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State of the Union

Interview With New York City Mayor Eric Adams; Interview With Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA); Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With Former White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah Griffin; Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 23, 2022 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): War or peace? President Biden talks tough...

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia will pay a heavy price.

BASH: ... as a Russian invasion of Ukraine seems all the more likely, but is there a diplomatic solution to the crisis? I'll speak to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Republican Senator Joni Ernst next.

And now what? After the president's priorities fall apart in the Senate, Democrats try to regroup.

BIDEN: We can get big chunks of the Build Back Better law.

BASH: Can Democrats pass any more of their agenda before facing voters in November? Senator Bernie Sanders joins me ahead.

Plus: Save this city. One NYPD officer dead, another seriously injured, shot while responding to a domestic disturbance.

ERIC ADAMS (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: It is our city against the killers.

BASH: With New Yorkers already reeling after a horrific subway murder, how will the new mayor take on crime? New York City Mayor Eric Adams is ahead.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is trying to get inside Vladimir Putin's head.

Tensions with Russia over what could be an imminent invasion of Ukraine are escalating. Overnight, the United Kingdom released a rare statement revealing intelligence the Brits say they gathered showing that the Russians are working to install a pro-Kremlin leader in Ukraine, as Russia considers whether to invade its neighbor. Sources briefed on the intelligence say the U.S. has the same information.

The news comes as Russia has more than 100,000 troops stationed on the Ukrainian border and is poised to invade at any moment. Friday, the first U.S. shipment of lethal aid arrived in Ukraine, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made another attempt at diplomacy.

President Biden spent Saturday at Camp David meeting with his national security team on this issue, as the White House warns again in a statement of -- quote -- "swift and severe consequences" if Russia further invades Ukraine.

Joining me now to talk about all this is Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Thank you so much for joining me.

Let's start with that new British intelligence that the Russian government is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine. Does the U.S. agree with that view?

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Dana, I can't comment on specific pieces of intelligence.

But we have been warning about just this kind of tactic for weeks. And we have spoken to that publicly. And just last week, we sanctioned four agents of Russia, Ukrainians in Ukraine, seeking to destabilize the government.

So this is very much part of the Russian toolkit. It runs the gamut from a large conventional incursion or invasion of Ukraine to these kinds of destabilizing activities in an attempt to topple the government. And it's important that people be on notice about that possibility.

BASH: Does this intelligence make it more likely, in your view, that Putin is going to invade?

BLINKEN: I don't think it speaks to whether it's more or less likely.

I think it speaks to the fact that, as always, Russia develops lots of different options for doing things, including in Ukraine. And this is one of them. And it's something that people have to -- have to be aware of.

Similarly, we have warned about the possibility of so-called false flag operations, that is, Russia manufacturing a provocation, and then justifying anything it does in terms of responding to this manufactured provocation.

There's been a lot of focus, rightly, on the fact that Russia has concentrated so many forces on Ukraine's border. And in the -- with the history of 2014 in our minds and Russia's invasion of Ukraine then, we're rightly focused on that.

But it's also important that people understand there are a range of things that Russia could do that could be -- and we're prepared to deal with all of them.

BASH: I want to get to those other potential options that Russia has in a moment.

But, broadly, you mentioned the troops. It's 127,000 Russian troops now near the border. How much power, in all honesty, does the U.S. really have to stop Russia?

BLINKEN: We have given Russia two paths.

There's a path of diplomacy and dialogue, one that I engaged in with Foreign Minister Lavrov just last week in Geneva. But there's also a path of its renewed aggression and massive consequences that we have been building now for many weeks.

And it's not just us that is saying it. The G7, the world's leading democratic economies, have been clear about that. The European Union's been clear about that. NATO has been clear about that. And, as we're doing that, we have provided more defensive assistance, military assistance to Ukraine last year than at any time in the past.

I just authorized, myself, the provision of American military equipment that's with third countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to get to Ukraine. And we are in intense, regular, constant communication, consultation with allies and partners to make it very clear that these massive consequences will follow.

So, basically, at this point, Dana, the choice is Vladimir Putin's. And their -- the paths are clear. Diplomacy, dialogue, seeing if we can build collective security in a way that is good for everyone, is clearly the preferable path.


But we're prepared either way.

BASH: So, you mentioned the diplomatic talks.

You just met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia is awaiting your written answers to several key questions. What are the specific, concrete answers there? And what is the specific off-ramp here for Russia?

Is the will -- U.S. willing to say, for example, Ukraine won't be joining NATO anytime soon and/or that the U.S. won't put strategic weapons in Ukraine?

BLINKEN: There are a number of areas where I think it would be possible for us to address each other's concerns about the -- about security in Europe in a way that is good for everyone, Europeans, Americans and Russians.

