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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Secret Service Identifies Potential Missing Tex Messages On Phone Of 10 Individuals From On And Around Jan. 6; Trump PACs Paid $2M This Year To Law Firms Representing Jan. 6 Witnesses; Trump And Pence Test Rivalry With AZ Governor's Race; "Mothers Against Greg Abbott" Administrator Goes Viral. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 22, 2022 - 17:00   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, this is -- these are investigators from the Secret Service, because remember -- yes, this was -- so this was the House Select Committee had directed the Secret Service to basically do an investigation of itself.

And what sources have told us is that of these group of 24 Secret Service agents whose text messages were requested by the Inspector General last year, 10 of those people had metadata on their devices that showed the text messages were exchanged between January 5 and sixth 2021. But the content of those text messages was lost due to a data migration that started about three weeks after January 6, but prior to this request from the I.G., investigators, again, at the Secret Service found that 10 of those people had no text messages at all, three only had personal text messages, one had saved a text exchange that was the chief of the uniformed division for Secret Service, Thomas Sullivan texting Steven Sund basically asking him, what do you need? So that was the sole text message exchange that was saved, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So what is the Secret Service doing to find out if these 10 phones have relevant messages to this investigation as to what happened on January?

WILD: Well, this has been a rapidly developing story, a rapidly developing internal investigation. They had been doing a very rigorous probe, according to a letter sent from the Secret Service to the House Select Committee, telling them all the ways that they were trying to abide by the House Select Committee subpoena on July 19. The Secret Service told investigators they had planned to conduct forensic examinations of available devices that were used by the identified individuals. Additional follow up interviews with the identified users to determine if messages were stored in locations that were not already searched by the Secret Service.

But Jake, the reality here is all of those efforts have to stop because as CNN first reported yesterday, the DHS Inspector General has told the Secret Service this is now a criminal probe, stop investigating yourself. Jake. TAPPER: So, there's a member of the January 6 committee, Zoe Lofgren, Democrat at California, she says that Tony Ornato, Robert Engel and the driver of Trump's presidential SUV on January 6, have all retained private counsel just to remind people, Tony, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, Tony Ornato told her story in front of Mr. Engel that Trump lunged for the wheel and lunged for him because he wanted the SUV to go to the Capitol.

The fact that they have private counsel, as opposed to just using the Secret Service Council, does that mean that they are more or less likely to cooperate?

WILD: Well, I guess we'll know the answer to that when this is all said and done. But the reality here is that when you look at whether or not this is abnormal -- I mean, you're right. The Secret Service does have attorneys, but it is not at all atypical when you have a situation that is this high profile, this high pressure for people who are -- who have to go in front of, you know, a congressional investigative body to retain a private counsel. I mean, we saw lawyers getting lawyers, Pat Cipollone is lawyer, and he had a lawyer. And so, right now, whether or not they're going this -- how this is going to impact their cooperation, we simply won't know the answer to that until this is all over. However, the Secret Service today saying that they have directed these employees to cooperate, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, Republican Congressman Kinzinger told our Jim Sciutto earlier today that he does not think Ornato, Engel and this driver are cooperating.

WILD: Right, right. And to which the Secret Service says, you know, the Secret Service Director James Murray issued a statement today saying that he has directed personnel to cooperate.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much, Whitney Wild.

Joining us now to discuss, former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and former Trump White House lawyer, Jim Schultz.

Jim, if you were the lawyer for Tony Ornato, just to remind our viewers, he was the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, he had been Secret Service, then he became in that political position, then he went back to Secret Service. If you are Ornato or Robert Engel, the Secret Service agent or the driver, what would you be telling them right now? Would you be telling them to cooperate?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Yes. I mean, first thing you'd want to know is what they know, right? And of course, you want to cooperate with the investigation. Most likely they are witnesses and have information and and that's where the -- that's the limited capacity in which they'll be asked to testify as witnesses in most -- in the sense that so, yes, I would be recommending that they cooperate. I would want to know what they know and then convey that to the committee or whoever is that the, in this case, the Office of Inspector General, and convey that information in the best way possible. TAPPER: So Jennifer, we don't know right now who these men have hired as attorneys or if they are tapping into these legal funds that have been made available by Donald Trump and his political committees. Campaign filings show that those Trump political committees have paid more than $2 million this year to law firms representing witnesses before the committee. Is this common for somebody under investigation to be paying for witnesses, lawyers? And is it ethical?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, it's not uncommon for someone else to pay for your lawyer. Let's say you work for a company, and you need to be represented, the company sometimes will pay, and there's nothing certainly illegal about it. There's also nothing unethical about it from the lawyer perspective unless the lawyer is not representing the client, like in other words, if the lawyer really is acting in the interests of the person paying the bills instead of the person he or she is representing, that's unethical, but otherwise not.


