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State of the Union
Interview With Fmr. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA); Interview With White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 05, 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): Challenges mount. U.S. COVID deaths now averaging 1, 500 a day, and new questions about who needs booster shots and when. As the U.S. ends a war, can President Biden get his domestic agenda on track?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a lot more work to do.
BASH: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain joins us exclusively next.
And vigilante system. Most abortions now illegal in Texas, with other states hoping to follow suit.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This is a medical crisis for women in Texas.
BASH: Congressional Democrats are outraged, but is there anything they can do? Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar joins me to discuss in moments.
Plus: probe widens. The House Republican leader threatens communications companies about complying with requests from January 6 investigators, as the inquiry on the Capitol riot moves forward. Why are some Republicans trying to thwart it?
I will speak to Republican Congressman and member of the January 6 committee Adam Kinzinger ahead.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is looking for some solace this holiday weekend.
It won't be easy in an America reeling from floods, fire, and a still- raging virus. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 are reaching 1, 500 a day, as health officials warn unvaccinated people against traveling this weekend because they're at such great risk.
On Friday, President Biden blamed the ongoing pandemic for an August jobs report that fell short of expectations, more bad news after a difficult month that saw the chaotic exit from Afghanistan and the failure to get all Americans out of the country before the withdrawal, a super powerful hurricane that killed dozens and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and devastating fires out West.
And President Biden is facing new challenges to his legislative agenda after a key Democratic senator said he does not support a $3.5 trillion bill packed with Democratic priorities, including addressing the climate crisis. That, in turn, could doom a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the House.
And the Supreme Court took a giant step towards reversing Roe v. Wade by allowing a near total abortion ban in Texas to stand, a move that Democrats have few options to stop.
Joining me now is White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
So, I first want to ask about COVID and specifically the White House plans that you announced last month to begin offering booster shots to all vaccinated adults beginning September 20. But CNN and other news organizations are reporting that top health officials warned the White House this week that they need more time to review all the necessary data before they can recommend boosters for all adults.
You all know President Biden promised to always follow the science, but, in this case did, he get ahead of the science by setting that specific date for boosters before all the data was in?
RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, Dana, I think what we said was that we would be ready as of the 20th, which was the projection we were given from the senior science team as to when the FDA would clear the boosters.
I want to be absolutely clear. No one's going to get boosters until the FDA says they're approved, until the CDC Advisory Committee makes a recommendation.
What we want to do, though, is be ready as soon as that comes. The country lived through a disaster in December, when the FDA approved the vaccinations for the first time, but the administration had no plan to have enough vaccine on hand and to distribute it.
So, the most important thing we can do here at the White House, what our COVID response team can do is to make sure that we have bought the boosters, and we have, and that we have a distribution plan, so that, as soon as the regulators, the scientists say, good to go, here's who needs them, here's what's approved, they will be available, probably the very same day that that approval gets given.
BASH: CNN is told that some FDA officials weren't on board with the White House putting out that specific date on when people should expect booster shots.
And two top officials at the FDA have stepped down. Did anyone at the FDA raise concerns with you or others there about putting that date on this rollout?
KLAIN: Dana, not that I'm aware of.
But what I will say is, the president was very clear when he announced it that it would be subject to FDA and CDC Advisory Committee approval. So, we have been very clear from the start that no one's going to get those booster shots until the FDA says yes, until the CDC Advisory Committee and ultimately the CDC, the CDC director, says yes.
Officials from both CDC and FDA were involved in setting that week of September 20 target date. That still is -- we still are hopeful that at least one of the vaccinations could be available that date.
Again, I think what the people -- what the American people want to know is that, rather than being lackadaisical about this, we are ready to go as soon as the approval for the boosters comes from the FDA and from the CDC.
BASH: So, just to clarify, so -- because there's a lot of interest in this, as you know, who will get it and when?
KLAIN: Well, again, that's...
BASH: And when will you -- and how will you make that decision? Will you 100 percent follow the science?
KLAIN: A hundred percent. We will wait for FDA approval. We will wait for CDC approval. They will decide which of the vaccines are approved to be used as boosters. They will decide when that approval comes. They will decide who will get it under those approvals.
