tv State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash CNN August 8, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT
finally pass an infrastructure bill. will they finally be able to get it done? i'll speak with a key republican negotiator, senator bill cassidy, next. attempted coup? an investigation by the top senate committee digs deeper into the plot to push trump's election lies, what did they learn? the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, dick durbin, joins me next. plus millions of americans in danger of losing their homes can now breathe a sigh of relief because one democratic member of congress drove the most powerful person in washington to take action. >> sometimes presence makes all the difference. that's what this was here. >> i'll speak to the leader of the protest, congresswoman cori bush, ahead. hello. i'm dana bash in washington where the state of our union is
in rewind. for the first time since february, the u.s. is averaging more than 100,000 new covid cases per day. hospitalizations and deaths are also once again on the rise. almost exclusively among the unvaccinated. president biden this week flashed new levels of frustration, rebuking republican governors for standing in the way of vaccine and mask requirements. >> if some governors aren't willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. i say to these governors, please help. if you're not going to help, at least get out of the way. >> all this, as the senate inches closer to passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. the bill cleared a key procedural hurdle yesterday, but its dash across the finish line
was stalled by, no surprise, a partisan stalemate. senators are confident the deal will pass. when? that remains a little bit murky. joining us is one of the republican senators behind the bill, senator bill cassidy from louisiana. thank you so much for joining me, senator. i want to talk about infrastructure in a moment. i want to start by discussing the pandemic, which is really ravaging the country and especially your state of louisiana. it's in dire crisis. record number of hospitalizations. icus are running out of beds. you are also a physician. when you see this, what goes through your mind? >> we have it within our power to stop it. each person that's vaccinated now protects not only herself or himself, but those around them because no longer is she as likely to pass the infection to others. if we don't want this, we have it within our control. all we need to do is get vaccinated. >> your state's governor, john bell edwards, issued a new mask mandate and put it into effect this week. was that the right move? >> now i'm going to speak as a doctor. if you have a large percentage
of your population which is not vaccinated and your infection rate is going up, you've got one or two choices. if you're inside, you're vaccinated or have to wear a mask. otherwise, you're at too great a risk to further spread infection, to further pack those emergency rooms, to further prevent people who have terrible accidents from getting cared for there is a choice. on one hand we don't want mask mandates, get vaccinated, the mask mandate goes down and you don't have a mandate. >> sounds like you're saying that's a yes. >> as a doctor, you have two choices to stop that infection, get vaccinated or wear a mask. >> some governors, like ron desantis in florida, greg abbott in texas, they're blocking local officials from imposing restrictions like mask mandates. the virus is surging in those shouldn't local officials be allowed to make decisions like
mask mandates if they believe that's best for their community? >> i'm a conservative. you govern best when you govern closest to the people being governed. if a local community is having -- their icu is full and people at the local schools see they've got to make sure they stay open because otherwise children will miss out for another year of school and they put in policies, then the local official should be listened to. that is a conservative principle. >> you disagree with governor desantis? >> i do disagree with governor desantis. local officials should have control here. i don't want top down from washington, d.c. i don't want top down from a governor's office. sometimes in cases of national defense, things like that. but if my hospitals are full, vaccination rate is low and infection rate is going crazy, we should allow local officials to make decisions for their community. >> is he playing politics with this? >> i try not to guess other people's motives. politicians should not kind of cart blanche accept what they say but there has to be a
balance here. whenever politicians mess with public health, usually it doesn't usually work out well for public health and ultimate ultimately doesn't work out for the politician. public health suffers and the american people want public health. >> let's turn to infrastructure, something that you helped to craft. the senate is moving pretty slowly, but getting there slowly. first of all, when do you think it's going to pass and how many republicans will vote yes? >> we've had about 17 or 18 who have indicated they're going to vote yes, and probably it's going to pass. we'll have a vote tonight 7:30 and then another vote if you look at the clock playing out, some time on tuesday. so, it could go quicker, but it's going. and that's the good thing. it's going. >> you were in regular communications with president biden as you got this deal done. what were those conversations like?