So the question really becomes, is the lawyer representing the client's best interests? And that's something, frankly, that the committee and certainly DOJ to the extent that ever gets there, needs to be asking about and thinking about and suggesting to the witness, if you don't think your lawyer has your personal best interests in mind here, you might think about getting another lawyer. That's a warning that prosecutors and presumably the congressional select committee will make to witnesses in a circumstance like this.

TAPPER: And Jim, one of the reasons I ask is because at the end of one of the committee's hearings last month, the one featuring Cassidy Hutchinson, the vice chair of the committee, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, revealed that some witnesses were allegedly receiving messages from people in Trump's world that she suggested was witness tampering, perhaps, here's one of her examples. Take a listen.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be 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, you know, I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump world. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts."


TAPPER: I mean, to me, that -- Trump does read transcripts, that suggests that Donald Trump is getting transcripts of witness interviews. And the question, I guess is, is he getting them with the permission of the witnesses or the lawyers being paid by Trump and his legal organizations? Are they just giving the transcripts to others, and they end up with Trump? If it was the latter, and I have no evidence of this, but if it were the latter, because it's delivered in this threatening statement, would that be legal?

SCHULTZ: Look, witness intimidation is never legal. And to the extent that folks are being threatened or phone calls are being made, you have to be very careful. Whoever is doing that has to be very careful about making such statements because not lined up before the Justice Department. This Congress has already referred over instances where I think in one instance where the president -- the former president had reached out to a potential witness and referred that over to DOJ to look at, they're taking it very seriously. But if you have company -- you have good counsel, and that counsel is representing you, and that counsel has the obligation to you as the client, right? So, if that count -- if you have good counsel, they have to be acting in the interest of the client and not the interest of someone else involved in the investigation, regardless of who's paying the bill. So I agree with Jennifer's analysis on this, but at the same time, you know, the thuggery and phone calls and threats are something that has to be taken very serious.

TAPPER: What about sharing a transcript, your testimony transcript to other people without permission, is that legal?

SCHULTZ: Well, that would be something that the lawyer would have to consult with his client -- his or her client on and obtain permission. So, again, you're talking about ethics as it relates to the lawyer that's representing the client, not whether it's illegal or -- legal or not legal, you're talking about whether you have the ethical obligations that lawyer has to that particular client.

TAPPER: Jennifer, this just in, the January 6 committee issued a statement in reaction to a jury today finding Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress by not abiding by its subpoenas. Congressman Thompson and Congresswoman Cheney said this is a "victory for the rule of law" and an affirmation of the committee's work. How big of a win is this for the committee do you think this conviction?

RODGERS: Well, it's a big win for them, and it's a long time coming. I'm sure they think, you know, the wheels of justice move slowly sometimes. It's been a long time since they've been trying to get information from Steve Bannon. And of course, lots of other witnesses, too, we have Navarro's trial coming up and they referred a couple other folks over to DOJ for refusing to testify. The DOJ decided not to pursue.

So, they've been pushing this all along. You cannot afford our subpoenas. You cannot ignore us. And now they finally have their vindication, Steve Bannon is going to jail. It won't be for very long, but he's going to prison and it's because he defied the subpoena. And I think they want that message to resonate loudly with everyone the committee is dealing with.

TAPPER: Jim, do you agree? Do you think Steve Bannon is going to go to jail?

