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State of the Union
Interview With FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell; Interview With Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY); Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R- AR); Interview With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 12, 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): Darkest days, dozens dead, as a series of tornadoes churn across the Midwest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to find my wife.
TAPPER: As rescuers scramble to find survivors, do they have the help they need? Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell join us.
And mandate debate. COVID cases on the rise, as health experts push for a third shot, while many are still refusing to get their first. How far should the government go to ensure everyone gets a vaccine. Two leaders for and against mandates, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, join me to debate their sides next.
Plus: Prices are rising. As Americans worry about rising costs...
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a real bump in the road. It does affect families.
TAPPER: ... Democrats look for a win on their social safety net bill, but can they get it done this year? I'll speak exclusively to Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is holding out hope for the missing.
Emergency crews in the Midwest are continuing to desperate search-and- rescue effort through tons of record, flattened homes and factories and cars that were simply tossed around, after at least 30 tornadoes touched down across six states this weekend, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, and Tennessee.
Dozens of people are feared dead, and officials warn the number will almost certainly rise as rescuers continue to sift through the devastation. Joining me now from the commonwealth hardest hit, Kentucky Governor
Andy Beshear. Governor Beshear, thanks for joining us.
How many confirmed deaths do you have in Kentucky? How many of your citizens are still unaccounted for?
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Well, the confirmation process is slow. I can tell you, from reports that I have received, I know we have lost more than 80 Kentuckians. That number is going to exceed more than 100.
This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had. I think it's going to be the longest and deadliest tornado event in U.S. history. We know that one of these tornadoes was on the ground over 227 miles. And, Jake, 200 were in Kentucky, I have got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean, gone.
The my dad's hometown, half of it isn't standing. It is hard to describe. I know people can see the visuals, but that goes on for 12 blocks or more in some of these places. And it's going to take us time. I mean, you think you would go door to door to check on people and see if they're OK. There are no doors.
The question is, is somebody in the rubble of thousands upon thousands of structures? I mean, it is devastating.
TAPPER: And there's -- meanwhile, there's no electricity. It's been below freezing. How are rescue efforts going?
BESHEAR: Well, we do have a lot of help. We have an amazing state of good people that have come in from other cities and towns where they weren't hit.
And so we have a lot of assistance that come in from other states. Certainly, federal partners like ATF, Coast Guard and others are also helping. But it's just -- the massive widespread damage makes rescue efforts a challenge.
Now, if we haven't found somebody by now, it's of really great concern. The area that was hit the hardest, Mayfield, I was there yesterday, will be back to today. Certainly, a candle factory there that it'll be a miracle if we pull anybody else out of that.
It's now 15 feet deep of steel, cars on top of where the roof was. Just -- just tough. But our rescuers out there are incredible. They worked through the night while it was occurring, putting themselves in danger, through all of yesterday, hopefully caught a few hours of sleep last night.
I was at our emergency operations center beginning at 1:00 a.m., I guess, yesterday. And hearing the reports coming in moment by moment, people trapped in a basement because their house is gone, and getting people to them, just a lot of amazing efforts.
TAPPER: Is there a number of Kentuckians who remain unaccounted for?
BESHEAR: Well, again, that's region by region.
I'll just say, in Dawson Springs -- again, it's where my family is from. It's a town of about 2, 700. The list of unaccounted for was about eight pages single-spaced. Pretty bad.
TAPPER: And many of the likely deaths are at one particular candle factory.
What do you know about whether those workers had a chance to get to safety or if they had a plan in place?
BESHEAR: My understanding is that they did have a plan inside the facility that we believe most of the workers got to what is supposed to be the safest place in the facility.
But when you see the damage that this storm did, not just there, but across the area, I'm not sure there was a plan that would have worked. So, we had about 110 Kentuckians, mainly residents of Mayfield, that were working in that facility. About 40 of them have been rescued.
And I'm not sure that we're going to see another rescue. I pray for it. It would be an incredibly welcome miracle, but I think it's been since 3:30 yesterday morning that we have -- that we found a live person.
TAPPER: Just a horrible, horrible, horrible experience for the good men and women and children of Kentucky.
