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California Democrats Avoid Shutout, Now Face Key House Races; Contractor Arrested at White House Charged with Attempted Murder; First Lady to Appear before Cameras Month After Medical Procedure; McCabe Seeks Immunity Deal Ahead of Congressional Testimony on Clinton E-mail Probe; Massive Volcanic Eruption in Guatemala Leaves 75 Dead, Hundreds Missing. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:32:16] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Primary focus. Democrats avoid disaster and keep hopes alive to capture the House. Republicans also breathing a sigh of relief. How can both be true? The answer? California. Several races there are too close to call. Even now. Democrats face a doomsday scenario. Their crowded fields splitting the vote, preventing a top-two finish. That didn't happen. The top- two finishes required in the wacky system in California. That did not happen. California Democrats did secure at least some spots on the November ballot. Now can they beat Republican opponents, and can they win enough to help the party gain the 23 seats needed to recapture the House? Big question.

Well get the answer from CNN's Miguel Marquez in Los Angeles for us.

Miguel, it's been a long night of counting. How is it going right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are still counting. We probably won't know how some of the races will go for several days, if not weeks. Republicans were worried they would not have anybody at the top across the state. Now they might have two. For governor, they have John Cox who will face Gavin Newsom in the governor race. The Senate race undecided. Dianne Feinstein moves to the general election, but it is not clear if her challenger will be another Democrat or a Republican. Those votes have yet to be counted.

Democrats were concerned toward the end about whether or not they would actually field candidates in all of the races that they wanted to be competitive in because of the two -- the primary here and the top-two vote getters advance to the primary. There were so many Democrats in the race they split their votes many ways. They weren't sure they were going to get in. It looks like Democrats are in all those races. Two are still a concern for them. California, 10, Jeff Dunham (ph), the Republican will move ahead, and he will be in the race in November. But it's not clear whether -- or entirely clear whether a Democrat or Republican will be vying for that second-tier spot. California, 48, Republican Dana Rohrabacher, been there many, many years. He will be in the general election in November. But there was a three-way tie, basically, two Democrats and a Republican. It looks like a Democrat will sweep through on that one. But again, second place there will be the teller.

In California, people can drop off their ballots and even mail their ballots on the day. So it takes some days for registrars across the state to get all of those ballots together. They have to open them, certify them, count them. It could be a little while -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Oh, America, mail in your ballots.

MARQUEZ: Oh, California.

BOLDUAN: OK, Exactly. Oh, California!

Miguel, thanks so much.

MARQUEZ: You've got it.

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign.

Oh, California! That's how we'll start every segment.

Angela, Democrats were concerned about getting locked out of the midterms. They survived. But that's not a guarantee that they get the seat. So what's your feeling after last night?

[11:35:14] ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITIAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there are a few things. One, overall, given that this is our Super Tuesday for midterms, I think there are three buckets of victors. I think Obama alumni overall performed very low across the board, especially in California. And I think women, particularly black women, there were a lot of people who doubted San Francisco mayoral candidate, London Breed, she's just barely squeaking by right now. I think London's pulled ahead a little bit. It speaks volumes about the fact that a black woman could run and potentially win in an area that has been so heavily gentrified. And I know we're talking about Cali. Just a shout out to the Iowa secretary of state candidate, Deidre DeJear. And also quite a big victory. Women overall, regardless if they win or not, the fact that we are so underrepresented, Kate, in so many seats, local level, state level, especially on the federal level, the fact that 122 women stepped up to run in eight states yesterday is mind blowing. And I think that's a victory in and of itself.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point.

Scott, if we take one example that we've been looking at overnight, the California governor's race, the Republican John Cox made it on ballot. Donald Trump endorsed him. Trump took credit for it this morning tweeting about it that the Trump impact was really big. Do you think -- do you think that's what it was when it comes to the California's governor's race?


BOLDUAN: Do you think a Republican running with a big bear hug to Donald Trump is a smart play in California?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it galvanized Republicans around an option that they can feel good about? I think the president helped him out. And it is overall good for the Republican Party to have a nominee in that office. It would have been a huge blow to the party's morale and to the turnout efforts if they didn't have somebody running at the top of the ticket. So the California governor's race is still a lean-Democrat or a likely Democratic governor's race but having an actual funded and functioning Republican campaign at the top of the ticket, which I do think the president helped cause, does have a trickledown effect into the turnout into these House races. The real ballgame is, can the Republicans fight off Democrats in some of these California House races. I think there are seven or eight districts that Republicans hold that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 election. Democrats need to sweep those, and the Republicans need to try to hang on to a couple that would make it hard for the Democrats to win the House majority.

