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President Biden's Negotiation With GOP On Infrastructure Collapse; Senate Report Reveals Sweeping Failures Of Capitol Attack But Omits The Word "Insurrection"; GOP-Controlled States Escalating Offensive Against Democratic-Controlled Cities And Counties; Senate Policing Reforms Bill Hits Stumbling Block; Chris Harrison Leaving "The Bachelor" Franchise For Good; President Biden And Sen. Sanders Form Unlikely Bond Amid Political Gridlock. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): High-level negotiations on infrastructure between President Joe Biden and a group of Senate Republicans collapsing today. The White House now reaching out to a bipartisan group led by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

A new Senate report on the January 6th Capitol insurrection says that the Capitol police department's intelligence unit was aware of the potential for violence, but did not share critical information with officers. The report also avoids any mention of Trump's role in inciting the mob, and does not use the word insurrection.

And crime surging all across America, a spike in mass shootings amid calls for policing reforms and defunding police departments. I'm going to talk about these important issues with the former New York City police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Lot's to discuss. I want to bring in now Jim Messina, the former campaign manager for Barack Obama. Denver Riggleman is here as well, a former Republican Congressman. Gentlemen good evening, I appreciate you joining.

Jim, President Biden's talks with the league GOP negotiators on infrastructure just collapsed. The White House is pinning its hopes on a different bipartisan group. Chuck Schumer already indicating he's prepared to go it alone. What's the reality check here?

JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER (on camera): Well, the reality check is they are going to have to move forward and get a nonpartisan bill, get a bill that just Democrats moving and then continue to negotiate with Republicans. You know, I went through this in 2009 when I was White House Deputy chief of staff trying to negotiate Obamacare. And in the end, you can only negotiate so long.

You can spend month after month with these talks and eventually you have to do exactly like Joe Biden and the White House is doing, which is saying, Look, we will negotiate, we'll try these processes, but eventually, we are going to go it alone because what the American public really wants is just us to get some stuff done, to move this country forward.

They don't care whether if it's partisan, nonpartisan. They just want to see Washington work. And that's why they sent these people here to Washington to actually get some stuff done.

LEMON: Denver, were Republicans toying with Biden? I mean, listen. He cut more than a trillion dollars off of this initial infrastructure blueprint, while Republicans only increased their proposal by $150 billion. Was this all smoke and mirrors? Was Mitch McConnell ever going to allow a deal on this, or was he just trying run out the clock?

FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA) (on camera): That's a difficult question to ask about Mitch McConnell, but I will tell you this. I think with a 50/50 split, I believe, you know, if I'm on the GOP side and I'm looking at polling and fund-raising for 2022, Don, I think I can push this. That's a political calculation that they are doing right now.

So, I think for me, I would say, I think we need an infrastructure bill. I think its 800 billion, I'm trying to roll the numbers for the infrastructure back and for what is going on, Don. But I don't think for some of the Republicans, they need an infrastructure bill.

I don't know if McConnell knows that it is 50/50 right now. But again, with 60 votes needed for a lot of this, they want a filibuster, this is just a tough road to hoe for the Democrats and listening to Jim. It's a little different than 2009, because they even split in the Senate in a very small majority they have in the House right now.

LEMON: This is where we are since you ask. Biden initially offered $2.25 trillion for infrastructure. Republicans offered a trillion- dollar bill but only 257 billion would be new spending. The rest would be made of mostly re-proposed COVID relief funds -- repurpose, excuse me COVID relief funds. Biden then offered a $1.7 trillion counter offer and then went on to suggest Republicans that he'd be willing to accept an infrastructure package of about $1 trillion which is where we are.


Then Republicans increased their proposed new investment by only $150 billion. That's according to Jen Psaki. So, Republicans only won about $400 billion in new spending. That is a giant gap. Jim, you want to respond? Go ahead, Denver and I'll let Jim.

RIGGLEMAN: I was going to say, there is a gap there. I still believe, Jim is going to agree with this. I still think you are going to see a $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. I think that sort of going to be, I said it last month. I still think that's where they are going to get to, but I believe there's going to be a lot of counter walling and gnashing of teeth until they get to that point, Don. I really do. MESSINA: Yes. Look, I don't -- Don, those numbers are just ridiculous.

They are so far apart. You know, I kind of agree with -- Don, I thought they would move forward with something about a trillion dollars. But Republicans are just playing politics.

