Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Joe Biden Ends Infrastructure Negotiations With GOP Senators; Interview With Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI); VP Harris Says She Will Visit The U.S.-Mexico Border; Obama On State Of GOP Politics; The Big Lie's Leader In Pennsylvania; France President Slapped In The Face, Two Men Arrested. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thanks to all of you. Anderson starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Breaking news on a breakdown in the infrastructure lane, John Berman here, in for Anderson.

Weeks of talks aimed at getting a bipartisan deal on infrastructure have ended. President Biden pulled the plug on negotiations with a G.O.P. group led by West Virginia Senator, Shelley Moore Capito. The focus now shifts to another group led by West Virginia Democrat, Joe Manchin because it is not just country roads, after all. A live report shortly.

First, though, a different kind of legislative dysfunction. This one in the face of an ongoing threat to democracy. It has to do with not seeing the true nature of its first violent chapter, which is one thing, and refusing to even look which is another.

And when the full history of the January 6th insurrection is written, the words of the man who incited it from the highest office in the land for week after week, right through the moment it began will figure prominently into the account. How could they not? Well, here's how.

Look through today's Senate report on the attack and you will find plenty of new and frankly damning details, security failures, unheeded Intelligence, miscommunication, and inadequate police training. In short, the two Senate Committees that wrote it do a good job of laying out the mechanics of what went wrong and why on and around the day itself, but make no mistake, these things are important to know.

But it's by no means all there is to know. What you will not find is much on what made it happen. You also won't see at least not until the second of two appendices in the last 26 pages of the report, the former President's speech at his so-called Stop the Steal rally that day, nor is there any examination of how his words and so many others motivated the mob, which they clearly did in real time.


walk down to the Capitol.


TEXT: Crowd responds, "Storm the Capitol," "Invade the Capitol Building."


BERMAN: That video compiled by the organization Just Security showing the former President's call synched up with the mob's response, not many dots to connect, but today's report connects none of them, which is a problem to at least one Republican.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): It is important to know root cause of anything. Period.


BERMAN: That is Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana. But as important as he considers knowing the origins of the insurrection to be, the Senate Committee members who put this report together either did not or could not.

One committee staffer told CNN quote, "Did we look at Trump's role in the attack? The answer is no." What's more, the word "insurrection" is nowhere to be found in the report outside of quotes and footnotes. Sources tell us that using it would have meant losing Republican support. Not, that there's any great G.O.P. enthusiasm for looking any further into the subject.

Still, once upon a time, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could see the attack for what it was and had no qualms about identifying the perp.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): People who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President, and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.


BERMAN: So no, he did not say insurrection, and no, he did not vote to convict to remove the President from office. But he also had no hesitation about identifying the culprit or the political sickness at play. Today, not so much, and especially not an outside commission to conduct the definitive probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCONNELL: Today's report is one of the many reasons I'm confident in

the ability of existing investigations to uncover all actionable facts about the events of January 6th.

I'll continue to support these efforts over any that seek to politicize the process.



BERMAN: Keeping them honest, though, isn't handcuffing two Senate Committees and forcing them reportedly in the name of bipartisanship, to neuter their report, politicizing the process? Isn't fighting a January 6th Commission also politicizing the process? Because you don't want bad headlines during a midterm campaign.

And whatever it is, doesn't the broader effort to just sweep it down the memory hole do a profound disservice to people like Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, his hand was sliced open during the insurrection. He was soaked with chemical spray, he endured hand-to- hand combat so intense, and he says there were moments he thought he might die.

The Sergeant also draws a straight line between the former President and the terror he faced.


SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL HILL POLICE: When the President tweeted this or that, and they continued to say, well, he don't mean that. Well, this is not what he meant to say. Take his word for it or his tweet speak for itself. Or he was just joking, okay. How -- how are these people who are deranged that listen to every single thing that he commands, if he tell them, the sky is blue, and there is a storm outside, they believe that crap?

I mean, when -- when is it going to stop? Is it going to take your family to be murdered by these people? This time it is against this President; next time, it might be you.