do you think this could have happened without that kind of dialogue? >> no. the white house engaged. and that's a good thing. obviously, the negotiations were between the democratic white house, democratic senators and republican senators with the healthy mix of my colleagues from the house, the problem solver's caucus, and the folks they work with. but, obviously, at some point they signaled they wanted it to happen. by the way, because they wanted it to happen, there's going to be over a trillion dollars spent on roads, bridges, flood protection, waterways and flood mitigation, coastal restoration. i could go down the list. and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. i'm glad they engaged. >> what about your personal interactions with president biden? >> at some point the president called me and said listen, everything i've seen so far does not have a section on resiliency or a section on energy. and i know you've been working with fitzpatrick to come up with such a thing. can you engage?
we merged a couple independent efforts. now we have $16 billion to $17 billion for coastal restoration and 3.5 or 2.5 for fema for flood mitigation. >> because it was legislation that was used to get things done which we haven't seen for a long time. >> republicans, when he we controlled the senate, passed four our five relief packages for covid relief at the end of our term. why? bipartisan. >> that's true. i want to ask you specifically about this. some of your fellow senate republicans say they're going to oppose this. and they're pointing to a congressional budget office estimate that it's $250 billion that it adds to the deficit that much. here is what some of your gop colleagues have said. chuck grassley said it was disappointing. jon cornyn called it a real problem. mike brawn called it the swamp's debt bomb. what do you know that they don't? >> we absolutely said this is
how it was going to be. half of what we proposed will be scored by cbo's paid for. we were up front about that. half because of their rules that won't. it's things that a reasonable person would say yeah it's a pay for. for example, $53 billion congress has already appropriated for federal unemployment supplemental payments are not being used pore that. we are repurposing that, just as we told folks we were going to repurpose, repurpose for the sake of paying pore this. cbo doesn't give us credit but that's 53 billion we're repurposing that a reasonable person says yeah, that pays for it. >> more broadly, do you think it's a bit rich that under president trump the national debt climbed almost $8 trillion and now some of your colleagues are worried about the debt again? >> on the other hand -- first, the first part of your thing, let's face it, a lot of the spending was in response to covid. we understood when covid broke we had to put up payroll protection plans.
>> true, but a lot of it happened before. >> secondly, president trump proposed a $1.5 trillion package which most republicans were all for and only 5% was paid for. we can say this is reasonably paid for, certainly one-half by cbo score, and now folks are saying, oh, we can't vote for that. okay, that's okay. on the other hand, we're creating jobs, bridges, protecting people from flooding. hopefully, they change their mind. >> many in your party say they're opposed to this on its substance but also because it's really just cover, giving cover to democrats to pass their multi-trillion dollar reconciliation bill. i know you say they're separate but a lot of democrats, inc including house speaker nancy pelosi doesn't see it that way. are they playing you here? >> the fact that pelosi says she has to link them tells you she doesn't have the votes for the
reconciliation package. a democratic colleague said infrastructure is the dessert. the $3.5 trillion spend a lot of money and tax a lot of money is spinach. i've eaten my dessert and now i'm supposed to eat my spinach? i don't think so. the other thing, the problem solvers caucus, a coalition of 28 republicans and 28 democrats, headed by gottheimer and fitzpatrick have come out in favor of this. she doesn't need a radical left wing. she can pass the infrastructure package with that committed group of american congressmen and women who want to see our country get better to have the 110 billion for the roads and bridges and highways, et cetera, and the new jobs, they can pass the infrastructure package without having the radical left, and that i think opens a pathway. >> before i let you go, i want to ask about the judiciary chairman dick durbin, coming on
after you, is doing into the way president trump tried to overturn the election. a former top official described trump's direct instructions to push false fraud claims. i know you condemned lies about the election, but what does it tell you about the lengths that the former president was willing to go to overturn the election? >> first, what you just described, one, if it happened, it's wrong. let's say that. secondly, as you described it, and i read "the new york times" article, unnamed official in a closed-door session reportedly said this. it still meets the definition of hearsay at this point. if it happened, it's wrong. on the other hand, i would like some sort of validation beyond that which i just described. >> senator bill cassidy, thank you for joining me. >> thanks, dana. >> thank you. we could have been one trump move away from a full-blown coup attempt. the chairman of the committee investigating a plot to overturn the election inside the justice department joins me next.
