in Florida and indeed all over the country?
CHITWOOD: I think, Wolf, it's more than people realize. A lot of times it doesn't end this dramatic so you don't see the body camera footage. Here, we knew at 5:00 in the afternoon that we were looking for two juveniles who walked away from a group home, the 12-year-old being a severe diabetic who needed his medication. So deputies are searching, thinking they're trying to prevent a medical emergency when we're alerted to two juveniles breaking into a home. And it would automatically shifted into there were weapons in the home and, obviously, the body camera video speaks for itself.
BLITZER: Yes, it certainly does. You know, Director Ramirez, it's what, the beginning of June, there have already been more mass shootings in Florida in 2021 than there were in all of 2019, that according to the gun violence archive. What's your response to those who say gun violence isn't a significant problem in this country?
ALFREDO "FREDDY" RAMIREZ, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: Just ask the victims of the terrible tragedy we experienced here on Saturday or the various other families left behind from the spirit (ph) gun violence. It is real and it's a problem. It is real and it's a problem, it's the new pandemic. And we really need to all hands on deck, we need law enforcement together to stop this. But you cannot have innocent people and lose children. It's just unacceptable. It's not the American way.
BLITZER: You see the numbers on the side of the screen over there. Gun violence epidemic in the United States, 244 mass shootings so far this year, 275 people killed, more than a thousand people injured.
Sheriff Chitwood, your law enforcement career has spanned 35 years and you say you've never seen anything like that shootout involving children, which has led to the question what the future of law enforcement looks like in our country. Just how dire is the situation police are currently facing?
CHITWOOD: Wolf, things have to change. When you have a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old who have nothing in life to live for and they're so full of rage that they want to emulate a game, a video game and take on law enforcement, what's that say about the rest of the system?
The fact that these kids -- and what I can tell you about their background is, they are troubled and they have severe emotional and mental issues. And we're defunding not only the police, we're defunding mental health.
So these kids that were in a group home that was -- could, in no way, handle their needs, no way. They needed to be in a facility where they're getting intense treatment and intense supervision. It's not there and we're seeing it proliferate more and more.
In the county above me, we just had a 14-year-old kill his 13-year-old girlfriend, stabbed her to death and brag on social media, hey, you're not going to find her. So we're seeing this with our juveniles where human life is cheap and they're going to take anybody on.
BLITZER: Yes, it's so, so heartbreaking.
Director Ramirez, can individual police departments like yours, for example, in Miami-Dade confront this issue of gun violence on your own, or is it critical right now that the elected officials back you up on this?
RAMIREZ: Well, here in Miami-Dade County, our elected officials, our Mayor Cava, our 13 county commissioners are standing shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement to keep our community safe. And the things that we're experiencing here is exactly like the sheriff said, the brazen shootings involving with juveniles and social media. And it's a big challenge. It's a new wave of gun violence that I think is moving through the country. BLITZER: Yes, it's awful what's going on here in the United States of America. Sheriff Chitwood, Police Director Ramirez, we're grateful to both of you and all the men and women who work with you for all you do to protect all of us. Thank you so much for joining us.
RAMIREZ: Our pleasure, thank you, sir.
CHITWOOD: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Just ahead, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, now fighting for his political life. We have new details of his message to the country's lawmakers, that's next.
BLITZER: The formation of an unlikely new coalition government has moved the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, closer than ever to an end to his historic 12-year term in office. And tonight he's fighting right now for his political life.
Let's discuss and more with Fareed Zakaria, the Host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed, thanks for joining us.
Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted to this new coalition by tweeting this. And let me put it up on the screen. All the members of the Knesset that were chosen by right-wing voters have to be against this dangerous left-wing government. That's a quote from Netanyahu. He knows this coalition still has to get through parliament in the coming few days. He's not going down without a fight, is he?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": He's not going down without a fight. In fact, he's borrowed one of his great pal, Donald Trump's tricks. He has also said this is the fraud of the century.
He doesn't explain how, but he's claiming that the whole thing is fraud, which is now become one of Trump's sad legacies in the democratic world. That is there other people like him, like-minded, who realize that when you lose an election or election process, the best thing to do is to claim fraud, because then your supporters think of themselves as victims.