Those are decisions made by FDA and CDC. As I said before, what we have done is purchase the boosters, so we are ready, so we don't see this horrible spectacle we saw in December, where vaccines were approved, but you couldn't get them, you didn't know where to get them, we didn't have the supply.
We hadn't purchased enough vaccines for every American to be vaccinated back in December. We're ready to go once the science says go.
BASH: So, I want to move on. I just want to clarify.
It sounds like what you're saying is, it is possible that September 20, that week will come, and the boosters might not be ready to be approved?
KLAIN: Dana, let's not play games about this.
(CROSSTALK) KLAIN: We -- so, what I'm saying is, we will go when the FDA and the CDC say go.
I think the reports out of both agencies are...
BASH: Got it.
KLAIN: ... that at least some of the boosters for some people will be ready that week. But we are going to go whenever they say go.
BASH: Got it.
OK, let's talk about unemployment benefits. At least 7.5 million Americans are going to lose expanded unemployment benefits when that program expires tomorrow. President Biden says the states can use their leftover stimulus funds to extend benefits on their own.
But, according to "The Washington Post," states -- no states actually have indicated that they plan to do so. The Delta variant is wreaking havoc on the economy still. So, why did the president make a decision to just let these benefits expire and not push to extend them again?
KLAIN: Well, Dana, the Congress, when they passed these benefits, set this as the expiration date.
KLAIN: And I would say the Delta variant is having an impact on the economy, but not so much on employment.
We're at the lowest unemployment rate we have seen in this country in a year-and-a-half, 5.2 percent. We have added jobs every single month we have been here. And so we -- the states were given money as part of the Rescue Plan back in March to deal with the consequences of any economic dislocation due to COVID.
States are using that money in different ways. One of those ways is employment bonuses, paying people to take jobs. Other states are providing employment training, employment counseling. So, these benefits expire under the law this week, this coming week. And we think that the states have the tools they need to help people move from unemployment to employment, particularly -- by the way, we have more unfilled jobs in this America -- in this country than at any time on the record of measuring unfilled jobs.
KLAIN: So, we think the jobs are there, and we think the states have the resources they need to move people from unemployment to employment.
BASH: Ron, let's turn to Afghanistan.
More than 100 American citizens were left behind when the last military flight left Kabul earlier this week. What is their status right now? Have any gotten out, and how many are still there? KLAIN: We believe it's around 100. We're in touch with all of them
who we have identified on a regular basis.
Obviously, we're hopeful that, in the coming days, the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul. And, if they do, we're obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights. We are going to find ways to get them -- the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan.
We know many of them have family members. Many of them want to stay. But the ones that want to leave, we're going to get them out, as the president said. What happened on August 31 was, we transitioned from a military mission to a diplomatic mission to get the remaining Americans and the Afghan or Afghan allies, the so-called SIVs, out of the country. And we continue to work on that.
BASH: And on those so-called F.I. -- SIVs, rather, the question is whether or not you're hearing what we believe are credible reports about the Taliban systematically hunting them down, many of them, and killing them.
BASH: Have you heard about that, and what is the administration doing about it?
KLAIN: Dana, we -- there's all kinds of reports coming in.
We're in close communication with our sources and our contacts in Afghanistan to try to get those SIVs out, to get them out safely. I know that some are coming out by land. We are again, continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We're going to continue to move those SIVs out of the country.
What I will say is, as everyone knows, we launched a historic airlift that brought 124,000 people out of Afghanistan, American citizens, legal permanent residents of this country, residents of other countries, and a lot of Afghan nationals.
And we are going to get those people -- we have gotten those people to safety. We're ultimately going to resettle them in Europe and the United States. And that's a big part of rescuing that SIV population.
BASH: I want to ask about infrastructure.
I know you saw West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's op-ed this week saying he does not support the $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan, which includes a lot of the Biden agenda right now, including measures to combat the climate crisis.
So, without Manchin's support -- it's a 50/50 Senate -- it's dead. So how do you fix this?
KLAIN: Dana, if I had a nickel for everyone -- time someone's told me this package has been dead, I would be a very, very rich person.
It was dead back in May, when there was initial opposition to it. It was dead in June, the day the president went to Europe. It was dead in July again. All I have heard is how this package is going to be dead.
And yet, amazingly, it continues to advance. The bipartisan infrastructure plan passed the U.S. Senate, and the House adopted a rule for its ultimate passage later in September.
