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State of the Union

Interview With Senior Presidential Adviser Anita Dunn; Interview With Cindy McCain; Interview With Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 02, 2021 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): A big tent? President Biden lays out his sweeping agenda.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.

TAPPER: But as challenges grow, is he open to a different approach? I will speak with President Biden's senior adviser, Anita Dunn, and, in a rare one-on-one interview, moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins, next.

And a divided House. Republicans look to punish leaders who broke with former President Trump, as the House minority leader doubles down on the big lie and a lot of big little lies. In today's Republican Party, is there room for anyone else? I will speak with Biden backer and the wife of the late Senator John McCain, Cindy McCain, next.

Plus: waiting to exhale. The number of U.S. COVID deaths hits the lowest rate in months, but vaccination rates are also starting to slow. How can the U.S. make the case to those who are hesitant to get the shot?


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is trying to build bridges, literally and figuratively.

President Biden's massive multitrillion-dollar plans for the nation's infrastructure, as well as his plan to expand social safety net programs, are now being put to the test in a Congress more divided than at any time in modern history, as polls show a majority of Americans do nonetheless want political leaders to prioritize being bipartisan over achieving everything they want to accomplish.

For many in the Republican Party, however, the focus seems to be elsewhere, too many continuing to embrace this culture of lying about Biden's proposals, about the election, about the vaccine, about the insurrection, and punishing their fellow Republican lawmakers who don't demonstrate adequate fealty to former President Trump, including, on Saturday, booing the Republican presidential nominee from 2012, Mitt Romney.

I will talk to key moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins about the state of her party and whether bipartisanship is possible on the urgent issues facing the nation. That's ahead.

But, first, let's start with Biden's policy goals all of which, frankly, face an uncertain future and the U.S. Senate. Might that lead to a change in tactics?

Joining me now is senior adviser to President Biden, Anita Dunn.

Anita, thanks for joining us today.

So, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said on this show last week that he wants Biden's infrastructure bill divided up, so that there will be included in it a separate package focused on traditional infrastructure.

Are you looking into going that route, splitting up the packages, so you can at least get one bill, infrastructure, passed with bipartisan support in Congress?

ANITA DUNN, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Good morning, Jake, and thank you for having me on this very beautiful Sunday in Washington.

President Biden has been clear that he knows this is a negotiation, that he knows that negotiation requires compromise at some point, and that he wants to move this package forward in a bipartisan way, if that's possible.

He had a very good conversation with West Virginia Senator Capito at the end of last week. She and some of her Republican colleagues had stepped forward with a counterproposal package that does focus around traditional infrastructure.

And this is something we plan to have serious discussions with Senator Capito and her colleagues. The president has said his red line is inaction, that we cannot afford not to make these investments in America's economy, in America's workers, in good jobs for workers.

No. We have talked about infrastructure for years. Democrats and Republicans both acknowledge we need to make these investments in making our economy competitive with the global economy. So, we're looking forward to having discussions. We are open to people's ideas.

This is discussion time and idea time for the White House.

TAPPER: So, Biden invited Senate Republicans to meet with him again at the White House for infrastructure negotiations later this month.

He has said it's a no-go if they're only willing to agree to one- fourth or one-fifth of what he's proposed, which is $2.3 trillion. Now, as you note, Senator Capito has put together a proposal. It's about $600 billion.

Would the president be willing to go down from $2.3 trillion to, say, a trillion dollars, in order to reach compromise? I'm not asking you to negotiate with me, but are you saying that there is a possibility of meeting in the middle somewhere when it comes to how much money to be spent?

DUNN: The president has been clear that he is willing to negotiate, that he's willing to compromise, and that he believes that Democrats and Republicans should be able to find common ground on these common goals for our country, goals that both parties agree on, that they believe we need to fix these roads and bridges.


But we also need to build the infrastructure for the future. And that means rural areas need broadband as much as urban areas do for an affordable cost. It means that we need to get the lead out of drinking water. It is unconscionable that, in 2021, we still have so many children who are drinking out of fountains at their schools where you have water going through pipes that have lead in them still.

So, there is a lot of agreement here, Jake. And I think that what we are going to do at the White House and what President Biden has clearly said he wants to do is to look for those areas of agreement and to build on those.