Governor Beshear, our prayers are with you. And please keep in touch. Let us know if there's anything you're not getting from the federal government that you need that we can help shine a light on.
BESHEAR: I appreciate that.
One way that people can help is, we have set up a fund, teamwkyrelieffund.ky.gov. That is our Team Western Kentucky Relief Fund. That is going to be managed by the state. It's going to go entirely to families impacted in Western Kentucky. Sadly, the first expense is likely burial expenses, but to help those families grieve.
We have got to be with them as they grieve. And then, in the months and the year to come, we have got to be with them as they rebuild. We have been hit in way that is unimaginable, but we will get through it. We will get through it together. And we will rebuild. We're strong people.
TAPPER: Governor Beshear, thank you so much.
BESHEAR: Thank you.
TAPPER: President Biden says he will visit areas affected by the tornadoes and pledged to do whatever it takes to help the survivors.
And joining me now, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who's about to get on a plane and go down to Kentucky with the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Administrator Criswell, thanks for joining us.
How many people are still missing across these six states hit by these devastating tornadoes? And is there hope that some people might still be found alive in the rubble?
DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes, good morning, Jake.
First, I just wanted to start by saying, my prayers go out to everybody across these states that has been impacted by these events. We still do have reports of people that are missing and unaccounted for. I don't have exact numbers, but the lifesaving and life- sustaining efforts are our priority today, to continue to try to find as many people as we can that might still be trapped in this rubble.
TAPPER: So it's a -- it's still a rescue mission, not just a recovery? There's still hope?
CRISWELL: I think there's still hope, right?
We sent one of our federal urban search-and-rescue teams down to Kentucky. They arrived through the day yesterday. They're going to be able to assist the localities with their ongoing rescue efforts.
And so I think that we're -- there is still hope, and we should continue to try to find as many people as we can.
TAPPER: What are the state's biggest priorities right now? What do they need the most?
CRISWELL: The biggest priority still, again, lifesaving missions, but then, right now, I mean, we have so many people that have been displaced as a result of these tornadoes.
There's sheltering that's going to need to take place. My experience as an emergency manager has shown that many people will stay with friends and family. But there are going to be some that are going to need some short-term sheltering and then some long-term assistance as they rebuild.
I spoke with the president of the American Red Cross yesterday and talked about her efforts to support the states with their sheltering, and we're continuing to work with the states on their long-term housing needs.
TAPPER: The governor of Kentucky called this the most devastating tornado event in his state's history.
How unusual is it to see a storm this powerful this late in the year?
CRISWELL: You know, I think it's incredibly unusual.
We do see tornadoes in December. That part is not unusual. But, at this magnitude, I don't think we have ever seen one this late in the year. But it's also historic. Even the severity and the amount of time this tornado or these tornadoes spent on the ground is unprecedented.
TAPPER: And scientists warn that extreme weather events such as this one will only happen more frequently as the climate continues to warm.
Is your agency, is FEMA equipped to handle this new normal?
CRISWELL: This is going to be our new normal.
And the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation. We're taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to help reduce the impacts that we're seeing from these severe weather events and help to develop systemwide projects that can help protect communities.
And so we will continue to work on helping to reduce the impacts, but we're also prepared to respond to any community that gets impacted by one of these severe events.
TAPPER: All right, Administrator Criswell, thanks so much. And appreciate the work you do.
CRISWELL: All right, thank you so much.
TAPPER: Tornadoes killed at least two people in Arkansas. One of them died here at a nursing home in Monette, Arkansas, a nursing home that was horribly damaged.
Governor Asa Hutchinson inspected that damage yesterday. He joins us now.
Governor Hutchinson, tell us about what you saw firsthand in your state, the devastation from the tornadoes.
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, as you fly over some of the communities that are impacted, there's swathes of houses that are destroyed. People are displaced.
But, as you indicated, the miracle happened in Monette, Arkansas, northeast, part of the state, small community, where a nursing home was struck. And, as I went to that facility, it was like heaven sucked up the roof and all the contents of it.