They are just saying look, our fund-raising base doesn't want us to do this. We want to oppose Biden and we don't want to make a deal. So, at some point, if you are Joe Biden, you say look, I've been to over backwards, I've moved down three times. These guys aren't even close. I'm just going to move forward.

LEMON: Yes. Jim, let me ask another question. Because I remember when the second impeachment trial was happening, Democrats won the vote to call witnesses, remember that? And they didn't move forward with it, because they thought that it would put their agenda at risk. Well? The agenda is at risk anyway, and they never got their witnesses that could have -- you know, force more on to the record about January 6 and the big lie. Did they make the wrong call?

MESSINA: No, I think they were like, look, let's go forward and spend our time trying to legislate and get big things done for this country. And if we are going to have these moments, let's move forward and use it for things like, you know a voting rights bill, like an infrastructure bill, like a health care bill. And so, they are going to cast these tough votes, but they are just doing it in a way that is going to make sense for their politics and what they think is right for the country.

LEMON: Jim, Denver, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys. I will see you soon.

I want to turn to the Senate report on the Capitol insurrection. So, I want to bring in now CNN's senior law enforcement analyst, Mr. Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI is the author of the threat, how the FBI protects America in the age of terror and Trump. Thank you, Andrew. Good to see you.


LEMON: So, we now have this bipartisan report on the security failures leading up to the Capitol insurrection, but it ignores Trump's culpability. Is that a mistake?

MCCABE: Of course, it is. What we have is apparently a detailed and broad scope report, but what we don't have is a complete report. The report as you mentioned ignores the impact that the former president had on the rally that ultimately led to the riot. The report refrains from even referring to it as an insurrection. Apparently, that was a bad word, they weren't allowed to use. And it doesn't even go so far as to call out the big lie.

So, with those kind of fundamental inadequacies, it's hard to see how we get much out of this. And I will also say, Don, one of my other concerns with this report is that it provides a bit of a fig leave. It kind of creates an excuse for Republicans and others on the Hill to say that we really don't need to go any further, which further undercuts our ability to get a legitimate commission that's going to look deeply into these agencies and really get to the root cause of what happened on the 6th.

LEMON (on camera): And I don't know if you saw, I will play it for you. The Capitol police officer Michael Fanone told me tonight that he thinks the report is a good start, but he added this.


MICHAEL FANONE, MPD OFFICER: It doesn't get to the root causes of the January 6th insurrection, and it doesn't address things like which groups were involved, you know, which organized groups who are involved, who were those groups in communication with, if anyone within our government. Where is the funding? You know, as a narcotics investigator, you know, our rule of thumb was always to follow the money. Where were these groups receiving funds?


LEMON (on camera): So, listen. Is there a commission looking into all that comes in? Is that where that comes in?

MCCABE: Of course. Of course. And Officer Fanone is exactly right. Those are the sort of really nitty-gritty details that investigators, like professional investigators who understand these agencies, who know the right questions to ask, and the right rocks to look under, can ultimately get some answers from.

I will give you one other example. The FBI has an extensive informant network in this country that reports on the domestic extremist community. So the question I would have is, what were those informants telling the FBI prior to January 6th? The FBI have information from that network about what people were saying was going to happen in the Capitol, and if they did, what did they do with that information?


If they didn't have any reporting on it, why didn't they? Why are there informants not reporting on, you know, the most relevant and important threats. So, those are the kind of really detailed inquiries that you are not going to get out of the Senate or a House investigation. You need a dedicated commission of professionals to really peel this thing back.

LEMON: In the report, we learned that Capitol police officers were warned, the Capitol police were warned I should say, also intelligence officials underestimated the online chatter in the run up to January 6th. The red tape hindered the National Guard response. How can this information be better collected and distributed to all the different agencies the next time, you know, so that it doesn't happen?

MCCABE: You know, those are the exact kind of conclusions that the 9/11 commission was able to present to the U.S. Intelligence Community, law enforcement community, after 9/11. You saw these same sorts of problems. The relationships between agencies warrant where they should have be, the reporting, the intelligence sharing wasn't where it should be.

And as a result of that kind of revelation, we completely change the way we were doing business. And as a result, the country has been safer since 9/11 in terms of attacks from foreign terrorists. So that's the same sort of work we need to do here.