TAPPER: I want to turn to mask-wearing, because, despite new CDC guidelines saying that fully back vaccinated people like the president generally do not need to wear masks outdoors or even if they're indoors with small groups of people who are also vaccinated, but President Biden doesn't seem to be following that.

He got his shot months ago. He still wears a mask walking outside in public appearances. He still wears a mask indoors with people who are also vaccinated.

Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen warns that that could actually discourage people from getting vaccinated -- quote -- "At best," she says, "it makes public health measures seem performative, rather than science-based. At worst, it calls vaccine efficacy into question."

Should the president start following these guidelines and stop wearing a mask outdoors, stop wearing a mask indoors when with small groups of other vaccinated Americans, to show the American people there's a benefit to getting the vaccine, you can take the mask off?

DUNN: Jake, it's interesting that you raise this.

I myself found that I was still wearing my mask outdoors this week, because it has become such a matter of habit. I think the president takes the CDC guidelines very seriously. And he's always taken his role as sending a signal to follow the science very seriously as well.

We do take some extra precautions for him because he is the president of the United States. But I would say that people should follow the CDC guidelines, and they should take advantage of getting the vaccine, getting fully vaccinated, and taking that mask off, particularly as the weather grows so beautiful and we all want to be outside.

It's a lot more fun to take that outside walk without a mask, that outside bike ride. And I think that, as people get vaccinated, they're enjoying it and they're enjoying that freedom.

So, as we move forward, I think that you will see more and more people enjoying that freedom, getting the vaccine and realizing it's one big step towards normalcy in this country.

TAPPER: Yes, more and more people, including the president, perhaps.

Let me ask you, because we're running out of time, India is experiencing one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the world right now. Hospitals there are overwhelmed. Crematoriums are burning throughout the night, as the dead bodies pile up.

I understand that the U.S. has begun sending some supplies to India to help. But the U.S. is also sitting on millions of doses -- doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the U.S. Why isn't the Biden administration releasing the AstraZeneca stockpile right now to save lives in India, which is a close ally of the United States, in desperate, desperate need?

DUNN: So, to be clear, Jake, there isn't some huge warehouse filled with AstraZeneca vaccines that we can just release at a moment's notice.

The president earlier this week did announce that he is going to use the AstraZeneca vaccines that this country has ordered that have not been cleared, as you pointed out, for use in the United States, but that he is going to share them with the world, so India and other countries as well, because this is -- as he said in his speech, this virus isn't going to be kept out by any wall.

There's no wall high enough to keep the virus out. It's a global health emergency. And so the president has said we have enough vaccine in the United States without AstraZeneca to vaccinate everybody who's eligible right now. Those are people who are 16 years and older.

And if you haven't gotten your vaccine, we would urge you to start doing it, because it is the single best way to get back to normal in this country.

But in terms of the AstraZeneca, as soon as it is ready to be shared with the world, we plan to share it. The president has said that. We also had our first aid flights to India land there on Friday. They will continue. We are getting them essential products that they need urgently, oxygen, PPE.

It's a global health crisis.


DUNN: And, unfortunately, what is going on in India is something that we have to worry about for the rest of the world as well.

TAPPER: Right.

Lastly -- we're running out of time, Anita. President Biden said in an interview that schools should probably all be open in the fall. Can you clarify? Is it the Biden administration's position that all K-12 schools should be back full-time, in person learning start of next school year?


And is the Biden White House willing to push back on any teachers unions or others who stake out any position to the contrary not backed up by science?

DUNN: So, Jake, one of the great accomplishments of this administration and one the president is very proud of is that 80 percent of the teachers and school personnel in this country have now been vaccinated.

If you recall, a couple of months ago, we -- the president made the announcement that we were going to have a special supply of vaccine dedicated precisely for this reason. Now, he said probably. He didn't say absolutely.

But, given the science, if the vaccination program in this country proceeds, if people do go get their vaccines, there -- he does believe that schools should be able to reopen in September, and reopen safely, following the CDC guidelines.

But he said probably. He said -- did not say absolutely, because we have all seen this since, unfortunately, January of 2020. It's an unpredictable virus.

TAPPER: Yes. Fair enough.

