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At This Hour

Secret Service Provides A Single Message to January 6 Committee; Trump Electors Targeted in Georgia Criminal Inquiry; Two Former Trump White House Aides Testify Thursday Night; Extreme Heat Worldwide. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, one single text exchange is all that the Secret Service has been able to turn over to the January 6 investigation.


And the extreme heat around the world has now turned tragically more deadly.

And robbers pulling off a multimillion-dollar jewelry heist at a highway rest stop.

This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thank you for being here.

The single text exchange and the timeline, CNN was first to report the U.S. Secret Service provided only one text exchange to the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security though that watchdog had requested a month's worth of records from 2 dozen Secret Service employees.

The agency is under more scrutiny now, after it revealed that it has not been able to recover any data they say was lost during a phone migration. It is worth noting that Congress sent the Secret Service a request to preserve records 10 days after the Capitol attack. That phone migration didn't begin until 11 days after that.

The agency's credibility is now on the line ahead of tomorrow's primetime hearing for the January 6 committee. Let's get started with Whitney Wild on Capitol Hill.

What are you learning?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This one text message out of records for 24 Secret Service people. And this was according to this letter sent to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, obtained by CNN.

And the test message was between the chief of the uniform division, Tom Sullivan, now retired, and former Capitol Police chief Steven Sunday, also now gone.

This cover letter preceded a batch of documents that were handed over to the House select committee after an inspector general complained that he couldn't get texts from these crucial days. This is January 5 and 6. He says he couldn't get text messages from those days and that was a big problem because his job was to investigate what happened on those days.

And we're learning more about the timeline. And on January 16, Congress tells Secret Service, you must preserve these documents.

On January 25th, employees were told by staff at the Secret Service that we are doing an email migration. Here is how you upload your documents. If you are obligated do it, you have to do it yourself.

The migration started on the 27th. The issue here is that this was really incumbent upon the individual to preserve records that they, using their own discretion, determined would fit in with what was required by the record laws.

This raises a lot of questions about why data wasn't retained prior to the migration. However, the Secret Service says that they are continuing to conduct forensic examinations of phones to see if they may be able to recover something that was lost.

I'm told that this is extremely unlikely. Again, they insist this was not malicious; the information that was lost was incidental. And it is also policy that they are not to text about work on their work phones.

So one thing I've heard from sources at the Secret Service, any text messages wouldn't have been substantive because they are not supposed to be texting on their work phones anyway. So culturally they don't do that.

One thing I've heard over and over is this insistence that they have handed over 800,000 emails, 7,600 teams chats. So if there was something lost, there is a strong likelihood that the content of that or the idea in that would have been captured in the other major volumes of records.

BOLDUAN: Whitney, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Also new this morning, Georgia prosecutors have informed 16 Trump supporters who formed an alternate slate of 2020 electors that they are now targets of an ongoing criminal investigation into election interference. Jessica Schneider is live for us.

What does this mean?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It means that these 16 people who formed that slate of fake electors in Georgia, they could face charges. They are being told that now. And those 16 people includes the state Republican chair, David Shafer,

which we had previously reported. So this district attorney in Atlanta, Fani Willis, she has been moving quickly and aggressively and she's looking to investigate and prosecute a number of election related crimes.


SCHNEIDER: And with these alleged fake electors being sent these letters, that tell them that they are now targets, could face charges, this really indicates a significant ramp-up from prosecutors in Georgia.

And it once again begs the question here: how much further will the DA go, will she eventually subpoena Trump, could she charge Trump for possibly committing election fraud?

We know that the DA has already asked Rudy Giuliani, for example; even senator Lindsey Graham for testimony. They are working through it with their lawyers and arguing in court.

But this special grand jury was impaneled just a few weeks ago. They have broad power to subpoena records, get testimony, ultimately issue recommendations about who should be charged and for what.

So the latest move is that these 16 fake electors being told that they could in fact be charged. And again all of this as this one prosecutor in Georgia, who potentially poses the most risk for Trump himself and his close allies, she is moving very aggressively here.

BOLDUAN: Sure is. Good to see, Jess, thank you so much.

Joining me is Jeffrey Toobin and also Ryan Nobles.

Jeffrey, let start with the Secret Service and what Whitney Wild was fleshing out there for us.

What questions do you have with the reporting that the agency has turned over just one text message and may not be able to find the others?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it seems like there are two possibilities. One is that the Secret Service was just totally incompetent and failed to turn -- to preserve and then turn over what was asked for. I always believe that incompetence is a -- always a good possibility when basically any human endeavors are involved.

The other possibility is that there was something sinister went on here, that this was a coverup, this was an attempt to hide material from Congress.

But neither of those possibilities make the Secret Service look good. And this all just cries out for independent investigations, not trusting the Secret Service to get to the bottom of this, because they have proved at a minimum that they are just incompetent when it comes to preserving the records that they are legally obliged to preserve. BOLDUAN: If this situation concludes with the agency essentially

saying like, oops, our bad, and still nothing is turned over, is that going to be acceptable?

