Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Interview With State Del. Danica Roem (D-VA); Interview With Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); Interview With Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D- NJ); Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 20, 2021 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Crossroads. As a bipartisan infrastructure proposal gains steam, a key progressive works on a sweeping bill on his own terms.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): The president has given us a blueprint. We're ready to go.

BASH: Can Democrats pass either, or both? I will speak with Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders and bipartisan leaders of the House Problem Solvers Caucus Josh Gottheimer and Brian Fitzpatrick next.

And fair warning? President Biden gives Russia about six months to change.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he chooses not to cooperate, then we will respond.

BASH: As U.S. companies scramble to prevent crippling hacks, is Biden giving Putin too much slack? White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan joins me to discuss.

Plus: Pride Month. As states move to restrict rights for transgender Americans, I will talk to the first openly trans legislator elected to a statehouse, her message to trans youth.

STATE DEL. DANICA ROEM (D-VA): Regardless of whether you care about politics, politics cares about you.

BASH: Danica Roem ahead.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is their way or the highway?

Fresh off an overseas trip where President Biden asserted America is back, his ambitious domestic agenda is now being put to the test here at home. The president says he will respond tomorrow to a bipartisan $1.2 trillion proposal to overhaul America's roads and bridges that is picking up momentum in Washington; 21 senators from both sides of the aisle now say they support it, but many on the left worry the deal leaves out too many of their priorities on issues from the climate crisis to caregiving.

And while those bipartisan negotiations could continue for weeks, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is working at the same time on a separate reconciliation bill he hopes Democrats could pass without any Republican support.

Now, Sanders' bill will include many of the Democrats' big policy goals, so many of these goals, in fact, that the potential $6 trillion price tag is making some moderate Democrats squeamish, as the president and Democratic leaders try to navigate competing desires inside a razor-thin majority in order to pass much of the Biden agenda, as much of it as possible.

So, joining me now is independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as I said, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

So, I mentioned that the Biden agenda is moving on two tracks, that bipartisan infrastructure deal, which we're going to get to in a moment, but -- and then there is the Democrats-only effort that you are leading. Your $6 trillion reconciliation package will likely include so-called human infrastructure, like paid family leave, eldercare.

But you have also indicated that it could go beyond that, address the climate crisis, Medicare, even immigration.

So, I know you speak with President Biden frequently. You have his blessing to go this big?

SANDERS: Well, Dana, what I think the president has done is given us a blueprint as to where we want to go. And I think it's a serious and comprehensive blueprint.

You know, I sometimes think we get bogged down in numbers. And that's important, but we got to look at what the needs are of the American people, what's going on right now. And what is going on right now, obviously, as everybody knows, very rich are doing phenomenally well. Corporate profits are soaring.

And yet we have -- in terms of real wages for working people, it's lower today than it was 48 years ago. Half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck.

Let's go through the issues. Does anyone think that childcare in America is satisfactory? It is a disaster. Working families can't pay $15,000, $20,000 a year for childcare. We got a housing crisis. How do you not deal with climate? You tell me.

Look at what's going on in California, Australia. Scientists tell us we have a few years left before there's irreparable damage. Of course you have to deal with climate. We're the only major country on Earth not to have paid family and medical leave.

Meanwhile, large corporations and the rich avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and we have to address that as well. So all that the president is doing, all I am doing is taking a look at reality for working families, understand their needs have been ignored for decades. Now it is time to create good-paying jobs, millions of good- paying jobs, addressing health care, housing, infrastructure.


BASH: You told my co-anchor, Jake Tapper, that it is your job also, as Budget Committee chairman, to get input from the other 49 members of the Democratic Caucus.

A number of them, I'm sure you have heard by now, Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester, they're already expressing deep reservations about what you just described, which adds up, we believe, to $6 trillion.

So, how do you square that? Are you willing to come off that number or scale back to follow how you describe your plan, to scale back in some of what you want to do in order to actually get it passed?

SANDERS: Well, Dana, the process has just begun. I mean, that's what the process is about.

As chairman of the committee, I intend to be meeting and discussing these issues with every member of the Democratic Caucus. And I think that there is general agreement that the time is long overdue that we address many of the long-neglected problems facing the middle class and working class of this country.