And it's just a miracle, with 67 residents, that we only lost one there. And that's because of the heroic efforts of the staff, and also the fact that we had 20 minutes of warning. The siren went off, alerting the citizens that a tornado was in the vicinity. And, because of that, they were able to get the residents in the hallway.
And so preparation makes a big difference. The investments in those early warning systems save a lot of lives in this instance.
TAPPER: And President Biden has promised to use the full force of the federal government to help.
Are you, is Arkansas getting the help you need?
HUTCHINSON: We are.
And, first of all, the calls that I have had from fellow governors, from the public that's willing to help is just heartwarming, to know that this tragedy can bring people together. We always support our neighbors.
The president, on a call with him yesterday, he pledged any support that was necessary. FEMA is standing ready. And so we're still recovering, making sure people have a place to stay. And then we will go through the long process of rebuilding these homes, which are heartaches for each individual citizens.
It's important that -- and the president said he would cut through any red tape to make sure that we get the disaster declaration once we get the numbers in and justify that.
TAPPER: Governor Hutchinson, stick around, because New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is going to join us for a debate on COVID vaccine mandates next, dealing with a different crisis.
And the future for 10 million kids living in poverty could hang in the balance, as Democrats remain divided on President Biden's social safety net bill. Will Democrats be able to deliver by Christmas?
We will talk to Senator Amy Klobuchar ahead. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're spending yet another holiday season in the shadow of COVID-19. Cases and hospitalizations are tragically rising again. And how you celebrate the holiday will certainly depend on who's in charge of your city or state.
Starting this week in New York City, anyone, including children ages 5 and above, will not be able to eat in a restaurant or go to a movie theater without being able to prove that they have had at least one shot for a kid and the full regimen if you're over 12. By the end of December, Mayor Bill de Blasio is requiring that all -- that's right -- all private sector employees will need to be vaccinated. It would be the most sweeping COVID requirements in the United States.
Meanwhile, 11 states, including Arkansas, are suing to prevent the Biden administration from requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing. And a 52-vote Senate majority, including Democrats Jon Tester and Joe Manchin, voted to overturn President Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses, although it's unlikely the House will agree.
We're going to try something new on STATE OF THE UNION today. Here to debate whether vaccine mandates are the best way to end this pandemic, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
First of all, we should both note that you both agree that the vaccines are safe and effective. You have both gotten them. You have repeatedly urged Americans to go get vaccinated, where you disagree, on whether or not the government should mandate them.
So, let's start this debate by me asking you, Governor Hutchinson, and then you two can just engage each other.
New York City has sweeping mandates for workers and businesses, and it might sound too sweeping for some people, but 71 percent of residents of New York City are fully vaccinated. Arkansas has no mandates, and only 50 percent of your residents are fully vaccinated.
Does that not show, Governor Hutchinson, that vaccine mandates work?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I don't believe it does.
First of all, put it in historical perspective that never in the history of our country has government mandated the private sector to require vaccinations. It's generally been left up to the states and localities. But it has been looked at as an education effort in our school systems.
To put this into the businesses does a number of things. One, it hardens resistance. That's what we see in Arkansas, but I think across the country. Secondly, the courts have struck it down. By and large, the president's mandate -- these mandates are unconstitutional overreaches, and the courts are looking at in that fashion.
It's a little bit closer case when it comes to a city, because that's the government closest to the people. But if you're looking at a million employees, and you get a 90 percent vaccination rate, you still have 10 percent, which is 100,000 workers.
And whenever the businesses are struggling with workers, our service providers, they're providing for their family, you don't need to add 100,000 to the unemployed list. And that would hurt us in trying to do our recovery, provide the services we need, already struggling.
Even in the health care industry, if you put that mandate in, you're going to lose some health care workers as well. So that's the reasons -- part of the reasons that we oppose those mandates.
TAPPER: Mayor de Blasio?
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Yes.
Governor, look, I want to speak to this, but, first, I wanted to say my heart goes out to the people of Arkansas. I appreciate your leadership as you're dealing with this crisis. And I want you to know the people in New York City are praying for the people Arkansas right now that things recover quickly.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you.
DE BLASIO: To the question here, Governor, look, right now, here's what I fear.