Are there consequences for this?

TOOBIN: Well, first of all, as a technical matter, it is sometimes possible to revive, to obtain texts that have been deleted. And so there might be a technological attempt.

But if it is simply just a mistake and incompetence, I don't think that there will be any criminal consequences. And people might get fired, although it seems like most of these people involved have left the Secret Service.

But I think that the only possibility for an actual criminal investigation is if there was evidence that these texts were intentionally deleted and hidden from the committee. And I haven't seen evidence of that yet.

BOLDUAN: Ryan, I want to ask you, kind of looking ahead though to tomorrow's hearing, as there is going to be much more to come with these text messages or lack thereof moving ahead.

But on tomorrow's hearing, we know that congressman Adam Kinzinger has said that the hearing is going to open people's eyes in a big way.

What are you hearing about this, what are the gaps to be filled?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the gaps to be filled may be that there was a big gap in the attention and response from former president Donald Trump while the Capitol was under siege.

You know, the committee has said from the very beginning that they view those 187 minutes, from the time that he left the Ellipse until he finally sent out that message to tell his supporters to go home, as a dereliction of duty by the former president.

And I think what -- we've known on the edges what he wasn't doing during that period of time. And that was informing his supporters to leave, either through social media means or just giving a speech or something along those lines.

But what the committee could put a fine point on is how he also wasn't reaching out to other lawmakers, to law enforcement or to the National Guard or the Pentagon to try to get them to get involved with quelling the violence there.

And I'm told that we are going to hear from witnesses that we have never heard from before. We know Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews will testify live. But there's also to be testimony from closed door depositions that we may not even have known that the committee has interviewed up until this point.

And so this insight, to almost a fly on a wall perspective as to what Donald Trump was doing during that very important period of time is something the committee hopes to reveal with a great deal of specificity tomorrow night.


BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, outside of Washington, what's happening in Georgia?

You noted how aggressive the investigation is in by the Fulton County DA or has become. All 16 of the fake Trump electors now targets of the investigation. Some of them going from witness to target.

What does that mean?

TOOBIN: If you are a target, it means that you are likely but not necessarily going to be indicted. And it is a major shot across the bow about these witnesses. You know, there is a long way to go in this investigation.

The current grand jury that is hearing evidence now is not empowered to actually issue indictments. There has to be a different grand jury for that.

Georgia also has a very complicated procedure, where criminal cases like this can be, in certain circumstances, brought to federal court as well, which means that there could be litigation about whether this case could even be brought.

But Fani Willis is playing for keeps. She is threatening indictments against a group of people, who have not apparently been carefully investigated by the Justice Department in Washington, starting with president Trump.

And president Trump still has a big problem in Georgia, which is his infamous phone call to the secretary of state Raffensperger, where he wasn't looking for legitimate votes; he wasn't looking for a more accurate vote count.

He was looking for the 11,000 votes he needed to pull ahead in Georgia. And that phone call is the clearest evidence that anyone, frankly, has seen of criminal intent on the part of the former president.

Does that mean that he will be indicted?


Does it mean that he will be convicted?


But there is real evidence against the president, former president, in Georgia. And Fani Willis is going for it, to see whether she can make a case for it.

BOLDUAN: And speaking of phone calls, Ryan, something that you are keeping an eye on is even now Donald Trump seems to still be trying to pressure state election officials. The Wisconsin House Speaker is now saying that Trump called him last

week, demanding that he take new steps to decertify the 2020 election there.

What is going on?

NOBLES: You know, Kate, when I saw this, it is crazy; as much as I've been covering this and the efforts that I know of, that Donald Trump took to try to stand in the way of the 2020 certification of the election, this really stopped me in my tracks because, despite all of this evidence, despite all of these public hearings, despite the fact that he is facing indictment, Donald Trump hasn't stopped.

He is still under the belief that there is some sort of pathway to preventing or overturning the certification of the 2020 election. And he is still reaching out on his own to some of these state officials, to try to convince them to turn back the clock and somehow put him in the White House.

And I do think that that crystallizes to a certain extent the reason that the January 6 committee has been so driven in their mission. They believe the problem is not going away and this perhaps is the best evidence of it.

BOLDUAN: Not past or present; it is also future. Ryan, Jeffrey, thank you.

And coming up for us, more than 1,000 people have died in Portugal and Spain from the extreme heat as much of the United States is facing days of dangerous triple digit temperatures. We have live reports for you from around the world.





BOLDUAN: You can feel it outside the door from pretty much coast to coast. Extreme heat gripping the U.S. and countries all over the world. The U.K. hitting its hottest day ever with temperatures yesterday soaring to 104 degrees.

The dangerous heat is fueling wildfires in France and Spain, Greece and Britain. Portugal and Spain are now reporting actually more than 1,500 heat related deaths. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live in London with more on this for us.

