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Judge Grants Release to Riot Suspect Who Sat at Pelosi's Desk; President Biden to Give Address to Joint Session of Congress with Reduced Numbers Due to Coronavirus; Vaccinations Continue in U.S. for Coronavirus; Evidence of Capitol Insurrection on January 6th Provided to Security Ahead of Time. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2021 - 08:00   ET




NEW DAY continues now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I am Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman. We are live from the nation's capital. Welcome to my backyard, John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for having me over.

KEILAR: It is wonderful to have you on this NEW DAY. A big event now just hours away as President Biden delivers his first joint address to Congress. And we'll be talking to the White House about what he plans to say.

Also new revelations about the Capitol insurrection plot, the warning signs that went ignored just the day before.

BERMAN: New this morning, a juror who deliberated Derek Chauvin's fate speaking out, what he says the turning point of the trial was. And a blunt warning from a legendary campaign consultant, too much wokeness could cost Democrats in the next election.

KEILAR: A very good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday. It's only Wednesday, April 28th. And the vaccine rollout and an economy on the rebound will highlight President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress tonight, on the eve of the president's 100th day in office. Only 200 people will be attending this address. That is a number that is normally around 1,600. So this is going to be a very different scene. There will be no other guests permitted. The speech will look and feel like nothing that we've seen before.

BERMAN: Today President Biden will also lay out the next phase of his economic plan. This is a $1.8 trillion federal investment in education, childcare, paid family leave. It's on top of the $2 trillion infrastructure package still working its way through Congress. We're going to speak to the White House about all of this in just a moment.

First, CNN editor at large Chris Cillizza at the magic wall with, Chris, what we can expect tonight, sir.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, John and Brianna, it's obviously a very different thing. Number one, it's a lot later than we typically have what is, this is the joint address to Congress. In future years it will be called the State of the Union, but in your first one isn't.

But let's go through some of the things that will be different. OK, masks, that one seems pretty obvious. Everyone will be masked except Joe Biden, obviously, when he gives his speech. Smaller in person audience, Brianna touched on this. If you remember, if you have ever watched or seen footage of any past State of the Union address or joint speech to Congress like this one will be, it's packed to the gills, right? This is sort of Congress' big night. Everyone is in the chamber, 1,600 people -- 200 tonight. It will look sort of like a baseball game if you've watched a baseball game this year. There will be people, it just won't be packed. The other one, no guests.

So one of the big things, obviously we know that since Ronald Reagan, one of the big things has been average citizens there to illustrate a point. They usually sit in the first lady's box, and they say, this person has struggled with, fill in the blank thing, and this is why we need to make this change or do this thing to pass this legislation. There won't be any of that. But those are just a few of the changes. Let's keep going here.

OK, I said only 200 people, right? So a lot of people aren't coming. There's only going to be one Supreme Court justice, Chief Justice John Roberts. There's only going to be one military expert, that's Joint Chiefs of Staff head Mark Milley. There will only be two cabinet but Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense, and Tony Blinken, the secretary of state, which brings me to, for people who don't even follow politics all that closely, you know Kiefer Sutherland and you know "Designated Survivor," the one cabinet member who is always left back during the state of the union speech traditionally so that continuity of government is maintained. Well, since there's only going to be two of them there, no designated survivor tonight. So the show still pretty good, but this not happening this evening.

BERMAN: So Chris, there's also another historic first that you see as very welcome, yes?

CILLIZZA: Yes, and I think this is a visual one, John, but an important one. Two women behind Joe Biden, obviously, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi. So in that shot that's going to be the shot we all see, Joe Biden at the podium, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris behind him. Vice president, speaker of the House. First time we have ever seen two women in that spot.

And it's not just ceremonial. That's because they are the next two in the line of succession to be president. Kamala Harris is number two. Nancy Pelosi is number three. We've not seen that before. I think we have to take a moment to acknowledge the history that that represents. I'll note, by the way, Pat Leahy, who is number four in line to the presidency, the Senate pro tem, we expect to be there as well.