BASH: Can you give me an example?

BLINKEN: So, we have talked about this in the past and in recent days and weeks, arms control, greater transparency, risk reduction, the placement of missile systems, things of that nature.

At the same time, I was very clear with Foreign Minister Lavrov, as we been, that there are certain basic principles that we're not in -- by one iota going to compromise on, including, for example, NATO's open door, the right of countries to choose with whom they will associate, which alliances they will join.

But we have also, as -- in looking at this, we want to make sure that, even as Russia has shared its concerns with us, we and our allies, because we have been in very close coordination this, make clear our concerns with the actions that Russia has been taking.

And we look to see if we can address any of these concerns on a reciprocal basis. That's what diplomacy is all about. That's what the dialogue is all about. But one thing is equally important. Even as we engage in diplomacy and dialogue, something that I do for a living, it doesn't take the word no out of your vocabulary.

And, as we're doing it, we're building up our defense, we're building up our deterrence to make sure that Russia understands that, if it doesn't follow the diplomatic course, if it renews its aggression, there will be very significant consequences.

BASH: Ukrainian President Zelensky is calling for the U.S. and others, Europeans, to put sanctions in place now, to do it proactively, not reactively.

He said -- quote -- "Today, our partners are saying that war may start tomorrow if there is a powerful escalation on the Russian side, and then there will be powerful sanctions applied. The question is, why are you not introducing sanctions now, rather than wait until after the escalation?"

BLINKEN: Well, first...

BASH: What's your answer to that?

BLINKEN: First of all, Dana, as I said, we are not waiting. We are doing a lot right now.

And, as I mentioned, besides the United States taking the lead in bringing countries throughout Europe and even beyond together, in putting together massive consequences for Russia if it takes renewed aggressive action, in Ukraine, as I mentioned, we're providing and last year alone provided more military assistance to Ukraine that at any year in the past.

We have been going against those inside Ukraine trying to destabilize the government. So we're taking concrete action.

When it comes to the sanctions...

BASH: But you're not imposing the sanctions.

BLINKEN: So, when it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. And so, if they're triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect. All

of the things that we're doing, including building up in a united way with Europe massive consequences for Russia, is designed to factor into President Putin's calculus and to deter and dissuade him from taking aggressive action, even as we pursue diplomacy at the same time.

BASH: Do you see any scenario in which more U.S. service members become involved here?

BLINKEN: One of the things that we have been very clear about, besides the massive economic, financial consequences that would befall Russia if it further commenced aggression against Ukraine, is the ongoing continued buildup of defense capacity in Ukraine, and, equally, continuing to build up NATO's defensive capacities, including on the so-called eastern flank, the countries near Russia.

And the alliance is looking at very practical and important measures that it would take in the event for the Russian aggression.

BASH: So, you mentioned different kinds of aggression.

Let's talk about one specific potential. Russian-backed forces currently occupy part, but not all of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine. Would seizing or recognizing the entire Donbass region qualify as an invasion and result in the crippling sanctions that you're threatening?

BLINKEN: If a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way, as I said, that would trigger a swift, a severe and a united response from us and from Europe.

And, again, there are other things that Russia could do that fall short of actually sending additional forces into Ukraine. And, again, across the board, we're prepared with Europe for a swift and calibrated and very united response.


We're looking at every single scenario, preparing for every single one.

BASH: President Biden said an invasion would be the most consequential thing that's happened in the world in terms of foreign peace since World War II.


BLINKEN: He's exactly right.

And, again, this underscores why this is so important, not just for Ukraine, not just for Russia, not just for Europe and the United States, but for the world, because what's at stake here, Dana, are some very basic principles of international relations that have been established since two World Wars and the Cold War that have kept peace and security. Principles like one nation can't go in by force and change the borders of another, principles like one nation can't dictate to another its policies, its choices, including with whom it will associate, a principle like the fact that you cannot now, in the 21st century, purport to exert a sphere of influence to try to subjugate your neighbors to your will.

If we allow those things to go forward and stand with impunity, then that opens a Pandora's box that countries well beyond Europe will see and maybe decide to act on.

BASH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, you have got a lot on your plate.

We appreciate your time, and look forward to talking to you again soon and, obviously, hoping that things work out in a way that is on the diplomatic front, as you're talking about.

BLINKEN: Thanks, Dana, very much.

BASH: Thank you so much. Thank you.

BLINKEN: Thank you.

BASH: And I want to go now straight to a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a veteran of the Army Reserves who served in the Iraq War.

So, Senator Ernst, I want your reaction to Secretary Blinken. After what you just heard, are you confident that the U.S. is doing what it needs to do to stop Russia from invading Ukraine?

