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Don Lemon Tonight
The January 6 House Select Committee Holds Its Third Public Hearing; The January 6 House Select Committee Sends Request To Ginni Thomas To Testify; Dow Closes At Lowest Level In A Year Amid Recession Fears; Yellowstone National Park Staggered By Rain And Floods; Helping Ukrainian Refugees And Their Dogs. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The January 6 Committee presenting new evidence as it tries to connect the Capitol insurrection to Trump's pressure campaign against his vice president. Witnesses testifying Trump knew the plan to get Pence to overturn the election was illegal, but he went ahead with it anyway.
There is so much to discuss with our senior legal -- senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, our legal analyst Elliot Williams, and political commentator Alice Stewart. But first, we want to get you to CNN's Manu Raju with the very latest.
UNKNOWN: Mike Pence has betrayed the United States of America!
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pressure campaign was relentless. Donald Trump for months trying to get Mike Pence to do something no vice president has ever done: Reject the will of the electorate and install him as president for a second term, right up to this heated phone call on the morning of January 6th, just before Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden's victory.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): He called him a wimp.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: It was a different tone that I heard him take with the vice president before.
UNKNOWN: Do you remember what she said? Her father called him.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): The P-word.
RAJU (voice-over): Trump even revising his January 6th speech at a rally of his supporters to take aim at the vice president.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country.
RAJU (voice-over): The rioters echoing the president's remarks.
UNKNOWN: I'm telling you, if Pence came, we're going to drag (bleep) through the streets.
RAJU (voice-over): Even after rioters breached the Capitol that afternoon, Trump still attacked Pence on Twitter, just as the mob was 40 feet away from the vice president.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): The vice president's life was in danger.
RAJU (voice-over): Trump had been told repeatedly that Pence had no authority to take such an unconstitutional action.
UNKNOWN: Was with it your impression that the vice president had directly conveyed his position on these issues to the president, not just to the world through a dear colleague letter but directly to President Trump?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Many times.
UNKNOWN: And he had been consistent in conveying his position to the president
SHORT: Very consistent.
RAJU (voice-over): The committee focusing today on the role of Trump attorney, John Eastman, who pushed the theory that the vice president could overturn Joe Biden's victory.
JOHN EASTMAN, ATTORNEY: All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1:00, he let the legislators of the state look into this so we get to the bottom of it.
RAJU (voice-over): Privately, White House officials were alarmed and pushed back on Eastman.
UNKNOWN: They thought he was crazy.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I said, are you out of your effing mind? you're going to cause riots in the streets.
RAJU (voice-over): Even Fox News personality Sean Hannity sending these text messages to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, saying, on January 5th, I'm very worried about the next 48 hours.
But as he was pedaling the theory, Eastman knew it was bogus, writing in October 2020 that nowhere does it suggest that the president of the Senate gets to make the determination on his own.
Pence's former counsel recalling tense deliberations in the White House, including this demand from Eastman on January 5th.
GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: What most surprised me about that meeting was that when Mr. Eastman came in, he said, I'm here to request that you reject the electors.
He came in and expressly requested that.
RAJU (voice-over): And as Trump and Pence were privately sparring about the vice president's role, the White House issued a statement, saying, he and the vice president were in total agreement that Pence had the power to act.
JACOB: We are shocked and disappointed because whoever had written and put that statement out, it was categorically untrue.
RAJU (voice-over): The message came from Trump.
UNKNOWN: He dictated -- he dictated most of it.
RAJU (voice-over): As for Eastman, he had this request for Trump, he said through Rudy Giuliani.
AGUILAR: Dr. Eastman's email stated -- quote -- "I've decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works."
RAJU (on camera): Now, Don, even as this committee is moving ahead, it's facing pressure from the Justice Department to turn over witness transcripts to help with its own investigation.
But earlier today, the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, told a group of us that he would not provide the Justice Department with that information. That has caused some concerns with the Justice Department that it could delay their own probe from going forward. Nevertheless, Thompson said eventually they would cooperate.