BERMAN: And those words, "next time it might be you" say so much, because as we said at the top, the threats of democracy did not end when the sun came up on January 7th, the big lie lives on. Even now, attempts are still underway at overturning results from the last election, and some of the world's leading experts on how democracies die are warning loudly that silence about the last attempt to destroy it here makes the next attempt more likely to succeed.

Joining us now Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thank you so much for being with us. I want to know what you make of this report and the fact that it did not consider the role of the former President in the events of January 6th. SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): John, this report was a report about sort of

symptoms, but not about causes. And so, it was narrow from the start. On the symptoms, they did a very good job, they were charged with looking at what the Capitol security did or did not do on January 6th, and how we need to correct it.

So the shocking and sad thing about it when I read it was the leadership of the Capitol Police really let down even betrayed the Capitol Police members who worked so hard to protect the senators and staffers and House members, at head cost of their own physical security.

So we learned some things from the report about how Capitol security should continue, but it was not on any of the root causes. It was, again, it was symptoms, not causes and that's why we need to look deeper, and sadly, the Republicans want to bury their heads in the sand, but the Democrats control both Houses.

BERMAN: I mean, CNN is reporting that in order to have bipartisan agreement on this report on just the symptoms, the word "insurrection" had to be excluded. It was in quotes and in footnotes, but they couldn't make it part of the report. I mean, what does that tell you? Why would Democrats ever agree to that?

KAINE: Well, I'm not on the two committees in the Senate who worked on this and remember, the Department of Justice was not part of this. D.H.S. was not part of this. The House was not part of this. But I give my two Democratic Committee Chairs, Amy Klobuchar and Senator Gary Peters, Homeland Security Government Affairs, I give them great credit because they needed to bring everybody along.

But it was a very, very narrow report. It was a report on how do we need to plan our Capitol Police and others to secure the building. This was not a report about how to secure the democracy. It was just a report about how to secure the building.

BERMAN: I've got you.

KAINE: And how to secure the democracy, squarely on the shoulders of (AUDIO ISSUES) we can't let it stop here. We've got so much more to do.

BERMAN: Well, but how is it going to get done? Right? I mean, the Republicans just blocked a bipartisan commission. Right? So, if you're only going to look at the symptoms, who is going to look at the causes? How do you think that's going to happen?

KAINE: Well, what we'll see is when the Republicans blocked the bipartisan commission, how far we've fallen since 2001. The attack on the Capitol in 2001, the parties joined together to analyze why there was an attack and what we could do to stop it.


KAINE: The Republicans have decided, I don't want to help stop the next one. That means that the adults in the rooms are the Democrats and we've got to do it. And I think that means either in the Senate or House or both, Democrats have to use our majorities and the key committees to look at root causes.

The President's perpetuation of lie, who were his aides in perpetuating, including some in our own chamber, media organization that others, and I'm confident that Democrats having been rebuffed a bipartisan version, we will set up a Democratic led version with people involved who will establish independent bona fides that the American public can trust the outcome we are studying.

BERMAN: Very quickly because I am a little concerned about losing the connection right now, the bipartisan talks between the White House and Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia broke down on infrastructure today. How discouraging do you find that? And do you feel that without getting rid of the filibuster, without Republicans coming on board on key things, how imperiled is President Biden's agenda?

KAINE: You know, John, I'll give you the punch line. First, I don't think it's imperiled because Democrats are motivated to move forward we want to do bipartisan if we can, if we talk to Republicans, they give us good ideas so that we can come up with, say, an infrastructure bill that will serve all 50 states.

But if at the end of the day, they don't want to participate, we're going to move forward using tools at our disposal, reconciliation, regulatory processes that the administration can invoke. And we're going to do things that matter to everyday people in every zip code in all 50 states, and if the Republicans decide they don't want to engage, we're going to move forward anyway, with tools at our disposal.

BERMAN: Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia, thanks so much for being with us.

