Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Mark Meadows Sues January 6 Committee And Speaker Pelosi; Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Russia Boosting Troop Levels Near Border According To Ukraine Military; Instagram Boss Asked Why Company Only Acted On Eating Disorder Accounts After CNN Report; Opening Statement Made In Trial Of Ex-Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright; Pence Visit NH Amid Presidential Run Rumors. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 08, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When he testified, he said, it is so officers don't confuse their firearms with their Tasers -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Adrianne, thank you very much.
And thanks very much to all of you for being with us. AC 360 starts now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in for Anderson.
Tonight, the former public servant and memoir writer will no longer tell the public about January 6th unless it is the book buying public has just raised the legal ante against lawmakers wanting to know.
The former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows fresh from blowing off a deposition today before the House Select Committee and facing criminal contempt proceedings is now suing the members of the Committee and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Quoting from the filing, "Mr. Meadows, a witness has been put in the untenable position of choosing between conflicting privilege claims of constitutional origin and dimension."
In an interview with me in "THE SITUATION ROOM," the Committee member, Zoe Lofgren, noting his prior cooperation in turning over thousands of documents is not buying Meadows's privilege claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): He sent this information over obviously, he did not believe it was privileged or he wouldn't have sent it. And so do refuse to answer questions about it is really -- that's not the way things work. You assert privilege on a question by question basis, and he is just trying to escape telling the truth to the Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tonight, the Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson says lawsuit or not, they plan to move ahead next week with a criminal contempt referral.
Joining us so now, the California Democratic Congressman, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and Select Committee member, Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the author of the bestselling book, "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could."
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. What's your reaction politically and legally to Mark Meadows's lawsuit against the Committee and the Speaker Nancy Pelosi?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, legally, I think apparent by the fact that he produced thousands of documents to our Committee, which he acknowledges are not privileged, and now he is saying that well, I can't come in and testify because it would be privileged. He can't have it both ways.
And so, I think it is a very superficial filing meant to dry to obstruct and stall, but it won't be successful. We intend to move forward and hold him in criminal contempt. And expect and hope that the Justice Department will move with equal alacrity.
BLITZER: Were you surprised by his latest legal move?
SCHIFF: I was surprised by it in the sense I wasn't expecting a lawsuit. I don't think it's going to do him any good. Interestingly, he claims what accounts for his about face, his purported desire to cooperate, and then his change of heart was a Committee decision to subpoena phone records. That suggests that perhaps he was concerned that the phone records might contradict what he was telling the Committee or maybe it was the President got upset with his book, or upset with -- the former President was upset that he was cooperating. I don't know.
But the reality is, something led him to abandon cooperation with the Committee, but I think he is really in a compromised legal position because he has provided information to the Committee which acknowledges is not privileged, and yet he has refused to appear to answer questions about those very documents.
BLITZER: The Committee has reportedly sent out subpoenas to multiple phone and telecom companies asking for records. So, what can those records, Congressman, possibly tell you about the calls and messages that Mark Meadows and others have thus far refused to hand over? And how much have you learned from the records that Meadows actually did turn over before ceasing cooperation, some 6,000 documents we are told?
SCHIFF: Well, you know the answer to your question about what we have learned from what he did turn over, I can only refer to some of the documents that the Chairman made public in his letter to Meadows's counsel, but they go right to the heart of the matter of the communications that he had about January 6th, as well as a body of information he provides in his book.
So, it's not just the documents that we got from him, but very pertinent about the planning that went into challenging the certification process, about what the expectations might have been for violence and perhaps the need for the National Guard on January 6th. So, a lot of questions that are deeply relevant.
SCHIFF: In terms of what value phone records are going to add without getting into any specifics about what particular phone records we might be interested in, phone records allow you to make contacts between different individuals at key moments in the chronology, who was talking to whom, at what time. It doesn't give you content of the communications, but if a witness tells you no, I never had a conversation with this person or that person, and you have phone records to show otherwise, then it gives you a basis to make sure that you're getting the full truth.