SCHULTZ: Look, his sentencing is coming up in October, I think he's likely to serve some prison time. I know that he's -- he said that they've said that he's going to appeal. We'll wait and see how that process plays out in terms of the appeal. But I do think that he's going to -- he's been convicted. There's prison time that comes along with this. He's likely to serve prison time as a result of it. And the committee should feel vindicated, you know, as it were, was over this verdict today, and the legislative branch generally, you know, going forward as they look a, you know, other investigations going forward as they look at, you know, other investigations going forward, they want folks taking their subpoenas seriously. And that's the message that was conveyed to them.


TAPPER: Thanks to both of you for being here. Really appreciate your time.

Coming up, just as a parallel investigation into Donald Trump's action in Georgia picks up steam. A judge is going after the prosecutor in that case for a potential conflict of interest.

Plus, baking in the Big Apple, frying in Philly, intense heat now blasting the Northeast in the mid-Atlantic. How long will the scorching temperatures last? Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our Earth matter series, the city that never sleeps is now the city that overheats. New Yorkers facing the most consecutive days above 90 degrees in years. D.C., Philly, Boston all are going to approach 100 degrees on Sunday. The west is baking, too. Vegas temperatures were 90 or above all night for the first time in nearly 20 years. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in New York City.

Polo, how are New Yorkers Braving this blistering weather?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As best as they can, Jake, especially as they face the possibility of facing the longest line blasting heatwave in over a decade if that forecast turns out to be true. When you look at these numbers coming from the National Weather Service it seems that there is at least no end in sight or at least not going to be over anytime soon with the temperature expected to rise into the upper 90s, potentially even 100 degrees here in New York City on Sunday.


It is why officials here in New York City went ahead and scale backs the New York City triathlon that is scheduled to go down on Sunday, they have scaled back the distance for the running and the biking portion. Not far from here actually in Boston, officials, there are deciding to just postpone it altogether and holding that event in August when they hope things will cool down. But really what we're hearing from New York City officials here is really the warning that we're hearing from people across the country, which is, continue to stay hydrated, out of the sun if possible, and to check on those most vulnerable as they are the ones that certainly stand the biggest risk.

All in all, about 85 percent of Americans expected to see temperatures that will surpass 90 degrees. New York City and several other regions like Philadelphia, you mentioned Boston, all going to be really in sort of a state of emergency with health -- heat related or heat related alerts that are in place into the weekend, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you so much.

It's not just New York, of course, experiencing a record long heat wave. I want to bring in CNN Meteorologist Allison.

Allison, what's going on for the rest of the country?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, over 80 million people in the lower 48 are under some type of alert. And again, it's pretty widespread. You've got warnings that stretch from California, all the way over to Massachusetts. So again, you're talking a lot of people that are impacted here.

Now for some of these areas, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Little Rock, you're getting those triple digits back again with very little break. But even places like Dallas, Houston, a lot of these cities have been dealing with this prolonged triple digit temperatures for a very long period of time. And for some of them, it feels like it's been never ending.

And the thing is, when we talk about that climate shift in temperatures, that is kind of what we can expect in the future where these heat waves are lasting longer, they're becoming more frequent. But also the flip side to that is the extreme temperatures themselves are reaching even higher levels, you're talking more and more records being broken. And we're also going to experience that this weekend, 35 locations have the potential to break record temperatures either Saturday or Sunday for this upcoming week.

Again, when you talk about the overall expanse of this, it's the combination of the prolonged period but also the temperatures themselves. Look at some of these heat index numbers from the Northeast, 100 to 105 degrees. The forecast for Boston, Jake, on Sunday, 98 degrees. If we hit that, it will break in nearly 90-year record that is in place.

TAPPER: All right. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

And these heat waves happening globally right now we're just a symptom of a larger problem, of course, the climate crisis. My next guest ran against Joe Biden and made the issue his top priority. What does he say now about President Biden's approach? That's next.



TAPPER: And we're back with our money lead this afternoon. President Biden met with his economic team for a briefing on gas prices, drivers are seeing some relief as prices continue to fall. The average today is $4.41 a gallon, compare that to a week ago, it was $4.58. A little over a month ago, prices hit an all-time high $5.02 a gallon.

