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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Sources: January 6 Special Counsel Investigators Have Renewed Interest In Unhinged White House Meeting On Overturning 2020 Election; Trump Aide, Walt Nauta Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Mishandling Classified Documents; Lukashenko: Prigozhin Isn't In Belarus, He Is In Russia; Source: Whether There's A Suspect Or Not, Secret Service Expects To Finish Probe On Cocaine Found At WH Next Week; Freedom Caucus Member Says Group Voted To Expel Rep. Greene Before July 4 Break; Pence Super PAC Ad Attacks Trump As "Apologist" To Dictators; OceanGate Suspends All Exploration And Commercial Operations After Deadly Titan Sub Implosion. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 06, 2023 - 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: And finally tonight, Black artists have been fighting for decades to be seen and heard on television, and that struggle has now set the stage for what we are seeing today on TV and what some are even calling the Golden Age of Black TV.
From "The Jeffersons" to "Family Matters," "Fresh Prince," to "Martin," a new CNN original series looks an iconic Black television and its impact on America.
Don't miss "See it Loud: The History of Black Television" and that debuts here Sunday at nine.
Thanks so much for joining us. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: Breaking news in the January 6 investigation. Renewed focus by Jack Smith's investigators on a 2020 Oval Office meeting where Trump allies allegedly schemed with the former president about seizing voting machines and overturning the election.
Also tonight, where is Prigozhin? The Wagner mercenary leader supposedly exiled to Belarus for leading immunity against the Kremlin, has he returned to the motherland and what will Vladimir Putin do to him there?
And Marjorie Taylor Greene, is she too much even for the conservative Freedom Caucus? Report she may have been voted out by her fellow Republicans.
We begin tonight with breaking news. What multiple sources are now telling CNN about that turbulent December 18, 2020 Oval Office meeting involving the former president, Rudy Giuliani, disgraced General Michael Flynn; lawyer, Sidney Powell, and a former dot.com CEO.
Our Kaitlan Collins is part of the reporting team, which has the exclusive, she joins me here.
So what have you learned?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: This is essentially something that has been a continued interest of Jack Smith's, but appears to be a renewed one based on what we are hearing, which is that he and his team are asking witnesses who are coming before either his team or the grand jury about this meeting.
And there were a lot of chaotic meetings in the Trump White House. This one was described as probably the most chaotic, the most unhinged, and it happened about six weeks after Trump lost the election. It was this Oval Office meeting where these advisers from outside the White House were essentially going off against the actual attorneys inside the White House about this plan for him to seize voting machines with the military, basically to go back and recount the votes in the states, recount, redo the votes in the states that he had lost.
And Jack Smith is asking people about this, his team is, and they have been asking witnesses months ago about it, but they have also been asking people recently about it, including Rudy Giuliani, who we learned went before his team for a voluntary sit down last month.
I'm told it was back-to-back two days, about eight hours or so. He was asked about several topics, but he was also asked about this meeting, and so it does signal that Jack Smith's team, we don't know to which extent is still interested in this meeting.
COOPER: And who is it that they are focusing on, the participants in the meeting? I mean, Rudy Giuliani obviously is one.
COLLINS: Rudy Giuliani was someone who was there. He was actually called in after the meeting was already underway, but Sidney Powell, the attorney that you saw out of the press conferences with Rudy Giuliani in the aftermath of that; also, Patrick Byrne, who is the former CEO for overstock.com; and Mike Flynn, the former national security adviser. They were the people who got into the Oval Office for this meeting.
And then you saw the Trump attorneys, the White House attorneys come in to talk about this, and it was essentially this insane meeting. People were yelling, people were screaming.
COOPER: There was testimony at the January 6 hearings about this meeting.
COLLINS: Yes, Eric Herschmann, I think is probably the person who most colorfully described it, and was essentially talking about how nuts it was. And I think what you heard from the attorneys who worked for the White House is that they were so frustrated by this idea that they were pushing something that was one of the most desperate attempts that we saw in that whole saga to try to hold on to power.
This idea of seizing voting machines, using the United States military so Trump could go back and do the states that he lost. This is the idea that was being pushed to him, and he was obviously present for this kind of watching it all play out.
Rudy Giuliani testified, you know that at one point, Trump and the White House team went upstairs to the residence area, that Sidney Powell and that crew went into the Roosevelt Room. He stayed in the Cabinet Room by himself, and he is someone who has been asked about it as have other witnesses we are told.
COOPER: And what of the advisers? Any of these outside advisers commenting?
COLLINS: They are not commenting, but also a lot of them are not talking to the special counsel's team, which as legal experts would say that is likely worrisome for them.