BOLDUAN: Stay tuned.

Scott, Mitch McConnell announced he would cancel most of the August break to keep Senators in town to do a lot of work, is what he said. Conveniently, it also keeps Democrats off of the campaign trail during an important time. I see you smiling. How much work can they get done in three extra weeks, especially when the House isn't in town?

MCCONNELL: They have a lot of work to do because Democrats have engaged in historic obstructionism on the president's personnel appointments. They spend a huge amount of their time filibustering and trying to stop the president's nominees for various executive and judicial branch slots. And so if they would give up this historic obstructionism, they could do a lot of their work before August but --


BOLDUAN: That has nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with the campaign, Scott.

JENNINGS: I think it has everything to do with the fact that they have a lot of things they need to get done and the Democrats have spent their time obstructing Donald Trump's nominees. They should give up this obstruction and get to work on things that people care about.

BOLDUAN: Things that Democrats said about Republicans a short time ago.

Angela, how damaging do you think three weeks can be to Democrats off the campaign trail?

RYE: I think it is very damaging, Kate.

I have to respond to Scott.

BOLDUAN: Of course. RYE: I think historic obstructionism occurred under the Barack Obama administration, right? I think we can't lightly throw those terms around. Your former boss said that he was doing everything he could and everything in his power to make Barack Obama a one-term president. The first thing that this new president did when he came into office is try to undo all of the major accomplishments of the Obama administration. I think it's different when you're trying to prevent obstruction to civil rights and when you're trying to prevent bigotry and you're trying to prevent sexism and when you're trying to prevent historic oppression in 2018, years, 50 years, after Dr. King's assassination. That's completely different. That's trying to prevent hatred from winning. That's trying to prevent bigotry from winning. That is not obstruction. That's protection.

BOLDUAN: If the Senate stays in town, I do wonder if President Trump will stay in town as well to get so much work done if there's so much work to --


RYE: Come on, Kate, you know better.

BOLDUAN: We will see. Hope springs eternal! Hope springs eternal!

JENNINGS: I do want to respond to something Angela said that --


BOLDUAN: You can respond to me


BOLDUAN: You can respond later, Scott. We have to go.

Thank you so much.


[11:39:59] BOLDUAN: Still ahead, this is scary and simply remarkable. Watch this. A White House contractor just steps away from the West Wing and is arrested on murder charges. That's exactly what happened yesterday. It's raising some big concerns about security at the White House. We'll give you the details next.


BOLDUAN: Here's the headline. A government contractor arrested at work. The bigger headline? The government contractor works at the White House and he's charged with attempted murder.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House.

Jeremy, what more are we learning?

[11:44:48] JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. Well, 30-year-old Martese Edwards is set to appear in D.C. Superior Court today for the first time since he was arrested yesterday morning when he came to work here at the White House. He works in the old Executive Office Building, which is right -- part of the White House complex where we are right now. He was arrested on attempted murder charges, is what we were told, stemming from an arrest warrant in Prince Georges County. We are told that Martese Edwards works on the National Security Council, not in a national security position, but in an administrative position where he was doing work for the Resources Management Department.

But what's really interesting here is this comes three weeks after the arrest warrant for these attempted murder charges were first entered into a national law enforcement database. And during that time, as far as we understand, he was still working here, coming in regularly to work at the Executive Office Building that's part of the White House complex. And Secret Service obviously will have some questions to answer, still.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Remarkable that that played out, and of course, there's video and pictures of it.

Also, though, Jeremy, the first lady, Melania Trump, is scheduled to be before cameras really for the first time in nearly a month after her hospital stay. Do we know how she's doing?