BASH: Right, but this is very specific.
KLAIN: And the reconciliation bill -- the reconciliation bill, both the House and Senate have adopted the budget structure to pass it, and the House is now in committee markups this week and next week to pass it.
BASH: How are you going to convince Joe Manchin?
KLAIN: So, look, we're going to continue.
We have worked with Senator Manchin at every step of the way. He's been a partner of our administration. He has strong views. Others have views. We're going to work together to find a way to put together a package that can pass the House, that can pass the Senate, that can be put on the president's desk and signed into law.
BASH: Is he convincible? I mean, you read that. He's very specific, saying that he's worried that that price tag or even something close to that is too difficult to pass because of the debt and even because of inflation.
Is that something that's movable?
KLAIN: Yes, so, I think that's why he's very -- I think that's why he's very persuadable, because, of course, this package adds nothing to the debt, nothing to the debt.
It is fully paid for by raising taxes on wealthy people. We have had people become billionaires during the pandemic. They should pay their fair share of taxes. We have had 55 big corporations pay nothing, nothing in taxes, when they have record profits.
If we raise taxes on the big corporations who aren't paying, raise taxes on people using international loopholes, raise taxes on the wealthy who are not paying their fair share, we can pay for every one of those investments in the package without a penny of taxes on people making under $400,000 a year and without a penny being added to the long-term federal debt.
In fact, passing these tax changes, making the people who aren't paying pay their fair share, collecting taxes from people who owe them and are dodging taxes by using loopholes, using lawyers and accountants, collecting those taxes will make our tax system fairer, make middle-class people share less of the burden, and can help bring down our debt in the long run. So, I think Senator Manchin's concerns about inflation, about debts,
those are concerns we can address with the provisions of this package itself.
BASH: Ron, before I let you go, I have to ask about the Supreme Court declining to block a Texas law which bans all abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and effectively deputizes private citizens to enforce it.
I know the president is directing federal agencies to look into ways to address this, but this is the law of the land right now. There are women who are scared and don't know what to do in Texas. You know the law better than most people I know in this country.
Is the reality that there isn't a whole lot the administration can do right now to change things in Texas?
KLAIN: Dana, I hope that's not the reality.
We have the best lawyers at the Justice Department looking for legal remedies to protect women who are seeking to exercise their constitutional rights. We have the team at HHS looking at what means we can do to try to get women the health care services they need in the face of this Texas law.
And we have the Gender Policy Council here at the White House, the first time a president's ever had a policy council devoted to gender issues, coordinating all this work to bring options forward for the president and the vice president to look at.
BASH: So, you think it's possible -- but you think it's possible that you can do something at the federal level?
KLAIN: We are going to find -- we are going to find ways, if they're at all possible -- and I think they are possible -- we are going to find ways to make a difference for the women of Texas to try to protect their constitutional rights, yes.
BASH: Ron Klain, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks for having me, Dana.
BASH: And coming up: Other states are now considering following Texas' lead with copycat bills to restrict abortion rights. Senator Amy Klobuchar on whether Democrats can stop that. That's next.
Plus: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to stop communications companies from saving a record of who he talked to on January 6. Why? I will ask a Republican who sits on the January 6 committee ahead.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
Abortion providers, activists, and many women in Texas say they are now facing a climate of fear after the Supreme Court refused to halt the new Texas law that prohibits most abortions and essentially rewards vigilantes.
Everyday citizens are now encouraged to report anyone who aids a woman in getting abortion, which could include anyone, from a doctor to a family member, even an Uber driver.
And now a handful of other states are considering similar measures.
Joining me now, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Thank you so much for joining me, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Dana.
BASH: Because the Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand, abortion is now all but illegal in that state.
And the court is set to hear arguments in the fall about a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
So, I want to play an exchange that you had with now Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY CONEY BARRETT, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: As Richard Fallon from Harvard said, Roe is not a super precedent because calls for its overruling have never ceased, but that doesn't mean that Roe should be overruled. It just means that it doesn't fall on the small handful of cases that Marbury vs. Madison and Brown vs. the Board that no one questions anymore.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I am then left with looking at the tracks of your record and where it leads the American people. And I think it leads us to a place that's going to have severe repercussions for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Senator, is the court about to overturn Roe v. Wade?
