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State of the Union
Interview With Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA); Interview With Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA); Interview With Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI); Interview With Senior Presidential Adviser Cedric Richmond; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 23, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Counteroffer. President Biden drops the price on his plan to rebuild America.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will compromise, but doing nothing is not an option.
BASH: But with even some key Democrats still skeptical, what's next? I will speak with White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond in moments.
And truth on tape. Another shocking video of a black man dying after an encounter with police, as the nation grapples with an epidemic of violence against black and brown men. Are we any closer to addressing it?
Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Lucy McBath join me to discuss.
Plus: political violence. Senate Republicans changing their minds on a January 6 commission.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I have made the decision to oppose the House Democrats' slanted and unbalanced proposal.
BASH: Why? I will speak with Republican Congressman Peter Meijer and former Republican Senator Scott Brown ahead.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is hitting a wall.
With Senate Republicans this week likely to kill legislation to create a bipartisan commission on the January 6 Capitol insurrection, it begs the question, if Congress can't agree on investigating an attack in which they were the target, what will they be able to agree on?
Much of President Biden's sweeping agenda is currently stalled in Congress while Democrats try to reach compromise with Republicans, and on some issues even within their own party. Now, the House is now on a three-week break, as initiatives from gun control to voting rights don't appear to be making headway.
In moments, we will talk with Senator Cory Booker about where things stand on police reform, as Democrats acknowledge they are all but certain to miss a key deadline this week.
But we start with the president's big push on infrastructure. On Friday, the White House dropped the price tag to $1.7 trillion down from the original $2.25 trillion. But a spokeswoman for the lead Republican negotiations said the White House counteroffer suggests that the two sides were actually getting further apart.
Joining me now is White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
So, let's start there.
Republicans say the White House proposal is still too broad because it includes what you call human infrastructure, things like childcare and elderly care, which they say don't belong in this infrastructure package.
So, is the president willing to narrow his plans and his scope even further in order to reach a deal?
CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I think the president coming down $550 billion off of his initiative proposal, I think shows the willingness to negotiate in good face -- faith and in a serious manner.
And the real question is whether the Republicans will meet the effort that the president is showing. He came down on two areas, infrastructure and broadband, both areas that are important to him. But it's a sincere effort to move this country forward.
But the president has been very clear. Inaction is not an option.
BASH: And what about the scope, the question I asked about whether he's willing to compromise on the other aspects of the bill, never mind the dollar sign, but on childcare, elderly care, which Republicans say don't belong in this?
RICHMOND: Look, the president is very clear and many of the business leaders around the country are clear that the country has to compete for the future.
And electric vehicles are important to the president. So, it's in there, and he did not come down on that. And the human investment is important to the president. And so the red lines that the president has dictated, he will not raise taxes on people who make less than $400,000 a year, he will not let inaction be the final answer, and he's going to continue to invest in the American people and the infrastructure, so that we can win tomorrow. BASH: Let me ask you about what your former colleague Pramila
Jayapal, who is the chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, tweeted on Friday.
She said: "I don't think Republicans will ever compromise, and neither should we when it comes to delivering for the people. Let's go big, bold, fast, and on our own."
So, how much longer is the president willing to pursue a bipartisan deal before moving forward, at least trying to move forward, without Republicans?
RICHMOND: Look, he wants a deal. He wants it soon.
But as there are meaningful negotiations going, taking place in a bipartisan manner, he's willing to let that play out. But, again, he will not let inaction be the answer. When it gets to the point where it looks that is inevitable, you will see him change course.
But, for now, we're engaged in what we want to be a bipartisan infrastructure bill that invests in the backbone of this country, the middle class and our future.
BASH: I want to read something that President Biden said in an interview this week with "New York Times" columnist David Brooks.
He said -- quote -- "The progressives don't like me because I'm not prepared to take on what I would say and they would say is a socialist agenda."
The president is saying the progressive agenda is socialist. Really?
RICHMOND: No, I don't think that's what he's saying.
But what I will say is that the president passed a $1.9 trillion bill that reduced child poverty by 50 percent, black poverty by 34 percent, Hispanic poverty by 38 percent, and AAPI poverty by 22 percent.
