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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  July 13, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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e us takes gold! ♪ dream on ♪ ♪ dream on ♪ ♪ dream on ♪ ♪ dream on ♪ - yes! ♪ ahhhhhhh ♪ ♪ dream until your dreams come true ♪ this is "cnn breaking news". hello, everyone. thanks for joining us on "newsroom." i'm alisyn camerota. >> i'm victor blackwell. president biden is about to deliver a highly anticipated speech on his administration's efforts to protect voting rights in this country. live pictures of the event at the national constitution center in philadelphia. we will bring you that speech as soon as it begins. a white house official tells
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cnn the president will layout the, quote, moral case for voting rights. there is president biden at -- this is the last hour. that's him at joint base andrews. he will be heading to philly soon. he also will launch a pressure campaign against voting restriction laws enacted by mostly republican-led state legislatures across the country, fuelled by the big lie that donald trump did not lose the election, though he lost by 7 million votes. since the november election, state lawmakers have passed 28 laws in 17 states that restrict ballot access. this is according to the brennan center for justice. >> president biden's speech comes after senate republicans blocked even beginning debate on a sweeping federal election reform bill. that was just a few weeks ago. cnn chief white house correspondent kaitlan collins is in philadelphia. kaitlan, what else is the white house saying about the speech that is coming? >> reporter: well, a lot of this has to do with those calls that
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have come from civil rights leaders and democrats saying that president biden needs to put some political muscle behind this issue, more so than he has done so far. the last time i believe we heard from him at length on this was that speech he gave in tulsa, and so now today they're going to have him return here to philadelphia. of course, a backdrop that they are trying to really employ the significance of the birthplace of u.s. democracy here, as he is making the case for why what republicans nationwide, what they're doing is so dangerous according to the white house. this effort to restrict access to the ballot, and president biden is going to portray that as something that is something that happens in awe authoritarian regimes. it is unamerican. we are told that the president is going to say while he is here, and he is going to outline the ways and steps he has taken to try to further voting access, but he is also going to underline the fact that, of course, a lot of this has to do with what his predecessor has been pushing since november, this big lie about the election and casting doubt in several states on the outcome of their
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votes even though we have heard from election experts who say it was one of the safe st election we have had in united states history. that is going to be the symbolism here. they are trying to say the president is attaching urgency to this issue, but i think the question that's going to remain after the president has left philadelphia is what is going to come next when it comes to concrete steps, because you are hearing from people like al sharpton, who is here today and met with the president last week at the white house, say that he needs to do more to appeal to democrats to change the rules of the filibuster. because given what you are seeing in places like texas with those democrats in washington today saying, yes, we can hold the line, but for only so long, and we need lawmakers in washington and federal leaders to step up to help us so we aren't leaving the state during a special session so they can't pass a restrictive voting measure. al sharpton is calling on the president to appeal to democrats to change the filibuster rules. that is not something that the white house has gotten behind so far. they said they just don't believe senate democrats are behind that measure right now,
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but it is something where you are seeing more and more civil rights leaders, progressive democrats say it is something they believe needs to be done because, of course, yes, they believe the filibuster is important so is voting rights. and it is more important they make sure that is taken care of instead of just the filibuster. >> of course, we will bring that speech to you live. expected to start this hour. kaitl kaitlan collins in philadelphia for us. thank you. president biden's speech comes smack in the middle of a political showdown over voting rights in texas which has turned into a serious game of cat and mouse. right now dozens of texas house democrats are in washington, d.c. after flying out of the lone star state in an effort to block new voting restrictions being pushed by republicans. >> so they're meeting with top senate democrats and vice president harris will meet with them this week as well. the democrats say that they will stay out of texas until the end of that special session. that is still weeks away.