KLOBUCHAR: I hope not, Dana.
But if you follow those tracks, as I mentioned at Justice Coney Barrett's hearing, I think you know where it leads.
And this decision that they made with the state of Texas is unbelievable. And Justice Roberts, not exactly a liberal, a conservative justice, who sided with the liberal justices in this case in dissent, said that the Texas law was unusual, it was unprecedented, that they're basically taking their own authority and giving it to the populace in the form of, hey, you can be a bounty hunter, $10,000.
You can report a woman who's trying to go and seek to exercise her constitutional rights. That is exactly what that law says. And in the past, when they had cases that were so blatantly against Roe v. Wade, they would stay those cases when such requests came up. They did it with another Texas law. They did it in 2015. They did it in 2019.
And so here you have them, this year, this week, basically telling women in Texas that 85 percent of them seeking abortion services cannot exercise their constitutional rights.
KLOBUCHAR: And they know very well that there are over 500 laws that are messing around with this, and you're going to see cases just like this come before them.
They did at midnight with just less than 72 hours of debate, in Justice Kagan's words, and basically green-lighted a law that is blatantly against Roe v. Wade.
BASH: Real quick, you said you hope not on the question of, will the court overturn Roe v. Wade? But it sounds like you're saying that you think it will.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I hope not, but you never know when the justices look at the facts of a case.
KLOBUCHAR: You also have a recent state court decision that stayed this with some clinics in Texas.
You're going to see this wind up through the notoriously conservative Fifth Circuit. And then it eventually will go to the Supreme Court. But the problem is this, which is why I turn to Congress and why I believe that is a solution. It can take months, it can take years for a final case on the merits to get before the Supreme Court.
BASH: So -- so, Senator, you mentioned Congress.
Speaker Pelosi says the House will vote to codify abortion protections into law. But you know better than I do there aren't 60 votes for that in the U.S. Senate. So, realistically, what can you and your fellow Democrats do, or is the Texas law going to be allowed to stand?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, I'm glad Speaker Pelosi is showing that leadership to get this through the House immediately, basically codify or to put Roe v. Wade into law.
In the U.S. Senate, first of all, there are some pro-choice Republicans. I want to make that clear. We have seen that time and time again in votes, specifically...
BASH: But enough to get to 60?
KLOBUCHAR: No. Senator Collins, Senator Murkowski.
So, my solution to this, which is my solution for voting rights and so many other things, including climate change, where one side of the country is in flames, the other side of the country is flooded, with people dying submerged in their cars, I believe we should abolish the filibuster.
I do not believe an archaic rule should be used to allow us to put our heads in the sand, to use Justice Sotomayor's words, to put our heads in the sand, and not take action on the important issues, the challenges that are facing our country right now, now and over the next years.
We just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place.
BASH: Well, that...
KLOBUCHAR: And so that is why I think it's important.
How do we do it? Well, there have been those, including Senator Manchin, that have signaled an interest in what's called the standing filibuster, where you basically have -- require the other side to have to be there day in and day out, to require them to support a position that isn't even supported by all of their own members on Roe, not supported by 77 percent of the American public who thinks Roe should remain law.
BASH: Forgive me. Don't you think there are a lot of Republicans who would be happy to stand up to talk for hours and days and weeks about their opposition to abortion rights? How would that change the outcome of the number problem that you have?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm sure there is.
But I think it is really important that we make these reforms. Another one would be to carve out constitutional rights, to carve out things like the voting bill, to allow for votes on that.
And I think my job right now is to make the case on the merits. I talked to Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema. There's not that many senators. And that's what we're doing.
But I just think to pretend that this isn't happening right now is the biggest mistake. This is an assault on women's health. There is no doubt about it. And as you could see by my exchange with Amy Coney Barrett, we could see it coming.
There are now three Trump Supreme Court justices. You add that to the two conservatives that were already there, this is the result. It's not a surprise. BASH: Senator, this decision is renewing calls by some on the left
for Democrats to vote to or at least try to vote to expand the size of the Supreme Court. President Biden doesn't support that. You said you were open to the idea in the past. Where do you stand now?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I still am. And you can see why. I don't think this court is going to change any time in the near future.