Now, a big question to the committee is, will they in fact refer Donald Trump or anybody for further investigation, potential prosecution? That is still something that they have not made a final decision on. Thompson telling me earlier that they would wait for their final report to come out before ultimately deciding to weigh in on that topic even though earlier this week, Don, he indicated that was not an area he wanted to pursue.
LEMON: All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
All right, let's go to the folks to talk about this. Nia is here, Alice is here, Eliot as well. I introduced them before Manu. So, Nia, I'm going to start with you. Good evening. I'm going to start with you. We are learning incredible new details about Trump's relentless campaign to try to get Mike Pence to reject the will of the voters. But countless people all around Trump knew that it was a massive lie. So, why was it able to go so far, do you think?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, listen, I think there are a couple of themes here, one of which is this enduring belief in the guardrails, right? American democracy is stronger than any one president, any one party, and that ultimately democracy would be strong enough to withstand anything that Donald Trump wanted to do, his enablers wanted to do or his supporters wanted to do.
I think the other thing here is if you are Donald Trump in the aftermath of the election, on the eve of January 6th, you are a man who has been able to get away with breaking lots of rules and suffering no consequences, right? I mean, if you think about, for instance, his first impeachment hearing, he at this point must realize that he is going to have people to rally around him, to believe him, to defend him no matter what.
And so, in the end, you have a man who goes to great lengths pressuring his -- Mike Pence with all sorts of lies, who has spent years seeding this idea that American elections aren't to be trusted. He started that in 2016 after he lost the popular vote.
So, he believes and it's always rightly so that he could do anything and get away with it, and it could be that come 2024, he could be elected president again and not necessarily face any punishment for this grave threat to American democracy that he incited on January 6th.
LEMON: Elliot, even John Eastman, the man behind this false theory that Pence could overturn the election, was well aware he was peddling complete B.S. This is what we heard from Pence's general counsel, Greg Jacob. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB: We had an extended discussion, an hour and a half to two hours, on January 5th. And when I pressed him on the point, I said, John, if the vice president did what you were asking him to do, we would lose nine to nothing in the Supreme Court, wouldn't we? And he initially started, well, I think maybe you would lose only seven to two. And after some further discussion, acknowledged, well, yeah, you're right, we would lose nine to nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So -- and Jacob says that Eastman told Trump directly that his plan would violate the Electoral Count Act. So, it was all blatant -- it was a blatant intentional lie.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Right, and there is a reason,
Don, why he then pleads the Fifth Amendment against, you know, the right against self-incrimination because he thinks he might have committed a crime 146 times. There is a reason why he asks specifically for a presidential pardon at some point because he thinks he might have committed a crime.
And what he was doing, being full well aware of the fact that he was asking -- pushing for the government to take actions that he knew were unlawful, he was violating the law.
There is any number of fraud statues and particularly, yeah, conspiring to defraud the United States that he might have committed and a federal judge has already said that he, perhaps working in concert with the president of the United States, might have violated the law at least two different times.
And so, you know, it is quite shameful here. And, you know, one thing that struck me today was from one of his emails to Greg Jacob, one that says about the president of the United States, you know him, once he gets something in his head, it's hard for him to change course.
They knew that they were breaking the law and the president clearly knew that all -- what they were pushing was wrong. But, you know, it is hard for him to change course. So, what we saw here, Don, was possibly evidence of a crime.
LEMON: Yeah. To Alice Stewart now, Alice, the committee laid out how Trump knew there was a mob at the Capitol when he tweeted Pence didn't have the courage to do what he needed to be done. This is what we heard from the rioters at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Nothing but a traitor and he deserves to burn with the rest of them.
UNKNOWN: It all escalated after Pence -- what happened to Pence. Pence didn't do what we wanted.
UNKNOWN: Pence voted against Trump.
UNKNOWN: Okay. And that's when all this started.
UNKNOWN: Yep. That's when we marched on the Capitol. We have been shot at with rubber bullets, tear gassed.
