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At This Hour

Biden Says, U.S Will Respond Decisively if Russia Invades Ukraine; Two Missing, 1,000 Homes Destroyed in Colorado Fires; 1/6 Committee Has Firsthand Knowledge of Trump's Behavior During Riots. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: New this morning, President Biden is vowing to, quote, respond decisively if Russia invades Ukraine. The president spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on Sunday after his follow-up call with Putin last week.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House with more on this. Jeremy, what does Biden's warning really mean here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, twice over the last month now, President Biden has gotten on the phone with the Russian president and warned him of the serious economic and other consequences that he would face if indeed Russia decides to move forward with an invasion of Ukraine. We know that there are more than 100,000 Russian troops mobilized on the Ukrainian border and U.S. officials don't yet know whether or not he intends to move forward with that.

But we know that in these conversations, President Biden has warned of devastating economic consequences that go far further than what the U.S. leveled against Russia after the 2014 invasion of Crimea and also a stepped-up NATO military presence in Eastern Europe right at Russia's doorstep.

We also know that President Biden is trying to show the Russian president that the United States and Ukraine won't allow a wedge to be driven between them by the Russians. That's why we saw President Biden speaking on the phone yesterday with the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, where we are told that Biden told Zelensky that the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively if indeed Russia chooses to move forward with that invasion.

Ultimately though, President Biden and the Russia president have agreed to allow diplomacy to move forward for now at least. Talks expected to begin on January 10th. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jeremy, thank you so much for that.

Coming up for us, a thousand homes reduced to ash in the worst fires to ever hit Colorado. Investigators are now narrowing in on how it started. Details in a live report, next.



BOLDUAN: Developing at this hour, the search continues for two people still missing after the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history. The fires destroyed nearly a thousand homes and businesses in what really was just hours fueled by hurricane force winds. The pictures and images coming out are truly devastating.

Joining me right now is a Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse. His district includes some of these areas that were most devastated by the fire. Thanks for being here, Congressman.

We were talking in the break, I know you and your family were among those who had to evacuate for safety, kind of in the midst of it. What is the current station on the ground right now?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Well, like many families, we left as a precaution. The fire, as you said, was metastasizing at such a quick rate with those hurricane winds. And we know, of course, have learned over the course of the last several days of the real devastation that has happened here in our communities in Louisville and in Superior, that I've the honor of representing the United States Congress.

As you said, almost 1,000 homes gone, entire subdivisions, entire neighborhoods that were incinerated, and many, many families, constituents of mine who I've been visiting with over the course of the last few days who have lost everything, lost all their belongings, literally, some who had only a moment's notice to flee the flames and left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

So, it has been a very traumatic week for Boulder County and for Colorado, and it's going to be a long road to recovery. Yesterday, the FEMA administrator joined us here. She's a former -- she's a Coloradan -- I shouldn't say former -- grew up here in our state. And she cares deeply about the state and she made it clear that the federal government would be there to assist as we rebuild. But it's going to be a long road ahead.

BOLDUAN: And it really is. It's hard to believe some of the pictures we're seeing, especially those aerial image as of just entire neighborhoods turned to ash. And now, a lot of it is under a snow pile. What do people need right now?

NEGUSE: Well, just on the images, because you've -- I couldn't agree with you more. I had a chance to do a flyover with our governor on Friday, the day after the fire. And the images don't really do it justice. I mean, to see it firsthand, it is a level of devastation that I certainly have never seen before when you think about entire neighborhoods that were literally gone and that were gone in a matter of minutes.

[11:40:03] I do think it is important that we thank the first responders and the firefighters. There are many neighborhoods I saw just yesterday with the FEMA administrator where you can literally see where the fire line was, where firefighters stood in the breach and defended homes and saved lives. And we're just so grateful for everything they have done.

Look, right now, we're very focused, of course, on the short-term needs of those who have been impacted by the fires, in particular, housing assistance, crisis services. There is a disaster recovery center and assistance center that has been stood up in Lafayette, in Colorado, and, of course, constituents can reach out to my office as well as to apply for a variety of federal benefits that are now available.

