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At This Hour
Photos Show Mike Pence Family Hiding during Capitol Attack; Loudermilk Gave Tour to Capitol Rioter; January 6 Emails between Ginni Thomas and John Eastman; U.S. Pledges Additional Aid to Ukraine; American Fighters Feared Captured near Russian Border. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Kate Bolduan.
A couple of hours from now the January 6 committee will spotlight Donald Trump's efforts to pressure Mike Pence into rejecting the 2020 election results. We have a preview of that hearing.
Plus two Americans feared captured in Ukraine. We'll ask the White House directly what's being done to get them back.
And the Fed's big move on interest rates already having an impact on American consumers. That's what we're watching for AT THIS HOUR.
So we're just two hours away from the third hearing on the insurrection. The January 6th committee plans to focus on Donald Trump's repeated pressure on former vice president Mike Pence to block the certification of the 2020 election results. Remember what Trump told the crowd just hours before the attack on the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mike Pence, I will tell you right now, I'm not hearing good stories. I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy. Of course if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Hmm. The committee's going to make the case Trump's pressure campaign directly contributed to that day's deadly violence. New photos obtained by ABC News show Pence and his family in hiding after the former vice president was rushed off the Senate floor by Secret Service during the insurrection.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill.
Walk us through exactly what we'll watch later today. MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The committee will
try to lay out the timeline of how this bogus theory, that vice president Mike Pence at the time had the power to simply reject the state-certified electoral results when he was presiding over that joint session of Congress on January 6th, 2021.
We'll talk about Trump's attorney, John Eastman, and talk about Trump himself peddling that notion and trying to tie what Donald Trump said directly to the violence that occurred January 6th.
We expect to hear, see video testimony from former Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short, and live witness testimony from two key advisers, one of them Greg Jacob, a former counsel to the vice president, and Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge, who served as an informal adviser of sorts to Mike Pence.
We've gotten a copy of his testimony, in which he raised serious alarms if Donald Trump's pressure campaign succeeded, the implications that could have for American democracy.
He went on to say in his testimony he'll deliver later today, the final, fateful day, calling January 6th the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost.
So we expect this to kick off later this afternoon. And then this will be the end of this week's hearings as they move on to further hearings next week, to lay out what they're calling a seven-part effort by Donald Trump, a conspiracy to overturn the election, leading to what happened January 6th, 2021.
SANCHEZ: Manu Raju, thank you so much.
The January 6th committee has also released new information about the Republican congressman who led a tour of the Capitol complex with 10 people on January 5th, the day before the insurrection.
Lawmakers are renewing a request to hear from congressman Barry Loudermilk after committee released this video, showing people taking photos of stairwells, security checkpoints and hallways, as Loudermilk gave them a tour.
Later one of the individuals on the tour was apparently heard threatening lawmakers during the insurrection. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no escape, Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We're coming for you. We're coming in like white on rice. For Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you, AOC. We're coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs. How about that, Pelosi?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Let's go to CNN's Whitney Wild, she's live in Washington for us with more. Whitney, Loudermilk says that this was a peaceful group that he met
WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, the committee hasn't identified this man but sources say the committee has interviewed him. The committee has also not provided evidence that the man in that video actually entered the Capitol on January 6th.
The video released by the committee does seem to challenge the findings of the Capitol Police, which says the department conducted a review of security footage of January 5th and did not observe any activities it deemed to be suspicious or consistent with a reconnaissance tour.
Capitol Police chief Tom Manger said the video shows Loudermilk with a group of about a dozen people and that grew to about 15 people, walking through the Capitol office buildings on January 5th.
Manger also stated the group of visitors did not appear in any tunnels that would lead them to the U.S. Capitol.
The video released by the committee at least shows them at the entrance of those tunnels, though. So we asked Capitol Police follow- up questions about how they came to the conclusions in that letter, what video they may have reviewed, who did the review.
And we asked for a summary of the findings that were the basis for that letter but the agency declined to comment on those specifics, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Whitney Wild from Washington, D.C., thanks so much.