Omicron is here. It's all over the country. This variant moves fast. We have to move faster. And I will tell you what I hear from our business community, that their greatest fear is shutdowns. Their greatest fear is going back to where we were in 2020, to restrictions, to people losing their livelihood.
You mentioned unemployment. The greatest threat to employment right now is that the Omicron variant and the cold winter months are going to supercharge COVID and take us backwards.
So, I'm going to argue to you that mandates work, and it's time. Since I have put mandates in place in New York City starting in August, we have seen over a million more doses, 71 percent of our people fully vaccinated. A lot of those people made the decision because the mandate was there.
And it was the thing that moved them. And it's keeping people alive. So, I do agree with you we have to take all the factors into account, but we have proven that mandates work. And now we're up against a new enemy with this new variant. We have got to have a strategy to fight back.
HUTCHINSON: Well, Mayor, I know that New York has challenges because of its density of population that perhaps other places do not have.
And, also, the success of New York is important for my country. I have got a granddaughter that's going to school in New York City.
But whenever you look at the vaccinations, we are in agreement. Let's increase those vaccination rates. But how do you get there? And, to me, we're right now dividing our country on this issue of mandates. But, on the issue of vaccination, by and large, Republicans, Democrats, everybody are together on that.
And education works. And we increased that. Here in Arkansas, I had town meetings all across the state, bringing education efforts, encouraging that. But never in history, particularly with the young people, with only an emergency use authorization by the FDA, have we mandated that vaccine at this early stage.
It's right. We need that. But we know the solution to this, which is the vaccination. If you're not vaccinated, you can socially distance, you can take the steps. And private businesses should be able to make the decision themselves. Many might require of their employees to be vaccinated. But let's let them make that decision.
And, of course, people can make decisions as to where they want to go. But to put the mandate in is unprecedented. It's going to cause hardship, and it's going to cause division in our country, as you can always see -- already see.
And so that's the reason I think the mandates take us the wrong direction.
DE BLASIO: Governor, look, I respect the point about division in the country. It's something we're all grappling with.
And I want to thank you. I know you showed courage and saying that private sector employers in Arkansas should have the right, if they choose, to put a mandate in place. I appreciate you took that stand.
But I will tell you something. You have several times said, understandably, we don't have a precedent here. Yes, I agree we don't have a precedent, because this is absolutely an unprecedented crisis. And we're about to go into year three of it.
And, Governor, this is my fear. We thought several times we're going to leave the COVID era behind. We could leave it behind in 2022 if we truly focus on vaccination and put the tough mandates in place to make sure we turn the corner. If we don't, here's what I fear. We go back to lockdowns, restrictions, we lose another year.
And I can tell you, for a lot of businesses, small business owners I have talked to, mom-and-pop stores, they can't afford to lose another year. So that's the economic side.
On the human side -- and I'm representing a city that has lost tens of thousands of our fellow residents, people I -- when you talk to someone that lost a grandparent, a father, a mother, it brings home we have got to stop this thing now.
And I will tell you, and I will challenge you respectfully on this point, look at what mandates have allowed us to achieve. Our schools are safe. Our restaurants are thriving, Broadway is back, because people go in there and they know they're safe, everyone's vaccinated.
And it's actually kept them thriving, while keeping the COVID levels low here. Why wouldn't we want that for everyone?
HUTCHINSON: Mayor, what is your vaccination rate in New York City before the mandates went into place? Did you get up to about 90 percent?
DE BLASIO: It was about 57 percent -- about 57 percent before the mandate started in August. It's about 71 percent now fully vaccinated, all residents.
And that means about a million more doses since we put the mandates in place. And we know. We saw it with our own work force, our public work force. A lot of them were hesitant, truthfully. A lot of them needed some extra incentive.
DE BLASIO: And the reason now -- it's 94 percent of our public employees are vaccinated because of those mandates.
HUTCHINSON: OK, that's public employees.
I'm talking about the private sector, though, which is a totally different issue, although I don't believe we ought to have the mandates in place. But you're able to get to a fairly high vaccination rate through education, and also because the people of New York understood the risk, and they have lived through it. They understand that.