BLITZER: Does it seem to you that Steve Bannon has actually set the playbook for how people in former President Trump's orbit should deal with your Committee if they want to stay in his good graces for that matter? Does your Committee have the ability to conduct a full investigation in the face of that kind of stonewalling?
SCHIFF: We do and we will. We will do whatever is necessary to make sure that we get the information we need to legislate and protect the country.
In terms of whether Steve Bannon is setting the template, he may be sending a template for going to jail, to martyr themselves to the former President. I don't think that's a precedent many others are going to want to follow.
But at the end of the day, the vast majority of people that we're reaching out to are cooperating, and many are reaching out to us. The outliers are the people like Bannon, and now Meadows and Clark, who are not willing to answer their lawful obligation to testify, and we are taking appropriate action against them.
BLITZER: The investigation, as you will know, Congressman is obviously not the only time that the Congress has investigated Donald Trump. Millions of Americans know you as the lead Democrat on virtually everything related to the former President and Russia, for that matter.
And as you know, according to CNN and other major news organizations, a series of investigations and lawsuits have discredited many of the infamous so-called Trump dossier central allegations and exposed the unreliability of that so-called dossier's sources.
Do you worry, Congressman, that your credibility, and other Democrats' credibility could be hurt by that, and that it potentially could impact how some see this current investigation?
SCHIFF: No, and people who have been following the investigation understand the very limited role that the Steele dossier played and also understand that well, we may now know that one of his primary sources was lying to him, it doesn't change Donald Trump's corrupt behavior in 2016. It doesn't change the fact that Donald Trump's Campaign Chairman was secretly meeting with Russian Intelligence and providing Russian Intelligence internal campaign polling data and a strategy for key battleground states while the Kremlin Intelligence Agency was running a covert campaign to help Donald Trump win his election.
It doesn't change the fact that the President's son was secretly meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian delegation to get dirt on Hillary Clinton or that others in Trump's orbit were also seeking the gain of the Russian hack of the Democratic Party.
And so the Steele dossier is a nice talking point for kind of right- wing pundits, but it is a distraction from what we did learn and what we did learn was very damning of the former President, of the Russians, and his campaign.
BLITZER: Did you ever believe those allegations in the Steele dossier?
SCHIFF: Well, some of those allegations proved to be all too accurate. In fact, Steele did report and bear in mind that as you know, Wolf, Steele was a respected former member of British Intelligence, someone who could not be immediately ruled out as a credible source.
Some of that reporting was among the first reporting that the Russians were helping Donald Trump and his campaign, and that the orders to help Trump Campaign were coming from the very top of the Kremlin, indeed, coming from Vladimir Putin.
And so some of that information proved to be all too accurate, devastatingly so. Others proved to be quite wrong, and the reason you do investigation is to find out what's true and what's not.
BLITZER: I know you're co-sponsoring, Congressman, what's called the Protect our Democracy Act, which is being taken up in the House this week. Its aim is to, among other things, curb executive power. What kind of abuses do you think could have been avoided if a law like this had been in place in recent years? And frankly, even if it passes the House, do you think it really will ever clear the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate?
SCHIFF: Well, it will certainly have helped protect our democracy against an abusive President, a President abusing their power. It would have for example, expedited enforcement of congressional subpoenas, so it wouldn't have taken us two years to get former White House Counsel Don McGahn's incriminating testimony, it would protect Inspectors Generals so they couldn't be fired as Donald Trump fired, I think five Inspectors Generals because they were revealing things of malfeasance or corruption within the executive.
SCHIFF: It would have better protected whistleblowers that faced death threats as a result of the President's actions. It would have helped Congress prevent the former President or a future President from enriching themselves by violating the Emoluments Clause and having Gulf nations rent hotel rooms that they didn't even bother to occupy as a way of enriching the President and ingratiating themselves.