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jessica dean is on capitol hill following texas lawmakers and as they plot their next move. jessica, do you know what the plan is, as we see the president -- hold on for a second, jessica. president biden is arriving in philadelphia ahead of his speech, as we just talked about. he is headed to the national constitution center to talk about voting rights, not just the importance of protecting them but mapping a path forward. the white house is calling what we're seeing in states across the country the greatest affront to voting rights since the civil war. they say it is going to renew his call for vital legislation. the president there on the ground, meeting with state officials as he heads to the national constitution center. all right. jessica, back to you. what are we expecting from these texas democrat? . >> we know these texas democrats will have an eye on the speech, that's for sure. they are here in the nation's capital. we heard from them a little bit
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ago. they said their plan is two fold. number one, stay here through the entire special session which, as you mentioned, is some 24, 25 days from now until the end of that. so they want to stay here to make sure that they kill these bills that republicans are leading there in the state of texas. secondly, they are here to implore federal lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation. now, remember, not too long ago democrats could barely all coalesce around the for the people act. they finally got joe manchin on board and got all 50 democrats to support that, but they were killed by the filibuster. they couldn't even proceed with debate. there is zero republican support here for any sort of voting rights legislation. but the texas democrats are continuing to meet with senate democrats here. take a listen to some of them earlier. >> we are not going to buckle to the big lie in the state of texas. the big lie that has resulted -- >> yes! >> -- that has resulted in
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anti-democratic legislation throughout the united states. we said no. >> we can't stay here indefinitely to run out the clock, to stop republican anti-voter bills. that's why we need congress to act now and pass the for the people act. >> reporter: and, notably, the group will meet with senate majority leader chuck schumer later today, but, victor and alisyn, a source telling me they have no plans to meet with senate republicans. senator ted cruz telling me he has heard nothing from them, yoet, not a word from them. that's where the legislative reality comes into play, victor and alisyn. they have to get some sort of republican support to get anything through here lest they keep bumping up against that filibuster and that's simply the reality as it stands right now on capitol hill. >> jessica dean, thank you for that reporting. it looks like the president is running on time, so we should expect that speech that he will be giving on voting rights to be
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happening in this hour. so obviously we will continue to monitor that. meanwhile, back in texas state house republicans are vowing to punish those absent lawmakers, voting to have the sergeant at arms arrest the representatives who walked out. >> members, the sergeant at arms and any officers appointed by him are directed to send for all absentees whose attendance is not excused for the purpose of securing and maintaining their attendance, under warrant of arrest if necessary. >> okay. but even before that formal vote, texas governor greg abbott went on fox tv and made a more blatant threat. >> you cannot inject your ideas if you don't show up and do your job. once they step back into the state of texas, they will be arrested and brought to the texas capital and we will be conducting business. >> well, so far that has not deterred them. i mean they knew there was a possibility, the democrats in texas knew there was a possibility they could be
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arrested. >> yes. >> and they still flew out of the state. >> i wonder what that looks like, that the governor would potentially, although these democrats are out of the state, that he would send state troopers to go -- does he put them in handcuffs and put them in the back of a car and drive them back to the capital? is that the plan. >> i don't know the answer to that because is question is would they be arrested once they get back to texas. >> yeah. >> they say they're going to wait it out. they're going to wait out this special session, which is 30 days long, so they have another about three weeks to hang out in d.c. before they return to the state. then i don't know if they are arrested when they get back. >> then the strategy is, i mean they did it during the general session, the regular session, that they were not there for the vote. then they've left now to go to washington. is this tenable, that this can be the strategy to go back and forth? maybe they have a comment on if this is how they're going to continue. >> i'm going to find out the answer right now. >> let's do that. >> because one of the texas democrats is going to join us right now from the capital, state representative michelle beckley. thank you very much for being here. we have a lot of questions.