she took action to get action. congressman cori bush is here after their marathon protest to stop evictions. n go from your car's cup holder to a crystal bowl and seem equally at home? i guess the most well-rounded snack isn't round at all. it's more cashew-shaped. planters. a nut above. not all 5g networks are created equal. ♪ ♪ t-mobile america's largest, fastest, most reliable 5g network.
♪ welcome back to "state of the union." i'm dana bash. we're learning new details about how close president trump came in enlisting the justice department in his scheme to overturn the election. this weekend investigators on capitol hill interviewed two top justice officials at the center of the former president's efforts. both officials, according to those familiar with the matter provided detailed accounts in which lawyers sought to deploy the department's
resources to push trump's false claims of voter fraud. joining me to discuss this is the chairman of the committee investigating all of that, democratic senator dick durbin of illinois. thank you so much for joining me. jeffrey rosen who is -- was the acting attorney general for donald trump at the end of his presidency. rosen was reportedly getting calls from trump nearly every day about overturning election results. what did he tell you? >> he told us a lot. seven hours of testimony. i might quickly add, this was
ask mr. clark to come in and tell the sfor his point of view. >> are you worried there weren't sitting members of congress who were involved in this. >> it's a legitimate question. >> do you believe jeffrey clarke will come in or will you have to subpoena him? >> he has nothing to fall back on with the department of justice policy. merrick garland has opened the door and saying we're waiving all privilege here. he may decide for personal or other reasons he doesn't want to testify put i hope he will. >> what about the former attorney general bill barr? do you think he will come in
voluntarily? >> we have a lot of questions relating to this incident and others during the tenure that he was attorney general. >> will you subpoena him if he doesn't? >> it takes a bipartisan vote to subpoena. i don't know that we're going to be able to accomplish that. people think the senate judiciary committee can send out subpoenas and off we go. it's more constrained. >> how helpful would it be to speak to former president donald trump? >> not sflooil what has are has are r r of o-- >> i guess the thought that we've come to accept it, this president and his bizarre conduct, we came to accept over four years as normal. it's outrageous. when you look back on the richard nixon episode and saturday night massacre people out of principle were threatening to resign. same thing happened here incidentally within the department of justice. there was a point where virtually everyone in authority in the department of justice was
going to walk if the president had his way. these are moments in history which you never want to see repeated and with donald trump they were. >> is what you're seeing and describing an attempted coup. >> they were going through the ord nare process as if the president was removing the attorney general and making pronouncements which would happen in a coup by classic definition but it was leading up to that kind of process. >> last question on this. have you spoke tonight current attorney general merrick garland and do you think that there's a potential for criminal charges? >> i don't know the answer to that. i think it's too early in the investigation. >> okay. so i want to ask about infrastructure. >> sure. >> the deal that is on the floor as we speak. it's poised to passing in coming days. there are a group of moderate house democrats who wrote to speaker nancy pelosi and said, please back off your pledge to hold the infrastructure bill until the senate passes the $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan. this is part of the letter.