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Dana, I believe that we need to act now.

When it comes to pushing back against Russia, we need to show strength and not be in a position of doctrine of appeasement, which seems to be how President Biden has worked his administration.

So, we do need to go ahead and impose sanctions on Russia now. We need to show them that we mean business and we will be there for Ukraine should they invade.

Once an invasion happens, lives are lost. You can't go back from that. So those sanctions need to be put in place now. They could be expelled from the SWIFT banking system. Certainly, we need to make sure that any defensive aid is in the hands of the Ukrainians, as well as much lethal aid as we can provide at this time.

And then we need to ensure the safety and security of Americans that are in the Donbass region. They need to be moved out or know how to evacuate safely should Russia invade.

But, again, I hope that we can prevent that through diplomacy.

BASH: Specifically on sanctions, you just heard Secretary Blinken tell me that, if they impose sanctions now, it would take away a deterrent. Your response?

ERNST: I think we have many options for deterrence when it comes to Russia.

But we need to impose those now. President Putin only understands strength and power. And, again, through a doctrine of appeasement he has seen in other areas, whether it's Iran, with this administration reengaging Iran, even though they continue with bad behavior, whether it's working with China, whether it is the debacle that we saw in Afghanistan this last year, they see a very weak administration.

And President Putin sees every opportunity to do what he wants to do in Ukraine with very little pushback from the United States. So, we need to have firm resolve with this. We need to work with our NATO allies and make sure that an invasion does not happen.

BASH: How far should the United States go to defend Ukraine if Putin does invade? Should the Biden administration support a potential Ukrainian insurgency, as they are reportedly considering?

ERNST: Well, I think all options should be on the table.

And, again, Dana, let's -- Dana, let's pray that an invasion doesn't happen. And, again, we have to be very strong to make sure that Russia is not able to go into a sovereign nation without pushback. So, let's get those sanctions in place. Let's make sure the Ukrainian military is prepared to respond.

But we should be there for Ukraine. We have a number of agreements, whether it's the Budapest agreement, the Minsk agreement with Russia. We need to make sure that those agreements are being followed. They're not just pieces of paper. They have kept Europe safe. They have kept Americans safe.

So let's do what we can now to prevent any invasion.

BASH: Right. And, of course, I hear you on that, but how much should the U.S. contribute American men and women to doing what you're describing?


ERNST: Well, again, let's make sure, one, it doesn't happen.

But, secondly, again, there are so many tools in our toolbox that we need to be using diplomacy where we can. But, also, if there are ways that we can share intelligence, work with our NATO allies and other partners, we certainly can provide the resources necessary to bolster the Ukrainian military.

It is very important that Americans understand that, when we have a stable Europe, when we have democracy around the globe, it makes our country safer. This matters. Russia invading Ukraine matters to Americans, not only for the safety and security of our partners in Europe, but also for the safety and security of Americans right here at home. BASH: Some foreign policy experts believe what Vladimir Putin sees is

an opening because, in part, of how deeply divided America is right now.

You're a Republican senator. What is your message to Vladimir Putin on that?

ERNST: Don't do it. Don't do it. That is my message to President Putin.

He needs to understand that, while...

BASH: But what's your message about the partisanship here and whether or not that makes America more weak?

ERNST: Oh, well, I would say that we do have differences on policy. And that is obvious to everyone.

But let's make this very clear that, as Americans, as Democrats, Republicans and independents, we want to see a free and prosperous Ukraine. So, President Putin, don't do it. On this, we are allied.

BASH: I want to switch to another issue of foreign policy. And that is Afghanistan.

Back in November, you and every other female senator, Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to the White House calling on the administration to do more to protect Afghan women and girls suffering under the Taliban. What actions do you want the White House to take?

ERNST: Well, those actions were promised, or at least the premise was out there by President Biden to the United Nations that we would stand up for Afghan women and girls as the United States of America.

And that sentiment was echoed by Secretary Blinken. We have not seen any actions yet.

So, in the letter I did lead with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California -- and, as you stated, all female senators signed onto that letter -- was to meet with the administration and provide support however we could to Afghan women and children.

So, we need to work with the administration and find ways that we can be supportive. What I don't support, however, is sending cash directly to the Taliban, as the Biden administration has now allowed. As of the end of December, they have waived restrictions that now allow dollars to go directly to the Taliban in the form of aid.

But we don't know how those dollars are going to be used and if they will be used at all on food and medicines and shelter for the women and children of Afghanistan. There is a huge humanitarian crisis right now. And, certainly, we need some answers with the administration.