DIAMOND: The White House has said she is doing great. This will be, however, her first public appearance with reporters in tow in more than a month. First lady, Melania Trump, has been out of the public eye for a while. And the president this morning taking to Twitter to lambaste the media coverage surrounding her lack of a public appearance. He tweeted this morning that, "The fake news media has been so unfair and vicious to my wife and our great first lady, Melania." He went on to allege that, "The news media has reported a series of allegations, from near death to facelift, to left the White House and me for New York or Virginia, to abuse." None of those had been reported in any way or those words uttered on national television, including on this network, until just now because the president came out and tweeted those allegations. That's not something that has been reported. Again, all of these questions about where she has been stemming from the fact that she had this kidney embolization procedure that was supposed to be a few days of recovery and we haven't seen her in nearly a month -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: If no one is talking about it, why on earth would the president want to quote something like the fact that she even left me?

Jeremy, great to see you. Thank you very much. Amazing.

Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, he is looking for a deal, immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony before he appears at a congressional hearing on the FBI and the Justice Department's handling of the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server investigation.

Joining me now, CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, with more on this.

What are you hearing, Laura? LAURA JARRETT, CNN REPORTER: Hey, there, Kate. As we all wait for

this much-anticipated inspector general's report on the FBI's actions leading up to the 2016 election, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley has been quietly trying to get his ducks in a row for his upcoming hearing on the report. But the stakes for McCabe testifying are different and quite high. And here's why. Earlier this year, we reported that McCabe is under criminal investigation here in D.C. based on allegations that he lied to investigators about a separate inspector general report. He vigorously denies any wrongdoing. But any testimony that he provides to Congress could be used against him in that separate criminal case. As a result, his lawyer is now asking Grassley's committee for a limited immunity deal. And it wouldn't protect him for all time, but it would protect whatever he says in that committee hearing from being used against him in his criminal case. We have no indication that Grassley's committee will actually give him such an immunity deal. It would require a two-thirds vote in the committee and the Justice Department would have an opportunity to intervene -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Laura, we'll stand by to see what happens there.

Thanks so much.

Coming up for us, 75 dead, hundreds still missing after a massive volcanic eruption. Officials are racing to find survivors in a town covered with toxic ash. The images are truly astonishing. We'll take you live.


[11:53:08] BOLDUAN: Right now, a devastating scene is playing out in Guatemala after the Fuego Volcano eruption. More than 70 people are dead, 200 are still missing after this massive plume of smoke rained down ash and rocks over the weekend. Whole villages are buried under blankets of ash. People are being treated for severe burns. And the worst isn't over. The volcano is still going. Thousands are trying to scramble to safety.

Enacio Lopez (ph) survived, but members of his family are still missing.


ENACIO LOPEZ (ph), VOLCANIC ERUPTION SURVIVOR (through translation): No, not for my part. But my sister is lost. She isn't appearing. I don't know if she's buried underground or if they saved her. I don't know.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Guatemala.

Patrick, what are you seeing there?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're at the base of that volcano. Earlier this morning, we were near. We could see the volcano as it was erupting. And we're where police are ready to go up. They've been doing rotations all morning long, going up, coming down. When they come down, you see the strain on them. It's a very active scene. You see cars are coming in and going up, as they continue to carry out these search-and-rescue missions. Still looking for any sign of life and hoping to recover victim's remains.

We have images that show how dramatic this volcanic explosion on Sunday was. Before and after images show what a changed landscape it is. I could sense that when I was there this morning. We're in a town that ceased to exist. Houses were basically buried under the ash. When you touch the ash, it was very hot. There were places you were told not to walk because you could burn the rubber on your soles. So even though they are continuing to try to find survivors, these firefighters and police officers have to take care of themselves as well, because this volcano could erupt again at any moment. They've told us to park, everyone who is here, park our car facing downhill just in case there's another eruption and we all have to go running once again -- Kate?

[11:55:10] BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh. Patrick, folks did not have a lot of warning. That's part of the problem here.

OPPMANN: It's just incredible. We talked to some residents waiting to go back to see how their houses are and so they can feed their animals. This is a very rural area. They said, when it started belching smoke, it wasn't something out of the ordinary. There's actually three volcanos around us, all very active. Some people went closer to see what was happening and that's when it exploded, and you just wonder what happened to those people. They probably didn't make it.

BOLDUAN: We are just starting to learn some of these stories. This is far from over.

Patrick, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

The images just amazing. We'll stay close to that.

Still ahead, though, more on the breaking news. President Trump preparing to flex his pardoning power again, perhaps for as many as 30 people. This is described as the president's new, quote, "favorite thing." So who could be next in line? And is this looking like an abuse of power? Stay with CNN.