And people in Arkansas, as the risk increase, the vaccination rates increase as well. And so, through education, you have had a great deal of success. The mandates, though, are going to cause adverse hardship. People know what they need to do.
But the mandates are going to cause consistent resistance. You're going to lose public health workers. And that's what we're going to -- we're seeing in Arkansas if we put that into place. And so the private sector can make that decision, as they have done, whether they want a vaccine requirement for their employees.
People are going to make good decisions on this. But let's not divide again on this. And so I hope that we can work together to increase vaccination rates. You have done a great job in the city voluntarily, but the mandates, I think you will see, are going to cause even greater hardship, and the courts are going to take a look at it.
TAPPER: And, Mayor de Blasio...
DE BLASIO: Yes.
TAPPER: ... we should just we should note that you mandated all private sector workers in New York City need to get vaccinated by December 27. That's just two days after Christmas.
Should all businesses in New York City fire workers in the middle of the holidays if they refuse to get vaccinated?
DE BLASIO: We chose the 27th, mindful, of course, of Christmas and the holiday season, Jake.
And the bottom line is, what we found with all the mandates, we did this with the private sector already with restaurants, indoor entertainment, fitness. And what we found is, in fact, employees overwhelmingly agreed and followed through.
They may not have thought they would like it originally, but they ultimately chose to get that shot, and, in fact, realized that everyone was safe in those settings. The customers have loved it. I have heard this consistently. And I have heard it from restaurant owners. They're full now because people go in confident that they will be safe. So it's been very good for business. What's bad for business is the
threat of potential shutdowns and restrictions. I have got business owners terrified that we're going to go back where we were.
Look at Germany right now. Look at England right now. I mean, they're going backwards fast.
So I say to you, Governor, I understand the power, agree with you, education crucial. But, right now, if, for example, in Arkansas, 50 percent of folks fully vaccinated, that runs the huge risk of COVID reasserting, of the hundreds or thousands of people losing their lives, particularly our seniors.
I hear you on the power of education, but I'm challenging you on the question of time. We are running out of time.
DE BLASIO: Omicron coming. Winter coming.
We have got to do some more now.
TAPPER: Governor Hutchinson, final thought from you.
HUTCHINSON: Well, just a quick point.
And that's, first of all, we should not even think about shutdowns. So businesses should not have that fear. They shouldn't have the choice of being shut down or requiring a vaccine for their employees.
But, secondly, it's the enforcement side. If you do not have an enforcement mechanism, then it brings disrespect for the law and it brings unfairness as to who complies and who does not comply.
And, so for all of those reasons, it's not an option of shutdown or not.
But, Mayor, thank you for your leadership.
And Jake, thanks for this opportunity to debate this important issue.
TAPPER: Well, one thing we can all agree on is that everyone should get vaccinated, especially now, as we approach the holidays.
Thanks to both of you for joining us. We really, really appreciate the civil, spirited debate.
Coming up: The Supreme Court just issued a new ruling on abortion this week. What does that suggest about the future of abortion rights in the U.S.?
Senator Amy Klobuchar is next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Welcome back to State of the Union. I'm Jake Tapper.
Senate Democrats are scrambling to get President Biden's Build Back Better plan passed before Christmas. That's just 13 days away.
Supporters of the bill say it would make historic investments to help American families. But one key Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, is still the big bah humbug, for his party, questioning whether the nearly $2 trillion bill is necessary, and declining to commit to supporting it.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: So, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the Senate is still on track to pass the Build Back Better bill before Christmas. That's just 13 days away.
Yes or no, is this going to pass by Christmas?
KLOBUCHAR: We have to get this done, Jake.
And Senator Manchin is still at the negotiating table. There is no doubt about that. And the reason we have to get it done is, we're paying the highest prices for drugs, for prescription drugs, of any country in the world. Yet our taxpayers have funded all this research.
This Build Back Better bill is the first time we're finally going to take on pharma. We're willing to do it. The Republicans are not.
Secondly, we know we have a work force shortage. It's part of what's going on with the supply chain and the like. You got to make sure people have child care, so they can get back to work, help taking care of their aging parents, and apprenticeships. We know that there are a bunch of people out there who are not yet back into the work force.
