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At This Hour

Sources: Trump World Sought To Influence 1/6 Witness; Summer Travelers Face Flight Delays, Cancellations; Soon: Biden Meets With 10 Dem Governors On Abortion Rights. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 01, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: At This Hour, new details on how Trump allies are pressuring witnesses who talk to insurrection investigators. More deal -- more delays and cancellations impacting travelers this holiday weekend in a very big way. And Brittney Griner appearing in a Russian courtroom as her trial finally begins. This is what we're watching at this hour.

Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. Still more fallout from that blockbuster hearing by the insurrection committee, sources tell CNN that Cassidy Hutchinson, who has become the Committee's star witness has informed the January 6th Committee that she was contacted by someone trying to influence what she would testify to. Liz Cheney presented evidence at the hearing that members of Donald Trump's inner circle may have engaged in witness tampering.

And this morning, "The New York Times" is reporting Trump's political organization and allies have paid for or promised to pay witnesses legal fees. Let's begin with CNN's Katelyn Polantz on all of us live in Washington with more. Katelyn, what's the latest?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, the House Select Committee is now grappling with the possibility that there's been witness intimidation or even tampering behind the scenes. So Kate, the Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney announced at the hearing this week that they were asking their witnesses regularly if anyone was trying to influence testimony, and Cheney laid out that two witnesses said, yes, they received calls from someone they knew.

So we have confirmed that one of these people on the receiving end of one of these calls was Cassidy Hutchinson. Of course, Cassidy Hutchinson isn't just any witness. She's now their star witness who has revealed shocking details of complacency inside the West Wing on January 6th, despite the likelihood of violence that day. She's even made accusations about Donald Trump that have really upped his legal risk that he may be investigated for his actions before or on January 6th.

So that's this environment, that the pressure to get to her not to speak may have been arriving him. But let's talk a little bit more about those calls themselves. The Committee has not said who the calls came from, with one going to Hutchinson, but the examples were unnamed callers telling witnesses, they should do the right thing that people like Trump knew they would be loyal.

Here's one of the quotes that Cheney read, the witness said the caller talked about being a team player. They know I'm on the right team. I'm doing the right thing. I'm protecting who I need to protect. And I'll continue to stay in the good graces of Trump world. Also, the person told the witness Trump does read transcripts. And the witness should keep in mind that during the committee hearings. Kate, this is obviously a serious accusation that Congresswoman Cheney did promise this would be revisited. Kate?

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you Katelyn. Thank you very much.

Joining me right now for more on all this is CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers and Luke Broadwater, congressional correspondent for The New York Times who's part of that reporting team that has a great new detail on Trump World paying witness legal fees, that we're just now learning about. Luke, your reporting that Trump or allies have paid, Trump's world or allies have paid or promised to pay the fees of more than a dozen witnesses called in the investigation. There's nothing illegal about this as you note. But what issues are you hearing it's raising now with this investigation in particular?

LUKE BROADWATER, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it presents a unique situation in that witnesses who maybe don't have a lot of money are going to Trump, Trump's pack and asking for their legal fees to be covered. And the pack is either providing them with lawyers or with free legal advice for how they should proceed.

And as we saw with the case of Cassidy Hutchinson, sometimes that can present a big issue for that witness. Cassidy Hutchinson says that her first lawyer who was recommended to her by the Trump team, and was paid for by the Trump pack, she felt was not -- she felt she could not be as forthcoming with that lawyer as her lawyer as she couldn't be otherwise.

So she then broke with that lawyer, got a new attorney, came in for a fourth interview and then decided to testify publicly giving a wide range of material and details to the Select Committee and to the American public. So that's one example of how this situation can play out where one of these people who has their lawyers paid for by the Trump pack feels like maybe they can't be as forthcoming as they would like to be otherwise.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Jennifer, what was your reaction to seeing this new detail, I mean what questions does it raise for you?


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a legal ethics issue, Kate, if the lawyer is not independent and is not representing his or her client's interests first. So the issue is really a conflict. Is this lawyer, someone who's representing the client and maybe cooperating with the Committee, if that's the best thing for the client to do? Or are they representing Trump's interests, which obviously may be in conflict with the witness's interests?