We do know that Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn spoke to the January 6 congressional committee. Mike Flynn was pleading the Fifth. Sidney Powell did talk. They have not spoken to Jack Smith's team that we're aware of. That could signal they're potentially targets.
COOPER: I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig who is with us here. ] We mentioned it just now, the January 6 meeting. I want to play some of what White House officials said about that meeting when they questioned by the January 6 committee. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I saw General Flynn, I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain why?
CIPOLLONE: Well again, I don't think they were providing -- well first of all, the Overstock person, I never knew who this guy was. Actually, the first thing I did, I walked in, I looked at him, I said, "Who are you?" And he told me.
I don't think -- I don't think any of these people were providing the president with good advice. The three of them were really sort of forcefully attacking me, verbally. Eric -- Eric -- again, we are pushing back and we were asking one simple question, as a general matter, where is the evidence?
SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: I mean, if it had been me sitting in his chair, I would have fired all of them that night and had them escorted out of the building.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think that it got to the point where the screaming was completely -- completely out there.
I mean, you've got people walking in, it was late at night, it had been a long day and what they were proposing, I thought was nuts.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: I am going to categorically describe it as you guys are not tough enough or maybe put it another way, you're a bunch of pussies. Excuse the expression, but that's almost certainly the word was used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, it's just fascinating to kind of revisit crazy town. When we heard that the first time, it seemed nuts, it seems even nuttier no hearing it all edited together.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It really does, and a couple of things that I get out of this reporting.
First of all, this tells me that Jack Smith is taking the broad view that he is not just focusing on the submission of those forged elector documents, that he is not just focused on the speech in The Ellipses. He is looking at the big picture here.
He is looking at the scheme, and depending on the proof that can give you a predicate to bring eventual fraud or even conspiracy charges, if you can connect those dots.
The other thing is, in order to know what happened in that room, as a prosecutor, you have to get in the room. And we know that a lot of people we just saw in that montage have spoken with DOJ and it tells us that DOJ has picked up on the work of the January 6 committee and now intends to use those folks as witnesses.
COOPER: If Rudy Giuliani -- I mean, Kaitlan, if Rudy Giuliani spoke for two days, eight hour long days or so, that sounds like he is saying more than just I plead the Fifth, or we don't know?
COLLINS: We don't know.
COOPER: I mean, what he said there on tape seems pretty damning right there.
COLLINS: And we should also note he was not required to go and that was a voluntary sit down, we are told by one of his spokespeople, and so that was something he clearly thought was a good idea for him to go in.
I don't think people voluntarily go in to plead the Fifth. The assumption would be that he was asked about multiple topics we know including this. We don't know the extent to what he said. We asked his attorney, Robert Costello to comment on this, he declined; as did attorneys for Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn.
I do think it raises the question, because Rudy Giuliani was a witness to everything that happened in that meeting that was so chaotic, but I think also to Elie's point is everyone' is kind of playing the guessing game of what's going to happen with the culmination of this investigation, because it does appear that we're nearing the end of it. You know, we don't know that. We don't know who could be charged
ultimately, if anyone. A lot of the focus recently has been on this fake elector scheme. This would not be about that. This would be about the efforts of Sidney Powell, John Eastman, the Patrick Byrne, the Mike Flynn, all of these other officials who were around for other issues, into what they were doing, not just the fake elector scheme.
COOPER: So, Elie, it wouldn't all be of a piece, it wouldn't be one giant case.
HONIG: So this is a huge decision that prosecutors have to make. First of all, who are we charging? Second of all, are we going to charge everyone together in one indictment? There is no limit. You can charge 30 people together, or you can break it up into smaller chunks.
And then finally, what level of perspective are we going to take on this case as a whole? Are we going to go for the more discreet sort of tangible items, for example, they submitted these false forms to the archive, the false elector forms, or are we going to take a broader sort of global view and charge this as a wide ranging conspiracy?
You know, the advantage of going broad is you get to put all that evidence in front of a jury and explain the whole thing to them. But the advantage of going specific is you get to keep it sort of concise and to the point and more easily digestible.
These are questions that prosecutors wrestle with in every case and here.
COOPER: All right, guys, stay with us. I want to bring in quickly, CNN's Carlos Suarez. He is in Miami with the former president's aid and alleged documents co-conspirator, Walt Nauta was arraigned today. As you know, Nauta was the guy recorded on the surveillance video repeatedly moving boxes around at Mar-a-Lago.
Carlos, what happened in court today?
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, so Walt Nauta, an aide to former President Trump pleaded not guilty to several counts related to the mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago including several obstruction and concealment related charges.