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first and foremost, you just heard your governor say that you all will be arrested. what is your response to that? >> well, those are the house rules, so we knew that coming here. that was one of the consequences that we were pretty sure he was going to enact by coming and breaking quorum. >> and are you going to be arrested in washington, d.c.? are you arrested when you get back to texas? what does it look like? >> well, they can't go across state lines, so it is not like an arrest, like a person who committed a felony. so that's why we had to leave the state of texas. >> but i mean so when you go back to texas, you are prepared to be arrested, and that means you are thrown in a jail cell until you make bail? how does this play out for, what is it, 67 state house democrats, 51 of them took planes to d.c.. >> yes. i think -- i believe the number is 57 that have not signed in. they've taken our keys, which is how we vote. you know, we are dealing with
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voting rights, the voting rights bills in texas are just horrendous and we are seeing them across the nation and we have to do something. so we are here in washington, working to get the for the people bill -- for the people voting rights bill passed. >> and so how long are you going to stay in washington, d.c.? >> well, we will have to stay, we are looking at at least three weeks, and we will go from there. we will do what we have to do. this is a long game. this isn't something that we just flew here for a vacation. we are here to work. we've been working all day. >> so who -- just out of curiosity, who is paying? because the governor has suggested you are doing all of this on the taxpayer dime. who paid for your charter flights and your hotel rooms, if that's where you're staying? >> the house democratic caucus committee has paid for that. >> meaning urduyour dues have p for that? >> yes, and they raised money to do that, but, yes, our caucus has paid for it. >> so, representative, what is your plan in washington, d.c.? because as you know, last month
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senate democrats blocked by way of filibuster a voting bill, and so what can you do? i mean they have -- it was a split vote, 50/50. that's not changing. what do you think you can change by being in d.c.? >> we can show just how -- how these bills are going to go across the nation. this isn't just a texas problem. this is a national problem, and we're here to bring it to washington so that these senators can see that this is a problem that is going around nationwide and texas is just one of the largest states where it is happening. >> don't senators know that already? >> we are meeting with them. we started our meetings today, and we will be meeting as much as we have to and talking as much as we have to, and just showing them what exactly is going on in texas and across -- this is a national -- this is a national front by the republican party and we are here. we are here fighting for the right to vote for all of our
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nation. >> are you meeting with any senate republicans? >> i am not advised on that. we will go -- do our meetings as we can, we will try. >> representative, what is your end game here? i mean so let's say you wait it out, you wait out this special 30-day session in washington, d.c. you then fly back to texas. you are either arrested or you are not, but then the governor is still going to call another special session to get this done. what's your end game in texas? >> well, i mean our end game is for the senators here to see what is going on and what is going on in not just texas but across the nation. so we're here doing everything we can and using all of our tools that is available, and this is what we were elected to do. that's what we're here, fighting for democracy. >> in about half an hour we expect president biden to speak about this. what do you want to hear him say? >> you know, i am very pleased with what biden -- what president biden is doing, and i
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hope that he sees the support and that we have -- that he sees how desperate we are in texas for the nation to take on the voting rights bills. >> is it fair to say that you haven't completely thought out steps five and six and seven, that you are sort of living in the present of these next 30 days or however long and trying to get attention? i mean unless there's something i'm missing, is there some other step beyond this? >> we have to see how we go because we don't know what the governor is going to do. we don't know what the republicans are going to do in the state house or what the senate is going to do in the nation. so everything is a moving puzzle, and we will adjust as we can, and we do have plans. you know, it is not something we are at liberty to tell you today. >> okay. representative michelle beckley, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> we will be watching. >> okay. so past as prologue, i think we know what the governor is going to do. >> i think so too, though i
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don't exactly know as you point out what a mass arrest of 57 democrats will look like. >> if they're waiting for them at the airport, it is a detail, a smaller detail, but also she says they have plans. this was the same question we asked after the general session, the regular session. said, how do you do this again? they have done it again. we will see if there's another trick up the sleeve. >> okay. meanwhile, a top tennessee vaccine official says she was fired over a disagreement about vaccinating teenagers. why she says she is now afraid for her state. also, new details in the assassination plot of haiti's president. several suspects were u.s. law enforcement informants. that's next.
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the u.s. is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to new covid cases. check out the states here in deep red. >> oh, my gosh. >> look at this map. 34 states seeing a rise of 50% or more in new infections. >> the white house says it supports more vaccine requirements now at the local level. president biden's chief medical adviser, dr. anthony fauci, says he is in favor of more local mandates requiring covid vaccines, and today the u.s. surgeon general told cnn he thinks it is entirely reasonable for hospitals to require all of their staff to be vaccinated. >> having spent many of my years working in a hospital, we had mandates around vaccines, specifically the flu vaccines, that health care workers had to take that each year. that's part of how we protect patients from infection.