But what we wanted to show, as female senators, leaders in the United States, that we want to step forward and support these vulnerable populations in Afghanistan after such a devastating withdrawal. BASH: Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, thank you so much for

joining me this morning. Appreciate it.

ERNST: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: And the president has a new plan to salvage the rest of his agenda. Will it work?

Senator Bernie Sanders is coming up.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

We're all hoping for a better '22, but, for President Biden, the year hasn't started off so well.

His two major policy priorities, Build Back Better and election reform, are stalled in the Senate. And, this week, the president floated an alternative way to get some of the social safety net priorities passed by breaking it up into smaller pieces. Is that doable?

Here with me is the man who would write those bills, Budget Chairman independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Thank you so much for joining me, sir.

So, here we are one year into the Biden presidency. Those two key priorities are stalled in the Senate, the social spending bill and climate bill, the election reform legislation.

It's because Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won't get on board. How frustrated are you?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, it's not only those two. It is 50 Republicans who have been adamant not only in pushing an anti- democratic agenda, but also opposing our efforts to try to lower the cost of prescription drugs, trying to expand Medicare, to include dental, hearing and eyeglasses, to improve the disastrous situation in home health care, in child care, to address the existential threat of climate change.

You got 50 Republicans who don't want to do anything, except criticize the president. And then you have, sadly enough, two Democrats who choose to work with the Republicans, rather than the president, and who have sabotaged the president's effort to address the needs of working families in this country.

Is it frustrating? It sure is.

But my view, Dana, is, we need a new direction, a new approach in the Senate. I think, after six months of negotiating, so-called negotiating behind closed doors with Senators Manchin and Senator Sinema, we need to start voting.


We need to bring important pieces of legislation that impact the lives of working families right onto the floor of the Senate. And if the Republicans want to vote against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, climate change, home health care, whatever it may be, and if the Democrats, two Democrats want to join them, let the American people see what's happening.

Then we can pick up the pieces and pass legislation.

BASH: So, I want to get to...

SANDERS: But the current course of action -- yes, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

BASH: No, I want to get to more of that and really drill down on what you mean by that in one second.

But while we're talking about the two senators, the two Democratic senators, you saw, I'm sure, that the Arizona Democratic Party censured Senator Sinema. Was that appropriate?

SANDERS: Absolutely, it was.

On that particular vote that she and Manchin cast, we were trying to address the reality that you have got 19 Republican states all over this country who are undermining the foundations of American democracy, trying to make it harder for people of color, young people, people with disabilities to vote, coming up with extreme gerrymandering, taking action against independent election officials.

And it is so important that we protect American democracy, that we stand up to the big lie of Trump and his allies that he really won the election. And they undermined that effort.

I think what the Arizona Democrats did was exactly right.

BASH: Would you be willing to campaign against either Senator Sinema and/or Senator Manchin in a Democratic primary?

SANDERS: Well, that's a long way coming. They're not up until 2024.

But if there were strong candidates in those states who were prepared to stand up for working families, who understand that the Democratic Party has got to be the party of working people taking on big money interests, if those candidates were there in Arizona and West Virginia, yes, I would be happy to support them.

BASH: OK, let's go back to the notion of how you're going to do what President Biden talked about, passing what he called big chunks of the social spending and climate plan.

You say you want every senator to vote. Can you specifically talk about how you're going to want to go about doing that? How can you get these things, not just to have political votes to show that Republicans are against it, but, more importantly, how can you pass at least the bare minimum of what you think you can?

SANDERS: Well, I think what you -- Dana, what's most important is that the ideas that we are fighting for are enormously popular, enormously popular; 70, 80 percent of the American people want us to negotiate -- Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.

People want to expand Medicare. People want to deal with the crisis of climate. So what we are talking about is what the American people want. And I think, when you bring bills on the floor -- we have allowed the Republicans to get away with murder.

They haven't had to vote on anything. Now, if they want to vote against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, expanding Medicare, dealing with child care, dealing with housing, let them vote, and let Manchin and Sinema decide which side they are on.

And when all of that shakes out, we will see where we are. I have the feeling that we will be able to get 50 votes or more on some of these issues. We could put that piece together and then pass something that's very significant.

BASH: So, if I'm understanding you right, you're saying put all of these -- these policy initiatives on the Senate floor, let them get a vote.

And let's be honest. They will probably fail. And then, once that happens, you will craft legislation that can actually pass on specific parts of the Democratic agenda that have enough support?

SANDERS: Once that happens, Dana, we will know where we stand.

I am not quite so sure that you're not going to get at least 50 votes to lower the cost of prescription drugs or to expand Medicare, to deal with climate. But once we know where people are at, then we can say, all right, look, we got 50 votes here, we got 51 votes here, 49 votes here. Let's do it.