Now his arraignment here in Miami lasted just a few minutes and now to ask for a jury trial.
Anderson, the 40-year-old, he didn't say a single word as he left the federal courthouse.
COOPER: What do we know about his new attorney? Because that was one of the issues. He hadn't had a Florida-based attorney.
SUAREZ: Yes, that is exactly right. So, he wasn't able to have this arraignment because he was having trouble finding a Florida-based attorney, but Nauta did add a new lawyer to his defense team, Sasha Dadan. She is a former public defender who has handled cases in South Florida.
Now, Dadan was admitted to the Florida bar back in 2014 and according to "The New York Times," she has a limited experience with the federal courts. "The Times" reports that her name doesn't appear at all in PACER, that is the nationwide database of federal cases. But she has handled several local cases in Fort Pierce. That is where Judge Aileen Cannon who is overseeing Mr. Trump's prosecution is based and where the former president's trial with Nauta may eventually be held.
Dadan has been active in Republican politics in recent years. Election records here in Florida show that she ran for the Florida House in 2018 and she lost -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Carlos Suarez, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Elie, I mean, at what point anybody who is facing a prosecution like this has to determine and as an alleged co-conspirator has to determine when their interests no longer align with their co- defendant.
I don't know. It doesn't seem like Mr. Nauta has reached that point.
HONIG: Yes, no, it seems at this point, their interests are aligned. So usually this could go one of two ways. He could flip. There is no indication at this point that he has or an indication that he will, though people do flip late in the proceedings as late as sometimes the eve of trial.
The other thing, though, is sometimes, defendants join together and form what's called a joint defense agreement, it's actually quite common, which means we're going to align ourselves. We're going to share our attorney-client privileges and we're going to sort of form a team.
There is a separate question about will they request to be tried together at the same time, or separately, which is a really important strategic decision that ultimately the parties may argue about. Prosecutors usually want to try everyone together. Defendants sometimes want to be tried separately.
That's going to be up to the judge, Judge Cannon. Different judges rule different ways on that. Prosecutors, you want to be able to tell the whole story, you want everyone there together.
Walt Nauta may be afraid of sitting at the trial table with Trump, but he may want to be with Trump, if they can catch a sympathetic juror.
COOPER: Just on a human level, it amazes me that anybody would -- facing legal prosecution would remain loyal to somebody that if they look at this with any, you know, actual glasses, not rose-colored glasses, they would see that the person they are pledging allegiance to has no allegiance to them, and would throw them under the bus in a second.
COLLINS: And we've seen how other attorneys have handled this. We were just talking Michael Cohen, a very different situation. Obviously, he pleaded guilty, went to prison. But he is someone who, you know, Trump once predicted that he'd never flip on him and he in turn did.
With Walt Nauta, I was actually talking to people who worked in the White House with Walt Nauta recently and asking kind of about that very idea, but I do think there is a sense of loyalty in that Walt Nauta was a valet, which is someone who goes and fetches Cokes and drinks and whatever for Trump when he was in office.
Trump took him to Mar-a-Lago. He gave him this job. He has kept him very close by his side. He is with him almost anytime he travels. He is also paying his legal fees, which I think is a very critical thing through this super PAC, which is also paying Trump's legal fees.
And so I think when you've asked people -- when I've talked to people and asked if they think he would flip, they essentially argue the opposite, which is that there is no reason for him to do so because he has this boss right now who is paying his legal fees, and he is the former president of the United States.
COOPER: And are -- I mean, Elie, we know prosecutors are pushing for a December trial. How likely is that?
HONIG: I think it's on the outer realm of what's doable. Let's keep in mind by the way, they lost a month trying to get Walt Nauta arraigned. It took three times. That's valuable time they've lost.
December is five months from now. A safe rule of thumb is, for a federal trial, you need to build in a year or so from indictment to trial. So it will be a mad rush to get it in in five months and keep in mind, there are classified documents here, so there's a law about special procedures you have to follow.
And Donald Trump is going to have motions. He's going to challenge the search warrant that they did on Mar-a-Lago. He is going to try to get the attorney-client communications thrown out.
So there is a lot that has to be litigated. I think they're going to need everyone to be pushing the same direction. I'm not sure Trump's team is going to be pushing for a quick trial.
COOPER: Elie Honig and Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
Kaitlan is going to be back, of course, anchoring in the top of the next hour in her new program, "The Source" launches next week, which is very exciting. Congratulations, Kaitlan on that.
Coming up next for us is stunning development surrounding Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary leader who led the failed rebellion against the Kremlin. He is not in Belarus, according to that country's president. He's in Russia he says, but he has not been seen in public in a week-and-a-half.
