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At This Hour

Hearing Tonight To Focus On Trump's Inaction During Riot; Biden Tests Positive For COVID, "Very Mild Symptoms"; 275 Million Americans Brace For Temperatures Above 90 Degrees. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Symptoms, and also reports that he is now taking the antiviral drug, Paxlovid. We expect we will be learning more on the president's condition at a briefing at two o'clock Eastern this afternoon at the White House, of course, we will be bringing that to you and any updates as we get them.

In the meantime, I want to turn to this. The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is returning to prime time. Tonight's hearing will be focus -- will focus on the 187 minutes that Donald Trump refused to act to call off the violent mob as they stormed the Capitol and attacked police officers. Instead, our reporting is that he gleefully watched the riot unfold on television from the White House.

The timeframe is central to the committee's overall narrative that Donald Trump demonstrated, in their words supreme -- a supreme dereliction of duty during the events of January 6. Tonight, the panel will hear from two former Trump White House aides and the committee will show never before seen outtakes from a video message of the former president recorded for his supporters the day after the riot.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is live now with me with more details on what is ahead of us tonight. Jessica, what are you hearing about this hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, the committee really said to drill down on what they are terming Trump's dereliction of duty, the fact that for more than three hours on January 6, Trump did nothing. He did not act to call off the rioters from attacking the Capitol. And instead, as committee member Adam Kinzinger put it, he gleefully watched TV. And in fact, Adam Kinzinger actually tweeted out a preview video this morning showing various officials at the White House that day, describing that, in fact, all Trump did was watch TV as the violence unfolded. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the president in that private dining room the whole time that the attack on the Capitol was going on, or did he ever go to -- again, only to your knowledge to the Oval Office, to the White House Situation Room, anywhere else?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To the best of my recollection, he was always in the dining room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did they say, Mr. Meadows or the president, at all during that brief encounter with you in the dining room? What do you recall?

KEITH KELLOGG, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think they were -- everyone's watching the TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know whether he was watching TV in the dining room when you talked to him on January 6?

MOLLY MICHAEL, FORMER TRUMP EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: It's my understanding he was watching television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you were in the dining room during these discussions while the incident, was the violence at the Capitol visible on the screen on television?



SCHNEIDER: And this is really all building on what the committee is trying to prove that Trump was intent on letting that violence continue. And when they likely refer to this -- refer this to the DOJ as they've hinted they will, you know, that's what prosecutors would need if they were to ever charge Trump, proof that he acted intentionally conspired to obstruct Congress. So we do expect to see more video clips just like this. And in fact, more from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone because he sat for eight hours with the committee for his tape deposition. So far, we've only aired about 14 clips in that last hearing, so likely a lot more to come from him.

And then the live witnesses tonight. They'll be Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews. Pottinger was deputy national security adviser, and Matthews, Deputy Press Secretary, they both resigned from the White House the days after January 6, the only reaction to Trump's inaction that day. So they'll have a lot to share in terms of what was happening inside the White House. So, Kate, a lot of unseen videos that will air as well as these two crucial live witnesses who can talk about what they experienced that day. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you so much, really appreciate it. I'm going to turn now to reporting first on CNN. The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General has told the Secret Service now to stop its investigation into the missing text messages from agents around the days of the insurrection. CNN's Whitney Wild broke the story for us and she's joining me now. Whitney, what are you learning?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the Secret Service received a notice Wednesday telling the agency to stop investigating the matter because the Inspector General's Office feels that this could interfere with the Inspector General's own investigation into what happened to the agency's text messages. The letter adds to this growing tension between the Secret Service and the DHS inspector general over these potentially missing text messages which are being sought as well by the House Select Committee as part of its investigation into former President Donald Trump's actions and movements on January 6, 2021.

Here's a quote from that letter. "To ensure the integrity of our investigation, the Secret Service must not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of evidence referenced above." This was from DHS Deputy Inspector General, again, this letter coming Wednesday. The Secret Service is now, unsure what to do because there are other oversight bodies who are telling them to conduct this internal investigation, they already told the House Select Committee they were trying very hard to abide by the subpoena which directs the Secret Service to investigate this. So now, Kate, the question is, now what?


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Whitney, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Joining me now, are CNN chief political correspondent, co-anchor of State of the Union, Dana Bash, and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. So, Dana, looking ahead to tonight's hearing, does this feel to you like the series finale or the season finale for the January 6 committee?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's such a good way to put it. Right now, I would say probably the season finale, but it's an open question whether this will have a green light for a second season. And the reason is not because there isn't enough information that this committee is gathering. In fact, Elaine Luria, who's going to be one of the leaders tonight told me on Sunday that in some ways, the committee is ramping up because so many more people are coming forward because they are seeing and hearing things in these open hearings.