That is progressive, it's bold, and it's transformational. And so I think the president is always talking about what he has done, what he can get done. And he's not a president that walks around talking about labels. He's a president that just meets the challenges he's faced with and keeps the promises he has made.
BASH: Yes. And he's not somebody who generally talks about labels, which is why this really stood out.
And I will say, again, this is his quote: "I'm not prepared to take on what I would say and they would say is a socialist agenda."
Those are his words.
RICHMOND: Well, look, I don't think that the definition of the agenda matters. I think it's the result of the agenda. And reducing child poverty, investing in families, building our
infrastructure, so we can compete for tomorrow, and making a significant statement and assistance for real policing reform in this country, those are things that are important to him. And those are things that are important to progressives and moderates and others as well.
So, we're just in the business of getting the work done.
BASH: I want to turn to something -- and, actually before I do, I want to warn our viewers that they might find video that they're going to see disturbing, but it is important for them to see it.
The Anti-Defamation League is warning of a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate in America following incidents like what our viewers are seeing right now, what happened in Times Square. A Jewish man was attacked during a dueling pro-Israel and Palestinian protest.
Anti-Semitic attacks like this are happening from coast to coast. So, Congressman, what does the president plan to do to address it?
RICHMOND: The rise in hate, period, is something that this administration has been focused on from the beginning, whether it's AAPI hate that came from COVID-19 and the dangerous rhetoric that we heard, or whether it's anti-Semitic violence.
We're concerned about, one, homegrown violent extremists, and we're worried about the increase in hate. And we have been talking about it for a while. So, we have a Justice Department that, one, is independent, but, two, that is focused on the rise in hate crimes. It's important. It's -- and, look, we can't address these issues if we have a large portion of the population that refuses to look at facts and call facts as they see them.
And so our Justice Department won't do that. The president won't do that and the administration won't do that. We're going to try our best to address all hate crimes as we see them increase in drastic numbers.
BASH: I want to ask you about the 2019 death of Ronald Greene. Video was released this week showing police officers beating, Tasering, dragging the 49-year-old Louisiana native face down along the ground.
As a black man yourself from Louisiana, you're someone who has spoken openly about your own experience with law enforcement. Can you assure black Americans that President Biden will get police reform passed?
RICHMOND: I can assure him that we're going to give 200 percent to try to make it happen.
We are engaged with Senator Booker and Representative Bass, who are working along with Tim Scott. And they are -- they feel good about the negotiations.
And this is a real challenge. And it has been going on for far too long. We're -- we believe that we're making meaningful progress there. And the president wants to see it happen. We are very concerned about the relationship between the police and
the communities they police. And this once again is a case where the police report doesn't even come close to talking about the real facts of what's happened.
And so what the baseline has to be in this country is that we will get transparency and accountability in instances like this. And the president is committed to seeing that happen.
BASH: I just want to ask before I let you go on a personal note, when you saw that video, which we're not playing now, but everybody has, unfortunately, seen it, which, as you said, does not match at all the actual police report, what went through your mind?
RICHMOND: Well, when I saw the video, I thought back to George Floyd, another incident where the police report didn't match.
And the real question is, if we didn't have body cameras, which we're pushing very hard, if we didn't have eyewitnesses that were courageous enough to film it on video, people would just give deference to the police officers and their account.
And I think this is what raises the big concern for people in America, that we hold police officers in such high esteem that we usually take their word. And the problem is, this is eroding the confidence and trust in our police officers.
Sol, it takes police officers that are going to have a duty to intervene and call inaccuracies and lies lies. But we have a long, long way to go. And so the George Floyd Act is just the first step.
But it's a problem when we can't believe what the police say. And, by the way, those police reports that they write out are under oath. And so we have to do this work.
And I would just appeal on all Americans to just understand, what if this was your loved one, and you didn't get any truth, any accountability, and you would have had to bury your loved one thinking that he died in a car accident, when that, in fact, was not true?
RICHMOND: And so we need to all come together, Republicans and Democrats.
That's why I'm happy that Tim Scott is working on it. But we have to come together and do something about this.
BASH: Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to President Biden, thank you so much.
And we're going to stay on this topic, because, in the year since George Floyd's murder, we have learned the names of far too many other black men who have died at the hands of police. Floyd's family will mark the anniversary of his death at the White House on Tuesday, even as congressional negotiators are saying that they're not likely to have a hoped-for police reform deal by that date.