Some insight next on what it all can mean to the Kremlin and to the war in Ukraine.
Also, there's a new word on when the Secret Service expects to wrap up its investigation of the cocaine discovered in the West Wing and whether they may be able to identify who left it.
COOPER: Ever since he gave up the mutiny that he and his Wagner Group mercenaries led against the Kremlin, it was widely believed that Yevgeny Prigozhin and perhaps his troops would decamp to Belarus. The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko had said he'd arrived in the country, but there has been no sign of him since the 24th of the last month.
Well today, President Lukashenko told us where he thinks Prigozhin is and where he knows he is not.
Moscow has televised a raid also on Prigozhin's properties and has shown off what they claim are items from his mansion, including gold bars and passports and wigs.
CNN's Matthew Chance has more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A rare meeting with the Belarusian leader and an extraordinary revelation.
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As far as I am informed, as of this morning, the Wagner fighters are now stationed at their regular camps where they go for rotation to rest and recover from the frontlines.
In terms of Yevgeny Prigozhin, he is in St. Petersburg or maybe this morning, he would travel to Moscow or elsewhere, but he is not on the territory of Belarus now.
CHANCE (voice over): It wasn't meant to be this way. Lukashenko's deal to allow Prigozhin into Belarus was how the Kremlin explained Wagner's armed uprising last month had been brought to an early end.
There was even talk of Prigozhin arriving in Belarus and that all charges against him being dropped, that too, now appears in doubt.
(On camera): So, the offer that you extended Wagner and to Yevgeny Prigozhin has not been taken up. They are not in your country.
LUKASHENKO (through translator): Not yet. This will depend on the decision made by the Russian government and Wagner PMC. If they deem it necessary to locate a certain number of Wagner fighters in Belarus, for rest and preparation, then I will keep my promise.
CHANCE (voice over): But the Kremlin may have other plans.
Russian state TV has for days been painting Prigozhin as a traitor and a criminal, now broadcasting these new images of a raid on his St. Petersburg property, with police seizing weapons, cash and gold, even wigs for disguise, and multiple passports under aliases.
The Kremlin told CNN, they won't comment on where Prigozhin is or whether new charges may be filed against him.
Lukashenko raised the disturbing possibility of Prigozhin being assassinated before insisting the Kremlin would never do that.
LUKASHENKO (through translator): What will happen to Prigozhin next? Well, in life, anything can happen. But if you think that Putin is so malicious and vindictive that he will do him in tomorrow, no, this won't happen.
CHANCE (voice over): But clearly, the fate of Wagner and its leader is now in question.
Just last week, these satellite images appear to show a military base in Belarus being prepared for a possible influx of fighters. Lukashenko may now himself have got cold feet.
CHANCE (on camera): Is part of this, you re-thinking the wisdom of inviting a battle hardened, rebellious mercenary group into your country? Are you concerned that that would have destabilized Belarus? I mean, the Russians thought it was safe to have them, but you know, they were wrong.
LUKASHENKO (through translator): This is not a situation where I was lending Wagner a helping hand. This was reached in a process of negotiation. You know what was at stake.
I made this decision at that time and I would stick to it, but I don't think Wagner would rise up and turn its guns against the Belarusian state.
CHANCE (voice over): But for Belarus, Wagner's absence, may yet be a blessing in disguise.
COOPER: And Matthew Chance joins us now from Belarus.
Matthew, just kind of extraordinary to see you talking with Lukashenko and him being what appears to be quite candid, on a whole range of topics you wouldn't ordinarily expect to hear him talking about.
Is it clear where Lukashenko and Prigozhin's relationship stands right now?
CHANCE: You're right. He was very candid and it is unusual to have this sort of press conference. But yes, he played down the friendship between him and Prigozhin, which is surprising, because the Kremlin said that friendship was the reason the two guys could do the deal in the first place.
Now, Lukashenko has said that Putin was much more friendly with Prigozhin than he ever was. So, he is really trying to put himself at some distance between himself and the Wagner leader.
COOPER: Matthew Chance, appreciate it. Thank you.
To try to unravel some of what is going on, we are joined now by Jill Dougherty. She's a global fellow at the Wilson Center and on the faculty of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Also with us, CNN military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
Jill, I just found -- I find that amazing. What does it tell you that Prigozhin is allegedly in Russia and what could that mean for this deal that Lukashenko allegedly brokered?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIAN AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Lukashenko is an old Soviet style politician, so I don't really trust him, as far as I can throw him.
