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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Interview With National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci; Interview With Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 05, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Omicron spreads, as the U.S. steps up the fight against the new variant.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We likely will see more cases of Omicron as the weeks and the days go by.
TAPPER: Officials say boosters are your best bet. What more do you need to know? I will speak with Dr. Anthony Fauci.
And Roe at risk. Nationwide protection for abortion is on the line, as the Supreme Court considers a Mississippi case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Will millions of American women lose their constitutional right to have an abortion? The Republican governor of the state bringing the case, Tate Reeves, joins me ahead.
Plus: uncivil discourse. Republican leaders still refusing to condemn a bigoted attack by a GOP congresswoman.
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn't have real consequences.
TAPPER: What should accountability look like? I will speak exclusively to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in moments, plus Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is trying to stay calm.
New this morning, South Africa's president says hospitalizations from Omicron are not increasing at an alarming rate, as more states across the United States confirm cases of the new Omicron COVID variant and scientists race to understand how dangerous this variant really is.
President Biden is laying out his plan to make it through what could be a difficult winter, including tighter travel rules, free at-home testing, and a major push to get more booster shots into arms. And while the concerns over this new variant dominate the headlines, the Delta variant continues to cause misery across the U.S. Nearly every state saw a steep rise in COVID cases over the past week.
And the country is back -- more than 100,000 cases a day for the first time in two months.
Let's go straight to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden's chief medical adviser.
Dr. Fauci, good to see you, as always.
So, let's start with the Omicron variant. Coronavirus cases in South Africa quadrupled in just four days this week, reportedly spreading twice as quickly as Delta. But the South African president said overnight that hospitalizations from Omicron are not increasing at alarming -- at an alarming rate.
So have you seen evidence that hospitalizations or deaths are rising, not just cases? And what does all of this suggest to you about this new variant?
FAUCI: Well, we're in really quite constant communication with our South African colleagues, Jake. They have really been very good about being transparent.
They are giving that indication that you just mentioned. Clearly, in South Africa, Omicron has a transmission advantage, because, if you look at the number of cases now, they were very much at a low level. Then they had almost a virtual -- a vertical spike upwards, which is almost exclusively Omicron.
Thus far -- though it's too early to really make any definitive statements about it, thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it. But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to Delta.
But, thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity. But, again, you got to hold judgment until we get more experience. But, clearly, it is becoming the dominant variant in South Africa.
The question for us here in the United States, now that it is clearly here in at least 15 or more states and in about 40 countries, is, what is it going to be as it competes with a very dominant variant, Delta, which we have 99.9 percent of the isolates in the United States are Delta?
And it's going to be very interesting to see, when you have the Omicron, which is now clearly in our own country and there is an indication of community spread, what's going to happen when you have those two competing with each other? It's going to be very interesting to do what we're doing now, watching it.
But, as you mentioned -- I just heard you make the comment in the introduction. Boosters are going to be really critical...
FAUCI: ... addressing whether or not we're going to be able to handle this.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about the vaccine, because you have said the level of vaccine protection might diminish against Omicron.
There's likely still at least some protection, you have also said. At what level would you be still satisfied that the vaccines work against Omicron. Anything over 50 percent or 60 percent efficacy? What are you looking for?
FAUCI: You know, I don't -- you know, Jake, you don't want to look for a specific number.
But one of the things you do look at -- and people ask this question all the time -- is that the vaccines that we are distributing now in the United States and throughout the world are directed against the original ancestral Wuhan strain.
And yet, with Delta, when you get a level of antibody and general immune protection high enough, it spills over to protect against other variants. So, we're getting quite good protection against Delta when you're vaccinated, and particularly when you get boostered.
And that's the reason why we're saying, even with a new variant like Omicron, if you get boosted, you're going to get your level up way up, and we feel certain that there will be a some degree, and maybe a considerable degree, of protection against the Omicron variant, if, in fact, it starts to take hold in a dominant way in this country.
TAPPER: So, the U.S. has banned noncitizen travel from eight African countries, including South Africa, but not from the roughly three dozen other countries that have Omicron cases.
