Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

CNN Presses Rudy Giuliani ahead of Georgia Grand Jury Testimony; Former Trump Lawyers Interviewed by FBI over Mar-a-Lago Documents; Mike Pence Calls for "Unprecedented Transparency" and End to Attacks on FBI; Liz Cheney Loses in Landslide to Trump-Backed Candidate. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 17, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone.

AT THIS HOUR, Rudy Giuliani is target and now appears before a grand jury investigating election interference.

And the voters have spoken and Liz Cheney is now announcing her next chapter after losing her seat.

Plus, an unprecedented water crisis and the new cut the federal government is putting in place to save an entire region.

This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Rudy Giuliani, a man that loves to grab headlines but likely not for these reasons, he's appearing before a special grand jury in Georgia. He's under an order to testify today after local prosecutors told Giuliani's lawyers this week he is a target of their election interference investigation, meaning an indictment is possible.

In a separate investigation, CNN learned that two former Trump White House lawyers were interviewed by the FBI about the classified documents seized last week at the former president's home in Florida. Let's get to it and begin with Nick Valencia, live at the courthouse.

Rudy Giuliani is still in the courtroom. You caught up with him.

What did he say?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was defiant and exuding confidence. He asked for a continuance last week because of health concerns and ultimately a Fulton County judge asked him to appear today.

On his way into court, I peppered him with questions, including asking whether or not he lied before Georgia lawmakers when he spoke to them at least three times in the wake of the 2020 election.


VALENCIA: Mr. Giuliani, when you met with Georgia lawmakers, did you lie to them?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: We will not talk about this until it's over. It's a grand jury and grand juries, as I recall, are secret.

VALENCIA: Do you think president Trump is the ultimate target?

GIULIANI: I won't comment.

VALENCIA: What do you think the ultimate goal is?

What do you expect to talk about?

GIULIANI: They ask the questions and we'll see.

VALENCIA: Will you be corporative?

Your attorney in New York said he can't promise how responsive you'll be.

GIULIANI: Goodbye.


VALENCIA: To remind us, Giuliani spoke before the Georgia lawmakers three times after the 2020 election to spread conspiracy theories and baseless claims of voter fraud, claims that have proven to be untrue.

But ultimately, he's here on a judge's order. And how cooperative he'll be is the big question. His attorney in New York indicating the DA is playing hardball. And they know how to play hardball, too. Kate.

BOLDUAN: I guess we will see, Nick, thank you very much, live outside the courthouse in Atlanta.

We've also learned the FBI interviewed two of Donald Trump's former White House lawyers. Sources say Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, the former White House counsel and his deputy, talked to investigators earlier this year in the Justice Department's probe into the classified records taken from the White House.

This was first reported by "The New York Times." CNN's Katelyn Polantz is live in Washington with more detail on this.

What more are you learning?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this information reveals another step the Justice Department took as it was investigating classified records in Donald Trump's possession, leading up to that search at Mar-a-lago last week. CNN confirmed the FBI spoke to both Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin

earlier this year. Cipollone was Trump's last White House counsel and Philbin was a deputy in that office.

So when the administration ended, they were among the central people appointed to handle Trump's interactions with the National Archives and work on his administration's handover of federal records, especially once the Archives realized Trump still had papers that weren't his to keep.

In the spring, we know this criminal investigation became very active. It was leading to FBI interviews of Cipollone and Philbin and others and investigators subpoenaing to get back the records and subpoenaed surveillance video of Mar-a-lago itself.

"The New York Times," that broke the story, reported that something on the surveillance footage around a storage room at Mar-a-lago caught investigators' attention and alarmed them.

All of this becomes part of the investigative work that led to the unprecedented search last weekend. And all of it and other details are likely to be discussed tomorrow, maybe not publicly but the secrecy of them is likely to be discussed in court, as the Justice Department tries to keep an affidavit sealed in the search warrant case. Kate.


BOLDUAN: So much more to come. Exactly, you're laying out why what everyone is looking forward to, which is tomorrow and what happens in that courtroom. Good to see you. Thank you.

Joining me is CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Jennifer, let's talk about -- talk to me first about Rudy Giuliani.