Are there differences about this proposal, that proposal, the amount of money? Yes, there are. And that's something we're going to have to work together to hammer out. And I intend to do that.

BASH: OK. So, that's your track. And I want to keep going on that.

But there is this compromise infrastructure plan. I know you don't support it. But it's all part of this complicated balancing act that you are a part of trying to keep afloat. Fellow progressives say that they won't back that bipartisan bill unless they know that their priorities will be covered in what you are working on, though the moderates, whose votes are essential to passing what you come up with, Senator Sanders, are reluctant to support a big price tag.

So, can you just take us through that process? How do you thread the needle to satisfy everybody in the Democratic Caucus?

SANDERS: Well, that's what Majority Leader Schumer and I are working on right now. And it's not easy.

You got 50 different Democratic senators in the caucus. Each have their own priorities. But we got to bring people together. The bottom line here is that the bipartisan proposal provides spending in some very important areas, roads, bridges, water systems. And that's the good -- that's good.

The amount of money that they are proposing is about one-quarter of what the president talked about in terms of new money. That's not adequate. And what we should be also watching carefully is how it is paid for.

What the president has said, quite correctly, is, he doesn't want to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year. I agree. In this proposal, which -- their bipartisan proposal, like ours, is still in flux -- they are talking -- some people, at least, are talking about raising the gas tax, or a fee on electric cars, or maybe privatization of infrastructure.

Those, to my mind, are bad ideas.

BASH: So, those are bad ideas, but, as you said, it is in flux.

So, if those can be worked through, and the -- let's just focus on that bipartisan deal right now, if that $1.2 trillion deal could be paid for in ways that will make you more happy, could you see voting for it, especially if it's related to your bill?

SANDERS: Well, we will see. I don't want to -- I don't want to -- certainly, though, to my mind, the vast majority of Democrats understand that you cannot go forward without addressing the crises facing the planet and working people.

So, clearly, you have to deal with climate change. Clearly, we have to deal with the fact that Medicare does not cover dental or eyeglasses or hearing aids. We have, in the American Rescue Plan, as you know, provided a child tax credit for working families today, who will be better able to support their children. And we're going to lower childhood poverty by 50 percent.

Those are issues that must, in my view, be dealt with.

BASH: Right.

SANDERS: Whether you're dealing it with one bill, which is my preference, whether you could deal it with two, we will see.

BASH: Right.

Let me just go back to the first question, though, assuming that it is two, which is the way it seems to be going, would you -- can you see yourself open to that bipartisan bill, if some of the way -- ways that it is paid for are tweaked?

SANDERS: Well, Dana, you're asking me to comment on a bill that nobody knows what it will look like. So I can't deal with that.

Again, what they are talking about spending money on is reasonable. It's exactly what we are talking about. Our infrastructure is crumbling. We need to invest in roads, bridges, water systems.

On the other hand, absolutely, we have got to go forward with the needs of working families, in terms of childcare, paid family and medical leave, climate, et cetera.

BASH: I just want going to ask, as I'm listening to you, I mean, you have been the leader in progressive topics and issues for so long. And now you are the deal-maker. How does that feel?


SANDERS: Well, working with the president, it feels good.

I think there is a growing understanding that, for decades now, we have paid attention to the very rich and the powerful. And I think what -- most Americans understand this, that the time is long overdue that we deal with the issues facing the middle class and working families.

BASH: So...

SANDERS: So, it feels very good to be in a position to begin doing that.

BASH: But let's turn to voting rights.

The Senate will vote on Tuesday in a sweeping bill that will almost certainly be blocked by Republicans. Senator Joe Manchin is proposing a narrower plan, which still seems to have a lot in it for Democrats. There are things like a ban on partisan gerrymandering, expanding early voting, restoring key parts of the Voting Rights Act.

Stacey Abrams says she could absolutely support this proposal. Do you?

SANDERS: Dana, you said that there seems to be a lot in it for Democrats. That's not the way I look at it. What we're trying to do is...

BASH: That Democrats could support.

SANDERS: What we're trying to do is preserve democracy.

And what Republican legislatures and governors are doing, in the most disgraceful way imaginable, is to try to deny people of color, young people, poor people the right to vote, people with disabilities. That is outrageous.