KAINE: I am so glad to be with you, John. Thanks.

BERMAN: Just ahead, we are going to keep the conversation focused on Capitol Hill and those breakdown in negotiations over President Biden's infrastructure package. We'll have a live report from the Capitol.

Plus, one Democratic senator who says she is ready to move on from the whole bipartisan approach.

And later, the latest on Vice President Harris, her first international trip just a day before the President's own, what she said in Mexico and how she responded to critics about a possible border visit.



BERMAN: Now to the breaking news we mentioned at the top of the broadcast. Key pieces of President Biden's agenda stalled the day before he leaves on his first overseas trip. Negotiations over an infrastructure package have collapsed, two voting rights bills are being held up, and now some Democrats appear ready to throw aside the President's preferred bipartisan approach.

Ryan Nobles joins us now live from Capitol Hill. Ryan, so what is going on right now with the infrastructure negotiations?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't completely abandoned the idea of some sort of a bipartisan approach, John, instead they've redirected that focus. And right now, in the bowels of the Capitol, in a small room underneath the Senate chamber, a bipartisan group of legislators are meeting right now with the hope of at some point coming up with some sort of plan they can bring back to the White House and President Biden that he can support and that they can then bring to the Senate floor.

The problem is right now, we have no idea what they have agreed to, even how much money they are willing to spend, or even what the definition of infrastructure is. And that's been a big problem in these negotiations is that Democrats and Republicans seem so far apart on these kind of basic tenets as it relates to these negotiations.

But they're going to give it a go, the President backing away from his conversations with Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and has instead said that he wants this bipartisan group made up of lawmakers like Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and others to come up with some sort of a deal.

At this point, John, though, we don't know how long that's going to take and there are some Democrats that are getting nervous.

BERMAN: Well, on that point, it seems like the non-Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema Democrats are getting not just nervous, Ryan, but also frustrated, what are you hearing?

NOBLES: Yes, they're ready to walk away from the table, frankly, John. Many of them suggested that they shouldn't even deal with Republicans to begin with, that they have the option of going through reconciliation, which means they can pass this bill with only 51 votes and that is the route they should take.

However, they ran into problems, because folks like Manchin and Sinema have said that they refuse to vote for a deal that doesn't have some sort of Republican support, and this is the danger zone that President Biden finds himself in, this narrow room for negotiation.

If he ends up endorsing a bill that too many Republicans support, he could end up losing progressive votes, and not just on the Senate side, of course, this bill would have to go back and be passed in the House. And the margins there are also very, very tight and if 10 to 15 Democrats on the progressive side of the ledger don't vote for it in the House, then the whole deal falls apart.

So this is a very tenuous situation for the White House and for Democrats here in the Senate and the House, and that's why you're seeing them having such a hard time getting this legislation over the finish line.

BERMAN: And it's even more difficult with the President leaving for a week, going overseas. Ryan Nobles, thank you very much for that.

Just a short time ago, I spoke to one of those Democrats we mentioned ready for her party to go it alone on the President's agenda.

Hawaii's Mazie Hirono.

Senator, even before the talks broke down between President Biden and Senator Capito, you said you were ready to move on from bipartisanship. What did you mean?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Meaning, that I completely believe Mitch McConnell when he says that his goal is to make sure that President Biden doesn't achieve any of his major goals, one of which would be these bills, the infrastructure bill, et cetera, although I have to say that perhaps on infrastructure, there can be some sort of a bipartisan agreement.

BERMAN: Although, how do you feel about the fact that the talks between senator Capito and the President didn't get to the finish line?

HIRONO: Well, apparently there are other people having these kinds of talks. So, it's not over yet for some kind of a bipartisan infrastructure bill to emerge.

BERMAN: So just to be clear, the Capito talks did break down, but there is another group of senators, bipartisan group still meeting. You do not think that's a waste of time. You still hold out some hope.


HIRONO: This is a new group of senators, perhaps, but I'm saying that I am prepared already that we should go ahead using reconciliation for the two bills, the Build Back Better bills. But you know, if other people aren't there yet, I think that time is running out where we say, we, Democrats say, okay, that's enough. It is a fissure cut bait time.