DUNN: It is a virus that has -- it mutates.

It's -- so, we can't look in a crystal ball and say what September looks like. But we do believe that, if people go get their vaccine -- they have doubts about it, they should ask their doctor. They should ask people who've already gotten it.


DUNN: They should certainly do their own research.

But, if people get their vaccine, if schools follow the CDC guidelines, then, as he said, we probably should be able to have them open.

TAPPER: All right, Anita Dunn, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

Go enjoy this beautiful weather.

In a party where it's bad politics to simply say hello to the president, where's the room for compromise? I'm going to ask a senator known for working across the aisle. Senator

Susan Collins joins me next live from Bangor, Maine.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Former Republican presidential nominee and current Republican Senator Mitt Romney being booed down, and narrowly avoided being censured by Utah's Republican Party last night, because of his criticism and vote to impeach former President Trump.

It's just one more example of the Republican base's ongoing loyalty to former President Trump. The big question, of course, what now? Is there room for anything else?

My next guest is a moderate Republican with a history of reaching across the aisle. She surprised a lot of people by decisively winning her seat again in 2020.

Joining me now exclusively for her first national TV interview in quite a long time, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She joins us live from Bangor.

Senator, it's an honor to have you. Thank you so much.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you, Jake. Great to join you.

TAPPER: So, you just heard from top White House adviser Anita Dunn laying out a case for the president's infrastructure package.

The $600 billion Republican proposal offered by Senator Capito and others is just a fraction of what Biden's offering. Now, you say that Biden's plan has $938 billion in traditional infrastructure. So, are you willing to go that high on the compromise, $938 billion, $1 trillion?

Is that, like, a good part -- point for discussion?

COLLINS: Well, at this point, I think, now that the Republicans have put forth a reasonable offer, it's up to the president to do a counteroffer to us.

I would point out that, if you look at all of the president's recent proposals, they total more than $4.1 trillion. That's the amount that we spent to win World War II. So, this is an enormous package, when you take both the traditional core infrastructure parts and the huge expansion of social programs that the president is advocating.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, in World War II dollars, of course. But I take your point. It's a big...


TAPPER: It's a big proposal.

Now, you have said that a modest increase in the corporate tax rate would be OK with you to help pay for infrastructure, because Biden is proposing tax increases to try to pay for at least some of these proposals. The current corporate tax rate is 21 percent. Biden wants 28 percent.

Would you be willing to meet in the middle at 25 percent or so?

COLLINS: Well, let me tell you what I won't support. I won't support American businesses paying the highest corporate tax rate among developed countries in the world once again.

And, unfortunately, that's what 28 percent would be. And that means that jobs would once again go overseas. So, I think we need to look at a wide variety of pay-fors. But, first, we need to determine the scope of the bill and we need to determine what the top line is going to be.

There are a host of different ways to pay for it. And -- but that's premature to get to, until we decide the amount and what exactly is it going to cover?

TAPPER: Let me ask you, because some of your Republican -- Republican colleagues have suggested that Biden's calls for bipartisanship were just campaign rhetoric, just a charade, and he's been governing as a far left, partisan Democrat.

You served with Joe Biden in the Senate for quite some time. When's the last time you talked with him? Is he trying to win your vote? Is he trying to work with you?

COLLINS: I last talked with him on Super Bowl Sunday. He called me out of the blue.

At that point, we were talking about the COVID package. And I was very disappointed, having led a group of 10 Republicans who went to the White House with a good-faith first offer on the COVID package. And the very next day, unfortunately, Senator Schumer triggered a process in the budget -- it's known as reconciliation -- that essentially is used the block out the minority party.


So, this is going to be a test for Joe Biden. The Joe Biden that I knew in the Senate was always interested in negotiation. I thought very highly of him. I like him. I worked with him.

This is going to be a test on whether President Biden is truly interested in bipartisanship. If he is, we can get there on the core infrastructure package. And by that, it means roads, bridges, highways, rail, waterways, and, of course, broadband.

TAPPER: Yes, reconciliation used to pass the Trump tax cuts, though, right? COLLINS: I'm sorry?

TAPPER: Reconciliation was also used to pass the Trump tax cuts.