And we need to make sure they go into jobs, like in hospital area, with COVID still raging, making sure that we have got enough truck drivers and construction workers and plumbers.
KLOBUCHAR: That's a lot about what this bill is, when we're talking about building back better.
TAPPER: But will it pass by Christmas? Is it going to pass by Christmas?
KLOBUCHAR: I am all in on getting it done by Christmas. And we will do everything to get it done. TAPPER: So, Republicans asked the Congressional Budget Office to
analyze the Build Back Better bill if key provisions such as the child tax credit or universal pre-K were made permanent, instead of being phased out after a few years.
Under that set of circumstances, they found -- the CBO found that it would potentially add $3 trillion to the deficit. Now, I understand Democrats are pushing back on that, because the bill, as written, does not make those programs permanent.
But don't you ultimately want those programs to be permanent?
KLOBUCHAR: Facts matter here, Jake.
And the point is what you just made, is that this bill is paid for. It's paid for by taxing the wealthiest. And it's paid for to help regular people.
TAPPER: But you want those programs to -- yes.
KLOBUCHAR: And all the economists have said that it doesn't make it -- it's not inflationary, because, in fact, it's paid for.
Now, one of the reasons you like to have programs be for shorter time, sometimes, you want to make sure they're working. You want to think, what's worked? We know, I think, that pre-K is going to be a major part of this, that it is going to be something that we should keep in place.
So what do you do? You can continue a lot of the tax changes we have made to pay for it. There's other tax changes out there that we haven't even touched, like, for instance, bringing up the corporate tax rate up to where it was before the Trump presidency.
Every point you bring it up, if you brought it up to, say, 25 percent, that's $400 billion. That's still on the table. So, why do I bring that up, is that there are still ways to pay for things going forward.
But, right now, with this bill, it is paid for, and it is not inflationary. To the contrary, it's going to help us with the inflation issue.
So the CBO report did seem designed to get Joe Manchin to not support the bill, right? I mean, that's kind of...
KLOBUCHAR: Clearly, this was why the Republicans asked for this.
But Joe Manchin is someone, he gets our country. He gets the plight of so many people in West Virginia, and how they have been having to pay more for prescription drug prices. He's been actually a strong proponent of taking on pharma to bring down prescription drug prices.
TAPPER: Have you talked to him? Is he on board yet? Because he has not committed to this bill. And you need him. You can't pass it without him.
KLOBUCHAR: I know, the obvious.
KLOBUCHAR: And those negotiations are continuing, as they are on voting rights, something else very important. He is behind the bill that I'm leading, the Freedom to Vote Act.
So much -- many people have been working on this, from Senator Schumer, to Tim Kaine, to Senator Warnock, and Padilla, and Jon Tester. It's an incredible effort, every single Democrat supporting that bill. And we have just got to find a way to get it on the floor for a vote.
TAPPER: You grilled the head of Instagram this week over his app's impact on young users and the blind eye he's turning to some of the devastating impact on especially young girls.
Now you're introducing legislation to require social media companies to publicly release internal data and to cooperate with independent researchers looking into their apps' impact on the public.
Republican Senator Rob Portman co-sponsored the bill with you. Do you have the votes to pass it?
KLOBUCHAR: I actually think we do.
There is a bipartisan movement to take this on. The interests of parents right now and the interests of these social media platforms are diametrically opposed. Parents want their kids to be doing homework. You know. You have kids.
KLOBUCHAR: Parents want their kids to be -- if they're going to look at TV or any kind of content, they want them to be protected from really bad stuff.
That's not happening right now. And what we have seen with the platforms -- and this is what we asked the CEO of Instagram -- is that they're putting more and more money into wooing teens to try to keep them on the site, because it's a feeder group that then gets addicted to their product. That is exactly what's happening.
Then they see more ads, and they can sell more advertising. It's pretty obvious. And this includes, of course, Facebook, TikTok, all these platforms.