BERMAN: You say, we, Democrats, and you mentioned Mitch McConnell, but you have a problem with some Democrats, which is that Senator Joe Manchin, I don't think is ready to move on.

HIRONO: I think Joe may be part of this group that is having these further discussions.

BERMAN: Beyond infrastructure, you know, that certainly on nonfinancial bills, you need 60 votes to get anything passed. So, don't you by definition, need bipartisanship?

HIRONO: Yes. We have 50/50 and Vice President Harris breaks the tie. But we certainly need to have at least 50 in order to get things passed using reconciliation.

BERMAN: Using reconciliation, but on bills that aren't subject to reconciliation -- police reform, voting rights, and others.

HIRONO: Yes, we are going to need 60 votes.

BERMAN: How are you going to get it? How are you going to get them without bipartisanship?

HIRONO: You have to get rid of the filibuster, which I am also ready to do.

BERMAN: I was talking to progressive Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman yesterday about Joe Manchin's opposition to the voting rights bill, also Joe Manchin's opposition to getting rid of the filibuster and he told me that Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. Do you think that's fair?

HIRONO: I'm not going to start calling my colleague names. I was more than disappointed on Joe's position on S.1. But at the same time, I, you know, I think that we might be able to get some of the provisions in S.1 through, provided that Joe tells us what he is concerned about with regarding this 800-page bill.

BERMAN: Let me just ask you, in general, broadly speaking, President Biden, the Democrat is trying to get an agenda through. Do you believe that if he continues to push for bipartisanship that that agenda is in jeopardy?

HIRONO: Yes. As I said, I believe Mitch McConnell, when he says that his goal is to make sure that Joe Biden doesn't accomplish his major goals so that Mitch McConnell can take back the Senate, I believe him when he says that. And so while we can get bipartisan support on some discreet bills such as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes bill that we passed in a bipartisan way on some of the big agenda items. I believe, Mitch, when he says that he is not going to participate.

At the same time, if Mitch McConnell were to say tomorrow that we're going to work with Democrats to get the infrastructure bill through, that we're going to get the American Families Act through, then, we can get it done, but he won't go there. And therefore, I think that we should move to reconciliation to get these kinds of agenda items through. The people of our country need it, want it and are hoping for it.

BERMAN: Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you so much for joining us.

HIRONO: Aloha.

BERMAN: Breaking news next, for getting defensive this morning about visiting the southern border, what the Vice President just said on the subject tonight.



BERMAN: It is Vice President Harrison's first overseas trip in office and tonight, after hitting a snag on the politically loaded domestic side of it, she is doing some damage control while suggesting it's not damage control. So, the breaking news tonight from Mexico City, the Vice President is now saying she will visit the southern border soon.

Her announcement follows a notably prickly interview this morning with NBC's Lester Holt.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you have any plans to visit the border?

KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, you know -- we are going to the border. We've been to the border. So this whole -- this whole -- this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border. We've been to the border.

HOLT: You haven't been to the border.

HARRIS: And I haven't been to Europe. And I mean, I don't -- I don't understand the point that you're making.


BERMAN: So now, she says she is going, but also telling reporters, quote, "I think it's short sighted to suggest we're only going to respond to the reaction as opposed to addressing the cause."

Joining us now, CNN's chief political correspondent and anchor of "State of the Union," Dana Bash.

So look, the Vice President is walking a tightrope on this issue of visiting the border and you heard her response to NBC's Lester Holt. Our friend, David Axelrod, suggested earlier, he was surprised she wasn't better prepared for the question. What do you think of that?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, instead of telling you what I think, I'll tell you what I'm hearing in my reporting from people in the administration, John, and that is a lot of people scratching their heads. You can kind of hear it over the phone in my conversations, perplexed, that the Vice President wasn't more prepared for that question, because it has been the hammer that keeps coming down on her from conservative media.

