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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Select Committee Vice Chair Cheney Previews Thursday Hearing; Interview With Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD); New Results In South Carolina Primary Races; Biden To Visit Saudi Arabia Despite Vowing To Make Kingdom A "Pariah"; Inflation Rises At Fastest Pace In 40 Years; Lawyers Uncertain Where Putin Critic Is After Prison Transfer; TX Police Kill Gunman Who Opened Fire At Children's Summer Camp; Search And Rescue Efforts Around Yellowstone National Park. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 14, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That his family wasn't informed that he would be moved. Navalny was sentenced in March to an additional nine years in prison. He was arrested when he was returned to Russia -- when he returned to Russia of his own choice in 2021 after being poisoned with novichok and nearly dying.
Thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Until late today, the big news was that the House January 6th Committee is postponing hearings scheduled for tomorrow. Then came this from Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel.
A preview of Thursday's installment, which Congresswoman Cheney said would examine what she called the former President's relentless effort to pressure the former Vice President to refuse to count lawful electoral votes.
As we were among the first report, this is part of the plan put forward by Trump attorney, John Eastman, who was working with the campaign.
In her video today, Congresswoman Cheney played a longer version of testimony we first heard some of yesterday from Eric Herschmann, one of the White House's lawyers that he spoke with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: It was the day after. Eastman -- I don't remember why he called me or he texted me or called me, wanted to talk with me, and he said he couldn't reach others. And he started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia and preserving something potentially for appeal.
And I said to him, "Are you out of your effing mind?" Right? I said, "I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth for now on: Orderly transition." I said, I don't want to hear any other effing words coming out of your mouth no matter what, other than orderly transition. Repeat those words to me.
QUESTION: What did he say?
HERSCHMANN: Eventually, you said "Orderly transition." I said, "Good, John." Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life: Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it. And then I hung up on him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In just a moment, we will be joined by Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, who serves on the Committee. Right now, we want to take a closer look at another key item that the Committee highlighted yesterday, namely, fundraising e-mails like these, which the Committee says brought in $250 million, a quarter a billion dollars in small dollar donations.
The first one we could find went out early on the morning of November 5th, which was just two days after the election. The Committee says they were being sent right up to the storming of the Capitol.
In it, there's an image of the former President and Vice President under the word "Official Election Defense Fund." So right off the bat, you receive this thing in the mail, you're meant to think it has some sort of special authorization or stamp of approval, it says official. The text that follows certainly lends the impression that not only is it official, it's an actual thing, already in existence, like an agency ready to spring into action.
Quoting now, from this mailing: "I've activated the Official Election Defense Fund and I need every patriot including you to step up and make sure we have enough resources to protect the integrity of our election."
We went to the Federal Election Commission's database on political committees and searched under Official Election Defense Fund. Here's what came back. "Sorry, no candidates or committees have names that contain your search Official Election Defense Fund."
There is a good reason for that, it doesn't exist.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HANNA ALLRED, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STAFFER: I don't believe there is actually a fund called the Election Defense Fund.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that election defects fund was another, I think, we've called it a marketing tactic?
GARY COBY, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Yes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: A marketing tactic. So those are two former Trump campaign staffers. The second one you just heard, who said the e-mails were quote, "Marketing tactic" is the campaign's former digital director, so they ought to know. The question is marketing for what? And for whom?
At the bottom of the e-mail is very small print. It reads "Paid for by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the Republican National Committee."
The committee's address is given as 725 Fifth Avenue here in Manhattan and of course, wouldn't you know, that is Trump Tower.
However, members of the Select Committee who've spoken about this are not alleging that this big chunk of cash simply went straight to Donald Trump. What they are saying is that very little of it went for what the fundraising e-mails claimed the money was for, namely, quoting from the e-mail now, quote, "To defend the integrity of our election."
Instead, according to the Committee, most of the money went to a Political Action Committee the former President set up shortly after the election, not to election related legal action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA WICK, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATOR: The Select Committee discovered that the Save America PAC made millions of dollars of contributions to pro Trump organizations, including $1 million to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' charitable foundation, $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, a conservative organization which employs several former Trump administration officials, $204,857 to the Trump Hotel Collection.
WICK: And over $5 million to Event Strategies, Inc., the company that ran President Trump's January 6 rally on the Ellipse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So according to the Committee, most of the money raised by these e-mails did not go to protecting the integrity of the election, yet, the e-mails kept going out. They kept asking for money.