a once the a century -- this once in a century investment deserves its own consideration without regard to other legislation. after years of waiting the country cannot afford unnecessary delays to finally deliver on physical infrastructure package. so, if it is that vital should the house pass it right away? >> let me say initially, the real question in the senate -- i guess in the senate, perhaps in the house as well, whether the center will hold. there's a question now while we're waiting doing nothing day after day, there are forces still trying to stop this bipartisan agreement in the united states senate. you just had bill cassidy on. he's become a real friend. i trust him, he trusts me. we have candid conversations. that's a good thing. we considered more amendments on the floor of the senate, 22, with this bill, than we had in a year under senator mcconnell and previous years. but the question now is moving forward, what can we accomplish? nancy pelosi has an extraordinary challenge,
four-vote margin. that isn't much when you sit down and count votes. i don't want to project a strategy. i want her to do it. she's as accomplished as they come. i can understand people want to see the infrastructure bill pass with no strings attached but she has to hold not just enough votes for the infrastructure bill but the fol-on budget resolution. i give her all the flexibility she needs to reach that goal. >> i have to ask about the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. it seems as though you're thinking about -- you and your colleagues are thinking about stretching the limits of the senate rules, maybe trying to get voting rights in there, what senator klobuchar, you mentioned daca. how much are you going to try to stuff in there? >> i can tell you this is a once in a political lifetime opportunity when it comes to issues like immigration. it's been 36 years since we've had immigration reform. it's long overdue. everyone knows the system is broken. we can see it at our borders and
know it internally. there is precedent. we have included the republicans have included immigration measures in 2005 in the same budget resolution. so i think it's not an unreasonable request and it's long overdue. >> senator dick durbin, judiciary chair, senate majority whip, you have a lot of titles, grandfather, that's another one. thank you so much. appreciate it. >> thanks. >> a sit-in on the steps of the capitol gets the president's attention and throws millions of struggling americans a potential lifeline. how did congresswoman cori bush get the white house to act? she joins me next. 're power-pac. that help unleash your energy. loaded with b vitamins... ...and other key essential nutrients... ...it's a tasty way to conquer your day. try centrum multi gummies. now with a new look. this isn't just a walk up the stairs. when you have an irregular heartbeat, it's more. it's dignity. the freedom to go where you want, knowing your doctor can watch over your heart.
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welcome back to "state of the union." for her, it's personal. this week for several days and nights, democratic congresswoman cori bush, who once lived in a car with her two children, slept on the steps of the capitol, pushing congress and the president to help keep millions of americans from facing eviction. it's something you don't see here in washington very often, action. she joins me live now from st. louis. thank you so much, congresswoman, for joining me. you talked a lot over the last week about how personal a fight this was for you, being evicted three times yourself, including while you were raising two young children. and i'm going to ask you about some of the details of what happened. but before, i can't help but wonder, given the fact that you raised those kids, now they're grown up, what did they think of your efforts? >> to them it's like this is what mom does. you know, mom fights for everyone. and they've seen me do this, whether sleeping out on the
streets to help in my own community, you know, to raise awareness to what's happening to our unhoused community members, to fighting for justice for michael brown, who, you know, the anniversary of his death is tomorrow. so my children have seen this over and over again. they stand with me. you know, they've been radicalized, too. so, this is who they want to see their mother -- this is who they know. >> your efforts resulted in the cdc issuing a new 60-day eviction freeze for people living in areas with high or substantial covid transmission, which basically covers almost the whole country right now. as you know, even president biden said he's not really sure whether this move is constitutional. it's already facing legal challenges. so if the courts ultimately strike it down, what's your next move? >> well, so that's why i rushed back to st. louis to make sure that -- and we've been telling -- we've been saying it nationally, that we have to do the work now to get this money out.
we have to do the work to make sure that our states and our local governments are able to release this money, get this money out into the hands of the people who need it the most. so, we're telling tenants, we're telling landlords to, you know, go online, or show up at the clinics that are happening around the country and get -- apply for this money and for our local government and states, please get this money out. this has to happen. 60 days, we may not have. so we are pushing really hard for people to apply. especially locally, i've heard people aren't applying. we understand there have been barriers to people applying and those resources being able to be moved. we are working out those kinks right now. >> i want to ask you about an op-ed you wrote for cnn.com. in it you said, quote, now that we have again demonstrated what grassroots movements are capable of, there's no limit to what we
can do. the change that we have been marching, organizing and pushing for is within reach. we just have to take it. house speaker nancy pelosi seems to have taken a different stance. on friday, she drew a distinction. she has done this before, between being an advocate and being a legislator. what's your response? >> i'm both. i'm both. before i walked into congress after i won my primary, i started talking about being a politivist. i think that it's okay to have both because when we legislate, yes, we have that power of the pen, the power of the purse, we're able to write bills, we're able to cosponsor and send letters, all of that is wonderful, you need that, but the activist side of me, that advocate, is the one that remembers what it was like to be in positions where i felt overlooked and neglected and unheard. and so many others in our communities -- i'm a nurse. i am always advocating. that's who -- that's what we do.