And we all know Meta, Facebook, owns Instagram. So what we're pushing for is, one, a federal privacy law, two, making sure we put more protections in place to protect kids on the Internet, and, three, doing something about our competition policy and algorithms, so we know exactly what's going on, and we can actually have alternatives for families.
TAPPER: There's something that happened Friday that I wanted to ask you about, if we can bring up the picture.
You were at the funeral for former Senator Bob Dole. And you were seated -- there's -- there you are. You were seated next to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who, as everybody can see, is not masked, despite rules at the National Cathedral requiring all guests to wear masks indoors.
Now, you're a breast cancer survivor. You're still recovering, I guess.
KLOBUCHAR: No, I'm 100 percent good now.
TAPPER: You're 100 percent better, but you're still at risk of infection because of -- because of this fight that you won.
What was going through your mind there, where Ted Cruz pulls up next year and doesn't have a mask on, even though the rules are, please wear a mask to protect you -- you wear the masks to protect other people.
KLOBUCHAR: I think people should wear masks, especially when they're in settings when they're supposed to.
I think part of our duty as civic leaders is actually to model behavior, because it's not just about masks. It's also about vaccines. And Ted Cruz, he's gotten a vaccine. He gets that.
And part of what I don't want to get lost here is why we were there. We were there to honor Bob Dole and his memory. Bob Dole was all about consensus, bringing people together. And let's not forget that.
And one of the things I learned at that funeral, which I didn't know, was that Bob Dole was actually strongly supportive of establishing the MLK holiday. He was supportive of civil rights legislation. He did courageous things that were against the grain when called upon.
KLOBUCHAR: And, in his words, he actually once said that the -- that, when you look at these things, and when you look at what's happening in our country, that courage is about bringing people together, right?
And he was someone that I think we need to think about as we take on -- I just watched that incredible debate you had -- was, we take on these things in our country, that we have to find consensus when we can.
TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, the Supreme Court just ruled that some challenges against Texas' restrictive abortion ban can proceed.
The law bans abortions after six weeks, before a lot of women even know they're pregnant. It deputizes private citizens to enforce it. That law is allowed to remain in effect. Quickly, if you could, what was your reaction? And what do you fear
about the -- I know you have expressed fear about what happens to Roe v. Wade.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, yes, why don't I quote Justice Roberts, who is a conservative justice, but he seems to be appalled by what's going on with the other justices in the court.
And he said this: "The clear purpose and actual fact of the Texas law has been to nullify this court's rulings," and that the -- when the court allows states to do that -- quote -- "the Constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery."
This law is still in effect in Texas. It is inimical to Roe v. Wade and women's rights, something Justice Kagan has described as the actual fabric of a -- women's existence.
So, I believe, in the end, based on what we heard out of the Mississippi case, where the real decision is going to be made about constitutionality -- the Texas case is now going back to the lower courts, a limited right to sue.
But what we know is that, if they decide this, as it appeared that they will, is that we will have no choice but to take this on state by state. I don't think that's the right way to handle this, a patchwork of state laws.
I think the best way to handle this, to avoid back-alley abortions and busing women around the country, is that codify Roe v. Wade, to put that into federal law, to make sure that women have a choice to be a mom, to put a child up for adoption, or to terminate a pregnancy, that I am with 75 percent of Americans, believe that this should be a choice between a woman and her doctor.
TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar from the great state of Minnesota, thanks so much for being with us today.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
TAPPER: Appreciate it.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We learned more this week about the efforts by Donald Trump and his team to overrule the will of the American people and steal the presidential election based on deranged lies and wild conspiracy theories.
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COL. PHIL WALDRON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): The FBI never did anything other than to impede investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Some of the wilder lies from this man, Philip Waldron, former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, turned over to the House Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, a PowerPoint memo Waldron says he had circulated among other allies, a memo that reportedly called for Trump to declare a state of national emergency because of the false, if not lunatic theory, Waldron was pushing that foreign actors hacked into servers to change American votes. Waldron appeared in that unhinged film by My Pillow's Mike Lindell, a film that has prompted defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting.
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WALDRON: A lot of movements of votes, directly -- direct access to Pennsylvania voting precincts, county tabulation centers, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, all of that coming in directly from foreign countries, China being the predominant one.