The head of the United Nations slammed bans such as these as -- quote -- "travel apartheid." Given that the U.S. is now imposing strict testing requirements for international travel -- travelers, and given that Omicron is here in 15 states, do you think it's time to lift the bans on travel from South African countries?
FAUCI: Yes, well, Jake, that ban was done at a time when we were really in the dark. We had no idea what was going on, except that there seemed to have been an explosion of cases of Omicron in South Africa.
So, when the ban was put on, it was put to give us time to figure out just what is going on. Now, as you mentioned, as we're getting more and more information about cases in our own country and worldwide, we're looking at that very carefully on a daily basis.
Hopefully, we will be able to live that ban within a quite reasonable period of time. I mean, we all feel very badly about the hardship that that might have put upon not only South Africa, but the other African countries. And for that reason, in real time, literally on a daily basis, we're reevaluation that -- we're reevaluating that policy.
TAPPER: Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin said this week that you have been using coronavirus to keep Americans in fear and maintain control. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Fauci did the exact same thing with AIDS. He overhyped it. He created all kinds of fear, saying it could affect the entire population, when it couldn't. And he's doing -- he's using the exact same playbook for COVID.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Obviously, that's a bizarre and false assertion. President George W. Bush gave you the Presidential Medal of Freedom because of your leadership in the AIDS crisis.
But I did want to give you an opportunity to respond.
FAUCI: Jake, how do you respond to something as preposterous as that?
Overhyping AIDS? It's killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide. How do you overhype that? Overhyping COVID? It's already killed 780,000 Americans and over five million people worldwide.
So, I don't have any clue of what he's talking about.
TAPPER: I don't think he does either.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
The future of Roe v. Wade is uncertain, as the Supreme Court considers a case out of Mississippi that could radically transform abortion rights nationwide.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves will be here to discuss. That's next.
And she was the target of a fellow lawmaker's bigoted smear. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is here exclusively to respond ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
The fate of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to an abortion, is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, as the conservative-leaning court seems poised to uphold a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks.
This is one of the most significant challenges to abortion rights in decades. Joining us now to discuss, the Republican governor of Mississippi,
Governor Reeves, good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
So let's start on the Supreme Court case.
Based on what you heard in oral arguments, do you think that the Supreme Court will uphold Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban? And do you think the court will overturn Roe v. Wade?
GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): Well, Jake, thanks for having me on this morning. I really do appreciate it.
This has been a watershed moment in American history over the last week, as this case that many of us in the pro-life movement have hoped would come before the court for many years, and we actually had oral arguments on Wednesday.
And, clearly, the questioning by a number of the justices led many people across America and particularly journalists to opine that they were looking very favorably on upholding the case, the Dobbs case, the Mississippi case. And that's certainly a favorable outcome for us.
There's a number of different things that the justices can do here. Clearly, they could recognize, even under the existing standard, that 15 weeks is not at all radical. In fact, they could recognize that the 15-week ban in the Mississippi case is more in line with abortion laws around the world than the current laws in the U.S.
In fact, in Europe, for instance, there are 42 countries that have elective abortions, and, in 39 of them, they would still have more restrictive laws than the state of Mississippi, if, in fact, our 15- week ban is upheld.
The court also could go further, as you well know. They could consider potentially overturning Casey, which was the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case, dating back to 1992, or they could overturn Roe v. Wade in 1973.
And the commentary around the oral arguments on Wednesday certainly give people like me who hope that they do both of those things some reason for optimism. But, again, I have watched enough court cases to know that just because a particular judge or particular justices ask certain questions doesn't mean that's necessarily how they're going to rule.
TAPPER: So the state of Mississippi also has a law in the books that would ban all abortions, with exceptions only for rape and the life of the mother, that would snap into effect -- it's called a snapback law -- snap into effect just days after Roe is overturned, if Roe is overturned.
If that happens, would you start enforcing that in your state, the almost complete ban, regardless of how many weeks of the pregnancy?
REEVES: Well, Jake, clearly, it is dependent upon how the court rules and exactly what those opinions allow us to do.