They went out as the Trump campaign went on to lose 61 Court battles, and crucially, they kept going out even long after there was any chance at all for the money to have any impact at all, even if it had all gone to challenging the outcome, which the Committee says it did not.
And even though this all came as a bit of a surprise at the hearings yesterday, the questionable nature of the fundraising campaign was known at the time -- listen to this ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law, which began airing on December 11th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beware of a new scam from Donald Trump targeting
2020 voters requesting money to be used for an Official Election Defense Fund. Do not be fooled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now when asked about the Committee's allegations, Trump's spokeswoman Liz Harrington said in a text to CNN that the former President's quote, "Political spending is totally synchronized," with his goal of quote, "Fixing our elections."
Joining us now Committee member and Maryland Democratic Congressman, Jamie Raskin.
Congressman, a President soliciting a quarter billion dollars from citizens for so called Defense Fund that apparently didn't exist, it sounds shady, morally bankrupt. Is it illegal whoever?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, let's start with this, Anderson. When it's a rule of political fundraising that when the election is over, the winner can continue to raise money and will usually raise a lot of it, but the loser finds everything dry up immediately. It's just like a desert out there.
But Donald Trump figured out a way to keep the spigots of money flowing even after he lost the election, and that was by claiming he had won the election and it was being stolen from him.
And so they mobilized hundreds of millions of dollars as you've discussed in that report, quoting Amanda wick one of our investigators. Well, morally, ethically, politically, it is obviously deeply problematic. One would have to go back and see exactly what the campaign disclaimers say, as people wrote checks to the campaign and, you know, offered their credit card contributions, and I've not done that. So I don't know specifically, what the disclaimers are saying.
Obviously, you know, the Election Defense Fund didn't exist. You were basically giving right back to the Trump political campaign operation and all of the political operations of the Trump network.
So whether an actual FCA violation could be made or a Federal mail fraud, prosecution, I just don't know. I have not looked at that. But from the standpoint of our Committee, remember, we're not a prosecuting committee. We're interested in just telling the truth and giving the facts out there of what happened. This is enough for us to be able to tell the public that the Big Lie was also a Big Scam, a Big Rip Off as Zoe Lofgren put it, and you know, that at the very least is between Donald Trump and his followers.
COOPER: We just heard the clip from the former White House attorney, Eric Herschmann describing this conversation he had with the Trump attorney, John Eastman. Now, Eastman is at the center of the plan to pressure Vice President Pence not to certify the election results. How big a piece is that effort in the larger puzzle that your Committee is assembling of what the former President's allies were up to in the days leading to the insurrection? RASKIN: Well, it's critical. You know, all of these things do fit
together like a jigsaw puzzle. You know, we just discussed the money component to it, which was central because Donald Trump was raising huge amounts of money, and he didn't want it to stop.
And you could see, even from the report you just made, that money continued to go to different members in his political entourage, including Mark Meadows and others who were still supporting the Trump political network.
But you know, Eastman really was the final card that they played, the so-called Green Bay Sweep, and the idea was essentially to deny and overthrow the Electoral College majority that Joe Biden had assembled and to overthrow that required Vice President Pence to step outside of his proper constitutional role and function and declare unilateral Wallace powers to nullify the Electoral College votes that had been certified by the governors of the states and sent in and then they thought that either Trump could be declared the winner in the Electoral College or they could kick the whole thing into the House of Representatives for so-called "Contingent Election," which they knew Trump could win by virtue of the number of state delegations controlled in the House.
COOPER: Yes. Congressman Raskin, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
Let's get some perspective now from longtime Trump watcher, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, author of "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and his Family. Also CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeff, this $250 million, I mean, it's the same question really that I talked to Congressman Raskin about, soliciting donations. I mean, it is legal, isn't it?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, my mentor in journalism, Michael Kinsley had a Kingsley's Law, which was, "The scandal isn't what's illegal, the scandal is what's legal." It's what society chooses not to punish that really tells you how bad things are, and I think this is a great illustration.