But as I said, it's going to be a long road ahead. Our community is very focused on helping each other, neighbors taking care of neighbors to ensure that we build back this wonderful community that we're also blessed to call home.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. The Denver Post is reporting investigators have narrowed in on a particular neighborhood where they believe the fire started, though there is no conclusion yet on the exact cause. But I'm wondering, what does it mean to you if there is evidence that the fire that sparked these wildfires was intentionally started?

NEGUSE: Well, look, I've read the same reports that you have and, of course, visited with our sheriff here, who has done a wonderful job and just been such an incredible leader during this time of crisis. I'll defer to law enforcement, and my understanding is that they are working with the FBI and the ATF and other federal agencies. And I suspect we'll learn more in the coming days as to the cause of the fire.

At the end of the day, our focus, my focus has to be on my neighbors, on our community, and doing what we can to help them get through this very difficult time. I also would say that the confluence of factors with respect to this fire, the reality of incredibly dry conditions here in Colorado and hurricane winds were such that -- I think that's largely what propelled this fire t be so devastating and ultimately will be the most destructive fire in our state in terms of loss.

And it's a reminder that the climate scientists have warned about us for years, that, clearly, these fires are going to become more pervasive in the years ahead and that we've got to get serious about resiliency and mitigation efforts in the years ahead.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, if I could, I want to turn to this week's anniversary of the January 6th attack before I let you go, because you have some important perspective on kind of what the January 6th committee and its investigation may be up against. They have gotten new testimony coming in. They are speaking a lot more about how even Ivanka Trump, they have testimony that she went to her father and asked him to stop the violence.

But as I mentioned, you have an important perspective on this, as you were an impeachment manager during Donald Trump's second impeachment, which directly was connected to the insurrection. And no matter what the committee finds, no matter what the evidence shows, this still does come down to convincing people to believe the truth. How do you think the committee, this committee, can do that now, because despite your best efforts before, it hasn't happened yet?

NEGUSE: Well, first, let me say I couldn't be more proud of the work that Chairman Thompson and Vice Chair Cheney, who is my neighbor to the north, her district borders mine, of course, Wyoming and Northern Colorado, that they have done in the face of some pretty incredible obstruction on the part of the former president, as well as many of his allies and former officials of the Trump administration to, I think, getting to the truth and being in a position at which they can share what they have found with the American public.

I saw much of the coverage over the weekend with Representative Cheney, in particular, and some of the disclosures that the committee is now making in terms of the evidence that they have uncovered about the president's dereliction of duty, which, of course, we saw on full display on January 6th, a year ago. And much of what we talked about during the course of the impeachment trial, as you'll recall on the Senate floor, was the fact that the president stood and did nothing as rioters were literally breaking in to the Capitol, the worst attack on our Capitol since the war of 1812.

You are right though. At the end of the day, much of this is about convincing the American public, right, and being in a position in which we can explain to them the real threats that exist to our democracy and enacting the appropriate safeguards to prevent this from happening in the future. And I worry that the lies that propelled January 6th to happen in the first place have only metastasized over the course of the last year.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for your time.

NEGUSE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We appreciate it.

We do have some breaking news coming in. We want to get to New York's attorney general, Letitia James, has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump in the fraud inquiry into the family business that has been ongoing.

Let's get over to CNN's Kara Scannell. She has much more on these breaking details. Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Kate. So, we just learned from a new court filing that the New York Attorney General's Office has subpoenaed Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for testimony as part of that civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization and any of its executives manipulated the value of its properties.


Now, this filing came because the A.G.'s office had previously subpoenaed former President Donald Trump himself for his testimony and Trump and his attorneys are planning to fight that subpoena. So, we learned through this court filing today that they also are going to fight the subpoena for Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump's testimony. I mean, they have been senior executives with the company, Ivanka, until she went into the administration, Donald Trump Jr., although he has a large presence on the former president's campaign trail and in politics, he is still one of the top executives at the company.

So, they are going to be fighting that and the legal briefs that will continue over the next couple of weeks as they continue to fight that.