But my next guest told President Biden on Friday that they are making progress.
Joining me now exclusively is one of the negotiators on police reform, Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Senator, thank you so much for joining me.
How close are you to a deal?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Again, we're making meaningful progress.
And I'm committed. We have to have a nation where we end, I think, what has been a more revealed anguish and agony of many Americans, not just these horrific videotapes that we see almost like a drumbeat in our country, but we live in a nation where generations now have had to teach their children that their encounters with police could end in your death.
And they are buttressed by the personal stories of African-Americans. I don't know a black male in my circle that doesn't have stories of unfortunate encounters with police or, frankly, painful or humiliating ones, including the person negotiating on the other side with me, Tim Scott, who gave a speech on the Senate floor detailing, as a United States senator, his unfortunate encounters with police.
We have a challenge before us. And our work is to address that challenge. And we're making good progress, hopeful progress, but we still have some work, a lot of work to do.
BASH: So, let's dig in on the work that you have to do.
One of the sticking points, I don't need to tell you, is what's known as qualified immunity for police, which effectively shields officers from lawsuits.
I know you and your fellow Democrats want to end that. Republicans say, for the most part, that it needs to stay.
I want you to hear what the House majority whip, Jim Clyburn, said on this show a few weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I will never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect.
If we don't get qualified immunity now, then we will come back and try to get it later. But I don't want to see us throw out a good bill because we can't get a perfect bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Senator, is ending qualified immunity for individual officers a red line for you, or do you agree with what you just heard Congressman Clyburn say?
BOOKER: Well, what I agree with what he said is that we need to at some point get qualified immunity.
It's what I'm determined at this negotiating table to get. And these are labels that a lot of folks don't know what they mean. This means that, in the United States of America, any profession that -- where you violate in a serious way the civil rights of another American, should someone be shielded?
This is not about going after good officers. This is about when officers have breached the civil rights of another American citizen. And, to me, we need this to create real accountability.
So, I'm at the negotiating table fighting for that. We have to have a nation where, when you do wrong -- again, not the good officers, but when folks have done wrong, violated someone's fundamental, constitutionally protected rights, that there is not a shield in the judicial system, but true accountability, where they are not above the law, but are held accountable by it.
BASH: I hear you that you're fighting for that at the negotiating table right now.
But is it possible that you're willing to have less than in order to get the broader bill and fight that fight another day?
BOOKER: Again, I'm not negotiating this in public.
I have said where my line is. We wrote a bill with Senator, now Vice President Harris in the Senate, along with our House allies, Karen Bass, Congressman Nadler, that said very clearly we want to eliminate qualified immunity. And that is where we're starting clearly.
You have heard very publicly the red lines on the other side. And, again, this is one of the big issues that we're working very hard to see if we can bridge this wide gulf.
BASH: There's another big issue that you're working on, which is lowering the threshold to criminally prosecute police officers.
Republican Senator Tim Scott, who you're working with very closely, has said publicly that's off the table as far as he's concerned. What's your response to that?
BOOKER: Again, I start with our fundamental American values.
When someone violates the law -- again, this is not about the officers out there who every single day go into tough situations, do their job. This is about people who violate the law, often ending in someone's death.
We have seen the videotapes of these things that do not comport with not just our common values, but even police -- the police profession looks askance and looks down on. We have to have real criminal accountability.
And, again, nobody in America, from the president of the United States all the way down to all of our citizens, should be above the law. And this is, again, something that I'm working with.
And, look, I have had some incredibly constructive conversations with police leaders who know that what we are seeing now because of videotapes and body cameras, which we didn't have generations ago, I'm confident that these same things were going on.
It's why Martin Luther King on the March on Washington put police brutality in his "I Have a Dream" speech. Now we're seeing this every single day. The profession itself, here in New Jersey, applications to the state police are at historic low, about 90 percent less people even applying to be New Jersey State Troopers.
We have a crisis of policing in America.
BOOKER: It's not new, but we have to come together and fix it.
And one of the things the public needs is trust, transparency, accountability, to make sure that we all feel confident that our policing is meeting the standards of our nation. If we keep saying that police officers are somehow above the law, that will never establish the kind of trust that we need in America to move forward.