As I understand the Federal Election Commission is one of the weakest, most pathetic Federal agencies that does almost nothing to police these sorts of deceptions. As long as the money is spent for something vaguely related to a Trump cause, that the money is not just put in Trump's pocket, I don't think there is any basis for a criminal prosecution. It's just another grift. It's a rip off of the honest, hardworking people who actually gave the money thinking it was for an election fund, but I don't think there's any criminal prosecution there.
COOPER: David, I mean, even by the, you know, the former President's standards, is this on another level? DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR OF "THE BIG CHEAT": Well, I think Donald
was too clever by half here. I think you can make a wire and mail fraud case, fraud is everywhere, and always a crime. And of course, there's also civil fraud. But in a wire and mail fraud case, prosecutors could point to the fine print that says, well, we may use this money for something other than what we talked about and show that that was part of the scheme to defraud people. Well, we're going to tell you, we're raising money for A, we're not going to spend hardly any of it on A, and we're going to protect ourselves from prosecution by putting in this language in the fine print.
And, you know, when was the last time, Anderson, you read the contract when you rented a car?
COOPER: Yes, I can barely read anything in the --
TOOBIN: But that's why they put it. That's why they put the fine print in. I mean, you know, these are experienced lawyers. This is an area they've worked in before. Trump has raised millions of dollars, used a lot of it for borderline purposes, including paying $60,000.00 to Kimberly Guilfoyle for a three-minute speech she gave it the Ellipse.
That is, unfortunately, I think, within the rules of this game that Donald Trump has played to his advantage before.
COOPER: Jeff -- sorry, go ahead.
JOHNSTON: And Jeff, I think this is one where the facts and circumstances presented to a jury, you can show the fine print is evidence that he knew he was going to scam you. I don't suggest it's an easy case to make by any means. But I think it should be looked at aggressively in terms of mail and wire fraud laws and by State Attorneys General who have consumer protection laws as civil fraud.
COOPER: Well, Jeff, let me ask you about that. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James said her office is investigating fundraising tactics used by the Trump campaign. She says details are quote, "disturbing." I mean, is this just one of the -- it just feels like there's endless investigations that ended up going nowhere. Is there -- is this one of them?
TOOBIN: Well, I think this one is one of the least likely to produce criminal charges. I remember the Attorney General of New York has almost no criminal enforcement ability. That's why the Manhattan DA investigation was the real possibility, and that one is now effectively closed.
You know, there is still the Georgia investigation. The Justice Department is theoretically investing everything related to January 6th. But as far as criminal liability goes, Donald Trump is doing fine and people can judge whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
COOPER: David --
JOHNSTON: Anderson, if I can add one point to that. If I can add one point to that. Under New York law, Governor Kathy Hochul has unfettered authority to take the criminal case away from Alvin Bragg, the District Attorney who shut it down in Manhattan and turn it over to another prosecutor. She wouldn't do it.
And part of the problem here are feckless Democrats who make a lot of noise, but when push comes to shove, they don't act. Look at Karl Racine, the district attorney of -- sorry, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. No one has explained what happened to tens of millions of dollars for the Inaugural Committee and the effort to take money off the books that I've described in my book and he settled for $750,000.00 fine and dropped this case at that point.
COOPER: David, I mean, you've covered the Trump's for a long time, obviously. The notion of getting people to buy into things, whether it's this PAC or the defunct Trump University or the Trump Foundation, is that kind of central to the way the business model, the political model that Trump has used?
JOHNSTON: Oh, yes. Donald is the third generation head of a four- generation white collar crime family. They steal with contracts with refusals to pay and things like that and they are an illustration of a very serious problem that we are not talking about in this country.
We have very clear crime laws for street crime. You rob somebody of $5.00. We put you in jail. But we have very weak and troublesome white collar crime laws with far too many exceptions, and we need to work on a new legal theory that will stop the ability of people like Donald Trump to commit massive theft and get away with it in many cases, because -- in his case, every case -- because of the way our white collar crime laws are conceived,
COOPER: David Cay Johnston, Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming next, big primary night in four states. Polls just closed in South Carolina where the former president is trying to take down the Republican Congress members. CNN's John King is at the magic wall running it all down. We'll go to him shortly.
And later, mystery surrounding the whereabouts of dissident, Alexei Navalny. Russia says they've moved him to a maximum security prison. Navalny's supporters though, his lawyers don't even know where he is right now.