And perhaps these are -- this is some speculation from people I'm talking to -- that's why she kind of got her back up because they are conservatives trying to tie her to the border, because they think it is politically, you know, negative for her.

But that doesn't answer the question as to why because of that, because it has been so transparent, so clear that that is happening, not that Lester was asking a question from the right, but it is in some ways, a legitimate question, if you are going down to start this, this new idea that you have this new directive that you have from the President, with the northern triangle countries, the root cause. It is a legitimate question to say, well, at some point, are you going to go to the border, and she wasn't ready. It wasn't until the third time she was asked about it today by our

Jeremy Diamond that she answered and the answer was, yes.

BERMAN: So this is interesting to me, Dana, you have -- you're talking to people within the administration who say they are scratching their heads, they are concerned. I mean, how successful do they think this trip is going so far? And what would make it successful?

BASH: Well, it depends on how you define success. I mean, first and foremost, it has to be about the policy because if the Vice President can have these negotiations and these talks and do things in the short term like reopen the places where people who are seeking exile can go in these countries, as opposed to at the U.S.-Mexico border as occurred during the Obama administration, that's one small success.


But she has been in a very strategic way, defining success as very, very long term, something that might ultimately happen after the Biden administration is done, because it has to do with it, you know, basically corruption in a lot of these countries.

Another way to define success is how Kamala Harris, the politician, the Vice President of the United States, kind of performs on the world stage. And so far, the reviews have been mixed. And again, this isn't my job to give her a review. This is based on some talks that I've had with people in the broad -- broadly in the administration, and certainly, in the Democratic Party,

BERMAN: Again, reviews you're hearing from inside the administration itself, and Democratic leaders, which is interesting. And it's not to suggest that the actual trip which is designed to deal --

BASH: Yes.

BERMAN: -- with the northern triangle, that those issues aren't real and important --

BASH: Very real. Yes.

BERMAN: And may be that doing that you also have to do some of the other things as well, as well as the politics.

Dana Bash, interesting reporting. We're going to have a lot to talk about tomorrow morning.

BASH: I'll see you tomorrow morning Berman.

BERMAN: See you tomorrow morning. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

Next, where former President Obama told Anderson about the storm clouds gathering over our democracy and my conversation with one of his former top advisors.


BERMAN: If it's true that appetite grows with the eating then the appetite in some corners of the Republican Party for tampering with democracy bears watching.

Speaking with Andersen at a special airing last night in this hour, former President Obama admitted that our experiment in self-government is not in his words, self-executing. It doesn't happen just automatically. Here's more of their conversation.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) about Sarah Palin about her brief ascendancy --


COOPER: -- and you talked about dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the Republican Party coming center stage. Did you ever think it would get this dark?

OBAMA: No. I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected, that you would have the so-called Republican establishment, who would say, OK, you know, it's a problem if the White House's and doesn't seem to be concerned about Russian meddling, or it's a problem if we have a president who's saying that, you know, neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, they're good people on both sides, you know, that that's a little bit beyond the pale.

And the degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment, say, hold on timeout. That's not acceptable. That's not who we are, but rather be cowed into accepting it. And then finally culminating in January 6, where what originally was, oh, don't worry, this isn't going anywhere. We're just letting Trump and others vent. And then suddenly, you now have large portions of an elected Congress going along with the falsehood that there were problems with the election.

COOPER (on-camera): And the leadership of the GOP, briefly for a, you know, one night when they still had this sort of --


COOPER (on-camera): -- sense of fear in them, you know, going against the president.

OBAMA: And then poof, suddenly, everybody was back in line. Now, what bet the reason for that is because the base believed it. And the base believed it because this had been told to them not just by the president, but by the media that they watch. And nobody stood up and said, stop. This is enough. This is not true.


BERMAN: Joining us now, Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Obama and author of Finding My Voice When The Perfect Plan Crumbles, The Adventure Begins.