So that's where it becomes an issue. And you know, it's not just an issue for the Committee trying to get to the truth, you can get in trouble, right, with the bar, if you violate your ethics in this way, if you're the lawyer. And what the Committee is doing, I think, and this is very smart, this is exactly what prosecutors would do, is they're likely asking all of these witnesses with their lawyer sitting right there, you know, you have the right to an independent lawyer if you think that this lawyer is not representing your interests solely, then you should probably get another lawyer.

I don't know if they're doing that or not. But that's what they should be doing. Just to try to make sure that everyone follows the path that Cassidy Hutchinson did, if they think that their lawyer is really perhaps representing Trump's interests over their own.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Luke, you're also on the byline for another piece of reporting yesterday that the justice -- that Justice Department investigators were both in the way you described it, astonished and blindsided by Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony. Is there a tension there?

BROADWATER: Yes, I think so. We have two parallel investigations, the Committee's investigation, which has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and then the Justice Department's investigation, which could result in criminal charges. And we know that the Justice Department's investigation has been heating up and we're seeing more and more subpoenas go out, especially about the fake electoral scheme. We're seeing these go out across the country now.

And one thing the Justice Department wants from the Select Committee is every transcript they have from their interviews. And so as the Justice Department was watching Cassidy Hutchinson's bombshell testimony on Tuesday, lawyers there were frustrated at the fact that they had not seen this testimony. And this was damning information about Donald Trump's actions about top people in the Trump administration.

And so they let it be known that there are still serious concerns here, they need these transcripts. And they want the Committee to turn them over as soon as possible. I'm told that the Committee will do this probably in July, probably after their set of hearings are over. But as of right now, the Justice Department does not have these transcripts, and they are frustrated about it.

BOLDUAN: And it is going to be a lot when they do send it over. Jennifer on the potential witness tampering that Liz Cheney has laid out, what is the impact as we -- she lays it out in the Committee hearing, we've had days now of learning more about it, but what is the impact of putting it out there for all of the public to see do you think?

RODGERS: Well, there's a couple of things. I mean, one is just the bombshell impact. I mean, everyone who's watching these hearings has the common sense to know that if someone is reaching out to say, hey, you need to stay on the team, you need to be loyal, you know, remember who, you know, you need to be on the team with et cetera, that that is trying to influence that person to not tell what they know if it's going to hurt Trump.

So I think they're using it as what prosecutors use in trials is consciousness of guilt evidence effectively, it doesn't go necessarily to a free standing charge. But it lets everyone know that they're concerned about what Cassidy Hutchinson is going to say and they're trying to influence it. They also if they gather evidence sufficient to make out a criminal case will likely make a criminal referral and let the Department of Justice consider whether to charge that separately. That will require more evidence and corroboration and that sort of thing.

But the biggest impact is just you don't try to influence someone unless you're concerned about what they might say if it's going to hurt you. So that's really what they're getting at with these public statements.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see both. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.


Coming up for us, the good news we, are heading into the weekend. The bad, flight delays and cancellations are impacting so many travelers this holiday weekend. Millions hitting the road. Live reports ahead on the great escape.


BOLDUAN: The Fourth of July holiday weekend kicks off with more headaches for air travelers. So far today, nearly 250 flights are canceled, more than 1,500 are delayed. CNN's Pete Muntean is live at Reagan National Airport tracking this from coast to coast. I keep trying to say good news, bad news. Good news, people are getting out of town for a holiday weekend. Why are the airlines struggling to keep up with this demand though, Pete?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: In short, Kate, the airlines are short staffed. You know this is the biggest test yet for the airlines that they have faced of the pandemic recovery, 2.44 million people pass through security at America's airports just yesterday, that's just shy of a pandemic era air travel record. In fact here at Reagan National Airport they're expecting today to be the busiest day. They'll screen 35,000 people here alone.

Remember, airlines got a lot smaller over the pandemic when bad weather strikes combined with the short staffing. That's when the deck of cards comes tumbling down and these cancellations begin to go up. We've already seen more than 200 cancellations nationwide today according to FlightAware, more than 400 yesterday.