COOPER: It is primary night in four states including South Carolina, which features a closely watched race between Congresswoman Nancy Mace and a Trump backed challenger, Katie Arrington. Also in South Carolina, the former President's attempt to remove Congressman Tom Rice who is one of 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment. CNN's John King is at the magic wall for us.
What are you seeing in South Carolina?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, still counting. The results are early, but as in the early results, you would say a split decision if you will, if you're Donald Trump scoring your grievances tonight, as he does every Tuesday on these primary nights.
Tonight, it is South Carolina as you mentioned. This is the Tom Rice versus Russell Fry. Russell Fry is the challenger. He has been endorsed by Donald Trump. And you see he is well ahead, well ahead with about 23 percent of the vote counted in the Seventh Congressional District.
Tom Rice voted to impeach Donald Trump. He says he's proud of that vote. He says if it costs him his career, so be it.
I just want to show you a different way to look at the district here. You're looking at this by counties in the district, one reason the Fry campaign should be happy is they're leading in every county that has reported votes so far in the district. It doesn't mean we're done, but it is significantly early on.
So let's go back to that other district you mentioned. This is Myrtle Beach area, Rice, and then up to these rural areas. That's the Rice district. You come down here to the Mace district, Charleston known to many Americans, a lot of coastal communities here, resort communities, military communities.
Nancy Mace has also opened up pretty significantly. Now, she is on the other side. Donald Trump wants her gone. She was not in Congress for impeachment, but she was critical of him for January 6th. She said that he was responsible for January 6th.
Katie Arrington is Trump backed here. This one has gotten a little closer as more votes have come in. But you still see a 12-point lead for Nancy Mace with about 12 percent of the vote in there. Again, as you watch it, and if you just come out and look at it a different way, Nancy Mace is leading in every county in this district that has reported votes so far.
So more math to do, but at this point, it looks like a split decision.
COOPER: All right, John King will stay on it. Thanks very much.
I also want to bring in CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger and CNN senior political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod.
Gloria, what do you make of the vastly different approaches among Republicans trying to survive the former President's vengeance?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm just looking at these numbers that John is showing, and I can't help but think about Tom Rice, who was completely unapologetic about voting for impeachment. I remember when he did it, and it was a big surprise, because he is a staunch conservative who represents a conservative district.
And he has told everybody look, my constituency was elected in 2012. He has said, look, my constituents know how conservative I am and they understand that I'm voting my conscience and they're going to remember how conservative I am. I was with Donald Trump on the tax cut, and on and on. And look at these numbers. That's not helping him.
Mace is different. She has got a different district, a much more moderate district and she voted for certification. There are lots of conservatives who are not going to forgive her for that. But in the end, her district is different.
So she can say, look, you know, I did what I thought was right, and the moderates in her district will say it is okay, but they're unforgiving it seems to me to Congressman Rice.
COOPER: David, it's not looking likely that Rice survives, and either way, what will the result mean for Trumpism not just in South Carolina, but elsewhere in the country, do you think?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think you should look at these two races a little bit differently because Tom Rice voted for impeachment, which is the ultimate offense to Donald Trump, the unforgivable offense.
Nancy Mace voted to certify the election, but she didn't vote for impeachment and in fact, she went up to Trump Tower and shot her first ad in front of Trump Tower to assert that she was an ally of the President on many issues.
So she tried to sort of navigate around the confrontation with Trump, Rice sailed right into it, and he is paying a price for that; she may survive. Again, the districts are different as well, as Gloria mentioned, but I think if Tom Rice goes out, most of the people who voted for impeachment on the Republican side are not running this year.
Liz Cheney is. She is in a difficult race at this juncture. We'll find out in August how she does. But Tom Rice going down will be very satisfying to the President perhaps send a message to some Republicans that defying Trump was a politically fatal decision for them.
COOPER: Yes. Do we still have John King with us? Okay, I want to take -- John, you see what Congressman Rice has gone through. What about Congresswoman Cheney? What she's gone through ahead of her primary in August? Is there any incentive at this point for a Republican candidate to stand up against the former President?
KING: Well, let me just come out to the national map and show you. This is just House districts. I'll bring it all the way out now.