So you'll have that moment, that visual, really important, I think, to the country, and a symbol of how different and how historic this is, even as we have so many different things happening in this. It will look different in a lot of ways. This is a good way that it will look different in a wonderful, positive way. John?

BERMAN: Chris Cillizza, great to have you on, thanks so much for being with us.

Joining us now, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield. Kate, nice to see you.


BERMAN: I know this is not technically a State of the Union address officially, it's an address to the joint session, but humor me, if you will. If the president were to finish the statement, "The State of the Union is" blank, what would he say?

BEDINGFIELD: I would say strong and getting stronger. I think what you're going to hear from the president tonight is an acknowledgment of some of the things that he's accomplished in the first 100 days of his presidency, including getting 200 million shots in American arms, including creating 1 million jobs. He's the first president in history to create 1 million jobs in his first 100 days in office.

So what you're going to hear from him tonight is a little bit about the progress that we've made in the first 100 days -- sorry, my earpiece is giving me trouble here -- in the first 100 days, and you're also going to hear him talk about how much more there is to do. He's going to roll out the American Families Plan, which is going to be an investment in children and families all across the country. He's going to talk about the need for the jobs plan and the need to make the opportunity, I should say, that we have right now to make these investments in our infrastructure and to create jobs for the long haul. So you're going to hear him talk about his vision for the country tonight.

BERMAN: The American Families Plan is new, released some of the details this morning. There's a lot in it, including some money for pre-k, some money for paid community college, extending the child tax credits another five years. If you had to pick one thing that was most important in this, what would you say it is?

BEDINGFIELD: I don't think that there's one piece most important. I think taken on the whole, these are investments that are going to invest in our families, that are going to make it easier for kids to get quality education. There's a paid leave component that's going to make it easier for people to tend to elderly family who are ill or to care for children who are ill.

So these are really investments in a more productive, healthier workforce. And I think what the president, what you'll hear the president say tonight is that we really have a once in a generation opportunity right now to seize the moment, to make these investments, to really not only create jobs but create jobs for the long haul. That's part of the benefit of his jobs plan. It's not only slated to create 19 million jobs, it's also going to sustain that growth over the coming years. So these are really critical investments, and the president believes we have an opportunity right now to come together and to make these investments that the American people want to see us make.

BERMAN: You keep saying investments because you know it's not cheap, and you are saying it will be paid for, and the way that part of it will be paid for is by raising taxes. Now White House adviser Anita Dunn has circulated a memo showing how popular in polling that raising taxes on the rich is. My question to you, I'm not doubting the polling on it, but why? Why is she sending this around to Democratic lawmakers showing how popular raising taxes on the rich is?

BEDINGFIELD: This is really a question of fairness. That's how President Biden looks at this. This is a question of the very wealthiest and corporations paying their fair share so that we can make these investments in middle class families and in working people. And I think we should be really clear, John, about how we're defining the wealthiest. We're talking about the wealthiest one percent of Americans. We're talking about, for example, there was a lot of discussion about capital gains and what President Biden wants to do is tax wealth the same way we tax work. That's going to impact people who are making $1 million in income a year. That is three-tenths of one percent of the American population. So we're really talking about the very wealthiest in this country paying their fair share in order to make investments in things like universal pre-k and paid family leave.

These are investments that build a stronger workforce, that build a healthier workforce. And so asking corporations and the very wealthiest in this country to pay their fair share is the way we can do that. One thing that really struck me that I think would strike your audience, too, is that right now you are much more likely to be audited by the IRS if you live in the Mississippi Delta than if you live on Park Avenue. And President Biden thinks that that's not fair, and it shouldn't be that way. And we should ensure that the wealthiest are paying their fair share.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about vaccine hesitancy. Joe Rogan, who hosts a really popular podcast, I'm not going to play it, because I don't want to necessarily mislead people, but he went on and he told his audience, he says he's not against vaccines, but if it were up to him he would advise people 21 years old that they don't need to go get vaccinated. If they eat well and they're healthy, they don't need to get this shot.