Just as a reminder, Eric Trump, one of the other top executives, was previously deposed as part of this investigation. But what has changed since his deposition was that the New York Attorney General's Office has now joined with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which is conducting a criminal investigation that adds another significant wrinkle to this and will ultimately be up to a judge to decide whether any of these depositions will take place now. Kate?

BOLDUAN: So interesting. Kara, thank you for that reporting.

Coming up for us, the owner of a minor league baseball team celebrates the sale of the ball club by giving his employees an incredible gift. The act of kindness has left some of them, probably all of them, a little bit speechless.



BOLDUAN: A goodbye gift with a huge amount of love and a lot of cash. The owner of the minor league baseball club team, the Iowa Cubs, ending his decades of leadership with incredible generosity, when majority owner Michael Gartner decided to retire and sell the team, he also decided to pay it forward, giving the proceeds from the sale of the team to the staff, $600,000 divided among 23 full-time employees of the includes, all a complete surprise surrounded, announced at their final staff meeting of the year.

Joining me now is one of the people who made this happen, who is also one of those big hearts involved on this big moment, Sam Bernabe, the president and general manager for the Iowa Cubs. It's great to have you on the show, Sam. Thank you for being here.

SAM BERNABE, PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER, IOWA CUBS: Good morning, Kate. Happy New Year, thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Acts of kindness like this don't come along very often. Where did the idea come from?

BERNABE: Well, we started the process of talking with our buyers let's say around the 1st March. And as it progressed, Michael came to me and said, what do you think about giving part of it to the staff and, of course, it was an easy yes for me, and we talked to our other stockholder partners and it was an easy yes from them, a quick yes, and that's really how it kind of came about. And as things began to look like, we were going to closed and the date we were going to close, we set it up and called a staff meeting and on actually the closing day. And we have a restaurant space in the ballpark that we asked everybody to come to, and we had about seven of our staff that were either on vacation or out sick, and so they were on Zoom listening to Michael, and that's how it all came together.

BOLDUAN: Can you tell me about that moment when -- when the kind of the big reveal happened? I mean, what was the reaction?

BERNABE: Well, there were -- there were some tears. There was -- there was some clapping. There was a lot of surprise. It's rare that I find any of my staff members without words most of the time and several came to me after Michael had made his presentation and, frankly, were speechless, and that's -- that's a rarity in this crowd.

But it was -- it was -- it was fun. It was a gratifying thing to do, certainly well deserving of all of our staff. I have lots of staff that have been with me for literally 10, 15, 20, 30 years across the board, and we just felt like it was the right thing to do.

BOLDUAN: But, Sam, I mean, look, I'm from Indiana. We all know what Midwestern nice looks like. But this goes well beyond that. I mean, the team's lead broadcaster told Yahoo! Sports, I think the way he said it was it was the single most genuine gesture I've ever seen. Why did you do it?

BERNABE: Well, again, I -- Michael Gartner has always -- every day comes into my office as we operate the ball club, and as I try operate it under his guise as to what he wants me to do and when he wants me to do it, but he always either starts the conversation or finishes the conversation with, we've got to do the right thing. And that's really -- this is doing the right thing for people that frankly helped us every day have the success that we have.

It was, again, an easy decision because all of these folks have been with us, you know, to build what we've built coming out of the previous ownership prior to Michael. Michael's partnership, you know, that started there, and Michael just carried that on and, you know, we owe what we have to our staff, and that's how we got to where we're at.

BOLDUAN: I mean, but, look, times are tough, COVID so much more, people are angry, people feel left behind, the country is divided, all of those things, right, Sam? Is there a lesson that you would like folks to take away from your story and the legacy with the Iowa Cubs?


BERNABE: Well, again, it's pretty simple. In a lot of cases, decisions are made, to leave for whatever reason. But it still comes down to do the right thing. And that's engrained in my brain well. We try to live by that on a daily basis along with safe, clean and fun as far as our business motto, do the right thing is the other part of that. And I think if people concentrated more on doing the right thing, there would be far fewer arguments about how things should go.

BOLDUAN: I think I 100 percent agree, and I'm so thankful. Thanks for coming on and sharing the story. Thanks for being awesome.

BERNABE: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Happy New Year.

Thank you all so much for being here today. Inside Politics with John King begins after the break.