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At This Hour

Fire Near Yosemite National Park Forces Thousands To Evacuate; More Than 60 Million Americans Under Threat Alerts Today; Jan. 6 Committee Releases New Testimony On Trump's Speech After Attack; Rep. Cheney: Subpoena Possible For Ginni Thomas; WHO Declares Monkeypox A Public Emergency Of Global Concern. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 25, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, AT THIS HOUR, millions under extreme heat warnings again today as an out of control fire rages on just miles from Yosemite National Park. And the leading authority on World Health declares monkeypox, a global health emergency while the White House is still debating whether to make that move. And the committee investigating the January 6 attack ramping up for a busy August and also just releasing new evidence. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.

Thank you for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. The oppressive and dangerous heat gripping much of the United States just won't quit. More than 60 million Americans are under heat alerts today with temperatures expected to once again soar into the 90s and heat indices exceeding 100 degrees.

Several cities across the Northeast broke or tie daily high temperature records yesterday including Newark, New Jersey, which hit 102 and Boston hit 100 degrees. Relief may be on the way for the Northeast but temperatures are now expected to build throughout the week in the Pacific Northwest and central plains.

In California, a wildfire is raging outside Yosemite National Park. The Oak fire, it's called, which exploded over the weekend has burned more than 16,000 acres and forced evacuations of multiple towns. It's just 110 percent contained right now.

CNN's Camila Bernal is standing by live in California with a very latest on this. Camila, what are you hearing right now?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. So for the first time since this fire started, we are seeing some progress, that 10 percent containment. And it is a big deal because over the last couple of days, we've been at 0 percent containment. Cal Fire saying this is because of a number of things. First, they say the fire behavior is not as extreme. Second, they say the overnight temperatures, the early morning hours, those cooler temperatures really help in their efforts.

And then they also say that the amount of people working on this fire has been really helpful -- the resources. We started Saturday with about 400 people working on this fire. And now more than 2,000 people are working on this fire. Nonetheless, it continues to grow. It was 14,000 acres burned Saturday, then 15,000 Sunday. We're now at almost 17,000. So it keeps growing and it keeps spreading quickly.

Here's what a Cal Fire battalion chief or how he described this fire. Take a listen.


JON HEGGIE, BATTALION CHIEF, CAL FIRE: The fire behavior that we're seeing on this incident is really unprecedented. It's fast. And the reaction time to get people out is limited because that fires moving so fast. So, you know, we're doing our best to notify them and working with our cooperators and law enforcement to get those evacuation notices out. But the reality is, it's moving so quickly. It's not giving people a lot of time and they are -- sometimes are just going to have to evacuate with the shirts on their back.


BERNAL: And that's why authorities are saying listen to evacuation orders and be prepared because what happens is what you're seeing here behind me, the flames moving so quickly that they completely just destroy areas like this one. Of course, what authorities are saying is that there is still a lot of work to be done here but they need people to pay attention to those evacuation orders. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, the wreckage left behind by the fires like this. It's just astonishing what we see behind you. Camila, thank you so much.

So fires are raging, drought has been a long term problem in the west and these temperatures that you -- has just mixing -- making for a brutal mix right now. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is standing by with the forecast and the outlook. Where you focused in right now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, at the end of July and the beginning of August are not good times in California to be fighting fires because the temperatures are working against you. Not that the fires are more extreme because of the temperatures, the temperatures are just making it more extreme on the firefighters. So temperatures should be somewhere in Merced 97 today, that's the normal. It's going to be above that I would say the next 10 days.

We're just a little bit above. What's going way above is up here in the Pacific Northwest where the first time this year, Portland will hit triple digits. We still have those excessive heat watches and warnings going on up there. A lot of heat down here. It's going to feel like 112 degrees in Tulsa today.

Still warm across the Northeast for one more day until that cold front comes through. And then the temperatures like this from yesterday are long gone. We will be back down into the 70s and 80s for highs after a very long long weekend. Kate?

[11:05:07] BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's good to see you, Chad. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now for more on this is Ali Zaidi, he's Deputy National Climate Adviser at the White House. Thanks for being here. Hearing from that, that fire chief out in California is pretty striking, saying that the fire behavior is just unprecedented. How quickly it's now rolling through making evacuation orders almost moot, because that's how quickly the fires are coming through now. Is the White House working under the assumption that this is the new normal, this is -- it's no longer a heat wave? This is how extreme summer is going to feel for the foreseeable future?