And I really -- we can disagree on all kinds of issues, but taking away the right of people to participate in American democracy is unacceptable. And the Congress must address that in any and every way.

Also, in my view, we have got to deal with dark money in politics, the power of billionaires buying elections. We got to deal with gerrymandering.

So, I will go as far as we possibly can to create a vibrant democracy in America and take on those Republicans...

BASH: And could that mean...

SANDERS: ... who are trying to undermine democracy.

BASH: Could that mean the Manchin compromise, given the reality of the narrow majority you know you have?

SANDERS: We're going to -- we're going to do the best -- I would go -- I like what the House passed, H.R.1. I think that is a serious, comprehensive effort to protect American democracy. We will see what evolves here in the Senate.

BASH: Sounds like you're open to the compromise bill.

SANDERS: Sounds like I'm open to doing everything I possibly can to protect American democracy.

And let me tell you something. This is an enormously serious issue.

BASH: Before I let you go, I want to ask about what happened on Thursday.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to dismiss a Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Among the justices in the majority was Amy Coney Barrett, who you have previously warned would -- quote -- "vote to destroy the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health care."

Were you wrong?

SANDERS: Well, we will -- that's the first key vote that she has made. She has a long career in front of us.

I think that the Supreme Court today is loaded with very conservative people who, in general, will be voting for the wealthy and the powerful, against the needs of working families.

BASH: And before I let you go, quickly, your colleague in the House Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told me that she thinks that Stephen Breyer should consider stepping down, so that President Biden could appoint somebody to replace him.

Do you agree with her?

SANDERS: I will let Judge Breyer, Justice Breyer, make that decision all by himself.


Senator Sanders, thank you so much, chairman of the Budget Committee.

Happy Father's Day, sir.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

And is a bipartisan infrastructure deal really possible? A Republican and Democrat working together on it join me next. And President Biden taking the wait-and-see approach with Vladimir

Putin, but with businesses bracing for more cyberattacks, is there time to spare? I will ask Biden's national security adviser ahead.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

After months of negotiating, a new bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's roads and bridges is gaining steam in the Senate. And those senators are coordinating with a group of House lawmakers who have also been working from the middle on a deal. You heard me right, bipartisanship.

Now, they are the Problem Solvers Caucus.

And I want to welcome the co-chairs of that group, Democrat Josh Gottheimer and -- of New Jersey and Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Thank you, gentlemen, for joining me this morning.

Congressman Gottheimer, I want to start with you.

That bipartisan group of senators, which is now up to 21, they have signed on to a $1.2 trillion compromise framework for infrastructure. As I mentioned, I know you two have been involved in crafting this as well.

Your fellow progressives, for example, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says she's unlikely to support it, just as Senator Sanders did. For her, it's about not going far enough on issues like the climate crisis. So what's your response to that?

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Well, I think -- and, Dana, thanks for having us.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, which are 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, a couple of weeks ago put out our framework called Building Bridges. It's $1.25 trillion over eight years. And it's focused on roads, bridges, rails, water infrastructure, resiliency, items like electric vehicles and carbon capture, so many things that are, I believe, really in line with friends in my party, and obviously working very closely with Brian Fitzpatrick, who's here, building a bipartisan package that we believe can get done working together, working closely with our Senate colleagues.

This is about physical infrastructure and something that's urgent, that needs to get done. And we have got bipartisan support for it.

So, what I'd say to anyone, I'm eager for them to actually look at the package to see what we have put forward. And working closely with our senators, and our bicameral senators, and bipartisan group that we're working with, I believe we can get this done. BASH: And, Congressman Fitzpatrick, one of the questions is how to

pay for all of this. It is still a sticking point. Again, you heard Senator Sanders say he doesn't support anything that would raise the gas tax. We have heard that from President Biden as well. Tying it to inflation is another nonstarter for them.

But your fellow Republicans are large saying they don't want to raise taxes on corporations to pay for it. So, what's the solution here?


REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): Yes, thanks, Dana.

The House approach, our bipartisan caucus, has taken, phase one identified the definition, which we did, with -- and our caucus endorsed it with three-fourths of the caucus. Second was the scope. We came to 1.5 -- 1.25 over eight. And then third are the pay-fors.

And that's what Josh and I have been working with the G20. You now have 21 senators, bipartisan. And we have addressed the pay-fors. And we have done it without any tax increases.