But, again, practically, as I look at it, I think what is the best way to get to a result that's the right policy, that's consistent with where the American people are, that will not wreak havoc in this country? And, to me, the best thing is to get rid of the filibuster.
But that is an option, and President Biden has a commission in place right now that is considering it.
BASH: You said last time you were on this show that Justice Stephen Breyer, if he's going to retire, he should do it sooner, rather than later. Is that time now?
KLOBUCHAR: I stick to my words.
I believe, if he is seriously considering retirement -- and he has said he would do it based on not only his own health, but also the future of the court -- if this decision doesn't cry out for that, I don't know what does.
BASH: Before I let...
KLOBUCHAR: I think, if he's going to do it, sooner, rather than later.
And, again, as you know, Dana, that's not going to change the results necessarily, but at least it doesn't put it at 7-2.
BASH: Let's talk infrastructure, plans to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan.
It includes much of President Biden's domestic agenda. It came to a screeching halt this week. Your colleague Senator Manchin, who you mentioned, he said he won't support that price tag. He called for a strategic pause. You just heard White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain say he thinks that Manchin is persuadable. Do you agree?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I never quite use the word persuadable with Joe Manchin, but I think that he is someone that many times has been willing to get to a place that's the right place to be.
Lookit, we were able to work with him, President Biden was able to work with him, and he himself came to the right position on the American Rescue Plan, which, as we still struggle with the pandemic, as we turn the corner on it, has literally saved lives and put our country in such a better place.
I believe you saw the same thing happen with the infrastructure bill, which recently -- the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate. And now I believe we will get there when it comes to this really important part of Build Back Better, which is about housing and child care, while we are still getting through this pandemic.
So, I don't quite use the word persuadable, because it's -- I'm trying to picture persuading Joe Manchin. But he gets to the right place. We knew this was going to be a tough negotiation. I'm not surprised by what he wrote. And we will get this done.
BASH: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Dana. Great to be on.
BASH: Some House Republicans want to kick my next guest out of their caucus for telling the truth.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger is here and will join me next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
The Justice Department is making headway in prosecuting some of the 600 people arrested after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The so-called QAnon Shaman this week pleaded guilty to a felony charge for his role. In Congress, the committee investigating those attacks is also moving forward. The House January 6 committee is asking telecommunications companies to preserve the phone records of several House Republicans, including the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who responded to the news with a threat.
Joining me now is a member of the January 6 committee, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
BASH: I want to start with that request from the committee you serve on.
The GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, responded by saying that the telecommunications companies should not comply, and he warned that -- quote -- "A Republican majority will not forget."
Is he trying to obstruct your inquiry?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think -- look, obstruct, I don't know, but it's really bad politics, I think, to say the least.
Look, we -- as a committee, we have a right and we have the responsibility, and, frankly, we have the legal authority to go through the process of requesting these kinds of things. Right now, all we have said is, we want these records preserved.
There's a number of people. I won't go into the details of who all's on it. And then we will decide what we need to see and what's in the American people's interest.
And I think to turn around then and make ominous talk to these telecom companies that, when we take over, it's going to be different or we will have payback, that's just not, frankly, the Republican Party I remember and the Republican Party I ever joined.
BASH: But you said it's bad politics. Is it more than that? This is a congressional investigation.
KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, that's the -- that's the thing is, what is the intention there?
I think, yes, it's bad politics. Is it obstruction? I don't know what is considered obstruction of a congressional investigation, but I would certainly recommend he never go there again.
If you have a problem with what the committee's doing, there is a process for your lawyers and your people to push back against it. But it's not to go on TV and tell these companies that they're going to regret it.
That is a -- that, to me, is a pretty scary place to go in this world, if we start using our power as a way to get the outcome that we want.
BASH: House Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs is calling on McCarthy to boot you and your fellow Republican Liz Cheney from the House GOP Conference because you're participating in this January 6 committee.
What does that say about today's Republican Party?
KINZINGER: Well, I think that whatever they do is going to be what it says.
Now, I will tell you what it says for sure about the House Freedom Caucus, and I guess the 15 or 16 people that signed this letter. Some of those people that signed that letter are the ones out there talking about things like bloodshed, or supportive of that, or flirting around with white nationalism.