UNKNOWN: We just heard that Mike Pence is not going to eject any fraudulent electoral votes! That's right. You have heard it here first. Mike Pence has betrayed the United States of America! Mike Pence has betrayed this president, and he has betrayed the people of the United States and we will never, ever forget!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's frightening. I mean, honestly. And Alice, I see you shaking your head. You're right. That is the right response. The former White House aide, by the way, Alice, says that Trump tweet was like pouring gasoline on the fire. Do you agree with that?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Absolutely. He just made a horrible situation even worse. While that was going on, we heard testimony today that Mike Pence was in the safety of the Capitol 40 feet away from these protesters who had said that they were more than willing to take his life. He was in there with his family and his staff. And I can't get past the optics of look right there. Mike Pence standing there, waiting to do his constitutional duty to certify the election results, and he is there also in the bunker with his bible. And across town, we have Trump in the oval with his outrage. That is just so frustrating to think that this happened.
But this is yet another example of Donald Trump, regardless of the advice he was given, what he knows to -- what anyone knows to be true, he goes with what he wants to be fact, and he shops around his advisers for who will confirm his belief in what he wants to do.
And just when we heard the other day, Rudy Giuliani, and you thought there couldn't be more of a clown in this situation, enter John Eastman, who goes and continues to provide factually inaccurate information to the president, giving him advice that, as we heard Greg Jacob say today, was -- there was no justifiable legal theory for what Eastman was telling Trump, yet he went ahead and did it anyway.
This is despicable, what happened. And the more we hear what happened, it just defies reality. I'm glad to see the DOJ is keeping an eye on this and is asking for witness testimony. I hope that people that are responsible are held accountable. But also, I'll be interested to see what happens in the court of law, but if this does change any minds in the court of public opinion.
LEMON: You know, Alice, you know, you occasionally get into skirmishes with people on the panel, right, who weren't Trump supporters. You are a Trump supporter. You're a Republican and you're saying this. I asked Olivia Troye earlier about fear, right? Do you ever get concerned about speaking your mind and saying these things about Rudy Giuliani and the president and what they did regarding January 6th?
STEWART: No. I get a lot of people on social media that like to use their social media bravery and hide behind their anonymity. I'm not worried about speaking my mind. I would much rather say what I know to be true and what I know to be fact than to blindly follow a false narrative about election fraud and a stolen election, which most people that are rational and of sound mind and body realize that there is no factual basis to election fraud and no reason to incite this riot at the Capitol.
LEMON: After hearing, you know, what those folks are saying about the former vice president and about others, what they wanted to do, I just had to ask you that. I would not ask you that question otherwise if we didn't have an insurrection and so much violence going on as it relates to the former president.
So, thank you for your candor on that. Elliot, let's play more. Here's what else the committee said about the danger to Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Vice President Pence and his team ultimately were led to a secure location where they stayed for the next four and a half hours, barely missing rioters a few feet away.
AGUILAR: Approximately 40 feet. That's all there was. Forty feet between the vice president and the mob.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Mr. Attorney, did the committee make the case that Trump's actions led to a direct threat to the VP's life?
WILLIAMS: Certainly. You know, perhaps not in a criminal chargeable way, Don, but they have been making the case repeatedly that the president -- so for instance, at the very first hearing, they played the moment at which the tweet is read at 2:26 p.m., I believe, and then a guy is on the megaphone shouting, hang Mike Pence, after the president tweeted about Mike Pence.
So, they're drawing a link between the two as one of the causes of the violence and the harm of the day. You know, something that's sort of getting buried today was from Judge Michael Luttig, the conservative judge that testified today, making the case that this isn't just about January 6th but the underlying causes that led to the kinds of things that were in your question, Don, this violence and this sort of unrest hasn't gone away.
WILLIAMS: And sort of what got us here could continue to plague the 2024 elections if not dealt with in a very, very serious way. And that was -- he said it explicitly today. He said it in an op-ed back in February. You know, thank God that it was a conservative voice, the one making it. It is a sort of trusted messenger making that point. It is a very important one. This isn't just about one day of violence.