How does that impact your efforts to get the American people vaccinated? What does it tell you about the information that's out there? BEDINGFIELD: Well, I guess my first question would be, did Joe Rogan

become a medical doctor while we weren't looking? I'm not sure that taking scientific and medical advice from Joe Rogan is perhaps the most productive way for people to get their information.

But, look, you're raising an important point, which is that, of course, people hearing this message, it may cause them to question. But I think what we're seeing, and what we've seen in the data, and what we've seen as people have continued to get vaccinated is that the people who are most influential in encouraging people to get vaccinated are their friends, their neighbors, people who have received the shot themselves who they know and they trust. And so what we see is the number of people who say that they are willing to get vaccinated is rising. It's now to, I believe, 67 percent in a recent public poll, because people are seeing their friends, their neighbors, their family get vaccinated.

And what you saw yesterday was an announcement from the CDC that if you are fully vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask outside when you're with your friends or small group of other vaccinated people. So these are important reasons to go get vaccinated so that we can get back to normal, so that we can get back to doing the things that we love.

BERMAN: I have to let you go, but is that enough? A lot of people are like, look, I'm already not wearing a mask when I go running outside or outdoors. That doesn't change my life at all. What would change my life is if I can go to the office and not wear a mask around other people who are vaccinated. When is that coming?

BEDINGFIELD: More people need to get vaccinated. The fastest way to get there is for more people to get vaccinated. You get the vaccinate, you can go -- you can start to get back to normal life. It's one of the most important reasons, aside from, of course, protecting you from the most severe cases of COVID, from death or severe illness. But it's also going to be the fastest way for us to get back to exactly what you're talking about, John, which is going back to the office, going back to big public crowd events. The way we do that is by getting the population vaccinated.

President Biden has made huge strides. Think about where we were. And I apologize, my earpiece is popping out. I know this is annoying for everyone watching, I'm sorry. But President Biden has made huge strides since -- think about where we were when he came into office on January 20th and think about where we are now with over 200 million shots administered and climbing. We are working to make sure that the vaccine is accessible to people all across the country. I think it's 90 percent of people now live within five miles of a vaccination site. So we're working to make it accessible, and folks should go out and get the shot.

BERMAN: White House Communications Director and audio director, Kate Bedingfield, thank you for being with us.


BEDINGFIELD: Thanks. Sorry for the technical difficulty.

KEILAR: Newly revealed internal emails show an outside group actually warned Capitol security officials one day before the January 6th insurrection about a troubling series of social media posts calling for people to storm the U.S. Capitol and kill federal employees. CNN's Whitney Wild is here with brand new reporting on this. How were these warnings ignored, because they were received, right?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So that's the big question. And the reason that we're bringing you this story this morning is because it shows just how far and wide this actual information, the actual posts were pinging around the security apparatus in D.C., and yet people looked past it. So we had this private company reach out to security -- Capitol Hill security, people tasked with protecting the Capitol Complex. And they said look, we've identified this series of troubling posts. Here's one of them. "We will storm government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents."

Now there was a member of the Capitol Hill security, congressional -- Capitol Complex security, rather, who was concerned about this. She brought it up to another member of the Capitol Complex security and said, hey, we're learning about this chatter. Here's what we know, that "there is now chatter on Parler about storming the Capitol. Please let me know if there are any updates to credible threats."

Here's what she received. "There is no talk about any credible threats or storming the capitol." The information was broadly shared. People had eyes on the very posts that were causing so much concern, and yet it was dismissed. This is a key line of questioning for the Senate investigators who are tasked with putting together what will probably be the early premiere look into the breakdowns here on January 6th.

And we spoke with the people who are deeply involved in this investigation, and we asked them point blank, after all the interviews you've done, all of the documents you've read through, have you identified a good answer for why intelligence officials just didn't believe what was right in front of them? And they said, no.

BERMAN: I've got to say, Whitney, your reporting on this is terrific.

WILD: And I should note, my colleague Zach Cohen is a big part of this. So I want to make sure that he gets a shout out, too, because this is really important.