If, in fact, Roe is overturned -- and, by the way, I believe very strongly, as do many Americans, that the justices on the Supreme Court today could look at the Roe v. Wade case and come to the conclusion that the court just simply got it wrong in 1973.
If you read the Constitution, in my opinion, there is no guaranteed right to an abortion in our U.S. Constitution. And, furthermore, not only is there not a guaranteed right. There's also nothing in the Constitution that prohibits individual states from enacting their own laws.
And, after all, that's really what the founding fathers intended. For any issue that is not explicit in the Constitution, it should be left to the states and the state legislatures and the democratic process. And so I just want to make sure everyone is clear that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that doesn't mean that no one in America is going to have access, although that might make people like me happy.
But what it does mean is that all 50 states, the laboratories of democracy, are going to have the ability to enact their own laws with respect to abortion. And I think that's the way it should be in America.
TAPPER: So, is that a yes, that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, you will enforce the almost total abortion ban in Mississippi that exists in the inevitability or in the situation where Roe v. Wade is overturned, yes?
REEVES: Yes, Jake, that is a yes, because, if you believe, as I believe very strongly, that innocent unborn child in the mother's womb is, in fact, a child, the most important word when we talk about unborn children is not unborn, but it's children.
And so, yes, I will do everything I can to protect the lives of those children.
TAPPER: So, the country has been here before, before 1973.
And what happens in reality is, women of means are still able to get abortions, but poor women, young women, vulnerable women end up often seeking abortions in ways that can cause them severe harm, mutilation, if not death in some cases.
So, do you acknowledge that this step will result in some women and almost -- almost certainly getting seriously hurt, some even dying?
REEVES: Well, I certainly would hope that that would not be the case.
But what I would tell you, Jake, is that since Roe was enacted in 1973, there have been 62 million American babies that have been killed through this process. And I think that those babies in their mother's womb don't have the ability to stand up for themselves. And that's why they have to have people like me and others around this
nation that, for years, have tried to stand up for unborn children. I think we have to do everything we can as policy-makers to improve the quality of public health in our state.
And when you look at this pandemic, there are a lot of negatives that have come from the pandemic, but one of the hopefully silver linings that come out of dealing with the pandemic over the last year-and-a- half is that we have seen significant investments in infrastructure, both from the state and federal level, in our public health system.
REEVES: And I think we need to continue to do that. And I think that's important.
TAPPER: So, you clearly see this move is part of a culture of life, as you have said in the past.
Mississippi, of course, ranks 50th in the country in infant mortality. Mississippi is nearly last when it comes to childhood hunger. According to a recent study of what kids need to thrive from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, looking at economic well-being and education and health and family and community, Mississippi ranks 50th out of 50 for child well-being.
How do you square those statistics about Mississippi with what you say about a culture of life?
REEVES: Well, first of all, when you -- when you look at that unborn baby in the womb, and you consider it a human being, it really changes your perspective on lots of different things.
But with respect to the statistics that you quoted, when I ran for office in and then ultimately in my first inaugural address, I made it very clear to the people in my state that I believed in my heart that I was elected not to try to hide our problems or not to try to hide our challenges, but to try to fix them.
And I perfectly acknowledge that many of those statistics in terms of health outcomes in our state were underperforming relative to other states across the nation. And it's incumbent upon all of us to work to pass policies to change that.
And when you look at health outcomes, whether it's prenatal care or other areas, we have a ways to go. And that hasn't become effective in the last year-and-a-half, but it's happened over 200 years of our state's existence, and we're going to do everything we can to improve upon that.
TAPPER: Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate your time, sir.
REEVES: Thank you. TAPPER: Coming up next: Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar here exclusively to respond to a conservative lawmaker's anti-Muslim attack against her.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
This is where we are with the Republican Party right now.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is now defending Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert after this shocking, purely bigoted jab she took at Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): I look to my left. And there she is, Ilhan Omar.
I said, well, if she doesn't have a backpack, we should be fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: McCarthy standing by Boebert even as he doubles down on her hateful, bigoted comments.
Here with us to exclusively respond is Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Congresswoman, thanks for being here.
So, I want to obviously start with those comments, Boebert comparing you to a terrorist suicide bomber.