Joining me now to discuss is Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State.

Governor, drivers in Washington State are paying $5.17 per gallon on average right now, much more than the national average for gas. That price, of course, includes a 49 cent per gallon gas tax, one of the highest in the nation Washington State has. President Biden encouraged states to suspend those taxes, you won't do it. Why not?

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Well, I'm joining a lot of folks, including the Republican Party that doesn't think this is the best solution to this because essentially, when you do a gas tax holiday, the money doesn't go to consumers, the vast majority of it goes to oil and gas companies, they just soak it up they reek that. They've already got windfall profits. They would just use this differential and add it to their profit margin, the bulk of it would not go to consumers.

And it's not a solution to this problem. We know this is caused by Putin's war in Ukraine, and increased demand. Those are the real reasons for this. We are happy that things are coming down. And I think there's good reason to believe actually that that's going to continue.

So, my constituents are not thinking this is a solution to the problem. And they're turning to to longer term problems they've got not been able to breathe because of forest fires smoke and dying because of heatstroke. That's what's really on their minds.

TAPPER: Well, let's turn to that because obviously, that's related to the climate crisis. You focused your entire 2020 presidential campaign around the climate crisis. If you were president right now with this House and this Senate, so 50-50 Senate, what would you be doing to address the climate crisis that President Biden is not doing?

INSLEE: Well, I think he's doing what he should be doing, in the sense that he did everything he could to get this through the Senate, but he ran into 51 bricks, 50 of which are Republican Party, don't forget that. And now he's turning to the number of tools that he has today through executive action where he doesn't have to drag the Senate with him. And he's got now five buckets that I believe he is looking at, one to really use his clean air and he's clean air law, and his least eight regulatory measures, which I don't even believe this Supreme Court could stop in reining in ozone and particulates which can increase health of Washingtonians but simultaneously reduced our climate change gases.


He can, you know, when you're in a hole stop digging, he can reduce infrastructure that we know won't be useful decades from now and offshore wind and leasing on public lands. Public don't want -- does not want leasing on offshore waters right now with all the attendant dangers in that regard.

Third, he can really help free us in the states and in the federal government to increase the transition to electric vehicles and get better mileage. And with a stroke of the pen, very quickly, he can allow California and my state and many others to move to zero emission vehicles in the upcoming years. That's very, very important.

Fourth, he can then pass a rule that requires financing industries to really show through transparency what risks they are exposed to because of climate change.

And fifth, he can have new efficiency standards. Look, the easiest way not to pollute is to not use wasted energy. So new energy standards for efficiencies or appliances and some of our buildings like we're doing in Washington State. Almost all of this we're doing in my state, we've demonstrated this can help grow your economy. So, all of those things, I believe, is under consideration. I hope he'll do all of them.

TAPPER: So, I remember last year, when the infrastructure in Seattle and your state and in Portland just south you melted, because you are not used to these heats. As you put, it you don't have the climate infrastructure for temperatures this high. We're seeing that happening in Europe right now where air conditioning is not really a thing. Are you having to adjust?

INSLEE: Oh, you bet. I mean, 100-degree day in New York and Washington, D.C. is not half as bad as 100 degree day in Seattle and Portland. And the reason isn't north wheat (ph) and northeast, people, you know, by and large have air conditioning. We do not have that. We have not believed it was necessary in the vast majority of our homes.

So you bet we're going to have to adjust, but it's darn uncomfortable. We lost over 100 people just to heat last summer. The summer before, we could -- literally, our kids can't go out to play because the forest fire smoke. We're the worst air conditions in the entire planet.

So yes, we are going to have to start accommodating this. Now fortunately, we can use heat pumps to do that because heat pumps do not use fossil fuels. They don't use dirty gas, they used to call it natural gas, it's actually dirty gas. It's very dangerous from a polluting standpoint in your house.

So now we have heat pumps that can heat and cool and we need to start building them into our infrastructure. We also have to do cooling centers, obviously, as an emergency relief when people are in trouble to have places to go in their community that are cool. So this is going to be a vast rebuilding program in some sense. And -- but we got to stop it. It's a source.