But he's right in his fundamental assessment that this is a fragile coalition. It includes parties to the right of him. Naftali Bennett, the next prime minister perhaps, is to the right of Bibi. There are others way to the left of him. And, of course, it includes for the first time Israeli Arabs. So, it is truly a motley crew.
BLITZER: Yeah, it's an unlikely coalition, but it could be a very important moment in Israel's history. The coalition has been cobbled together, as you know, Fareed, it will make it hard for either side of this new coalition, the left or the right, to carry out their specific vision. They're going to have to compromise and work around all of that.
So, where does that leave all the most complicated issues, like the creation of a Palestinian state, the future of East Jerusalem, Gaza, Iran and more?
ZAKARIA: So I think that the one issue they all agree on beyond disliking Bibi is they want to restore some order to the Israeli democracy. Remember, Bibi is under indictment -- three counts of indictment, prosecuted by his own hand-picked attorney general. And there is great sense he had been abusing his power. He had been making deals with media moguls.
So, part of the effort here is a kind of reform of democracy. I think that can go through. Some of the big spending, infrastructure, education issues can go through. The Israeli Arabs were pushing very hard for that.
But the core issues you laid out, Wolf, and you know this better than I, I think they're going to be on freeze. I think it's going to be very hard to imagine Naftali Bennett, who has said he does not believe there should ever be a Palestinian state, and Avigdor Lieberman who's also very, very right wing, making it -- you know, being able to do something in a government that also includes labor and also includes Israeli Arabs, I think they agree to disagree and therefore will probably not move that forward much.
BLITZER: Yeah, let's not forget that 20 percent of Israeli's, what, 8 million population, 2 million, are Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Muslims, Christian Jews. And now, for the first time they're going to be directly part of this government, assuming it's approved by the Knesset, Israeli's parliament in the coming days. It looks like it will be.
The change in Israel does coincide, Fareed, with a shift in some American attitudes towards its longtime ally, particularly after the latest Gaza war that was going on for 11 days.
How much will the new prime minister of Israel actually change? Do you think, will he change the U.S./Israeli relationship?
ZAKARIA: Well, he has an opportunity to stabilize it. The one thing that Bibi Netanyahu did that I think was really pernicious to the U.S./Israeli relationship was he totally politicized it. He made it one where he was effectively a Republican. He courted the Republican Party, blocked and thwarted and disrespected Barack Obama when he was president on the Iran deal. He palled around with Donald Trump, made it absolutely clear there was a deep ideological and personal connection.
I don't think that it's really difficult to remember -- you have a longer memory than I do, but I don't think any Israeli prime minister did that before. So one thing Bennett could do is to try to depoliticize it. Look, there are broader forces at work, as you were alluding to.
There's a part of the Democratic Party that feels the Palestinians' rights must be heard. But at the very least, Naftali Bennett can get Israel out of this partisan maw that's it been in for the last 10 years.
BLITZER: Yeah. Yair Lapid, the other leader of this new coalition, does believe in a two-state solution, Israel and a new state of Palestinian. So, we'll see what happens on that front. And as you point out, there is an Israeli Arab who's now a key member of this coalition.
Fareed, thanks very much for that analysis.
Also, tonight, the U.S. Justice Department is planning to make major changes to fight the growing surge of cyberattacks. Federal prosecutors are now being directed to apply terrorism protocols to ransomware cases.
Our senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt has more.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We can't do this alone. That's the message from the White House to private companies in the growing war against cyberattacks.
A rare open letter first obtained by CNN was sent today by the top cyber official in the National Security Council, Anne Neuberger, to business leaders nationwide appealing for immediate action, saying: we urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and insure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat.
The government is limited in what it can force companies to do, while attackers only get more brazen.
JOHN HULTQUIST, MANDIANT THREAT INTELLIGENCE: They really are in an impossible position. I think the way we're going really get after this is to basically start focusing on these adversaries. The government is going to have to step up and find ways to put pressure on these criminals.