It would have put teeth in the Hatch Act, so Kellyanne Conway couldn't violate the Hatch Act, and merely say, well, blah, blah, blah, you know, who is going to do anything about it? So in those ways, in many others, if we had a problem again, with, for example, an official at the Office of Management Budget, refusing to ascertain who the winner of an election is, we have a cure for that, too. So, very important reforms.
BLITZER: Congressman Schiff, thanks, as usual for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, joining us now CNN political analyst and "New York Times" Washington correspondent, Maggie Haberman who has been reporting extensively on all of this. Maggie, thanks for joining us.
I know you've been reporting on how unhappy the former President has been with Meadows, does this lawsuit appear to be at least in part, an attempt from Meadows to please the former President by emulating what he does specifically sue people?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to say, Wolf. It is clear that this is something that is a Trump tactic, and we have seen it time and again. We also did see it from a former Deputy National Security Council aide during the impeachment trial as well, where he was trying to delay having to be or opposed being called in as a witness.
And so, it is not completely, you know, new ground here, but it certainly is the Donald Trump playbook is to sue to either try to delay or stall or just completely undo what's happening.
I don't know exactly when Meadows started engaging with the Committee or disengaging with the Committee, I should say. So it's impossible to say, sitting here, whether it is directly related to his book, but the timing is inevitably going to raise questions about the fact that Meadows has this book coming out this week.
There were early excerpts last week, in which he revealed all kinds of things about Trump's battle with coronavirus that upset the former President to have out there. So, it is certainly on the surface, it looks as if these might be related.
BLITZER: Despite all the noise, Maggie, that Meadows is now making, how much damage has potentially already been done with everything he has handed over to the Committee, some 6,000 documents we are told.
HABERMAN: Look, I think that there is clearly a huge amount of information that they have in these texts. It is hard for me to know what he turned over versus you know, what he is still hanging on to. We know from a letter that Bennie Thompson sent Meadows, that you know, there were some text suggesting the Meadows was in touch with lawmakers, three to four days after the election talking about alternate slates of electors that's far earlier than I think any of us realized, at least externally that they had been talking about this idea. It did start soon after Election Day, but not that day.
So you know, I think that there is probably a fair amount of information the Committee has exactly what it looks like, and what he is withholding, only he knows. But I do think the basic point that it is very hard to, you know, both write a book and turn over a bunch of documents and then say, actually, it is really executive privilege. That's hard to swallow.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point.
What are the former President's expectations, Maggie? I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this, when it comes to this investigation. I mean, in terms of his inner circle, is anything short of Steve Bannon's level of defiance really acceptable to Trump?
HABERMAN: I think that Trump recognizes that some people are going to cooperate to some extent with the Committee. I don't actually think he is saying to everybody, go do what Steve Bannon is doing.
I think Steve Bannon wants to do what Steve Bannon is doing, and I have said before, I will say again, I think Steve Bannon is having to some extent, the time of his life. This is not a felony charge. It's a misdemeanor charge. And I think that he feels as if this is more feasible than when he was previously under indictment for a felony and he got a pardon from Trump.
So I don't know that this is actually Trump's saying to people, Wolf, don't do this. But I do think that people know that they have ways to curry favor with Trump and, you know, looking as if you're going to the far ends of the Earth to try to support him or defend him is one of those ways.
BLITZER: Maggie Haberman, thanks so much for joining us.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, just a day after their video Summit, there is breaking news on Russia's military buildup on Ukraine's border. Also, what President Biden is threatening if Russia invades. The former National Security Council of Russia expert, Fiona Hill, standing by to join us live.
And later, our Randi Kaye asked the former Vice President if he would run for President even if it means taking on his old boss, as you will see when you see what he said and how he said it, there is a lot going on right now.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[20:19:19] BLITZER: There is breaking and rather ominous news tonight on the
Russian threat to Ukraine. According to a new Ukrainian security assessment, Russia has now boosted troop numbers near the border to 120,000.