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patients coming into hospitals are often vulnerable. what you are seeing already is some hospitals include a covid-19 vaccine in their requirements. i think that's a very reasonable thing for hospitals to do. i think that health care workers have a responsibility to protect the patients. >> okay. but even though the numbers in the u.s. are going in the wrong direction, some states are issuing laws to block vaccine requirements. a cnn analysis finds at least seven states are prohibiting public schools from mandating covid vaccinations or proof of these shots for enrollment. >> the students impacted run all the way from kindergarten to university level. several of the states have vaccinated fewer than 40% of their residents. right now the clash between politics and public health may be fiercest in the state of tennessee. the state's top vaccine manager says she was just fired after
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she sent out a memo reminding local medical providers about a policy that allows some minors to get medical care without their parents' permission. >> just a reminder. >> yes. >> dr. michelle fiskis says the backlash has been so severe it forced a crackdown on promoting other vaccinations beyond covid. martin, tell us about this memo. >> reporter: hey, victor and alisyn. let me point out that tennessee has been one of the states called the mature minor doctrine. it is not new. it has been around for over three decades, upheld by the tennessee supreme court, and it essentially says minors ages 14 to 17 are able to receive medical care in the state without getting parental permission. the doctor here says that also applies to vaccinations. she put out a memo to doctors just reminding them of this decades' long doctrine in the state of tennessee. somebody didn't like that. they posted it online, and then all of the outrage came pouring
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in, suggesting that she was trying to yu usurp parental conl here. she says the anti-vax and the politics against the covid-19 vaccine have become so severe in her state it is a health hazard. listen. >> our leadership has been toxic to work under and morale within the department is poor. there are state workers all over the state who fear for their jobs because they want to do the right thing and the administration is much more interested in politics. what really concerns me is that in order to appease the legislators that were upset about this memo, our leadership of the department of health has instructed the department of health to no longer do outreach around immunizations for children of any kind. >> reporter: so there you see, she has been fired. she says now there's intimidation of trying to even
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vaccinate any kind of young person with any kind of vaccine in the state. the health department of tennessee says they put out a statement. it continues to provide access to covid-19 vaccines at either local health departments and at vaccine events for all eligible individuals who now are able to choose to receive the vaccine. but here is the thing. right next door to tennessee you've got missouri and arkansas. they are seeing a huge spike in the delta variant. tennessee is only 38% vaccinated according to the health department. those most at risk are the unvaccinated, especially the young. she was pushing trying to get as many people vaccinated to be protected as possible, and she was fired. victor and alisyn. >> it is sobering. martin savidge, thank you for the report. >> reporter: you're welcome. let's discuss it further with dr. gloria rashard davis, a physician at the university of arkansas for medical size ens and the university's executive director of diversity, equity
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and inclusion. thank you for being with us. let's start here with arkansas. it is near the top of the list when it comes to new covid cases, near the bottom of the list when it comes to vaccinations. it is not the only state there in the south that's having some trouble, but others are doing better. it is a red state, but some red states are doing far better. what is happening in arkansas? >> so, first of all, victor, thanks for having me. i am leading our covid vaccine ambulatory center, and one of the things that we are doing in particular is we are keenly focused on communities of color. because if we look at our vaccination rates from the state perspective, we are doing pretty well in central arkansas and northwest arkansas, particularly in our majority community, not in our minority community. so if you look at the majority community in those areas, we are at 60-plus percentage immunized.
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what we are focusing on are our communities of color where we know that we have less than 20% across the state that are vaccinated. we certainly know that there are vaccine -- there's vaccine hesitancy in those communities of color for some very valid reasons, some of which we continue to hear. we know that at the core is racism embedded in our health system as well as in our governmental agents. so there's a lot of distrust there. there's also a lot of misinformation. >> how much of this is the misinformation, the hesitancy and reluctance but also access? let's talk about access. are there vaccines available to these communities you are trying to reach out to? >> so there are vaccines available in communities. when you get out into the much
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more rural communities, obviously the access is a little bit more constrained. we have walmart, which is based in arkansas, it has it available in all of their stores, as well as walgreen's. but what we are trying to do with our mobile unit is to actually reach those communities that do not have those access. so we're working with multiple partners, the health department, our arkansas medical/dental/pharmacy association as well as nonprofit organizations that have been working in those communities. >> yeah. >> and then, lastly, one of the really key things that we're doing is we are engaging and educating community health workers that we hope to deploy in front of our vaccine committees, our teams, right. >> yeah. >> so that they can actually educate those communities and mitigate against some of the
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misinformation that they're hearing. >> doctor, we listed arkansas as one of the states that is banning public schools from either requiring vaccinations or proof of vaccination. what is -- first, should there in your opinion be mandates for public schools for these vaccinations? and, second, what is the secondary, the tertiary impact on public health of a ban like that? >> so, certainly, as a physician, researcher, scientist, i am in favor of having those mandates. from a state perspective, we have legislation that has placed some prohibition on that, primarily because what they are trying to do is to protect those who are choosing not to be vaccinated from discrimination. >> all right. dr. gloria rashard davis there in arkansas. still a lot of work to do. thank you for the work you are
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doing. >> thank you so much for having me. >> certainly. victor, now to the crises in cuba and haiti. these are forcing the biden administration to pivot to foreign policy, but what is president biden's policy on cuba? well, cuban-born congressman joins us next. gillette proglide. five blades and a pivoting flexball designed to get virtually every hair on the first stroke. so you're ready for the day with a fresh face for a fresh start.