By the end of tonight, Anderson, when we're done counting tonight, 24 states will have held their primaries, so we're almost halfway through the primary season. Does a Republican have any incentive now to challenge Donald Trump? Well, incentive is not my business, but there is evidence -- there is plenty of evidence after this week, right, Donald Trump's Attorney General, Donald Trump's Deputy Attorney General, Donald Trump's campaign manager, Donald Trump's White House Counsel, Donald Trump's campaign lawyers, Donald Trump's daughter -- all on the record, saying that Donald Trump lost. And the Big Lie is the fraud, not election fraud. The Big Lie is the fraud.
So Republicans have plenty of evidence to stand up and say, it's about time we stand up for truth and math and the fact that Joe Biden won fair and square. The problem is Axe runs campaigns, he could do this better than I can. We're in midstream right now.
So if a Republican candidate -- and there are hundreds of them -- for every office in the land running on the Big Lie, midseason, midstream, mid-campaign, you're going to say, "I was wrong. That's not really a way to win votes." And plus, you would make Donald Trump mad.
COOPER: Gloria, how much do you think an endorsement from the former President Is worth at this point in Republican politics?
BORGER: Well, it depends on your district, obviously, but it is worth a lot still. I mean, as John points out, no matter what is going on in the Congress right now, no matter what the January 6th Committee is uncovering, he is still very popular among Republicans.
The number of Republicans who say that, you know, I really still like the guy, but maybe he shouldn't run for President, that number is growing. But would you rather have Donald Trump endorsing you than not endorsing you? The answer is, unequivocally, yes, you would.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, John King --
AXELROD: And Anderson, well I'll just add one point, even the candidates who aren't endorsed by Trump are endorsing him or are endorsing Trumpism and that tells you that he still has great power within the Republican Party.
COOPER: Good point, David, thanks.
Coming up, President Biden taking heat from his fellow Democrats ahead of a visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with its Crown Prince. U.S. Intelligence obviously says Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What may be pushing the President to visit Saudi Arabia after he once called it a pariah? Just ahead.
COOPER: Top seven Democrats that took the rare step of publicly criticized President Biden after the White House announced the President will visit Saudi Arabia part of his first visit to the Middle East next month. Democrats as well as some Republicans are uneasy with the plans to in the words of the White House, see Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Last year the President released a U.S. intelligence report that said the Crown Prince quote approved the operation that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The visit comes obviously after a huge spike in oil and gas prices and a decline, huge decline the president's approval when Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said he doubts Saudi Arabia will help lower U.S. gas prices.
I'm joined now by our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. You reported Kaitlan on this extensively. What is President Biden said in the past.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He has been incredibly vocal about Saudi Arabia and how he felt about them after the murder of this journalist Jamal Khashoggi and especially grisly murder, I should note. And he's really never wavered Anderson on how he's felt about them. And I think that's what's so striking about the fact that now the White House is confirming, yes, he is going to make this formal visit there just a month from now, given statements like these ad made on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: After a cold blooded murder of a journalist, giving the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt.
I think it was a flat out murder. And I think we should have nailed it as that.
We were going to in fact, make them pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Clearly you see him denouncing it time and time again, making them a pariah, obviously going to visit and having this official trip there is not making them a pariah. But I think this is where you see the realities of being president with what you say, on the campaign trail, Anderson.
COOPER: Not just being president, but being president of time when gas prices are high, and your popularity is low. How is the White House explaining this change?
COLLINS: Yes, there's no denying that that plays a factor a massive factor in why the President is going. The White House isn't saying as much publicly they are saying that oil will obviously be on the agenda when President Biden goes there for this visit, and said they're pointing to the fact that there are other national security interests at play here, noting that past presidents also met with Saudi leaders. And yes, that is true. But I think it's just striking, given how the how much and how vocally the president denounced Saudi Arabia when he was on the campaign trail. That's what the White House is running up against.
And it's clear President Biden himself was not eager to make this visit to go and have to interact with the Crown Prince, someone that he hesitated speaking with, even initially, he only wanted to talk to the king, some of that the White House went out of their way to say, but obviously they are going to come face to face during this visit. And it's something that even his own allies, typically are criticizing him for, Democrats saying that he should go and meet with anyone but the Saudi Crown Prince, which of course the U.S. intelligence community concluded he had authorized the murder of this reporter.
Senator Chris Murphy, saying that the White House should at least to show that they have commitments from Saudi Arabia to change going forward before they make this visit. And other officials just saying that Saudi Arabia does not share the United States values and therefore this high level meeting should not be granted them given of course, President Biden has made clear how he feels.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. As we said rising gas prices are probably a big motivator here for the President's meeting with the Crown Prince.