What is it like to hear that kind of blatant bigotry, blatant Islamophobia coming from a fellow elected member of the House of Representatives?
OMAR: It's shocking and unacceptable.
And it's very unbecoming of a congresswoman to use that kind of derogatory, dangerous, inciting language against a colleague. Many of us thought, post-9/11, that we were on the mend.
When I first won, I remember getting phone calls from across the world from heads of states and prime ministers and foreign ministers congratulating me because they thought that America was past its sort of post 9/11- Islamophobia. And to see this happen right now in the halls of Congress really is
damaging, not just to the Muslim community, to myself, but to the kind of country we want to be.
TAPPER: So, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has still not publicly condemned Boebert's comments.
On Friday, he was asked, why not? Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): She apologized publicly. She apologized personally. She wanted to meet personally. Denied the ability to meet personally.
Well, she picked up the phone and she called Congresswoman Omar. She said: I want to personally apologize to you.
And that's what she did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, to be clear, after her conversation with you, Boebert went on social media and doubled down and said things that were equally incendiary.
OMAR: Yes. I mean, what...
TAPPER: What's your reaction to McCarthy and how he described it?
McCarthy is a liar and a coward. He doesn't have the ability to condemn the kind of bigoted Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric that are being trafficked by a member of his conference.
TAPPER: Why doesn't he have the ability to do that?
OMAR: Because this is -- this is who they are.
And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact that their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry.
TAPPER: We should point out that there are some members of the Republican House Caucus, Nancy Mace, Tom Reed, Adam Kinzinger -- Fred Upton, I believe, reached out to you -- who have condemned the remarks.
But that's four out of hundreds. Most of the House...
OMAR: And they are being attacked.
TAPPER: They're being attacked for...
OMAR: For condemning it, which tells you that their conference condones this.
And that's why it's dangerous, because people across the world, not just in the United States, are seeing this. And they are worried. As you know, Islamophobia is on the rise. And as many people have reached out to me about my safety, I remind them that this isn't about me. This is about all of the young girls across this country who wear the hijab so proudly who are afraid for their lives.
TAPPER: It's deplorable.
And we should note -- and I'll spare you the sound bites, but this is not the first time that Congresswoman Boebert has targeted you with these bigoted comments, any number of examples. She's called you a terrorist, blackhearted, evil.
It's not a one-off joke to her. This isn't just one errant moment. This is a pattern.
What do you think Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders should do, if anything, about this?
OMAR: I think of -- the most dangerous thing that she has recently said is that we have a problem in Congress because there's a terrorist.
And I think, once you sort of invoke that kind of language, you put not just my life, but the lives of my colleagues as well, in danger, because we don't know who's out there. The people who are leaving these voice-mails that are saying, "We are taking up arms, coming to the Capitol to protect our country from a terrorist," are not people that we should dismiss. They're not joking.
And I think it's important for us to say, this kind of language, this kind of hate cannot be condoned by the House of Representatives. And we should punish and sanction Boebert by stripping her of her committees, by rebuking her language, by doing everything that we can to send a clear and decisive message to the American public that, if the Republicans are not going to be adults and condone -- condemn this, that we are going to do that.
TAPPER: You think Speaker Pelosi is going to do that, have a vote at least to strip Boebert of her committee assignments?
OMAR: I have had a conversation with the speaker, and I'm very confident that she will take decisive action next week.
As you know, when I first got to Congress, I was worried that I wasn't going to be allowed to be sworn in because there was a ban on the hijab. She promised me that she would take care of it. She fulfilled that promise. She's made another promise to me that she will take care of this.
And I believe her. TAPPER: So, we should note, as you just did, this isn't just about
hurt feelings, not that that is a small thing. This is about incitement.
And you recently shared a voice-mail message that you got. And, with your permission, I'd like to play that, because it's important that people understand why you are so concerned.
Let's roll that tape, if we can.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come get it (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Muslim piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you jihadist.
We know what you are. You're a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) traitor. You will not live much longer (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I can almost guarantee you that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, that is chilling and upsetting to hear.