So, Valerie after the part of the interview we just played, Anderson went on to ask the former president, how in his book, he wrote, quote, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of a crisis. And that was written before the January 6 insurrection. And he also calls the Republican Party unrecognizable compared to when he was in office.

I wonder what you think you were in the trenches during those eight years, has the Republican Party become unrecognizable to you?

VALERIE JARRETT, FMR SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRES. OBAMA: Completely unrecognizable, and I would think unrecognizable to much of our country. I think the point that President Obama made was a good one, which is that we can't just rely on our democracy existing without doing anything to protect it. And when people put their short-term political interests ahead of what's best for our country, John, chaos ensues.

And if this were happening anywhere else in the world, the United States would normally be the ones to point their finger and say, no, that's not a democracy. You can't condone an insurrection, you can pretend that an election wasn't fair when it's been certified by everybody, including the Vice President of the United States.

And so when that starts to happen, and short term political interests, Trump was good for our country. A crisis ensues.

BERMAN: So the former president essentially said, when you look at this embrace of the big lie by many in the Republican Party, and using that lie to restrict people's ability to vote, he's worried about democracy. You know, I wonder how you think --


BERMAN: -- I wonder how you think -- sorry, go ahead.

JARRETT: (INAUDIBLE) interrupt you to say we have 47 states in our country that are trying to pass laws to restrict the Americans right to vote. That is anti-Democratic.


BERMAN: How do you think all of this January 6 and what we're seeing now has affected how he is approaching his post presidency? What is it compared to what he thought it would be?

JARRETT: Well, John, that's a very good question. I didn't think he was going to have to -- I'm sure he didn't think he was going to have to be speaking out regularly in defense of our democracy, he thought those guardrails would hold. That doesn't mean that you wouldn't see political maneuvering certainly you did. While he was in office, we saw leaders such as Mitch McConnell, say his number one priority was to make sure Barack Obama didn't get reelected. But we didn't see anything to the degree that we are.

So I think post presidency, what he's focusing on and what he mentioned to Anderson Cooper gives him hope as a next generation of leaders. And his mission is to try to help train that next generation to prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.

BERMAN: Well, I want to ask you about the next generation here, because the former President talks about his two daughters, Sasha and Malia and how they responded during many of the Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd, listen to this.


OBAMA: In terms of them having a good sense of what's right and wrong, and they're part and role to play and making the country better. I don't worry about that. They have both a clear sense of that I see in this generation, that what you and I might have tolerated as, yes, that's sort of how things are. Their attitude is why. Let's change it.

And that's among not just my daughters, but it's among their white friends, right? There's this sense of, well, of course, it's not acceptable for a criminal justice system to be tainted by racism. Of course, you can't discriminate against somebody because of their sexual orientation, right? There are things they take for granted, that I want them to take for granted.

But what I find interesting is they're also starting to be very strategic, you know, about how to engage the system and change it. They're not just interested in making noise. They're interested in what works.


BERMAN: So when his daughters say, let's change it, and they're trying to make changes, he says, do you think that possibly could be public office in the future?

JARRETT: Oh, my goodness, I don't think that's what he was talking about at all. I think he was talking about the kind of activism we saw last summer, all across our country, people of all races, all backgrounds, fighting for a just and fair system of policing, and that his daughter has felt the need to get involved and let their voices be heard as well together with countless other young people who are outraged by what's going on in our country. And they're not just going to raise their voices, they're going to vote.

And we saw a record number of young people vote, which is part of why you're seeing so many Republican legislators trying to change the laws. They want to suppress the vote of young people. They want to suppress the vote of people of color, because they recognize that our country is moving in a different direction. And the good thing is, is that the young people have a strong legs for a hard race and a strategic race as President Obama said.

BERMAN: Yes, I have 14-year-old twins and I tell them all the time, I'm counting on you. You're the ones --


BERMAN: -- you're the ones who have to fix this. Valerie Jarrett, thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Just had a rare interview with a Republican state legislator trying to bring Arizona's so-called audit to his home state of Pennsylvania. And who tries to argue that our elections are less secure than those in Afghanistan. Our Gary Tuchman has the facts and the interview when we continue.