I mean, it's not just Democrats who use that to shut out the minority party. Republicans just did it too.

COLLINS: There was a different approach that was used for the 2017 tax cuts. We did go through committee. There were extensive hearings. There was a markup. That's not what happened with the COVID package.

Now, the president says that is because it is an emergency. But, in the case of infrastructure, we have time to go through the committee process, to hear from experts, to get diverse views, and to try to come together. And I hope very much that that is what we will do.

And I have indicated to the two Cabinet secretaries that I have talked recently to, the secretary of commerce and the secretary of transportation, that I am willing to work very hard to achieve a consensus package.

TAPPER: Let me ask you.

The House just passed legislation to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. The legislation is now in the Senate. Where are you on that?

COLLINS: Washington, D.C., is a city. It's not a state.

Now, there is a way to ensure that the residents of D.C. have voting representation in Congress, and that is for D.C. to become part of Maryland, just as parts of D.C. became parts of Virginia many years ago.

That would give the residents of D.C. a new House member, and they would be represented in the Senate by Maryland senators. So, I think that's a good way for us to approach this issue. There are also constitutional issues to be dealt with.

TAPPER: Let me ask you.

You're on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Federal investigators are looking into at least two incidents of the so-called Havana syndrome, attacks in the United States, mysterious, invisible attacks, leading to symptoms such as ear popping, vertigo, headaches, nausea.

One of the attacks came near the White House. It sickened a national security official.

You have been focusing on this on the Intelligence Committee. What have you learned that you can tell us? How concerned should Americans be?

COLLINS: I am absolutely outraged at these attacks on our American personnel serving overseas. They started in Havana or were identified there. There's a mysterious, direct energy weapon that is being used. And it

is causing, in some cases, permanent traumatic brain injury. And yet the personnel involved -- there have been other attacks around the world -- have had a difficult time getting both the medical care and the financial help that they need from the CIA. And that is outrageous.

What we need to do -- and I'm introducing, working on legislation -- is to ensure they get the medical care and the financial compensation that they need. And we need a whole-of-government approach to identify what adversary is targeting American personnel who are serving particularly overseas, but now we hear reports of cases here.

I am hopeful that, with the new CIA director, whom I have talked to about this issue twice, he is committed. And, also, the chair, Mark Warner, and the vice chair, Marco Rubio, of the Intelligence Committee have announced that we're going to continue our investigations and get to the bottom of these absolutely outrageous attacks on our men and women who are serving our country.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the state of the Republican Party.

Your fellow Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who I believe is a friend of yours, he was booed by delegates at the Utah Republican Convention yesterday. What was your reaction when you saw that clip of him being booed and the close vote to censure him?


COLLINS: I was appalled. Mitt Romney is an outstanding senator who serves his state and our country well.

We Republicans need to remember that we are united by fundamental principles, such as a belief in personal responsibility, individual freedom, opportunity, free markets, a strong national defense. Those are the principles that unite us.

We are not a party that is led by just one person. There are many prominent, upcoming younger men and women in our party who hold great promise for leading us. And I think that all of us who abide by those principles should remember Ronald Reagan's admonition to Republicans that the person who agrees with you 70 or 80 percent of the time is your friend, not your enemy.

TAPPER: And yet, if you look at what's going on in the House among Republicans, I mean, some Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, are attacking and trying to undermine Congresswoman Liz Cheney just for fist-bumping Biden on the floor, also for speaking out against Trump's lies about the election.

They're obviously also upset she voted to impeach the president.

Is it politically dangerous to be a Republican like Liz Cheney, who tries to stand up for facts and truth regarding the election and the insurrection?

COLLINS: Liz Cheney is a woman of strength and conscience. And she did what she felt was right. And I salute her for that.

We need to be accepting of differences in our party. We don't want to become like too much of the Democratic Party, which has been taken over by the progressive left. We need to have room for a variety of views, especially since we adhere to those core principles that I mentioned earlier.

TAPPER: After President Trump was impeached for the first time for urging Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden, you said that you believed, you hoped that the president had learned his lesson.

Now, I know you said that that was aspirational. But, after Biden won, the president obviously attempted to overturn the legitimate election results. It culminated in the Capitol attack.