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okay. happening right now, huge protests on one of miami's largest expressways. south floridans showing their support for the cuban people. the protest shut down the palmetto expressway in both directions. >> yeah. highway patrol there and miami police halted traffic. there's also we know growing unrest in cuba after huge protests over the weekend. now social media blackout as well. the biden administration says it supports the protesters.
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the question is next, what is the plan. >> so joining us now is a member of the house foreign affairs committee, new jersey democratic congressman albio sires. congressman, thank you so much for being here. we were just watching those pictures out of miami, how strongly people feel about what is going on in cuba. as far as the protests in cuba this weekend, we have not seen protests like that in decades. so what was the tipping point? why now? >> well, i just think the cuban community is just tired, tired of 60 years of abuse, tired of 60 years of not having any kind of liberties, tired of just struggling every day. the economy is in shambles. the whole -- experiment is a failure and the people's lives are not improved and people want their liberties and people want democracy. and they are just tired. >> yes. i mean i also understand, of course, covid and the spiking covid cases and deaths were a
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big factor as well. the cube an goan government cla protests this weekend were organized and paid for by the u.s. government. a tweet by the minister of foreign affairs says the u.s. has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to promote subversion in our country. what's your answer to that? >> that's the usual excuse because they don't have an answer. these are the people that were educated in cuba, grew up in cuba, and this was the youth of cuba that went out on the street wanting liberty and democracy. the people don't need to believe anything that -- in their real life it is not the united states, it is not the cubans in miami that are stirring things up. the cuban people want a change of government. >> we have seen this past weekend in cuba, we have seen footage of protesters being rounded up and forcible arrests. do you know what has happened to
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those protesters? do you know how many are missing or jailed or detained? >> well, there's hundreds of people missing obviously and there are hundreds of people being detained, maybe possibly more. but since they cut off all of the internet you can't tell how many. there's enough to see the videos that -- part of the island to see how the government -- the cuban people. they're beating them. they're throwing them into cars. they're taking them away. >> what are you calling on president biden to do? >> no. >> oh, congressman, can you hear me? >> yeah, i can hear you now. >> okay. good. i can hear you as well. what are you calling on president biden to do? >> well, first of all, the first step that the president took was in support of the cuban people. that was very big, you know. people realize that the government has a big megaphone
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and it goes throughout the world, and this president has shown support for the cuban people. it is good because -- in the world -- after -- because the propaganda machine is struggling in cuba. now people are opening their eyes that cuba -- that's how everything works. so the support of the president has very -- >> yeah, congressman albio sires, thank you very much. we appreciate you joining us and obviously we will continue to follow what is happening in cuba and try to figure out what is happening with the missing as well. >> yes, and we will keep an eye on what is happening in miami on the palmetto expressway and bring you the latest there. right now though, president biden is in philadelphia soon. he is expected to give this really highly anticipated address on protecting the right to vote in this country. we will bring it to you when it happens. plus, a new book goes into
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details on the origin of trump's big lie on election night. what was rudy giuliani saying?
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as you know victor and i are on between 2:00 and 4:00 in the east. >> yeah. >> today we there two to four things to discuss, big lie edition. >> uh-huh. >> here to tell us with it is white house correspondent john harwood. good to see you.