Now, should everything be on the table? Of course it should be, because that's part of compromise. Nobody will be totally in love with the plan, but everybody will be OK with it. And that's the whole point of our caucus. That's what our country wants us to do.

BASH: But they're not OK with it.

I will put this to you, Congressman Gottheimer, because it's your caucus, I think, largely not supporting what is in this plan, this bipartisan plan, to -- how to pay for this. I mean, again, you heard Senator Sanders. The White House also doesn't like what is effectively raising the gas tax.

GOTTHEIMER: Well, we have put together a pretty significant list of potential pay-fors, including closing the tax gap and repurposing, some of the COVID dollars, and an infrastructure bank, and public- private partnerships, and user fees.

There's a lot on the table. And we have been working very closely with the White House and with our Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I actually believe we have got a good list together. Now we're still going back and forth. And that's why we got to stay at the table. I believe we will get there.

That's what you do in a negotiation. But the bottom line is, just because a couple people in the party have said they're against it, I have spoken to a lot of people in our caucus who are strongly supportive of doing something bipartisan on infrastructure, on the physical side infrastructure, that we can actually get done and move forward together with Democrats and Republicans.

It's what the country wants. They want us to work together. And that's -- I really, really believe that's why this is going to get over the finish line. BASH: Let me just stick with you, talking again about progressives,

because, beyond this bipartisan bill that you're working on, as you well know, a lot of the progressives are saying, we're not going to even think about this unless we have a commitment for a broader second bill, which would likely only be passed along party lines, to address issues like expanding Medicare eligibility, paid family leave, and things of that nature.

You only have four votes to spare in the House, never mind the equally divided Senate. So, how is that going to work in the House?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, obviously, this is a tight rope on all sides with a 50/50 Senate and four seats in the House, as you point out.

That's why we have been working very closely with the White House and our Senate colleagues. And I believe, if the White House gets behind it, and we will all get together, that my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus will get on board.

You're always going to have some that disagree. But this is what this is about, just continuing to work at it. And there's no reason why we can't do more down the road and another package. And -- but the bottom line is, right now, what we have said is, let's take a piece of what the president proposed, both in terms of infrastructure and jobs, and focus on where we can get a bipartisan deal done, both in the House and the Senate.

Let's get that done, and then we can move forward. It's about getting to yes on this. And the country, I believe, is desperate for us to work together. And that's what we're very focused on.

BASH: Well, on that note, people are probably looking at the screen, saying, OK, this is a chair and a co-chair of a Problem Solvers Caucus. A lot of people are saying, well, wait a minute, this is anachronistic, unrealistic to preach bipartisanship in today's climate.

So, let me start with you, Congressman Fitzpatrick.

What should the fact that your group exists, that you're here today on the show talking together about this, what should it tell the American people right now?

FITZPATRICK: Where Josh and I and where our caucus is, is where the overwhelming majority of the American people are. They want people to work together.

They don't want -- they want us to treat government the same way we approach our personal relationships. You don't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. You come to the center, you build consensus, and you move forward.

There's always going to be things we disagree with. Leave them on the side of the road. We can come back to that tomorrow, but find what we agree on and move forward. That's what our caucus is all about and getting to yes, as opposed to the more -- the more fringy-type caucuses in Congress that are more about blocking and getting to no.

BASH: Yes.

FITZPATRICK: We stand for something very different.

BASH: Congressman Gottheimer?

GOTTHEIMER: Yes, I think people are sick and tired of the tweets and the yelling and the screaming. They want us to do what they have to do every day and talk to each other and figure it out and accept 80 percent vs. fighting for getting nothing.

If you insist on getting 100 percent of everything, you often get zero. And what we're focused on every time we get together every week, the 58 of us, we talk -- we talk about, how can we get to consensus? And we stay in the room.

We disagree about plenty, but we do it with civility. And I -- and, to me, that's what it should all be about. We build trust in relationships. We agree not to campaign against each other. When we get to 75 percent of us agreeing, we all stand together. And it's -- I know that sounds crazy in this day and age, but I think the country can really use it.


The president has talked a lot about that unity and civility. And we're focused on delivering on that. And we're going to keep doing it and why we will stay at the table until we can deliver these roads, bridges, rail, water infrastructure, resiliency, electric vehicles, all the things that I know people care about.