Joining to us preview today's hearing, Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg. He testified on Monday. And also we have CNN's Abby Phillip.
Ben, today's hearing is all about the pressure campaign that Trump put on Mike Pence. Judge Luttig is set to tell the committee, quote, "Had the Vice President of the United States obeyed the president of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis."
Do you agree with that assessment, that it would have been a constitutional crisis?
BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: Well, I think it certainly would have been a constitutional crisis. What's really important to focus on in today's hearing is what an icon Michael Luttig is to the conservative judicial community.
He is a charter member of the Federalist Society. He speaks with great authority. And when Michael Luttig starts talking about constitutional crises in America, there is a swath of conservative judicial thought that is going to pay attention as perhaps they haven't before. SANCHEZ: Abby, we'll hear a lot about Mike Pence but not actually
going to hear directly from Pence.
How much do you think that matters in all this?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it's going to matter a lot at the end of the day. I think the committee has the information that they need to make the argument that they want to make.
And they're going to also have one of Mike Pence's closest aides, Marc Short, testifying today as well. And I think that will give us a lot of insight into what was going on in Pence's world on that day and in the days leading up to January 6th.
I think the committee decided that they didn't want to have a big fight over whether Mike Pence would appear. And that's probably for the best. At the end of the day, that fight may not have produced testimony from Pence. And other people have effectively the same information.
You're going to see I think Marc Short really trying to walk a tightrope here. They know what Pence experienced. They know what pressure he was under. But they don't want to antagonize even further Trump's base. So I think that's going to be the balance they'll be trying to have in his testimony today.
SANCHEZ: Ben, I want to ask you about this reporting in "The New York Times," these emails from John Eastman, the Trump attorney, back in December of 2020. He claims to be aware of, quote, "heated fighting" between Supreme Court justices over whether to take up a case on the 2020 election results.
He writes in an email, quote, "So the odds are not based on the legal merits but an assessment of the justices' spines. And I understand there's a heated fight underway for those willing to do their duty.
"We should help them by giving them a Wisconsin cert petition to add into the mix."
Does it standup to you, that he knows the details of deliberations between justices behind closed doors?
GINSBERG: Yes, it's not a great fact for John Eastman. But there are a couple of other things to keep in mind.
Number one, he is a Supreme Court clerk. And there's a very active network of Supreme Court clerks and they talk to each other.
Secondly, we know he was engaged in an email conversation with Ginni Thomas, the wife of a Supreme Court justice. I wouldn't be surprised to see one of those emails make their way in today.
So he could have been hearing something from either one of those two groups. But nonetheless, it becomes kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, really perhaps wishful thinking that there were these fights going on within the justices.
GINSBERG: Because when the Supreme Court decisions came out in the course of this, you would not really describe any of their decisions not to take up Trump's cases as really tough fights.
SANCHEZ: Abby, so far the committee has said that Ginni Thomas is not a part of their investigation. She's not a central focus.
Do you anticipate that might change, now that these emails with John Eastman are being studied?
PHILLIP: You know, it's possible, because it seems that what's happening here is that these emails, as they're coming to light, are coming into the possession of the committee.
It was only recently Eastman was ordered to turn over the emails. So as they're going through it, it could very well be they find things that necessitate her appearing, maybe not in front of the committee publicly but perhaps privately, to respond to some questions about what was going on behind the scenes.
I do think that, if they have evidence that there is information that went from the privacy of the court to this Stop the Steal effort, that would be of significant interest to the committee and to the American public. And so they would really have no choice but to look into that.
SANCHEZ: Abby Phillip, Ben Ginsberg, we have to leave the conversation there. We appreciate you both joining us.
SANCHEZ: Don't go anywhere, CNN's special coverage of today's insurrection hearing begins at the top of the hour at noon Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, two American fighters missing in Ukraine, feared captured by Russian forces. I talk to the White House about efforts to get them back, next.