Do you ever wonder that Trump did learn a lesson, but the lesson he learned was that he can get away with anything?

COLLINS: Well, first of all, that was an interview that was grossly misedited. It chopped out the rest of what I'd said, which was, in dealing with foreign governments...


COLLINS: ... I hoped that the president has learned the lesson.

But to get to your point, I have been involved in three impeachment trials. I voted to acquit President Clinton and President Trump the first time, to convict him the second time. In each case, what I have done is listen to the facts, apply the evidence, and follow the constitutional standard for convicting a president.

My approach has not changed. I used exactly the same criteria, the criteria that the Constitution requires. In the first two cases, I did not feel that the conduct was proven to meet the highest bar for removing a president from office. In the third case, I felt it did.

TAPPER: Yes. No, it wasn't really a question about your behavior. It was a question about Trump and whether or not he learned the wrong lesson.

But let me ask you, as long as we're on the subject of your feelings about Trump, did -- you didn't say who you voted for in 2020. You were running for reelection. I certainly can understand that. Maine is a state with a lot of independents and independent-minded people.

But now that the election is over, who did you vote for in 2020?


COLLINS: Nice try, Jake. I got asked that a great deal. And I'm going to keep my vote private.

To me, my election was always all about who can better represent Maine and the country. I will work with whomever is the president. I have done that with four presidents. And I'm going to continue to do that with Joe Biden, with President Biden.

To me, that's important, the ability to be able to work with the president, whether or not the president is of your party, and also to be able to work across the aisle and forge bipartisan consensus on the many important issues that we face.


And I hope to be successful in helping to forge a bipartisan infrastructure package.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, it's great to see you.

Don't be such a stranger. Hope to have you on again sometime soon. Thanks for joining us.

COLLINS: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: John McCain has been gone for three years now. Would he even recognize the Republican Party today?

His widow, Cindy McCain, on her husband's legacy and her possible role in a Biden administration.

That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Biden is marking his first 100 days in office.

But, in Arizona, Republicans in the state Senate appear still to be stuck in November of last year, perhaps even stuck on a different planet. They have orchestrated a secretive review of ballots cast in the 2020 election. And, really, no part of it, from their motivations to their methods, stand up to any serious scrutiny.

Joining me now is somebody who has her own history with the Arizona Republican Party, Cindy McCain, widow of former Senator John McCain and author of the great new book "Stronger: Courage, Hope, and Humor in My Life With John McCain."

Thanks so much for joining us, Cindy. It's always good to see you.


TAPPER: So, let me ask you just about this bizarre episode going on in your home state, six months after the election, Republicans in Arizona doing something -- it's just downright bizarre.

They brought in a guy who's an election liar to lead an audit of ballots from Maricopa County, even though the election board there is led by Republicans. They're using ultraviolet light and other methods to examine ballots, looking for evidence of voter fraud, obviously, the same lie that fueled the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

What do you make of all this? Is the Arizona Republican Party undermining democracy?

MCCAIN: Oh, I -- listen, the whole thing is ludicrous, quite frankly. It's ludicrous.

And this also comes from a state party in Arizona that refused to be audited themselves on votes that were cast within their own party communications.

So, it's -- the election is over. Biden won. I know many of them don't like the outcome, but elections have consequences. And so I -- this does not surprise me. Things are just aloof and crazy out there right now with regards to the election.

TAPPER: Quite a contrast with how your late husband lost the election in 2008...


TAPPER: ... when he, in his speech...

MCCAIN: I know.

TAPPER: ... told people to stand behind Barack Obama.

I want to ask you about President Biden's decision and announcement to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Obviously, Senator McCain was a decorated very veteran. He's a staunch supporter of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And your son Jack deployed to Afghanistan. He flew choppers there. He's constantly tweeting photographs of the Afghans that he flew with.


TAPPER: But what's going through your mind now that this two-decade- long war is coming to an end?

MCCAIN: Well, I have often thought what John would say right now, what he would be feeling and thinking about the pullout.

And I think it would be more about how we pull out. It's -- as you have seen, the Taliban and al Qaeda are both kind of spinning back up again. And so I don't know that I can't -- I'm not one to judge whether or not this is right or wrong. I don't have any military expertise.