HENDERSON: And I think you could even make the argument that Trump might be more powerful now than he was then. If you think about where Republicans are, the vast majority of them believe in Donald Trump's big lies, which were sort of built on smaller lies, which we saw laid out so masterfully today in that hearing.
He seems poised to run for re-election, to announce at some point that he's going to run for re-election. And you see that in states across the country, people are being installed, who believe in the big lie and who could have the power to overturn the will of voters in a state like Nevada, in a state like Georgia, in a state like Arizona, in a state like Pennsylvania.
You've got a governor who is running who is saying he believes in the big lie, and he would have the power to appoint a secretary of state who could do Donald Trump's bidding. So, you know, you talk about that clear and present danger that Luttig talked about. It is very, very abundantly clear that in some ways, 2020 was just sort of a dry run, a prelude of what we could see in 2024.
LEMON: Nia, I want to ask you, and I asked John Kasich a similar question and it was poorly phrased because I think -- I don't think -- I think that Mike Pence deserves credit for upholding democracy. I don't think he is a hero because that is his job, right?
So, he has gotten a lot of praise from the committee today, the fact that he ultimately upheld the Constitution. Will that help or hurt him politically because clearly, he is also -- he may be weighing a run for president as well?
HENDERSON: You know, listen, there is a share of the Republican Party. We've got Alice on our panel tonight. There is a share of the Republican Party that certainly agrees with Mike Pence, who might vote for him in a primary. But I think the vast majority of Republicans are still very much in line with Trump.
HENDERSON: You see all of that emotion, right, that is on display. In January 6th, that, you know, is not necessarily just contained to those folks. There is a very raw and real emotional attachment that many Republicans --
HENDERSON: -- have for this president and his beliefs.
LEMON: I want to give Alice -- Alice, she invoked your name. So, what do you say to that, about Mike Pence running?
STEWART: I expect him to do so. He is going to certainly have a lot of support than he already had and will certainly get a lot more based on what we're learning in these hearings. But we are going to have --
LEMON: You think? Because -- who was on earlier who said he's going to -- oh, it was Scott Jennings. Scott Jennings said Donald Trump is going to get up on the stage with everyone and say, you know, would you have done what Mike Pence did on that day? He betrayed our country.
STEWART: Most rational Republicans realized that Mike Pence did what he was constitutionally obligated to do, and that is the right thing to do. Most people realize that that was the role of the vice president and --
LEMON: But honest question, though. Is that where your party is today? Is that where you think they will be in 2024?
STEWART: There is a large swath of the Republican Party that still looks at Donald Trump as the titular head of the Republican Party. Many of them are not watching the TikTok of these hearings. Many of them are looking at issues like inflation and crime and gas prices as to what they're going to be voting for in 2024.
[23:20:03] They're not really paying that close attention. And to be quite honest, Don, surprisingly, there is a lot of people, no matter what comes out of this hearing, it is not going to change their mind about Donald Trump and his false belief that there was election fraud.
But there are many people that are watching it and learning a lot of things that are quite disturbing about not only what happened on January 6th but what happened on election night and the advice that the president was given by a team of serious advisers that he neglected to listen to, and instead he took the advice of people like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.
LEMON: Alice, everyone on the screen is nodding in affirmative. Are you shocked?
STEWART: Well, I like to think everyone here is rational people and understands what the Constitution stands for and that the Constitution was carried out.
WILLIAMS: Alice, I'm just here to tell you what you can go to jail for.
WILLIAMS: And so --
LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) is here, so you won't get fined.
STEWART: I'll get a pardon, then.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Good to see you.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Don. STEWART: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: A plot to overthrow the government, a violent mob overrunning the Capitol, the life of the former vice president put at risk, and if nothing changes, is there a real chance it could happen again?
LEMON: He was told it was illegal, but Trump kept pushing Pence to overturn the election anyway. That's what the January 6 House Select Committee is laying out today in their third public hearing.