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up first, federal judge in michigan is considering imposing fines and sanctions against former president trump's legal team for filing a lawsuit to overturn the results in michigan filled with, as she said, obvious errors and speculation. >> during the several hours of questioning here, john, attorneys were questioned about the legal aspects which includes the team sidney powell, lynwood. trump's legal team struggled to explain what steps if any they took to ensure the court filings and affidavits were trugthful. the judge here said, i don't think i have ever seen an affidavit that makes so many leaps. this is really fan taste cal. the problem with the big lie is it has been tested. it has gone to courts and still they can't prove anything, and now they're trying to back away from it. >> well, and it is obvious, victor, they didn't take any steps to check out these allegations because they made them up. this is a crazy situation. it is very hard for serious people to do a serious analysis
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of this situation because this is kooky, made-up stuff, conspiracy theory stuff that is simply not grounded in fact. as you mentioned, sidney powell was unapologetic about it. said, i would file the same things again. we needed to raise things to question the election. there's not really -- there's not really much of an answer to somebody who is fabricating stuff that is not grounded in reality. >> no, it is amazing how quickly their case crumbles when confronted by a real serious-minded judge, how quickly the legal team crumbles in front of them. number two, there's a new book, agency you know, john, shedding light on the origin of the big lie, and it is incredible where it comes from. so the book is called "i alone can fix it, donald j. trump's catastrophic final year." it is by "washington post" reporters. basically what they say is that on election night as the results were coming in -- >> yeah. >> -- rudy giuliani, who was described by witnesses as drunk,
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said what? >> creative reading here. >> okay. >> dramatic, i should say. after a while rudy giuliani started to cause a commotion. he was telling other guests that he had come up with a strategy for trump and was trying to get into the president's private quarters to tell him about it. some people thought giuliani may have been drinking too much and suggested to bill that he go to talk to the former new york mayor. they took rudy giuliani down to a room off the map room to hear him out. what is happening in michigan, he asked. they said it was too early to tell, votes were still being counted. giuliani told them, just say we won, same thing in pennsylvania. so the big lie we thought was coming from the president, but maybe a boozie giuliani started it on election night? >> yes, and by telling donald trump things that he is inclined to hear, but it is directly related to what we talked about in the first subject, which is if you are just going to say "we won," it doesn't matter what the reason is or what the justification is, you are starting from the conclusion and
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you are going to make up stuff afterwards. so they -- you know, there had been speculation before the election that trump was going to declare victory based on early counts and try to make it look as if later arriving votes were fraudulent. that's a version of what he did, but it started as you indicated in that segment with rudy giuliani, just saying "just say it, doesn't matter." >> john harwood, thank you very much for all of that. sorry to interrupt. we do want to go now to president biden because he is coming out to give his big speech on voting rights. he is in philadelphia right now, and he appears to be taking in the big crowd and sharing in their adulation, giving it back. >> yes, this is the national constitution center, a highly anticipated speech from the president. will they talk about not just what they call the greatest threat to the right to vote and the integrity since the civil war, but also what they plan to do about it. >> a lot of good friends out
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there. please have a seat, if you have one. let me begin by saying i used to be important. i used to be the chairman of the board of this place. jeffrey rosen allowed me to do that for a while, but thank you all for being here. i truly appreciate it. governor, it is above and beyond the call. mr. mayor, i compliment you. i thought you were a great mayor, still think you are, but your judgment and fiance's is even stronger. but all of you, and good friend bobby brady. i see so many friends. al sharpton. al, how are you, pal? it is great to see you. and i am going to get in trouble here because i'm going to recognize my congresswoman from the state of delaware, lisa blunt rochester. and her sister who used to run
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my office, stand up. folks, good afternoon. there's a serious subject i would like to talk about today. i am here in philadelphia, the national constitution center, the city and the place where the story of "we, the people" began. it is a story that is neither simple nor straightforward. that's because the story is the sum of our parts, and all of those parts are fundamentally human. and being human is to be imperfect, driven by appetite and ambition as much as by goodness and grace. but some things in america should be simple and straightforward. perhaps the most important of those things, the most fundamental of those things is the right to vote. the right to vote freely. [ applause ]
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>> the right to vote freely, the right to vote fairly, the right to have your vote counted. the democratic threshold is liberty. with it, anything is possible. without it, nothing, nothing. for our democracy and the work to deliver our work and our people, it is up to all of us to protect that right. this is a test of our time, what i'm here to talk about today. just think about the past election. 102-year-old woman in arkansas who voted for the first time on the very spot she once picked cotton. a 94-year-old woman in michigan who voted early and in person in her 72nd consecutive election. know what she said? she said, this election was, quote, the most important vote
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that we ever had. the daughter who voted in memory of her dad who died of covid-19 so others wouldn't have the experience of pain and darkness and loss that she was going through. patients out there and the parents, the parents who voted for school their children will learn in. sons and daughters voted for the planet they're going to young people turning 18 and the first time alive about they can truly make a difference. america, americans of every background voted. they voted for good jobs and higher wages. they voted for racial equity and justice. they voted to make health care a right and not a privilege.