But I do know many lives were lost. And unless we do this the correct way -- and I believe we will -- I believe in the president -- that the whole -- the whole effort will be for nothing unless we do it correctly. And so I think -- I have seen that our military leaders are in favor

of this, to some degree. So, I have my best faith in what the president's decision has been.

TAPPER: Speaking of the president, Politico reports that you're being vetted to be the ambassador to the United Nations World Food Program, which would make you the first Republican appointed to a Senate- confirmed position in the Biden administration.

If Biden were to officially offer you that position, would you accept it?

MCCAIN: You know, right now, I'm concentrating on three-and-a-half grandbabies -- we have another one on the way -- and my work, as you know, on human trafficking and human rights violations.

So, I would -- listen, I'm proud for the work that I have done for the president. I was grateful to be able to endorse him and be a part of the campaign. So, I will -- in whatever way that he sees fit, I would be proud and honored to serve.

TAPPER: It's going to be three years in August since your husband's passing.

You have said in other interviews that writing this book helped you with the grieving process. President Biden is fond of saying that the day will come when the thought of a lost loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.


TAPPER: He's a man that knows from grief.

MCCAIN: Right.

TAPPER: Have you reached that yet, where the memory of Senator McCain makes you smile before it makes you sad?

MCCAIN: I'm getting there. I really am.

I mean, he -- obviously, as you said, writing this book has been very cathartic for me. And it gave me -- because of COVID, because of the period of time that I wrote it, it really helped me grieve, and -- because I hadn't faced that yet.

And so I'm almost there. It's hard, though. It's a process. And nobody else's process is like your own. And you have to be able to do it on your own. So, it's helpful. It's been nice to relive a lot of the really fun things that I did with him.


TAPPER: What about all the life that is being brought into the McCain land? Does that help at all?


TAPPER: Meghan just had a baby.

MCCAIN: Oh, that really...

TAPPER: Jimmy is about to have a second baby.

This is -- does it help? Does it have an effect?

MCCAIN: Oh, it has a great effect. I mean, life goes on.

Jimmy's first baby, Luke, was born almost to the day that John died. And so there's something in that tells me that he -- that John obviously wanted us to move on. And that's very, very much a part of this.

But it's so exciting. I just love it to death. I really do.

TAPPER: All right. Well, I'm glad you're enjoying being a grandma.



TAPPER: And maybe you will be an ambassador. And we will talk to you -- we will talk to you then, I assume.


TAPPER: Congratulations on the book, Cindy. Good to see you.

MCCAIN: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.

TAPPER: The House minority leader repeats an already-debunked lie about Joe Biden as the Hamburgler. Is nonsense just now part of the House GOP platform?

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Facts and truth often get beaten up on their way to you. There's context, spin, narrative, people make mistakes. But I want to talk today about the notion of just downright falsehoods, lies, inventions, because there were several moments this week in which complete and utter nonsense was injected into mainstream politics.

One was a story that twisted the conclusions of an academic paper from 2020 about reducing greenhouse gases to essentially invent the idea the President Biden's climate plan will limit to American's to one hamburger a month. It was nonsense. Biden had nothing to do with any proposal like that.

[09:45:00] The story was reported by the usual MAGA media but it was so false by last Monday even some of them acknowledged the lie and issued corrections. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was still out there pushing the lie about Biden as Hamburglar.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He wants control of your life. He's going to control how much meat you can eat. Can you imagine that?


TAPPER: Can I imagine that? I mean, I would you like to imagine a House Republican Leader who didn't find it so easy to lie to the American people. But too many leaders of the GOP are just all in on pure nonsense.

Last Monday the Chair of the Republican National Committee Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted, quote, "After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris' book to migrants in facilities at the border, it's worth asking. Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden's border crisis," unquote.

This was a reference to another down right lie. A story that first appeared in The New York Post that grabbed a photo of one copy of the children's book by the vice president in a shelter, and invented this fiction that the book was being handed out in welcome kits given to migrant children at a shelter in Long Beach, California. Not true. And that Harris was, as McDaniel falsely suggested, quote, "profiting from Biden's border crisis," unquote.

None of it is true. It was one book donated to the shelter. The New York Post deleted the story, then they rewrote it. The so-called journalist who wrote it up no longer works for the post. She said it was incorrect story she was forced to write, The Post denies that.