It's not a political thing, it's not Democrat or Republican. It's just in the interests of making the country and the Capitol safe. I don't know why people can't get behind that.

LEMON: Andrew McCabe, thank you, sir.

MCCABE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: OK. Republican-controlled state legislators around the country, not only putting new restrictions on voting, but increasingly imposing their will on cities and counties run by Democrats. Let's discuss now. CNN's senior political analyst, Mr. Ron Brownstein is here. Ron, good evening to you, sir.


LEMON: let's dive into your new analysis. Republican controlled states escalating their offensive against Democratic-controlled cities. Tell us what's happening.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I mean, you know, there has been a general look for the right this year in red states on a whole variety of issues. You mentioned voting, abortion, guns, transgender rights, and part of that is an upsurge in Republican-controlled legislations and Governors overriding decisions in Democratic-controlled cities and counties, particularly across the Sun Belt, on a whole range of issues.

You have states like Florida, and Georgia, and Texas that are trying to make it impossible for cities to cut their police budgets. You've seen in states like Texas and Georgia, the state legislature and Governor specifically outlawed mechanisms that some of their largest counties use to increase voter turnout. We have seen even in a state like Montana, now with unified Republican control, they are overriding the ability of the largest communities to even control development in their you know, in their borders.

And this is all part, Don, of just kind of a widening geographic divide in American politics where Democrats are doing better in large metros, really in every state at this point. And Republicans remain dominant in rural areas. And where that rural strength is allowing them to control state legislatures and Governorships. They are using that leverage to override the decisions of their biggest counties and cities.

LEMON: You know, that's a bigger level, right? We have these red states that are exerting their will over the blue state majorities on a number of issues with broad public support.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Absolutely. And you know, really the question is the paradox here is that this is really going after the goose that lays the golden egg in all of these states, Literally, I'm talking about Atlanta, and Georgia, in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, in Texas, where the big metros in Florida, increasingly, it is the metros again that are driving the economies of these states.

The share of jobs and GDP in population growth is most rapid in these big metro centers at tis point. But with redistricting coming up, Republicans seem to be confident that they can -- as one expert said to me, slice and dice these metros, submerged them into legislative and Congressional districts that have big conservative rural populations, and kind of fractioning their political power.

But make no mistake, this is part of the broader conflict we are seeing postelection as kind of Trump America is, you know, is kind of lashing out in many ways since Biden's victory on a whole range of issues from making it more difficult to get abortion, to all the voting rights laws that we are seeing to this real upsurge in overriding local decisions.

By the way, a big part of it is the pandemic, where you see Governors continuing, not only as they did during the pandemic, to prevent cities from setting their own hours of operations, for businesses, on mask requirements, but now trying to block them from requiring businesses to show vaccines or in any way make people show vaccines.

LEMON: Other restrictions -- (inaudible) on voting, you point out how Georgia specifically outlawed early voting. Bus is used by Fulton County, you know, where Atlanta is. They also severely limited drop boxes. So laws like this about targeting predominantly blue, urban and you know what I mean by that, urban areas? Black votes?


BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Unquestionably. And that's what we are seeing. I mean, in state after state, you know and it really -- this pattern of increased preemption by red states and blue cities began after the big Republican gains in 2010. It's kind of percolated along through the decade, it took a huge leap forward during the pandemic, when you saw Governors like Kemp in Georgia and Abbott in Texas, and DeSantis is really the head of the line in Florida, under pressure from Trump, repeatedly overriding the decisions by Democratic county executives and mayors.

Whether to close down business or require masks or fine people who weren't wearing mask. And that more aggressive posture has just rolled right into this legislative session. I mean, we are seeing the state over -- key West, Florida past a ballot referendum to limit the docking of large cruise ships. And the state is overriding even that. So there's almost no area it seems to be out of bounds at this point.

And again, it is part of this larger pattern of all of these issues where the red states are moving very aggressively to the right, and almost a coordinated fashion since Biden's victory.

LEMON: Mr. Ron Brownstein, thank you, sir. I will see you soon.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON (on camera): We have some breaking news to report. CNN projects that Virginia's former Governors Terry McAuliffe will be the commonwealth's Democratic candidate for Governor again, beating out four other primary challengers. McAuliffe's win sets up a general election contest between the former Governor and Republican businessmen Glenn Youngkin. Stay tuned.