SANCHEZ: Three of Europe's key leaders are in Ukraine today, meeting with President Zelenskyy and seeing firsthand the destruction caused by Russian forces. The leaders are pledging more military aid as the war now enters its fourth month.
CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Eastern Ukraine for us with the latest.
Ben, even during this visit from French president Emmanuel Macron, there's been some tension between him and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's been a lot of tension, for instance, between French president Emmanuel Macron, who publicly said that Russia should not be humiliated. Ukrainians are thinking that's the last thing anybody should be worry being at the moment.
There's tension with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz because Germany has been rather slow at providing advanced weaponry to Ukraine as well. So, yes, it's not necessarily a meeting that is full of love.
But nonetheless, it's significant that the leaders of Italy, France and Germany, the three largest economies in Western Europe, are visiting the country and visiting with President Zelenskyy.
We should also point out that the president of Romania is in Kyiv as well. Now we did hear the French president say that Ukraine must be allowed to win. That's a fairly unequivocal statement that there's going to be support to allow Ukraine not to simply hold the line and perhaps cede some territory to the Russians; the French president also said that, in addition to the 12 Caesar advanced artillery systems that France has already given to Ukraine, France will give an additional six Caesar artillery systems. Boris.
SANCHEZ: Ben Wedeman live in Eastern Ukraine, thank you so much.
We want to take a closer look at another angle of the war in Ukraine that hits close to home. Two Americans fighting alongside Ukraine's forces are missing. Their families fear that they've been captured by the Russians.
The two men disappeared about a week ago during a battle near the Russian border. Let's take you now to Kyiv and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live.
What have their families shared with CNN?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So let's start with what happened to them, Boris. These two men, Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh, both from Alabama, came to Ukraine as volunteers to join the fight.
They were fighting under a Ukrainian military command in the north of the country in a flashpoint area. And about a week ago, they went missing during military operations. There were subsequent searches and no remains were found.
Now their families believe they've been captured by Russian forces. U.S. officials do say these two men are missing and they're doing everything they can to bring them home but they have not been able to verify that claim that they've been captured by Russian troops.
But this is what the mother of Alex Drueke told our Anderson Cooper last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUNNY DRUEKE, ALEX'S MOTHER: Well, I'm trying to remain strong and calm, because getting upset won't help Alex at all. But hearing Joy for the first time, this is difficult, because I feel for her. But most of the time I'm really strong, because that's what Alex would want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: I think the fear for these families is that these two men, who came again on their own volition as citizens, not as representatives of the United States, should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
But the fear is Russian forces will use them as bartering chips, potentially abuse them. We're waiting for more on them. Boris.
SANCHEZ: Salma Abdelaziz live from the White House, thank you.
SANCHEZ: Joining us now from the White House is John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communication and a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.
John, grateful to have you. Thanks for joining us.
Let's start with the aid package, an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Earlier this week, Ukraine's deputy defense minister said the country has only received 10 percent of the military assistance that they've requested.
Is Ukraine getting what it needs?
ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They're getting as much as we can send as fast as we can send it, Boris. President Biden just spoke to President Zelenskyy yesterday, had a good conversation about what's going on, on the battlefield and what the requirements are and capabilities are for Ukraine.
And just yesterday as well in Brussels, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with 50 other nations, other defense ministers from other nations, to provide even more security assistance to Ukraine.
And so we're working this very, very hard. And as a matter of fact, not only is security assistance getting in every day, it's getting in and getting over to the region at record speed. We've never been able to accomplish something like this before from a logistical perspective.
And I'll tell you, we're in constant conversation with the Ukrainians. Yesterday is a great example but on any given day and we try to stay in real time with what their needs are, based on the needs on the battlefield, with what they're facing against Russian forces.
So we'll keep the conversation going and keep providing security assistance for as long as we can and as fast as we can. SANCHEZ: So you've been clear, the U.S. is going to do as much as it
can for Ukraine for as long as it can. Right now, there's another $40 billion that Congress has authorized for Ukraine. Not all of that is earmarked for military assistance.