Want to talk more about inflation in gas and other prices. Our favorite and our only senior data reporter Harry Enten.
Put the disinflation in context, how bad is the surge in prices?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's awful. I mean, it's awful and how people feel about it is even worse. You know, you look at the consumer sentiment right now. And what do you see? This is the worst consumer sentiment ever measured by the University of Michigan going all the way back since 1952.
ENTEN: You basically even if you double my age, that doesn't get you back to 1952. And while I'm young, I'm not that young. Right. The second worst 1980, the third worst 1980. I don't have to remind you, inflation got Jimmy Carter. It killed that presidency.
And in terms of why are consumers feeling this bad? What's pretty clear why they're feeling this bad. And that is because the consumer price index is the worst it's ever been in a midterm cycle since '74. It's the worst it's been in any presidential cycle or midterm cycle since 1980.
So it's not much of a surprise. You can see it. It's literally off the charts on the table on your screen.
COOPER: And how does prison Biden's performance rate?
ENTEN: Awful. I mean --
COOPER: I knew that was the answer.
ENTEN: But the answer is off. I mean, you know, I'll compare it to Carter at this point in his presidency, right? Look at the disapproval rating, Joe Biden has an inflation right now. It's over 70%. Carter, Carter was not even there at this point in mid 1978. When you're doing worse than Jimmy Carter's doing in the minds of Americans and inflation, you know, that they're holding you responsible for the conditions that are currently on the ground that are hurting Americans in their pocketbooks.
COOPER: Obviously, Biden is not on the ballot. But which party do voters trust more right now?
ENTEN: I -- you know, this is this. We might as well call the segment the not surprise segment, the Republican Party, they much more trusted Republican Party by 20 points. Fifty one, I think to 31, you see it on your screen right there.
COOPER: This is just specifically on inflation.
ENTEN: This is specifically on inflation. This is specifically on inflation. If you look at the broader economic spectrum as well, it's basically the same numbers, but it's inflation that is driving these numbers and driving the numbers on the economy and driving the negative perceptions of Biden and not surprisingly, voters are running the other way going to Democrat -- going to Republican.
COOPER: I mean, obviously for Democrats and cumbersome Jimmy Carter at this stage for President Biden does. It's not a good read great comparison there.
ENTEN: It's not a great comparison. And indeed, what you're seeing right now, essentially, is that if you look towards what voters think are important towards the midterm elections.
COOPER: And inflation is going to be what number one.
ENTEN: Number one, numero uno. What you see right now, look at this, 48% say the most important issue in their vote for Congress is the economy. Gun violence is not anywhere close, abortion is not anywhere close, immigration, which Republicans were going to want to run on, not anywhere close. And here is I think the big takeaway, when you look at your generic congressional ballot, so put it all together, right, we're going to make this giant stew for you. What do voters feel right now? Look at this, on the generic congressional ballot, we're just looking at the best Republican position standing all the way back since 1938. This is the best, I repeat the best Republican position on the generic congressional ballot, basically, of all time, at any point in -- this -- at this point in a midterm cycle.
And if you look at the other ones that are anywhere close 2010, 1998, 2010, I said that already 2002. Who won in those midterms? All of them resulted in Republican majorities.
Look, history isn't always prologue. But if you're looking at those numbers, you got to feel pretty good if you're Republican.
COOPER: I couldn't understand that graphic.
ENTEN: Well, that's why I'm here to explain it to you. COOPER: Can (INAUDIBLE) put it back.
ENTEN: We put it back on, put it back on.
COOPER: I was (INAUDIBLE) while you were yelling to me, I was trying to look at what it was.
ENTEN: I was trying to distract you. OK. So, here, take a look here. The best Republican positions on the generic ballot. So look at the polling. And what you can see is right now, Republicans plus three points in the 2022 cycle. In 2010, it was a tie.
ENTEN: Then in that right column, you see who won the majority. And you can see Republicans, Republicans, Republicans win when they're either leading or even --
COOPER: Underneath the best Republican position (INAUDIBLE).
ENTEN: At this point in midterm elections since 1930. We're going to do it in a wall. It's a little bit clearer. But that's why we have the time. That's why I run through the graph.