But what has bothered me very much is, the Republicans are laughing all the way to Election Day. They have not had to cast one bloody vote to -- which shows us where they're at. And we have got to change that.

BASH: Is Senator Schumer, the majority leader, on board with this strategy that you're describing today?

SANDERS: Well, this is a discussion that we're going to have to have, not only with Senator Schumer, but with the entire Democratic Caucus.

I think there is widespread understanding that what we have done for the last six months has failed from a policy point of view. It has failed politically. We need to change course. We need to have the courage to take on the Republicans, and let Manchin and Sinema decide which side they are on.

BASH: President Biden singled you out at his press conference this week when he was asked if he was governing too far to the left.

Take a listen.


BIDEN: You guys have been trying to convince me that I am Bernie Sanders.


I'm not. I like him, but I'm not Bernie Sanders. I'm not a socialist. I'm a mainstream Democrat, and I have been.


BASH: What was your reaction when you heard that?

SANDERS: Well, I'm not Joe Biden. I like him, but I'm not Joe Biden.

I'm a progressive who believes that the Democratic Party should make it clear that we are prepared to take on powerful special interests, like the drug companies, like the insurance companies, like the fossil fuel industry, that we have to demand that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes.

So, look, I think President Biden has done something quite unusual. He has taken a hard look at the problems facing the American people. He's brought forth legislation to try to address that. And I respect that.

But, obviously, we have our strong differences.

BASH: And what do you say to those who say that part of the reason why -- that you're stuck, as you just described, in process and policy is because Joe Biden is governing more like Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden, and that's not what the American people asked for?

SANDERS: Well, I would turn that around and say, how does it happen that the policies we are now fighting for are enormously popular?

CNN did some polling out there, asked whether the American people think it's time to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, asked whether we should be dealing with the existential threat of climate, should we be building affordable housing, should we be dealing with child care crisis? And the American people say, yes, it's about time you did it.

We're seeing the very richest people in this country, Dana, becoming incredibly richer during this pandemic, while tens of millions of American workers are struggling to make ends meet. The American people want us to have the courage to stand up to powerful special interests.

BASH: Senator...

SANDERS: That's what they want. And that's what we have got to do.

BASH: I want you to listen to something that you told me on this show just after Democrats took unified control of government just about a year ago.


SANDERS: That Democrats, who have slim majorities in the House and the Senate, we have got President Biden in the White House, if we do not respond now, yes, I believe, two years from now, the Republicans will say, hey, you elected these guys. They did nothing. Vote for us.

And they will win.


BASH: So, given where you are now, have Democrats delivered enough to win control in November?

SANDERS: Well, we have done -- remember, we're taking on the incredible obstructionism of 50 Republicans who have turned their backs on working families in this country. And we have two Democrats who have sabotaged the president's agenda.

But we did pass the American Rescue Plan, which was one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in the modern history of this country, got money into the hands of working families, cut childhood poverty by 40 percent, gave money to hospitals and medical centers all over this country, and helped us stabilize the economy.

We also passed an infrastructure bill, the most significant piece of -- infrastructure bill since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.

So, we are making some progress. But, clearly, we have been stalled by the sabotage, if you like, of two Democrats who have refused to support what the president and 48 of us want to do.

BASH: Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Budget Committee, thank you so much. Appreciate your time this morning.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BASH: And one NYPD officer killed and another injured in a shooting in Harlem this weekend.

The city's new mayor, Eric Adams, will join me next.

And he made this emotional plea:


ADAMS: We must save this city together.




(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAMS: No excuse to shoot an 11-month-old baby. No excuse to assassinate these officers. No excuse to have the shooting we saw in Staten Island responding to a domestic dispute.

There's no excuse to be a gangbanger and think you're going to wreak havoc in our city. No, it's not happening.


BASH: New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaking at a vigil last night to honor an NYPD officer killed this weekend. And another officer is fighting for his life after they were shot while responding to a 911 call Friday night in Harlem.

This comes just days after a woman was thrown in front of a New York City subway car and killed. The attacks have New Yorkers on edge.

Here with me is the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.

Thank you so much for joining me.

And your city is, of course, mourning the loss of officer Jason Rivera, just 22 years old, a son, a husband, and a friend. You said yesterday that the second police officer, Wilbert Mora, is fighting for his life.

How is he doing this morning?

ADAMS: Well, he's still primarily in the same condition.

Communicated with the doctors and his family yesterday. It just really has impacted our entire city, if not the entire country. And this is coming after having five officers shot, the 11-month baby shot in Brooklyn.

The symbol of that soiled coat with red blood is really what we're talking about here in not only New York City, but across America. And I have continually stated, and we will move forward to do our job in the city.