How many threats like that have you received? Do you genuinely fear for your life because of the hate campaign from Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and others?
OMAR: Yes, you receive too many to count. And there's a general fear that I have, my staff has, and the community at large has.
We constantly hear from so many people across the country, where their children's hijabs have been pulled off. My own daughters have experienced this. I have experienced it as a young person in this country. And we know what this kind of language that this member is using leads to.
And we know that the kind of man who leaves that voice-mail for a member of Congress is not going to spare a young Muslim girl when he sees her taking the bus or walking home from school or when he runs into her at the grocery store.
And so we have a responsibility as leaders. Words matter. And words can cause violence. And she knows that the language that she's using, the audience that she's using it for is going to incite violence against myself and my community.
TAPPER: Well, I can't believe that we're here in 2021 in the United States of America.
There's -- I can't think of anything less American than this bigotry campaign of Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene and others and the complicity of the leaders of the Republican Party, who have not said a word.
And I have nothing but sympathy and empathy for you. And we're here to bring attention to this as much as possible. [09:35:02]
OMAR: I appreciate that.
It is shameful that they can't even get themselves to say, I condone this language and this behavior...
OMAR: ... and that we -- we will condemn this language and this behavior and that we will do better.
It is vile, and it is un-American.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here...
OMAR: Thank you.
TAPPER: ... and telling us your story today.
They went on the lam after their teenage son allegedly opened fire in his high school, and now they are all charged in the horrific shooting.
Senator Chris Murphy on whether this latest rampage could wake up Congress.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We're not unlucky. This is purposeful. This is a choice made by the United States Senate to sit on our hands and do nothing while kids die. Our silence has become complicity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut speaking out this week after yet another deadly shooting, this one in Michigan, where four students were killed and seven others injured.
Senator Murphy says he will consider his time in public service -- quote -- "a failure" if he is not able to pass a significant federal firearms reform bill.
Senator Murphy of Connecticut joins us right now.
So, Senator, this horrific violence at Oxford High School in Michigan, it was the deadliest school shooting in more than three years. The ninth anniversary of Sandy Hook is just over a week away. You obviously represent Sandy Hook in the Senate.
We have a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, a pro-gun control president, Democrat. No new gun regulations have passed. Why not?
MURPHY: Well, listen, I think it's first important to remember that, while the nation pays attention to the epidemic of shooting in this country on days in which there is a mass shooting, 100 people every day are dying from gunshot wounds, and we have seen a dramatic uptick in violence since the beginning of the pandemic.
The fact that matter is, we have the votes in the House and the Senate for a universal background checks bill. We have a president who will sign it. It's the rules of the Senate that prevent us from passing it. We probably have 52, 53, 54 votes in the Senate for this.
So the rules right now are what prevent us from being able to enact the will of the public. But I also understand that this is, I think, one of the great social change movements in this nation's history, that we can't let failure or obstacles stop us.
We're going to have to continue to build a movement. If we don't change the rules of the Senate, then we're ultimately going to need 60 votes. And so we need to continue to build up our political power around the country.
TAPPER: So, Republican Senator Pat Toomey from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- and you have worked with him on this issue -- he told me a few months ago -- you will remember, of course, when he and Manchin, both NRA guys, put together a bill to close the so-called gun show loophole.
He said that he thinks that that could potentially get 60 votes in the Senate. But there's been no progress on it because people who want gun reform in the Senate want big, sweeping gun reform and won't be happy with even just an incremental step like closing the gun show loophole.
Wouldn't that -- I mean, isn't something better than nothing?
MURPHY: Listen, I won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right? I want universal background checks. I want a ban on assault weapons. But I will settle for something much less, because that will save lives.
So I have been in negotiations all year with Senator Toomey, with Senator Cornyn, with Lindsey Graham, trying to find a compromise that can get 60 votes in the Senate. Maybe this shooting will bring people back to the table.
But we haven't taken a vote this year, in part because I have asked Senator Schumer for the room to try to negotiate that compromise that you're talking about.