What does today mean for Rudy Giuliani?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Of course, we know he's a target of the investigation, Kate, which I think means he's going to plead the Fifth and not actually testify today. He would be foolish to do so.

They're asking him questions in an investigation they already told him he may be indicted in. So not to say he shouldn't cooperate but that would be a different process, where his lawyers contact the DA's office and set up a different meeting.

But I don't think he'll go into the grand jury and answer questions, because their questions are about his possible criminal culpability.

BOLDUAN: The reason why you think he should plead the Fifth is because everything he's saying in there could be directly related to what could get him in trouble?

RODGERS: That's right, a witness always knows whether they have done something they don't want to disclose. But in this case, he's been told by the DA that she knows, too. So that suggests for sure he should take the Fifth and not testify today.

BOLDUAN: Juliette, how valuable do you think Giuliani is to investigators?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, he's exceptionally valuable because this case -- I've always called the sleeper case, the fake elector's case -- is sort of like the opening scene of "Jaws."

It sort of slowly begins to become a big deal and a threat, I think, to the planning around undermining the election, because this part, the fake electors and the consistency among all the different states -- Georgia just is the focus right now.

But there is numerous states in which the same exact language, people signing it, was intended or only would have worked if there wasn't certification on January 6th.

So why wouldn't there be certification, possibly because of an insurrection and violence and they were unable to meet?

So I think the ties between the fake electors, which looks like a legal issue, really does get to the strategy behind, how would it have worked?

So I think he's very important. I agree with Jennifer as always. He's not going to speak. But he did seem a little bit less -- I won't put words into his mouth -- but he's there and he is not ignoring this subpoena.


Jennifer, then let's talk about what Katelyn was reporting for us and what we also read in "The New York Times," that Trump's White House counsel and his deputy -- and the counsel's deputy were interviewed by the FBI about the sensitive documents Trump had at his Florida home.

I want to read a portion of the reporting about Patrick Philbin, one of these men, which is this.

"Mr. Philbin tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly resisted entreaties from his advisors, quote, 'It's not theirs, it's mine,' several advisors say Mr. Trump told them."

What do you think of that?

RODGERS: That's really interesting, Kate, because it reminds me of some of what we heard around the 2020 election, where he was being informed by his advisors, including his White House counsel, that there was no fraud, that the election was not stolen, that he had lost. And yet, he continued to say, no, I didn't, no, I didn't. Sounds like maybe that's what is happening here. Pat Feldman and Pat Cipollone are saying, these are not your documents. You have to give them back. He's saying no, no, they're mine.

So it's important to acknowledge an intent the president is informed by people he supposedly relies on for legal advice, that it's illegal to hold on to things and he says he wants to do it anyway.

So it's important information for investigators to have moving forward. And it's important that these are credible witnesses. These are not Trump loyalists at all costs. They are people not now around Mar-a-lago serving him, scurrying around for him.

So I think their words will carry a lot of weight with investigators as witnesses, as things move forward.

BOLDUAN: Juliette, tomorrow is the day we may learn more about the affidavit that investigators used to obtain the search warrant for Mar-a-lago, with this court hearing Katelyn was mentioning.

But just this morning, former vice president Mike Pence weighed in on the search and everything surrounding it. Let me play a little bit of what he said.


MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the wake of the four years that we endured, the politicization of the FBI, the American people have a right to know the basis for this. This unprecedented action does demand unprecedented transparency.


PENCE: These attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.


BOLDUAN: Seems like Mike Pence is saying a lot.

What do you think of that?


KAYYEM: Mike Pence is trying to play both sides as always. He is just simply not able to pull the Band-aid. This is the most incoherent statement.

He seems to be saying that the FBI was outrageous in its attempts, to defend Trump and by the end says, rightfully, the attacks against the FBI are unjustified.

This is the humor and the irony of Mike Pence. Everyone now knows that the president of the United States essentially wanted, didn't care if he was harmed on January 6th and he has remained quiet. He makes hints, willing to speak.

But at least, and I will say it matters, at least some leaders of the Republican Party are coming out, condemning the targeted violence, coming out of Trump, Trump's children, Trump's camp toward FBI agents and the judge and the magistrate, the judge in this case in Florida.