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TAPPER: Just crazy, and to reiterate, that guy had the ear of White House officials. That guy was pushing lunacy and urging them to declare a national emergency and seize ballots.
On Friday, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis confirmed the authenticity of two memos published by "Politico." One of them dated December 31st, proposes a way for Vice President Pence to not count the Electoral Votes for Joe Biden from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, because she said Republicans in those states were disputing their results, though, as always, we should note these disputes were rooted in wild and unhinged lies.
So Ellis said, quote, "On January 6, the Vice President should therefore not open any of the votes from these six states, and instead direct a question to the legislatures of each of those states and ask them to confirm which of the two slates of electors have in fact been chosen in the manner the legislature is provided for... The question would then require a response from the state legislatures which would then need to meet in an emergency electoral session," unquote.
In other words, even though there were not two slates of electors from every state, Ellis' memo was proposing a way for Pence to push the state legislatures, to convene and create them. Five of six of those states have Republican legislatures, we should note.
This plan was counting on their participation. Another Ellis memo on January 5, the day before the insurrection proposed this, quote, "The Vice President should begin alphabetically in order of the states, and coming first Arizona, not open the purported certification, but simply stop the count at that juncture," unquote. The states would then have to act.
Ellis tweeted in response to the "Politico" story that she never, quote, "advocated Pence had the authority to overturn the election," and that the memo simply outlined, quote, "legal theories I explored."
Except we know that Vice President Pence was being pushed to take some action like that by this man, John Eastman, another preacher of crazy election lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN EASTMAN, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: They were unloading the ballots from that secret folder, matching them, matching them to the unvoted voter and, voila, we have enough votes to barely get over the finish line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Just crazy. Eastman claimed in memos, falsely, that Pence was the, quote, ultimate arbiter of the Electoral Votes. We know this not just from reporting but from Donald Trump's own words on January 6th.
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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John is one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country and he looked at this and he said, what an absolute disgrace that this could be happening to our Constitution. And he looked at Mike Pence -- and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, it might be tempting to laugh at all of this wackiness, the nutty theories and the foreign hackers and bizarre legal memos, but Republican officials continue to push these lies or at the very least, most of them are not standing up against them.
Polling shows the majority of Republican voters now believe the falsehood that the election was stolen. One of those Republicans, this man, Stephen Lindemuth, a substitute teacher from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, who attended the January 6th rally and posted on his Facebook page, quote, "Unfortunately, a few weeds sprouted up and turned a very positive event into a negative one... a few weeds sprang up, mixed within the wheat. They looked like wheat, they smelled like wheat, they appeared to be wheat, but they certainly weren't wheat. The enemy had planted some weeds in among the wheat," unquote.
I'm not certain if Mr. Lindemuth was suggesting that the hundreds of Trump supporters who have been prosecuted for attacking the Capitol were not actually Trump supporters. But the only reason I'm even mentioning him to you is because Mr. Lindemuth ran and won the position of judge of elections in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. A guy who attended that ridiculous Stop the Steal rally. Saying he was, quote, standing for the truth to be heard. He's now in charge of election.
And this is happening all over the country, in offices small and large, from Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Arizona, endorsed by Trump, to former Georgia Senator David Perdue, endorsed by Trump, to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp. Perdue just told "Axios" that he would not have signed the state's certification of electors had he been governor.
Make no mistake, the folks from this movement do not believe in free and fair elections. They do not believe in your vote counting unless you vote for them. Their platform is disenfranchisement and derangement. It is un-democratic and it's frankly un-American. And they're doing it right in front of all of us, right out in the open.
Trump once said, quote, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." He did try to kill democracy once and he's going to try to do it again, clearly. But this time with a little help from his friends, he might actually pull it off.
We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Before we go, we want to take a moment to welcome the newest member of our State of the Union family, Grace Lucille McNamara (ph), born on Thursday to our editorial producer Cassie McNamara and her husband, Jim (ph). Mom and baby are both doing great. Look at that little plump (ph). Congratulations, Cassie and Jim (ph). She is beautiful.
Fareed Zakaria picks it up next. Stay -- thanks for watching.