Listen, I wish my Republican colleagues didn't sort of have epiphanies on this issue only after mass school shootings. But that tends to be what happens. And so my hope is that, in the next couple of weeks, we can get back to the table and see if we can, at the very least, as you said, maybe close the gun show loophole. That alone would save a lot of lives.
TAPPER: The prosecutor in Michigan is doing something unusual. She is charging the parents of the alleged gunman with involuntary manslaughter, because not only did they buy him the gun; they ignored his disturbing behavior, searching for ammunition on his cell phone, drawing violent pictures at school. The school alerted them, and they didn't seem to care much.
Should more prosecutors be holding parents responsible when they're obviously not doing enough to keep their guns out of the hands of children who use them for violent ends?
MURPHY: Well, if parents violate the law, then they should be held accountable.
In this case, I don't know the details of the Michigan law. But it looks as if this -- these parents bought a gun for their child, who shouldn't have ever possessed it. And so if parents are in violation of state law, they should be held accountable.
I do think that this really should make us think hard about safe storage laws. In Connecticut, we have on the books a law that requires parents to safely store their guns. And if those guns aren't locked up with minors in the House, they can be held accountable, without question. Michigan doesn't have that law on the books.
But we should pass that on a national basis. And I think we would get a lot of gun owners to support us, to simply say, if you have minors in the house, if you have weapons, you have to keep those weapons locked up. If we just made that change, not only would that prevent some of these horrific mass shooting incidents.
MURPHY: Suicide, right.
TAPPER: Which is -- most of the gun deaths in this country are suicide, yes.
MURPHY: And accidental shootings, right?
So a safe storage law may be the kind of thing that could draw bipartisan compromise, that could get support of a lot of commonsense gun owners, because it's not about taking anybody's weapons away. It's just about saying, if you're going to own the weapon, store it safely.
TAPPER: So let's turn to foreign policy.
President Biden's going to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, we're told. This call comes as -- the same time that the U.S. intelligence is warning Russia's amassing as many as 175,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, and could theoretically begin a massive military offensive within the next few months.
You're on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You have spent a lot of time in Ukraine. Do you think Putin intends to invade? And what should the U.S. do, if anything, to come to Ukraine's defense if he does?
MURPHY: Yes, I have been to Ukraine six times since I entered the Senate. I have seen the intelligence, and the threat is serious.
I do think that there's no substitute for person-to-person diplomacy. And so I hope that this meeting, this virtual meeting between President Biden and President Putin can bear fruit.
But let me say this. If Russia does decide to move further into Ukraine, it would be a mistake of historic proportions for Moscow. Right now, they occupy the eastern flank of the country. That's a part of Ukraine that doesn't have the same sense of Ukrainian nationalism that the rest of the country does.
Ukraine can become the next Afghanistan for Russia if it chooses to move further. And it's up to us in the Congress to make clear that we are going to be diplomatic, political, and military partners with Ukraine, that we are going to provide them with increased military assistance, so that they can defend themselves.
And I hope that we take steps in Congress in the next week to make that clear.
TAPPER: Even more lethal aid than the U.S. has already given?
MURPHY: Well, right now, we have an amendment on the floor of the Senate that would dramatically increase the amount of lethal aid.
I support it. Republicans right now in the Senate are blocking that amendment from being considered. In addition, Republicans are blocking our ambassadors from being confirmed, in particular to the E.U., where a lot of this work will be done to try to bring our allies together.
So, we have got to get our Republican colleagues to understand this is the threat that many of us believe it to be.
TAPPER: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thanks so much for being here this morning.
MURPHY: Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: This past week the Women's Tennis Association did something that few other athletic organizations or corporations in general have been willing to do, criticize the Chinese government and take serious steps to protest its brutality. Now this began weeks ago when Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai
accused a former top Chinese government official of sexual assault. Quote, "Even if it is like an egg hitting a rock, or if I am like a moth drawn to the flame, inviting self destruction, I will tell the truth about you," unquote, she wrote on Chinese social media. And that post vanished within 30 minutes. And then so did she.