ALI ZAIDI, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISER: Kate, it's good to be on with you. And, you know, I visited Mariposa County and those firefighters a few years ago, they've been dealing with this crisis year in and year out seeing how it's getting worse. You know, those trees that have been around for thousands of years, never threatened before in this way year in and year out facing new challenges, communities, people in the face of this incredible peril.

And whether it's the extreme heat affecting tens of millions of Americans or the hurricanes or the drought, that is purchasing our fields and making it harder for farmers and ranchers to grow our food and fiber. This is the new normal. This is a climate emergency, we've got to take action boldly. That's what the President is doing.

And just to give you an example, on fire, you know, he made a commitment, he's going to raise the salaries for firefighters, hire more firefighters, get more resources in the hands of state and local governments. And he's followed through on that. So we got to take action, we got to lean in here.

BOLDUAN: You call it a climate emergency. Democrats in Congress actually want you to declare a climate emergency in order to unlock more federal powers. Why have you not?

ZAIDI: You know, what I've seen the President do from day one is accelerate faster and faster on climate action and on executive action. We have been successful in moving through the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides money to modernize our grid and help expand EV charging infrastructure. But the President's put in sirens on, there are authorities that he is looking at right now. And he has said, more coming soon. We are -- we have been cruising from day one. But it's time to go faster and faster, put the sirens on and meet this moment.

BOLDUAN: But you call -- you just call it a climate emergency. What's holding you back from declaring a climate emergency?

ZAIDI: I don't think there's any stop in Joe Biden when it comes to climate action. And I think that's what we've witnessed from day one. Whether it's tackling those --

BOLDUAN: Well what do you looking -- I'm not questioning the passion and effort behind it. What is holding you back so far from taking the action declaring an emergency? What are you looking at? Is there a question about authority? What is it, because Democrats want you to do it?

ZAIDI: Yes, the President's been clear that he's running traps on a number of different authorities. Just to give you an example of one, you know, he used the Defense Production Act, which is an emergency power to invest into not only clean energy, but into some of this wild firefighting equipment previously. So the President's been unafraid to take the tools that he's got available and put them to use in this fight. And he's looking at additional tools that will help us, not only combat climate, but create jobs, cut consumer costs, and help with environmental justice.

BOLDUAN: So that may still be coming. We will see.

Al Gore made a statement yesterday, Ali, about climate change, specifically, about people who deny that climate change is real. That statement is getting some attention. Let me play a little bit of what he said.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, the climate deniers are really in some ways similar to all of those almost 400 law enforcement officers in Uvalde, Texas, who were waiting outside an unlocked door while the children were being massacred. They heard the screams, they heard the gunshots and nobody stepped forward. Confronted with this global emergency, what we're doing with our inaction and failing to walk through the door and stop the killing is not typical of what we are capable of as human beings.


BOLDUAN: Ali, is that how you would describe it? Is that a comparison the White House is making?

ZAIDI: I think what the White House is observing is the reality that people are observing all around the country. The farmer who's out there trying to grapple with the drought, can't deny the climate is changing. The folks who are battling down that fire in Mariposa County, they're not denying this fire. And no one is denying the incredible opportunity that we have in front of us.


60 million homes today are powered by clean electricity. One out of seven of those homes got clean electricity, just during the Biden administration. We've doubled electric vehicle charging. So there's an opportunity, there's a challenge.

I don't think the American people are wasting their time being frustrated or indulging denial. They're fired up, they're ready to go. They want us to move faster and faster. That's the leadership that the President is exhibiting. That's why the President -- that's why people put him here. And he's taken action.

BOLDUAN: And I appreciate all of that. But can you speak specifically to my question, and Al Gore's description?

ZAIDI: You know, Vice President drew some comparisons. He also pointed to the fact that we have a solution set to take on the climate crisis. And we're focused on the solution, focused on advancing the opportunity here and meeting the moment. That's -- we don't have time to spare. We've got to move forward.

BOLDUAN: Ali Zaidi, thank you for coming on. Thank you for your time.