So, we're going to stay at the table until we get it done. That's why I have got such a great partner in Brian and the whole group.

BASH: And as you're talking about bipartisanship on the issues, Congressman Fitzpatrick, I have to ask about some conspiracies that are still happening out there in a very robust way.

Some of your fellow House Republicans are embracing a completely baseless conspiracy that the January 6 Capitol attack was actually a false flag operation carried out by the FBI.

You're not only one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump over the insurrection; you spent 14 years working for the FBI. What's your response?

FITZPATRICK: Well, Dana, I will tell you, being a lifelong FBI agent, I will tell you, starting in New York, ending in L.A., and serving across the globe, when I got sworn in to Congress in 2017, I have been very, very taken back and dismayed at the disrespect that law enforcement is being given across the board, both on the left and the right, quite frankly, on the left with local police, and on the right with the FBI.

In fact, just this week, the FBI got attacked twice, once from my Democrat colleagues on the Intel Committee in which I sit, and then later by my colleagues on the right, who are trying to come up with this theory that somehow the FBI was behind January 6, which is incredibly irresponsible.

And anybody that understands the criminal code, understands law enforcement, Dana, knows that a federal law enforcement agent cannot engage in a conspiracy. It wouldn't be a conspiracy in that case, if they're acting within the scope of their employment.

And if they're acting outside of the scope of their employment, they wouldn't be an unindicted co-conspirator. They would be an indicted co-conspirator. So, the facts don't even follow. And I think the rhetoric is very dangerous, and it's got to stop.


And I want to say, on impeachment, I think I got that a little off. But I also want to make -- make clear...



BASH: ... make clear -- thank you -- that, separate from that, as you just heard -- we heard from your answer, you are definitely not in the big lie category, which is -- which is very important to point out.

But, for both of you, I want to say thank you. Happy Father's Day to both of you. And I appreciate you coming on together.

GOTTHEIMER: Thank you.

FITZPATRICK: Thanks, Dana.

GOTTHEIMER: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And staying on the FBI, they issued a warning that QAnon's true believers could be on a path towards more violence.

President Biden's national security adviser joins me next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

New U.S. president, same Vladimir Putin?

President Biden is saying time will tell whether Putin changes his behavior after their face-to-face meeting in Geneva. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are warning, the U.S. needs to be more forceful with Russia on critical issues like cyber crime and human rights.

Joining me now is National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Good morning, and thanks for joining me.

"The Washington Post"'s editorial board wrote -- quote -- "Biden offered Putin the benefit of the doubt. He should know better."

And it continues as follows: "The rhetoric sounded a lot like that which followed the initial encounters between the past three U.S. presidents and Mr. Putin," going on to say: "There is no reason to believe the outcome will vary from previous U.S. attempts at cooperation with Mr. Putin."

So do you have any specific, concrete reason to be optimistic that this timeline will be any different?

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first of all, Dana, I'm not sure if "The Washington Post" watched the entire press conference that President Biden held after the summit with President Putin, because, in that press conference, he explicitly said, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, which is to say that, over the next six to 12 months, we will see through actions, not through words or commitments or body language, whether, in fact, we are on a better track with U.S.-Russia policy and the U.S.-Russia relationship.

So he's not taking anything for granted out of this meeting. And, in fact, when he was asked whether he was confident, he said, that's not the right word. Confident is not the right word. Optimistic isn't the right word. The right word is verification, being able to test and see whether, in fact, the relationship does get on to a more stable and predictable basis.

BASH: Well, let's get some specifics in here about issues between the two countries.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, criticized your administration for missing an early June deadline to sanction Russia again for poisoning his political opponent Alexei Navalny. I want you to listen to what he said.


SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): The Trump administration regularly missed congressionally mandated deadlines. I expect better from this administration.

President Biden and his team must announce these sanctions this week, for Putin has shown no remorse for these vile actions. And Russia has taken no steps to rectify them.


BASH: Again, this is your fellow Democrat.

So, what's the answer? Why haven't you sanctioned Russia again for poisoning Alexei Navalny? Are more sanctions coming?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, Dana, I think it's very important for your viewers to understand that we have sanctioned Russia for the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.