Look, it's not a solution just to buy air conditioners, the planets on fire. We're not going to have water to drink in the southwest. We're not going to have forests in the whole west because they're going to burn down. An air conditioner is not a solution.

We have to kill this at the source. We have to stop this toxic material from entering our atmosphere from pollution from fossil fuels.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, thank you so much. Good to see you again, Sir. INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the show down in the west, Donald Trump, Mike Pence both in Arizona, both facing off for the future of the Republican Party. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our politics lead now, a Republican face off in Arizona could foreshadow the 2024 presidential primary race. The state's upcoming Republican primary for governor has quickly morphed into something of a bitter proxy war between former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as CNN's Kyung Lah reports.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A showdown in the desert over the future of the Republican Party. Mike Pence and Donald Trump at odds yet again, this time in the hotly contested GOP primary for Arizona governor. The former president has endorsed Republican candidate Kari Lake.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is my complete and total endorsement.

LAH (voice-over): A former Republican --

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE) registered as a Republican.

LAH (voice-over): -- turned Independent --

LAKE: Was really fed up.

LAH (voice-over): -- turned Democrat.

LAKE: I registered as a Democrat.

LAH (voice-over): Turned Republican again.

LAKE: The Republican Party, party of solutions.

LAH (voice-over): Her campaign is centered on the lie that Donald Trump beat Joe Biden.

LAKE: (INAUDIBLE) like the whole U.S. as long as an illegitimate presidents in the White House.

LAH (voice-over): She spouts far-right conspiracies.

LAKE: We had major election fraud, hundreds, 200,000 minimum ballots were trafficked by mules.

LAH (voice-over): Like Trump, Lake made her name on television. The former Arizona local news anchor has also borrowed from his playbook frequently attacking those in her old profession.

LAKE: Fake news here, by the way, I got ambushed by CNN outside.

JENNIFER PROFFIT, ARIZONA VOTER: I think Kari Lake has what it takes to get us to where we need to get back on track for our families and gives us hope.

LAH (on-camera): Lake has a message for a base and only that group. The question is, is that group large enough to win the Republican nomination?


LAH (voice-over): Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, another leading contender for the GOP nomination says it's not.

(on-camera): How do you run against an opponent who is backed by a popular former president?


ROBSON: If you like Donald Trump's policies and record of limited government, low tax, pro-business environment and somebody with a track record of success, I'm your candidate. If you want somebody who has a big personality, I think Kari Lake is your candidate.

LAH (voice-over): Robson's strategy to win the GOP nomination is to consolidate support of traditional conservatives, helped by Pence's Friday rally.


LAH (voice-over): Robson also has the support of Arizona's outgoing Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who attacked Lake support for Trump as a matter of political convenience.

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): Kari Lake's misleading voters with no evidence. She's been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, "Fake Lake," which seems to be sticking.

LAKE: Thank you.

LAH (voice-over): A delicate dance for Robson. According to right-wing means so many doubts about the 2020 election.

(on-camera): Where are you on the 2020 election?

LAKE: At a minimum, the election was not fair. And I know people want to hear a different answer from me. But when you take a look at, you know, there was concern from a lot of voters --

MARCUS DELL'ARTINO, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When you look at the primaries we just went through and some of these other states, I think messages to take away from that are certainly the Donald Trump endorsement is a powerful asset but it's not the silver bullet.

LAH (voice-over): Arizona's primary will be another signal for national Republicans.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Phoenix.


TAPPER: All right, thanks to Kyung Lah for that report.

Let's discuss. Scott Jennings, let's start with you. I want to -- what do you make of this proxy war in Arizona? We're seeing it -- there we saw it earlier in Georgia with, again, Trump backing the person that was all in on full election lies versus the incumbent governor who Pence supported.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, dynamics are a little bit different in Georgia. Pence had the upper hand supporting Brian Kemp, who was far ahead. In this case, Trump's endorse candidate Lake, according to some of the polls, is slightly ahead, although I think it's an extremely close race.