Also tonight, we learned that President Biden will speak tomorrow with Ukraine's President and Eastern European NATO allies. That on top of news that the U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Mark Milley spoke today by phone with his Polish and French counterparts.
Earlier today, President Biden ruled out a direct U.S. military response if Russia invades while explicitly though threatening to hammer Russia's economy. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, it's a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to NATO, I mean to Ukraine.
If in fact, he invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences -- severe consequences, economic consequences like he's ever seen, or ever have been seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ukraine, as you might know, is not a NATO a member. That said, The Pentagon confirmed today that the final elements of an American military assistance package should be in Ukraine by week's end.
All this coming exactly 30 years to the day since the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, they all signed the agreement to solving the old Soviet Union. I was in Moscow and witnessed that historic moment. The question tonight, how to handle a Russian President who seems to rue that day.
Joining us now, Fiona Hill, she served during the last administration as the National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, but she is perhaps best known for her testimony during the first Trump impeachment on his efforts to strong arm Ukraine's President into helping him win re-election.
Fiona Hill is also the author, by the way of a very important book, "There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century." Fiona, thanks so much for joining us.
You hear President Biden's vow to unleash what he says would be unprecedented sanctions, economic sanctions, and diplomatic sanctions against Putin's government if Russia invades Ukraine, is that going to be enough to deter Putin, in your view? Because we also heard the President rule out, at least for now, direct U.S. military action? FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR
EUROPEAN AND RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Well, everything, Wolf, depends on how this is structured. It certainly won't be enough if it is just the United States taking action. So, I think what's significant here is all of the talk that we've heard between the President and other European leaders.
As you mentioned, there are talks underway with some of the Eastern European NATO allies, including Poland, which obviously are going to be incredibly concerned about what is happening in Ukraine, it is right next door to Poland. And the Pols have been extraordinarily concerned recently about developments in Belarus, right next door there as well.
But President Biden has also been talking to the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and also Italy. That said, they have formed out the so-called Quint, the five kind of key countries of European allies and the United States.
And if we have collective action on this range of issues that President Biden is sketching out there, then that might be sufficient, at least, to push Russia in the direction of where we're headed at the moment of a diplomatic approach to this.
Clearly, President Biden has been very direct in not raising expectations of any kind of U.S. military assistance here to Ukraine and beyond what we are already providing in terms of material and equipment to Ukraine on an ongoing basis.
But clearly, a very concerted diplomatic effort is necessary here and we are starting to see the shape of this.
BLITZER: What about, Fiona, energy sanctions, in particular, which CNN is reporting are seen as a last resort within the Biden administration because of the potential impact on the global economy? Do you think it will come down to that?
HILL: Well, look, this is something that has been discussed before on many occasions. I mean, there is obviously the question about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that flows directly from Russia to Germany, and the United States has put a lot of pressure on to stop the development of that pipeline, and of course, it is in its very last phases now.
But absolutely, the larger implications of going after the Russian energy sector at a time where we are having problems in the energy space altogether, because of supplies and distribution, and the way that we've been trying to ramp the economy back up again after COVID. You know, we've seen massive shocks around the globe from other interruptions of supply thinking back to the 1970s, in the Yom Kippur War aftermath, for example.
And there were discussions about doing something similar during the standoff in Venezuela a couple of years ago when Russia intervened there as well to prop up Nicolas Maduro in the midst of an international effort, and people pulled back from that because of the ramifications, because this would have international reverberations. So I think that this is something that we would have to approach with
caution and again, collectively, there has to be support from Europeans and others for more drastic action and sanctions. It's no good if the United States just does this alone.
BLITZER: As we all know, Vladimir Putin prides himself on maneuvering and manipulating situations. In terms of next steps though, what should we be looking for, Fiona, for an indication of where this is all heading?
HILL: Well, we are already seeing it, you, yourself mentioned at the top of this, Wolf, the way that the reports now that the Russians have increased the number of troops.