Two former presidents and their visions for America, and one of them says this.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of us, as citizens, have to recognize that the path towards on Democratic America is not going to happen in just one bang. It happens in a series of steps.




LEMON: Two former presidents, two very different views on democracy. Former President Barack Obama and Donald Trump and a current president dealing with the legacies of both. Whose view is the past and whose is the future?

Let's discuss now with CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Douglas, good evening, good to see you, sir, as usual, you know that.


LEMON (on camera): Let's talk about this. The former President Barack Obama warning that our democracy is in danger and now lawmakers are standing up for it. Watch this.


OBAMA: All those Congressmen started looking around and they said, you know what, I'll lose my job. I'll get voted out of office. Another way of saying this is I didn't expect that there would be so few people who would say, well, I don't mind losing my office because this is too important. America is too important.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Some things are more important.

OBAMA: Our democracy is too important. We didn't see that. Now, you know, I'm still the hope and change guy, and so my hope is that the tides will turn, but that does require each of us to understand that this experiment in democracy is not self-executing.

It doesn't happen just automatically, it happens because each successive generation says, these values, these truths we hold self- evident. This is important. We're going to invest in it and sacrifice for it and we'll stand up for it, even when it's not politically convenient.


LEMON (on camera): Now, I want you to compare that to what former President Trump had to say this weekend.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I'm the one that's trying to save it.


LEMON (on camera): Wow, what a contrast that is, Douglas, but anyway, Trump incited an insurrection continues to push the big lie. Is this battle for the soul of the nation intensifying and playing out right in front of us now?

BRINKLEY: It is intensifying, and you know, Don, that was an incredible interview that Anderson Cooper did. I hope everybody watches it, Barack Obama was so careful with his words, but it's frightening. He's talking about democracy being chiseled away right in front of our very eyes right now.

And the interview really, really reminded me that history is going to look at our times, Don, as a battle between Barrack Obama's vision of America and Donald Trump's. You know, it used to be for a while when Jimmy Carter became Governor of Georgia, then president, it was about the new south of Jimmy Carter. And then Bill Clinton won twice in Arkansas, and we've had George W. Bush and McCain and Romney and Republicans.

None of them matters anymore. It's really become a decision between -- whether you believe in Donald Trump's bigoted, prejudice McCarthy like vision of being -- immigration and being a kind of fortress America or you are going to be part of that arc, the avenge of justice that Barack Obama spoke about so eloquently as president. So, they really are (inaudible) political intellectual figures of our time.

LEMON: Obama was all about, you mentioned the arc of (inaudible) what he says -- (inaudible). Listen. What about all this? He's a hope and change guy, as he said. He's all about unity. Trump made his presidency about division and chaos. Do you worry the division and the chaos view of our country is winning out right now?

BRINKLEY: I do, because we saw with Joe Manchin in West Virginia not sticking with the Democrats and Biden and not making it easier for Americans to vote, basically intimating that voter suppression is OK. Watching particularly southern states touches in Georgia leading the way, find ways to try to suppress the vote.

Our whole lifetime, Don, that we celebrate John Lewis and Lyndon Johnson and the civil rights act, and then Barack Obama breaking the paradigm of all white presidents, and we seem to be going backwards right now into a kind of neo-fascism, a states' right spasm, and it's coming largely out of the red states in the south.


And so it's nerve-wracking, and the thought that with social media being part of this, people are, as Obama said in their own media siloes, people are getting false facts, false information and are coming to, you know, conspiracy theories are on amok.

So, we are a nation in crisis right now, but we got to all the good people that want to heal the country have to start pushing forward the politics of cohesion and not listen to the bombast of Donald Trump from the back of his golf cart in Florida continually trying to divide our nation on race and class.

LEMON: Yes. Or from the wedding, the stage crashing a wedding.


I got to say I don't know, I think I said something wrong. I should have said the (inaudible) mark of our universe. I left that out. So, don't get all fired up, folks. I was like, wait a minute, I don't think I got that right.

BRINKLEY: Well, I would say, Don, the arc of justice. Just the fact that things are going to be more just year after year as we progress in America. You know, Barack Obama did a lot to open the narrative American history. He saved Caesar Chavez' home, he saved stonewall for LGBTQ people in New York, and Buffalo soldiers in the like. So the history narrative can be open without being kind of neo confederate like Trump is doing.