In any case, the story about the vice president's book was a lie. It was all made up. Guess what? Ronna McDaniel's tweet is still up. Why? Well, why not? I mean this tweet's still up, from the organization that she runs, the Republican National Committee, featuring prevaricating attorney Sidney Powell falsely claiming, quote, "President Trump won in a landslide," unquote.

The same lies fuelling this deranged recount going on in Arizona this week. Led by another election liar and encouraged down in Mar-a-Lago.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I wouldn't be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes. So we're going to watch that very closely. And after that you'll watch Pennsylvania and you'll watch Georgia and you're going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you're watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire.


TAPPER: I mean, it is just incredible that that sad scene represents what so many folks consider intimidating. Lie after lie after lie. Look, I'm not talking about opinions. If people want to rail against Biden's border policies or his $6 trillion worth of proposals or whatever, have at it. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about made up convoluted crap and it's having an impact. Look at the polls showing that almost half of Republican voters will likely refuse to get vaccinated while Republican leaders with zero medical expertise, zero such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, take to the airwaves to contradict health experts urging vaccinations.


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R-WI): Because it's not a fully proved vaccine, I think we probably should have limit the distribution to the really -- to the vulnerable.


TAPPER: I mean, what is this? Does he really think every one of the more than 576,000 people in the U.S. who have died and the millions who have gotten very sick, does he think every one of them was just in the really vulnerable group? Because they were not.

Is Senator Johnson trying to get more Americans sick? We have multiple vaccines that work. Trump got vaccinated.

The incentive structure in the Republican Party and its media, does not punish those who spread bad medical advice or lies. In fact, quite the opposite. Telling the truth as a Republican official can be hazardous to your political health.

Here's Utah Senator Mitt Romney yesterday being booed at the Utah Republican Convention. Romney was trying to criticize Biden's policies and his approach, but it was a struggle for him to get those words out because of his words and votes previously against Trump.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R-UT): And I'm also no fan --

(GROUP): Boo. (Inaudible) respect.


TAPPER: House Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming has been attacked for standing up for the facts about the election and supporting the impeachment of Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection.


This week, after Cheney came out in support of a commission that would focus on the insurrection, McCarthy and his deputy Steve Scalise, both all-in election liars, started attempting to undermine Cheney in earnest.

As Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, another House Republican who voted to impeach former President Trump, told our Manu Raju this week, quote: If a prerequisite for leading our conference is lying to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit, unquote.

It's my opinion that the United States needs a healthy, thriving, fact-based Republican Party. It is difficult to look at these events, all of them just from the last week, and conclude that we have one.

A look at debate over policing reform from advantage points you might not have seen before. That's next.


TAPPER: A bipartisan group in Congress is still working hard to try to find compromise on policing reform, but in the meantime, police shootings have, of course, not stopped.

My colleague W. Kamau Bell dives into that topic this evening with a look at the current state of policing in America as seen through the lives of activists, organizers, politicians, victims, and police themselves.


UNKNOWN: It's time for a new season of United Shades of America.

UNKNOWN: We going to have a conversation.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: We have a conversation. That's all I do.

UNKNOWN: And you know, we got a lot to talk about.

BELL: I'm glad we're getting right into details.

UNKNOWN: It does matter that you are not harming anybody but also that you're proactively being anti-racist, like being --

BELL: Yes.

UNKNOWN: -- anti-(inaudible) --

BELL: Yes.

UNKNOWN: I see white supremacy. I'm not just talking about white people.

UNKNOWN: I shouldn't be going out there with pepper spray and a baton just to keep myself safe from preaching that my life matters.

UNKNOWN: The system is broken. It needs to be completely stripped down to bare bones and rebuilt.

UNKNOWN: We're not just fighting against something, we're fighting for something. BELL: So it's about research to collect the evidence, and then how do

you put that out into the world?

UNKNOWN: We have a website.

UNKNOWN: We have a website --

BELL: Okay.


UNKNOWN: We're asking questions people haven't thought about before.

BELL: I'm having some virtual reality low self-esteem.

UNKNOWN: A new season of United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell premieres tonight at 10:00 on CNN.