I mean, I think he's telling some of the truth that there's probably a lot of the truth that's hidden behind-the-scenes, but I do think it is odd that apparently Prigozhin is able to, you know, fly to Moscow, fly to St. Petersburg, and his men are communicating in some fashion, about reconstituting, and yet, the thing that really tipped me off today was that video that Kremlin is showing on state TV, which is absolutely excoriating as a criminal, corrupt, et cetera with money and gold bars, et cetera.
So, what are they trying to do? What is the Kremlin trying to do? I mean, I think they're setting him up for possible prosecution as, you know, taking money from the government, which Putin already hinted at about 10 days ago.
But they may also, as one Russian observer, who pretty much knows a lot said maybe they're just allowing him to kind of wrap up his affairs before the government begins to take them over.
COOPER: General Hertling, what do you think is going on?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is bizarre, Anderson.
Jill summed it up really well, but what we have to remember is this guy is the head of a global terrorist organization. It isn't just his actions inside of Ukraine and the recent actions in Russia that have caused some conundrums for Mr. Putin.
I mean, he still has forces in Africa and Syria. He is considered an international terrorist by the United States, but the thing that I thought was fascinating was, as Jill just mentioned, the besmirching of his background today on Russian TV with the pictures of his villa and the wigs and all the pictures of the guns in his house, and the pictures of people he had murdered.
It's just phenomenal that he has gone from a very charismatic figure that's next to Putin to being continually harassed, and people breaking into his quarters searching his apartment, and yet not saying anything about him.
And I'll also follow what Jill said about Lukashenko. He is as much of a liar as Putin is. I just -- I had to laugh at when he said, oh, Mr. Putin would never do anything like hurt Prigozhin. He probably wouldn't, because it would cause such a conundrum inside of Russia because Prigozhin is admired by a very large percentage of Russian citizens. He is a very charismatic figure.
One other thing I'd add, you know, while we continue to look at Prigozhin, one of the people that hasn't popped up was Prigozhin's deputy in eastern Ukraine, and that's Colonel General Surovikin. He hasn't been seen since the uprising and this was a very senior general.
So his family is concerned about him. No one is reporting on him. So this whole mess is just a typical Russian nesting doll of craziness.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Jill, with Prigozhin being back in Russia, I mean, I guess, could potentially, from the perspective of Vladimir Putin be a threat to his authority, but to your point, I mean, the Kremlin is clearly allowing Russian state television to be attacking Prigozhin, mocking him, showing all of these videos. I mean, that's all by design.
DOUGHERTY: Right. And, you know, those videos, I was thinking they do something else. Prigozhin's message to the Russian people is, hey, these generals who were screwing everything up in Ukraine, they're corrupt, they led the president into this war. You know, they're lining their pockets.
And this kind of populist, anti-elite message is actually very effective. So by doing this and saying, hey, look, Yevgeny is just as corrupt. Look at his gold bars and his -- you know, everything that he has, his mansion where he has all of this stuff, he is corrupt, too. So they may be trying to dim that message a little bit.
And then also, I think, you know, let's say his empire is so hard to unravel right now. The government wants to take it over as the General was mentioning, they've got a lot of work to do and this cannot happen really fast.
So there may be something to that. You know, let them kind of wrap it up. And remember, you know, Putin apparently thinks that Prigozhin was not necessarily trying to bring him down, but was trying to bring down the generals. So that could be another wrinkle.
COOPER: Jill Dougherty, General Mark Hertling, appreciate it, Thank you.
Up next, what a federal law enforcement official is saying about when the Secret Service expects to finish its investigation of the cocaine found at the White House and whether they will name a suspect. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: Tonight, we have some new insight into when the Secret Service expects to conclude its investigation into the bag of cocaine found in the West Wing in the White House, and their efforts to identify a suspect. In a moment, we'll talk with the former Secret Service agent.
But first want to go to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. So where does the investigation stand right now, Jeremy?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, right now, federal investigators are still going through security, camera footage, visitor logs, and they're still waiting on that DNA and fingerprint analysis on that dime bag of cocaine that was found inside a cubby at the entrance to the West Wing, right along West Executive Avenue.
Now, based on all of that, a federal law enforcement official tells me that they expect this investigation to conclude sometime early next week, and it will conclude, Anderson, regardless of whether or not they find a suspect. And, in part, that's because the same official cautioned me that it's possible they don't get to the bottom of this.
Look, they do have security cameras, of course, but it's not clear whether those cameras were pointed at those cubbies. And this official also talks about the number of people who go in and out of that entrance, makes it that much more difficult to possibly get to the bottom of this. But they are still investigating at this hour, Anderson, waiting for those lab results.