But we need help to deal with the underlying issues that are impacting crime in our city and has become a stain on the inner cities across our country.

BASH: Mr. Mayor, you ran -- you have just been in office for a few weeks.

You ran a campaign on returning law and order to New York. And you just listed a lot of the crimes, horrific crimes that have happened just in the first few weeks that you have been in office, really high- profile crime.

So what concrete steps are you taking to keep your promise and make New York City safer? ADAMS: And it's important, what you just laid out.

Three weeks into our administration, analyzing all of the tools and resources that we have, I'm going to roll out a real plan this week when I speak to the New York public. And we're going to go back to the underlying reasons you're seeing crime in our city.

This is a sea of crime that's being fed by many rivers. And we have to dam each one of those rivers. And we have been unsuccessful to do so throughout the years.

These crimes did not start during my administration. They have been here for far too long in many parts of our community. We have to go after those laws that are not realistic, and understanding what's happening on the ground. We have to stop the flow of guns. We are removing thousands of guns off our streets. And it appears as though, for every gun we remove from the street, five are coming in. That is unacceptable.

And then we have to deal with institutional problems. We have failed to educate black and brown children in the city of New York, if not this entire country. And we have put in a new plan in our subway system that's going to increase mental health professionals, and, at the same time, have my law enforcement personnel there, deployed properly.

BASH: So, I understand that you're talking about introducing a series of steps later in the week.

But people in New York City, you feel it. They're worried right now. So, can you give me, give our viewers, give New York City residents one concrete example of a way that you are going to, using your platform, make them more safe immediately?

ADAMS: Well, immediately, we're going to reinstitute a newer version of, in plainclothes, modified plainclothes, anti-gun unit.

I talked about this on the campaign trail. Our team has done the proper analysis. And now we're going to deploy that. And you're going to see a visible presence in our subway system. The governor has been an amazing partner, where we're going to have and flood our system with mental health professionals and law enforcement working as a team to move out the disorder that's clearly in the subway system in our city.

But, also, we're going to continue to build out. I talked about this. We were able to stop terrorism in this city when state, federal and city law enforcement agencies did information-sharing and deployed together. President Biden heard me. He understands that. And we have placed that in place now in New York City.

BASH: You talked about the subway system.

I just -- for our viewers who aren't familiar, this is -- what happened was, a woman was pushed in front of a subway train, killed because of that, in Times Square. You said you're going to put mental health professionals in and around the subway system? Is that what you're saying?

ADAMS: A partner, to partner with our police personnel and mental health professionals to be more proactive, and not just reactive.

We should not wait for someone to carry out a dangerous action, when we know they are on this station in the first place. Immediately, when you see a dangerous person there, mental health professionals will be deployed, and that person will receive the proper care and removed from our subway system.

BASH: Before I let you go, you just received your first paycheck and converted it to Bitcoin.

It happened just as cryptocurrency markets were crashing. How much money did you lose? And do you have any regrets?


ADAMS: Well, listen, it's the same when I invest it in the stock market, in my 401(k).

We saw a drastic drop during 2018 and other times. When you are a long-term investor, you don't keep your eyes on your portfolio. You buy low, and, hopefully, you get the recovery that you desire.

And the purpose of the Bitcoin is to send a message that New York City is open to technology. You're going to see a large amount of new technology in the city of New York and encourage our young people to be engaged in these new emerging markets.

And I'm excited about the future of this city. And I'm excited about bringing my young people who have been historically denied access to new technology.

BASH: Mayor of New York City Eric Adams, thank you so much for joining me.

ADAMS: Thank you.

BASH: And, for the former president down at Mar-a-Lago, the legal hurdles and political challenges are stacking up.


This time, does it matter?

That's next.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

If President Trump has a bad week, but can't tweet about it, did it really happen?

The answer is yes. It was an avalanche of bad news for the former president. The New York attorney general leveled new claims against the Trump family business, and the Supreme Court allowed more than 700 documents from the presidential records to be sent to the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.


How is all of this factoring into the former president's political ambitions?

Well, joining me now, two former Trump insiders, former White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin and former Trump adviser David Urban.

So, David, let me start with you. And I will add another thing to that. And that is a grand jury opening in a criminal probe of President Trump in -- the former president -- in Georgia.

What should he be most worried about right now?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, Dana, look, there's -- I think there's a wide range of issues that are facing that the president.

And I have been on this network, as you know, for many years. And it looked like he was in much deeper trouble at many points in the future, and it all kind of played out and nothing happened. I remember waking up and hearing on the networks Trump to be indicted this morning, stand by, and then no indictment ever came of it.