I mean, Putin intends to keep the pressure on. This is his way of gunboat diplomacy, getting us all to the table to talk about the things that he is concerned about. Vladimir Putin wants his security dilemmas addressed.
This isn't just an issue of our security, Ukraine's security, or Europe's security, he is trying to kind of force a whole set of discussions as he wanted right from the very beginning of his presidency.
You said, you know, we're talking today on the 30th Anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For Putin and for Russia, this marked an enormous loss, the loss of a state the second time in the 20th Century after the Russian Revolution. They want to have a post-Cold War settlement. Ukraine is part of that.
But really what Putin wants to do is thrash out Russia's place in Europe. So, he is going to keep the pressure on himself. He wants to get us towards the negotiating table and we are going to have to figure out along with our European allies about how we manage this.
BLITZER: Fiona Hill, thanks so much for joining us, and thanks for all your service. Appreciate it very much.
HILL: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The CEO of Instagram in the hot seat up on Capitol Hill today as senators demand the popular social media app to better to protect children.
Senator Blumenthal, who faced off with the CEO during today's hearing is standing by to join us live.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: On Capitol Hill today the Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri was grilled during a contentious hearing where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argued for stricter government oversight of social media apps. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the Instagram boss why the company didn't do anything about a set of accounts promoting eating disorders to kids until CNN reported those back in October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Shouldn't children and parents have the right to report dangerous material abuse and get a response? Get some action. Because we've heard harrowing stories from parents who tried to report and I've heard no response, my office made a report and got no response until CNN made the report to press relations. Shouldn't there be an obligation Instagram will respond.
ADAM MOSSERI, CEO, INSTAGRAM: Senator, yes, I believe we try and respond to all reports. And if we ever failed to do so that is a mistake that we should correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal was referring to an experiment run by his office back in September, where they set up an Instagram account belonging to a 13-year-old girl. The account followed some pages about dieting and eating disorders. And quickly, Instagram began promoting more accounts glorifying eating disorders to that 13-year old-girl's account. The Instagram, Instagram failed to detect the accounts did not did not do anything about them until the company was asked about them by CNN.
Senator Blumenthal is joining us right now. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
So you told the head of Instagram, that there was a quote, real lack of connection to the reality of what is there in the testimony you are giving today, end quote. Isn't clear to you why it would take a report by CNN to have Instagram shut down accounts that clearly violate their policies.
BLUMENTHAL: There is no excuse for it. But it dramatically shows one of the key failings of Instagram and a lot of these tech platforms, which is they have no responsiveness to parents, or anyone else reporting this toxic addictive content that is driven to children by the black box, the 600 pound gorillas in the black box, these algorithmic formulas that actually expand the profit of Instagram, at the expense of kids.
And that's why I asked him about parental controls and means of intervention, because parents have been saying to me, how do we help our children? How do we protect our children who are going down these rabbit holes of eating disorders, bullying, self-harm, even suicide, and the lack of transparency? And the refusal of this CEO of Instagram, to say he would make those algorithms transparent, that he would allow an independent expert to look at the algorithms I think speaks volumes. And it was quite remarkable how the bipartisan outrage indicates that we are moving towards legislation. We're not going to rely on Instagram to police itself. BLITZER: I know your office is not only examine eating disorders, Senator in their connection to Instagram, but also search terms related to suicide, suicides. What have you found?
BLUMENTHAL: What we have found is that a an account, which indicated an interest in self-harm, produced images, so graphic, I couldn't produce them in a Senate hearing room. And these kinds of images, again, are driven addictively to kids who may have anxiety stresses, problems. Now, social media didn't create the mental health crisis in this country. But it has fanned the flames of those anxieties, taking kids down those rabbit holes to dark places, and increases their suicidal ideations.
BLITZER: I know you and Senator Ted Cruz have agreed that Instagram has to be more forthcoming with their own data and research into these issues. Do you think they will actually make those documents eventually available to you, absent (ph) new laws or regulations? Do you have much incentive? Do they have much incentive to actually cooperate with Congress?