LEMON: Thank you, Douglas. Always a pleasure.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. More than 240 mass shootings this year. One deadly weekend after another. What's behind the spike and how do we fix it? A former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton joins me, next.




LEMON: A Senate bill on policing reforms may be hitting a stumbling block. The top Republican negotiator is saying today that both sides are far apart on a number of key issues. This comes against the backdrop of surging crime in America.

A tracking group known as Gun Violence Archive reports that more than 8,400 people have died from gun violence so far this year and there have been more than 240 mass shootings. A lot to discuss now with Bill Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner. He's also the author, by the way, of the profession memoir -- "The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America." I'm so glad to have him on tonight. Commissioner, thank you for joining us.


LEMON: So, commissioner, just this past weekend, at least 16 people died of gun violence in the U.S. What makes this surging crime different from past ones?

BRATTON: Well, I think it's a reflection of the growing number of guns in our society. Now I think almost 400 million versus about 33 million Americans. But the speed of the increase, the acceleration, as we're coming out of the coronavirus this year, is of concern. And the breadth of it, the fact that just about every major American city, let alone the suburbs, are experiencing significant crime increases, particularly shootings and murders.

The murder rate would be even higher if we didn't have so much experience in our trauma centers where they say so many lives are shooting victims. The shootings numbers are the ones I actually look at more so than homicide numbers as a true reflection of what's going on.

LEMON: Yeah. It's been just over a year, commissioner, since George Floyd was murdered by police officer in Minneapolis. There have been calls to defund the police, calls to -- for police reform. What do you think policing should look like in a post-George Floyd America?

BRATTON: Well, I would hope it would be a form of policing that would re-engage the trust of the American population, particularly its minority population. It is something that clearly has been lost, diminished significantly since the death of Mr. Floyd.

Although ironically there was a poll that was out earlier this week showing that in past number of months, confidence in the police, score from the police has gone up from I believe it was 61 percent to 68 percent. So, it's kind of an anomaly considering all that we've been seeing over the course of the past year.

So the first challenge is going to be to regain trust. And to do that, we have to refund the police rather than defund.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

BRATTON: And that refunding is going to have to really focus on the issue of training. So much of what police get in trouble over is their handling of the use of force, their interaction with the public.

And to really correct that, to diminish that, to improve that, if you will, diminish those negative interactions and improve the actions between police and the public is going to require a lot more training for implicit bias, for de-escalation, for understanding the different reactions to narcotics use by people so that cops understand whether they're dealing with somebody who is under the influence of methamphetamines or under the influence of cocaine, all the different types of drugs that are out there.

And in particular, use of force. Deescalate, then if you do have to use force, how do you use a minimal amount of force. That's where the Floyd bill comes in. I'm hoping that if that bill were to ever pass, it would include funding for so much of what's needed to do improve the training of police. Other than that, you get what you pay for. America has been policing on the cheap most of its history.

LEMON: Yeah.


LEMON: Well, let's talk about that and talk about what actually -- what police can do, because, you know, that phrase "defund the police," I mean, look, the facts show that it wasn't very helpful in winning over allies to that side. It quickly turned political, making it difficult to focus on actual police reform.

Are there tasks that police have been asked to do that should be handled or could be handled by other public servants, commissioner?

BRATTON: Sure. I talk about this extensively in the book that you referenced at the beginning of the show, "The Profession," 50 years of experience dealing with this. I started dealing with a lot of these issues as a young cop in Boston in the 1970s when we deinstitutionalized the mentally ill and effectively put them out in the street and began to create the homeless problem that we're now addressing 50 years later.

We also de-policed in the '70s. We reduced by the thousands many numbers of police in many cities. New York lost 5,000. My city of Boston, I laid off 25 percent as superintendent of that department.

We also decriminalized a lot of the tools that police used. Many of those tools were taken away from us even as the streets were becoming more unsettled with the homeless, increasing use of drugs, increasing violence, and deterioration we were seeing.

It's ironic in 2021, we're back where we started 50 years ago, because the defund the police movement, abolish the police, the decriminalization, the criminal justice reformats in many states such as New York are moving forward. I would argue they're moving forward too quickly and trying to reform too much too quickly.

And lastly, we are once again deinstitutionalizing. This time, we're rapidly emptying out our prisons too rapidly in response to the coronavirus. So that is a perfect example of all three of those. New York has lost 7,000 police officers in the last year or so.