ENTEN: We can get back to it and we can have this lovely back and forth.
COOPER: I appreciate it. So like, so yes, OK. Fascinating.
ENTEN: No, I mean look, here's the deal. The economy is almost always the thing that drives people's preferences.
COOPER: So it says James Carville.
ENTEN: So it's the economy stupid, right. He said that back in 1992. That still holds in 2022, 30 years later. I'm not going to tell you my age in 1992, but I wasn't yet in preschool.
COOPER: Harry Enten, I appreciate it.
ENTENL Thank you.
COOPER: Very much rubbing in his age.
ENTEN: I'd like to, yes.
COOPER: Still to come, the latest on the fighting in Ukraine. Plus where is Alexey Navalny? Lawyers for the imprisoned Russian dissident said they tried to visit him in prison today. He was not there. Nobody told him where he is. I'll discuss Navalny's whereabouts with one of his top associates, next.
COOPER: U.S. and Western intelligence sources tell CNN that the war in Ukraine has entered a critical period that could determine the outcome of the conflict. Ukrainians today, pleading for more anti-missile weaponry as President Zelenskyy says they're enjoying painful losses in the east as Russia presses their offensive there. Official saying only 10% military assistance requested from the West has arrived. And sources say Russia has amassed a significant artillery advantage.
Also tonight, there's confusion and mystery over the whereabouts of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Putin is most outspoken critic. Lawyers from Navalny tried to visit him today at the penal colony where he'd been serving his sentence. They were told he was no longer there. Now moving Navalny would be in line with a judge's order earlier this year for additional prison time. One of Navalny's lawyers tell CNN that they believe he was transferred to a higher security prison but they don't know for certain which prison. No one's confirmed one possible destination mentioned by Russian state media.
Joining us is Maria Pevchikh who's helping to run Navalny's anti- corruption foundation while he's in prison. She's also the executive producer of the CNN film Navalny Now on CNN Go and HBO Max.
Ms. Pevchikh, can you tell us the latest on your understanding of where Alexei Navalny is.
MARIA PEVCHIKH, HEAD OF INVESTIGATIONS, ANTI-CORRUPTION FOUNDATION: Well, I'm going to stick it by I have to be honest, I have no idea where Alexei Navalny is and no one really does he is he has gone missing today. So we have absolutely no clue about where he is at the moment.
COOPER: Russian say media is reporting that Navalny has been moved to a maximum security prison in the Vladimir region of the country. You say you don't know where he is. So do you believe that reporting?
PEVCHIKH: I don't think it's accurate to refer to it as Russian state media. These are very, you know, specific, sort of fino types of outlets that report this. They have been wrong before and we know that sometimes they can be just asked to report whatever the state wants people to believe in.
So we are not relying on this information until we hear something officially, until we get notified that Navalny has been moved and this his new penal colony. And this is where he's the West should be able to find him. So we do not rely on this information.
COOPER: Are you or his lawyers able to, I mean, is there anyone you can contact for information? Or I assume you obviously cannot contact him?
PEVCHIKH: No, well, that's the whole point of this situation is that his lawyers and/or his family should have been notified if he was to be moved to a different person with different penal colony, but no one was notified. And today, the situation was that his lawyer showed up at his current penal colony at Pokrov. He was held at the checkpoint for a couple of hours, and then -- and Navalny just didn't show up. And that's quite literally all we know. And this is what is so scary and horrifying about this situation is that for about the next 16, 18 hours at this point, we have no way of figuring out where he is.
COOPER: Is it possible he's still at the same penal colony and just wasn't produce for the attorney?
PEVCHIKH: I don't think it's possible that he's still there, he has definitely gone somewhere. And normally, if we lived, it Russian government actually have has followed the laws that they have written themselves, we will have been notified if he was transferred to a different place. And there is a procedure, it's pretty standard, and his lawyers would have get -- would have gotten like a written, written confirmation that your client is about to be moved from prison A to prison B, and you should be able to see him and that's prison B from this day onwards.
But the way they do it with Navalny, it's a very kind of different approach that they have to him. The law is applied to him. So in this case, we're just deprived of any information and we're being kept in this very uncomfortable, situation of not knowing anything and to and not being able to ask anyone. Essentially, I think they went, they will just eventually let us know. But we don't know whether it's going to be tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week time or in a month's time.