The issue is the calendar. It's the biggest open secret in Washington and probably the country that Democrats are racing towards November to get this report done because there is a very real fear that they will lose the majority in the election in November and lose the ability to do these investigations. So that is what they're up against, and that will be determinative of whether there is another series of public hearings.

BOLDUAN: And, Jennifer, the committee has made very clear that their goal and their job is not about building a legal case, necessarily, but what kind of case has been presented if tonight is about them summing it up?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Kate, they've really tried to show two things, one that the President abused his power in this attempted coup, and two, this dereliction of duty that they're focusing on tonight that he sat there and did nothing while the mob that he called to the Capitol did its work and attacked police officers and stopped the electoral account.

So, I think that they certainly have met their goal, which is to prove this, to convince the American people of this, I mean, they won't have convinced all people, but they've made a very compelling case. You know, that's not to say that that's the beyond a reasonable doubt standard you need in court for a criminal case, but their job was a little bit different and I do think that they've succeeded in that.

BOLDUAN: Dana, at the heart of all of this, as the committee has said, it is not just about the past, it's about the present and it's also about the future in terms of threats to democracy. And new CNN poll numbers out are -- when I read it, it's demoralizing is the word that was coming to mind for me, about half of Americans, 48 percent say they think it is at least somewhat likely that in the next few years, some elected officials will successfully overturn the results of a U.S. election because their party did not win. There's so much in these numbers, too. So I'm sitting here thinking, so no matter what that comes from this committee, it comes from the Justice Department or anything, the damage is done.

BASH: It really is sad. It actually makes you feel something physically to see those numbers, not because they're wrong, but because that is the situation in this country right now. This is why what was agreed upon just yesterday, Kate, in a bipartisan way among senators to try at least at the federal level, to clarify what they say is a very ambiguous January 6 or Electoral Count Law, to try to make it more difficult for a President Trump or anybody else in this situation to use the Electoral Count Act to overturn the election.

The question, though, is whether or not by the time it gets to the U.S. Congress when they certify the election on January 6, whether or not it is going to be too late for some really key states because we have reported extensively on some of the swing states that have changed laws at the state level, which might allow votes to be overturned and elections to be overturned if the people who are put in place at the state level allow that to happen. The laws have been structured in a way that, you know, kind of give in to the Trump big lie, and that is still a very big concern.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. So, there's also -- I wanted to get your take on something the Attorney General said, Jennifer, as you were talking about the compelling case that this committee has been making. He was asked how -- you know it's about how he answered a question when he was asked specifically about charging a former president with a crime. Let me play this.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No person is above the law in this country. Nothing stops us --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evan a former president?

GARLAND: No -- I don't know how -- you made me say that, again. No person is above the law in this country. I can't say it any more clearly than that.


BOLDUAN: What, if anything, should people read into that?


RODGERS: You know, just what he said, no person is above the law, he will investigate where the evidence leads. I mean, it's saying something but yet saying nothing. You know, I don't know that that guarantees us anything except that they're saying they will follow the evidence where it leads. I have to say personally from what the committee has amassed in terms of the evidence, it's inconceivable that they are not currently investigating former President Trump criminally.

I don't know that that's true, but I think it should be true. But we'll have to see what he does. Investigating and charging are two very different things, but at least I suppose he's giving us the assurance that he will investigate and, you know, I guess we'll have to go from there.

BOLDUAN: Yes, standby to standby as we have to say. It's good to see you, Jennifer and Dana, thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So, CNN's special coverage of the insurrection hearing begins tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up still for us, we're going to return to the breaking news. President Biden is testing positive for COVID, the White House has set up a briefing on this with the press secretary as well as top doctors at the White House at 2 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back to talk more about this. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: President Biden has tested positive for COVID.


The White House says the president is experiencing mild symptoms and has begun taking a course of the antiviral treatment, Paxlovid. He is fully vaccinated and he is twice boosted. The first lady just sent out a tweet a moment ago, and it reads this. I'm on the road in Detroit today, but I spoke to Joe earlier and he's feeling fine, just experiencing a few mild symptoms. She goes on to say this morning. I tested negative for COVID-19. I'll continue to follow CDC guidance and wear a mask. We're going to learn more at 2 p.m. Eastern, in just a couple of hours when the White House will be holding a briefing on the president's condition. We'll be bringing that to you live, of course.

Joining me right -- joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, he was a medical adviser to the George W. Bush White House, and Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician, and Academic Dean of Public Health at Brown University. Dr. Reiner, as we are tracking this and learning more information as the White House has been pretty transparent in putting out the detail that they have. You're focusing in on when the president's symptoms started. Why is that important?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's important because the antiviral, Paxlovid, works best when started soonest. It also will give us a sense for how long we can expect the president to remain in isolation. The president was in Saudi Arabia this weekend and I watched his speech from Jeddah on Sunday, and he looked extraordinarily tired. Yes, that might have been just a consequence of a long trip for an almost 80-year-old man with many meetings. But I did remark to somebody on Sunday that the president did not -- did not look well.