Susan Glasser is here. She is CNN's global affairs analyst. We are glad to have her. Good evening, Susan. Thank you so much. Okay, so, Trump and everyone around him knew their plan, to have Pence overturn the election. They knew it was illegal. But he pushed it anyway, even as a mob descended on the Capitol. Is this the state of our democracy now? Lies and violence?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that is a serious opening question there, Don. I don't have a crystal ball. You know, I think of the words of former Judge Luttig who testified today, whose closing point was not so much looking backward to January 6 but looking forward at 2022 and 2024 and seeing Trump unequivocally as a clear and present danger. That was the phrase he used.
LEMON: Yeah. I want to play that. You mentioned him. By the way, Judge Luttig is a retired federal judge, very conservative. I found him very compelling today. Let's play it, Susan, then we will talk about it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, that's still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, he is very well respected. Right? He was almost nominated to the Supreme Court. It was interesting to me because I was listening on satellite radio because I was out running errands today and I was, like, something happened. And then I found -- I thought he was just -- even when he was slow to respond, that he thought about what he was saying. He wanted to make sure that he said the right things for the record. So, it was a very -- he was a really good witness.
Trump and many Republicans are still spouting election lies, Susan. Do you think this could happen again?
GLASSER: Well, not only could it happen again, but, you know, when something like this -- when the unthinkable happens, to me, the story of Trump is again and again. Once you shudder a norm, once you shudder a barrier, you move to a whole different place.
And so not only, you know, is it a challenge to the election? Possible. This is the first time in American history that a president has refused to accept defeat and has interfered essentially with the peaceful transfer of power. It's the first time.
So, now that there's a first time, it's much easier to envision the second. They're institutionalizing changes in republican parties across the country. You have a whole number of election deniers who are running for key positions like secretaries of state in places that are responsible for how the elections are going to be counted and certified and carried out in the future.
I think there is a whole new cohort of Republicans who think that if the election doesn't go your way and you control the state legislature, well, why not change the results? And that's what's chilling to me about reading like some of the text messages. Literally, before the election was even called for Joe Biden in November, they were already contemplating overturning the results.
LEMON: Uh-hmm. I wonder what you thought of this moment, if you thought it was effective. This is what Greg Jacob brought up about the 2000 election. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB: The history was absolutely decisive. And again, part of my discussion with Mr. Eastman was, if you were right, don't you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he authority to just declare himself president of United States?
Did you think that the Democrat lawyers just didn't think of this very obvious cork that he could use to do that? And of course, he acknowledged Al Gore did not and should not have had that authority at that point in time.
So, texts structured history. I think what we had was some ambiguous texts that common sense and structure would tell you, the answer cannot possibly be that the vice president has that authority.
As the committee already played the vice president's remarks, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person would choose the American president, and then unbroken historical practice for 230 years, that the vice president did not have such an authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think of that, Susan?
GLASSER: Well, first of all, as you remember, well, Don, the Florida dispute election in 2000, we're talking about 500 votes that separated the two candidates, that was a close election. You know, in that context, the 2020 election wasn't even close. Electorally, certainly, it wasn't closed, over 300 votes for Biden. And even in the closest state, we're talking about thousands and thousands of votes separating Biden and Trump. So, it wasn't even close, first of all.
Second of all, the big difference between 2000 and 2020 is that both Al Gore and George W. Bush accepted the results and urged the country to come together --
GLASSER: -- around the outcome. And that is a huge difference. You have a candidate in Trump who has gone to war against any outcome that did not have him as a winner. That is someone who fundamentally doesn't believe in the American system.
But to your point, why did Greg Jacob, Pence's lawyer, bring that up today? What's so revealing, you didn't play it here, but I found it fascinating, we highlight this in our book that's going to come out in the fall, is that when he says, hey, John Eastman, what about Al Gore? You're saying that Al Gore should become the president. John Eastman basically gives him a contorted answer and says, oh, no, I didn't mean that Al Gore should be president.