The last two weekends have been really bad. Last weekend, more than 2,200 cancellations nationwide. The weekend before more than 3,200 nationwide. Now airlines are under this mandate from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to get their acts together. I want you to listen now to what he said when airlines put some of the onus back on the federal government because of air traffic control delays they say are partly to blame here. Here's what the Transportation Secretary said.



MUNTEAN: Who is really to blame when it comes to these massive cancellations?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, let's be very clear, the majority of delays and the majority of cancellations have not been caused by air traffic control staffing issue. The bottom line here is that the airlines that are selling these tickets need to have the crews in the staff to backup those sales.


MUNTEAN: Delta Airlines has consistently led the pack of major airlines when it comes to cancellations. In fact, it just instituted a travel waiver today through July 4th for all of its customers to change their flights completely free of charge. It is bracing for more cancellations. And Delta CEO Ed Bastian is apologizing to customers saying this operating environment is like nothing it has ever experienced. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's for sure. For travelers and pilots and airlines alike, it's good to see you Pete. Thank you. So gas prices, they are actually declining just in time for the holiday weekend. AAA estimates a record number of Americans will be hitting the road with gas. Yet still, I mean, it is still hovering near record levels. CNN's Leyla Santiago is live in Miami tracking this for us. Hi, Leyla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate. Listen, we are expecting to see a lot of people hit the roads this for the holiday weekend, a record number actually. According to the AAA Independence Day weekend forecast, we're expecting 48 million travelers, 40, excuse me, yes, 48 million, 42 million of those expected to be on the road. That's an increase over last year.

And when you look at the why of this, why such record breaking numbers expected on the road, when you have those soaring gas prices? AAA will tell you one possibility could be what Pete was talking about, people wanting to avoid those headaches from the delays and cancellations at the airport. You mentioned it. The gas prices are going down. We did see a little bit of a dip from the average from yesterday to today.

But look at last year. I mean, we are seeing a significant change there. Last year at this time, we were at 3.12 a gallon, right now on average, 4.84. I did speak to one gentleman who told me like everybody else, as soon as I mentioned gas prices, he sort of rolled his eyes. And he said, yes, I'm not going to be traveling out of town, I'm going to be staying a little closer because of those gas prices.

So interesting to see that people really want that break, really want to get away still doing so but doing so admitting that it's going to be hard given the soaring gas prices. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's good to see you Leyla, thank you so much.

Joining me now is CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar. She is a global business columnist and associate editor for The Financial Times. Rana, can we start with the airline industry? What is the deal with the industry right now? Is it -- are they victims of many forces pandemic and inflation or caught flat footed and failing to pull it together when they got tens of billions of dollars of public funding to prop them up during the pandemic?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yes, well, you know, I think you just hit the nail on the head, Kate. I mean, we talked -- we've talked about this for months now, you know, right before the pandemic, the airline industry was spending a lot of free cash, buying back their own stock, which you know, enriches the C-suite, executives doesn't really do much for the real story on the ground.

That said, yes, the pandemic was a huge shift. The problem is that the airlines in this country are so typical of the way that pretty much all in this time, which is with this sort of just in time mentality. There's, you know, if there's spare cash, give it back to shareholders don't ever invest in the future, because Wall Street penalizes you for that.

And, you know, we see what that has wrought over the last two or three years. I really hope honestly, that we're at a tipping point, although I worry, frankly, that inflation is going to make people say, look, let's just go back to the, you know, make everything as cheap as possible, make it as fast as possible mentality, which, frankly, leads to these boom busts that we're seeing right now.

BOLDUAN: That's a great point. So big picture, then, it feels like this holiday weekend is becoming this kind of perfect encapsulation of what Americans are up against, traveling for the Fourth is more expensive and less fun. Celebrating the Fourth is more expensive, too. Is it all bad news right now?

FOROOHAR: You know, it's hard to find a glimmer of hope. I mean, I guess you know, to the extent that, you know, if we have our homes, you know, many of us and we can have a barbecue and we can celebrate the Fourth, you know that that's good news. If you're healthy and you have a place to be, that's great news.