BASH: And, Senator, you well know you're up against a good number of Republicans across the aisle who are still questioning whether there is a need for federal police reform at all.
John Cornyn told "The Washington Post" that he thinks Derek Chauvin's conviction for George Floyd's murder shows that there are already avenues in place to hold police accountable.
BOOKER: My response is, I wouldn't have a negotiating partner in Tim Scott if Mitch McConnell didn't believe that this is something that we should be at the table trying to work through.
We are, on the Senate side, working in good faith to bring this to a conclusion. I, in one of my negotiations, sat with Karen Bass and Tim Scott in, of all places, the Strom Thurmond Room in the United States Senate. And you had three African-Americans sitting around a table trying to work this out.
I know there's going to be a lot of folks who have a lot to say about this before we have finished our work. And, God willing, we will land this one a bill. But, in terms of what I know from the Senate, people like Senator
Lankford on the Republican side, Senator Sasse, Senator Cornyn, Senator Lindsey Graham, on their side, I know that there are people that believe that we should be at the table trying to negotiate a solution. Whether we get there or not still remains to be seen.
We have the White House working to be supportive, the Problem Solvers on the congressional side. There are a lot of people who know the crisis we have in this country, where millions of Americans this time last year were bearing witness, as we will have the anniversary on the 25th, to a brutal murder that ignited peaceful protests in every single state in the nation of people demanding change.
BOOKER: And the federal government has a responsibility, I believe, to deliver substantive, meaningful police reform.
BASH: Well, Senator, I want to change topics, but what an image that you just painted for us of the three of you, black senators, sitting in the Strom Thurmond Room. That's pretty remarkable.
Before I let you go, I have to ask about the January 6 commission that Senate Republicans are throwing cold water on, the notion of creating this bipartisan commission. They argue that it would be redundant. There are already hearings, investigations going on into the interaction.
What's your response to that?
BOOKER: I have seen bipartisan commissions form over tragic days in our country. Obviously, we all know the extraordinary job done after 9/11.
I was on the Senate floor when it was laid siege to, where they had to escape the vice president of the United States as people were chanting to hang him, as we saw, as we fled the Senate floor. And I saw police officer after police officer, three officers severely injured. Ultimately, one from New Jersey was killed, Brian Sicknick.
To say that this wasn't one of America's most shameful days, as Confederate Flags and anti-Semitic slogans were waved triumphantly in our most sacred civic space, is, to me, outrageous and unacceptable.
We should be coming together in a bipartisan way to do a thorough investigation to make sure that the second time in American history that our Capitol was taken is the last time, and that the deaths and injuries of officers, we should honor them by coming together and doing the necessary investigations.
BASH: Senator Cory Booker from the great state of New Jersey, thank you so much. Keep us posted on your negotiations. Appreciate it.
BOOKER: Thank you. BASH: And Senate Republicans are backtracking, as we just talked
about, on their calls for a January 6 commission. I will ask a Republican congressman who voted for that commission about their arguments next.
And getting personal with a mother who was called to duty and ran for Congress after her teenage son was shot to death.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
The Senate could vote this week on a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot, but it appears doomed to fail, as Republican senators are changing their minds about the proposal, unlike, in the House, where the commission received 35 Republican votes to rebuke the GOP leadership.
Joining me now is a U.S. Army veteran and congressman, Peter Meijer, who -- Meijer, forgive me -- who is a freshman Republican who voted for President Trump's impeachment and also in favor of the January 6 commission.
Congressman Meijer, thank you so much for joining me.
So, here's what GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the House floor just a week after the Capitol attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
And the president's immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, Congressman, McCarthy was for a commission before he was against it.
How do you explain his flip-flop on this?
REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): You know, I think we have seen -- and I said this in my remarks on the House floor -- we have seen a number of individuals who were passionate, who were rightly critical on January 6, the 7th, the 8th, the week after that have since softened their tone and chosen to take a different path.