LEMON: Right. Or Kamala Harris.
GLASSER: No way, absolutely. His theory is the most -- it is literally absurd, Don.
GLASSER: That's the thing. I'm not a lawyer, but in purely technical terms, this is ridiculous.
GLASSER: What he was telling. And Donald Trump didn't care. The point was not what the legal theory said, it was simply that he had one.
LEMON: Yeah. Susan Glasser, thank you. I appreciate it.
LEMON: So, she called for the release of the kraken after Trump's election loss. Now, the January 6 Committee wants to speak with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about her role in the effort to overturn the 2020 results.
LEMON: The January 6 Committee sending an official request to Ginni Thomas asking her to speak with them about her role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. And it appears the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is open to the idea. She told "The Daily Caller" that she can't wait to clear up misconceptions.
CNN's Tom Foreman has the very latest now. Tom, what is the committee hoping to learn from Ginni Thomas?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don. A source familiar with the testimony confirmed to CNN the January 6 Committee has emails between Ginni Thomas and John Eastman, who in today's hearing was revealed to have taken the Fifth 100 times when questioned about his role in this apparent attempt to overthrow the government.
He is the conservative lawyer who argued that Vice President Mike Pence could just throw out the electorates chosen by voters in seven states and let Republican lawmakers in key positions award those votes instead to Trump. We don't know a lot about the content of these emails, but "The Washington Post" sources say the notes show that Thomas' efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known.
Now, that's saying something because the committee also has 29 text messages between Ginni Thomas and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after his boss, Donald Trump, lost.
For example, she wrote, help this great president stand firm, Mark. The majority knows Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history. In regards to Trump's legal team challenging the results, she wrote, release the kraken and save us from the left taking America down.
And days after the attack on the Capitol failed to stop the confirmation of Biden's win, she wrote, we are living through what feels like the end of America. Amazing times. The end of liberty.
Ginni Thomas also reached out to lawmakers in Arizona, "The Washington Post" says at least 29, urging them to reject what the voters wanted and choose a clean slate of electors, saying they needed to fight back against fraud. And beyond that, she said, this responsibility is yours and yours alone.
She has not responded to CNN's recent calls for a comment, but she told "The Washington Free Beacon," a conservative website, I played no role in those who were planning and leading the January 6th events. I was disappointed and frustrated that there was violence. And for those who question Justice Thomas's ability to fairly consider cases at the center of his wife's crusades, she insists, Clarence doesn't discuss his work with me and I don't involve him in mine. Don?
LEMON: Tom, thank you.
A massive drop on Wall Street. The Dow closing down more than 700 points.
Now, it is at its lowest level in a year. Are we heading towards a recession?
LEMON: So, a rough day for stocks with the Dow closing at its lowest level in a year. This coming a day after the fed announced it would increase interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point. It is the largest since 1994.
The Central Bank making the historic move in hopes of cooling down inflation which is rising at its fastest pace in 40 years, causing Americans to pay more for essentials like food and gas.
Let's bring in now business journalist Marc Stewart. Marc, good to see you. You heard everything that I just said, and yet the president says that a recession is not inevitable. What's going on here? The market is indicating that a recession is on the way.
MARC STEWART, BUSINESS JOURNALIST: Well, the honest answer is and the honest answer is that no one really knows. I wake up every morning with emails from economists from all of the big banks. Everyone has a different take.
As far as what happened today, think about you and your own life. If you have to make a decision, you try to sleep on it before you make a decision. Well, last night, Wall Street slept on it, the prospect of higher interest rates, higher cost for things like homes and cars that we all need, it freaked people out, and that's why the market side dipped today.
LEMON: Yeah, I was out running errands, and I was like, whoa, it is down to something like 700 points today. The president also told the "Associated Press" that the claims at his stimulus plan is to blame for inflation. He said that is bizarre. What is the truth here?