BLUMENTHAL: I've grown increasingly skeptical Wolf about the level of cooperation from these tech companies I hope I'm pleasantly surprised. But a number of them have said they're going to produce their research and make their algorithms transparent. We have yet to see it, in fact.
And so, I think we need legislation on privacy, to protect the enormous amounts of data that are collected on kids, on transparency to show what these algorithms are doing. They don't have to be this toxic. And of course, on parental controls so that mom and dad know what their kids are doing and can intervene, but also a duty of care. You know, the United Kingdom has a child protection code that includes a duty of care, a number of other provisions, why should kids in the UK be better protected than kids in the United States?
And so, along with Reform of Section 230, which grants these sites, broad immunity, the platform's have a legal shield that almost no other industry has, I think we need strong reforms and the trust that would be required for self-policing or self-regulation just has been squandered.
BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal. Thanks so much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation down the road.
Up next, chilling video and emotional testimony in the trial of a former police officer who claims she mistakenly pulled her gun instead of her taser when she shot and killed a black man. We'll have the latest from the courtroom when we come back.
[20:40:15] BLITZER: During opening statements today, the attorney for a suburban Minneapolis Police officers said that Kim Potter believed that she drew a taser, not a handgun when she shot and killed 20-year-old Dante Wright. In body camera video of the shooting officer, Potter is heard yelling taser, taser, taser, which he says shows she was not aware she was holding a gun. But the prosecutor argued Officer Potter a 26-year veteran of the force had been trained how to avoid such deadly mixups.
More now from CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was a moment Officer Kim Potter says she made a fatal mistake, which cost 20-year-old Daunte Wright his life
KIM POTTER, EX-COP: (INAUDIBLE) I just shot him.
CAMPBELL: Wright was pulled over by police in Brooklyn Center Minnesota last April for a traffic violation. During that stop officers discovered an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a gross misdemeanor weapons violation. Wright was being handcuffed when he struggled and jumped back into his car. That's when Officer Potter pulled out her gun.
POTTER: I'll tase you! I'll tase you! Taser, taser, taser. Holy (INAUDIBLE). I just shot him! I shot him! Oh my god! Oh my god!
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Daunte Wright was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to his chest.
ERIN ELDRIDGE, ASSISTANT MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: There's no do over when you take a young man's life.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Kim Potter is now on trial for first and second degree manslaughter. She has pleaded not guilty and said she meant to use her taser which is holstered on her left side but mistakenly withdrew her firearm from her right side. In opening arguments prosecutor showed the jury body camera footage of the shooting and focused on the firearms training Potter received, which they say was extensive.
ELDRIDGE: She was trained not to shoot an unarmed driver. She was trained not to fire into a vehicle and she was also trained not to use her taser on a fleeing suspect. We trust them to know wrong from right and left from right.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): The defense his opening statement laid out Potter's history as a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department and 49-year-old mother of two children. Until Daunte Wrights death, she had never fired her gun or her taser according to the defense.
PAUL ENGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She realizes what has happened much to her everlasting and unending regret.
POTTER: I'll tase you!
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Her attorney said Potter was afraid her partner was in danger. And she pulled the trigger rubber weapon thinking it was her taser.
ENGH: Or why else would she say, she made a mistake. This was an accident. She's a human being. But she had to do what you have to do to prevent death to a fellow officer too.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Daunte Wright's mother was the first witness to take the stand. She was distraught as she told jurors about the day her son was killed.
KATIE BRYANT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S MOTHER: That's the worst day of my life.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Prosecutors showed body camera footage to the jury of the moment Wright's mother arrived at the scene.
BRYANT: I can't (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know -- I don't know anything. (INAUDIBLE).
BRYANT: I am Katie Bryant, his mom (INAUDIBLE) now, please. He's only 20.