COOPER: And so for now, his family's attorneys, supporters, just wait?
PEVCHIKH: Yes, yes. As for now, his family and his attorneys have absolutely no idea where Navalny is.
COOPER: Maria Pevchikh, Appreciate your time. Thank you.
PEVCHIKH: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Up next, as the Senate finalizes a bipartisan gun bill, there are new details on a very serious situation at Texas summer camp where police a gunman opened fire and some quick action save lives.
Also later, record breaking flooding around Yellowstone National Park leaves homes in ruins.
COOPER: As the Senate hammers out the details of a bipartisan gun bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today indicated who will support the package if the final draft lines up with an outline announced by negotiators over the weekend. Among the proposals and incentives for states to pass red flag laws, more thorough review process for those under 21 who want to buy a gun like an AR-15 and more funding for school safety and mental health resources.
Meanwhile, potential mass shooting was averted at a Texas summer camp thanks to some quick acting staffers and police. Investigators say that a gunman opened fire inside a sports complex Monday with hundreds of children. And there was another incident recently to camp in Alabama.
We have details on both from CNN's Josh Campbell.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Parents in Texas just grateful to hold their children after police rushed to a North Texas sports field house where a summer camp was being held and shot a gunman threatening the camp. Police in Duncanville, Texas near Dallas said they exchanged gunfire with a man who opened fire with the camp on Monday were some 250 children aged four to 14 and staff were present some hiding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had text me and say, Mom, I think someone's entered the field house with a gun.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): When the gunman entered the building, police a camp counselors began moving the children to a safe area and locking doors.
AUTUMN HARRIS, SUMMER CAMPER: We run around and then we heard shooting. And then we got scared. And everybody started crying. They're just towards us this day, quiet and we were in the men's room. So, there were showers in there. So we hid in the showers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was praying to God just said nothing will happen.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Police shot and killed the gunman. No children, staff or officers were hurt according to officials.
MATTHEW SLOGNER, ASSISTANT CHIEF OF POLICE, DUNCANVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Upon hearing that gunshot. They did what they were trained to do the counselors, they moved the kids to a safe area and began locking the doors. The suspect went to a classroom was unable to get inside and did fire one round inside the classroom. Where there were children inside.
BARRY GORDON, MAYOR, DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS: There was no hesitation, no hesitation whatsoever. As we're thankful for their training, that they do exactly what they're trying to do.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): In Alabama, just last week, a man was shot and killed by a school resource officer after police say he attempted to enter an elementary school where 34 children were attending a summer literacy camp. Law enforcement said he was also trying to forcibly enter a patrol vehicle and was killed after an altercation with the officer at the school.
JONATHAN HORTON, SHERIFF, ETOWAH COUNTY, ALABAMA: He went straight to the threat. He confronted it and he dealt with it and it ended in unfortunately, the death of the suspect. But that's the safest alternative to keep that threat out of that school.
COOPER: And Josh joins us now from Texas. What if anything of authorities in Alabama and Duncanville said about a possible copy pack -- copycat effect after the Uvalde shooting? Is that something they're looking at?
CAMPBELL: Yes, Anderson that is always a concern. After the shootings, authorities are worried about a repeat which is why after Uvalde we saw an increase focus on security in schools. We also saw police departments across the country yet again focusing on their own active shooter training.
And just to show you Anderson by comparison obviously the police response in Uvalde coming under heavy criticism, we're still waiting for answers on a lot of those questions compare that with what we saw just recently in Alabama and in the Dallas area, where police did what they were trained to do by textbook going to the sound of the gunfire, trying to stop the threat.
COOPER: Yes, Josh Campbell, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, homes washed away by the floods. Chunks of highways bridges destroyed some communities near Yellowstone National Park is stranded. We have more details, next.
COOPER: More than 10,000 visitors have left Yellowstone National Park after historic flooding. The Montana National Guard is continuing search and rescue efforts after the flooding left some homes and communities isolated. You're looking at the product a month's worth of precipitation and snow melt in just days. The flooding prompted dozens of evacuations left some areas trapped without safe drinking water.
North of Yellowstone Park County officials said the flooding washed out roads and bridges making it unsafe to travel or impossible to have evacuate. Officials say Yellowstone National Park is going to be closed to visitors until at least tomorrow.
That's it for us. The news continues. Want to handover Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.