Pence's aligned here with the outgoing Republican governor, Doug Ducey, who's an extremely conservative guy, but he also, you know, came under Trump's negative gays for not doing what he wanted him to do on election stuff. I mean, I think as much as this is a race in the moment, it is a little bit of a proxy for the argument to come from Mike Pence, which is, you know, we're going to have to get back to a Republican Party that is focused on the future and not re-litigating over and over endlessly the 2020 election.

And if you listen to his speech today, he was really not focused on Donald Trump at all, but really focused on conservative issues and taking, you know, traditional conservative shots at Robson's opponent Lake. So I think this is his -- this is a bit of a setup for his argument to come in his race for president in 2024.

TAPPER: And Kasie, take a listen to Katie Hobbs this morning on CNN. She's the Arizona Secretary of State. She's the Democrat running for, she hasn't won the nomination yet, but likely will be the Democratic nominee for governor. She says that there really actually isn't that much of a difference between the two Republican candidates even though once deeply all in on the lies. And the other one is, you know, playing footsie with them. Take a listen.


KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ), GOV. CANDIDATE: There's very little difference between either of these candidates on their policy positions. Even Karrin Taylor Robson said in an interview last week that she couldn't name a single policy difference. She too has called into question the 2020 election and has refused to say if she would accept both the results of the 2022 election or certify the 2024 election if she is governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Is she right?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Jake, I mean, let's be honest about why she's saying that, it's because she knows she'll probably have to run against either one of them and it's in her interest, it's going to be harder for her to run against Robson if she wins the nomination, so she's trying to make them look equally extreme. I do think that there is a substantive difference even though, yes, playing footsie with the election lies, obviously, is problematic.

There are clearly Republican candidates who are trying to put Trump in the past, but trying to say, OK, voters, we get your concerns, but like we got to move forward, right? I mean, that's Mike Pence's entire argument, as opposed to candidates like Kari Lake who are really hung up on what Trump's hung up about, which is the 2020 election.

So, you know, I do think there's a material difference and I think Ms. Hobbs knows that it's going to be a lot easier for her to run against Kari Lake than (INAUDIBLE).

JENNINGS: And as a Democrat. I think Hobbs should be forced to answer the question about why the Democrat. She's so upset about election denialism and the fate of our democracy. Why are the Democrat committees spending money to get like the nomination out there? I mean, they're for Lake, Trump's for Lake -- I mean, to me, this is mass hypocrisy.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, because they think that she's easier to be.


JENNINGS: She was playing with fire.

POWERS: I don't -- yes, I mean --

TAPPER: The dog's going to catch (INAUDIBLE).

POWERS: It's not just not immoral. I mean, it might be a bad strategy, but there's nothing immoral about it. I think --

TAPPER: That's what Claire McCaskill did with Todd Akin.


TAPPER: She helps -- get him face resident Manning (ph), he was --

POWERS: Yes, picking her opponent. Yes.

TAPPER: But yes, it is playing with fire.

POWERS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: But what do you -- what about you? Do you think there's a substantive difference on this conspiracy theory election lie stuff? [17:40:03]

POWERS: I think there's a substantive difference between being all in on the idea that the election was stolen and basically being all in on MAGA, which is what we have with Kari Lake. I mean, it's not just this. She's just all in on whatever Trump's doing and however Trump approaches things, right? So I think there is a difference.

I still think it's highly problematic that even the candidates that are supposed to be the sane ones feel compelled to pretend that the election might have been -- that something might have gone wrong. I mean, this is insane.

TAPPER: And you saw this in Georgia where even people like Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, who held the line and were stalwart about the integrity of the election, then came forward and supported all these changes to election law --


TAPPER: -- that were really not necessary to make given the fact that they endorsed House substantive and clear and fair and forthright their election was.

MITCHELL: Right, there was really no justification for all the changes in election laws that Republicans pushed through in Georgia other than to try to appease that base we've been talking about. And so even with Kemp and Raffensperger, they stood up to Trump, they said the election was not stolen, Joe Biden won. But then in some ways, they still cave to the base, in some ways they still adhere to the principles of the election lies even if they had -- even if they said the election lies weren't true, they still adhere to those principles. And we're seeing that in so many states, because as Kasie said, these Republican candidates don't think they can win the primary without doing that.