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the fact that so many election officials across the country made it easier and safer for them to be able to vote in the middle of pan demic was remarkable. as a result, in 2020, more people voted in america than ever in the history of america in the middle of a once in a century pandemic. [ applause ] all told, more than 150 americans of every race and every background exercised their right to vote. they voted early. they voted absentee. they voted in person. they voted by mail. they voted by drop box, and then they got their families and friends to go out and vote. election officials, the entire electorate system withstood
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unrelentsing political attacks, physical threats, intimidation and pressure. they did so with unyielding courage and faith in our democracy. with recount after recount after recount, court case after court case. the 2020 election was the most scrutinized election ever in american history. challenge after challenge brought to local, state and election officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, even to the united states supreme court not once but twice. more than 80 judges, including those appointed by my predecessor heard the arguments, in every case neither cause nor evidence was found to undermine the national achievement of administering the historic election in the face of such extraordinary challenges.
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audit, recounts were conducted. in georgia it was recounted three times. no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny, and such high standards. the big lie is just that. a big lie. [ applause ] 2020 election is not hyperbole. the most examined and fullest expression of the people of this nation. they should be celebrated.
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we continue do see an example of human nature at its worst. something darker, something sinister. in america if you lose, you accept the results, you follow the insticonstitution. you try again. you don't call facts fake and try to bring down the american experiment just because you're unhappy. that's not statesmanship. [ applause ] that's not statesmanship. that's selfishness. that's not democracy. it's the denial of the right to vote it suppresses, the denial of full and free fair election s the most unimaginable thing. the most unpatriotic and sadly, not unprecedented.
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from denying enslaved people full citizenship until the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments after the civil war to denying women the right to vote until the 19th amendment 100 years ago to poll taxes and literacy test and ku klux klan that lasted into the 50s and 60s. the supreme court decision in 2013 and two weeks ago. that decision that weakened the landmark and voting rights act. to the willful attack, election attacks in 2020. then to a whole other level of threat of violence and deadly insurrection of capital on january 6th. just got back from europe. they asked me is it going to be
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okay. each time we found way to over come and that's what we must do today. vice president harris and i spent aour careers doing this work. i asked her to lead, to bring people together to protect the right to vote in our democracy and it starts with continuing the fight to pass hr1. the for the people act. [ applause ] that bill would end voter suppression in states. get dark money out of politics. give voice to people. create a fair district maps and
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end partisan political gerrymandering. last month, republicans opposed even debating, even considering for the people act. senate democrats stood united to protect our democracy and the sanctity of the vote. we must pass the for the people act. it's national imperative. we must also fight for the john lewis fighting rights advancement act to restore -- [ applause ] to restore and expand voting protection. to prevent voter suppression. all the congresswomen and men here, there's a bunch of you. you knew john, many of you. just weeks ago, supreme court, yet again, weakened the voting rights act and upheld what justice kagen called a
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significant race based disparity in voting opportunities. courts decision as harmful as it is, does not limit the congress's ability to repair the damage done. that's the important point. puts the burden back on congress to restore the voting rights act to its intended strength. as soon as congress passes the for the people act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act, i will sign it and let the whole world see it. that will be an important moment. the world is wondering -- [ applause ] you know the world is wondering
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what is america going to do. we also have to be clear eyed about the obstruction we face. legislation is one tool but not the only tool. it's not the only measure of our obligation to defend democracy today. for example, attorney general merrick garland announced that the united states department of justice will be using its authorities to challenge the onslaught of state laws undermining voting rights in old and new ways. focus will be on dismantling laws like the recent challenge to georgia's vicious anti-voting law. department of justice will do so with a voting rights division that is doubling its size and enforcement. civil rights groups and other
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organizations announced their plans to stay vigilant and challenge these laws in the court. in texas, republican led state legislature wants to allow partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters and impartial poll workers. they want voters to dive further and be able to be in a position where they wonder who watching them and intimidating them pop the wait longer to vote, to drive a long way to get to vote. they want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don't vote at all. that's ha this is about. this year, alone, 17 states have enacted, not just proposed but enacted 28 new laws to make it harder for americans to vote. not to mention nearly 400
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