So I'm not putting a lot of credibility or credence and not greatly worried about any of these...

BASH: Is he?

URBAN: ... these current headlines.

No, I don't think so. And I don't think he should be, because there's -- we have been -- this is like "The Perils of Pauline." It's -- I'm probably a little bit dating myself, when even Alyssa has no idea who that is.


BASH: She has no idea.

URBAN: But there's -- tune into the next episode, and we will see what happens here. And nothing ever happened, because, to a large extent, there is no there there.

And I think we will -- that will play out here in these cases as well.

BASH: Yes, OK, so this -- we're making light of it, but the reality is that this is -- these are serious charges.

URBAN: Oh. BASH: But I want to get Alyssa in here, because, Alyssa, you worked in the Trump White House. You are cooperating with the January 6 Committee.

Give us a sense on the documents that they're going to see, that they are seeing now, they have access to. What might it show investigators?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's no question that the January 6 Committee is going to loom large over the next couple of years of Donald Trump's life.

But I actually, surprisingly, agree with David on this, that what is going to take Trump down in terms of 2024, being the nominee and potentially being the president, is less his legal woes, and much more just the country's fatigue with him.

So there was a really -- there's a recent AP poll that showed that only 27 percent of Americans even want him to run again. So the time right now, when the Biden presidency is, frankly, on life support, the economy is struggling, we have got this high inflation, this is a moment for Republicans, get through midterms. Keep him around through midterms. He's a monster fund raiser.

But then kind of have a come to Jesus moment and say, what can Donald Trump do that Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley can't do, all of them who are not -- don't have this cloud of January 6 and having led an insurrection on their back?

BASH: Alyssa, since you worked in the White House at the time, do you have any sense of what he should be most worried about with regard to the documents that the committee now has?

FARAH GRIFFIN: My guess -- and this is pure -- this is speculation based on kind of what I have observed and read and conversations I have had, which is, any sort of coordination with the bad actors that went a step further.

So, this Oath Keepers indictment that charged some of them with sedition and conspiracy, that's significant. If you end up finding that White House individuals were in communication with some of those very fringy groups, I think that's incredibly damning.

BASH: Do you think it's possible?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think it's possible, but I don't want to speculate.

But the other thing I would say is important, I think you're going to see the anatomy of the big lie begin to unfold. When you see more text messages come out of people around Trump who knew the election fraud was a total myth, they were simply humoring him and privately saying, yes, we can't keep spreading this craziness, I think that chips away at Trump's credibility, and I also think it really gets to him.

BASH: David, Politico obtained a draft Trump executive order.

URBAN: Right. BASH: It was a draft. It's now in possession of the January 6

Committee, which would have ordered the acting secretary of defense to -- quote -- "seize, collect, retain, and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information and material records relating to the 2020 election."

You're a West Point grad. You are close friends with the former Trump Defense Secretary Mike (sic) Esper. What's your reaction to hearing that?

URBAN: Yes, so, Dana, look, I have not seen the document. I have not seen the -- I haven't even seen the article. I just -- I heard it this morning. So I don't really know the details of it.

Obviously, look, if it's as you describe, that's troubling. But I don't know why they were -- what the underlying issue was in terms of taking the voting machines out of the control the states. Perhaps it was the fact that they were -- the administration felt that they were not going to be correctly held in a chain of custody, such that they'd be preserved for future examination.

I don't know. But, as you said, it was a draft. It was never executed. It was never sent around. I mean, I'm sure there are lots of draft documents done in the government that never see the light of day that aren't the greatest ideas. So...


FARAH GRIFFIN: But, David, if I could chime in, I'd be curious -- and I hate to put you on the spot.


FARAH GRIFFIN: But I know Mike Pompeo, an old friend of yours, what couldn't he accomplish as president that Donald Trump could?

And, like, could someone like him -- like, this is what I, as a conservative, wrestle with, is, let's run someone like a Mike Pompeo, when we don't have the shadow of conspiracy and insurrection on our backs.

URBAN: So, listen, Mike Pompeo, or your former boss the vice president, none of these people are running for president. None of them expect -- have said they're running for president.

So I'm not going to speculate or put people out there, right?

BASH: Well, come on. Come on. They're preparing.

URBAN: They're not running. They're not running for president.


BASH: If Donald Trump didn't run, they probably would.

(CROSSTALK) URBAN: Exactly. And if a lot of people didn't run, someone else might run.

Donald Trump is still the dominant force in Republican politics. Alyssa just admitted it. People -- he's a monster fund raiser, a monster presence in the Republican Party. I don't expect that the former president is going anywhere in '22 or '24. Donald Trump remains incredibly popular amongst Republican base voters.