I do hear a lot of people and, you know, I would say that my family we, you know, we have plenty. But I'm looking at the price of gas and I'm thinking, gosh, it's costing me $60 to fill my tank up. I'm going to be a little more thoughtful about where I drive. Certainly people are trying to avoid the airport. So does it get better from here? I think in the midterm we're going to be looking at higher inflation and just a lot of cutting back on non-essential things.


You know, I'm sure people are going to, you know, budget some propane for a barbecue, but are they going to hit their pool? Are they going to take an airplane trip somewhere? I don't think so. I think we're going to see more cutting back.

BOLDUAN: And everyone wants to know, when is this going to be over? And when is this going to get better? Other than having a crystal ball, there is -- there's no way to say for sure, of course. But you do have the Federal Reserve Chairman saying this week, that it's not yet clear that the U.S. economy will ever return to its pre pandemic status. He said, the economy is being driven by very different forces. What we don't know is whether we'll be going back to something that looks like or a little bit like what we had before. Should that scare people?

FOROOHAR: Yes. You know, yes, in a sense that things that are different, big changes in the economy, those can be scary. So yes, I understand that people are worried right now. And we probably are heading into recession. But what I would like to say is, hang in there, because I think that we're at a pivot point, pandemics, wars, big seismic changes like that do change the way the economy operates.

And I think that if we can all pull together and get through the next couple of years, I think that there's a growing understanding amongst policymakers that, you know what, you have to create an economy that's built on something aside from the stock market, where people actually have more money in their pockets, where we can protect local communities where we can have secure supply chains.

These are big shifts, you know, a topic and my next book, actually, the home coming out in October. I think we're at a pivot point. I think we're going to get there. But there is going to be some pain on the way there. No doubt about that.

BOLDUAN: Well, as you said, something to look out for, or something to hang our hat on as you said, if you have your health, we at least have something. So when you're looking at the economy, we can at least have that perspective. It's good to see you, Rana, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, President Biden, he's going to be soon meeting with a group of Democratic governors, the topic of abortion rights, what they're doing already to try to protect abortion rights and what he can do to help if anything, details and a live a report next.



BOLDUAN: President Biden is back at the White House today from his overseas trip. First on the agenda is abortion rights. The President will be soon meeting with 10 Democratic governors to discuss ways that states can protect access to abortion services after Roe was overturned. CNN's Arlette Saenz is live at the White House for us this hour. Arlette, the President had said in his press conference overseas, he'd have some announcements today. Any word on yet what that might be?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's unclear if President Biden will be rolling out any new executive actions when it comes to abortion in this meeting today. But what he is trying to do is keep abortion rights in the spotlight just one week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade. And the President today will be meeting with roughly 10 Democratic governors to talk about the steps they are taking to try to protect access to abortions in their states that includes governors of New York, Connecticut, Illinois.

Many of these states have democratically controlled state legislators but one that's quite noteworthy is Roy Cooper of North Carolina who has a Republican controlled state legislator there. Now the White House and the Biden administration has tried to show this week that they are taking steps to address this issue of abortion. Earlier this week, you had HHS released some new guidance on patient privacy and also talk about how they are looking into expanding medication abortion.

But you really saw President Biden pick up the rhetoric on this issue when he was in Madrid yesterday and going where he hasn't gone before calling for the ends of the filibuster, specifically when it comes to abortion trying to show that he is taking steps as some Democrats are pushing him to do more.

And so the President really at this point trying to answer some of those call from Democrats who have said that he has not been doing enough on this issue. Yesterday he was asked about some of that pushback that he's gotten from Democrats and he says that he believes he is the best messenger on this issue and that he is the only President they have. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Arlette, thank you very much for that. Really appreciate it.

So President Biden is also vowing to carry on with his climate agenda despite the Supreme Court's decision limiting the EPA has power to regulate power plants. A source close to the White House tells CNN that the agency will take steps to try still to cut greenhouse gas emissions, of course.


Joining me now for more in this White House National Climate Adviser and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Thank you for being here.