And, honestly, I was hoping that this January 6 commission could be a chance for us to set what we viewed as partisan politics aside. It's important to remember that Nancy Pelosi started off with a
stacked 7-5 commission that would have run roughshod over any sense of objective or nonpartisan norms that was much more styled on the sense of a Benghazi commission. She was rebuked for that by her own party. And she ended up agreeing to a bipartisan commission that was along the exact same lines as what our leadership was seeking for a January 6 commission.
And now we are missing an opportunity to really focus on producing an objective assessment for the American people, an authoritative document that can help us move past this event, not by forgetting about it, not by trying to whitewash it, not by seeking to kind of memory hole what happened on January 6 or revise it, as we have seen on a lot of news networks like OAN and Newsmax, that claim, well, look at the folks walking through Statuary Hall staying within the velvet ropes.
MEIJER: You know, this was a peaceful gathering.
BASH: The whitewash...
MEIJER: I mean, we are -- we're missing that opportunity to correct.
BASH: The whitewashing is really alarming, to say the least.
You have made clear that, as you just did, you believe this attack needs to be investigated for the good of the country.
So, given that your party is standing in the way of the bipartisan, independent commission that you so want, do you think Democrats should create a select committee, at the very least, to investigate?
MEIJER: You know, I think that's what we're moving towards.
BASH: And would you support it?
MEIJER: I mentioned the Benghazi hearings.
I would like to see how it's actually structured. I don't have a tremendous amount of confidence that Congress is going to be able to objectively examine something that it played a role in.
I think this was the hope of having an independent commission that would be external, that would be involved, that would have individuals who no longer had political aspirations, that were outside of our current tension and moment.
But, frankly, by shooting down this proposal -- and it looks like it may be dead on arrival in the Senate -- by shooting this down, we're playing into Speaker Pelosi's hands.
I mean, she doesn't want a commission that's going to be emphasizing what she knew and when, what security lapses may have occurred, what failures there were in responsiveness to the events of that day that allowed the security barrier to fall. She doesn't want that.
She wants -- she doesn't want a commission that has a mandate to end by December 31, 2021.
MEIJER: She wants a commission that she can drag out into 2024. And that's what we're handing her.
MEIJER: That -- she is being given the -- essentially, the tacit ability to run that forward.
BASH: And all of this, as you said, is being fed by election deniers, people who support the big lie in Congress.
It's also happening in states around the country. Arizona and Georgia, for example, they're leading absurd ballot audits rooted in conspiracy theories.
Do you worry about the way your party is continuing to stoke this lie and that it will really cause lasting damage to American democracy?
MEIJER: I'm certainly worried when you start to hear that they're bringing in microscopes to look for traces of bamboo because of the supposition that all of these ballots were flown in from China.
When you start to go down such absurd rabbit holes, there's always going to be fabrication of one sort or the other. And, to me, that's what's really worrying, is, if you are latched on to a fiction, you will find things to support it.
And we have really created this two-tiered reality -- or I guess one reality and one just alternative existence, where, if you feel that it should be so, you can find the evidence to prove it.
And that's where I was hoping that the January 6 commission could be that objective examination that, again, a lot of folks may dismiss as a product of the swamp, as tainted in one way, shape, or form, but it would be the closest we could get to something that may be factual, that may clear away some of the fantasies and the fiction surrounding January 6 and the events preceding it.
BASH: Congressman, your GOP colleague Marjorie Taylor Greene compared mask requirements in the House to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
Now, her comments come as, we talked about earlier in the program, there is a spike in anti-Semitic incidents here in the U.S. I have to say, I was reluctant to give her any attention at all this morning, but this is somebody with a big megaphone, especially in your party, who says things like this on a daily basis, and faces almost no backlash, really no backlash, from Republican leaders. What does that say about your party right now?
MEIJER: First off, it's -- any comparisons to the Holocaust, it's beyond reprehensible.
This is -- I don't even have words to describe how disappointing it is to see this hyperbolic speech that, frankly, amps up and in plays into a lot of the anti-Semitism that we have been seeing in our society today, vicious attacks on the streets of New York and in Los Angeles that should be -- and I do condemn that in the strongest terms. There's no excuse for that.
But the broader message that -- and your point of not even wanting to bring it up, and the broader challenge right now is that that's where the oxygen is. It's in the most outlandish, the most far-fetched, the most attention-seeking message, right?