How is London handling this?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: London did not handle it very well. This is not a city built for this kind of heat. I mean, this suburb, you can see we've been pushed back by the police. But we have images to show you of the massive fires that burned behind me here for over nine hours while 100 firefighters tried to put out the flames.

And it wasn't just here. All of the suburbs and villages around London, many fires going off. The London fire brigade said had their busiest day since World War II. Their capacity is stretched to the limit. At one point every single fire truck being used.

And you have to remember that people don't have AC at home and even staying home is dangerous. Rail, trains, huge shutdown but again we're getting that bit of relief here today.

But across Spain, France, other parts of Europe, they are still very much in the danger zone. The Spanish prime minister was out in one of the affected areas today. He again reminded Spaniards to urge extreme caution.

And he says some 500 people have died just in this most recent heat wave. And in France as well, President Emmanuel Macron is out visiting areas in the Bordeaux region, fires raging in areas twice the size of Paris.

Still firefighters are working to put out the flames. And the French president promising to help those affected, promising to provide support. But you are looking at European leaders, who are scrambling to deal with the here and now when the reality is this could get very worse.


ABDELAZIZ: And Europe's infrastructure simply can't handle it.

BOLDUAN: Salma, thank you.

And in the United States over 100 million Americans are under excessive heat alerts. New York City is bracing for its longest stretch of 90 degree days in a decade. Athena Jones is joining us.

Sounds like Groundhog Day for millions in this heat.


Is it really a heat wave if it goes on forever and ever?

We're here in Central Park at a playground, with sprinklers, which is a prime location to try to beat the heat. And we're talking about dangerous levels of heat across much of the country. More than 80 percent of the U.S. population is going to see high temperatures above 90 degrees for several days.

We've been talking about the heat in the South and in the West. And now the heat wave we've been talking about has made its way to the Northeast. There are heat advisories up and down the I-95 corridor, we're talking about Philadelphia, here in New York City, Boston. Boston's mayor Michelle Wu declaring a heat emergency there. And, of

course, the concern is about the heat index. That is the combination of how it feels with the heat and the humidity. That could reach near 100 degrees.

And so, of course, this is very dangerous. Remember here in New York, it is already a concrete jungle, it traps the heat. Officials saying stay inside if you can and drink plenty of water and be careful.

BOLDUAN: Athena, thank you for being out there.

How much worse will it get?


BOLDUAN: And so to Texas, today will mark 40 days of temperatures above 100 in Austin. And there is no end in sight, as Chad was just laying out. And joining me right now is Austin's mayor Steve Adler.

Good to see you.

Where is your biggest concern right now?

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-TX), AUSTIN: It is hot. And it is hot for an extended period of time. You mentioned it, this is our 40th day in a row with temperatures over 100 degrees. You know, summer will be hot in Texas.

But this is unlike anything that I've seen. We had temperatures up to 109 degrees. So right now, we're just trying to protect people. We've set up cooling stations in the city. We're working with partners in the city just to keep people cool and especially the vulnerable people, folks that are on our streets, just to provide relief.

We're asking people to conserve power so that the systems continue to operate. The state energy grid has asked people to conserve power. We're asking everybody do that so that we can get through this together.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And you mentioned it, as everyone knows, Texas, it can get hot in Texas.

But how much pressure is this putting on the city's infrastructure, especially power?

ADLER: It is putting a huge amount of pressure on our systems. Certainly Austin has its own power company. We serve about 500,000 people. The state grid here serves about 26 million people. And we have to keep that grid up and operating.

I wish that we were better weatherized as a state. So far, we're continuing to hold. There is a concern when we are hearing our state officials asking us to conserve. But that is something that we need to do.

[11:25:00] ADLER: But it is not just the power infrastructure. It is the infrastructure just to help people stay cool. We're using our libraries as cooling stations. We're just trying to provide relief for people that might not be able to as readily find it.

This is dangerous conditions. People can die, as we've seen in other cities around the country, in this kind of heat. So we're just trying to bring that relief.

BOLDUAN: And I was talking to an emergency management official from Dallas yesterday, who said that, if this becomes the norm, this frequent extreme heat, they need to start making real changes to how they plan and prepare.

What do these effects from climate change mean for Austin?

And how do you prepare if this is the new normal?

ADLER: We'll have to change things. We'll need a greater number of resilience hubs in our city, greater space for people to be able to go. But we'll have to better harden our housing and systems to be able to endure more extended periods of time.

We have climate change doubters still. But you just can't see what is happening in the world with the increased temperatures that we're seeing -- and you mentioned it as well, in Texas, we're seeing not only increased heat but extended drought, where we're asking people to conserve water in our city because the reservoirs are going down.

We're going to have to become a more resilient community in more ways in order to deal with the impacts of climate change, which is what we think we're seeing now.

BOLDUAN: Mayor, thank you for coming on, appreciate your time.

Coming up for us AT THIS HOUR, the U.S. secret Service and its credibility on the line over missing text messages from the employees' phones around the day of the Capitol insurrection. We'll talk to a former top official next.