MARQUARDT: The Biden administration says it has told Moscow it expects the Russian government to crack down on cybercriminals operating inside Russia.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think there's an obligation on Russia's part to make sure that that doesn't continue.
MARQUARDT: This comes after the back-to-back Russian ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods which caused gas shortages and meat processing to shut down. It's not clear whether JBS paid a ransom while Colonial paid almost
$4.5 million to get back online, something the administration discourages.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our focus is on the destruction of ransomware infrastructure and actors, including through close cooperation with the private sector, part of that communication, building an international coalition.
MARQUARDT: Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the string of recent Russian cyberattacks by both government and criminal hackers will be a topic at the president's summit in Geneva in two weeks.
In the meantime, a White House official tells CNN they are looking at ways to require stronger cybersecurity standards for those companies that operate critical infrastructure.
Today's White House memo suggests five fundamental things that companies can do immediately to shore up their defenses, as the threat from ransomware attackers is not only spiking but evolving, from trying to steal companies and organization's data to trying shut down their operations.
LIOR DIV, CEO, CYBEREASON: If they believe that a company can pay and can pay a lot, they become a target almost immediately. If they believe that this company don't have the right measures in place, they're going to go after them for sure.
MARQUARDT (on camera): So, in another sign that the Biden administration is taking this plague of ransomware seriously, we now have this memo from the Justice Department saying essentially, they are going to be treating ransomware with the same process, the same protocols as terrorism cases. And what that means, Wolf, that there's going to be more alerting within the Justice Department. If things happen in the country, U.S. attorneys will raise that with the Justice Department here in Washington, D.C. There's going to be more information sharing, more coordination, more resources for these ransomware attacks.
So, this is a recognition by the Biden administration of this major, major issue that the country and really world is now facing.
BLITZER: Yeah, it's a really critically important and very dangerous development unfolding.
Alex, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, troubling news from the CDC about the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations here in the United States. We're going to talk to the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that's next.
BLITZER: Tonight, new data from the CDC shows that the average number of COVID-19 vaccinations here in the United States has now fallen below 1 million a day for the first time since January.
Let's talk about this and more with Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Frieden, thanks for joining us.
How concerning is this news because as of right now, what, only about 41 percent of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated?
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: We've made enormous progress. We're ahead of anyone thought we would be, both in terms of the number of people vaccinated with more than 85 percent of seniors vaccinated, and the number of cases, where we dipped below 10,000 for the first time in a long time today with the weekly average still about 15,000.
So we're making a lot of progress. But frankly, we're ending -- we're entering kind of the slog phase of the vaccination campaign, where people who are most eager to have it, and most able to have it have gotten it, now we need to make it easier to get and listen to the concerns, to find the messengers and the messages that work, and to emphasize that this vaccine is astonishingly effective and very, very safe.
BLITZER: Yeah, it certainly is. We're also learning, Dr. Frieden, more about how people who are immuno-compromised may not be getting full protection, though, from the vaccines. What should millions of Americans out there who are immuno-compromised know about this?
FRIEDEN: This is a complicated area, and we're still learning more. The data we have is mostly from laboratory studies of blood tests, rather than actual breakthrough infections. But that data is concerning enough, particularly for people who have organ transplants, particularly solid organ transplants, kidney, heart, to say you may not be well protected, particularly if the virus is still circulating in the community, and if you're in an indoor space with people who aren't wearing masks, you probably should keep a good mask tightly fitted on.
That's why for immuno suppressed people, we need to be more careful. But for the vast majority of people, vaccination means protection. And the more people who are vaccinated, the better all of us are protected.
So, vaccination doesn't just protect you, it protects the people around you. And increasing vaccination really is a route to a safer, healthier community to more jobs, more economic recovery. And frankly to more freedom to do the things we have missed doing for so long.
BLITZER: Yeah, there's a lot of issues out there, and sadly, Dr. Frieden, there are people out there still refusing to go out and do something very simple, simply get a shot and get another shot and be protected. But they don't want to do it for whatever reason. It's so, so disturbing. And for them themselves, it's very dangerous.
The former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, thanks as usual for joining us.
FRIEDEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.
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