It's really important that is condemned because we know why they're saying it. They want to terrorize. We know why Trump and his people are saying it. They want to terrorize the law enforcement agencies and judiciary in hopes either that someone gets hurt or that we all get distracted by it.

So it's important to stay focused. It was Donald Trump who took the classified information and believed it was his.

BOLDUAN: Important, nonetheless, that leaders speak out against and condemning the violence and toning it down where they can when they can.

Good to see you both. Thank you.

Coming up, Liz Cheney's defeat and next challenge, renewing her vow to do whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump from ever holding office again. What she's saying now about a presidential run of her own in 2024. That's next.





BOLDUAN: Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney vowing to carry on her fight over president Trump after losing in a landslide. Harriet Hageman beat her 2:1. Cheney is the fourth House Republican to lose their primary after voting to impeach Trump following the insurrection.

But in an impassioned concession speech, she promised her fight to stop Trump is really far from over.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We must be very clear-eyed about the threat we face and about what is required to defeat it. I have said since January 6th that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office. And I mean it.


BOLDUAN: CNN Jeff Zeleny is live in Jackson, Wyoming, for more on this.

Jeff, Cheney is quickly being pressed about what the next chapter means, including a possible run for the White House.

What is she saying?


But the question is can losing an election on principle translate into a winning argument or a winning campaign?

She said that she'll be deciding that in the months ahead. When she was pressed on that specifically on NBC's "Today" show by Savannah Guthrie, she said this.


CHENEY: That's a decision I'm going to make in the coming months, Savannah. And I'm not going to make any announcements this morning. That's something I'm thinking about and I will make a decision in the coming months.


ZELENY: Look, many of the supporters that we've been talking to, the Cheney supporters at her event last evening, would like to see her do something. Many would like to see her run for president.

The question is, is there an open market or audience for her type of message in the Republican Party?

Very much unknown at this point. There is no doubt this is Donald Trump's Republican Party. After watching a long string of primaries, that is clear. But Kate, she's still taking steps to do the next chapter of her political life.

Overnight, her campaign became a leadership PAC, with the Federal Election Commission. She filed paperwork and she's calling it now the Great Task. She is using, of course, the words of President Lincoln, who she invoked in her speech last night.

But again, Kate, as she goes forward, she'll be in Congress for four more months and be presiding as the vice chair of the January 6th committee that resumes next month. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Thanks for being there.

There are other big primary races we're tracking. In Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka are both advancing. Democrat Patricia Chesbro also advanced to the general election. Donald Trump attacked Murkowski pretty relentlessly.

In Alaska, Sarah Palin is a step closer to making her political comeback. The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, former Alaska governor, is advancing in the state's sole House seat.

Trump endorsed Palin in the race. Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola also advanced to the November context. Much more to watch. But none of them like the Cheney primary, better described as the Trump versus Cheney primary.

Joining me now for more is CNN political director David Chalian, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and Doug Heye, former communications director for the Republican National Committee.


BOLDUAN: David, what do you see as the message coming from the Cheney primary?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think the big message is that there is a huge divide between where Liz Cheney is and where the Republican Party is, the base of the Republican Party.

You noted the margin was more than 2:1 that she lost by. I don't think there could be as clear a message as saying Liz Cheney is in a very different place from the Republican Party right now, which is -- yes, has a lot of Trump sway but which also has this fealty to Trump's lie about the election results of 2020 coursing through it.

And so the fact that Liz Cheney has chosen to make her life's work to push back against that puts her on a bit of an island.

BOLDUAN: Paddling upstream is like the kindest way of saying it at this point.

Gloria, she said this morning she's thinking about running for president. Jeff ran some of that sound.

What does that effort look like when the current reality is that some 60 percent of the Republicans who have won primaries are election deniers?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: As David is saying, there is no clear lane for an anti Trump person right now in the Republican Party. Donald Trump is having a huge amount of success in the primaries. We'll see how that goes in the general election with his candidates.

But I think one thing we know for sure, given what she is saying -- and I take her word -- is that she's going to have a great impact on who will be the next nominee in the Republican Party, because she is not going to stop talking about this, funding candidates and finding Republican candidates who will stand up to Donald Trump about his election denying.