BERMAN: One of the more high-profile leaders of the big lie can sometimes be a little camera shy. Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano wrote bogus allegations of election fraud to a national profile. He's now openly contemplating a run for governor. But when he and other state Republicans were in Arizona last week touring the much maligned recount, or audit as they call it, they want to emulate in Pennsylvania they ran from CNN and local reporters. According to our Kyung Lah, reporters tried all morning to have a few words all morning the Republicans avoided them.

Well, perseverance in the form of our Gary Tuchman caught up to Mastriano and some of his followers in Pennsylvania over the weekend.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rally got the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

DOUG MASTRIANO (R-PA) STATE SENATOR: And, you know, we were oppressed this past year by lies and deceit --

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, was telling his supporters why he believes there needs to be an election audit in his own state, much the same as the so-called audit that he visited, which is still taking place in Arizona, run by a small little known cybersecurity firm called Cyber Ninjas. Mastriano was also making a startling comparison.

MASTRIANO: There are better elections in Iraq when we are there occupying the country, there are better elections in Afghanistan when we are there in the country.

STEVE BANNON, MEDIA EXECUTIVE: How does this audience have your back --

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mastriano had only done interviews about his Arizona experience with advocates, but he agreed to talk with us and his supporters were by his side.

MASTRIANO: All I want to know is what happened too (ph) --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Let me ask you (INAUDIBLE) there's one thing you didn't mention, you know, you know -- MASTRIANO: Yes.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): -- dozens of judge and courts around the country that ruled against supporting claims, and a lot of them are Trump appointed judges, maybe the U.S. Supreme Court.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Is there a higher authority on the courts?

MASTRIANO: Well, well, it is the people --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you think the people -- do you think the people about the courts --


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Supreme Court, Supreme Court, you know, you know that Donald Trump expected the Supreme Court (INAUDIBLE) --

MASTRIANO: Where do we go -- where do we derive the power, the government --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the people.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): So your saying the people above the courts?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Well, you guys, you guys are this rally are above the courts.


MASTRIANO: I need to be careful with twisting, that isn't partisan there. Well, you just you just made an assertion.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Can you tell me what you say?


MASTRIANO: So, what I'm saying here is that I work in a judiciary, I'm sorry, legislative branch (INAUDIBLE). So, I'm a senator and I work with the people of my district, obviously the 33rd district of Pennsylvania, and about 40 some percent the numbers as high as 47. But about 40% or so, you know, had concerns about the outcome of elections. And so, what are we supposed to do stand aside or ask for an audit?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud, CNN polling does show 46% of voters across the country believe rules are not strict enough to prevent illegal votes from being cast. But there have already been two audits in Maricopa County, Arizona, performed by two companies certified by the independent U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and they found ballots were counted accurately.

(on-camera): This is Cyber Ninjas (INAUDIBLE) --


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Are you sitting (INAUDIBLE) and overturn your vote?

MASTRIANO: So, you're afraid of transparency?

TUCHMAN (on-camera): I'm not afraid, I'm not.

MASTRIANO: You're terrified.


MASTRIANO: He's afraid?


MASTRIANO: He's afraid of a (INAUDIBLE) and I wonder what -- what are we afraid of here?


MASTRIANO: The truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Afraid of the truth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did the Democrats ask for?

MASTRIANO: You know, it was really heartbreaking.


MASTRIANO: Yes, I mentioned my speech. I've seen better elections in Afghanistan and I --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): You really think that?



TUCHMAN (on-camera): You and I both in that (INAUDIBLE).

MASTRIANO: Why do I say that? So in Afghanistan --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) --

MASTRIANO: In Afghanistan, they have to go in with an ID card, in Pennsylvania no IDs (INAUDIBLE) -- TUCHMAN (voice-over): Afghanistan does have ID requirements. It also

has a long history of devastating election violence. In its 2019 presidential election, 85 people were killed and 373 wounded during election related attacks, according to the UN.