BERMAN: You and Zach have done a great job, and you're finding all the evidence and are asking all the right question. What we don't have yet, any good answers. But keep on asking. Thanks so much for being here. Great to see you in person.

KEILAR: Whitney, great to see you.

A police officer caught in the middle of one of the capitol riot's most horrific attacks speaking out against politicians whitewashing what happened that day.


You probably have already seen the mob assault on Washington Metro Officer Michael Fanone. Rioters sprayed him with chemicals, battered him with pipes, tased him several times.

BERMAN: They even tried to steal his gun and he says talked about Fanone, Fanone told CNN last night the response by some elected officials only made it worse. Fanone didn't mention former President Trump by name, but did quote him.



OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, DEFENDED THE CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6: It's been very difficult seeing elected officials and other individuals kind of whitewash the events of that day or downplay what happened. You know, some of the terminology that was used like hugs and kisses and, you know, very fine people, like very different from what I experienced and what my co-workers experienced on the 6th.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What did you experience, Michael? Because, you know, the former president has said, and I know you don't want to make this political, but has said those were good people. They love their country. They were basically ushered in to the Capitol. They walked into the capitol and that it wasn't a big deal, that they are patriots.

What did you experience that day, and what do you think of that rhetoric?

FANONE: I think it's dangerous. It is very much not the experience that I had on the 6th. You know, I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me to accomplish, you know, their goal.

And I think that -- sorry, Don. I didn't think I'd get this emotional. Yeah, I mean, I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life. Let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades. It was nothing that I had ever thought would be a part of my law enforcement career, nor was I prepared to experience.

Once I was separated from the group of officers that were in the tunnel, I was -- I remember being pulled out into the crowd. I remember experiencing like feelings like -- like when you're a kid, you're at the beach and you get knocked down by a wave and then you get knocked down by another wave and you just can't get up. That's what it felt like.

I remember, you know, once I was able to kind of steady myself, get my bearings, I was just surrounded in this sea of people, rioters, and they just started attacking me from all directions. Guys were, you know, ripped my badge off. Ripped my radio off. Started grabbing at my firearm. Trying to grab, you know, ammunition magazines from my belt. It was just -- it was overwhelming.

I mean, I felt like they were trying to kill me. LEMON: You thought you were going to die?

FANONE: I did.


KEILAR: He felt like he was going to die, and now he's feeling in a very real way because it's happening, that it's being downplayed. What happened? And we see what happened on tape right there.

BERMAN: It's really interesting to hear his frustration there. He says I'm not a political guy. He said I pay attention to politics once every four years.

He can't understand why politicians are trying to diminish what happened to him, what he knows happened to him. It's really important to hear that. That was a terrific interview that Don did. Our heart goes out to Michael Fanone also.

The suspect who stormed the Capitol, sat at Nancy Pelosi's desk and called her the "B" word is a free man this morning. We'll speak to his lawyers.

KEILAR: And do the Democrats have a, quote, wokeness problem? One man who spent years getting Democrats elected says, yes.



KEILAR: Accused U.S. Capitol rioter Richard "Bigo" Barnett, the man in this now infamous picture sitting in the desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 6th, was released last night after a federal prosecutor told the court that the government had begun plea negotiations.

So, where does this case stand now?

We're joined by Joseph McBride who is an attorney for Richard "Bigo" Barnett and Steven Metcalf, his co-counsel.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

The Justice Department said in court yesterday that they have begun guilty plea discussions with you in this case for Richard Barnett. Can you tell us where that stands?

JOSEPH D. MCBRIDGE, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD "BIO" BARNETT: So, good morning. Thank you for having us.

No formal discussions have ensued or taken place at this point. There has been a preliminary offer that we've conveyed to our client. Our client has zero interest in that offer at this time.

So, as of now, we are awaiting further discovery from the government, and we are looking to proceed to trial. Should an acceptable offer materialize between now and then, then we will give it due and proper consideration. But no formal discussions of any kind at this time.

KEILAR: So when is then? As you are looking towards heading to trial here, when do you expect that to be?