And so the question is, what is our party going to be? Are we going to be the party of opportunity and hope or the party of anger, division, and truth has no place in it?
And if Andy Biggs has his way, we will be the party where truth- tellers and people that want to stand up for the Constitution, like Liz Cheney and myself, get kicked out of the party because there's no room for truth.
So, I would encourage the rest of my colleagues in the Republican Party to not just passively resist that move, but to do it open and honestly, not because of me. I don't -- I don't -- I'm not worried about my future on that, but because the party desperately needs some people to stand up and tell the truth.
BASH: Congressman, do you think that voters should trust House Republican leaders with the majority in the next election?
KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, I'm a Republican. I would like to see actual Republican values in the majority.
All I can say right now is, my party has to embrace truth. We have to have a full reckoning of what happened on January 6, and we have to turn away from conspiracy. I think, if we're going to be in charge and pushing conspiracy and pushing division and pushing lies, then the Republican Party should not have the majority.
But if we're going to be the party that actually tells truth and fights for real conservative values, and doesn't masquerade conservatism as some anger future, then, certainly, we should have the majority.
But that's up to the party right now to determine. For me, I'm going to go out and tell the truth.
BASH: Let's turn to Afghanistan.
A senior State Department official tells CNN that the majority of Afghan Special Immigration Visa applicants were left behind when the U.S. pulled out.
You sent a letter to the secretary of defense and the defense secretary -- excuse me -- defense secretary and secretary of state demanding specifics on exactly who was evacuated and who wasn't. Have they responded?
KINZINGER: No, not yet.
And, you know, look, again, it was interesting, because, as this was going down, this evacuation, the administration would stand up and talk about all this great success. And, certainly, they evacuated a lot of people. I don't want to take that away from them.
But we were hearing very different things on the ground, getting -- we were getting really -- real big pushback, when they were, like, oh, no, it's going swimmingly, and we're saying, no, we're hearing nobody's getting through the gates. And I think what we're seeing now is, I think we evacuated something like 8, 800 of these Afghan SIVs, out of tens of thousands that wanted to go.
I -- this is a shameful moment in America. And, unfortunately, we're so tribal that people are just, like, either going to go out and defend the administration or attack the last administration, which I think, frankly, both have screwed up Afghanistan. And we just want accountability for that.
This is America's reputation. This is going to last for a long time. It's going to be a stain on our country. And, quite honestly right now, the last of the resistance front is fighting a Taliban onslaught. They had some victories yesterday.
But they are now facing American weapons operated by the Taliban. And, as far as I know, we're doing nothing but trying to cooperate with the Taliban. It's really a sad day. And I hope the president turns some of those decisions around.
BASH: You talked about some of those who came out.
There were a lot of people rescued and are now refugees. The Biden administration said the U.S. could ultimately welcome more than 50,000 Afghan refugees. Many of those have limited access, though, to financial support and face uncertain legal status.
I know this is a priority for you. Is the U.S. doing enough, the government?
KINZINGER: Well, the government, I think, always can do more to -- first off, the government's not, as far as I know, rescuing anybody anymore.
KINZINGER: Now, in terms of the resettlement, obviously, I will say, Department of State has done a good job in finding safe third countries to process these people and finding countries to place them.
But I think a lot of the relocation in the United States, there's probably more that can be done. But there's a lot of groups out there, Dana, like No One Left Behind. These are people that have been out there doing this from the very beginning when this program was started that can really help folks get resettled, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Charities.
So, there's a lot of good private sector groups. But, look, it's going to be a challenge for anybody that relocates to the United States, because they're coming here without really a network of people. But it's certainly going to be better than facing what we will call authoritarian justice by the Taliban and certain death.
BASH: I want to ask about the Supreme Court just allowing a Texas law to go into effect that prohibits abortions after just six weeks, including cases of rape and incest, and actively deputizes ordinary citizens to enforce it.
What do you think of that law?
KINZINGER: Well, there's a lot of question about what the Supreme Court thing meant.
So, look, for me I'm pro-life, but what I don't like to see is this idea of every citizen being able to tattle, sue an Uber driver, as you said, be deputized to enforce this abortion law to whatever they want.
I think, if you're going to do something on abortion, it's a debate that we should have that's open and not just opening people up to be sued for any bit part in that process.