CAMPBELL: Now, Wolf, one of other witnesses that jurors heard from today was a rookie officer who was in the patrol car with Kim Potter on that day, as they pull Daunte Wright over, he was asked by defense counsel about the neighborhood he said this was a dangerous neighborhood. They're oftentimes where they would pull over drivers who had weapons. Now, upon further questions about the prosecutor, he conceded that there was no weapon that they found inside that car.
Of course, one of the most compelling parts of his testimony was not anything that he said. But what the jurors saw his body camera footage where you see that moment Daunte Wright is shot, afterwards Kim Potter she screams, she falls into the grass clasping her head in her hands, saying, I'm going to prison. Of course that decision will be left up to the jury.
Finally, this just in Wolf, we're learning from tonight the Office of the Minnesota Governor that he is preparing the state's National Guard to potentially assist local law enforcement as this trial continues and hid his words to allow for peaceful demonstrations keeping the peace and ensuring public safety. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right Josh, thanks very much. Josh Campbell reporting for us.
So, let's discuss this case with the criminal defense attorney Sara Azari. Sara, thanks for joining us.
So what are you do you make of the opening arguments from both the defense and the prosecution? Did one side seem to make their case better than the other?
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes well look I'm a criminal defense attorney. But I side with the prosecution in this case, at least so far. I think they came out far stronger and opening, you know, they said, look, she's a police officer, she should know better. She's been an officer for 26 years, she failed her duties, she failed her badge. And that's correct. You know, the defense got up and said, she made a mistake. She's a human being now.
Now, Wolf , if it's you and I making a mistake, pulling a glock instead of a taser, that's one thing. But this is an officer she's held to a higher standard. And that mistake in this trial needs to be reasonable as well. You know, did she make that mistake in good faith? Was it reasonable that she pulled a glock that is yellow? I'm sorry, that a glock that's black versus a taser that's yellow. One that weighs twice as much as the other.
So, you know, this case is going to turn on whether the deadly force was justified, which was not, and whether the mistake that she's claiming was reasonable in and of itself.
BLITZER: As we mentioned, the prosecution's first witness, it was Daunte Wright's mother, who was obviously and understandably very emotional. Do you think that was an effective strategy to put her on the stand to try to show jurors who her son was?
AZARI: Hundred percent Wolf, because look, I've represented both police officers and civilians and use of force cases. And the biggest mistake the defense can make is to blame a dead victim, which is what they did an opening statement. They said had he complied he would have been living today.
And so, the prosecutor went right to the spark of life witness putting the mother on the stand to humanize Daunte. To show that he was a family man, he was a father, he was going off to do laundry that day, you know, that he lived with his blended family. I mean, these are important facts to humanize a victim who was no longer in this courtroom was not before the jury. And what's going to happen on the defense side is Potter is going to take the stand to humanize herself.
And so, it's critically important with the victim who's no longer there for the prosecution to really, you know, hammer in his humanity, and they did that also with photographs that they showed.
BLITZER: Sara Azari, thanks so much for joining us.
AZARI: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Former Vice President Mike Pence had a busy day today making stops across New Hampshire to help Republicans running in 2022. But his trip is sparking a lot more rumors that he'll launch his own presidential bid in 2024 despite who we could be going up against. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): If Donald Trump runs for president, will you still run?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What he tells CNN's Randi Kaye, will hear when we come back.
BLITZER: Former Vice President Mike Pence made stops across New Hampshire today as Republicans gear up for next year's midterm elections. His trip comes amid speculation that he may be gearing up for a presidential run in 2024. But what about the former president, he talked about 2024 when he called into the Hugh Hewitt show earlier today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, HOST, THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: If Donald Trump decides not to run in 2024, who out there will that base flock to?
DONALD TRUMP, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If I do decide that I think my base is going to be very angry.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: And when asked about a possible presidential run and who he thought the front runners would be the former president said, he'd make his decision after midterms.
Let's go back to New Hampshire where -- were "360's" Randi Kaye caught up with the former Vice President earlier today. Here's her report.