We should be talking about policies. We should be talking about the growing climate solutions. We should be talking about all of the things that will have a tangible impact on this country, on where our cybersecurity capabilities are today, on how we are going to remain competitive and outlast and be the world victors in our global competition against China, right?
That's not where our conversation is. It gets distracted by personalities.
MEIJER: It gets distracted by everything that is ultimately of very little substance, but has an influence on the body politic.
BASH: So, before I let you go, let's bring it back to those issues.
You are a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. It was in large part because of your group that 35 Republicans, including yourself ,voted yes on the January 6 commission.
Should people have hope that happened, that your caucus, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, at least brought some people together and that bipartisanship is doable?
MEIJER: I certainly think that it's not all doom and gloom.
There are members in Congress -- and I'm proud to know and be friends with many of them -- who want to seek solutions, who aren't just going to react in a reflexive manner with what may be best for their political ambitions or their party, because, frankly, I think we all succeed in the long term if we figure out those areas where we may have common agreement, if we find out how we can build upon that and grow some trust, because that is the one thing that I have seen breaking down just in my short time there, right?
And that is something that we cannot regain, we cannot rebuild overnight. That has to be done bit by bit, bill by bill, good-faith effort after good-faith effort.
BASH: Congressman Peter Meijer, thank you so much for coming on this morning. I really appreciate it.
MEIJER: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
BASH: Thank you.
And up next: A former GOP senator who worked in the Trump administration is saying his party is making a huge mistake in rejecting a January 6 commission. Scott Brown joins me next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Another Republican is warning that rejecting a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot could be a permanent stain on the party.
Former Senator Scott Brown, who served four years as ambassador to New Zealand under President Trump, wrote the following in "The Boston Globe": "To function as intended, American democracy requires a healthy two-party political system offering a competing set of ideas and principles. Right now, that is not happening. Above all else, Republicans must be crystal clear that the rule of law matters."
Well, former Ambassador and the president of New England Law School Scott Brown joins me now.
Thank you so much for joining me, Mr. Ambassador.
You wrote in that op-ed that Republicans must put the past to rest in order to move forward. So, why do you think so many lawmakers, your former colleagues from your party, don't want a bipartisan commission to examine the deadly attack on a place you used to work?
FMR. SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R-MA): Well, that's a great question, Dana.
And, first of all, thank you for having me on. And I appreciate you taking up this issue.
It's -- to me, it's a no-brainer. You look what happened on 9/11, and we were attacked by foreign terrorists. And we wanted to find out immediately, where was the breakdown, what happened, and why.
Well, this is no different. We had -- they weren't tourists. They went visiting just to have fun. We had people who were ready to wreak havoc. People died. And there clearly was a breakdown of communication, security.
And, don't forget -- I agree with the congressman -- Nancy Pelosi is responsible for that stuff. So, to have a commission like this to find out who was responsible, what went wrong, to make sure it never happens again, it should be a no-brainer.
You have a lot of great people, independent people. I will do it. How about Evan Bayh? How about Joe Lieberman? How about Olympia Snowe? How about General Petraeus? We will go in, and we will find a way to figure out what happened, because guess what?
If it was a foreign country that came in and took over that quickly, then what? So we need to fix it, and we need to fix it right away.
BASH: So, your party's former presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that the former President Trump incited the Capitol insurrection. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump is practically and morally responsible for what happened.
You're a former senator and ambassador. Do you agree with them that Trump bears responsibility for the interaction?
BROWN: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
I mean, he bears responsibility. I think his presidency was diminished as a result of this. And I think he's paying a price. He's been impeached twice. He was impeached for those actions.
A lot of the great things that he did, working on China, getting the vaccine out, developed right away, looking at what he did with Iran and Russia, and, in the Indo-Pacific specifically, the amazing things he did during the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand, I mean, all those things are by the wayside now.
That is why it's imperative to find out what role everybody played and figure out why, first of all. I can't believe -- I thought I was watching -- I was back for two days on the job. And I see our Capitol, I thought it was either an action movie, a banana republic, some type of dictatorship.
Like, I was embarrassed. I was angry. And I want to make sure it never, ever, ever happens again, because we are the greatest country in the world. And we have amazing opportunities. And I lived in other parts of the world, and I visited there, and there's no place like this country.