ZAIDI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the January 6 committee revealing just this morning a new never-before-seen testimony and evidence about the behind the scenes debate over President Trump's speech the day after the insurrection. That is next.



BOLDUAN: Just in to CNN, the White House is releasing an update on President Biden's condition after his Thursday diagnosis with COVID. Let's get over to CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He has the doctor's letter in hand. Jeremy, what are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we just got this latest update from the President's physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who says now that President Biden's coronavirus symptoms have, quote, almost completely resolved. Dr. O'Connor saying that the only lingering symptoms that the President appears to have at this point are some residual nasal congestion and minimal hoarseness.

He also notes once again, as we have seen in every single one of these letters that the President's pulse is respiratory rate, as well as his oxygen levels are all normal or excellent, and that the President is not experiencing any shortness of breath. His lungs remain clear. The President is continuing, of course, his Paxlovid treatment, that's the antiviral treatment that's being used for the treatment of the coronavirus. And the President is continuing to isolate.

Now we do expect to see President Biden once again virtually today. This is not the first time that we've seen the White House do this essentially beaming the President in for a meeting with his advisers. Today, it's going to be about the CHIPS Act, that piece of legislation aimed at increasing semiconductor production in the United States. We'll see the President at about 2:15 in this virtual meeting with administration officials as well as CEOs and labor leaders.

But the President today on day four of his coronavirus isolation, I don't know about you, Kate, but this was about the time when I started getting a little stir crazy when I had it. The President will, of course, be isolating and -- through at least a five at which point he can test out if he test negative emerged from isolation. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, you and me both, Jeremy. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. Now, let's turn to this. Moments ago, the January 6 committee released more testimony and evidence about the internal debate that went on at the White House over what President Trump would say and we're learning would not say in his remarks the day after the siege on the Capitol.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live on Capitol Hill with this. Melanie, what are you learning?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, in a sign of just how much information the select committee has gathered, the committee has released new video clips that had to be left on the cutting room floor from last week's hearing. And this new deposition footage which features Trump aides and Trump allies focuses on the Rose Garden speech that Trump gave on January 7th.

We already knew that Trump really struggled with that speech, he had struggled to condemn the violence, he had wanted to continue his lies about the 2020 election. And we are now learning that Trump actually scratched off a number of key lines from that initial draft speech.

Take a listen to what else Trump was willing to say and not say during that attack, of the day after the attack on the Capitol.


PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: In my view, he needed to express very clearly that the people who made a violent acts, went into the Capitol, did what they did, should be prosecuted and should be arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like here that he crossed out, that he was directing the Department of Justice to ensure all law breakers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We must send a clear message not with mercy but with justice. Legal consequences must be swept in firm. Do you know why he wanted that crossed out?



ZANONA: Now, the committee is planning additional hearings in September. Committee members say they are going to spend the next month pursuing new leads and talking to additional witnesses. And one outstanding issue is whether to subpoena Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was e-mailing Trump allies about overturning the election.

Liz Cheney, the Vice Chair of the Committee told our Jake Tapper yesterday that the committee is absolutely prepared to go that route if Ginni Thomas has not come in voluntarily. So August is shaping up to be a very busy month for the select committee. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Melanie, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. It's good to see you, Jeffrey, So on Ginni Thomas, Liz Cheney, the way she described it yesterday was that it is very important that they speak with Thomas.


What -- how do you see this happening? What do you what do you see happening here? I mean, having the wife of a sitting Supreme Court Justice issued a subpoena to come before Congress is no small thing.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's no small thing, but you have to realize the context. To put it simply, Ginni Thomas has been jerking the committee around. At first, when her name came up, she said -- she issued a statement saying I'd be happy to testify. Then her lawyer came back and said, no, no, no, we don't think she has anything of value to provide. That's not up to him to decide, that's up to the committee to decide what's the value.

If you look at the paper trail and the electronic trail, she's obviously, involved in the protests in some level, and certainly at a level that she is worth being asked questions about. It's the same principle that the committee is trying to operate on, in general, which is that no one is above the law.

If you're -- and somebody who was breaking into the Capitol, just an anonymous person, or if you're the wife of a Supreme Court Justice, if you have relevant testimony, you should provide it. And if you don't do it voluntarily, you should be subpoenaed.