COOPER: And, obviously, none of the scenarios are great for the White House. Either it was a staffer or -- and they haven't ruled that out, or it was someone fairly well connected who was part of a quasi VIP tour group or anybody works at the White House. How confident are officials that it wasn't a staffer?
DIAMOND: Well, I asked the White House Press Secretary that very question, and she simply wouldn't rule out the possibility that it could be a White House staffer. But, of course, the White House has repeatedly been pointing out that this is an entrance used by visitors, that there were tours happening at the same time.
So, obviously, that seems to be the most likely scenario at this point. But as you point out, this is not like an East Wing tour or a garden tour where you can get tickets through your congressional office. You usually have to know someone who works at the White House or knows someone who knows someone.
And then you have to be escorted, not by an intern, not by a contractor, but by a White House official when you're on the grounds. Now, the White House today says they are letting the Secret Service conduct this investigation, and they also answered some of the criticism that they have faced, some of this pretty far-fetched, including from former President Trump who made a series of kind of wild conspiracy theory laid in allegations about this baggy of cocaine. The White House's response to that. They say that they're sensing some frustration perhaps from Republicans because of the policy successes of the Biden administration. Might be a stretch, Anderson, but it's what they're saying.
COOPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it.
Perspective now on the new developments from Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who's now a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. I mean, there are security cameras, there are certainly plenty of security people watching who's coming and going. How hard is this investigation do you think?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, this -- it's complicated and it's complicated on a few different levels. One, it's you're conducting an investigation at the White House. So some of the security measures are more external, they're looking at the external threats that may impact the complex, not internal issues, right?
It's not like a regular office building where you have cameras all over the place because you don't want to record the business of the administration, especially in this location. As Jeremy said, it's on the ground floor of the West Wing, just outside of the situation room. So you have intelligence officials that are going in and out of there.
So capturing video may not be something of evidentiary value for the Secret Service.
COOPER: I guess I didn't realize how many people might have had access to that location. I mean, you -- I would assume this is a highly secure area, but --
WACKROW: It's a secure area. But what I refer to it, this is the crossroads of the White House. You have people who are coming in that are military officials. You have the Secret Service, you have White House staff members, you have senior administrative officials. Cabinet members use that entrance to come in and out.
On top of all of that, you also have this White House tour, this VIP tour that was going on from Friday to Sunday. Essentially, those tours happen when the business of the West Wing real ly concludes for the day or is off for the weekend. So there's a lot of people.
COOPER: You -- we have the Secret Service. They say they expect to conclude this by early next week. And that regardless of whether or not a suspect is actually identified, does that make sense to you? I don't --
WACKROW: It does make sense. And here's why. There's only so much you can do with this type of investigation, right? It's -- you can't boil the ocean. You have to either use the forensics, the fingerprint, the DNA evidence that may or may not be on the bag. So that may point to a potential suspect because this is a criminal matter or you have to look at items of -- video evidence. And again, that's a little bit more complicated because you're predominantly going to get the view from outside the building. You're not going to get into this very specific area. So there's only a few investigative on this --
COOPER: So there wouldn't be a camera on these cubbies?
WACKROW: No. No.
COOPER: And if, I mean, if somebody could bring in a dime bag of cocaine, does that raise questions about what else somebody could bring into the White House?
WACKROW: Well, it raises questions and I have some answers for that.
WACKROW: So it's natural to associate a bag of drugs with a anthrax or ricin, right. The people are -- that's commonality.
WACKROW: But actually, the way that the Secret Service looks at is they're two different domains. One is a criminal matter. One is actually a threat. And from a threat perspective, it's threat identification and threat management.
The Secret Service does that very well, and they have processes in place to identify chemical, biological, and radiological elements that are brought to the White House. So there are sensors all over the place, active and passive, that are used as part of the protective program at the White House. And I don't want to get into too much about how they do it, but let's just say that they're there.
From a criminal standpoint, the Secret Service is not screening for drugs. Now, I think regardless of whether or not there is somebody that is identified or not, I think some of the protocols will change on how the physical screening of individuals takes place upon coming into the complex.
Again, this is a schedule two drug. It's, you know, illegal to have, this is a criminal matter. A crime was committed on the property. Secret Service has to address that, and they have to put protocols in place to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
COOPER: All right, Jonathan Wackrow, I appreciate it.
WACKROW: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks very much you.
What could cause the most conservative caucus in Congress to expel one of his most prominent MAGA members? We'll discuss how Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene may have gone too far, even for the House Freedom Caucus. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We just learned today that before the House went on recess late last month, the Conservative House Freedom Caucus voted to remove one of its members. The first time this has ever happened. Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is the member they voted on.