And, yes, we have our faults, and we're addressing them. But we have a great social fabric of people who care deeply about who we are as Americans, and we have got to fix this right away.
BASH: You said that the former president does bear some responsibility.
You probably know this. He is still pushing the big lie from the election. Just yesterday, he called 2020 the crime of the century, alleging massive crime and said the election was rigged and stolen.
Do you want him to just stop?
BROWN: Listen, I disagree with the president. Any problems -- and I know this has been conveyed to him and his administration and all of his team. If there were concerns about the election, as the Supreme Court said with the laches decision, you should have gone and figured it out before the election, not after the fact.
I mean, as someone who's run 21 races, we always cross our T's and dot our I's. And if we have any issues about the security of a polling place, we make sure we have our people there to watch.
And here's the solution to that, Dana. I think we should have everything televised, cable TV, and rent them in Rye, New Hampshire. Yes, have it all there, so everyone can see, so there's no questions.
You want to have poll watchers? Great. Have them come in. We should be proud in showcasing this type of transparency around the world.
But there's a lack of trust right now between the general public, the media, corporations, banks, and government, and politicians in particular. And we have to find a way to find that common ground and fix it and stop relitigating the past and focus on how we're going to be moving forward.
BASH: A decade ago, you upended the balance of power here in Washington by turning Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts red.
Now many in your party, as I just talked about, starting with -- at the top, with the former president, keep pounding away, questioning the results of the presidential election, falsely. And they are probably going to block this effort to have this commission.
How worried are you about the state of the GOP?
BROWN: Well, I believe we need to be a big tent party, like President Reagan said. And we can fight to the death of we have to. Obviously, I'm not serious.
But we can fight tooth and nail, like Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan did. They actually fought by day, but, by night, they grabbed a Scotch, played some cards, and solved our country's problems.
We are all Americans first. We're not just Democrats and Republicans. As you know, I was the most bipartisan senator, one of the, in the entire U.S. Senate. I'm a problem solver.
And instead of fighting about masks and stupid stuff like that, how about looking at what China's doing, stealing our intellectual property, manipulating their currency, building and militarizing islands, changing the law of the sea and international law as we know it?
How about what's happening in Iran and Israel with Hamas? There's so many things we need to figure out, inflation, high cost of fuel, our debt and deficit, which, when I was there, was $9 trillion. What's it now, $30 trillion?
How about focusing on the things that affect people's pocketbooks and wallets, instead of the stupid stuff? I'm disgusted with politics, Dana. And Americans are too. And they want problem solvers in there. So, I'm hopeful. I'm a glass-half-full guy. And we got to get it done.
BASH: You were one of the early supporters of President Trump during the 2016 primary. Would you vote for him again in 2024?
BROWN: You know, the beauty of me right now is, I live in New Hampshire, one of the first-in-the-nation primary states. We have been there for 10 years. We have a place there for 30 years.
I'm going to have my backyard barbecue, the No B.S. Backyard Barbecues again. And, as you know, we had 16, I think, out of the 20 or whatever candidates at my house. And we had people visit.
I am an undecided, independent -- well, I'm a Republican -- undecided voter right now, as many people are in New Hampshire. And we have an opportunity to meet everybody. And I look forward to it.
BASH: Ambassador, former Senator, Republican Scott Brown, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.
BROWN: Great to be on.
BASH: And on a very different note: She lost her son to gun violence and then ran for Congress hoping to prevent other mothers from feeling the crippling pain she wakes up with every day.
Representative Lucy McBath tells me how she's using the lessons she taught her son to try to make change.
BASH: For at least one House lawmaker, the fight for gun control is painfully personal.
Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath took her gut-wrenching tragedy, the murder of her son Jordan, and made it her mission to prevent other mothers from enduring the same agony.
Here's the latest in my series "Badass Women of Washington."
BASH (voice-over): Lucy McBath vividly remembers having the talk with her teenage son Jordan after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): I said: "Baby, you got to understand you are
a young black male. You have to be really careful, where you are, what you do, and don't get into any verbal confrontation with anyone. People will take out a gun, and they will shoot you."
And I remember Jordan said with that bravado: "Mom, that's not going to happen to me."