The WTA not only spoke out against this injustice, it decided to suspend all tournaments in China because of its treatment of Peng Shuai.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF THE WTA: When we walk away from this, we're basically telling the world that not addressing sexual assault with the respect and seriousness it requires is okay because it's difficult to do. That's something that we simply cannot happen and it's not what we stand for as an organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, not only is the International Olympic Committee, which will hold the 2022 winter games in China, not only is the IOC not raising its voice in solidarity in protest, the IOC is helping the Chinese government by providing them cover. On November 21st and then again last Wednesday, the IOC told the world that they had held video calls with Peng Shuai. For neither call did the IOC release the video or even a transcript. The IOC has not mentioned her allegations of sexual assault, nor would the IOC explain who set up these calls. The IOC is behaving like a mob lawyer.
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BOB COSTAS, HALL OF FAME BROADCASTER: The IOC is in bed with China. Beijing hosted the Olympics in 2008, summer games. They did it in spectacular fashion but even then it was apparent to many of us that the IOC was aiding and abetting a problem regime.
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TAPPER: Yes. The Olympics are supposed to be free of politics but this is not about politics.
The allegations against the Chinese government go far beyond its treatment of Shuai. This year, both the Trump and Biden administrations have asserted that China is committing, quote, genocide and crimes against humanity against more than 1 million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui, other Muslims, some Christians in internment camps, or converted detention facilities, according to the U.S. State Department.
Chinese authorities are forcing some women in these camps to take unknown drugs and injections, they're forcibly implanting IUDs, coercing them to get abortions and surgical sterilizations, according to former detainees. Beijing, of course, denies these charges. In fact, it's possible that you are about to purchase or receive a
Christmas present made at least in part by Uighur-forced labor in Shenzhen Province. Bipartisan legislation being debated right now in Congress would help prevent that, if it passes. Right now it's unclear that the House and Senate Democrats have a plan to get that legislation to President Biden's desk. With "The Washington Post" reporting that the Biden State Department is seeking to water down this legislation.
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SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL): We know that, for a time, Apple and Nike, a lot of big companies are pushing against it -- they're not going to admit it. Who's going to go out lobbying in favor of slaved labor? But this is their bottom line.
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TAPPER: Of course, Apple and Nike publicly claim to decry slave labor. But to be clear, the behavior we are seeing from U.S. corporations is not about a company surviving, it's about discontent with just hundreds of millions of dollars, desiring instead billions of dollars. And those riches, they create blinders so that you get comments like this one about the Chinese government this past week from billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio.
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RAY DELIO, FOUNDER, BRIDGEWATER ASSOCIATES: Now as a top-down country, what they're doing is that -- it's that, kind of, like a strict parent. They behave like a strict parent and they go through that. That is their approach. We have our approach.
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TAPPER: A strict parent, just like, you know, Casey Anthony. Even companies that here in the U.S. pride themselves on progressive values, will white wash for gold. For a Chinese release, Marvel Studios' "Doctor Strange" turned a major Tibetan character into a Celtic one, reportedly for fear of offending China.
Here's Tom Cruise's iconic bomber jacket in "Top Gun" from 1986, which includes a flag of Taiwan patch. And here's Paramount's Replacement patch, decidedly not Taiwan for next year's sequel.
Here's Disney in the credits for "Mulan" thanking the publicity department of the Chinese Communist Party, in Xinjiang, where the cultural genocide is happening. Disney, of course, bought the rights to "The Simpsons" for its streaming service. In this last week we learned that this 2005 episode, which shows the Simpsons in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the site of a brutal crackdown on prodemocracy protesters, a sign reads in "The Simpsons" episode, on this site in 1989 nothing happened. And that episode, that's not available for Disney+ subscribers in Hong Kong. Disney has not responded to requests for comment. That "Simpsons" episode in Hong Kong disappeared like Peng Shuai,
disappeared like citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, whom the Chinese government has locked up for telling the truth about COVID-19, disappeared like the consciousness of the millionaires and billionaires in Hollywood and the NBA and the IOC and Wall Street, who are all so eager for Chinese cash, they are pretending none of this is happening. There is no amount of money that can buy enough soap to wash that blood off their hands.
Thanks for spending your Sunday with us. "Fareed Zakaria GPS" starts next.