But I think she's got a big question here because she doesn't want to turn into someone who motivates the Trump base to come out for Donald Trump if she were to run in the primaries.

And so, you know, I think it's a very complicated process right now. And I personally question whether her goal actually is to become the next president or make sure Donald Trump, as she puts it, doesn't get anywhere near the Oval Office.

BOLDUAN: Good point. Doug, I want to play some more from Cheney's speech last night. Listen

to this.


CHENEY: The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in the Senate and House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln and Grant and all who fought in our nation's tragic Civil War, including my own great, great grandfathers, saved our union. Their courage saved freedom.

And if we listen closely, they are speaking to us down the generations. We must not idly squander what so many have fought and died for.


BOLDUAN: The way she painted it last night, Doug, is she sees this as a second civil war. We're not heading there; we are there. We're at the cliff, at the fork in the road. To use your metaphor, the decision point of whether the republic survives or not.

If this is her argument and, as David is pointing out, the vote total in Wyoming plays out and people in Wyoming say, no, thank you, is the fight already lost?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's lost yet. It's an accurate way to describe it.

What we saw, what people tweeted immediately after the FBI search at Mar-a-lago, the term "civil war" spiked. The rhetoric that we see coming from a lot of the far right is more and more extremist and alarmist and violent.

And that's part of the choice that Liz Cheney is making, of what side she wants to be on, regardless of the electoral impacts. So this is going to be a continuing fight.

And what Liz Cheney said last night and what she has said for months is what a lot of Republican members are saying privately. They're not doing it publicly in the way she is.

But they understand the stakes here and that, if something were to happen, where there is more violence, that is going to have serious recriminations on Republicans as, right now, they're facing a more questionable electoral situation than they were a few weeks ago, where there would be a massive year for Republicans.

And now we're not quite so sure.

BOLDUAN: David, I want your take. In the last conversation I played, comments from former vice president Mike Pence and what he's saying this morning, is he in a similar spot as Cheney?

If it's unclear what the Cheney lane is of Republican politics, what is the Pence -- what is the lane that Pence is trying to carve for himself?

CHALIAN: We should note he made the comments in New Hampshire and he's headed to Iowa this week.


CHALIAN: Yes. But I don't think he's in the same place as Cheney because, as Gloria said, it's not entirely clear there is a path for a pure anti-Trump. But Pence is trying not to be a pure anti-Trump. He's trying to sort of bridge the divide. I don't know if he'll be successful at that.


CHALIAN: But he's trying to not offend Trump supporters while distancing himself from what he sees as the negatives --


CHATTERLEY: Exactly. So the comments you played, when he's talking about, hey, don't take on the rank and file FBI. Yes, call for accountability and Merrick Garland to be transparent. He's trying to sort of get in with the Trump crowd at sort of like, yes, this is an issue. But he's trying to keep the most sort of audacious (ph) rhetoric out of the mix.


BOLDUAN: Be the adult in the room.

CHALIAN: He thinks he can try to stitch together and bridge the divide there.

BOLDUAN: What do you think, Gloria?

BORGER: I think it's such a difficult task for Mike Pence, because it's full of nuance and he's the guy who certified the election. And Donald Trump will remind him of it, if he runs, every minute of every day. And that will get out the Trump base.

And all the nuance about, well, maybe I would testify. I'm not, you know, let's see what happens and don't take on the FBI, they're good people, that gets lost in all of the Trump rhetoric.

So you know, he's walking this fine line, praising what the Trump- Pence administration did, et cetera, et cetera. But for, you know, the Trump supporters, that will never be enough.

And I know people who are supporting and working for Mike Pence. I think they understand that. But they're going to keep trying to make him that person who can appeal to both sides. It's very difficult.

BOLDUAN: The fortunate thing is we have a very long period of time ahead before anyone has to decide. Good to see you all. Thank you so much. Really, thank you. Coming up, there are shortages across the country impacting schools

large and small: not enough teachers, not enough bus drivers even. And the problem does not seem to be getting better. The head of one of the largest school districts is our guest -- next.