The homeless population on the streets largely made up of the mentally ill and recently released prisoners out of our jails and prisons, creating a very disturbing sense of unease for the public in the subways and on the streets. LEMON: Yeah.

BRATTON: And we are moving forward with criminal justice reform, some of which is necessary, but a lot of it is really too much too soon, a bridge too far, if you will.

LEMON: Yeah. Commissioner, we want to have you back. It's a very important conversation, and we appreciate you joining us this time. The book again is "The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America." Bill Bratton, former New York City police commissioner, thanks again.

BRATTON: Thank you, Don. Great to be with you.

LEMON: It has been four months since "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison was sidelined after remarks he made over a race-related controversy. Now, he is leaving the franchise permanently.




LEMON (on camera): Chris Harrison out as host of "The Bachelor" franchise after 20 years. The production company behind the show is confirming that to CNN. Harrison announced in February that he was stepping aside following remarks he made while being interviewed by Rachel Lindsay, a current "Extra" host and the star of 2017 "The Bachelorette."

During that interview, he defended Rachael Kirkconnell, a "Bachelor" contestant who was reportedly photographed at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity party in 2013. Watch this.


CHRIS HARRISON, HOST, THE BACHELOR: I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that's it, like, boom, like, OK, this girl is in this book now and she's now in this group, and I'm, like, really? OK. Well, there goes --

RACHEL LINDSAY, HOST, EXTRA: The picture was from 2018 at an old south antebellum party. So I think, you know, when you -- when you -- it's not --

HARRISON: When you hold that under --

LINDSAY: -- that's not a good look. It's not a good look.

HARRISON: Well, it's not good -- well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there is a big difference.

LINDSAY: It's not a good look ever because she is celebrating the old south. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?

HARRISON: I don't -- I don't disagree with you. You're 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018.


LEMON (on camera): Well, Rachel Lindsay, who was interviewing Chris there, spoke out on the show just days later.


LINDSAY: This was a teachable moment for people because wants to say, do you think racism just has to be explicit? This was an example of implicit racism. There was some unconscious bias that Chris Harrison had that were coming out in that interview, and I think he has realized that and that is where that apology is coming from why he says he was perpetuating racism.

That's exactly what was happening as he wasn't able to see what an antebellum party represents, what I would represent if I was attending that party. You're celebrating a time where I was in slavery, where I was recognized as three-fifths of a person.


LEMON (on camera): Harrison apologized. Now, he's out of a job. But the showbiz centric "Deadline" is reporting that Harrison has exited with a pay out in the eight-figure range.

They were major rivals during the 2020 democratic primary. Now, Senator Bernie Sanders is opening up to CNN about his newfound alliance with President Biden.




LEMON (on camera): Senator Bernie Sanders indicating today that he is losing patience with the lack of progress on getting bipartisan support for President Biden's massive infrastructure bill and that it might be time for Democrats to try to pass a legislation strictly along party lines. Well, it turns out Sanders has become one of Biden's strongest advocates in the Senate. The two men have formed a solid bond.

More on that tonight from CNN's Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Let's just say that during the campaign, progressives were skeptical about Joe Biden's big tent.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Progressives, moderates, conservatives.


BORGER (voice-over): But now, guess who is firmly incited.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): As somebody who wrote a book called "Outsider in the House," yes, it is a strange --

BORGER (on camera): Right.

SANDERS: -- experience to be having that kind of influence that we have now.

BORGER (voice-over): Strange, especially for two men with decades of hard held longstanding disagreements.

SANDERS: I believe in Medicare for all.

He is more conservative than I am, obviously. But on the other hand, he is not only a smart guy, he is a good politician who has a sense of where people are at and what is possible. I think he understands that at this particular moment in American history, you got to go big, not small.


BORGER (voice-over): And five months into his presidency, Biden has gone big, very big.

BIDEN: He's historical, and they call it transformational.

BORGER (voice-over): That was the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package followed by a far-reaching plan to protect voting rights. Not to mention a massive infrastructure plan. Bernie Sanders, the newly- minted 79-year-old budget chairman, is primed and ready to go. Progressives are growing more and more impatient with moderates in their own party. Not to mention with Republicans who have been flirting with Biden on infrastructure. And Sanders is in a rush.