HUNT: They can't. I mean, that's the reality. I mean, this is what Donald Trump has unleashed, right? I mean, he -- the difference between him and all of the Republican nominees of the past was that instead of acknowledging that there was an element of the party that wanted this kind of thing, I mean, look at John McCain and Sarah Palin. I mean, I think they would look back and say that was a mistake, but he would at least stand up and push back against the element of the party.

Trump unleashed it, enabled it, talked to the farthest fringes to the, frankly, you know, white supremacist, the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys stand back and stand by, and now that's given all of them permission, and it's put Republican candidates. I mean, this is the challenge for everyone that claims that they want to restore the Republican Party after Trump, is that it is very hard when, you know, 30 percent of the party is this way to actually win a primary in a different kind of way.

POWERS: Yes, the only thing I would say is that Donald Trump had a turnkey operation. Basically, this was set up by Republicans, by all these good Republicans who have been talking about election fraud for as long as I have been involved in politics, who have been claiming the Democrats have been stealing elections, for as long as I have been following politics.

So Donald Trump walked into a slipstream where it was all set up. And everybody was already primed to believe that this is what Democrats do. I mean, we could go through all the different phony, you know, controversies that happen --

HUNT: When there's race stuff and that it is, right, because all the way back to the south and (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Race stuff.

POWERS: But even -- I'm talking even in more recent times, acorn. I mean, the obsession over acorn, those kinds of things. So there's always been this idea that Democrats steal elections. And so Donald Trump stepped into that. Yes, he's responsible for this, but we shouldn't pretend that the Republican Party writ large hasn't been telling the story for a really long time.

TAPPER: Tia, I just want to give you an opportunity to weigh in because a judge in Georgia has admonished the Atlanta area district attorney who's investigating Trump's attempts to overturn and steal Georgia's electoral votes. The prosecutor Fani Willis, is that how you pronounce -- Fani Willis is under fire for hosting a fundraiser for a Democrat who's running against one of the targets of her investigation, a state senator who is a one of the fake electors. The judge, however, is not removing her from the case, so tell us more about this.

MITCHELL: Yes. So Fani Willis is an elected official. And so back during the primary, she chose sides in the Democratic primary and held a fundraiser for the DI (ph) who is now the Lieutenant Governor candidate, and his Republican opponent is a Stop the Steal Republican, a state senator, who is now the target of that special grand jury investigation.

So the judge did say, you know, I'm not saying that it's against the rules, but it sure looks bad. I think Fani Willis might say if I know now where I'd be with this investigation, maybe I shouldn't have done that fundraiser then. But it doesn't look like the judge is going to remove her from the case as Mr. Jones, the candidate would like.

TAPPER: All right. Great job, everyone. Have a great weekend. Thanks so much.


TAPPER: From banning books outlawing abortion pulling back the curtain on who is really in charge in taxes. CNN is following the money, that's next.


[17:48:55] TAPPER: In our politics lead, the group MAGA, in this case, Mothers Against Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, just released a new ad and it's going viral. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say nothing changes in Texas politics until it does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until white Texas politicians removed our history from the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until we made it legal to buy a gun without a permit and openly carry it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until Texas politicians put a $10,000 bounty on anyone helped a woman get an abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until we were called child abusers for loving and supporting our transgender children.


TAPPER: While this rash of new legislation is targeting abortion rights and transgender rights and book bans and increasing access to guns in Texas may seem, broad they are all connected. CNN's Ed Lavandera follow the money as new CNN series deep in the pockets of Texas. Ed, tell us what you found.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, we've reported for years and many people have talked about how Texas is on the verge of turning blue that Democrats will finally win a statewide election here. But the fact is that hasn't happened and there are millions of reasons for why that happens and so we explore that.



LAVANDERA: Your voting record is just as conservative as many of the people who might be supported by these West Texas billionaires, and you voted for the abortion bill. You voted for the no permit gun carry bill. In the bill that limits the discussion of race and gender in classrooms, you voted for that as well. So why haven't the Tim Dunn and Faris Wilkes supported you? It seems like you're doing stuff that they would agree with.