STEVEN METCALF, CO-COUNSEL FOR RICHARD "BIGO" BARNETT: As we sit here now, trial is not something that will be in the immediate future. We just ended up getting Richard out on bond yesterday. The next steps now are to actually go to the Capitol and view what is now the crime scene.

There are various different investigations that Joseph and I still have to conduct and hundreds, if not thousands of videos and documents that still need to be reviewed before we can even talk about setting forth a trial date. And federal courts are not conducting trials at this time as well.

So it's going to take some time before we actually have an understanding of when this case could go to trial.

KEILAR: Joseph, what didn't your client like about the offer? Was it too prolonged of a prison sentence? Was it the charge -- the severity of the charge? What was it?

MCBRIDE: Quite frankly it was all of it. We feel strongly that -- we feel strongly that we have a good case, that we have a trial of a case. We have felt strongly about the presumption of innocence. We have felt strongly about the Bail Reform Act's presumption against pretrial detention.

We are grateful and glad that the Judge Cooper's ruling, you know, he sided with us in terms of the facts and application of law yesterday.

And with regard to moving forward, you look at the charge of a violent entry into the U.S. Capitol. Nonviolent entry is an absolute defense. We furnished evidence to the court yesterday, demonstrative of the fact that his entry was, in fact, involuntary.

So as things proceed, we begin to pull apart the charges and see what sticks and what don't, and what does not stick, and then at that time, we will be able to make a more intelligent decision about the crimes under which he has been charged.

KEILAR: So you made an argument in court yesterday that raised some eyebrows. You argued that your client, calling the speaker, and I am quoting here, a, quote, "biatd" in his note to her rather than a, quote, bitch, was less offensive. Do you stand by that argument today?

MCBRIDE: Yes, we stand by that argument today. But more importantly, the argument was made intentionally as to raise eyebrows to the fact that the government has deliberately mischaracterized evidence since the inception of this case.

KEILAR: Okay, but let me -- let me ask you about this. How is the difference between, quote, biatd or, quote, bitch, significant at all if the person who wrote the menacing note did so after entering the Capitol illegally, allegedly, and allegedly trespassing in her personal office while allegedly armed with a powerful Taser?

MCBRIDE: So there's a lot of allegedlies in that statement. And I'll just --


KEILAR: Well, look, I get that, but we have a picture of him, he's in the office, you see the Taser. So there's nothing I said that is, like, out there. These are the things -- these are the facts that you are going to contend with in case -- in court.

How is there a difference between that one word and the other word when you have all of these other factors?

MCBRIDE: Sure. I'll break it down for you real simple. Any time a federal prosecutor quotes something, it's got to be accurate. Underscores, bolding, emphasis added, commas, it all has to be done the right way.

The federal government does not have the luxury to misrepresent evidence of any kind at any point, at any time in court. They've been doing that since the beginning. We've been calling them now since the beginning. We will continue to call them out no matter how minuscule or how huge until the very end.

KEILAR: OK, well, let's talk about this difference because as part of your explanation of, quote, biatd, versus, quote, bitch, you cite a definition on a dictionary website that says, quote, biatd is slang and used as a term of endearment or disparagement.

Would you say that your client is fan of Nancy Pelosi's or would it be more accurate to say that he would describe her in disparaging terms?

MCBRIDE: I would say that my client understands that his statements and that the -- accepting the allegation that's true, the note that, for the sake of argument for us, the note that he's alleged to have left was all made in bad taste.

Mr. Barnett is a funny man. He's a jokester. He doesn't have a real clear sense of boundaries.

If he could take it back, he likely would. But we can't un-ring the bell at this point. And I'm going to leave it there.

KEILAR: Okay. I mean, for anyone who has been called a, quote, bitch, it's not funny. I'll just attest to that. I think that any woman and most of us have been called that, can tell you that.

Does your client still believe conspiracy theories about the election?

MCBRIDE: I have no idea what you're talking about with regard to any conspiracy theories.

KEILAR: That Donald Trump won the election. The whole basis for why he and others entered the Capitol.

MCBRIDE: Richard Barnett, like millions of others.