KAYE (voice-over): In Manchester, New Hampshire, where we came to speak with voters about former Vice President Mike Pence, we were surprised when we got the man himself.
(on-camera): Have you made any decisions about running for president?
MIKE PENCE, FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: All our focuses on 2022 and doing everything we can to turn back this big government agenda, the Biden administration.
KAYE (voice-over): We asked Pence directly about his future plans, just as he arrived to speak with voters at an event here.
PENCE: Will let the future take care of itself.
KAYE (on-camera): If Donald Trump runs for president, will you still run? PENCE: You know, our focus is on 2022. But I can honestly tell you in 2023, my family and I will do what we've always done and that is will reflect, will pray, and will determine where we might best serve. And we'll go where we're called.
KAYE (on-camera): No matter who else is in the race? Thank you, sir.
PENCE: If Mike Pence finds he would best serve by running with voter support his candidacy.
(on-camera): What do you think of Mike Pence as a candidate for president?
LYNNE BLOOMQUIST, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think that Mike Pence is a very strong candidate for any office that he chooses to run for.
KAYE (on-camera): Do you think Mike Pence would be a good president?
DEAN POIRIER, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Yes, yes, I do.
KAYE (voice-over): But the picture for Pence sounded a little less rosy when Donald Trump became part of the conversation. Many voters suggesting Pence should hang up his hopes for the Oval and leave it to his former boss.
(on-camera): Could Mike Pence beat Trump?
TOM BLOOMQUIST, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I don't think so because Trump has already established quite a following.
He's well qualified. But Trump had he had charisma and aura.
KAYE (on-camera): Do you think Pence should run if Donald Trump runs?
ALISON VODELL, REPUBLICAN VOTER: No, I don't think so.
KAYE (on-camera): Why not?
VODELL: Because we really want Donald Trump to win.
KAYE (voice-over): Based on these voters, it seems Pence's biggest obstacle may be January 6, and the fact that he defied Trump's demands and certified the 2020 election results.
PENCE: The votes for president of the United States are as follows.
KAYE (on-camera): Will he be blamed for that? Will people consider him disloyal to Donald Trump if he enters the race? Will he be punished in some way?
LORI DAVIS, REPUBLICAN VOTER: There are laws that Pence had to follow, and legally he did the right thing. Now, is it something who are hardcore Trump lovers that, you know, the President walks on water no matter what? They'll say he's terrible. PORIER: Conservatives are very aggressive and sometimes territorial. So therefore, if you have a faction other that believes he did desert the party, they're not like us, support him.
KAYE (voice-over): Beyond January 6, there's also the question of enthusiasm or lack thereof for Pence.
(on-camera): Could Pence fire up that MAGA crowd.
KAYE (on-camera): What's exciting about Mike Pence?
VODELL: Oh gosh, we couldn't keep going. Let's say about Mike, Mike Pence.
KAYE (on-camera): I've stumped you.
VODELL: Yes, yes.
KAYE (voice-over): For Pence, that may mean he has more work to do, and even more voters to reach.
(on-camera): What about a message to voters? We see you here in New Hampshire, you've been to Iowa, South Carolina. Are you trying to tell the voter something?
PENCE: We're traveling all over the country and I got a great sense of enthusiasm.
KAYE: And Wolf, as you know, other names have been floated as possible Republican candidates for President. And we've heard from many of them and they say that of Donald Trump enters the race, they will not run but we are not hearing that from Mike Pence. In fact, I asked him that directly today you saw he had walked away from the camera returned to the camera to make it very clear if he feels he is called to serve, if he feels the need to run for president. It won't matter to him whether or not his former boss is also running in the same race. Wolf.
BLITZER: Randi Kaye, excellent reporting. Thanks very much.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: The news continues, so let's hand it over to Michael Smerconish in "CNN TONIGHT."
subpoenas after already turning over e-mail and text messages. According to a new Ukrainian security assessment, Russia has now boosted troop numbers near the border to 120,000.