(On camera): Do you have infinite patience time-wise? (Ph)

SANDERS: No, I do not.

BORGER (on camera): That's a no?


SANDERS: Not only do I not have infinite patience, I have very limited patience. Look, we learned a lesson from the Obama years and that is Republicans will talk and talk, we want to work with you, bipartisan month after month after month, nothing happens.

BORGER (voice-over): It's a lesson that stuck with Biden, too. And so an alliance was born. Not so much a love story, but more like a marriage of convenience, the one-time centrist and the long-time progressive. (On camera): Twenty years ago, is this the Joe Biden you would have expected?

SANDERS: No. I think the Biden of today is not what I or others would have expected.

BORGER (voice-over): Until a new reality intruded.

SANDERS: COVID exacerbated all of the existing problems in terms of the struggles of working families.

BORGER (voice-over): Then came January 6th.

SANDERS: What Trump is about is his actual threat to American democracy. What Biden sees out there is that if we do not move aggressively and make it clear to people that government can work for them, then we stand a real chance of losing democracy in this country.

BORGER (voice-over): There is a shared history, too. Both men have working class roots and both wanted to be president.


BORGER (voice-over): And when Vice President Biden decided not to run in 2016 as the party establishment lined up behind Hillary Clinton, he reached out to Sanders for a private chat or two, a courtesy Sanders has not forgotten.

SANDERS: He was giving me his advice, political advice, and they were, I think, for me, very useful conversations and friendly conversations.

FAIZ SHAKIR, SANDERS SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER: I certainly believe that Senator Sanders left that meeting feeling that Joe Biden was giving him a, hey, go make your case, Bernie, because there is a lot of people who need to hear it.

BORGER (voice-over): In 2020, they were campaign rivals. Then as Sanders was getting ready to withdraw from the race, he had an idea on the plane ride back to Vermont.

SHAKIR: He says, hey, do you have some friends over there in the Biden world? Ask them if they want to invite progressive policies and personnel into their campaign. Just see what they say.

BORGER (voice-over): They said yes.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Bernie is an important voice within the Democratic Party. And we respect that voice. And we need that advice sometimes.

BORGER (on camera): Can you talk to me about how welcome they made you feel?

SANDERS: Very welcome.

BORGER (on camera): Or it was a little different from Hillary Clinton in 2016?

SANDERS: Yes. Yes, it is.

BORGER (on camera): You weren't welcomed?

SANDERS: I was tolerated.


SANDERS: My support was -- they wanted my support, obviously.

BORGER (voice-over): But now, the one-time outsider is Mr. Chairman.

(On camera): Hosting dinner parties.


SANDERS: Not exactly a fancy dinner party. We did it outside with our progressive friends in the House. We had a very nice time. Yeah.

BORGER (voice-over): He worked to corral progressives for the American Rescue Plan, even after the minimum wage hike was taken out.

SANDERS: Was it everything we wanted? No. Was it a major step forward for the working class of this country? You bet it was.

BORGER (voice-over): But can he or will he search for common ground with moderates in a 50-50 Senate?

(On camera): You have to deal with moderates like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and getting them on board.

SANDERS: Yeah, I've heard about that. But in all honesty, Chuck Schumer does more of that talking than I do.

BORGER (voice-over): Back in Vermont, Bernie, the former mayor of Burlington, is the local anti-establishment hero. But these days, he is really part of the ruling class in D.C., even when he disagrees with the man in charge.


SANDERS: He does things sometimes that I think are really not a good idea. But I understand why he does it, because he has made promises to people and he wants to keep his promises.

BORGER (on camera): And he has always kept his promises to you?

SANDERS: I think yes.

SHAKIR: Joe Biden understands, I think, his heart and gets what he is fighting for, and in that way, has built a real respectful relationship.

BORGER (voice-over): Which these days is hard to come by.

SANDERS: One of the things that struck me about Joe Biden is a very strong sense of loyalty, which I like and respect. We're going to have our differences, but I ultimately trust you and you're going trust me. We're not going to double cross each other. There will be bad times, but we're going to get through this together.

BORGER (on camera): Don, now that Sanders has said he is ready to move forward on Biden's spending proposals as soon as July, the big question remains. Can he and the president get 50 Democrats to go along?


LEMON (on camera): Gloria Borger, thank you. And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.