We know that he at least had some upper respiratory symptoms yesterday, but I'm wondering whether the president was already starting to have symptoms earlier in the week. Regardless, I expect that he will do well. And over the course of the next few days, his symptoms should resolve. And I would expect that at some time, towards the beginning to the middle of next week, he'll -- his antigen tests will once again turn negative and he'll be able to leave isolation.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I do remember when I tested positive for COVID earlier this year --


BOLDUAN: Fatigue was absolutely the first -- the first symptom that set in actually for -- long before any other symptoms set in.

REINER: Right.

BOLDUAN: So fatigue is an -- is an absolute real indicator, at least in my mind. Dr. Ranney, you say that the next five to seven days are critical, what will doctors be watching for?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: So over the next week, we're going to be watching for many of those signs of severe COVID. The most dangerous thing that we watch for, of course, is for a dropping pulse ox for lower oxygen levels in your blood than would be normal. That's what former President Trump experienced, and that's what brought so many people to the doors of my emergency department in earlier COVID waves. It's unlikely with Biden because of his being vaccinated and twice boosted and being on Paxlovid, but that's the big danger sign.

They'll also be watching for other signs, obviously, within the White House, he gets a different level of care than perhaps the average person. But if he's showing signs of worsening fatigue, if not drinking enough of other things that could make you worry that things are going on with his kidneys or his lungs, he may get additional testing as well either blood tests or chest X-rays, again, depending on his clinical course. The good news is, is that by the time we get to about seven to 10 days out, you're mostly out of the woods for those acute severe complications.

But -- and here's the caution. As all the viewers' who've had COVID, who are watching the show know, even if you have mild symptoms, you can have a lingering cough, or lingering fatigue, but don't quite meet the criteria for long COVID, which is more than three months of symptoms, but that stick with you for a while. And so although it -- seven to 10 days will be mostly out of the woods for the worst stuff, we will be keeping an eye on him, and I would expect that he may not get completely back to his normal schedule for a few weeks yet.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Ranney, we know that the president is taking Paxlovid, of course. We've talked about that earlier already. What else could his treatment entail do you think?

RANNEY: So we really depend on how he does. And we have a series of step treatments depending on how severe the patient gets. If their oxygen level drops, we give them steroids. We should not give them steroids, though, to be clear, if their oxygen level hasn't dropped. If he's not eating or drinking enough, if he's showing signs of being dehydrated, we might give him IV fluids.

But if I were Biden's physician, I would tell him at this point, the same thing that I tell many patients who come through the doors of my emergency department, which is to take ibuprofen or Tylenol because antipyretics to keep your fever down to manage body aches, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, Gatorade, chicken soup, all the things that our grandmothers and mothers used to push on us when we were sick, and to rest and take it easy. Those are the best things to help increase the chance of having a -- his having a quick and full recovery.


BOLDUAN: We're going to learn much more, at 2 p.m. Eastern, a briefing from the White House. We'll all be listening in together. Dr. Reiner, and Dr. Ranney, thank you so much.

Still ahead for us, extreme heat fueling wildfires and impacting the lives of millions of Americans. The map tells it all right now. How long is this going to last? A live report is next.


BOLDUAN: Now to the extreme heat gripping the United States and so many countries around the world.


275 million Americans are bracing for temperatures of 90 degrees or above through the weekend. That's more than 85 percent of the country. It's remarkable. CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas for us. And, Ed, as we've been talking about this week, Texas has been getting some of the worst of it.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Feels like every day is another record-setting temperature day here in this state, and in Oklahoma, all across the country, really. You talk about that 275 million people in the country. That's basically the entire country seeing temperatures over 90. And if you take it a step further over the next same -- over the coming days, more than 60 million people across the country will experience temperatures over 100 degrees.

Heat advisories, going up all over the place from Texas throughout the South, and it's also starting to push into the East Coast and into the Northeast and that's why you have emergency officials all across the country urging people to take heat illnesses very seriously. Medical calls for ambulances are up. It's just a great deal of stress on everybody.

Here in Texas where the power grid has been the focus of so much attention over the last year and a half, the state is setting power usage records. Everything's been able to hold on relatively well for now but it seems like every day the state power grid here essentially urging people to conserve as much power as possible. There's also a great deal of concern with wildfires in the state as well.

And, Kate, this is what passes as good news these days. There's been cloud cover here over much of the Dallas Fort Worth area that's kept temperatures under 90. That's what's considered a break at this point.

BOLDUAN: Ed, thank you so much for that update. I really appreciate it.

And thank you all so much for being here. Our breaking news coverage of President Biden in his testing positive for COVID, that continues on "INSIDE POLITICS." That's next.