and so having both of those, that's that pressure, the activist is going to bring the pressure. the activist is going to highlight the issues so that the legislator can then hit the ball out of the park. >> congresswoman i want to ask about the criticism you're facing about comments you made in an interview this past week. i want our viewers to listen. >> i'm going to make sure i have security, because i know i have had attempts on my life. and i have too much work to do. there are too many people that need help right now for me to allow that. so if i end up spending 200,000, if i spend $10 more on it, i get to be here to do the work. so, suck it up. defunding the police has to happen. we need to defund the police. >> so, i know you've seen republicans are pointing to the fact that you said you have your own security. but almost in the same breath advocating for defunding the police. i do want to emphasize, i understand you have security protection because you have received multiple death threats.
the clip that i just played is being used in attack adds against not just you, but other democrats. could those comments end up being harmful to your fellow democrats politically speaking? >> i think what we have to look at is the fact that i made it to congress in 2020, i was elected to congress and we're still fighting this same fight. we're still fighting to save black lives. that was not -- that work was not done before i got here. this is the reason why i ran, was to save lives, save my son's life. it was because michael brown, who we're fighting for, still trying to get justice for, it's because he didn't get justice and byers and powell didn't get justice and so many others. that is why. because that was not fixed before i got here, to come at me and say you're the reason we have these problems. no. the reason we have these problems is because those that were in power and could have fixed this problem before now
didn't and it cost lives. and so now that i'm here, we just introduced the people's response act to make sure that we are looking at the money that should be going to social safetiness to make sure our community members who are living with mental health issues are able to function and live in society the way that anyone would ask to. so i don't believe, as far as my colleagues, you know, i absolutely empathize. i empathize. you know what, the same thing that the republicans would do, which is figure out how to work with this, that's what we have to do. my job is to save lives in my community. because when we're talking about every single year increasing the budget for police and then the budget for like health and human services continuing to shrink, and st. louis being number one for police violence year after
year after year, number one. number two for homicides year after year -- >> congresswoman. >> when we're adding more money to the police but we're still dying. something has to change. >> congresswoman, i hear what you're saying but i also heard you think it's a coms problem. is it that? >> no. i'm saying that's another way that you can tackle this. you have to tackle it from more than one place. we have to work on what we want to say. what is our message? but we also have to understand, we have to save lives, too. st. louis can't keep being put on the back burner. and i'm here to stand up for my community. >> congresswoman cori bush, thank you so much for joining me this morning. >> absolutely. thank you. up next, a revealing conversation with one of the highest-ranking female staffers in the white house. ♪ ♪ ♪
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astronaut's political campaign she started on a famous astronaut's political campaign and hasn't stopped launching through glass ceilings ever since. biden's senior adviser anita dunn, is leaving the white house this month. we went there to see her before she goes. it's our latest installment of bad ass women of washington. >> you first came here as an intern in -- >> 1978. >> wow. >> yes. >> for president carter? >> for president carter. but it was a man's world, a total man's world. >> anita dunn was one of the first women in presidential politics to change that, eventually landing in the inner circle of two winning campaigns and administrations, president obama and now president biden. as a junior staffer in 1984 on
john glenn's campaign, she set a high bar for hers. -- herself. >> i made the decision that the next time i wanted to work on a presidential campaign, i was going to be at the table. so, i didn't work on campaigns until i was at a point where that's where my seat was. >> dunn earned that seat by working as a congressional aide, then political consultant for countless democratic presidential campaigns, though it was hard to find work during the 1996 election when she was pregnant. is it true that only female candidates would hire you? >> if you look at who hired me that year, yes, that is quite true. someone would call me and say i've got this candidate in town, i want to bring them over to meet you and i was coming down the stairs in my most pregnant self and i could watch the candidate's face like -- >> and then you didn't get the job? >> i wouldn't get hired. of course not. i wanted people to know i was a mom. i talked openly about i'm not