BOLDUAN: We will soon see, it almost feels like. The way that Elaine Luria, one of the committee members put it this weekend is that, the floodgates have now opened. Since they started this investigation, they've specifically started with their hearings, and that they're getting so many more witnesses coming forward to testify. Where does this all go from here after, you know, what we've learned with that, especially in that big -- in the big last hearing? We know there's more coming, where do you see going?

TOOBIN: Well, I think the -- what's been so interesting about these hearings is that it hasn't been about the members of Congress.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

TOOBIN: It's been about the evidence that they've disclosed, particularly the video evidence of people's depositions. You know, at first, it seemed like it was important to get people to testify live. I think what they've realized is that it's actually better to have people on video because it can be edited and controlled better by the committee. And I think we'll see we'll see more of that.

You know, there are a lot of avenues open to the committee. They say that people have come out of the woodwork to testify and cooperate because of the quality of the hearings. I don't know in which area, but there's a lot there. And they'll be more hearings in September.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. One person who defied a subpoena and is now, you know, convicted because of it is Steve Bannon. His attorney did his first interview since since Bannon's conviction last week for defying the January 6 committee subpoena. He's spoke on CNN this morning. And he says that he has a bullet proof appeal and they're promising to appeal. Let me play what his attorney says.


DAVID SCHOEN, STEVE BANNON'S ATTORNEY: The reason to appeal as bullet proof is this. The statute charges willful conduct. The court relied on the 1961 decision. The government filed a motion to bar any evidence to the jury of the reason Steve Bannon didn't comply with the subpoena. The judge granted that based on this 1961 decision called Licavoli (ph). That says, essentially, did you get a subpoena? And did you comply? It doesn't matter the reason.

There have been six decades of authority, since Licavoli (ph), that at least require, especially in a statute that holds a jail sentence at the end of it, that a defendant have some reason to believe that his conduct is either wrongful or criminal. In this case, Steve Bannon listen to his lawyer and believe he did the only thing the law permitted.


BOLDUAN: I wanted to play that because you've been really clear since Steve Bannon's trial began that this -- there really was very little question if he was at fault here. But what do you think of what he's saying?

TOOBIN: I don't think much of that argument --


TOOBIN: -- because of this, is that, you know, if you get a subpoena, and you think it's legally deficient in some way, you think that you're barred from testifying by executive privilege, what you do is you go to court, and you move to quash the subpoena. And then a judge decides whether you have to testify or not.

What Bannon did was he simply decided on his own that the subpoena was legally deficient and blew off the committee. That's not the way the law is. The law requires you, as I understand it, to either get a ruling in your favor or show up. To decide unilaterally that the committee -- that the hearing is deficient -- that the subpoena is deficient, based on bad legal advice, which is what Bannon got, that's an invitation to defiance of all -- if it's balanced legal argument works, it means that anyone can say, well, I think the subpoena is legally deficient, so I'm not showing up and I'm immune from prosecution. I don't think that's what the law is. That's why I think the appeal will fail.

BOLDUAN: But the appeal shall go on. We will see.

TOOBIN: It will go on. And the sentencing is in October, and he's got a minimum of 30 days sentence, but it could be up to two years.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Jeffrey, thanks.

TOOBIN: Alrighty.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.

Coming for us, the White House debating now whether the growing monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency here in the United States. The World Health Organization, however, has already decided when it comes to the globe, this is a global health emergency. Their spokesperson joins us live next.



BOLDUAN: Now to the growing monkey pox outbreak, the White House is currently debating whether to declare it a public health emergency. But over the weekend, the World Health Organization took that very step, declaring monkeypox a global public health emergency of international concern. The CDC is reporting right now nearly 3,000 cases in the United States.

Joining me now is a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Harris. Dr. Harris, it's great to have you back on. Can you talk to me about what you all saw or see that pushed you to declare monkeypox a global health emergency?

DR. MARGARET HARRIS, SPOKESPERSON, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Great to be with you, Kate, and with your viewers. So what we saw, we look for various things. One of them is, is there international spread? There definitely is. Is it an extraordinary event? Now we've known monkeypox for many, many years. We first learned about it in the human population in the 1970s.