And we didn't just do it by ourselves. We rallied European allies in a joint effort to impose costs on Russia for the use of a chemical agent against one of their citizens on Russian soil. And we are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case as well.

We have shown all along the way that we're not going to pull our punches, whether it's on SolarWinds, or election interference, or on Navalny, when it comes to responding to Russia's harmful activities.

The president also took the extraordinary step of signing a new executive order that gives him even more expanded authority when it comes to sanctions for Russia's harmful activities in the future.

BASH: So, that is coming soon?

SULLIVAN: So, we will take a backseat to no one. It will come as soon as we have developed the packages to ensure that we are getting the right targets. And when we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons.

BASH: President Biden also decided not to impose sanctions over Nord Stream II, which is a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe that will expand Russian influence there.

The top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, Michael McCaul, told me -- quote -- "They are testing Biden. And, in my judgment, he failed the test."

Why are you giving in to Russia on this pipeline?

SULLIVAN: I think this is another area where there's some kind of misunderstanding rooted in that question.

We have, in fact, sanctioned several Russian entities when it comes to Nord Stream II. We waived sanctions only on two. And they were not Russian. It was a German individual and a Swiss company.

And the notion there, Dana, is that, when President Biden took office, Nord Stream II was 90 percent complete. That happened under the Trump administration. So, the question to us was, will we go after directly, using our sanctions power, our European allies and friends?

And, there, President Biden said: I'm not prepared to do that. What I will do is continue to apply every 90 days sanctions against Russian entities involved in the construction of Nord Stream II. He has done that, and he will continue to do that.

BASH: Let's turn to China.

We still don't know whether the coronavirus developed naturally or whether it came from a lab in Wuhan. China is stonewalling an investigation. And you said that we just can't take this lying down. So, what does that mean in practical terms? If China won't allow

access, will the United States consider action against China to increase the pressure?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, Dana, there are two tracks that we're operating on in terms of trying to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 came into the world.

One track is an intelligence community assessment that President Biden ordered. That has a 90-day clock on it. And, in August, the intelligence community will report back. The second track is an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, for which President Biden has rallied Democratic partners to say there must be access to China to be able to get the data necessary to understand what happened here.

We are not, at this point, going to issue threats or ultimatums. What we're going to do is continue to rally support in the international community. And if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point, and we will do so in concert with allies and partners.

BASH: Does that sound like not taking it lying down? Sounds like giving them a lot of time.

SULLIVAN: Well, this is not a question of time, Dana.

First of all, we are in the process of using our own capacities, our own capabilities to begin to develop a clearer picture. And then, secondly, in order to build the kind of international consensus around this issue that will be required to put additional pressure on China, that takes diplomatic spadework.

It's spadework the president carried forward in a major way at the G7, getting for the first time something the last administration could not get, which was the democratic world speaking out with one voice on this issue. And then we will take it from there.

And so, yes, I will repeat what I said before. We're not going to simply accept China saying no. But we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully under way to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible, because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China.

BASH: Let's turn to Iran.

The country just voted in a presidential election this week. A right- wing hard-liner, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, was elected. And as someone -- you were involved in negotiations for the Iran deal, what does this mean for U.S. efforts to revive it?

SULLIVAN: Well, at the end of the day, Dana, the person who makes the decision about whether Iran will go back into the Iran nuclear deal, will assume its nuclear obligations under international law is not the president of Iran. It is the supreme leader of Iran. [09:40:07]

And that person did not change from before the election until after the election.

BASH: Before I let you go, I have to ask about another potential threat here at home.

The FBI is warning this week that some Americans who believe in QAnon conspiracy theories could carry out violent attacks as their delusions fail to come true. The report even calls some of these individuals domestic violent extremists.

How concerned are you, as the president's national security adviser, about potential QAnon-related attacks in America?

SULLIVAN: Well, Dana, domestic violent extremism is an issue of profound significance.

Our FBI, our Department of Homeland Security have both come out to indicate that it is among the most lethal forms of terrorism that we have faced over the past few years. And the president authorized a study of domestic terrorism in the United States. A report was released just last week on this issue. The attorney general gave a speech on it.

And that collective action that this administration has undertaken on every aspect of this challenge reflects the seriousness with which we take it and the efforts that we will pursue to ensure that the American people are protected against this form of violent extremism and terrorism, as with all forms of violent extremism and terrorism.