I also think, look, I believe in the rape and incest, life of the mother and health of the mother exception to abortion...
BASH: Which is not in there.
KINZINGER: ... as every Republican president has.
That's correct. And so I think, like, any bill going forward should certainly take that into account and should certainly not be set up so that it's enforced by people using private right of action to sue somebody, vs. just actually having an open and honest law.
BASH: Real quick, if the Democrats and the majority in the House come up with legislation specifically to try to target the Texas law, would you support it?
KINZINGER: Well, I mean, I'd have to see what the details are.
There's -- obviously, abortion is a very deep, deep concern for everybody. It's very personal. So I think you would have to see what the nuances of what that law is before I could just -- or what that fix would be before I could just make a comment.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.
KINZINGER: You bet.
BASH: And we're approaching the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the stirring moment when leaders of both parties came together that day.
BASH: This coming Saturday is the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
And over the next week, we will hear a lot of stories about the heroics of that day and the horrors, the lives lost and the families reeling.
As a society, we have never been the same. I was a producer covering the Capitol back then. I remember parking right on the East Front, very close to the Capitol Building itself. You could do that pre-9/11.
I was rushing into the building because two planes had hit the Twin Towers, and I knew I had to get congressional reaction.
The minute I hit the up button on the elevator, I was told to evacuate. It was about 9:38 a.m., and Flight 77 had just slammed into the Pentagon. People in the Capitol facing west could see the smoke billowing from across the river.
I ran outside and crossed the Capitol Plaza, hooked up with a CNN photojournalist, and we started to send back live pictures of the Capitol, when, all of a sudden, Capitol Police officers started to scream: "Run. Run for your lives."
It turned out they were getting word that a fourth plane was unaccounted for and possibly headed for the Capitol. That was Flight 93, which didn't make it to the Capitol because the brave souls on board took it down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Later, at dusk on that chaotic day 20 years ago, members of Congress in both parties returned to the steps of the Capitol. After all the leaders spoke, rank-and-file lawmakers broke into song, an impromptu rendition of "God Bless America." It was one of the most genuine, moving moments I had ever seen at the U.S. Capitol, Democrats and Republicans coming together in the face of an unprecedented terror attack.
It's almost hard to imagine these days, given how divide Congress is, even in the wake of a different kind of attack, one this time directly on the U.S. Capitol, on lawmakers and democracy itself.
Societies pause and reflect on anniversaries to honor and remember, but also to learn. I hope those serving today and those they represent will take a few minutes this week to go on YouTube and go back and watch that bipartisan moment as the sun went down on the Capitol on September 11, 2001, for those of us who were there to remember, for newer lawmakers to learn.
We will be right back.
BASH: In just over a week, California voters will decide whether to recall their governor, Gavin Newsom.
If that seems unlikely, well, remember, it's exactly what happened almost 20 years ago. Californians recalled then-Democratic Governor Gray Davis, and, this being California, they replaced him with a mega- movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I took a look at the wild factors at play back in 2003 for a new podcast, "Total Recall: California's Political Circus."
The first episode releases this Wednesday, and it includes a rare extensive interview with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we talked about how a lot of the circumstances now are different, but the anger Californians felt in 2003 is similar to how they're feeling now.
BASH: It's very personal. The politics and the problems right now are very personal, kind of like it was back when you ran. FMR. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): It is exactly the same. The atmosphere is exactly the same when I ran.
It's the same kind of things like -- people talk about blackouts. People are not happy with education, that people are not happy with what's going on with the inequality in the state. It's out of control, the situation, and this is why there's anger. So, it's the same anger...
BASH: And there's no Arnold Schwarzenegger on the other side of the ballot.
SCHWARZENEGGER: There is no Arnold Schwarzenegger, so Newsom can hope and take quickly some -- figure out how to be Arnold Schwarzenegger for a second.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Even as a Democrat. I don't know.
But, I mean, it's like there are people in there, in the race, that have some really good answers and that have some good solutions and other things, and they maybe don't have the personality and all that stuff.
So, it's like -- but they will figure it out. The day is going to come very soon that the election will be. Then the chips will fall also in that particular case the way they may, and so be it.
BASH: My podcast "Total Recall: California's Political Circus" releases this Wednesday, September 8.
You can download it wherever you get your podcasts.
Thanks so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.