Unclear if the vote is all there is, and she's officially out. But a caucus member today told CNN, quote, "As far as I know, that's the way it is". Congressman Andy Harris didn't list all the reasons. He did say, quote, "The straw that broke the camel's back" -- and those were his words -- "was a confrontation Greene had with another Freedom Caucus member, Lauren Boebert, on the House floor".
That's video of it happening right there. This would've been on June 21st, two days before the vote. Greene called Boebert, and forgive the colorful language but these are her words, a little bitch. Greene's spokesperson confirmed the account to CNN at the time. The subject was competing articles of impeachment against President Biden.
Congressman Harris, the Freedom Caucus member, added today that this was, quote, "Not the way we expect our members to refer to their fellow, especially female members". Today, this is how Greene responded in part to the expulsion vote, quote, "In Congress, I serve Northwest Georgia first and serve no group in Washington. My America First credentials guided by my Christian faith are forged in steel, seared into my character, and will never change".
I'm joined now by CNN Political Director, our own man of steel, David Chalian, and former Republican Congresswoman and Political Commentator Mia Love. So David, I mean, is it clear to you where exactly Marjorie Taylor Greene stands right now with the House Freedom Caucus and whether there's more to this story?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it doesn't seem 100 percent clear. Even Andy Harris, when he was talking about this today, said he believes the vote means she is no longer in the Freedom Caucus, will not be attending Freedom Caucus meetings going forward.
But I think we'll wait for Congress to get back to get sort of a final assessment of that. But clearly, there was this vote and she was ousted here and it seems, Anderson, you know, there are lots of offenses that Congress can withstand. But when you take on your own, that seems to really ruffle feathers almost more than anything else in Congress.
They do not like when members sort of go after members on the floor itself. And I think you're seeing that here. And it comes of course after Marjorie Taylor Greene was already sort of playing political FTSE with Kevin McCarthy going a little bit more establishment, if you will. And that was distancing from -- distancing her from the sort of Freedom Caucus agenda as well.
COOPER: Congresswoman, I mean, does this make sense to you of all the many offensive things that Marjorie Taylor Greene has said? Does it make sense to you that the final straw may have been her calling Lauren Boebert a female dog in the House floor?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I found her statement really interesting because before you joined the House Freedom Caucus, I was asked at one point, when I first became a member to join the House Freedom Caucus, people like myself and John Ratcliffe refused to join because you are expected to vote as a block.
They ask you that. They say, hey, this is what we expect from you. And I didn't want any of the votes of my constituents to be tied to a group of people. So it's really interesting that she says, you know, I don't want to be -- she shouldn't have joined the House Freedom Caucus if that was the case.
The interesting thing is, I believe that this started when she didn't stand with the House Freedom Caucus, she stood with the President in trying to keep -- in making sure that Kevin McCarthy became speaker of the House. She was showing her phone to other members of Congress trying to get them to vote Kevin McCarthy in as speaker of the House. So --
COOPER: You mean, when she sued the former president --
LOVE: -- I'm not that they would kick her out.
COOPER: -- former President Trump.
LOVE: The former president. COOPER: Right.
LOVE: Yes, yes.
COOPER: But did you ever think that there would be repercussions for, I mean, I don't know if this is repercussion for her bad behavior. I mean, is this such an egregious offense?
LOVE: Oh gosh, of all the egregious event offenses I can think of. I mean, they just -- they play by their own rules and she should know that if she doesn't play by their rules, then she's going to be out. I'm actually pretty surprised. I mean, this is the most conservative caucus in Congress.
And someone as far-right as Marjorie Taylor Greene to get kicked out, where does she go? Who does she caucus with?
LOVE: Where does she go from here?
COOPER: David, how much of an awkward spot does this put Speaker Kevin McCarthy in? Because I mean, Greene had obviously become a key ally of his.
CHALIAN: Yes. He has utilized her time. And again, you remember, when he rolled out his midterm agenda, he had her positioned directly in the shop behind him to show that he had support from the right-wing that is normally causing him trouble.
As Mia was just saying, she was critical in trying to whip some votes on his behalf to become speaker. And then, on the debt ceiling fight, which was probably sort of from a policy perspective, Anderson, the most egregious thing she's done if you're a House Freedom Caucus member, which was opposed to the debt ceiling fight, she was, you know, helping Speaker McCarthy there as well.
So does he come out now and continue to sort of have this tension with the Freedom Caucus over Marjorie Taylor Greene? I don't think Kevin McCarthy is going to stake his standing with the conference overall on defending Marjorie Taylor Greene in this moment.
COOPER: Yes. David Chalian and Mia Love, thanks so much.