I'm helping my good friend and West Point colleague Dave McCormick in the state of Pennsylvania run for Senate. And I can tell you, in the state of Pennsylvania, amongst Republican base voters, Donald Trump is incredibly, incredibly popular.

Here in Florida, in the state of Florida, Donald Trump is incredibly popular. Anywhere you go around the country, with Republican voters, Donald Trump is incredibly popular.


URBAN: And so until -- listen, until he becomes not popular amongst Republican voters, there won't be an opening for anybody else. So...

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, but the challenge is, he didn't win in 2020, even in Pennsylvania. He lost your home state.

URBAN: So...

FARAH GRIFFIN: So, I just have to wonder.

I have got this -- I have got a theory. And we will we will see it play out. Republicans are going to keep him around through 2022 because he will be helpful in winning back House seats, getting back the House majority. He is a monster fund raiser. He does have a death grip on the party.

But I'm going to be curious to see if there starts to be a break after 2022, because, if I'm reading the tea leaves, how can this guy beat Joe Biden? I don't see him being more popular.

URBAN: Alyssa -- Alyssa, Republicans -- but your mistake is, you're saying, Republicans will keep him around, like that they have the -- that they're doing this.

Republicans love Donald Trump. It's not like they're keeping him around. The Republican base loves Donald Trump. You're getting it wrong. You're missing the point. They're not keeping him around.

FARAH GRIFFIN: No, I don't -- I actually don't -- I don't think you're wrong.

But I do think, if some figures emerged who could champion his policies, without the division and without the shadow of insurrection, I think that those figures could emerge and be -- become equally popular.

BASH: Alyssa, let me just jump in.


BASH: Go ahead, David. Go ahead.


I was going to say, '24 is incredibly far away, as you all know.


URBAN: I mean, it's 100 years from now in terms of electoral politics.

So I think the more immediate focus is '22. Look, in that same poll you're referring, Alyssa, the AP poll, which was done, conducted on the one-year anniversary -- or released on the one-year anniversary of the Biden inauguration, 74 percent of Americans feel the country is on the wrong track, 74 percent.

You know what that means, Dana? That means that the House of Representatives is going to go overwhelmingly in terms of the Republican Party. We have those 28 Democrats retiring right now. We expect to see more of those. Kevin McCarthy just had a monster haul last week, roughly a $10 million fund-raiser in D.C.

Republicans are breaking all kinds of fund-raising records. The House is going to come back to be in Republican control. The Senate will come back to Republican control.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and it's...

URBAN: And then we will see. And then we will see what happens in the next few years...

FARAH GRIFFIN: It's no question...

URBAN: ... between that and the presidency.


And it's no question that, in terms of Congress, the Trump effect is going to be beneficial in 2022. But I'm looking at governor's races. So, Charlie Baker resigning, that seat will go Democrat. There's no question.

Then, Trump getting involved in Governor...

URBAN: It's Massachusetts. Of course.

FARAH GRIFFIN: No, but then Trump getting involved in Governor Kemp's race, that could easily become a Stacey Abrams-held seat.

So, the meddling with some of these...

(CROSSTALK) URBAN: It's a purple -- it's a purple -- Georgia is a purple state.

You're talking about a blue state.

FARAH GRIFFIN: It wasn't before Donald Trump.

URBAN: Well, it's been trending purple. It's been trending in the wrong direction for a Republican for years. So, to ascribe that...

BASH: Let me ask Alyssa if she agrees with you.

URBAN: Yes. Sure.

BASH: Let me see if Alyssa agrees with you that, if the election, 2024 election, were held today, Donald Trump would win the Republican primary and then the White House.

URBAN: Absolutely.

BASH: No, I know you think that.

What about Alyssa?


FARAH GRIFFIN: Oh, he would win the primary by a landslide. He'd lose the White House.

URBAN: Oh, not even close. We will disagree there strongly.

BASH: So, how do you -- Alyssa, I know you're joining with other former Trump advisers and aides to try to stop that.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Listen, my perspective is this.

There were many good policies under Donald Trump. I agreed with 75 percent of his policies. But when you attack our democracy, try to overthrow the electoral process, and disenfranchise 80 million voters, you lose the right to ever be president again.

I -- there are many credible, good Republicans who could run on what Trump did and, frankly, I think do more and be less divisive and bring more voters into the fold.

BASH: Alyssa, David, what a discussion. We will definitely continue this discussion.

URBAN: We're going to disagree on all that, a lot of that.

BASH: OK, a lot of agreeing to disagree here. That's the benefit of America.

Thank you so much to both of you.

URBAN: Thanks, Dana.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Thanks, guys.

BASH: Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

The news continues next.