MASTRIANO: I don't know why you're afraid of full transparency. I think it's time -- why not --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're afraid of truth.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Are we done?

(voice-over): The Senator left, we are done. Gary Tuchman, CNN Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Gary for that.

I'm joined now by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Mr. Attorney General, your reaction to Senator Mastriano and the sort of the performance art performed there with Gary Tuchman?

JOSH SHAPIRO, ATTORNEY GENERAL, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, let's speak some truth here. I think that was not evident before. There are no legitimate lingering questions from the 2020 election. And let's also speak some truth. There have been two audits done here in Pennsylvania by law.

I heard the word transparency thrown around quite a bit a moment ago, you know, what transparency would be not lying to your constituents, and not denying the simple facts that we had a safe and secure and free and fair election here in Pennsylvania.

So the question isn't, why do another audit? I actually think the question is, why are so many leading figures in the Republican Party, particularly here in Pennsylvania, so focused and captured by the big lie? You know, we are seven months after the last election, and they're doing that bidding for Donald Trump, instead of doing the work on behalf of the good people of Pennsylvania who deserve their services.

And look, it is part of a broader pattern, you can draw a straight line between all of the litigation that I batted back before the votes were cast. And when they tried to stop votes from being counted, to the dangerous rhetoric that led to the violent insurrection in our Capitol on January 6, to all of the efforts in state capitals across the country, including in Harrisburg, to try and make it harder for people to vote in the next election. I'm not going to buy into that, I'm going to continue to stand on the side of the people of Pennsylvania and on the side of truth.

BERMAN: You asked the question, when you said you should ask why are they doing it? Why do you think they're doing it?

SHAPIRO: Well, because I think they're doing the bidding of Donald Trump and Donald Trump controls the modern day, Republican Party, they work for him, not the people of Pennsylvania, they do the work for him, not the needs of the people all across this Commonwealth who are struggling, the people who need a job, the kids who need a better education. They're focused on serving Donald Trump not serving the good people in Pennsylvania.

BERMAN: What do you make of the argument that he stated and we hear it around the country? Well, there are ex-percentage of people who are questioning the outcome of the last election, as if that idea weren't repeated again and again and again and again by the likes of Donald Trump or Senator Mastriano. It's sort of a circular argument.

SHAPIRO: Exactly circular. Look, they have questions because of the lies that the Senator and former President Trump and others have fed them. And let's speak some truth here. They keep talking about an audit. There were two audits done here in Pennsylvania, one by log in nearly every single county in the Commonwealth and another one where they sampled 2,000 ballots in every single county across this Commonwealth. Those audits showed that we had a safe and secure election.


BERMAN: You know, he wasn't the only state lawmaker to go to Arizona to observe the audit. There were also state lawmakers from Georgia, Alaska and other places. What do you think when these Republicans make this pilgrimage to look at what the Cyber Ninjas are doing there?

SHAPIRO: Well, I think they're speaking to an audience of one. They're so desperate for Donald Trump's support. They're so desperate to get his, you know, his statements of support. They recognize that in order for them to win their primary elections, they can't do it without Donald Trump. But I think unfortunately for them, what they don't appreciate is that having that blessing of support from Donald Trump may help you win a primary but it's probably going to also cost you a general.

BERMAN: Attorney General Shapiro, thanks so much for joining us.

SHAPIRO: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: Coming up, the rude greeting the president of France got on a trip that was supposed to highlight the upcoming easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Details next.


BERMAN: The President of France expected a simple visit to Southeast France to meet with restaurant owners and highlight tomorrow's easing of COVID-19 restrictions. It turned out to be anything but this video posted on social media shows a man reaching out and slapping President Emmanuel Macron. The incident took only a second or two before French security Police

rushed in a spokesman for the Elysee Palace said a man tried to hit the president and said Macron then continued on with his tour.

Authority said the man who struck the President along with another man were placed into custody. Still scary to see something like that.


The news continues. So, let's hand it over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."