Just ahead, an up close on the ground look at how former president -- or vice president, I should say, Mike Pence is faring on the campaign trail in Iowa.
COOPER: The Super PAC supporting former Vice President Mike Pence launched a new TV ad in Iowa today directly criticizing his former Boston running mate as too friendly with dictators and promising return to the Republicanism of Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America doesn't stand with thugs and dictators. We confront them, or at least we used to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gorbachev teared down this war.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: There can be no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin. There can only be room for champions of freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Committed to America PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Kyung Lah has been on the trail following the former vice president who's made a strong finish there. Linchpin his long shot bid for the nomination.
PENCE: The road to the White House starts in Iowa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, Mike.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I get a picture with you? KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For former Vice President Mike Pence, the early stretch of his race has been a jog through a 2-mile July 4th parade in Urbandale.
PENCE: Mint chocolate chip.
LAH (voice-over): Eating the local sweets in rural northwest Iowa.
PENCE: It's a serious issue. Wonder when you deal with.
LAH: Of hearing the personal politics of local Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's wonderful. It's the only way you have a chance to really know how they feel and answer questions at your level of the community.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Awesome.
PENCE: God bless you.
LAH (voice-over): A 10 county sweep for candidate Pence just this week as he aims to hit all 99 counties in Iowa.
(on-camera): What is it that you hope to achieve by visiting all these counties, by doing all of these parades?
PENCE: You know, I came to a conclusion over the last few years that I'm well known, but we're not known well. We're going to be able to take our story, take our case, and take our whole record, the story of our family to the people of Iowa and it's a great success.
LAH (voice-over): The Midwest native plans to deliver it over prayer and pizza. Pence's preferred spot for us, slice the Pizza Ranch, a chain with 71 locations across Iowa.
CHIP SALTSMAN, NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN, MIKE PENCE FOR PRESIDENT: If you want to win the Iowa Caucus, it's a 50 person Pizza Ranch meeting. Because everybody that came here tonight, I guarantee the one thing they have in common, they're all going to caucus.
LAH (voice-over): Pence National Campaign Chair Chip Saltsman hatched the so-called Pizza Ranch strategy in 2008 as campaign manager for then-Republican Presidential Hopeful, Mike Huckabee, who would come from behind and win the 2008 Iowa caucuses.
This room believes Pence's campaign is how he too could win here.
SALTSMAN: You're looking for people that are willing to come out on a cold night, spend an hour and a half, listening to everybody else talk and then vote for your person. And the way you build those relationships are in meetings of 50, not rallies of 5,000.
LAH (voice-over): In this Pizza Ranch meeting, a 50 Iowan some wearing their allegiance to a different Republican candidate. Pence takes any and all questions from voters, including one who confronted him about his role in certifying the 2020 election results on January 6th. LUANN BERTRAND, IOWA REPUBLICAN VOTER: We won that election. You changed history for this country.
PENCE: And I want to tell you, with all due respect, I said before, I said, when I announced, President Trump was wrong about my authority that day, and he's still wrong. I believe it with all my heart.
LAH (voice-over): That answer only slightly moved Luann Bertrand who asked the question.
BERTRAND: I really do feel like he altered history.
LAH (voice-over): Would you consider supporting Mr. Pence after listening to him today?
BERTRAND: I would consider it, but he has that one hiccup.
LAH (voice-over): But meeting Pence did change Amy Klein's mind.
AMY KLEIN, IOWA REPUBLICAN VOTER: Well, I voted for Mr. Trump before, but I've been going to all of the people that come that want to run for president, and so far, I like him the best.
LAH (on-camera): So your opinion has changed after seeing him up close?
LAH: The summer before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, Mike Huckabee was polling in the very low single digits. Of course, he ended up winning the Iowa caucuses, but there was never a President Mike Huckabee. In 2024, Anderson, what the Pence campaign hopes to do is to meet that successful history from 2008, forge a new path forward by essentially winning the Iowa caucuses and then gaining a momentum to try to kick off a national campaign. Anderson, at least that's the hope, their hope. Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, Kyung Lah, We'll see. Thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: OceanGate, the company that owned the submersible that imploded on its way to the Titanic wreckage says it was suspend -- it has suspended its exploration and commercial operations. The decision comes after five men were killed when the Titan Sub suffered what was called a catastrophic implosion last month.
Since the tragedy, new details have emerged about warnings and safety concerns over the sub. OceanGate charge, as you may know, each passenger $250,000 to ride on Titan and explore the 111 year old Titanic shipwreck on the ocean floor. That's it for us. The news continues. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Kaitlan Collins starts now.