SEN. KEL SELIGER (R-TX): My voting record is very conservative. Is it 100 percent conservative? No. They're 100 percenters and you're either owned or you're not owned.

LAVANDERA: So the way you describe this is, it almost sounds like, you know, Senator Joe Smith to make up a name, if they've got a ton of money that's coming from these West Texas billionaires, those billionaires are really the elected official. SELIGER: It is a Russian style oligarchy. Pure and simple. Really, really wealthy people who are willing to spend a lot of money to get policy made the way they want it, and they get it.


LAVANDERA: And so, Jake, and I were talking about Tim Dunn and Faris Wilkes. These are not household names in Texas. You can almost kind of think of them as like the Koch brothers here in Texas. They operate very quietly behind the scenes, and they have been effective for years.

TAPPER: Calling them the Texas Koch brothers sounds better than calling them Texas's version of Russian oligarchs. What makes them so effective?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, what they started doing years ago is instead of putting money into like, for example -- and they have -- governor's races that cost tens of millions of dollars, but they've really focused on smaller State House and State Senate races across the state where a much smaller amount of money can make a much greater impact. And that's what they've done. As one person who's been a longtime observer of Texas politics told us, you know, even when they lose and their candidates lose an election, they still win because they push everything to the right.

TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Don't miss Ed special reports, it's Sunday night, "Deep In The Pockets Of Texas." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

Coming up, he was a young cop mistakenly beaten by fellow police officers. Now he's in charge of his force. Now he wants to change things. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, a homecoming story for the new Boston Police Commissioner after two years running the police department in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michael Cox is headed back home to Boston. And as CNN's Brynn Gingras bringing reports for us, Cox himself was once the victim of police brutality in Boston. And now he says he's determined to improve relationships between officers and the community.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): You've had a lot of roles in BPD, how does commissioner sound?

MICHAEL COX, INCOMING BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: It sounds different. There's no doubt about that, but I am excited.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Boston's New Police Commissioner Michael Cox has a past that brings a unique perspective on policing today. COX: I also, you know, had a pretty bad experience in the police department early on, understanding that, you know, the worst in policing if it's not, you know, addressed, if it's not checked, if the culture is not monitored, bad things can happen.

GINGRAS (voice-over): In 1995, Cox was an undercover officer. While responding to a call one night, he was beaten by fellow officers who mistook him for a suspect. They left Cox bloodied and bruised after discovering his identity. He was out of the job for six months before returning to the department where he'd stay for 30 years.

(on-camera): Why did you stay?

COX: You know, in the end, it wasn't an easy decision at the time. But, you know, when I had served the public and I love the job. I know all the good people that do this job. And, yes, there's some knuckleheads and people like that that are out there sometimes in these places. But the reality is back then, I was saying, that's not what policing is. And if I leave, you know, how am I helping it get better?

GINGRAS (voice-over): Cox never fully told his story publicly until two years ago. Motivated by the protests following George Floyd's killing.

COX: I just felt it like, what is happening? You know, what is happening with the world around policing? Like, this is a profession that's needed everywhere. We can do it better, absolutely. But the people that do this job are doing it for the right reasons by telling my story and, you know, try to explain the people there are people in law enforcement that care, and I'm one of them.

I do consider this a homecoming.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Now the native Bostonian is poised to lead one of the largest police forces in the country.

(on-camera): What do you say on day one, to your rank and file?

COX: They need to know that they're supported, but it's not just morale of the offices, it's also morale of the public, expectations of the public. Public trust, you know, we need to build that up again. And sometimes that means, you know, taking criticism, revisiting some of our history, just to acknowledge it, and then move on and say, you know what, we're here.

MAYOR MICHELLE WU, BOSTON: We now have a commissioner who understands deeply what it means when our systems don't see everyone.

GINGRAS (voice-over): A lesson Cox didn't expect to learn while serving his city, but now carries with him as he leads.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, Boston,


TAPPER: And our thanks to Brynn for that report. Cox starts his roll August 15th.

A big show coming up Sunday, the Republican vice chair of the January 6 committee is going to join me, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Also on the show, Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper or tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If ever missed an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead from whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room. Until then, I'll see you Sunday morning.