STEWART: Well, this is something that economists and politicians are going to study for a long time to come. This was an unprecedented event and there was no choice but to pump money into the economy. The question is, was it too much and for too long of a period of time?
I think there is a general consensus among economists that things perhaps went a little too far, and that's why this is such a big struggle for the Federal Reserve to try and curb all of this.
LEMON: So, it is not that bizarre to think that it helped to increase inflation.
STEWART: It may not have been intended, but in these unprecedented times, absolutely.
LEMON: And what about now? Because people are concerned about borrowing for homes, cars, what have you. Does that hurt prospective buyers, first-time buyers?
STEWART: Everything that involves credit is going to cost more. We are talking about homes, we are talking about cars, we are even talking about credit card debt. Now, on the topic of homes, this in a way could cool off the market because the goal of raising interest rates makes it harder to buy things, makes things more expensive.
So, perhaps home prices could go down, create a little bit more equity than we have seen in the past, a little bit more of a reasonable price tag. In addition, the number of people seeking homes will likely become smaller. So that, too, will lower prices because there may not be as much demand.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Marc. I appreciate it.
STEWART: Of course.
LEMON: Good to see you.
STEWART: You, too.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: Authorities bracing for what could be another rise in river levels around Yellowstone National Park this weekend. Warmer temperatures and rainfall are expected to spark new snowmelt. That's exactly what caused the historic flooding that washed away homes this week.
Here is CNN's Nick Watt.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The water plant here in Billings was built to work when the river runs at 15 feet or below. This week, it hit 16 and a half, a 500-year event, a record high, that plant forced to close briefly.
UNKNOWN: This is pretty surreal, seeing all the bridges go down across the state. I mean, just glad this one is still here.
WATT (voice-over): Here is one up river that did not survive, before and after.
Just how abnormal, unpredictable was this rush of water? Well, this time last year, the Yellowstone River at Billings was running at 8,000 cubic feet a second, a record low. This week, it hit 87,000 feet around here Wednesday afternoon.
Started moving cattle about noon in the back there and moving them towards the front up here where it is a little higher ground. The last ones had to swim out. It was that deep. They were -- all you could see was their heads.
WATT (voice-over): Further up, a Yellowstone tributary in Red Lodge, the river rammed through it. Broadway Avenue now covered in rocks, left behind by floodwaters.
The southern part of Yellowstone Park might open as early as Monday. The north entrance is going to be months. New satellite images show what little is left of the only road in. This flooding was fueled by heavy rain and high temperatures melting snow. Tonight, similar conditions return.
CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Overnight last night was perfect. Zooming you in to Yellowstone, temperatures were below freezing on top of that snow, so stopping the melting in its tracks, freezing the snow back up. But then by tomorrow, more temperatures well above freezing, more melting. And even by Saturday, the possibility of some rain. There is a lot more snow on top of those mountains.
WATT (voice-over): Our exclusive video shows what this river has already brought. Nick Watt, CNN, Billings, Montana.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Nick, thanks so much. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, CNN hero Aaron Jackson traveled to Poland to help refugees coming across the border. After finding dog-friendly accommodations for those traveling with their pets, he recently took over an animal shelter in the city of Poznan and welcomed 17 dogs, along with a pair of women, who helped them survive the fighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON JACKSON, CNN HERO: And when the dogs were already enroute to us, they told us that two refugees had joined the convoy and asked if we could help them. When Valerie (ph) and her mother first got to us, I can tell that they were a little nervous and scared.
I couldn't help but notice that all the dogs really loved the two refugee ladies that had accompanied them. And then I learned that these dogs had been in a bomb shelter with Valerie (ph) and her mother for the last 40 days before coming to us. Forty days with hardly any access to food, hardly any access to water.
Valerie (ph) was so good with the dogs. We gave her and her mother a job which we are excited about.
JACKSON: The dogs helped her get through the worst 40 days of her life and she helped get those dogs through the worst 40 days of their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: To learn more about their journey with the dogs, go to cnnheroes.com, and while you're there, you can nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero.
Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.