going to be in or i can't be on that call. >> that was pretty risky back then. >> but i felt it was important. if you have senior women who are openly talking about their children and the time they're going to set aside for their children, and the parameters of their relationships. i'm leaving the office every day at this time for pick up at daycare, it gives other women permission. >> it was intentional? >> it was quite intentional, yes. >> now many of the women she is surrounded by in the biden white house have small children. she is known for having an open door policy. >> i'm not a big believer in mentorship. although, i'm happy to mentor anybody who wants to walk through my door and get some advice. i'm a huge believer in sponsorship. >> what's the difference? >> oh, the difference is huge, dana. mentorship is i'm happy to give you advice. i'm happy to be your sounding board. i'm happy to be your wailing wall when things don't go well. but sponsorship is an active role in somebody's career. it's not just i'm going to give you advice but i'm going to
actively promote you. >> her sponsors were men, since there were so few women. this is a recommendation letter written some 45 years ago by her first white house boss, carter chief of staff hamilton jordan. dunn is widely credited for turning around the biden campaign during the 2020 primaries after brutal losses in iowa and new hampshire. >> at the end of the day it's about setting priorities and not being scared to make decisions. people in politics who are scared to make decisions are losing campaign managers and losing operatives. >> so make a decision and stick with it? >> and stick with it. by the way, you're going to make a wrong decision occasionally. there are people who are paralyzed about making a mistake. and that is, in politics, one of the worst things you can do, is allow yourself to get paralyzed. >> while president biden is known for forgiving, it is done ever the loyal staffer who doesn't forget.
is that fair, that you hold grudges? >> i have gotten that reputation. i think most people who have worked with me will tell you i'm actually a pretty nice person who does forgive. and i move on. but i also believe that in politics, it is important sometimes for people to understand that there are lines they should not cross. >> as a trailblazing woman in democratic politics, dunn said reading the new york attorney general report on andrew cuomo's sexual harassment allegations was painful. >> you and i were on capitol hill a long time and we've seen the powerful relationships that can exist in politics. reading about the experiences those 11 women had gone through, you know, felt like 45 years of watching, you know, america in many respects. >> she says she only joined this administration temporarily, to help with the covid crisis and
is soon leaving. >> my first ambition was to be a sportscaster. >> really? >> yes. >> she may not have lived that dream. >> i'm a very competitive person, dana. so i ended up in politics. >> but she did okay. >> thank you, anita dunn. up next she's idolized on the left, demonized on the right. what's it like being aoc? a sneak peek at my new special coming up. vast migrations! sustenance for mountaineering expeditions and long journeys across the world! but most importantly? they give us something to eat when we drink beer. planters. a nut above.
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sense of the person behind the public face. first up, being aoc. it's one of congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez's most personal tv interviews to date, but we also talked about any plans she may have for higher office. are you going to challenge senator schumer in a primary race? >> you know, i -- here's the thing, is that -- i know it drives everybody nuts, but the way that i really feel about this and the way that i really approach my politics and my political career is that i do not look at things, and i do not set my course positionally. i know there is a lot of people who do not believe that, but i really -- i can't operate the way that i operate and do the things that i do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to
other things. so all that is to say that i make decisions based on what i think our people need and my community needs. and so -- i'm not commenting on that. >> you can watch a lot more of my in-depth interview tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. right here on cnn. thanks so much for spending your sunday morning with us. the news continues next. this is "gps." i brought in ensure max protein, with thirty grams of protein. those who tried me felt more energy in just two weeks! [sighs wearily] here, i'll take that! woo-hoo! ensure max protein. with thirty grams of protein, one gram of sugar, and now with two new flavors!
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