BASH: But, nine months later, that's exactly what happened to Jordan, also at 17. He was shot and killed by a white man at a gas station who was angry that Jordan and his friends were playing loud music.
Jordan's father called to tell her the gut-wrenching news.
MCBATH: "Jordan has been shot."
And just this primal wail came out with me. And I was like: "Where's Jordan?"
And I just started screaming. And Jordan's father said -- he told me: "Jordan is dead."
And I just -- I was just screaming, because I felt like, at that moment, that everything I had done to protect him, it wasn't good enough. It didn't matter because he was a young black male, and it was simply because of the color of his skin.
BASH: She redirected her pain into purpose, became active in the gun control group Moms Demand Action.
MCBATH: I started speaking out about Jordan's tragedy.
Any person that would allow me to speak or tell my story, I -- that's what I did.
BASH (on camera): A lot of people would get -- get under the covers, pull them over their head and never want to get out.
MCBATH: But that's not the way I was raised. I was raised that you fight to protect and care for the people that you believe in and that you love.
BASH (voice-over): She was raised by an activist father who chaired the Illinois NAACP in the 1960s and met with Lyndon Johnson regarding the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
MCBATH: I grew up watching my father give speeches, and all of the marches we participated in as children.
And I can remember, at night, as a child, a small child, my house was filled with people. And they were drinking and smoking and strategizing.
BASH (on camera): Filled with civil rights leaders trying to change America.
MCBATH: Yes. Yes. That's my background. That's my DNA.
BASH (voice-over): But McBath didn't follow that DNA for the first 30 years of her professional life. She was a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines.
MCBATH: Enough is enough.
BASH: After her son was killed in 2012, she got political through activism against gun violence, but didn't consider running for federal office until Valentine's Day 2018.
MCBATH: Parkland happened, and I was furious, because there again -- you know, we had Sandy Hook, and nothing was done.
And I thought, well, who's going to stand up for our children? Why are federal legislators even refusing, our state and local legislators? What are you afraid of?
BASH: She decided to make a longshot run for Congress.
MCBATH: And so I just said, well, I -- you know, you're not going to support me, that's OK. I'll do what I have to do, and I'll go to bed at night knowing that I'm standing up for our families.
BASH (on camera): And then you won.
MCBATH: And then we won in ruby-red Georgia. And I ran on a gun safety platform as my number one policy platform.
I believed that, as a survivor and as a person who's living this tragedy every single day of my life, that there's so many other people around the country like me that are crying out for legislation.
BASH (voice-over): McBath is a majority-maker, a House Democrat who turned her suburban Atlanta district blue and helped give Nancy Pelosi the speaker's gavel back in 2019.
Now in her second term, she's more realist than activist.
(on camera): There's a Senate Democratic majority, and, of course, a Democrat in the White House. Do you think it's going to get done now?
MCBATH: I will tell you, this is a long, long road.
BASH: That sounds like a no.
MCBATH: I won't say no.
The best opportunity that we have to evolve and put really good policy in place is right now, under this administration. But we're not going to get everything that we want. It does not happen overnight.
BASH (voice-over): McBath, a two-time breast cancer survivor who pushes hard for better women's health care, is in a competitive seat, and unknown, how Georgia's new, more restrictive voting law will play out.
MCBATH: Shame on the Republican Party for putting these kinds of pieces of legislation in place that deters people's ability to vote.
But I just truly believe that people are undeterred. And they know how important it is.
BASH: She wanted to take us to her son Jordan's grave site, where she comes often.
(on camera): What's the graduation from?
BASH (voice-over): Pictures on his headstone, snapshots of his short life. This is the place, she says, she feels closest to him.
MCBATH: I feel like I can -- I can talk to him out here. What I talk to him a lot about is how hard the work is.
And I said: I'm trying to do everything I was raising you to do. So I can't be a hypocrite.
BASH (on camera): I never thought of it that way, that you're living the life that you taught him to live.
MCBATH: I mean, all the things that I worry about for my district, for the country, for my family, it just what I was trying to teach him to do.
That is his legacy, even though I thought I was sowing the seed into him to live that out. His legacy is my legacy.
BASH: Thank you so much to Congresswoman McBath for sharing your story and Jordan's story.
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.