BASH: Jake Sullivan, thank you so much for joining me.

I know you said your father is in town visiting you. Enjoy your Father's Day with him.

SULLIVAN: Thank you so much.

BASH: And, up next, the first openly transgender politician elected to statewide office on how she successfully pushed a Southern state to expand trans rights.



BASH: June is Pride Month.

But, as millions of Americans celebrate, legislators in states across the country are moving to limit transgender rights. The first transgender politician elected to statewide office, Danica Roem, tells me that's why, for trans people, being politically active is crucial.


ROEM: The first out and seated transgender state legislator in American history.

BASH (voice-over): Who would have thought the first openly trans legislator elected in America would be from an area so Southern, she represents the first major battlefield of the Civil War.

ROEM: People from Northern states will say like, oh, well, Virginia is not part of the South. Have you been to my district?


ROEM: Would you like to go to the Cracker Barrel that is less than a mile away from the battlefield?

BASH: Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia legislature in 2017 by campaigning on local issues she became fluent in as a lifelong resident and a reporter.

ROEM: They were willing to look at me. And they go, yes, we know she's trans, and she will do a great job. I never say "trans, but," always "trans, and," because it's like, no, I don't hide who I am. People know exactly who I am here.

And they said, yes, we know, and Lake Meade sucks. Go fix it.

BASH: Still, she is well aware of the power of her position.

ROEM: If you know a trans person, you're much more likely to support our civil rights. But because there are fewer of us, it makes it a harder conversation.

I didn't have LGBTQ role models when I was a little kid, because it was -- I was like...

BASH (on camera): It didn't exist.

ROEM: I didn't know LGBTQ people, out LGBTQ people in my life when I was a kid.

BASH (voice-over): Roem was 14 years old in 1998 when Matthew Shepard was brutally killed in Wyoming because he was gay.

ROEM: I knew damn well who I was at that point. And I was too scared to tell anyone. And then, when you see a young gay man in Wyoming being pistol-whipped, bound to a fence post, and left to die in the freezing cold, you're in the South, and you go, if it's happening in Wyoming, it's not farfetched from what could be happening in Virginia.

Then it makes it harder to come out, because you feel that your safety is going to be jeopardized. And then you will see people who actually side with his killers.

BASH: That's why she sponsored a bill, at the behest of a teenage constituent, to do away with a controversial legal strategy that was permitted in her states.

The gay and trans panic defense justified some crimes against LGBTQ victims, arguing that their sexual orientation or gender identity was to blame for the violent reaction.

ROEM: We're simply saying that a person's mere presence and existence as an LGBTQ person is -- does not constitute a heat-of-passion defense that negates malice in an attack.

In layman's terms, you can't just assault and kill someone just because you feel like it.

BASH: That passed in Virginia, but trans panic laws are still on the books in most states.

Roem didn't transition until she was an adult.

ROEM: I was at a point at age 28 where I did not want to go into my 30s living a lie. I had pretended to be someone else my entire life by this point.

I had known who I was since I was 10 years old.

BASH (on camera): That's so awful.

ROEM: It's hard. I was afraid of disappointing my mom. I was afraid of disappointing people more than anything.

BASH (voice-over): Until college, her biggest passion was her heavy metal band. She became politically active in 2004, when George W. Bush campaigned on banning gay marriage, and has a plea now, as legislatures across the country debate limiting trans rights.


ROEM: When you are an LGBTQ person in the United States, regardless of whether you care about politics, politics cares about you.

I say this because, all across the country, you are seeing in different states bills that are coming up that are designed to either restrict your rights or, here in Virginia, to protect your rights. When you are an LGBTQ person, you have to care.


BASH: We want to wish a very happy Father's Day to some special dads; to my loving and supportive dad Stu, my co-host Jake Tapper, our senior editorial producer Polson Kanneth, and of course to the dads who are behind the camera right now shooting me. You can't see them but they're here. Happy Father's Day to you and all of the dads out there today. Hope you're enjoying some quality time with your children.

And tonight tune in to see why there is so much reluctance on Capitol Hill to look into the January 6th attacks. A new CNN investigation offers remarkable new details about what happened that day.