But there's no sign that this conflict is ending. And, at some point, that money is going to run out.
So how confident are you that Congress and, by extension, the American people are going to continue to sign off on aid for Ukraine?
KIRBY: Well, look, I think anybody can predict -- nobody can predict, quite frankly, how long this war is going to go on. Importantly, it doesn't need go on for one more day. Mr. Putin could end it today by doing the right thing.
We had said when the war was concentrated in the Donbas region, it could be a bit of a gunfight, a knife fight, a very close bit of combat and it has proven out to be exactly that.
So we're going to again stay in touch with the Ukrainians, making sure that we're meeting their needs as much as we can, as fast as we can. And, look, we're just not at a point -- and we're grateful for the support we got from Congress -- not at a point where we believe we need to plan for yet another supplemental package.
We've only just begun spending and producing off the supplemental package they just approved.
SANCHEZ: So the leaders of Germany, Italy and France are visiting Kyiv today, as the E.U. is weighing potentially nominating Ukraine to join their union.
There's been tension between Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the French leader saying Ukraine should seek an exit ramp with Russia.
I'm wondering what's the president's message to European leaders pushing Ukraine to not "embarrass," not humiliate Vladimir Putin?
KIRBY: I think the president would point you back to what President Zelenskyy said himself, he agrees the best way to end the war is negotiated settlement but President Zelenskyy believes we're not at that time right now, that President Putin has shown no inclination of stopping the combat, of stopping the fighting, of being willing to sit down and negotiate in good faith.
And until that day happens, then we're going to be committed to helping Ukraine's armed forces defend themselves and try to take back the territory, particularly in the east and the south that they're trying to take back right now.
Our job is to help them succeed on the battlefield so they can succeed at the negotiating table. But we're not at that point right now.
SANCHEZ: Admiral, CNN is hearing from the families of two Americans that have been fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. They say that they haven't heard from their family members in nearly a week. They fear the Russians have captured them. You said yesterday you couldn't confirm their capture.
Do you have any update for us on this?
KIRBY: I'm sorry, Boris, we don't. We just are not in a position to confirm their whereabouts. Obviously our thoughts are with the families, who I'm sure are going through just terrible anguish right now. We're not able to confirm what might have happened to these individuals.
It is a useful reminder, though, and we've been saying this for months, this is not the time to go to Ukraine. However, altruistic one might be, wanting to help Ukraine on the battlefield, this is not the time for American citizens to travel there. Stay away from Ukraine. It is an active war zone.
And if you're in Ukraine as an American, please leave immediately. There are other ways, more effective, safer ways, to support the Ukrainian people, through financial contributions, to organizations like the Red Cross, for instance. But this is not the time to be going to Ukraine and taking up arms.
SANCHEZ: Admiral, Americans are feeling pain at the pump in large part because of this war in Ukraine. It's having a big impact on global oil prices. The White House press secretary confirmed yesterday that President Biden is studying the Defense Production Act to potentially increase oil refinery capacity.
How exactly would that work?
KIRBY: Well, I think what the president has made very clear that's he willing to tap into our own strategic reserve. He's done that and we are now producing more oil here domestically.
You noted that I think OPEC+3 has planned increase by another 50 percent for oil production over there for the months of July and August. So there is more oil now getting onto the market.
It will take some time for that to reach the refinery and into the pump but that is happening right now. The president has also been clear there are 9,000 permits here for drilling in the United States that are being unused by oil companies. So there are opportunities for those companies to tap into oil reserves here in the United States.
SANCHEZ: Perhaps also not a coincidence that the president is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia soon and potentially will push Mohammed bin Salman to increase production during that meeting as well. John Kirby from the White House, appreciate your time, sir.
KIRBY: Yes, sir.
SANCHEZ: Still to come this hour, top officials from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, will testify about the massacre in a closed door hearing. We'll take you there and have a live report after a quick break. Stay with us.